Still Reviving - Cedrick Brown
Focusing Toward Revival - Tony Balsamo
No one needs you. Now what? - Joe Henseler
You're not enough. That's okay. - Eddie Cole
Most churches are married-people-centric. Whether intentionally or not, churches tend to create polished and fine sounding arguments for why marriage is a prerequisite for leadership opportunities.
After all, married people are more stable, right? Because marriage is a sanctifying commitment, they are more mature. Because marriage gives a beautiful God-ordained opportunity for sex, married people are less likely to be tempted sexually. In fact, marriage requires self-sacrifice, and singles just don’t experience the giving of themselves to others.
What was the first thought that went through your mind when you read that title?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been turned off over so much emphasis on church multiplication at any expense that the mere suggestion of multiplication completely frustrates you.
Yet, every church multiplies… Whether intentional or not, whether healthy or not, every church is multiplying something. It’s what we are multiplying that I would like to talk about.
For most of us, change is hard; for others, it’s downright excruciating!
As people who are constantly being changed into the image of Christ, change should be something Christians embrace and even pursue when we understand that it’s for good cause.
Yet, when we’re honest, we know that even good change is difficult. We often bristle at accepting the need to change and, too commonly, fail to do it gracefully. It’s true personally and corporately.
When we think of leadership, we rarely consider terms such as bottom or weak, but rather top and strong. We define our idyllic leaders as sharp, innovative, visionary, and bright. Can you imagine being introduced this way: “I want you to meet Cedrick, our wonderful pastor who has lots of issues.”
Never do we aim to describe our leadership with such wonderful acclaim! Of course, until they fail… Until we fall… But what if there was a better, more reliable leadership model that we all could aspire to emulate or seek to follow? There is – it’s leading from the bottom up.
Sometimes we get stuck thinking that any warm body will do. I just need someone to (fill in the blank). We try to make it sound easy and low commitment because we just need someone, like now. We’ve all been there. But when this becomes our long-term approach, it could mean that our needs are greater than our vision.
When this is what we are looking for, this is what we will get. People will rise to the level of expectation, but when it comes to volunteers, we often lower the bar and stay in a cycle of frustration. As I watch leaders I respect, here are a few things I’ve learned.
If you want to be a great leader, it is critical to invest in your relationship with your Number Two. They can either be your greatest cheerleader, asset, and companion in ministry, or they can be the constant thorn in your side, source of frustration, and maybe even the reason you’re considering quitting.
These are five things your Number Two needs from you.
I believe it was Jethro who came up with the concept of doing team-based ministry first. You remember the unwise, all-too-familiar scene unfolding in Exodus 18 don’t you?
Moses, with admirable motives and the greatest of intentions, was wearing himself out – working morning ‘til evening and frustrating all of the people he tried to serve. How would you like that combination in ministry – weary and ineffective. Not fun. Oh yeah, add a healthy dollop of complaining from the people you minister to and a dash of discouragement and I think you get Moses’ state of mind. Maybe you can relate.
While I don’t read a lot of leadership books, I absorb the audio versions of leadership books on a regular basis. The most influential and transformative leadership book I have listened to is The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. This one book is responsible for creating clarity in my own leadership style which has resulted in a highly motivated and high functioning leadership team. My team is able to overcome all kinds of obstacles as we move forward and grow in healthy ways.
As a lifelong baseball fan, I have always appreciated that, by nature, baseball is a team sport. No matter how good of a batter, pitcher, or fielder you are, you are utterly dependent on the rest of the team. You can have the greatest hitter of all time on your team, but if the rest of your lineup can’t hit a ball off a tee, you’re going to be in sad shape.
The same is true in ministry. No matter how great a preacher, teacher, or worship leader you may be, your team and mission will die with you unless you are intentionally pouring into the person or people who are coming up behind you.
There are churches that feel unchangeable, but any church can experience change and become a healthy, growing, even multiplying church.
Before we get into how to change an unchangeable church we need to admit something together: If churches don’t change, they die. This is a reality we may try to avoid or ignore but it is very much true.
I know this because I was the lead pastor of a dying church.
It’s been over three years since I left the role of lead pastor and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on things I did while I was in that role. There are some things I wouldn’t change for anything and there are plenty of others that I wish I could get a do over as a husband, dad and disciple. I recently made a list of 50 things that I would do differently if I were to re-enter the role of pastor. I won’t drop all of them in this one post, but here are 10 to consider for yourself as you work in ministry.
I left my tenure as a local church pastor over three years ago to become the district superintendent of EDA Move. A few weeks back I wrote about some things I would change if I were a pastor again. Now, you’ve heard the statement that goes, “experience is the best teacher.” For the most part, I’d say I agree with that. Unless you mean… MY experience alone is the best teacher.
The truth is, when it comes to making mistakes, I would rather learn from someone else’s mistakes and pains and failures and the things they wish they could do over, rather than me and my family and my ministry having to go through all of those things.
A few months ago I wrote about St. John’s Syndrome. St John’s syndrome is described as “the tendency of churches to become less effective the longer they are in existence.” The two keys to overcoming St. John’s Syndrome are to rediscover the original values of the church (“do the things you did at first/ going back to your first love” Revelation 2:3-4) and make changes that will revitalize the church for another generation.
Your church is either heading up in health and ministry or you are heading down in sickness, stagnation and death. Where is your church going?
When a church loses its way up, grows stagnant and begins the free-fall toward the end, its leaders will make changes – either change policy about how to do things, change personnel by firing the pastors /electing new leaders, or create new programs. But they often miss the most basic and important of all: clarify your purpose.
Has your church plateaued? Has your church been in decline? Are you feeling stuck and unsure about what lies ahead for you or your church? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you aren’t alone. I have been able to answer yes to all of the above at some point in my role as a lead pastor.
There are things that can get in the way as we try to find, initiate or drive the vision and direction for our church or organization.
In middle and high school, there are typically teachers whom students avoid like the plague – teachers whose names are synonymous with high expectations and low grades. Time, however, can change our perspective on things.
Maybe setting a high bar for people isn’t just a way to get the most out of them but, also, the biblical way.
Let’s be honest… We don’t like to talk numbers.
We’re afraid that if we talk about the numbers, then the numbers are the only important thing when measuring the success of a ministry. If we focus on size, then the size of the ministry will determine its value or importance.
So we want to stay away from the “numbers” out of fear of focusing on the wrong thing. But how DO we measure success in a ministry?
What is the essence of ministry? How do you define it? A definition we’ve come to appreciate at our church goes like this: Ministry is a series of difficult conversations.
The easy stuff works itself out. But the entrenched patterns, the destructive habits, the corrosive relationships, those don’t seem to go anywhere. Until there’s a hard conversation.
Eastern District Association
PO Box 3547
Camp Hill, PA 17011