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Thriving As A Leader

Thriving

 

How do you survive the challenges of ministry?  What do you do when you realize ministry is hard difficult work at times?  Paul spoke of this struggle in II Corinthians 11:28, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.”  After mentioning being imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty and continually in danger, Paul lists the daily pressure of caring for the churches in the same breath.

There was a day your calling gave you a passion and zeal where you knew God was going to accomplish great and mighty things in your ministry!  Maybe you were fueled by some unrealistic expectations but your faith was grounded on the truth that God is able!  You still believe He is able, at least you think He is, but the realities of difficult ministry, and especially difficult people, has caused some doubt to swell up inside of you.

Can you thrive in your ministry assignment no matter how difficult it may have become?  No, you can’t, but God can by continuing to work in you and through you!  Your calling and the carrying out of that call begins and ends with Him!  In A Work of Heart Reggie McNeal says, “The call involves relationship at its core, not just function or task, though it carries clear task components.”

Are there some things you can do to keep your spiritual battery charged?  Are there some steps you can take to help you when you feel discouraged or disillusioned?  Absolutely!  Here are few things to practice that will definitely help you remain focused and faithful:

  • Run to the Lord Daily – Lamentations 3:22-24 – “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say, The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.”
  • Remember Your Calling – In the midst of a very stormy meeting with the Sanhedrin the Lord reminded Paul of his calling in Acts 23:11, “The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
  • Refresh Yourself Regularly – You must find margin in your life to be able to take a deep breath and relax.  What is it that helps you unwind, relax, and recharge your battery?  Hebrews 4:4 says, “for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh day God rested from all His works.”
  • Rely on Trusted Friends – II Timothy 1:16-17, “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus,  because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.”  We need friends we can go to and who will come after us!

In 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them, Charles Stone offers a clear path on how to respond to the frustrations of ministry.  It is not “if” frustrations will come but “when” they come.  Here is the strategy that he offers:

  1. “Open Up with Vulnerability” – “Do you have a safe confidant?”  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to isolate yourself from others who can help.  The Barna Research Group discovered that only “10% of pastors seek counsel to help manage church frustration.” Barna also reported in 2006 that “61% of pastors have few close friends.”  There is a “Lone Ranger” mentality out there in the ministry that is dangerous at best and devastating at worst.  Do not go it alone!
  2. “Own Up with Humility” – “Does what frustrates you jibe with scripture?”  We must be honest about ministry frustrations but we need to also be honest about whether they should frustrate us or not.  Maybe we are getting upset about things that really do not matter as much to God as we think?  Maybe we have been measuring the wrong things and need to change the scorecard.  Stone says this, “The more self-aware we become, the more we can take constructive action in areas detrimental to us, our families, and our churches.”
  3. “Show Up with Integrity” – “Are my responses to ministry frustrations healthy?”  The truth is that people are impacted far more by how you react then how you act.  How are you responding right now to ministry frustrations?  Are you reacting in a Biblical and spiritual manner that is pleasing to God?  Stone offers this wisdom, “As God weans me from letting organizational frustrations (fill in what frustrates you) hammer me, I’m slowly learning to focus on what matters most to His heart: love for Him and love for others.”
  4. “Speak Up with Courage” – “Is what I want really what I need, and who needs to know?”  Unfortunately, there are far too many war stories of ministry gone badly.  The focus here is not sharing those war stories but rather overcoming in the midst of them.  You must seek the face of God to determine what changes need to be made and who you need to share that message with.  Ed Stetzer gives some great advice in this area, “Pastor, your ultimate calling is not first and foremost to pastor a church…but to come to Jesus yourself.”

God wants you to thrive not just survive.  Thriving is not dependent upon what is happening to you but what is happening inside of you!  I Samuel 30:6 says, “David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

One other step I would suggest…..…buy 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them by Charles Stone…..…it will be a big help to you in your ministry journey!

How to Not Lose Heart

Heart Problems

“Yep, you can just tell their heart isn’t in it anymore!” Have you ever heard that before? It has been said about athletes, employees, hobbyists, and even spiritual leaders. What happens when a leader loses heart? They lose!

Rom 10:2 says, “I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” That verse has been used quite often with a negative connotation towards those perceived as having too much passion. The notion is that once a person understands more about the things of God then their passion will level off.

But where is that in the scripture? Why can we not increase with knowledge and understanding while our passion, zeal, and burden increases also? Our communities will be reached with the Gospel by those who are passionately in love with Jesus and who love the same people He passionately loves and died for.

What happens when you lose your spiritual passion and zeal? It drains you and eventually can cause you to walk away from God’s calling on your life. God’s call does not change but the power to accomplish that calling can and does. While there are many different ministry killers we could list, the biggest ministry killer is a heart problem.

That is why in Proverbs 4:23 we are told to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”

Here is what might happen when you lose heart:

  • First, you may give up and quit! You begin saying things like “What’s the use?” “What difference is it making anyway?”
  • Second, you notice you are just going through the motions faking the passion you once had! The thinking here is, “I can’t let you know my passion is gone!” “I’ll fake it till it comes back!”
  • Third, you begin giving all the reasons (excuses) you calmed down. The reality is that you are not sure if you are trying to convince others or yourself. The argument here is, “Hey, I’m as faithful and committed as anybody!”
  • Fourth, you passionately begin to pursue God’s heart again so that He will return to you that passion and zeal. You invite Him into every area of your life to do a work on your heart again and again and again.

In A Work of Heart Reggie McNeal says, “All the leadership insight and expertise on the planet cannot overcome a case of spiritual heart disease or ‘heart failure’.” He also states, “…the first order of responsibility for spiritual leaders: to reflect the heart of God to the people around them.” Are you reflecting the passionate heart of God?

Here is some reality:

  • Focus on the Family reports that 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years. Many enter with a zeal and passion that wanes as time marches on. The calling was real and the excitement was apparent but the challenges and difficulties creates many casualties along the way.
  • Southern Baptist Convention says that out of every 10 who surrender to preach only 1 will retire in vocational ministry.
  • Focus on the Family reports that 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged or are dealing with depression.

The reality is that it is easy to lose heart and lose the passion and zeal you began the journey with. What about those who stay in the ministry? Charles Stone in 5 Ministry Killers says, “Clearly, frustration in ministry is a big deal. Nagging issues drain precious energy from mission-critical tasks.” How’s your heart? On a scale of 1-10 how would you score your passion and zeal for God?

Paul challenges us in II Cor 4:16, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” There is a way to see our passion and zeal increase!  What are you willing to do to get your passion and zeal back?  Here are some ideas to begin the journey back to when you had the passion and zeal to carry our God’s calling on your life:

  • First – Admit There is a Problem! One thing about King David; whenever he failed God, he fell towards Him! He didn’t run from Him but ran towards Him confessing his failures. (Psa 51)
  • Second – Desire to Know Him More! It is all about relationship and He desires to do a work in your heart even more than you want Him to. It always has and always will be a matter of the heart. (Matt 22:37-39)
  • Third – Be Still and Know that He is God! Make sure that you have found margin in your life to focus on Him and spend time with Him. (Psa 27:4; Psa 63)
  • Fourth – Passionately Pursue Him! It is not about the schedule, the programs, the plans, nor the image you portray. It is all about Him and passionately loving Him. (Psa 42)
  • Fifth – Share your Struggles with a Friend and Be Transparent! God has always provided us companionship. We do not have to walk this journey alone but can lean on one another and help one another. (Ecc 4:9-13)

Reggie McNeal describes it this way, “All are living lives never before attempted. Each individual’s journey requires a discovery of insights as old as eternity and as fresh as the morning. Spiritual leaders aid people in this exploration.”

My Biggest Struggle is…..Me!

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Life is full of challenges!!! There are many obstacles and many difficult poeple to contend with but I have found the person I have the biggest problem with is me! Quite frankly we are all selfish by nature and the culture we have grown up in seems to promote our selfish tendencies.

Commercails through the years have said things like, “You deserve a break today!” and there have been others such as: “Just Do It”, “Why wait?”, “Obey Your Thirst”, and “No Boundaries!” The appeal is to go ahead, be selfish, gratify yourself and take care of number one, you!

There was even a country song not too long ago entitled, I Want to Talk About Me which said “I wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one!” Please know it was quite catchy and I’m not attacking it because I can certainly relate.

You can even go online and find 100 positive affirmations you can say to yourself to boost your self-image. Things like, “I love and approve of myself!” and “I am too big a gift to the world to waste my time on self-pity and sadness.” Unfortunately, what this creates is the thought that self is in control!

What does the Bible say on this? Jesus in Matt 16:24 said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” Quite a contrast from what we hear the world telling us isn’t it! While the world says you should do what self tells you Jesus says you should deny self!

The idea is conveyed that nothing is more important than me and what I want to do but Phil. 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Others should be more important than me!

Here are some of the self-centered tendencies that we must face and address if we want to follow Christ:

  • Self-Promotion – We must be very careful about desiring the applause and approval of others. The greatest question to keep asking ourselves is this, “Is Jesus satisfied with me and my motives?” When we allow our selfishish aspirations to dominate us then critcism will crush us and applause will corrupt us. Paul says this in Gal 6:14, “But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.”
  • Self-Indulgence – We are told we deserve it and if we want it go for it! The reality is that many of the things we desire and want are not good for us nor are they right. When you set yourself up as the final authority you are headed down a dangerous road. Pro 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Culture would have us to believe that if we want it, it must be ok, and if we feel it is right then who are you to question me on it. There is absolute truth and it is the word of God.
  • Self-Image – The focus on appearance is in front of us every single day. On Twitter one pastor shared the picture of a book , Faking It, How To Seem A Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself. He did say the he does NOT recommend it. You can fix almost everything on the outside with cosmetic surgery, wear the finest clothing available and yet God says in I Sam 16:7, “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” What does God see when he looks at your heart?
  • Self-Pity – This at first may not appear to be self-serving but it is. It places all of the focus on me and my struggles. There certainly will be disappointments and tragedies that will break our hearts. We can follow that path or we can look to God in faith and trust that He has a purpose in everything. In Gen 50:20 Joseph said this about his brothers selling him into slavery and telling his father that he was dead, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.”
  • Self-Preservation – The temptation here is to think that I have to take care of “me” first. Yet, the heroes we look up to are individuals who risked their own lives to protect other us. There is that voice in our head saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself nobody else will!” We need to ask ourselves what we are afraid of losing, what we are trying to hide, and what are we trying to prove? Matt 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”

The need is not to focus on myself more but actually less. It is not about self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-image, self-pity, or self-preservation. Paul in Rom 12:3 puts it this way, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.”

Here is what we need more of according to the word of God:

  • Self-Denial – It is first what God says, not what I think! It is first what is best, not what I want! It is first what is right, not what I desire! It is first how can I help others, not how can I take care of me! It is first His will for my life, not my goals, my plans, and my dreams!

You see my greatest struggle is not you, difficult people, people who disagree with me, or anyhting other excuse I can conjure up! Its me!

Fake It Till You Make It

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Once again, this all too familiar statement was made to me, “I’ll just fake it till I make it!” The transparency was refreshing but the reality of how often I have lived by the same motto convicted me. All too often we procede ahead without knowing what we are doing, where we are going, how we will get there, and refusing to admit we need help.

We think, All we need is a little more time and we will figure it out? We reason wirh ourselves, Maybe we will know where we are after two more right turns?  We hope, If I act like I know what I’m doing maybe nobody will notice I don’t have a clue?

One of my favorite commercials is when an emergency occurs that requires the expertise of a doctor. Then the man helping is asked, “Are you a doctor?” To which he replies, “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.” Unfortunately, not knowing what I am doing has never held me back.

The temptation can be to never admit that we do not have all the answers and we have not figured everything out. That is why I am committed to being a lifelong learner. Somebody out there knows what I need to know and we should always be on the outlook for them.

Why do we “Fake it till we make it?” Could it be that we are afraid of what people might discover about us? Could we also be afraid that we are no longer the authority on the subject? Maybe we are people pleasers and so we are more focused on impressing them?

Here are some attitudes and things that might be indicators that you are trying to fake it till you make it:

  • First, you think you must always have the answer! This is whay I do not like playing Bible trivia games. It is a no-win situation for a preacher. If you win, “Well of course you did, you’re a preacher!” If you lose, “And you call yourself a preacher?” We do not have to always have the answer and we need to admit it when we don’t. If we are not careful we can be tempted to make up an answer instead of finding the real answer. One of the best things you can say is, “You know, I’m not sure on that but I will do my best to find out!”
  • Second, I know what I am doing! Sometimes we are afraid to admit that we do not have it all together and that we are in way over our heads. We may not know know how to handle certain situations but there are people around us who do. Who is that knows what you need to know? Who do you need to talk to that can help you to figure it out? First, ask the Lord! Ed Stetzer says it this way, “Wise planning is not what I decide and then ask God to bless it, but I ask God what He desires of me, and then I pursue it!”
  • Third, I don’t need anybody else. I can do this! Maybe you can, but that is never the best way because two are always better than one. Tony Morgan has said, “A solo leader might draw a weekend crowd, but it takes a team to create healthy systems that foster sustained growth and opportunities for life change.” Should we be willing to do it alone if we have to? Definitely! Is that the best plan? Never! Be careful to not fall into the thinking that if you want it done right you have to do it yourself! If you do not have help now then begin training others so they can help.
  • Fourth, I’m tired of trusting people and getting burned! No doubt about it, people will let you down and disappoint you but it is worth the risk. Teamwork is messy and it takes……work! It doesn’t just happen but you have to be willing to pour into other people’s lives without any guarantee it will ever be beneficial for you or your ministry. Paul said this, “Demas has forsaked me having loved this present world!” The very people with whom you spend a lot of time and invest the most in may walk away but it is still worth it!
  • Fifth, shouldn’t they know what we are doing by now! Maybe so, but remember, vision leaks. Communicate what the need is and what the job requires up front. Make it clear! D.A. Horton said, “Disappointment takes place when you expect too much from someone you barely communicate with.” All too often we are guilty of placing people in positions without properly preparing them. Could it be that we are faking it till we make it because we were never trained either? In Teams That Thrive Ryan Hartwig and Warrin Bird say, “Less than 20% of leadership team leaders have received special training in how to lead teams.”

People appreciate transparency and authenticity. No one likes a fake even if they have the best intentions. They do love it when a leader says, “I need your help!” They want to know that it is not only their information and effort that matters but their opinions matter as well. Refuse to fake it till you make it!

Maintaining Personal Health

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This content below was written in January of 2014 for Tom Nebel. He asked if I would be willing to write something for a book he and Steve Pike were putting together entitled, Leading Church Multiplication. (Short side note – Great book and you will love it if you have a heart for church multiplication.)

I have debated putting this on the blog or even saying much about it. One thing I waited for was to maintain my weight for awhile before saying much, if even then.  I have now maintained my goal weight for 20 months.

People ask me what motivated me in this area and there were a couple of things and here a few of them:

  • There began a desire in me to finish strong. To maintain my pace and be able to travel as much as I do I knew it would be so much easier if I was healthy.
  • There was a strong conviction to place myself in a better place health wise. There were potentially many health challenges and complications coming if I did not change my lifestyle.
  • Once while on a smaller plane, with my wife, I could not get the seat belt fastened. She told me they had extensions but my pride would not allow me to ask. I got it fastened but it was one of the most uncomfortable trips I ever took.
  • The presurgery weigh in I mention in the book was actually quite humorous. When I stepped onto the scale the aide said, “Oh, that even shocks me!” Well it shocked me too!

Here is the what they published in Chapter 15, Maintaining Personal Health:

“I was facing surgery in Nov of 2011 and when I weighed it at the hospital it was the heaviest I had ever weighed! It really brought me under conviction to take care of my temple in order to finish strong. I had always been very athletic but because of bad knees and then having knee replacements my activity level was at an all time low.

In 2012 I decided just to slowly lose weight and not say much about it. I lost 45 that year and then on Jan 5, 2013 I decided to go to the next level. I got the Lose It app for my phone and started the Atkins Low Carb diet. I then weighed 305 and the weight began to come off. I also wanted to start walking but every time I did my knees would ache and swell. When my weight dropped below 270 I added the Map My Walk app to my phone and I was able to pick up my activity level by walking.

Also, in April of 2013 I began lifting light weights and doing a regular workout directed by youngest son who is a personal trainer at a gym. I am now walking 4-6 miles a day 3-4 times a week and also working out 3 times a week. I am actually 7 lbs below my goal weight and have lost 137 lbs.

I feel the best I have in probably 10 years and my energy level is so much better than it was. When I travel I am far more comfortable and can actually stay in my space. It is wonderful to be where I am now physically and I am determined to not go back. One outcome that I did not expect was the younger pastors in our work telling me that I had gained their respect by taking the initiative to discipline myself in this area.

While I already had influence with some in our movement I do believe this increased my ability to speak into more peoples lives and gained more ears through this.”

Here are some things you should know:

  1. I am not an authority on weight loss.
  2. I have always struggled with my weight.
  3. I love food. I mean I really really love food!!!!!
  4. I have tried many different diets and lost significant amounts of weight several times but always regained it.
  5. I now able to run 4-5 miles a day usually 5 times a week.
  6. Everyone is different and you have to find something that will work for you.
  7. You have to start somewhere and remain committed.

Here is the most important thing I want you to know:

  • If I can do this, so can you!!!

It Shouldn’t Be Lonely at the Top

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All of us have heard the statement, “It’s lonely at the top.” It is odd that after you hear a statement so many times, whether it is true or not, you begin to believe it. Just because of repitiion we give credence to certain facts or sayings that actually are the opposite of how it should be.

Recently I heard John Maxwell say, “If it’s lonely at the top, your not doing something right!” The truth of that statement really resonated with me and it convicted me of leadership mistakes I have made through the years. Some out of immaturity, some out of igorance, some out of inexperience, and some out of my insecurities.

Tom Nebel recently said to me, “Be a leader others want to follow and develop leaders others want to follow!” That is great advice. The goal should be to create an enviroment in our church leaderhsip where people want to be a part of it.

There will be leadership challenges and there will certainly be those who no matter what you do will not cooperate. But we must protect ourselves from a “my way or the highway” mentality. Being totally transparent I have always been a strong leader but sometimes that came off as, “either help me or get out of my way.”

To be honest we were moving, we were gaining ground, but the road kill along the way was unacceptable! Here are five ideas to lead well and to be the kind of leader others want to follow:

  • Cast Vision Together! There are vision casters but their must also be vision carriers. People want to know you value them and you value their opinion. Yes, you will have to guard your vision and protect it but you must explain the “why” of the vision. The “why” is crucial if you want people to help you figure out the how and the what! I remember Dr Roy McLaughlin saying one time, “If you don’t know where you are going a Cadillac will not get you there, but if you know where you are going any old jalopy will do!”

“Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people!” -Bill Hybels

  • Communicate, Communicate Communicate!  There are those who will follow just because the vision is exciting and challenging but there are many who will need more than that. They need a plan, a strategy, or a blueprint of how it will be carried out. Just because they ask questions or are hesitant does not mean they are against you. They probably just need more information. Slow down take your time and try to answer as many of their questions as you possibly can even before they ask!

“You are busy and you have a thousand things to do today. But one ounce of clarity is worth a hundred pounds of activity!” -Will Mancini

  • Provide the necessary training to improve everyones skill sets! You must always be working hard at developing those you lead whether they are paid or volunteer. If you want more from them, then they first need more from you. The question you should always be asking about those you lead is, “What is the next skill set I need to develop in them?”  It is unrealistic and very unfair to give someone a job and not properly train them to accomplish it! Give them the tools they need!

“Disappointment takes place when you expect too much from someone you barely communicate with.” -D.A. Horton

  • Build real authentic relationships! The law of the inner circle says that those closest to you will determine your level of success. A great leader begins by having great self-awareness and then continuing to develop themselves.  LaCrae puts it this way, “You can impress people from a distance, but if you want to impact them get up close.” How do you build trust? You have the other persons best interests at heart. Sit down with them, listen to them, and learn from them. Even unfair criticsm may have a kernel of truth you can learn from!

“Show me your team members, and I’ll show you your potential as a church.” -Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird

  • Be a Team Player! Being a team player means that you are always fighting for the highest possible good in the lives of those on your team. It is not about the team making you look good but rather you helping the team to look good. Maybe your thinking your in big touble because you know those who are on your team and you don’t think they have what it takes. Then ask yourself what is it they need from you? How can you help to develop them into the leader they need to be? Who needs you to invest more time into them? Who is that knows what they need and is able to give it to them?

“Everything rises or falls on leadership, and a plurality of leaders united under a common cause is stronger than a lone-ranger, solo leader.” -Jim Tomberlin

You see, it should not be lonely at the top. Not everyone will go but many more will if we are the kind of leader others want to follow and we are developing leaders others will want to follow.

Healthy leaders are not lonely!!!

P5 Multiplication Timeline

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This is my third recent blog on P5 Multiplication with the strong conviction that we must start multiplying not just adding!  Be sure to read the previous two:

  • P5 Multiplication – June 24, 2015
  • P5 Multiplication Centers – June 26, 2015

Every church should consider where they are in the P5 process and begin working towards being involved in multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.  What will it look like when you are ready to reproduce by planting a church?

 P5 Multiplication is a 5-Step process:

  • Pray
  • Prepare
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Plant

P5 Multiplication Centers develop a clear process of discipleship that leads potential church planting teams through an apprentice program in a local church.  They teach individuals how to make disciples right where they live, right now!

  1. They participate as a member of a small group.  (3-6 months)
  2. They are a co-leader of a small group.   (3-6 months)
  3. They start a small group from scratch.  (3-6 months)

The common question is, “How do we get started?” or “How do we get involved?”  Here are items to consider for being a part of the P5 Multiplication movement that we are asking God to make a reality.  The following list is not exhaustive but is meant to serve as guide to help think through steps that can facilitate multiplication:

 

0 – 6 MONTHS:

  • Prayer Retreat (Location, Planter, Team, Level of Involvement, Time, etc.)
  • Read Acts and a book on Church Planting
  • Develop a Sermon Series on Church Planting
  • Cast Vision with Key Leaders and Influencers
  • Develop L.E.A.D. Team (Partners who Learn, Encourage, Achieve, and Dream together)
  • Schedule Churches Planting Churches Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.I.P. (Vision, Involvement, Plan)
  • Develop an Understanding of the P5 Process (Determine Your Level of Commitment)

(Pray, Prepare, Partner, Parent, Plant)

  • Attend and/or Organize a Multiplication Center (Mentoring Group can be as small as 2-3)
  • Decide on your Discipleship Engine/Process
  • Form a Daughter Church Task Force inside your Church
  • Send Key Leaders to Visit Successful Church Plants
  • Host information and prayer meetings for the daughter church project

*Churches that have planted daughter churches are growing 3 times faster than those who have not.  (Natural Church Development)

 

 6 – 12 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Discipleship Process, location of team, partnerships, etc.)
  • Read the Epistles with a focus on Leadership Development
  • Begin to Develop a Church Planting Prospectus
  • Celebrate Church Planting in Creative Ways
  • Candidate and location selected
  • Schedule an Assessment (Do not skip this step)
  • Schedule Church Planting Essentials Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.P.T. (Vision, Plan, Timeline)
  • Begin researching the Potential Location (Demographics, Exegete the Culture, etc.)
  • Secure partnerships or become a partner
  • Recruit Team
  • Develop Launch Team
  • Partner Church Commitment Worksheet

*It is not the size of the church but the size of the church’s heart that makes the difference.

*What do you need to plant a church?

  • A burden for lost people
  • A willingness to step out in faith
  • A vision for a region
  • A kingdom mindset

 

12 – 18 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for Laborers, Person of Peace, divine appointments, etc)
  • Schedule Mentoring Church Planters Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your Mentoring Vision Statement and Plan
  • Have Budget in Place and Partnerships Finalized
  • Church Planting Agreement Signed (Under Promise and Over Deliver)
  • Church Planter and Team are in Place.
  • Coach is Selected and Coaching
  • Find Persons of Peace and begin Building Relationships
  • Plan Servant Evangelism activities
  • Plan Small Groups meetings as opportunities become available
  • 50% of time must be sent with unbelievers (Do the work of an Evangelist)
  • Baptize New Believers
  • Begin Reporting to Partners

*Make sure you are ready before you launch!

*Schedule Vision Casting meetings with those who might be interested in being a part of the journey!

 

18 – 24 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for disciples to become disciple makers, Pray for workers and leaders, Pray for your city, etc)
  • Continue doing the things that got you where you are! If they are working!
  • Focus must be on making disciples that make disciples
  • Host multiple “taste and see” gatherings
  • Develop systems that will maintian the vision and keep it moving forward
  • Improve follow-up systems and intentionally follow-up on all newcomers
  • Start new missional communities
  • Keep building relationships and networking—This is critical!!!
  • Keep meeting 25 new people a week
  • Remember once the formal worship services begin the show can drive everything if not careful.
  • Look for critical mass (Normally need 40 – 50 adults to have 200 for launch service)
  • Be missional and attractional!

*The goal is to reach as many people as we possibly can with the gospel!

*The goal is to make disciples of those who were not following Jesus!

There are many other things you could possibly add to the list but remember to, “Plan your Work and then Work Your Plan.”  Also remember that no battle strategy survives the first conflict!  You must be ready to adapt and make changes as necessary.  The driving force behind all of this is to go and make disciples!!!

LIVING LIFE LIKE A SHORT-TERM MISSIONS TRIP

Short Term Mission Trips

Mission trip opportunities are all around us!  You do not have to get on a plane to serve on one.  Every day is an opportunity to live on mission.

Who is a missionary?  The answer can be very different according to who you ask.  Most would define a missionary as a person who lives in a foreign land, studies the culture, learns another language, and makes great sacrifices to reach a certain people group.  That is true but what about the rest of the church?  Should not every believer be on mission for God?  What if we lived every moment of every day as if we were on a mission trip, how would your day change?

When people take a mission trip they are ready to sacrifice and suffer discomfort to share the gospel with people they have never seen or met.  There is a very determined focus and plan to each trip whether it is medical, teaching, evangelistic, or humanitarian.  These trips are great and everyone should consider taking one because they are life changing experiences.  Shouldn’t we begin living with a missionary focus right where we are, today?

We must begin celebrating those who are living a missionary life right in front of us.  Unfortunately, the main metric we have used for spiritual growth is how many attend, how often they attend, and how much they give.  What if we began measuring how much time we all spent in community service?  What if we began to measure our goals of ministry in terms of what the body of Christ does outside the walls of the church and not only inside?

What if we lived every day as if we were on a short-term mission trip?

Churches have historically celebrated the dedication of the men and women who have been sent to the mission field (i.e. Barnabas and Saul Acts 13:1-3).  They have become “heroes of the faith” because of their willingness to study a culture and prayerfully discern the best way to reach them with the gospel.  What about your neighborhood, your community, and your city?  We need to also begin celebrating those who are using their “Life Assignment” as a “Missionary Post” to share the love of Jesus Christ.

Three words need to be considered if we are going to transform our culture and accept our missionary assignments.

  1. Intentionality. We must be focused on reaching out to those we come into contact with daily at the “missionary post” God has placed us.  That can be at the hair salon, the grocery store, the factory, the senior citizen center, our school, or wherever God has purposely placed us.  We must daily remind ourselves that we are on a “long-term” mission trip called life.
  2. Integration.  The good news is that we are not on this trip alone.  The Holy Spirit will guide and direct us to individuals that we need to minister to and serve.  The other good news is that we are not on this trip alone because there are other followers of Jesus who have purposed to live a missionary life also.  It would be great to sit down with others and discuss potential ways to work together and help one another to increase the effectiveness of our intentionality.
  3. Incarnational.  This is living our lives so that others can see Christ in us.  Our neighborhoods, apartment complexes, condominiums, and trailer parks need us to dedicate ourselves to being resident missionaries.  Here is the question of the day.  Is Jesus Christ visible or invisible in you?  Many groups who have gone to a foreign mission field on a trip have prayed that the people they come into contact with will see Jesus in them.  Is that our daily prayer as we accept the assignment that God has given for us to live our lives on mission for Him?

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Living as missionaries in our zip code!!!

What if we lived every day as if we were on a short-term mission trip?  

 

LESSONS FROM MY DAD ON FREEDOM

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My roots are being born into a military family. Being the youngest of four children I was the only one to have the opportunity to be in the same high school until graduating because my dad retired following my freshman year! He served for almost 27 years and actually lied about his age at 17 so he could begin his service.

We moved from base to base every couple of years and even got to live in the Philippines when he received orders to go to Clark Air Base in 1966. There were challenges but we were blessed to see most of the United States and some of the world.

We were so military that both of my brothers served in the Navy and my sister married a career Air Force man. I never served because at 15 God called me into full time ministry and after high school I headed off to Central Baptist College in Conway, AR.

Some of my fondest memories and favorite pictures of my dad was when he was in uniform. He entered right at the end of WW II and served during the Korean War and Vietnam. He was very proud of his service and is buried (along with my Mom) at the National Cememtery in Pensacola, FL.

One of my greatest memories was the color guard at the cemetery. They represented almost every branch and they snapped his flag so tight and folded it so precisely. It was humurous to us that there was a lady in the color guard. He was very old school and and didn’t think ladies should be placed in the postion of having to go into combat.

He was a TI (technical instructor) in bootcamp for a couple of years and was asked by a nurse if he had any ladies in bootcamp. As he lay on his death bed he replied, “No!” and then after a long pause said, “Thank God!” I was concerned for his nurse but she smiled and assured me that she understood old sargeants like my dad!

There are many things I learned from being a part of a military family that I am very thankful for. We were not afraid of saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag and saying “one nation under God” even though we did not really attend church until I was 12.

Looking back on his legacy there are lessons he taught us through the way he served and how he talked about his country. He was passionate about America and sported a bumper sticker on his car that said, “America – Love It or Leave It!”

He was not right about everything and many times discussed his failures but when we did disagree on politics, policies, or people he would smile and say, “I may not always be right but I’m never wrong!” While he was far from perfect (none of us are) he was right in a lot of areas that shaped me and gave me a strong foundation on what liberty and freedom require.

He was a strong disciplinarian and gave his life to Christ at the age of 43. It was wonderful to watch the transformation that took place in his life as a follower, a disciple, of Jesus Christ. Here a few things my Dad taught me about Liberty and Freedom:

  • Respect the Flag – You don’t burn it, walk on it, spit on it, or disgrace it in any way because of what it represents. He knew America was not perfect, far from it, but he still believed in her. He believed the flag should be respected because it represted a nation of people where all are created equal. We were taught to respect everyone no matter what color their skin was, how much (or little) money they had, what level of education they had obtained, or what religion they were. You earned respect, you were not just granted it!
  • Honor those who served their Nation – Men who served, especially in combat, were heroes. Men like Audie Murphy who was the most decorated soldier in WW II but also all those who served as a support for the soldiers who were on the front lines. I have very vivid memories of seeing many wounded soldiers while living at Clark Base who were brought there to recover. One man I saw in the hospital had scars all over his body after being caught in machine gun fire. Give honor to who honor is due!
  • Freedom has cost many their lives – It is sad how many want to scream and protest the loudest who would never be willing to serve their country and sacrifice the way many have. That free air we are breathing cost many their lives because of their service to our country and to other countries in fighting for freedom. You can argue whether we as a nation should have been in certain wars or conflicts if you want but we must still show the honor and respect due to those who gave the sacrifice!
  • Vote your Convictions – Once again, we did not always agree but he took his responsility as a citizen very seriously. He would look over their voting records meticuously and would not miss any election. He was very mindful of how candidates viewed the military and how they took care of veterans (there is some great wisdom). He instilled in me the need to vote or to be quiet about what was happening in our country! Will we use the upcoming presidential election to get our country headed back in the right direction?
  • Pray for America! – I watched a man go from no interest in church or the Bible to a man who opened up God’s word every morning and would spend time talking to the Lord. He often shared with me what he was praying about and how God had answered certain prayers. He knew our nation needed God even if many did not agree or realize it. The Bible he used daily has underlined in it II Chron 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This quote by Darrin Patrick sums up a lot about my Dad and the truth about Freedom and Liberty:

“Freedom is not the right to do what you want. It is the power to do what you should!”

GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE

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Last Friday, June 26, 2015, was a sad day for me but it also challenged me to see how Christians and churches would respond to the Supreme Court decision. I began to see what was trending on social media and I must admit I was even more saddened to see some of the hatred and venom being expressed by both sides.

What should the Christian reaction be? How should we respond to this after our emotions settle down? I must admit the cliche of a few years ago came to the forefront of my mind, “What would Jesus do?” Really, what would He do?

Here are several of the repsonses on social media that are worth sharing:

  • “Gay marriage is now legal. The sky has not fallen, churches have not been padlocked, and we must live on mission! …Remember, after #SCOTUS and every day, you can’t hate a people and reach a people at the same time! …The focus must not be panic… or anger… or fear… or disdain. Our focus must be mission. Again.” -Ed Stetzer
  • “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” -Warren Weirsbe
  • “The temptation is to go off and sulk in our holy corner. Or to dig in our heels and fight harder. Or to lash out in anger. Or to despair. We can do better. Like taking to heart especially the Beatitudes……Our homophobia has revealed our fear and prejudice. Biblical inconsistency—our passion to root out sexual sins while relatively indifferent to racism, gluttony, and other sins—opens us to the charge of hypocrisy. Before we spend too much more time trying to straighten out the American neighborhood, we might get our own house in order. Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn their sins (Matt. 5:3-4).” -Mark Galli
  • “As expected, the Supreme Court made its disastrous ruling. This just galvanizes our commitment to honor the Lord and do what’s right!” -Dr Michael Brown
  • “Of this, be sure: No declaration by a government can change a definition from God.” (Gen. 2:24) – David Platt “Salvation isn’t something you can legislate. Now friends move on and move out…the clock is still ticking….” -Jeremy McLaughlin
  • “Ok American church, now is the time to realize that you can in fact share the gospel (probably more effective) in a place where you don’t hold the political power cards…Accept the fact and get to work!” -Klinton Silvey
  • “What has really changed when it comes to the sovereignty and mission of our God? When we wake up in the morning our call is still to go and make disciples of all nations (and that includes North America)!!! -Chris Driver

We have a choice to make. We can either look outwardly in fear or we can look upward in faith!!! In a Sunday School class I attended in east Texas recently this is what I heard. “You cannot fear the Lord and fear man and the future at the same time!” What great wisdom! If we have the proper Biblical fear of the Lord then we will not fear man nor will we fear the future.

A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

When we fear the Lord Psa 34:7-9 says, “The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear Him lack nothing.” God is still on His throne and we are still called to obey Him.

While much in society has changed God has not changed. The Great Commission has not changed nor has the Great Commandment; “Love your neighbor as yourself!” So, where do we go from here? What do we do now? How should this effect us?

  • First, remember He is still on His Throne! He is a holy, all-powerful, all-knowing, never changing, just, and good God! I Sam 2:2, “There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.” We don’t get to decide who God is!!! We don’t get to define who God is, He already defined Himself! We don’t get to determine what rules He wants us to live by, He already wrote them down!
  • Second, we can trust Him because He loves us! Psa 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!” God is the only being who is good by nature! He has proven His love for us by Jesus coming and dying on the cross for our sins. He has provided a path, there is only one, by which we can spend eternity in heaven with Him. Just read John 3 and that path is very clear.
  • Third, while many things have changed in our culture our mission remains the same! We are called by God to live on mission for Him. We are to declare His fame and Glory to every nation, every tongue, and every people group. We are to live as missionaries in our zip code by sharing the love of Christ with those in our circles of influence. That means reaching out and serving everyone no matter who they are!

No matter what decisions or laws are made, the King of Kings has called us to love Him and then to love others the same way He has loved all of us. When we live by His word and love others the same way He loves us then it will make a difference in people’s lives. “Christians can never condone what God condemns. We cannot encourage or endorse what God rejects and opposes. We simply cannot.” -DannyAkin

But we can and must live on mission, again!!!