Archives For Leadership

DigitalThe Digital Age is upon us. In the span of less than three decades, we have redefined the way humans communicate, entertain, inform, research, create and connect — and what we know now is only a hint of what is to come. But the greatest concern of the church is not a technological imperative, but a Gospel imperative.

The digital world did not exist a generation ago, and now it is a fundamental fact of life. The world spawned by the personal computer, the Internet, social media and the smart phone now constitutes the greatest arena of public discussion and debate the world has ever known.

Leaders who talk about the real world as opposed to the digital world are making a mistake, a category error. While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way.

Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web and on the smart phone in your pocket. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated faster than…

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 Three Ways to Become More Like Christ

Scripture Cards

The novel Across the Nightingale Floor is a classic hero tale set in a fictional ancient Japan. Cut off by tragedy from his childhood world, teenage Takeo forges a new life as the adopted son of Lord Shigeru. Shigeru is nothing like the villagers among whom Takeo was raised, but the boy quickly decides he wants to be just like Shigeru when he becomes a man. It’s not just that Shigeru saved his life. Shigeru also has qualities that Takeo wants: wisdom, patience, kindness, and the skills and honor of a warrior. Takeo commits his life to emulating his adopted father/master and fulfilling Shigeru’s goals.

Like Takeo, we too were born to be heroes—people who serve God and bring about significant good in the world. But who can save our lives and then show us how to live them? Jesus can.
When Simon, Andrew, James, and John first met Jesus, they were already looking for something more in their lives than just fishing. Jesus was a rabbi seeking students. In those days a rabbi wasn’t just an academic lecturer, and a student or “disciple” wasn’t interested in mere…

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John 3-16By Mark Coppenger

Like the fellow who thought he’d be crossing visible longitude lines on his ocean voyage to Europe, some may think that the chapter and verse divisions were on the sheet when apostles such as John (or psalmists such as David) wrote down Scripture.

But no, they wrote letters and poetry and Gospels and other history without numbering. Those markers were added centuries later. Indeed, when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:6 in Mark 12:26, He simply located it in “in the passage about the burning bush.” Neither the “12:26” nor the “3:6” were yet in place.

To make a long story short, biblical scholars were making divisions of one sort or another in the centuries following the books’ original composition, but it wasn’t until the early 1200s that we got our current chapter setup, thanks to Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. As for the verses, Jewish scribes had already done work on the Old Testament around the year 900, and their work was wedded to Langton’s. But the church had to wait another 300 years for its New Testament breakdown, performed by a French-born printer, Robert Estienne or…

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OrphanJustice

By Russ Rankin

For too long there has been a disconnect between the church and issues surrounding orphan care, according to Johnny Carr, national director of church partnerships at Bethany Christian Services.

Carr addresses the issues in “Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting,” a book from B&H Publishing Group designed to provide education about and action plans to care for the estimated 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children in the world.

“Many churches have started orphan ministries, but this movement among churches is still very much in its infancy,” Carr said in an interview. “It is my hope that this book challenges churches to take their involvement further.”

Carr said he wrote Orphan Justice based on his own journey in understanding the instruction for “pure religion” defined in James 1:27, which calls believers to care for orphans. As a former pastor, Carr said he believes the church — not government programs or social service agencies — has the most potential and the mandate to take the lead in addressing the world’s orphan crisis.

Adoption is only part of orphan care, he said. HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and poverty are all…

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Clear VisionA couple of weeks ago I enjoyed a back-to-back connections with three very different and very fruitful ministries. On Monday, I was in Chicago with Dave and John Ferguson on the Community Christian Church team. On Tuesday I was with Mountain Lake  Church in Atlanta, and on Wednesday  I was with Upward Sports in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

These ministries demonstrate dramatic success. Dave and Jon have built a city-reaching, multi-site church as well as a church planting network (New Thing) around the defining value of “reproducing at every level”Shawn Lovejoy has lead a unique and effective church in the shadow of Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church. (In addition, he has encouraged a tribe of church planters through the ministry of churchplanters.com.) Both churches gather thousands of people weekly. Upward, as a sports ministry, has impacted millions and continues to cast mind-stretching vision to reach millions more.

My time in reflection on these ministries brought these observations:

#1 The unexamined vision is not worth casting.

When these leaders talk about what God is doing in their ministries, you can feel the ownership and passion that comes through the constant seeking, wrestling, deciding and articulating work of clarity. When they…

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In an informal survey of pastors, I asked a simple question:

What do you wish you had been told before you became a pastor?

Some of the responses were obvious. For me, a few were surprises.

I note them in order of frequency of response, not necessarily in order of importance. After each item, I offer a representative quote from a pastor.

  1. I wish someone had taught me basic leadership skills. “I was well grounded in theology and Bible exegesis, but seminary did not prepare me for the real world of real people. It would have been great to have someone walk alongside me before my first church.”
  2. I needed to know a lot more about personal financial issues. “No one ever told me about minister’s housing, social security, automobile reimbursement, and the difference between a package and a salary. I got burned in my first church.”
  3. I wish I had been given advice on how to deal with power groups and power people in the church. “I got it all wrong in my first two churches. I was fired outright from the first one and pressured out…

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History Makers: Living By Faith is a new series based on the epic 10-part miniseries, The Bible, created by the History Channel, Mark Burnett, producer of TV’s Survivor, and Roma Downey. See history brought to life as you relive the dramatic stories of the Scriptures. Learn how to leave an extraordinary legacy despite ordinary circumstances.

Learn More About This Series

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QuestionsBy Matt Queen

A lady once criticized the evangelism methods used by Dwight L. Moody, the famed 19th century American pastor, to win people to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In response Moody replied, “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” Moody’s critic answered, “I don’t do it.” Moody quipped, “In that case, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

Like Moody, I would rather be a criticized personal evangelist than a non-evangelistic critic. Sometimes another’s critique of our evangelism is biblically warranted. At other times critical comments about our evangelism discourage us without cause. Perhaps the evangelistic enterprise would be served best if before — we critique and/or question the evangelistic practices of someone else — and/or our evangelistic practices are critiqued and/or questioned by someone else, we sternly look ourselves in the mirror and say, “I question your evangelism!”

What questions might a believer ask himself in order to assess his evangelistic practices? In “Tell It Often-Tell It Well,” Mark McCloskey offers three essential questions every believer should…

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You’ve heard it many times and so have I, “The Lord told me . . .” And that response is supposed to quiet the critics or explain some bold (or crazy) leap of faith.

“The Lord told me I married the wrong person and that I am to divorce my wife and marry so and so.”

“God told me to quit my job and start an Internet business.”

“Jesus is calling me to Bora Bora as a missionary.”

Despite the fact that the Bible is clear about how God feels about divorce, what they “heard from God” trumps everything in their opinion.

Regardless of the reality that the guy starting a new business has zero financial savvy or business experience, because “God told him” we’re suppose to smile and jump on board.

Because “God has called them” we’re expected to get behind the people wanting to go to the mission field and ignore the truth that they have no formal training. We’re supposed to disregard that fact that the only experience they’ve had as a missionary was a short-term trip to Mexico.

Now read this next part carefully, I…

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TargetWhat do you do when your church no longer looks like the community that surrounds it?

  • Focus on what your church does well.  Don’t try to be something you’re not.  If your church is primarily made up of elderly folks, decide to become the most effective ministry to senior citizens in your community that you can possibly be.  Don’t try to be a church for young families.  Strengthen what you’re already doing and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Keep doing what you’ve been doing—just do it better. Chances are that there’s an unchurched pocket of people in your community that only your church can reach. Find those people—and reach them.
  • Add a worship service. Start a new worship service that better matches the people around you. If you have an older congregation, try a worship service with music that’ll attract younger people in your neighborhood. Encourage the younger people in your congregation to attend and invite their unchurched friends. Try using a more modern translation (or translations) of the Bible. In time it’s likely this service will become your larger service.

Bill BelichickAre you new in your leadership?  Are you trying to figure out what to do first?  Where to begin?  You have big dreams but you lack experience.  Maybe you have just put some new leaders in place in your organization who you want to be highly successful.  Is there a blueprint that leaders, especially those new to their positions, can follow to be highly successful?

Few leaders are as successful as Bill Belichick, 3-time Super Bowl winning head coach of the New England Patriots.  I am currently reading Michael Holley’s book, War Room.  In this book Holley gives an unprecedented look into the leadership style of Coach Belichick and his former proteges, Scott Pioli, who became the general manager of both the Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, and Thomas Dimitroff, current GM of the Atlanta Falcons.

The book’s first chapter is devoted to their time with the Cleveland Browns.  As I was reading, I noticed 13 habits that new leaders can practice to become highly successful.

  1. Highly Successful New Leaders Have Thinking Skills – When Belichick became head coach of the Browns, it…

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A few months ago one of my former students called me to talk about the church that had just called him to be their Pastor.  This young man had just graduated from Bible college and had served as the part-time youth Pastor of a church near the campus of the school he attended for the past two years.  The church that called him was a rural community church of about 50 people.  As I talked to my young friend he began to share with me his “vision” for the church and all the things that he was planning to do during his first year as their new Pastor.  As he spoke two opposite thoughts kept bouncing around in my mind.  On one hand, I was excited for this young Pastor and encouraged by his excitement.  I could not believe  how naive he was.  Like all of us, this young man was starting his first Pastorate without a clue of what he was about to get into.  That day, I shared with him a few pieces of advice and for the…

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