I know that a lot of you who read this blog have some great ideas of your own! If you have been reading the Christian Leadership blog for a while and have something burning inside you that you think would be great to share with our readers. Send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your post of less than 500 words. (As you can see from my posts, people who want pages of text tend to read another blog.) If it is something that I think the readers would appreciate, I will happily post it with full credit given to you. Feel free to include a link to your own blog or webpage if you have one. If possible, this could become a once a week feature. Thanks in advance!
Archive for the 'Vision' Category
In the book The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, the first line is “It is not about you”. As leaders, this is even more important to remember. It isn’t about us. We must be constantly working ourselves out of a job by forming up leaders who will step into our shoes, take over parts of our ministry, and not only replace us, but go above and beyond what we ever dreamed possible. If we aren’t training up those leaders, what we end up with is the second generation blah blah blah movement. Churches are a great example. Think of a dying church in your area, every community has one. There are 5-15 people attending, it hasn’t grown in years and the congregation is literally dying off of old age. That church didn’t start that way! Someone had a great vision for your community! They got out there and did the hard work! They spread the gospel and reached people for the Lord! The church grew, built a building and loved on lots of people with the love of Jesus…then that leader moved or died. The next generation just did what the leader had done, but not quite as well, and without quite as much enthusiasm. Passion for God was replaced with “That is the way we have always done it.” …and the church began to die. Train up great leaders so that when you are gone, they continue with the passion for the dream God has given you!
I have been teaching now for going on 15 years. Not a lifetime yet, but long enough to feel like I sort of know my way around the classroom. Student evaluations seem to suggest that I am a decent educator. So, here is my problem. I want to talk myself right out of my current job. We use this factory model set up by the industrial age to make students literate and teach them to show up on time, do the work asked, not make trouble, listen to bells so they know when to start, stop or eat lunch. In today’s world, Wikipedia, which is edited by everyone, is just as accurate as any encyclopedia and has many more entries. The internet isn’t about just publishing stuff, it is about people being interconnected. I admit that much of that connection is banal chatter, but in the midst of that chatter, there is a wealth of both stagnant knowledge and flowing knowledge. What I mean by those terms is that you can quickly look up who the 4th president of the United States was, or what is a quadratic equation which would be stagnant or static knowledge…it doesn’t change. Flowing knowledge would be things like facebook, twitter, chat features and even comments on blogs that can lead to people finding out about disasters hours before any news coverage breaks. People can send a facebook status update from their cell phone even when the power is out because a tornado hit to let their family and friends all know that they are OK or that the first tower at the World Trade Center had just been hit by a plane.
Students in the current generation still need to be taught! The problem is that they are used to having all these tools to keep them interconnected with the rest of the world, and then when they come to school, we tell them to turn off their cell phones, put up their laptop, sit still and pay attention in an environment that is bluntly put, much more conducive to boredom than to learning. Most of us, and I include myself in this category, got our degrees before the internet was invented. Many of my colleagues typed their dissertation on a typewriter…though at least it was most likely an electric one. We learned in the environment that we teach in, so we assume that the student should too. There must be something wrong with the kids if they can’t learn this way.
This summer, I plan to do some experiments in my classroom…or out of it at times. I hope to use the phones and laptops, create together, blog, tweet, make a wiki etc…and either, the whole experiment will go horridly wrong and a bunch of poor Spanish IV students shall rue the day they chose to sign up for my class, or it shall be a crazy and wild time full of learning in an environment that more closely resembles the world in which we really live in. I will be sure to keep you updated.
If you are a leader, you must know where you are leading people. What are you leading them towards? If you have forgotten the vision that got you started. That vision that God laid on your heart that wouldn’t let go. That vision that you couldn’t shake until you did something about it! Yes, that vision! That now may seem dusty and cold. Don’t forget what got you to where you are now. Lead forward while you follow the vision God gave you.
In the church world, there are so many great programs/events/studies/classes that can help your church. At what point do they become a detriment? One question to ask is, “How many staff and volunteers do we have?” and then secondly, “What is the very best use for these people?” If we try to do everything, we will accomplish nothing well. There are traditional programs like Choir, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Special Music, Men’s & Women’s ministries…each of these take someone to lead them and people to be involved in them. Each of these serve a purpose and can be good for the church. Sometimes though, it is important to choose between them so that a smaller number of programs can be done with the excellence that is due worship presented to the King of kings and Lord of lords! If you are having trouble getting volunteers for an area of ministry in your church, you could berate the congregation about why they aren’t serving the Lord…OR you might take another look at that area of ministry and ask if it is really vital to the core mission of the church? It might be time to kill it before it dies a long painful death.
Today, my wife left for Seattle. The house hasn’t changed any. Life around me is more or less the same, but there is a little something missing. She is only one person, but in my life, she is a VERY important person! Are you a part of someone’s life enough that you would be missed if you disappeared for a while? Someone other than your spouse/kids? In church leadership we can ask that question both of ourselves and our church. If I disappeared from this ministry, would anyone care? Would it affect anything? The same with our church! If my church disappeared off the face of the earth today, would anyone outside of the staff & maybe the members even notice? Are we making a difference in the community? Do people outside see the life change that is going on in people’s lives because we are here? Or are we just that building on a hill that has a few cars outside it on Sunday mornings for an hour or so? Tough question to ask, but one we should be asking regularly. Just because you would be missed today, doesn’t mean you have that status forever. We must constantly be seeking the Lord and HIS vision and direction for our churches. When we step outside of HIS will, we are just a community club that will soon lose members and die off. Seek God’s grace that your church will be one that would be missed if you weren’t there!
Some people feel that not planning out their sermons is somehow more spiritual. You confuse that pit in your stomach on Saturday night because you don’t know what you are going to preach in the morning with the work of the Holy Spirit. Try this and see if it works for you. Take a day or two away from the church. Sit down with a calendar and a Bible somewhere that will not distract you. Pray over the dates in the calendar. You might get ambitious and give a rough plan to the entire year. If not, try for at least a quarter. Note that there may be certain holidays like Christmas, Easter/Passover, Ascension Sunday etc. for which you may want to plan a special service. You will also want to plan sermons that remind the congregation of the vision that is particular to your church at least once a quarter. Having a plan allows you to tackle jobs in bite size pieces. It allows you to have more creativity. Like if you want a prop for a sermon, it is much easier to acquire if you have a few months to get it than if you have from midnight Saturday evening until Sunday morning to get it. If you have a staff, it gives them a heads up about what they need to be doing as well. If you are worried about too much planning and not enough Holy Spirit, remember, HE can still change the plans at the last minute just like before…but there is a plan for HIM to change. HE can and should be part of the planning. If you have never tried this before, you might do something basic like dusting off one of those systematic theology books from bible college or seminary and work through the table of contents in a year or two. That way, you don’t preach on your pet doctrines every week while leaving your congregation ignorant of others. Have fun! I hope you will find that this approach relieves stress from your work. If not, after a quarter, go back to agonizing on Saturday night for a Sunday morning sermon.
One of the great things about working with college students is that they are so very full of energy and great ideas! I sometimes feel like I could give them a class project to “change the world” and they would figure out a way to do it. If you are a pastor or church leader, remember this group. They don’t often give much monetarily, but they have very much to give to the church! You might find your church busting wide open with creativity and energy if you can harness their creative powers and help them find how GOD wants them used! And remember that most of the great revivals began when students got on fire for GOD! I am constantly inspired in my own walk with the Lord by the college students in my life.
If you are one of those students, thanks for all you guys do to make this world a better place and for everything you do to make Jesus famous!
Before you can go the extra mile, you first must know what the first mile is. Do you know what the vision is that God has given you for your ministry? Can you see it? Taste it? Recognize it when you see it? If someone else offers to help, can you tell whether their “help” fits into the vision plan for the ministry God has placed you in charge of? If you do know the vision, are you willing to go beyond just trying to create adequacy? To be a great leader, are you ready to make sure that the bathrooms are sparkling clean? Are you asking the right questions to find out what would make things run more smoothly? At the core, we must constantly be in prayer before God to know what HIS vision is for the ministry he lets us work with. To quote Dave Ramsey, “We must pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on us.” It does depend completely on God, yet we must be willing to do all that we can to do our part to create an environment in which success can happen. When our church or ministry gives people MORE than what they expect, then they will be much more open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that can really change their life!
As a Christian leader, are you clearly identifying the goals that the Lord has placed on your heart so that those who God has given you to lead can work along side you to acheive those goals? Are people in your church just trying to guess what the purpose of the congregation is? Having been both a lay person and a church staff person in various congregations in my life, I have noticed two leadership traits that can stifle church health and church growth.
1. No clear plan! If the pastor and church staff don’t know what the goals are for the church, then how can the average person in the pew hope to know and be a part of achieving the goal.
2. Goals that change too often. Many pastors and leaders are visionaries, this is a great quality as long as the vision is sustained. The problem comes in when the leader has one great plan after another with no time in the middle for implementation! We see this issue when the church attempts to start too many ministries…the result is that none of them are carried out well.
God has uniquely qualified each person in the body of Christ to carry out a mission for HIM. Pastors and Leaders help others plug into that mission and unite people of similar mission to carry out the goal of being the Hands and Feet of God here on earth. There are many vital ministries in this world, each of them is important. Remember that no one person or even one congregation can do them all! Beg GOD for THE MESSAGE that your church needs to hear and carry out. It won’t be the same as the church down the street…if it is, there is no need for your church to exsist-Just go join them. It will be something that God impresses on you that is specific for the congregation HE has allowed you to lead. Have an awesome day! I hope you found some encouragement and direction in this post.