Leadership Links- 6/22

Note: While BER recommends that local church elders and leaders read broadly and we provide these Leadership Links as recommendations for your benefit, we do not necessarily endorse everything in these articles. But we do feel each one contains some helpful input to help you in your shepherding God’s people. So read wisely and discerningly.  

 

SUNDAY WORSHIP

14 new things to do at church this weekend

  1. Invite someone to go with you.
  2. Skip breakfast before church and instead fast and pray.
  3. Get to church before the service starts.
  4. Prepare your heart by forgiving that church member or leader who made you mad.
  5. Sit closer to the front leaving room in the back for guests who come late.
  6. Introduce yourself to somebody you don’t know.  Click below for the rest.

http://chucklawless.com/2017/06/14-new-things-to-do-at-church-this-weekend/

CHURCH

Six stages of a dying church Somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 churches in America will close their doors in the next year. And many of them die because they refuse to recognize problems before they became irreversible.

  1. Denial
  2. Recalibration
  3. Anger
  4. Exodus
  5. Desperation
  6. Death

http://thomrainer.com/2017/06/six-stages-dying-church/

10 church member contradictions that frustrate pastors

  1. Those who point out problems, but refuse to be part of the solution. They’re experts at seeing the wrong, but they have no interest in helping fix the problem.
  2. Those who attend only occasionally, but seem to know all the “stuff” going on. You’d think they’d be out of the loop, but not necessarily.
  3. Those who give, but threaten to pull their giving every time they don’t like something. In that case, they’re not really giving; they’re using their dollars as a weapon.
  4. Those who quote the Bible regularly, but never quite accurately. Some of us could write a book on misquoted Bible verses, often quoted only to support an argument.  Click below for rest

http://chucklawless.com/2017/06/10-church-member-contradictions-that-frustrate-pastors/

10 characteristics of movemental Christianity In the West, if and when we see movements of churches planting 1,000 churches in their lifetime, then we believe the following ten characteristics will be present. Based on our observations, movemental Christianity will have some of these characteristics.

  1. Prayer
  2. Intentionality of multiplication
  3. Sacrifice   Click below for the rest and fuller explanations of each characteristic

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/june/10-characteristics-of-movemental-christianity.html

MINISTRY

The Difference Between Attractional and Attractive Ministry Though it’s a subtle difference, there is a great chasm between being an attractive church and an attractional church. One intentionally tries to draw a crowd, while the other goes about doing their ministry and the crowds show up, maybe. Jesus didn’t have healing services in hopes that people would show up. He healed people because that is who He is and people showed up as a result. The attractional model, though, draws a crowd and hopes to slip the gospel in the backdoor. One has confidence in who they are and they other is like a junior high boy who doesn’t have enough confidence in his person to drop the frills and just be himself.

http://ftc.co/resource-library/1/2913

3 ways to spot Christian backstabbing  Manipulative people familiar with the Christian faith can actually use Christian language to embolden their backstabbing. They can call someone friend and brother while manipulating and dividing. They can disguise their sinful behavior with the language of the people of God. It is pretty nauseating when you think on it. Backstabbing among the people of God is a deep violation of our faith and a horrible representation of our faith to the world.

https://ericgeiger.com/2017/06/3-ways-to-spot-christian-backstabbing/

15 ways to talk so that people will listen These are good reminders for us as leaders in any context.

https://leadershipfreak.blog/2017/06/14/15-ways-to-talk-so-people-will-listen/

SPIRITUAL LIFE / GROWTH

How to and how not to repent: best and worst practices There is no formula for repentance. The six points below are merely meant to help you experience the full redemptive impact of repentance. In this sense, repentance and God’s forgiveness can be like a smart phone. They have many features that we may not know are present or how to utilize. When we buy the phone, we get them all; but we do not get the full benefit of them until we realize they’re there and how to use them.

http://www.bradhambrick.com/how-to-how-not-to-repent-best-worst-practices/

10 sure marks of humility Is there any trait more odious than pride or more precious than humility? Is there any trait whose presence we so highly honor in others and whose absence we so readily excuse in ourselves? Truly, pride is the chief of sins and humility the highest of virtues. Yet the Christian has the joy of seeing the Holy Spirit put pride to death and bring to life the beauty of humility. Here are 10 sure marks that you are growing in humility.

https://www.challies.com/reading-classics-together/10-sure-marks-of-humility

Take up thy swords a challenge to memorize chapters

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/take-up-thy-swords

An open letter to those who are apathetic about their sanctification How can I light a fire and get you engaged and active

in wanting to grow when you don’t really seem that interested? You’re “eh,” “meh,” and “whatever.” What could shake you out of apathy and indifference? What could shake you out of plodding along through life, going through the motions in your Christianity?

There’s no magic answer of course. But let me share a couple of things that I’ve found that have affected my own lethargy and apathy.

https://www.ccef.org/resources/blog/open-letter-apathetic-sanctification

Running to win: Maintain your vigilance

https://www.challies.com/articles/maintain-your-vigilance

LEADERSHIP

The routine absurdity of leaders growing large  Think about this as the loving act of a devoted dad who is dedicated to his child’s rescue. God loves us so much that he will push us off the altar of our accomplishments. He will act decisively to lay low anything in our life that competes for his supremacy. It looks different for everyone: The airtight business plan goes belly-up, the guaranteed investment tanks, the church splits, a kid goes AWOL. In the world of leadership, there are certain kinds of entrenched pride that only a big failure can dislodge. As an act of fatherly protection, God lets us tumble.

http://ftc.co/resource-library/1/2921

GROWING OLDER

4 reasons to enjoy growing older Even as Christians, we feel the reality of time taking its toll. And yet as Christians, we have the unique ability not to see aging as bad news: Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the ways of righteousness (Prov. 16:31).

  1. We see our children developing their own personalities.
  2. We (finally) have a bit more perspective.
  3. We have the joy of investing in others.
  4. We are becoming more comfortable in our own skin.

http://michaelkelley.co/2017/06/4-reasons-to-enjoy-growing-older/

PREACHING

Exposition is not the only way While God makes it clear that we must preach the Word, he does not specify one method over the other. I wonder if we have veered too far in one direction. This, after all, is our tendency in nearly everything—to swing from wild extreme to wild extreme. “All I am arguing,” says Murray, “is that the single-text method ought to be taken far more seriously than is often done today.”

https://www.challies.com/consecutive-exposition-is-not-the-only-way/

 

The above Leadership Links are collected and annotated by Barry Lawrence of Rochester, NY. These links are designed to give leaders some broad help in ministry and also perspectives that might encourage them in their shepherding as well as relating to evangelism and culture.

Pipeline Academy- Motivation

Shepherding God’s people is important work that requires both skill and diligence. But an elder’s abilities mean little if he doesn’t serve with a godly motivation. Love is at the heart of an elder’s work: Love for Christ, and love for Christ’s people.

Listen to Alexander Strauch as he explains why the motivation of our heart is as essential to our effectiveness as our knowledge and skill.
https://biblicaleldership.com/effective-shepherding-172/personal-life/motivation/

Leadership Links – 6/15

Note: While BER recommends that local church elders and leaders read broadly and we provide these Leadership Links as recommendations for your benefit, we do not necessarily endorse everything in these articles. But we do feel each one contains some helpful input to help you in your shepherding God’s people. So read wisely and discerningly.  

 

EVANGELISM

What if unbelievers aren’t miserable? If the only gospel we know how to share is “Jesus is the answer” we are going to find it rather difficult to share the good news when our neighbor doesn’t have any questions. We’ll have to spend most of our time trying to deflate their tires and make them miserable so that we can show how Jesus is the solution to a problem they didn’t know they had. The Proverbs (and many other places in Scripture) do not present the unbeliever as necessarily miserable, depressed, and grasping to fill an aching void. Instead we read of men “who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil” (Proverbs 2:14).

http://www.mikeleake.net/2017/05/what-if-unbelievers-arent-miserable.html

Evangelism in leadership: is it really as simple as 5 simple steps?

  1. Commit to being a witness, even if you’re not an evangelist.
  2. Model personal evangelism that your people can imitate.
  3. Expect unchurched people to attend your ministries.
  4. Integrate an evangelistic edge into everything you lead.
  5. Seek out accountability!

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/may/evangelism-in-leadership-is-it-really-as-simple-as-5-simple.html

 

GOSPEL

The gospel was given for a time like this Everywhere I look it looks like evil is winning. Is evil winning? I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Not when I break from the bad news to focus on the good news. The despair retreats in the face of truth. The truth I preach to myself again and again is this: The gospel was given for a time like this. When God gave us the gospel, he knew the times that would come. He knew that just months after the culmination of the gospel in the cross of Christ people would turn on Christians and begin to persecute them. But that was okay, because the gospel was for a time like that.

https://www.challies.com/articles/the-gospel-was-given-for-a-time-like-this

 

PRAYER

Bed sheets, calendars and prayer Could it be that people in American churches have forgotten the promises that result in the duality of prayer – duty, and privilege? If so, calendars and bed sheets will trump prayer every time. So rather than one more call to a prayer meeting, let’s recall the promises, then (ironically) let’s pray they stick.

http://ftc.co/resource-library/1/2889

 

LEADERSHIP

How leaders solve the biggest problem solving problem  The most effective leaders I know have a much higher problem-solving batting average because they start by processing the problem through these 3 clarifying questions:

  1. Is this a problem to be solved, or a tension to be managed?
  2. Is this my problem?
  3. Just how big is this problem?

http://www.scottcochrane.com/index.php/2017/05/29/how-leaders-solve-the-biggest-problem-solving-problem/

7 characteristics of the greatest leaders I know 

  1. Godliness
  2. Vision
  3. Great Commission passion
  4. Team commitment
  5. Teachabilty and flexibility
  6. Family commitment
  7. Sense of humor  Click below for further commentary on each characteristic

http://chucklawless.com/2017/06/7-characteristics-of-the-greatest-leaders-i-know/

9 ways to raise up leaders in your church 

  1. Shepherd Toward Biblical Qualifications
  2. Adopt a Posture of Looking
  3. Spend Personal Time
  4. Advance Trust
  5. Delegate Responsibility
  6. Give and Receive Feedback
  7. Encourage Godly Authority
  8. Expect clarity
  9. Foster a Culture of Humility  Click below for further explanation of each way

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-ways-to-raise-up-leaders-in-your-church#When:2017-06-05T05:00:00+00:00

 

MINISTRY

9 reasons ministry is not so hard

  1. God has called you to this work
  2. The Spirit of God lives in you
  3. The Word of God is powerful Click below for the other reasons

http://chucklawless.com/2017/06/9-reasons-ministry-is-not-so-hard/

 

PREACHING

Answer these 14 questions before you preach

  1. Have I found what God wanted his people to know, believe, and do, when he originally caused these words to be written and passed on?
  2. Have I found all that God has put in this passage: its genre and literary features; its shape, structure and content; its key words or phrases; its meaning, emotions, motivations, and purpose?
  3. Have I understood the passage in the context of the book of the Bible in which it is found, and that book’s pastoral purpose?. Have I understood the passage in the light of the whole Bible, that is, in the context of biblical theology? Click below for the remaining questions

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/answer-these-14-questions-before-you-preach#When:2017-06-09T05:01:00+00:00

 

PRAYER

What 15 more minutes of prayer will do for you today Set aside 15 more minutes to pray today, and you might find these things happen:

  1. You’ll be more focused on God.
  2. You’ll be more convicted over your sin.
  3. You’ll have more confidence as you lead.
  4. You will be more grateful.
  5. You’ll be a godlier spouse and parent.  Click below for additional impacts of praying more

http://chucklawless.com/2017/06/what-15-more-minutes-of-prayer-will-do-for-you-today/

 

CHURCH

7 personality types of sick churches Sick churches become dying churches. Dying churches become closed churches. Those statements are factual unless some type of change or intervention takes place. But intervention or change is unlikely unless the church recognizes that it is sick. In simple terms, we must first be aware that many of our churches are sick. In order to help create greater awareness, I have described illustratively seven personality types of sick churches. For certain, no one church is a perfect illustration of any one type. But I am confident you will recognize churches that have taken on one of these seven as a dominant personality type.

http://thomrainer.com/2017/06/seven-personality-types-sick-churches/

How healthy is our growth? Almost any time I hear a pastor speak about church growth—whether in a book, a podcast, or a conference message—I want to cringe. Not because I’m against having a large number of people as part of a congregation, but because congregation size is so often used as a defense: What we’re doing must be working since people are showing up, so God must approve, right? And yet. The thing I wonder about among many of these apparently healthy churches—and perhaps it’s just me being me—is how healthy are they, really? And how would you know if the growth experienced is actually beneficial?

http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2015/06/07/how-healthy-is-our-growth/

 

CULTURE

The transgender revolution and the rubble of empty promises The sexual revolution has always whispered promises of this kind of godlike self-autonomy. After a generation of no-fault divorce, cohabitation, ubiquitous pornography, and the cultural unhinging of sex from marriage and marriage from childbearing, it seems inevitable that Western culture is now decoupling sexuality from even its most basic reality: gender. If human sexuality exists solely for our self-actualization and satisfaction, then it makes no sense to impose restrictions based on something as seemingly arbitrary as gender. Yet ultimately, this approach will not work. There are good reasons to put boys and girls in different bathrooms and locker rooms and sometimes sports teams—reasons that don’t impugn the dignity of people but uphold it.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/transgender-revolution-and-rubble-of-empty-promises#When:2017-06-06T05:00:00+00:00

 

The above Leadership Links are collected and annotated by Barry Lawrence of Rochester, NY. These links are designed to give leaders some broad help in ministry and also perspectives that might encourage them in their shepherding as well as relating to evangelism and culture.

Plug In Both Ends

As I was sitting here working on my sermon message for Sunday, my laptop computer was close to running down and needed a recharge. So out came the power cord, I plugged it into the wall socket and went back to work studying and writing. A short while later, the icon at the top of the screen showed not only that the battery was not charging, but was becoming further depleted. I checked the cord – yup, it was plugged into the electrical socket, and I knew the outlet was working properly. Oh no, I thought–the computer has got a problem. As I  began to fret over the imagined cost to fix it,  I happened to notice – ahhh, I had failed to plug the other end of the power cord into my laptop!

What does that mean to allow God to plug in to us? We need to allow the word of God to richly dwell in us, not just so that we can preach to others, but so that it will saturate our minds, souls, spirits – every aspect of our beings. We need to heed the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. We need to rest in the worship our wonderful Lord and Savior in all His glory and majesty, through the submission of our hearts and emotions to Him. We need to be energized by His power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.

Of the many Scripture passages beginning to flood my mind as I think about this, one stands out: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Php 4:13). To use the metaphor of the power cord when I allow God to plug His power into me, my spiritual battery will never run out – I will be enabled to get all the work done that He has assigned to me.

Make sure to plug in both ends as you prepare to serve Him!

Elder, Encourage Thyself!

Elder, Encourage Thyself

Encouragement is a commodity in short supply. While not alone in needing this, a leader of God’s people more than others can readily relate to David’s experience: “David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6 NASB). Hopefully, this is not the elder’s usual experience, but there are times when the task seems overly daunting.

The word translated “strengthen” in the NASB, is rendered in the KJV as “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” The underlying Hebrew word carries both connotations—“to encourage by adding courage or strength.” The great leader and motivator of God’s people, David, had his down times! In the context of our passage, his followers were embittered by the ransacking of their camp by the Amalekites and were ready to stone him! When bad stuff happens, blame the leader. Can you relate, elder?

When I think of discouragement (speaking from experience) I think of that state of being where enthusiasm for stepping into the future is nullified by present perceptions of opposition, failure, uselessness or ineffectiveness. This is often accompanied by a loss of hope for being a choice (or at least an acceptable) vessel of service for the Lord. So the question is pertinent, how does an elder encourage himself? Here are some helpful ways.

Look to God’s word

Scripture contains stories of Godly leaders, many of whom struggled with discouragement. We learn two things from reading about them: 1) we discover we are not unique in our struggles and 2) we can learn from how they dealt with emotionally debilitating  circumstances. The book of Hebrews includes chapter 11, the “Hall of Faith” as some have termed it. These were godly men who endured many adverse situations and did not give up. Meditating on passages like this has a cathartic effect for the discouraged leader.

Review past working of God in your life

God often told Israel to look back at past rescues from oppression and failure. The Passover, for example, continually reminded them that God saves His people from hardship when they follow Him. Piles of rocks set up as monuments were constructed to remind future generations of great activities of God. So, as those who struggle to serve the Lord and lead His people, we do well to remember the many times when our God worked in our past situations.

Some make use of a journal that they can readily review. I personally like to keep what I call “an encouragement file.”  This contains letters of appreciating, thanks or otherwise reminders of how God has used me in someone’s life. Such things are not kept for gregarious shows, as being framed and displayed for all to see. Rather they are simply private reminders of God’s faithfulness in using me in some small ways. They are simply reminders, like putting a stone monument by the river’s edge.

Sometimes, my wife and I will purposely reminisce. When she is discouraged I will remember for her by bringing up past victories in her ministry. And she does the same for me. Photo albums are helpful in this remembering, and can be a means of encouragement when the need arises. 

Share your discouragements

Find a trusted friend or accountability partner with whom you can share your discouragements and disappointments. I am thinking here of someone who is a good listener and not too quick to provide a solution. This can be difficult for men because we seem programmed to always see problems as things to be solved.  Discouragement is not always resolved like that. We often know the Scriptures that apply. What we need often is not a lecture but encouragement, someone who can come along side and add “courage” or “strength.”

However, this means becoming vulnerable on two fronts: 1) we must humble ourselves by admitting when we are discourage, which can expose us to the possible misguided condescension of other leaders, and 2) we need to accept the encouragement God brings through others, knowing that there will be a time when we may be called upon to encourage that other person. We need to develop the ability to trust and to be vulnerable with each other.

Talk to yourself

In the duplex of Psalms 42 & 43, David three times asks himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul. And why have you become disturbed within me?” He wrestles through his thoughts and emotions, and each time he responds with a firm rebuke, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.”  Sometimes we need to not only listen our thoughts and feelings, but we need to then rebuke ourselves with the right way to think. We need to choose to put our thoughts back on God and the hope He promises. 

Encourage others

One of the best ways for dealing with discouragement is to actively, willfully go out of our way to encourage others (1 Thess 5:11). In the end, discouragement results from the introspective activity of focusing on our ourselves too much. The best cure is to focus on others (Phil 2:4). 

Pray

I have not mentioned prayer until now because most Christians know its importance and probably do it instinctively. My sense is that most of us probably feel that to seek encouragement in any other way than prayer may be a sign of spiritual immaturity. If we have the Lord, why should we need these other things? My response, in all honesty, is that these “other things” are frequently the answers to prayer as I lay out my struggle before the Lord. If I believe He will answer my prayer, then I should set my heart on looking expectantly for His help in whatever way He provides.

Be Authentic

Finally, discouragement is not a sign of spiritual immaturity, unless we are prepared to describe David in those terms. Actually, presenting ourselves as never needing encouragement means we want others to see us as self-sufficient and not needing the help of other believers. At best we are being inauthentic, at worst deceptive. We all struggle with discouragement at times. Maybe, just maybe, sharing our struggles may be the very thing that helps someone else live an authentic life!

Often, no one will encourage you. Like David you must learn to encourage yourself, to strengthen yourself.  So I conclude, “Elder, encourage thyself!” You are the Lord’s Servant, you are called to be faithful. Do not sin by refusing to believe His word: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep looking up. Keep looking outward not inward. God still has a work for you to do, by His mercy. Keep doing it, by His grace.

Tell Me Again, Why Am I An Elder?

Being an elder is one of the greatest ministries a Christian man can possibly have. But if you have been an elder for any length of time, you can probably relate to the Apostle Paul, who after recounting the litany of struggles encountered in his service for the Lord, admitted that, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians11:28 NASB). In light of the “pressures” you shoulder as an elder, it is a good thing to remember just why you stick with it, why you continue on. Here are twelve reasons, to name just a few …

To continue reading, click here.

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