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Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 4

December 31, 2012 1 comment

4. There was a man sent from God whose name was John (John 1:6).
Does God still send men and what does it take to be one? It seems evident by John’s ultimate path that a man must be willing to walk alone if He will be sent by God. He must be willing to stand when others flee. He must be willing to raise his voice when others stay silent. He must be ready to slide into the background when another is raised above him. He must be willing to die so that the truth of his message might live.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Leading the Smaller Congregation – Part 4

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

In our last segment, we looked at the great potential of the smaller church in four key areas: deep relationships, extensive ministry involvement, intergenerational ministry development, and community impact. The path to success in these areas, however, requires certain types of commitment from us as leaders.

John Maxwell describes five levels of leadership influence, in order to help pastors understand what is needed to increase their effectiveness and lead change effectively in a congregation.

  1. LEVEL 1 – Position leadership, where the leader’s only influence is the right to lead that the title provides.
  2. LEVEL 2 – Permission leadership, where the leader’s influence grows through relationship and the people give him permission to lead because they like him.
  3. LEVEL 3 – Production leadership, where the leader can lead because he’s producing results for the organization. People follow at this level because the leader is viewed as successful.
  4. LEVEL 4 – People development leadership, where people follow a leader because of the difference he has made in their personal lives.
  5. LEVEL 5 – Personhood leadership, where the leader’s extended influence has given him high levels of respect and influence. This pinnacle level is reserved for the most influential leaders in our lives.

It takes time to climb these levels with people—time that many leaders in smaller churches fail to give. In order to lead effectively, the pastor of a smaller congregation must commit years to the role, in order to grow influence and to demonstrate the level of commitment many church members need to see before being willing to face needed change. Often, a pastor will not begin to truly lead a church until his fifth year, so the average pastoral tenure of just over 4 years is highly problematic.

Leading the smaller church also requires a deep commitment to people. The ministry is the “people business.” Jesus explained this in Matthew 20, when He told His disciples that their leadership wouldn’t be like the Gentiles who use their authority to dominate and rule. Instead, they would find greatness in servanthood.

Servant leadership isn’t just a secular-style of leadership where the leader is also a nice guy. Servant leadership means putting the needs of others ahead of your own.  It’s less about being in charge and more about giving myself for others.

While every spiritual leader should lead in this way, a pastor’s failure to do so in the smaller church is highly visible and brings leadership problems very quickly. Simply put, if you don’t like people, you shouldn’t be a smaller church pastor.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 3

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

3. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:5).
We serve a kingdom that is misunderstood. People see the righteousness God demands as a threat to their ways, exposing them in their failures. So, they resist the light. They don’t understand that the light has come to give life. The path of righteousness is the one that can rescue and bring life–even eternal life. But those who see rejection run the other way. How critical it is for us to carry the light in ways that demonstrate its true potential.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 74

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Year end brings with it the opportunity to renew commitments and make fresh ones as we look to the future. Sure, some of us will make plans we won’t fulfill and we’ll set a few goals that won’t get accomplished either, but don’t let those keep you from aiming your life in an intentional direction.

What will you achieve this year?

You see, if you aim at nothing, you’ll find this year will evaporate even faster than the last one and you’ll be no closer to becoming the man you have always wanted to be. So set your sights on some specific destinations and you’ll give yourself a better chance of moving forward in ways that really matter.

Make a choice to be pure. Let this be the year that you step away from things you once slid into. Don’t let the easily-available traps of sexual impurity tighten their grip on you this year, but make an intentional plan to avoid them even more effectively than you have before.

Make a choice to sacrifice. Let this be the year that you take new strides toward giving for your family. Sacrifice time for your kids. Sacrifice energy for your wife. Give them your best in new ways this year and next year you’ll be celebrating even deeper relationships wit your family.

Make a choice to be loyal. Avoid conversations that tear others down and instead prove your loyalty to God, to your church, to your boss, and to others who need your support. Give more of yourself to the agenda of others this year and watch how God will use you to bless them.

Make a choice to excel. While each of us will walk different paths this year, what could happen if we shared a commitment to do our best in everything we do. Don’t just excel in a few things, but let people see how everything you do is worthy of your best.

The key idea here is “make a choice.” Don’t just let life come to you, but march forward with intent and take charge of those things that are within your reach. Build your life with the best materials and you’ll find yourself achieving new heights and deeper relationships.

Let this be the year you start becoming the man you always dreamed you’d be.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 2

December 25, 2012 Leave a comment

2. In him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:4).
Why follow Christ? It’s the first question a disciple must encounter. Here, John offers the only conceivable answer–Jesus possesses life on a completely different level. There’s nowhere else that true life can be found. That life is the light all of us are looking for. That’s why you follow–because of where He is leading you.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Leading the Smaller Congregation – Part 3

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Okay, are you ready for some good news? We’ve already looked at some of the obstacles the smaller church must face and we’ve seen a few reasons why those who lead the smaller church can become frustrated with the perceived limitations. But there’s good news too!

There are many areas of great potential for the smaller congregation:

  1. Deep relationships – Because of the frequent connection people can make with one another in the smaller church, relationships can deepen and become highly valuable. Often a smaller church can easily achieve the level of intimacy that a large church seeks to develop through small group ministries.
  2. Extensive ministry involvement – Since the smaller church has fewer people to help lead and implement its ministries, there are greater opportunities for personal ministry development. It’s no surprise that a great many ministry leaders, missionaries, and pastors come from smaller congregations. In those settings they had more frequent interaction with ministry leaders and greater apprenticeship-type opportunites than can often be possible for the larger church.
  3. Intergenerational ministry development – In the smaller church, there are typically more opportunities for the entire congregation to interact together. Church events typically include all ages and older saints are far more likely to be acquainted with younger members than in settings where relationships are limited to ministry sub-groups.
  4. Community impact – Smaller churches that focus their ministries outside their walls can develop a high level of influence in the community. When outward focus is coupled with leadership consistency (longer-term pastorates), the influence in the community can reach remarkable levels.

Now you may think this list should be longer, and maybe it can be (send me your list). But consider how significant each of these four advantages really are. Relationships, ministry development, cross-generational connections and outward focus are the biggest pieces of church life. Excel in these and you’ll have more than a healthy church. You’ll have a powerful one!

Smaller churches may not get everyone’s attention, but they have the capacity to be amazing!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 1

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Starting a new leadership journey today…with jesus and His disciples from the book of John.

1. In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1).
Core beliefs must be made clear for any journey to be successful. If you don’t know the “why,” you’ll never discover the “how” or find the motivation to continue the journey in difficult times. Here, John affirms the core belief about Jesus as justification for the choice to follow Him. Being a disciple of Jesus is justified since Jesus is God himself. Never forget to establish the “why” of your journey with great clarity.

Categories: Leadership Journeys