Archives For Leadership

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.

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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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Arrogance.

Even writing a blog post on this almost guarantees comments about pots and kettles. And I get that. I’m as human as you are. And if we are all honest with ourselves, we would admit that it is a struggle for each of us in some way.

However, sometimes to personally admit to our own arrogance, we need prodding. Why? Because we often become blind to our own faults.

The reason it is so dangerous, especially for those of us in ministry positions, is that it can become a cancer to our ministry. I could, and I guess you could as well, name dozens of pastors whose arrogance and pride led them to a very public, very shameful fall.

Arrogance stifles mission. It redirects the focus of our ministry to us instead of to a kingdom focus. And if left unchecked, our ministry will begin to exist for its purpose, not God’s purposes.

So what should we look for in our ministry as a sign that we could be headed down a very long, hard road? Here are five warning signs Jonathan Howe and I listed. You…

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BenedictI was so impressed by the retirement announcement from Pope Benedict, that for a minute or two, I almost became a Catholic. His courage in facing the reality of declining health, potentially poor decision making, and the toll on his psyche was admirable. In spite of the pressure (no Pope has retired in 600 years) he had the integrity to make the right decision. Now contrast that with many pastors, ministry, and nonprofit leaders. With media ministries, they stay on the air way past their ability to not embarrass themselves. They fumble around, say inappropriate things, and generally make the Church look foolish to the world. Long time pastors aren’t much different. They refuse to step down and in the process, completely undermine a transition to a new leader.

I realize it’s tough. My own father was a pastor, and even after a debilitating stroke, tried to keep preaching. In his first sermon back after the stroke he fell at the pulpit, and our family finally made the decision that he had to step down.

But that’s what’s missing in many of these major churches and ministries: a family or leadership team with enough…

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One of the major challenges that prevent many churches from being focused on their mission can be summarized in one word: insecurity. It eliminates opportunities for evangelism, planting churches, ministry expansion, and making disciples because it creates conflict in the church. I have even seen insecurity ruin ministries.

A Testimony: I will never forget talking with a leader who served with his Pastor for decades in one of the strongest ministries in America. I asked him about the challenges of adjusting from leading church staff leaders from people in the world. He remarked, “I have found that ministers are the most insecure people I have ever met in my life.”

Since insecurity can hurt ministers, churches, and ministries, we need to consider ways to overcome this problem. Here are some helpful tips for identifying the signs of and solutions to insecurity.

Signs of Insecurity

  • Competitiveness – One of the biggest problems insecurity carries with it is overt competition. Churches try to “out-do” one another. Pastors find themselves competing with other pastors. This competitiveness results occurs because of insecurity and further results in jealousy and a critical spirit.

One of our core values at Grace Hills is, “We stay fast, fluid, and flexible. There are no sacred cows. We embrace the pain of change for the win of seeing more people meeting Jesus.” I wrote that one knowing that of all of our other core values, it would probably be the hardest to honor over the long haul. It addresses the crossroads where theology meets psychology, where truth, mission, and fear intermingle. Change is hard.

The American evangelical church is in a rather desperate condition. You’ve heard that America is a “Christian” nation and that Christianity is dominant. Perhaps it’s the popular religion, but far fewer people are attending church than we realize. And we’re only planting one fourth of the number of new churches needed to keep pace with America’s current population growth and rate of decline in existing churches.

So churches absolutely must change and adapt if they will remain relevant to the culture. I realize many Christian leaders don’t like that terminology, so let me clarify that God’s Word, the gospel, Jesus, and…

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HeartStyles HeartWith apologies to Gary Chapman for playing on his well-known “Five Love Languages” theme, I asked 24 pastors how a church member might speak to each pastor in his own love language. And though 24 persons do not constitute a massive survey, I was amazed at the consistency of the responses.

To fit the theme of five, I determined at the onset that I would only report the top five responses. To my surprise, there was an obvious break between the fifth and sixth most-frequent responses. The five love languages thus were a natural fit.

So how can you speak a love language to your pastor? Here are the pastors’ top five responses in order of frequency. I offer a representative response from one of the pastors for each of the five.

1. Books. “I have a limited family budget, so I can’t just go out and buy a bunch of books. But I sure do love books. One year a deacon gave me a $200 gift card to a Christian bookstore. I was ecstatic! Now the church gives me a $300 book allowance each year. I know it’s not…

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By Russ Rankin

pleaseGodChristians on the path to spiritual maturity have a habit of seeking God through prayer and worship — not just in church but also as a part of their daily life as a way to please and honor God, according to a survey released by LifeWay Research.

The survey of Protestant churchgoers identifies “Seeking God” as one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of maturing Christians. Seeking God invokes the intentional steps a Christian takes to follow Christ for the purpose of becoming like Him.

LifeWay Research found 73 percent of Protestant churchgoers set aside time for prayer every day to a few times a week. To examine how churchgoers are seeking God at times beyond worship services, the survey asked participants to “not include any times you do these things as part of a church worship service.” Nineteen percent say they set aside time for prayer of any kind between once a week and once a month, and 8 percent of churchgoers say “rarely/never.”

Female churchgoers are more likely than men (77 percent vs. 70 percent) to set aside time for prayer…

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