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Help Is Available

help pic

 

Where do you go and whom do you call when you need help as a leader? Is there something out there that can help our church to grow and be more effective in reaching lost people with the gospel? The answer is yes, and the great news is that it is not a one size fits all. There are many consulting groups (can be cost prohibitive), coaches available (much more affordable), great resources, and even denominational programs (we prefer calling ours a process). Where can I look or whom could I call?

First, there are some excellent resources out there that lead you through processes that will enable you to think through improving your ministry. One such resource is Advanced Strategic Planning by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs. This helps you to prayerfully consider what kind of church you are, what kind you desire to be, and what process will you use to get to that preferred future. What will that look like? Malphurs defines vision as, “a clear, challenging picture from the heart of what we must be (future).” He challenges us to “See it clearly, say it continually, and share it creatively.”

Malpurs has two more books that have been a tremendous help to me. Being Leaders and Building Leaders, which is co-authored by Will Mancini. The second book has the sub-title of “Blueprints for developing leadership at every level of your church.” These books have some excellent tools that will help you better evaluate your leadership and your church. He is always giving direction in how to establish your core values, establish your mission, develop a vision for your church, and then implement a strategy to accomplish God’s purpose for your church.

Second, consider the Activate program we have through DiscipleGuide. Even though there is a waiting list, the process is helping pastors to be a part of a learning community. These “huddles” meet regularly and are led by a coach who walks the path of church revitalization and health with each participant. You make this journey with your own small group as you learn how to evaluate where your congregation is, recruit a leadership team within your church, and then work together to see your preferred future become a reality.

This is what the website says about Activate, “Is there hope for the local church that is plateaued or is on the decline? Yes! However, struggling churches that turn their ministries around and begin to experience growth and life-change do not do so by accident. An intentional process of evaluation and plan of action must occur…Activate is a total church process that can help put declining churches on the road to health and growth.” You can contact them through email; info@discipleguide.org, or by phone; 1-800-333-1442.

Third, there are some other excellent tools that can be utilized such as one by Dr Hal Seed at www.pastormentor.com where you can enroll at whatever level you are comfortable with. The eBooks are only $4.99 each and are well worth the small investment. He has different levels of programs available to help pastors and give them tools to help them in their ministries. All the way from signing up for his emails, to being able to watch his systems training videos, to being coached and mentored directly by Hal.

Systems are what help you maintain and capitalize on the momentum you have gained through your relationship building. Hal has training on eBooks along with video training on these systems: assimilation, finances, outreach, small groups, spiritual growth, ministry placement, worship planning, and more. In the trainings he also gives insights and helps about personal matters, health, family, time management and much much more. These materials are the best investment I have ever made toward being a better leader in the local church.

Fourth, connect with some other ministry leader, pastor, conference or consultant you have an affinity with. Make sure someone is mentoring you. The best definition I know of a mentor is by Dynamic Church Planting International; “A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.” There has never been a time in the history of the church where more resources and tools were available. We are without excuse in reaching out and asking for help.

Here are a couple of pointers to consider as you look to the best approach for you and your church.

  1. The worst action is inaction. Whatever you decide to do, please make sure that doing nothing is not an option!
  2. Pray about whom you could contact and talk to about helping. Be sensitive to God’s direction because it is His church.
  3. Look for a process that reinforces implementation. Accountability is a good thing and will keep you on task.
  4. Trainings are great but learning communities, “huddles”, will remove the temptation of going to the training, filling out the notebook, and placing it on the shelf never to be visited again.
  5. Get your church leadership on board. There must be an ability and a willingness of leaders in the church to evaluate and act upon the evaluation.

There are church structures that inhibit this process. Listen to what is said in Building Leaders, “For example, a committee selects a young man as committee chairman. The committee, however, does not function as an actual ministry team. The committee members may make decisions about ‘ministry,’ but they are not doing ministry. While committees may be important and necessary, and while leadership is about decision making, a church with too much decision-making structure inhibits leader development because there is more ‘talk’ than ‘walk.’”

Healthy churches are willing to look outside of themselves and learn from other churches and ministries!

MENTOR LIKE JESUS

Mentor Like Jesus

   Recently I had the privilege of attending a forum that focused on discipleship and mentoring with several national leaders.  The highlight to me was having the opportunity to listen to Robert Coleman and see his passion for the Great Commission at the age of eighty-six.  He challenged all of us present to ask ourselves, “Am I doing more and more of what is really important?”  A personal audit should also include: “What are we doing?”  “Why are we doing it?”  “Does it have anything to do with the Great Commission?” 

          In The Master Plan of Evangelism, Dr. Coleman reminds us of how Jesus concentrated on the few in order to reach the many.  He says, “Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going.”  Jesus influenced twelve but He invested in three.  We must ask ourselves, “Who are the people we are intentionally investing in who will go and do the same?”  We cannot just be telling others what they should be doing we must model it for them!   

     Dr. Coleman also shared, “You won’t be intentional if you spend all your time with people who will not let you be intentional!”  In his book Mentor like Jesus, Regi Campbell remembers when he heard Tim Elmore say, “More time with fewer people equals greater kingdom impact.”  Can that actually be true?  Regi challenges us that above all else, Jesus was a mentor.  “Through their efforts, arguably one-third of the world’s population believes in what they taught.  From eleven people to two billion people…Jesus was a pretty good mentor.”

     There needs to be a major shift back to a focus on mentoring and discipleship.  First, it begins with our family!  The family unit is the most ideal setting for developing a mentoring, discipling culture.  Do not start anywhere else before you first focus on your own family.  If it doesn’t work at home then do not try to export it somewhere else.  Jesus mentored through developing a family environment where He and the disciples lived in community together.  They watched and observed Him every day as they ate, travelled, prayed, talked, and shared together.

     Second, mentor your staff and other leaders.  Make sure that you intentionally pour into these individuals by investing two of the greatest things they need: your time and your interest.  Intentionally plan times where you can share your heart and life with them.  Regi Campbell says, “I wanted to share my life with these guys…teach them from my own experience…share plays from my own playbook, to use a football analogy.  But every guide I looked at seemed canned, stiff, and programmed…Is this going to be another Sunday school class where everyone sits in rows, looks up answers, fills in blanks, and walks away unaffected?”

     Third, make sure that you spend a minimum of 50% of your time mentoring the few who can reach the masses.  Regi Campbell says this about his call to mentoring, “My goal is five generations of multiplication.  If that happens, more than one million men will have been equipped to manage life better.”  He has developed a plan where eight men, by invitation, sign a covenant to spend three hours together a month for one year.  He then has an individual meeting with each one of them monthly.  All of them must agree to mentor eight others in the future when they are ready!  Jesus’ mentoring began in the context of a group!

     Fourth, mentor them in the areas they need help.  Jesus was showing them daily how to have a deeper relationship with the Father by going away for a time of prayer.  He modeled for them how to love and serve others selflessly.  They learned about spiritual warfare, trusting Him in every area of their lives, and much more!  The goal of mentoring is to help the mentorees  become the men and women of God they were intended to be.  Those younger in the faith must be shown how to interpret what is happening in their lives scripturally and how to discern His will.

     Jesus modeled for us what He wanted us to be like.  He became flesh and lived with a select few and allowed them to be eyewitnesses of who He was and what He expected.  Regi Campbell goes on to say, “Mentoring is not about coming to know something; that would be education.  Mentoring isn’t about learning to do something; that would be training.  Mentoring is about showing someone how to be something…And as someone said, you only know you’re a follower of Jesus when you’ve helped someone else become a follower of Jesus.”

     Healthy churches mentor like Jesus!!!

Jesus Was A Genius

I know what you are thinking, “Well Duh!  Of course He was!”  Yet, we don’t follow the genius of His strategy very often.  In The Master plan of Evangelism Robert Coleman said, “All of this certainly impresses one with the deliberate way that Jesus proportioned His life to those He wanted to train…Though He did what He could to help the multitudes, He had to devote Himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, so that the masses could at last be saved.  This was the genius of His strategy.”

Discipleship is a biblical command for every follower of Christ.  We have three obligations as disciples.  First, we are to follow Jesus.  Second, we are to help others follow Jesus. Third, we are to help others to help others follow Jesus.  Yes, it sounds simplistic because it is.  We are to help everyone we meet either to follow Jesus or to equip them to help others follow Jesus.  If we want to make a difference in people’s lives we have to be different.  We are not talking about an outward difference but an inward transformation and with a greater focus on discipleship.  The goal in the scriptures is not to find them, gather them, or improve them.  The object is to “make disciples.”       

Coleman also said,Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going.….It might well be that some cherished plans of our own making will have to be redirected or perhaps abandoned altogether.  Equally agonizing may be the adjustment of the congregation to the Master’s view of the ministry.”  Please realize that training is an event but discipleship is a relationship.  The reality is that as you study the way Jesus discipled the expectations were obedience and passing on what they had learned to others.  Can you correctly call yourself a disciple if you have never made a disciple?

In Real Life Discipleship Jim Putman gives an excellent formula for discipleship. “An Intentional Leader + A Relational Environment + A Reproducible Process = An Infinite Number of Disciples.”   The path to discipleship is not new but by many it needs to be rediscovered.  It will require a major shift in many Christians’ way of thinking and following Christ.  It is about new behaviors and requires the following.  It will require a radical adjustment to missional behaviors and making disciples.  Next, it requires realigned activities where it is not just church activities but time dedicated to one on one discipleship.  Then, it requires relevant approaches that are relational where our focus is doing life day by day with people and not just programs.  Lastly, it requires redemptive action where we extend God’s grace to the lost, the last, and the least.  

Here are some Disciplemaking Principles from David Watson and City Team Ministries.  Please consider the radical changes these principles demand for them to become a reality in your life.

  • ·         Hold your leaders accountable to be making disciples.
  • ·         A disciple is not a disciple until one makes another disciple.
  • ·         Focus on the few to win the many.  Jesus did.
  • ·         It’s about discovery, not preaching or teaching.
  • ·         Obedience is more important than knowledge.
  • ·         Disciple to conversion, not convert to make disciples.
  • ·         The discipling process begins with lost people.
  • ·         Expect the hardest places to yield the greatest results.
  • ·         Prayer is the starting point for all disciplemaking.
  • ·         Keep all things reproducible.
  • ·         Following Jesus is about obeying God regardless if anyone else obeys God.
  • ·         You have to be intentional about the end product: discplemakers.
  • ·         Accountability and intentionality are critical.
  • ·         Making disciples is not a knowledge process-it is a relationship process

 

 

Shepherding Shepherds

Coaching, shepherding 

Who is shepherding the shepherds?  The reality for many is no one!  Church members need to be cared for by compassionate godly shepherds.  Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  1 Peter 5:2 continues with the shepherding theme, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”  Maybe the most neglected and uncared for members of the local church are the ministry leaders?     

According to Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, “Every church leader needs a coach.  And every church leader needs to be coaching others!”  In their book Gospel Coach they say, “Coaching ministry leaders is a key aspect to their ongoing effectiveness as shepherds of the Lord’s flock.  We believe coaching is necessary because it is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to a leader in order to fulfill their ministry role—something every leader needs—but it is done in the context of a gospel relationship…the entire flock suffers when its shepherds are not healthy.”

My good friend Danny Kirk says, Everybody needs a coach…that’s a bold statement!  Everybody?  Well, if you are someone who believes that God has created you for His purpose and your desire is to move forward and complete God’s plan and goals for your life, then a Christian coach can help you get there. The term “coach” comes from the transportation era of stagecoaches and rail coaches in which the “coach” literally transported a person from one place to another. In today’s context, a coach is a person who initiates an ongoing conversation that benefits the other person and moves them forward through discovery, learning, and creating a doable action plan.”  

Robert E. Logan defines coaching as: “The process of coming alongside a person or team to help them discover God’s agenda for their life and ministry, and then cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that agenda become a reality.”   Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl in Transformissional Coaching define coaching this way, “Coaching, as we see it, enables transformation, which in turn leads to missional ministry.  Great coaches come alongside leaders so that leaders can be transformed into the image of Christ and join Him on His redemptive mission.”  Coaching can make a huge difference in anyone’s life, especially leaders, because it is shepherding as directed by the scriptures.  

Felling alone and separated from others is one of the greatest dangers to leaders.  Studies have shown that the aloneness factor can lead to arrogance (I’m the only one that has figured this out), which can lead to addiction (I have to find something to feel my void of relationships), and then even on to adultery (the acceptance of a cheap substitute for satisfaction).  The other side of the equation is Ecc 4:10, “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”  From a recent study on church planter survivability Ed Stetzer said, “Planters who met weekly with a mentor…led churches that were almost twice the size of those who had no mentor.”

Coaching is a biblically based way to encourage one another in the ministry that has also proven to be very effective in keeping leaders on track.  More importantly though is the fact that it helps the one being coached to remain spiritually healthy.   You can be coached and you can be trained to be a better coach.  Feel free to contact me (larry@bmaam.com), Danny Kirk (www.youneedcoaching.com) or Kirk Shelton (www.2-46coaching.com).  Remember that every leader needs a coach and every leader needs to be coaching others.  A coach helps you to remain healthy through accountability in your personal, spiritual, and missional life.

Healthy churches shepherd and care for their shepherds and their sheep!