Archive for April, 2014

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 135

135. If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:24).

Here is perhaps the clearest presentation of the Gospel for modern understanding. The necessity is to believe that Jesus is the One. Of course, there’s more involved than mere mental assent. Like the woman caught in adultery, we are caught in our own sin and must now go and sin no more. But here, Jesus elevates the idea of “believe” above all else. For John, “believe” means complete new direction for life. To believe is to reroute your direction and follow after Him. Makes sense, for if God is here, how could we sensibly choose any other path?


The “DOs” of Recruiting – Part 3

Some people say no.

It’s a cold, hard fact of recruiting people for ministry. Some folks choose not to engage the opportunity you place before them. And, truth is, you should be glad they did.

The ability to say no is a bit elusive to many of us. Fear of letting someone down or causing them to view us negatively gets many of us into personal schedules we can’t manage or assignments we don’t have the ability to fulfill. These stresses ultimately take their toll and start affecting other areas of our lives. In the end, our lives aren’t fulfilling and our ministry experiences don’t deliver on the promises made when I was recruited.

Saying no doesn’t always mean I’m selfish. It may mean I’m focused–focused on things like being a better husband, dad, or giving my best to the assignments I’ve already said yes to. Saying no may mean that I already see my square-peg reality hovering over the round hole you offer. Saying no means I will risk a negative moment now in order to sidestep a lot of them later.

When someone says no to your recruiting effort, be careful what you think of them. Unless they lash out with a string of hurtful words to send you back from wherever you came from, they probably aren’t rejecting you. As John Maxwell has said, “Your yes never means yes, until your no means no.” If everyone said yes, you probably have several who should have said no.

When you get a yes, you want that to be a passionate, enthusiastic yes. Guilt might land you a few agreements, but it will never build a healthy team. Just as God wants a cheerful giver, you and your church really need cheerful workers. Don’t settle for the other kind.

Here’s a few reasons to accept the unwanted no:

  • Not called to this ministry.
  • Disconnect between assignment and ministry gift.
  • Doesn’t have a heart for the ministry.
  • Too busy.
  • Unwilling to meet expectations.
  • Expresses inappropriate motives.
  • Lacks a servant’s heart.
  • Not qualified and you don’t believe you can mentor them.
  • Wants to serve by has short term obstacles. Be willing to wait.
  • Not sure or not ready to commit. You have probably mistimed the request for commitment.
  • Fearful to the point of paralysis.

Even if you suspect some other motive is really at work, these are responses to accept. If you don’t, and you keep pushing for a yes, you’ll soon end up with a difficult situation to manage.

If no one can say no to you, it’s likely that no one is really saying yes. Those who learn to accept a no, will more likely create an environment where they’ll begin to find the kind of yes responses they really need.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 134

134. No one seized him, because his time had not yet come (John 8:20).

The religious leaders have been locked in an intense battle with Jesus, and it’s hard to imagine modern leaders accepting his words any more easily. You simply can’t be argued into faith. But John’s final observation likely hints at the intensity of the debate. Why did they not take Jesus into custody? Apparently John (and the others) expected such, but it didn’t happen. And the only explanation he can give is that it must not have been His time yet. Of course, writing five decades later John knows the story’s end so he can offer such an explanation with confidence. But the Pharisees’ struggle and John’s explanation underline the truth about Jesus. He was only believable by faith. Those who tried to reason their way to understanding had too many available off ramps. Only those who put their faith in Him could see who He really is. And not much has changed since…

The Brotherhood – Part 140

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.

I had coffee this morning with my youngest son, and for awhile we discussed the importance of community. Though much of life encourages us to find our own way, it’s clear that the need for others is a critical part of our original design. God knows that we need each other and the Bible frequently addresses that need.

“It’s not good for man to be alone…”

Yes, that early moment led to God’s creation of woman, but the principle holds true even when the subject of marriage isn’t on the table. We simply weren’t made to thrive in a vacuum (or pushing one). Yet, too many men see the time they spend at church as a box to check on the to-do list. Faithfully, we put in the time for worship–singing along with our church’s quality musicians and listening to our pastor’s insights–but are we engaged in community?

The real intent of Jesus’ Church idea is that we “love one another.” Are we doing that? Do we extend ourselves to other guys and share life with other Christ-following families, or are we just punching an ecclesiastical time clock ’cause it’s good for the family?

If you want to really find the man you’re meant to be, you won’t find him alone. Proverbs mentions more than once that your companions play a huge role in the path you’ll walk. That means our connections with other men who are pursuing Christ’s path can be catalysts for such a destiny. Don’t sit back while your wife flits among church folk like a social butterfly. Engage! Stick out a strong hand and build some friendships.

Truth is, if you don’t have friends at church, you won’t be there long. So take a proactive step in the direction of the community God wants to build around you. Those relationships, while not always perfect, are intended to play a significant role in the man you want to become. In fact, you won’t get there without them.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 133

133. “appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid” (John 8:13).

While the Pharisees are wrong about Jesus, they are right on this point. They cannot accept Jesus’ statements about Himself alone. But they missed who He is because they didn’t accept the other voices either–the prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, John the Baptist, etc. They even ignored the voice from Heaven on miraculous occasions. They didn’t get Him because they had decided not to. It’s true that my own statements of myself need to be confirmed by other sources, but ignoring those additional voices proves I have no interest in truth. Clearly their better course of action would have been to listen, to consider the larger evidence, and then to determine their view of this unusual Teacher.


The “DOs” of Recruiting – Part 2

In our last blog, we discussed who to look for when you are recruiting helpers for ministry. Remember that jesus was highly intentional in choosing His disciples, and we can’t afford to be careless in our recruiting either. Truth is, when we are, we create many of the problems that make our lives most difficult.

But what do you do once you’ve determined the “who” of your ministry team? Begin to transfer VALUES.

Values are those essential ideas that drive your ministry. They are what you believe in, what compels you, what drives the passion of your ministry effort. Without a clear sense of values, people will choose their own motivations for ministry, and you may not always like what they choose.

Values and passion are the unique elements of life in your church–the stuff you want people to know before jumping in. They’re why you don’t sign folks up for ministry on their first Sunday. Values are the things you want to have in common before you engage anyone in your ministry effort.

What are they?

In addition to your church’s passion or vision statement, you’ll want to teach ideas like teamwork, accountability, and communicate the blessing that serving brings to Christ’s kingdom and to the one who serves.

You must communicate vision–the big one and the little one. The big vision is the overarching passion and direction the local church is pursuing. What church are we trying to be…a place where…get the idea?

People must be on board with the vision of the house if they are going to effectively serve that vision. Until the “why” is driving the “what” you can’t possibly get anywhere good or even know when you arrive.

Also, create a climate for clarification. Let every volunteer know their path for information and help them engage that path. If their go-to person is Bob, introduce them to Bob and help them have their first conversation with Bob. If they have a first conversation with Bob, they will be far more likely to have a second one when they need it.

Communicate expectations clearly too. Don’t be afraid to tell people what kind of commitment you need. People are looking for purpose, for a sense of significance that fuels the idea that they matter. If you make the job sound light or easy, your volunteers won’t find value in their efforts. If you expect little, that’s usually what you’ll get so stop apologizing for asking people to give themselves to ministry! Match their abilities to a task and then let them know that they now have a way to give God their absolute best. In fact, the sooner they realize that their serving God and not just working for you, the better.

The more effective you are on the front end of a ministry assignment, the better the experience will be for those who serve under your ministry. So take time to equip every individual with your values. And, of course, you need to show those values in action yourself. Let them see your passion for the church’s vision. Let them see you living the principles of teamwork and accountability, too. It’s a lot easier to follow a leader if he’s walking the same road he’s asking you to walk.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 132

132. “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Those in darkness search desperately for light. Light is the oxygen of existence. It is the path to hope, the only means by which one can find his way. Jesus’ words underscore that He alone is the only route to real life, that all other paths leave one stumbling in the darkness. God is light, and Jesus is the only means by which He can be found. The struggle for many is two-fold. First, to see the darkness of their current path. Until such realization comes, there is no seeing Jesus as light. Second, to discover that there is only one Source of light. No other path reveals truth.