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THE ARMY WAY

“Leadership is influencing people – by providing purpose, direction, and motivation – while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization!” Where did this excellent quote on leadership come from? Interesting but it comes directly out of the official Army Leadership Manual. This description fits exactly what the church, the army of the Lord, should be focusing on. Three words stand out needing more of our attention and understanding.

The first is influencing! This means motivating and loving others in the mission for the mission. As leaders we are to influence people into an active relationship with Christ, with the church, and in their community. We need to develop a system that gives people the tools they need to stay on the path of spiritual vitality. Church systems are to be reproducible and interconnected processes by which the church actualizes and achieves its mission.

The second is operating!  As leaders we are called upon to create plans, develop systems and manage their execution so that the mission is achieved. Our role is to help people find and follow Jesus. Do we have a clear discipleship pathway and a leadership development pipeline? Do people know what “next steps” they need to take as they progress in their spiritual maturity? Please notice the emphasis is on the mission and not on the individual. God is all about the team!

The third is improving! There is always room for improvement and we should all want to get better in everything we do. A great way to improve your team is by dedicating ourselves to adding value to those around us and to the organization for the betterment of the mission. If we want to change tomorrow we need to begin doing the necessary things and taking the necessary steps today. Once again make sure you think of a clear process of next steps people need to take.

The key concept is reproducible and it is not reproducible if it is too complicated and confusing. Confusion on what to do next paralyzes any organization and brings an advancing army to a screeching halt. This is why II Timothy 2:2 defines a clear process. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Our responsibility is to create the pathways to a clear and understandable goal.

Systems are needed and necessary to sustain the relational capitol you have work diligently to build up. Gary Rohrmayer writes, “Functional structures are the links that enable all the church systems to function harmoniously.”

Here are five areas with key questions that will help you keep your structures effective.

  1. Mission outcomes – what results are you looking to achieve?
  2. Ministry flow – what are the steps needed to achieve those results?
  3. Focus on organization structure – who will ensure that those results are being achieved?
  4. Organization flow – how do we keep people informed and involved as we achieve our goal?
  5. Focus on charting the course – how do we keep our structures effective? We need to know where we are headed and what success looks like to us. Focus on goals, steps, who is responsible, how do you cast the vision, and how can you be effective.

What do healthy and unhealthy systems look like? Here are a few thoughts I heard recently on healthy systems while attending Courage to Lead preconference at Exponential West 2017.

You must place high trust in your leaders by allowing them to lead. Sometimes team leaders are given a position with no authority but that will eventually create problems and frustrate them as they realize they have responsibility but are powerless to do anything about it.

They need to earn that trust with a proven track record. The trust level increases as information is given with clearly defined job descriptions. Remember, confusion paralyzes so a trusted leader is one who communicates well where they are headed, how they are going to get there, and how you can best help them in that journey. Resist the temptation to micromanage. Empower them to make decisions and oversee their ministry in a Christ honoring way.

Have very few committees but have a lot of conversations. Being over structured almost always guarantees less effectiveness. The best decisions are always made as a team in a group and not on an island. Those you lead will not buy-in unless they are given the opportunity to weigh-in. Develop an information process that gives everyone the right to be creative and to offer feedback. Allow decisions to be made at the lowest possible level.

Celebrate the right things and have fun along the journey. When you see something that is being effective you first want to celebrate it but you also want to do more of it. Do not allow team members to sit around with frowns on their faces. Remind them that the joy of the Lord is their strength. The question we must ask is whether the frowns on their faces are because they are imitating us? Someone creates the atmosphere and environment so make sure it is a positive one.

Stay simple and do not allow the system to become too complicated. If you are having meeting upon meetings and nothing is really working then the system is broke and needs an overhaul. Think about downsizing the busyness and focus on becoming simple. Bureaucracy is defined as an administration characterized by too much red tape and routine. Make sure you are not just meeting to meet. There must be a defined purpose for the meeting.

Think through the “Army Way” by focusing on influencing, operating, and improving. This way you can focus on executing the mission you have been called by the commander-in-chief to carry out!

 

COMPETITION OR COOPERATION

Boxing 

 “It’s not whether you win or lose it’s how you play the game!”  Really?  In the hyper-competitive culture we live in?  Those words are pretty shallow because they are not practiced in the “win at any cost” environment we live in.  Many will do whatever it takes to get the edge whether that is using steroids, cheating on a test, or even throwing basketballs at players who are not performing up to expectations.  The pressure is intense and the temptation is paramount to take any shortcut possible and to see everyone around you as the “competition!”

     Competition in sports is one thing, and not all competition is bad, but competition between churches grieves the heart of God.  In Luke 9:50 Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”  The real competition is against the enemy and the forces of darkness.  We have an adversary and the battle lines have been drawn.  Churches need to be penetrating the darkness and rescue those who are perishing instead of swapping sheep.  Almost all statistics back up the fact that over 90 percent of church growth is due to transfer growth.  Some reports say that only one percent of church growth is conversion growth.

    It is alarming when some churches begin to believe, promote, and teach that they are the only ones that have it right.  Years ago, when we were church planters in Northern Illinois a new church plant in our area was visiting door to door.  They happened to knock the door of one of our faithful members who asked them why they were planting in that area.  They said because there were no biblical Baptist churches in the area.  He began asking what was wrong with several churches and they verbalized a charge against every one of them.  When he asked them about Northside their response was, “They hold their microphones when they sing!”

     We should rejoice when a new church plant comes to an area because they can reach people that maybe we cannot reach.  Our motives must be to win the lost and depopulate hell, not attack others who have the same mandate we have been given by God.  In my S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) journaling God spoke to my heart about praying for other churches in Jer. 29:7, “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”

     As the children of Israel were headed into Babylonian captivity they were told to pray for their city.  They were slaves who were being taken to a foreign land to live in captivity but still God tells them to pray for their city!  God convicted me that I was not praying for my city, city officials, policemen, firemen, my neighbors, the lost, other Christians, pastors, and other churches who are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You experience a heart and attitude adjustment toward those you are praying for. 

     When you begin interceding and praying for others you no longer see them as the enemy or the competition and you begin thinking of ways you can help and bless them.  Praying daily for those in your city and circle of influence does a couple of things:

  • It transforms your relationship with them.  You realize that they are not the enemy.
  • It changes your heart toward them.  Col. 4:12 says, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
  • It breaks the stronghold of bitterness and unforgiveness.
  • It reminds you to represent Christ no matter how others may treat you. 
  • It places the adversary as the enemy and you labor to diminish the darkness and advance God’s Kingdom.

     Prayer causes us to not only to do things right but to do the right things.  Here is a great quote from Ralph Neighbour Jr, “If you have a choice to make between praying and doing, choose to pray.  You will accomplish more by your doing, because you did.”  When church members pray daily for the members of their group they always multiply faster than those who only pray for one another occasionally.

     We need to pray for our city, one another, and others sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ!