Category Archives: Leadership

Where does the money go?

On the FaceBook newsfeed I’ve seen several articles and videos about where the money goes in mega-churches.  It must be part of a capital campaign, or trying to answer questions since Mars Hill in Seattle is having cutbacks take place, and etc.  It is a great question because even though I’m a pastor, I can imagine having the same question if I was a member in the church too.

First I want to applaud some of the mega-churches for giving the statistics about where the money goes.  Openness is paramount in my opinion when dealing with money.  Many of these churches have been secretive in the past, but some are being transparent and that helps when ministry is being performed in a suspicious climate.

I would like to offer another idea about where the money goes from a small church pastor’s perspective.  I have been in ministry for a while now and I’ve seen various moves, or fads, within The Church.  I’ve learned that people are a bit fickle when it comes to commitment to a particular Body of Christ.  In fact, people are very migratory.  In other words, people seem to only commit to 2 to 3 years in one church.  Then, something better comes along and they are gone.

This really isn’t an article about church attendance as much as it is about commitment.  After all, there are consequences when commitments are broken.  While poor church attendance is frustrating, it simply just keeps things from moving quicker.  Therefore, I would like to share some of these consequences to leaving the small local community church.

For starters, when Christians become migratory by leaving their community church because of age on the facility, preferred style of music, because of problems with the people in the church, or because the pastor is not someone they want to follow, there is impact to the church that has been left.  In addition, there is impact on the community that the church is in.  Plus, it is helpful to remember that relationships and problems are easily worked out by those who love Jesus; but that is another article.

Consider that for whatever reason, someone simply leaves a local congregation and attends a church out of town.  When this happens they take their financial resources with them; not to mention their manpower.  Furthermore, they take their influence with them too.  In fact, they join the vision of the pastor who may be in another community that has nothing to do with the community they live in.  This causes the local church, when enough people un-commit, to go into a type of survival mode.  I am aware that many “super leaders” in The Church would say that this is poor leadership.  Yet, it will take time to re-calibrate the vision he had for the community; if he or she had one.  Besides, the people the pastor believed were behind him or her are now no longer available.  It takes time to for a small church to replace them.

This matters because we could assume that God has that church planted in its particular community so that church could be a blessing to the people in that community.  For instance, their ministries cannot be accomplished within the community that God has placed these local churches.  This leaves people to wonder, “Where does the money go?”  After all, the money shortfall stalls the ministry to the community from moving forward.  The answer may be that the money that God gave His people who live in their community to bless and finance ministries that meet needs of people has gone into the large productions of mega-churches that are in other communities.

I should note that often I talk to believers from the community who tell me how they desire to see God do something in the community that they used to attend church.  These people will encourage me and still have the expectation that I have an assignment, but these continue to be non-participants in God’s redemptive purpose for their community.  Yet, they will travel out of town on Sundays.

Recently, a non-denominational ministry that is designed to reach kids before they are 14, ran out of money because the churches within Liberty, my local community, were not able to give enough financially for the ministry to operate.  As of now, it is operating; thank The Lord.  Yet, why is it so hard to finance that ministry?  It seems it could be argued that God’s people refuse to remain committed to the Body of Christ, that likely, The Holy Spirit placed them in.  What is worse, the local Body of Christ that they left is now stumbling and cannot move forward in a way that benefits the community.  The resources were there to meet those needs until many Christians became migratory and went to a comfortable environment that was more pleasing.

Obviously, there are “experts,” or expert debaters out there who  may be able to dispute my observations.  Yet, the fact remains, as a small church pastor, I ask, “Where does the money go?”  Once I begin the process of speculating, as I am now, I can’t help but come to this type of conclusion.  Once I reach this conclusion my next question is, “Why do people blow off the local church for the mega-church setting so readily?”  Guess who is usually contacted to go see the sick and dying.  You guessed it.  The pastors who are left in survival mode.  Many do not realize that one day this service won’t be readily available if the migrations continue; but that is another article too.

I think what is amazing is that Christians have not stopped to ask, once they are part of their new churches, a couple of questions: “Where does the money I give go?”  And, “How does my giving at this new church help my community 15-30 miles away?”  It’s amazing how much vision a local community pastor can have.  It’s also amazing how little is accomplished in the community because the manpower and finances have left the community.

In my community it is not just my small church that experiences the consequences of migration from one church to another.  It actually is close to the same from church to church.  If my opinion is close to right.  then, what type of answer will many of these Christians have to the question Jesus will likely as about faithfulness with what He gave to so that they could bless their community?  Or, does it really matter?

This was not a scientific approach and very well may be mere opinion.  Yet, in the local church that desires to serve the community, one has to ask, “What is the motive for the exodus from small churches to mega-churches outside of the community?”  Somehow it seems Christians have an agenda and God has one too.  They don’t seem the same.

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church Health, Giving, Leadership, Megachurch, Pastor, Small Church, tithing, Vision

Trust in God from Genesis 12

In Genesis 12 we have the story Abram.  In my series Walking with God, I spoke about Genesis 12:1-9 because of the great promises made to Abram for following God by faith.  After all, Abram left everything he was comfortable with to follow Yahweh to a place that was still not clarified to him when he began to literally walk.  In fact, he was even able to get some people to go with him!

Genesis 12:1-9 is a great look into what it means to place all of your faith (hope, security, control, physical well-being, trust, and etc.) in an invisible God.  This is a great story since Abram lived in a time of great idolatry.  Yet, he heard God!  He heard God in contrast to those idols who cannot speak.

In Genesis 12:10-20 Abram doesn’t do so well.  In fact, all of that faith that he placed in God seems to be for a fleeting moment.  In fact, this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to actual faith.  A famine broke out where Abram was.  Here is one of life’s circumstances that simply occurs beyond our control.  However, Abram’s stomach begins to control him because he decided to move on to Egypt so that he, and those who were with him, could find food.

In contrast to the earlier part of this chapter, where I bragged on Abram’s faith, Abram was not told by God to go to Egypt.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  Abram left to go to the land that God would show him and for incentive God made great promises to him and those who were to come behind him.  In my mind, to leave in the first place, I would have to literally trust God to take care of me and my crew.  Yet, that is not what we are seeing here; at least from my vantage point.

Listen, if God was going to do all that He said He would do, then why didn’t Abram simply stay put?  Abram’s earlier trust should have come across his mind.  God had assumed responsibility for him.  He should have stuck it out, but he didn’t.  In fact, he told his wife to tell a half-truth that she was simply his sister.  Abram told her that since she was beautiful, he would be treated well and spared his life because of her.  Wow!  Where did the trust in God go?  He now seems to think that between the abilities of Pharaoh and Sarai that will be saved.

Even more troubling is that he allowed Pharaoh to take his wife to be his wife.  It is good to remember that God is Holy.  John Oswalt once said, “God is Holy! He is Holy for our good and our ill.”  Even though Pharaoh seems innocent, God is just and afflicted he and his people.  This seems to be God’s Holiness that brought ill on Pharaoh.  Further more, Abram is accumulating wealth at the expense of his wife being wife of Pharaoh!  So now we have innocent people being hurt since Sarai was born too soon for women’s rights to help her.  Likely, she didn’t have a choice in Abram’s decision; not to mention what was happening to the Egyptians people for not fault of their own in this situation.

Remember the promises God made Abram?  Since we know the story Abram, who later became Abraham, we know that God promised him and Sarai a son.  Yet, later since God seemed to be taking so long in fulfilling that promise Sarai she offered to Abram her servant Hagar.  So Abram impregnated Hagar and had Ishmael.  Nevertheless, this was not the Promised Son.  The Promised Son was to be born 14 years after Ishmael.

We have to consider how Abram’s decision to go to Egypt impacted this.  Is it possible that Isaac, The Child of Promise, could have been born sooner?  There is no way to know for sure, but consider that God would not want any connection possible between Pharaoh and Sarai.  After all, Pharaohs generally thought of themselves as gods on earth.  And for sure, I can imagine the talk among those in the camp with Abram and Sarai.

If this assessment is possible, then how much impact does a lack of faith have on God’s people?  It seems that we can prolong the good that God has in store for us by not following Him by faith.  In fact, it seems best to remain in the situation that brings you struggle until you hear from God.  Famines that drive us to make decisions irregardless of God are meant to be a time of testing our faith.  We may find that when we continually try to escape uncomfortable situations that we are demonstrating a lack of trust in God’s ability to maintain us in spite of what we face.  How much sooner would those in the camp with Abram have seen God’s power if he remained where he was?  And how much sooner would Abram and Sarai have received Isaac?  Thoughts to ponder.

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Filed under Faith, God, Holiness, Leadership, Miracles

Right church, wrong church and division

Small churches become aggravated at megachurches because many leave the small church for the megachurch.  On the other hand, megachurches have a way of defending themselves that seems to lash out at small churches who criticize them.  Both groups have stereotyped the other side.  One side will say that the other only entertains, while the other side will say that the other is old and is not a church that people want to attend. This is counterproductive to the Kingdom building that is supposed to be taking place.  After all, people leaving one for the other is not an increase in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, this back and forth between these two sisters has brought much confusion to many believers.  What is more, it has brought confusion to those who find themselves in a place where they are not committed to a church, but may actually be in the process of  looking for a church.  What I mean is that they have heard the echo from those in both camps of this issue.  So this means that they are hearing this discussion between the two sisters, and I would argue it is a negative discussion, which is aiding people who are not committed to Christ choose the church in which they worship and serve at that may not be the Spirit’s leading.  With one side pointing out the imperfections of the other, it seems appropriate to outline those characteristics of what aright church looks like.  There are four universally, historically, marks that someone should look for in a church so that he or she may decide whether or not they have found a right church or a wrong church.

Those who are looking for a church should be looking for distinctive marks that seem to help define church on whether or not it is a right church, or wrong church.  Of course this type of discussion is nothing new.  In fact the Early Church set forth The Marks of The Church, which can be observed from the book of Acts.  You may recall that the book of Acts is a book that describes the birth of The Church as a result of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell those who receive and follow Christ.  According to H. Ray Dunning, in 381 B.C., The Marks of The Church were stated formally for the first time in the Creed of Constantinople” (529).  Four Marks were named in the Creed, Unity, Holiness, Catholicity (which means universal), and Apostolicity.  Dunning further pointed out that these marks are produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  “They are not the result of organization or administration but are the creation of the Spirit” (529).  This last statement is another discussion for later, but it certainly should cause one to pause at the role of leadership, and administration, in many Protestant churches today.  Since these marks are understood to be the creation of the Spirit, this means that people, both inside and outside, of the Church, should be able to see these traits as reality.  If these traits are not seen as reality in regard to a group, then it is possible that group may not be a right church.  Here is a little more clarification to aid understanding these marks.

The first mark in our list of four is Unity.  This mark is one that both small churches and megachurches need to consider again.  Remember the discussion in my intro of this article.  Each side tends to point out what the other side believes to be wrong with the other.  Jesus’ teaching to His followers should be applied in this situation, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).  If both sides rightly understood this, then each could be beneficial to the other which would glorify Christ.  Consider a statement that makes a great point, and should be a rule that is kept in mind,  James B. Chapman said, “The Christ in me will never be at variance with the Christ in you” (Dunning 531).  This obviously should demonstrate the unity of Christ’s Church.  These two statements are important for each side to consider because these were made in reference to what leads to disunity, and what should help to create unity.  Christ is not divided against Himself.  The Holy Spirit should be aiding to keep this from happening.  Our goal as those who are part of The Universal Church is that we be united as part of, and by taking part in, God’s Kingdom.  When we work against each other it creates disunity and this means there is no benefit to the Kingdom.

The second mark is Catholicity.  This term is not about being a geographical location, or part of any particular tradition of doing church.  It means that it is universal by embracing Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you (Christians who have been saved by the Blood of Christ and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them) are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This again seems to be another way of saying unity too (532).  Clearly, this is what Paul had in mind here, and in his other epistles.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit ties us to all who are in Christ.  This means that those who have the Spirit are part of The Universal Church.  This is important because this means that there isn’t a worship style, or a particular way of being the church.  Instead, it is an outer reality, that exists on the basis of the inward reality of the Spirit that makes the church be the church.   After all, there is only one Savior; and He is not divided in Himself.  We are “doing” church right, when we are being the Church through the aid of the Spirit.

The third mark is Holiness.  Holiness, unfortunately, sometimes is understood in a variety of ways.  For example, does one become Holy simply because Jesus automatically gives it to those who He calls His?  Or does Jesus offer Holiness to those who surrender themselves totally to Him so that He they can receive another helping of Grace?  This is a debate without end.  Yet, as a Wesleyan, I believe that Holiness is imparted by Christ.  From John Wesley’s point of view, “Holiness of the Church is attributable because of a real, rather than imputed, holiness” (532).  It should be pointed out that the Church does have within her those who are babes in Christ.  In fact, we are becoming Holy by allowing the Spirit within to mold and shape us.  We also are learning from the Great Teacher, Christ.   This means that each person is walking in the light they are given at that particular point of their new life in Christ.  If this be so, there will be issues each church will have to deal with because of the universal impact of sin in our world.  Further, corporate Holiness also involves accountability within the church.  I recognize that writing this some might say that this leads to judgment and condemnation and more legalism in the church.  By the way, both sides of this discussion have this element to contend with.  On the contrary, I believe it is about motivation.  Holiness that comes from the Spirit is centered on love for God and others.  It is not involved in lording over other people.  Instead it is driven by the heartfelt need to keep a brother or sister from sinning.  This in turn helps to keep the purity of the Church’s witness.  In fact, this is why Covenant Memberships exist in many churches.  This, too, will be a topic for another discussion.  Holiness, as Dunning puts it, is “the conscience of the church” (533).  Moreover, it is time that we Christians understand that we are Saints; and that we should no longer be sinners.  This is the common cry of many Christians today.  It is important that we remember that God still has expectations of us.  Therefore, right churches will remain aware of this.

The final mark in this list is Apostolicity.  This is not to be understood as an office what one can seek.  Instead it is what should be present within the Church through her members.  Members who are empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells within.  This is the same Holy Spirit who dwelt within the Apostles.  In other words, in regard to Apostolicity, “It is the truth of the gospel proclaimed in the power of the Spirit” (534).  In fact, this is why each person receives spiritual gifts.  These gifts are meant to build up the Church.  If we localize this by saying build up the church, which is part of The Church, then we realize that it is not about one person, or a few, who have the ability to attract.  It is about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within the corporate Body, and in individuals who make up the Body.  Therefore, it is not really about the greatness of the speaker, singer, or leader.  It is more likely that it is about the greatness of God who is present in His believers and among them as well.  With this type of understanding it easy to see that each person has a gift, or gifts, which they bring to the local church so that they too can help build up that particular church.  In turn, if the church being built up has these marks, then the Kingdom is being built up.  In fact, The Bible said that the Holy Spirit places in you in a church to do just that.

The purpose of writing this is to help those who may wonder whether or not their church is a right church.  At some point, All churches who claim Christ as their Savior must stop acting as if they are the only church who is really right.  Beware of that type of rhetoric, whether it comes from large or small.  It seems more likely that God uses both megachurches and small churches.  As a small church pastor, I want people to know that I understand these marks.  In fact, I wanted to write this because my church is small and can easily be labeled as a church that doesn’t get it.  Therefore, if Christ is in me and in those who attend my church, then it is dangerous when other pastors make blanket statements about churches who are not right or productive, in their opinion, because of a certain tradition that may seem to be out of touch with this new age.  Likewise, it is dangerous when smaller church pastors preach against what God is doing in larger churches.  The damage that is being caused is only to the mission of Christ to make disciples by using His Church.

There are more developed Marks of The Church, for example Mark Dever wrote a book called The Nine Marks of  a Healthy Church.  I have looked though this book, and it looks to be a good read and teaching tool.  However, I elected to stick with what I see as the earliest work on this subject.  I say this because I am aware that there are other variations of The Marks, but each should be developed from The Creed of Constantinople in my opinion.  I believe Dever’s is.  But his is a book, and this is only article that is meant to be basic.

Once one establishes whether or not a church is a right church, and there doesn’t seem to be division of Christ taking place, he or she needs to seek and hear from God whether or not that is the place to serve.  This should be helpful for those who are wondering what a good church looks like.

Works Cited

 

Dunning, H. Ray.  Grace Faith and Holiness.  Kansas City,

MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1988.

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Filed under Church bashing??, Church Health, Ecclesiology, Holiness, Leadership, Megachurch, Pastor, Small Church, Unity?, Worship

A minister’s path to success in the 21st Century

Here is a list of characteristics, skills, requirements, and yadda yadda yadda,  that are needed to be successful in as a Christian pastor; or at least to feel successful.

  1. You must study leadership, over and over, so that you can play the part of a professional.  After all, you are the leader of the church and possibly Jesus wants you to become very successful so that one day you can write a book.  You need to know how to exercise “power” among people to hold them accountable toward reaching your goals.  What you will learn is that you are a good leader when you are successful, but when you are not successful, you don’t have good followers.  You will learn how to get rid of those who are standing between you and reaching your, I mean, God’s goal.
  2. You must move on from the CB and Ham radio to Twitter.  Once you are on Twitter, you have to tweet simple sayings about leadership.  Preferably, you must let others know that you are a person of vision and they must develop one too.  Never Mind the vision that Jesus already gave His followers.  A great tweet to consider might be something like, “Leaders lead from influence.”  Or, “Leader, let the people see you sweat.”  These are short enough to likely get retweeted by those you followed, and after they followed you, you dropped them, so that you can have it listed on your Twitter account that you have 6,000 followers.  Plus, it is great to show that you are only following 60 people who are worthy enough to gain your followership.  With 6,000 followers, you have now become a person of influence even though you might be pastoring a church of 45-100.
  3. You must have an attractive appearance.  It would be helpful if you could attract the same type of attention that King Saul did when he was not king.  Looking hip is a big help in the 21st Century.  A gym membership is a must, along with hair coloring and very intellectual eyeglasses.  How you dress will help keep the undesirables away too.  A classy wardrobe simply lets people know that you only hang out with a certain group.  This way you will gain an audience that may have enough money that you won’t have to get bogged down in their problems.
  4. You must travel back and forth to major conferences routinely so that you can mingle with other professionals.  Successful ministers budget for the top conferences.  These are a must even though many conferences are centered around the same topics.  The point is that you are traveling, and this helps to maintain your professional appearance.  What is more, you can possibly squeeze in some golf during one of these conferences too.  Hanging out with professionals will build your network that will bring you clout for leadership.  This was where the Apostles went wrong, they caught peoples’ attention, but at the end of the day the people realized that they were uneducated men and were not professionals.
  5. Your vision must include reminiscing about your awful experiences with church growing up.  This will help to communicate to everyone that your church has finally developed the formula that will keep humanity from ruining the experience.  The experience has to outweigh the disappointment every week, even though God seems to mold and shape His people through disappointment with church experience and others.  In addition, you will help to eliminate the competition of those smaller churches that have to make use of their older facilities.  Likely, these were the churches that messed you up when you were younger, before you found the right formula.
  6. You must attach yourself to every new trend that comes around in the Christian world.  Warning, this may require a new wardrobe and younger look if you have been around for a while.  You never know when something new will make a splash sent in from the Christian writer’s world of thought.  For example, those who went for the attraction movement may now have to jump into the missional movement.  Be warned though, poverty is beginning to gain traction in the Christian world.  If so, this will change the path to success dramatically.
  7. You must be able to recite the Starbucks menu by heart.  Even if you are not a coffee drinker, it is in your best interest that you begin acquiring the taste for it.  After all, whoever heard of an up and coming minister that did not have meetings with potential white middle-class church attendees anywhere else?  It gives a sense of an artsy appearance and intellectualism to those who frequent the coffee house.  While there, don’t forget to tweet about it.  Something like, “Working while at Starbucks, love the private atmosphere, it keeps me close to the real people.”  This will help remove any guilt you might feel while your lay people are working; because they now know you are working too.
  8. You must have the newest Apple technology on the market.  You cannot run around with a flip-phone, or just a regular PC.  You have to have a Mac.  You need an awesome IPhone too (I have an IPhone also).  I keep mine in case I have a trendy Twitter thought about leadership that I would need to post.  This will simply give the appearance that you are on the cutting-edge of things.  We all know how important that is for ministers who are successful to blaze a trail before others.
  9. You must woo people by talking about their potential.  I mean, never mind talking about them decreasing so that Jesus can increase; that is outdated.  Instead, talk about how they too can become a great leader like you.  Further, talk about how God wants them to be happy  and that life is not supposed to be hard, especially once you teach them how manage properly their sin.    After all, Dr. Phil has been successful with doing this too.  I wonder if going to conferences regularly helped him.
  10. You must have trendy clothing that goes well with the Christian culture of today.  I prefer special caps along with this piece of the success puzzle.  Shirts with the Phoenix are slipping as I type, but it appears that shirts with patches and jeans with holes are sticking right now.  Shoes . . . that is a huge statement about the character of the successful minister.  Try to live with flip-flops and hiking shoes.  These demonstrate your oneness with nature.  You know going Green is a great trend to attach yourself to also.

Now this post has been written in fun.  Nevertheless, there are still truths in this post.  I won’t say which of these 10 I struggle with, but be assured that many do struggle with these.  It is time that ministers start distancing themselves from CEO role playing and consider people as those whom God treasures and not buildings or the work they feel called to.

My battle is to make sure that I’m not role-playing with a motive that is really more about me than it is the church that Jesus has entrusted to me.  If nothing else, this list could be a way for lay people and ministers to hold each other accountable so that we can be re-aligned with the purpose that Jesus has for His Church; the Kingdom of Heaven is near.

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Filed under Christianity, Leadership, Ministry, Pastor, Small Church

Rightly Dividing the Word

Since we live in an age where college degrees are more common, and information is accessible, does it matter if someone has been trained to teach God’s Word?  The easy answer is no. Yet, should someone who teaches God’s Word be trained theologically, have an understanding of the original text, and be familiar with Church history?

It is obvious that God uses those who do not have this type of training.  On the other hand, it is obvious that God doesn’t use many either.  In fact, there are many who have had this type of training that fail to allow God to use them.  I’m always amazed at how people are so quick to follow someone who regularly misinterprets Scripture.  The Bible calls these people “false teachers.”

What is good about denominations is that most expect their ministers to be trained in rightly dividing the Word of God.  In fact, the Wesleyan Church offers those who believe that God called them into ministry the opportunity to receive training through various types of education.  What is more, Wesleyans also have supervised ministry in place so that ministers can be trained practically while being supervised.  New ministers are held accountable for various things, and also whether or not they are able to rightly divide the Word.

I write this post not to sound arrogant.  My goal is not establish some type of hierarchy.  Neither am I putting down autonomous churches.  I believe that today it is important that people can depend on the minister to have a good grasp for dividing God’s Word.

Here is the rule of thumb: if the person who is teaches God’s Word has no accountability, then when is no accountability a good thing?  Furthermore, Jesus said that we would know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).  This is a biblical truth that continues to be the best deterrent from being misled.

My advice is be aware of who you agree with, because you may be misled intentionally, or unintentionally.  The person who teaches me the Word must be formally trained and be accountable.  This person’s teaching must be in line with historical understanding, along with accepted orthodox theology.

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Filed under Leadership, Ministerial training, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?

Thoughts on Leadership in The Church

I don’t believe that this is a popular post especially among my peers.  As I write this, I realize that I have not been able to do anything significant; at least as far as other pastors and church leaders might be concerned.  Yet, for some time I have been troubled by this continuous movement among pastors to focus directly upon leadership.

It seems to me that pastors focus more on reading articles and books on the topic of leadership than they do books that might help them to be better teachers.  Remember, people will follow leaders, but leaders can be different from teachers.  Teaching is important in God’s Kingdom.  Hence, focus on making disciples.  I follow many pastors on Twitter and it is obvious, according to the tweets I see, that many are spending more time reading leadership books than they are theological books.

Let me reign in this argument a little.  Understanding our roles as leaders in The Church is significant.  Yet, this being a subject that dominates our ministries is questionable; at least to me.  Someone like John Wesley, who was a great leader, believed that one of the most important books that he read, a part from the Bible, was Imitation of Christ.  This is a powerful book that seems to deal with transformation instead of demonstrating leadership over others.

In today’s Church, is it possible that pastors are focusing more on delegating the responsibility to care for those in the flock to others in the name of leadership?  This might be a good place to turn around, if you are a pastor, and look at the most read books in your office.  Are the books on leadership worn out more than the Bible?  How about those books that teach about pastoral care?  Theology?

In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus and His disciples “taught” the crowd before the miracle of feeding them.  Significant.  Also, the Disciples were told by Jesus, “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus delegated, with the purpose of “teaching,” to the Disciples to feed the crowd themselves.  The miracle and teaching were meant to teach; not demonstrate leadership.  Nevertheless, there is Scripture that teaches about leadership too.  Yet, it is in balance with other areas of ministry too.

Leadership sometimes gives ministers the hope that great leadership will attract more people to church and motivate them to do the work of The Church.  It can.  Yet, one the aspects that keeps people grounded is speaking the words of life.  When people deserted Jesus, He asked His Disciples if they wanted to leave too, but Peter asked, “To whom will we go, You have the words of life. (paraphrase John 6:68).  They stuck because leaders come and go, but the Truth never changes.  Obviously, Jesus taught the Truth and that was enough.

Some leadership risks are building a church after your image instead of God’s, people looking to you instead of seeking Christ.  I don’t want a church that thinks like Scott Uselman, I want a church that has the mind of Christ.  I don’t want people following Scott Uselman, yes I think I mean that, I want them to follow Jesus Christ.

Leaders tend to fix things, but some things are not meant to be fixed by anyone other than Christ.  Some things are designed teach Christians by the power and influece of the Holy Spirit; not by me becoming a person of influence.

Okay, I am not dumping leadership.  What I hope you have heard is that leadership should not be your only focus in ministry.  Yet, status updates and tweets seem to demonstrate that leadership is somewhat of a subject to show off as a pastor.  If I am out of line, be assured that it is not my intention.  In fact, examining ourselves and our motives might be good spiritual discipline even for a pastor who already knows everything. 😉

I long to see a renewed effort on teaching right doctrine, biblical theology, and focus on transformation instead of trying to develop leaders.  Holy Spirit, would you develop your people for your glory?  Amen.

 

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Filed under Church Health, Holiness, Leadership

Measuring success for the ‘regular’ pastor

I follow a lot pastors on Twitter.  Many of these people who I follow have multiple staff under them.  According to the statuses that post, they are flying all over the country, and often, out of the country.  They are in many meetings that seem to demonstrate that they are busy being used by God to reach, teach, preach, and give counsel to many people.  These ministers have set the standard that the rest of us ‘regular’ pastors feel, or have been told, we must measure up to.

As a pastor, it is often a struggle to find significance God’s Kingdom while trying to attract, yes attract, people to come to church.  The problem is that not many can measure up to these more famous, and gifted, pastors who have resources that are unavailable to most ministers.  This can leave a minister chasing his or her tail sifting through many different thought processes.  Some are, but not limited to, “Am I supposed to be in ministry?”  “Am I in the right place?”  “Does God want me to struggle?”  “Why is this not working?”  I think you get the picture.

Yet, a pastor has to feel that he or she is making a difference.  The minister needs to feel that God is still  with him or her even though there may not be numerical growth.  Or, small growth; even a decline.  Many of the ‘regular’ pastors wrestle with how know if they have been successful on a daily basis.  Yet, because of today’s media services, these people are constantly reminded that they are not measuring up to the ‘others’ who are nationally known as leaders.

The short answer that I am considering right now is that we are not supposed to feel like we have become successful.  This is not a motivational statement that someone who is struggling is trying to hang on to.  Instead, it seems that if one looks in Scripture for enlightenment, then it could be argued that there were prophets, priests, and Apostles.  There were also kings, but I want to put that aside for now.

If you are prophet, then how often were these people disappointed with the results of their efforts on speaking in behalf of God?  These people were lonely, and often abused, along with being made fun of.  Yet, God continued to ask them to continue to proclaim even though many were not listening to them.  These measured success in their hopes for the future redemption brought by God.  And they would never see it.

If you are a priest, then how did he measure success while working in the Temple?  This person was simply asked to oversee offerings and make sacrifices to God.  These men would give spiritual guidance to people who gave sacrifices more easily than obedience.  These too were ignored for the most part.  Plus, there were times that the people did not even bring in their sacrifices and offerings.  Yet, their job was to remain faithful in their service to God.  These measured success by getting to continue to do what they were created for, worshipping God.

If you are an Apostle, these people were persecuted.  Every local church they built up did not last.  When they finally had a crowd, it was blown up by someone or something.  These people did not just get fired, but they were beaten and killed.  Yet, God continued to move them forward to where they were unwanted by most.  They measured success in being worthy to suffer for the cause of the Gospel.

By measuring success with these thoughts in mind, then we must consider whether most of the American Church has got it wrong.  Or, is this just a ‘regular’ pastor who is trying to find comfort?  What is it to be a successful pastor?  Numbers?  Salvations?  Baptisms?

If you consider that Jesus said only a few will make it to Heaven because many followed the wide road, then unless those numbers, salvations, and baptisms, really resulted in transformation, then the way we measure success is ultimately wrong.  If ministers are being held accountable for what they cannot control, numbers, salvations, and baptisms, then who really is the Lord of the Harvest?

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Filed under Discouragement, Leadership, Small Church