Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

This week, I watched online the Exponential 2013 Conference for Church Planters. Outstanding stuff in many ways. For me personally, it was God revealing that the ideas and desires I have been wrestling with are from him.

This conference along with other recent encounters has moved me from wanting to “plant a church” back to my original passion of encountering those who don’t yet know of the really good news of Jesus Christ and showing that HE and HE alone is what makes life worth living.

I want to watch Jesus build his church as I just let him overflow through me – the good, the bad and the ugly. My life is not always full of joy and peace and love but when I return my focus to Jesus, even the ugly stuff eventually has purpose.

The conference was called DiscipleShift. Here are the Shifts addressed:

Shift 1 – From Reaching to Making
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders move away from only reaching people and toward relational disciple making that apprentices people in the ways of Jesus.

Shift 2 – From Teaching to Modeling (from Leading to being Led)
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders move away from leading and toward being led by Jesus. Because leaders reproduce who they are, if we want to make strong, mature disciples, then we as leaders must first be strong, mature disciples.

Shift 3 – From Attending to Participating
DiscipleShift occurs when church leaders shift their role from teaching to modeling, making disciples like Jesus did. Jesus strategy for influencing the world was apprenticing and equipping 12 disciples as He modeled faith, service and leadership and then commission these disciples to do the same with their lives.

Shift 4 – From Connecting to Transforming
DiscipleShift occurs when we as leaders move away from assimilating people into programs and move toward creating missional communities. Communities created around a cause foster environments of encouragement, accountability and risk taking where disciple making happens best.

Shift 5 – From Attracting to Deploying
DiscipleShift occurs when leaders shift their focus from drawing in masses of people to leading churches who send equipped Christ followers to the masses. Our scorecards must change from simply counting the number of people we attract to counting the number of people we deploy.

Amen and amen!

Digital Access Pass – Exponential 2013 – Advance Purchase

  • $49 ($69 after April 30)

Digital Access Pass gives you access to download the content from all 10 main webcast sessions at Exponential 2013. This includes the talks by 25 different speakers, creative videos used in the sessions, and special backstage interviews.


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As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew in numbers. ~ Acts 16:4-5

Most of us have, at one time or another, struggled with receiving direction from others. But look at the results mentioned in the above scripture.

The pull to resist unity leads to a rough existence not only for the individual resisting direction but also for those who are forced to choose which individual is “right.” Stress and negativity build up in the leader resisting direction; the effectiveness of that leader is damaged beyond the specific circumstance; and the good intended by all is weakened.

In Matthew 12:7, Jesus warns the Pharisees with a quote from Hosea 6:6: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Jesus is referring to the Pharisees insistence on individuals following the law according to their interpretation. They didn’t like this new guy in town changing the way they did things.

Just as God desires mercy over sacrifice, I believe He also desires unity over individual success. That relieves us of relying on our own understanding of God’s will.

Assuming the direction given by others is Biblically based, which would you rather do, be united with others or stand out for individual success?

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ~ John 17:23

Don’t get me wrong. There are times God calls individuals to stand apart. But that is a rough road. To succeed in his kingdom, God will not leave you alone. Elijah felt alone but God revealed otherwise. (See 1 Kings 17-19) Notice that when he felt alone, he got alone until he received clear direction from God.

For more of my thoughts on working as a team, read Team Development Part 2 – Your Spot in the Big Picture

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Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.

~ James 1:4 (Context James 1:2-8)

God seemed to have set the stage. I was the only one who could attend the meeting with the women’s ministry pastor. This is good, I thought. This will make it easier to explain my situation.

My heart was thumping boldly in my chest, my palms a little clammy and my breathing a bit shaky. After an exchange of greetings and small talk, I took a deep breath and forged ahead, “I need some wise counsel.” She smiled, raised an eyebrow and sat back with a little chuckle at her own joke. As she quietly listened, I shared my irritations fully expecting her to agree that our church should not promote an organization that does such things.

Instead, there was silence. Time seemed to stand still. Then, with that same gentle smile, she spoke. I felt the prick of what I knew was intended to be discipline and encouragement. With the patience of a mom guiding a toddler’s steps, she related the importance of perseverance and working together for the common good even when we don’t fully agree on every issue. Knowing my passion, she asked a few simple questions. “Do you still agree with the vision and mission of the ministry? Do the differences out weigh God’s purpose? Does this issue make it impossible for you to work with other leaders in the ministry?” She knew my answers.

Shifting in my seat and looking for another way out, I waded in further with “maybe I just need to step out of leadership for awhile.” That’s really what I was looking for. I was tired and feeling overwhelmed. My aggravations were simply providing the scapegoat.

An even bigger smile came on her face. For the next few moments I listened as she explained God’s work does not include a vacation plan. He may at times guide us to different areas of ministry but there is no scripture that indicates quitting as an option. Perseverance, she reminded me, is the choice of the one who has given all of their life to Christ.

I left her office with only a half-grin on my face, hanging my head, not sure whether I was defeated or inspired. “I’ll pray about it,” I promised as I exited the privacy of her generally cozy office. By the time I walked a few steps down the narrow isle between rows of cubicles, I knew she was speaking God’s truth to me and for me. I didn’t know how I would resume my role, but I knew perseverance was the route to go.

It’s been just a few months since that day and I am realizing that perseverance is not easy. And, it is very humbling when I have impudently voiced my opinions to the overseers of my work. At nearly 44 years old, I feel like a teenager who is learning a great deal from her discipline.

Bailing out would have been the easier path. And, I had good reason to do so, I thought. But my faith is not in the ministry leaders at a headquarters far away. My faith is in God who is right here with me. It is his work. I have gained wisdom and a few steps toward maturity because I am persevering. I’m not winning any disagreements. I’ve actually quieted down in my work. I’m learning perseverance is easier and the work more glorifying to God without a lot of noise from me.

Here’s a few questions to help you determine who your faith is in.

  • Are you one who bails out or perseveres at the trials of ministry?
  • Do you spend time trying to convince other leaders that you are right and others are wrong?
  • Is your perspective as important to God as it is to you?

Now the big question. Are you willing quit running away and give up the fight for the sake of His purposes?

Perseverance is not comfortable but it is the only way to maturity in Christ and for that reason, you can consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.

Lord Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for giving wisdom generously, without finding fault. In those times of trials and testing, with our eyes fully on you, may we never doubt your guidance. Perfect our faith, O Lord, for the sake of your name.

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If you’re not rejected at least three times a week, you’re not really trying.

I have the above quote tacked on a cork board in my office. It came from something intended to encourage writers. It caught my eye recently as I was sitting with God pondering the unusual amount of rejection I’ve encountered regarding my perspective of life and God.

Writing is basically sharing what we see, either as witness to facts or our imagination. According to Acts 1:8, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be witnesses of Jesus.

We know not everyone is going to want to hear our ideas of Jesus. Scripture is clear that we will be persecuted and rejected. For most of us in the western culture, we assume that means those in foreign countries who are not free to worship as we do. Or maybe it refers to the minor blows to our ego or finances that occur in this country.

The rejection I’ve encountered over the past 2 ½ years has come from Christian leaders. It drives me to deeper questions of what it means to be a Christian and more specifically, a Christian leader.

I love William Young’s dialogue between God and the main character in The Shack. I don’t remember which person of the Trinity Mack was talking to but God basically says “Jesus is not a Christian.” It seems many who claim to have a Christian faith are trying to be “Christian” more than submitting to Christ. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Looking back at the interesting confrontations of the past couple years, I’ve discovered that my attempts to be fully submitted to Christ causes friction with some Christians – or should I say “religious leaders.” Funny, that’s who gave Jesus the most trouble too.

In John 15:7, Jesus says “if they persectued me, they will persecute you.” So, as a follower of Christ, if I’m not rejected by religious leaders regularly, I’m not really trying. Well now, that makes rejection sound quite positive!

This post is intended to encourage those experiencing rejection from well meaning Christian leaders. It is not meant to condemn those doing the rejecting. Those who have rejected my ideas have not questioned my relationship with Christ. None of us fully understand yet and I just happen to be one that likes to explore the unknown. Therefore, being a Christian is not defined by what I do, it is defined by who is in me. Romans 8:9 “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Whether you are rejecting others ideas or being rejected, remember this:

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

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Throughout this series we have looked at your individual role on the team; your ministry’s role in the bigger picture; designing the team; and placing people on the team. Now it is time to talk about how we keep the team moving in the right direction.

Every team meeting will look different based on the personalities and visions of the leaders. But below are a few elements I have discovered as essential to healthy team meetings.

Healthy Individuals

The words of the old hymn “if one has a heartache, we all shed a tear” fully applies at this point. Either you or a designated “shepherd” should be in touch with team members regularly. Keep personal struggles away from team meetings. Bringing silent heartache into a team meeting will affect the entire team. Team members need to be authentic but caution the women against using ministry as an escape from family or other personal struggles. Seeking godly counsel and prayer support for personal issues outside of ministry team meetings allows the team to focus and function as a healthy united body.


If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. ~ James 1:5

God-awesome results start with prayer. Pray as you plan the meeting. Pray for God to make himself known as you begin the meeting. Pray anytime the discussion seems to get tense or off track during the meeting. Pray as you end that God would release his power through your everyday life and ministry.

Consider including a “Prayer Warrior” on your team whose role is simply to pray quietly throughout the entire meeting. Encourage her to intercede for each subject being discussed with the invitation to interrupt and take the group to prayer any time a spirit of disunity or frustration is sensed. Some prayer warriors may choose to have a prayer team which gathers at the same time but in a different room from the ministry team.


Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:40

A team meeting is a gathering of gifts intended to function together as one body. The agenda helps everyone move in the same direction at the same pace. Use the agenda as a guide but it doesn’t have to be confining. If you need to break away from the agenda, don’t be afraid to do so. Make sure it is the Holy Spirit – rather than dominate personalities, fears, or appearance of crisis – taking you into unknown territories.

Use the agenda to cast vision and remind everyone of dependence on God’s leadership. Divide your agenda according to various aspects of your ministry vision or goals (i.e. evangelism, spiritual growth, outreach, etc.). Or use headers such as “What God has Done” to hear reports on recent ministry events and activities; “What God is Doing” for the discussion of current projects and ministries recently started; and “Where God is Leading” to introduce new subjects. In all these areas, be sure to include life-changing answers to prayer.

Leadership Development

Use team meetings to develop leadership skills. When the discussion is in a specific team member’s area of ministry, let her lead the discussion. Before you interject with your thoughts remember this Steven Covey quote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Ask questions of the team member to help her paint a verbal picture of her God-given passion. This will give her confidence in her ability to lead and inspire the rest of the team as they see her enthusiasm grow.

End with Expectation

End on time! Summarize any unfinished discussions and confirm assignments, tasks, and information needed for the next meeting. Have a time of silent reflection allowing God’s peace to settle on the meeting before a few words in a closing prayer time. Create some type of unique team bonding for your departure – a group hug, team huddle with a “yeah God” shout – something that makes you feel like a healthy smiling team, anxious to see what God will do as a result of this meeting.

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Work with What you Have

Do you have big dreams, visions maybe, for the potential growth of the women in your church? But when you share those dreams, you receive only blank stares and no volunteers. That doesn’t necessarily mean those dreams are not from God.

For the visionary developing a team, “a day is like a thousand years” takes on new meaning. If God has given you the vision, why isn’t everyone jumping for the chance to be part of this great plan?

Change is generally exciting for the visionary. Not so for everyone else. But change is inevitable and visionaries are the ones cutting the path. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” This is the mindset of a visionary.

Even so, we can’t create that path alone. I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. This is just after his display of confidence against the prophets of Baal in which he greatly impressed King Ahab. Queen Jezebel, on the other hand, was not impressed. She planned Elijah’s death.

In chapter 19, Elijah is crying out to God “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” God proceeds to show Elijah his power along with his protection and asks Elijah again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah, impressed by God’s power but now turning his thoughts back to his circumstances, cries out again “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

From there, God gives Elijah direct instructions and assures him that he is not alone. Let me assure you, you are not alone. God has not manifested his power in your midst without plans to carry out the vision he has given you.

Look around you. Who is God bringing into your path? Instead of trying to make them fit the idea you have for God’s vision or, even worse, rejecting them because they don’t fit, take time to get to know them. What gifts has he given them? How does God want them to participate in this adventure with you?

Be a leader, not a task master, and watch God blaze even greater trails before you.

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Team Development – Part 3

Flipping the Organizational Chart

If you’ve missed the first two parts of this series, you can read them by clicking the links below:

Team Development Part 1 – Praying for Clarity of Your Purpose

Team Development Part 2 – Your Spot in the Big Picture

Flipping the Organizational Chart is more of a mindset than an action. But, it is an essential part of establishing a team that has a strong foundation. It is also helpful to get this picture so that you can cast the vision of where the ministry is actually happening.

The traditional organizational chart places the leaders over those they lead. In this picture, you have the ministry dangling from the grip of leaders. I suggest you view leadership from a different perspective.

Picture a garden. A seed is planted. A root system then develops to nourish the flowers, fruits, or vegetables. God has planted you to develop a team that will feed a ministry and bloom into a beautiful garden for his glory. The produce from this garden will nourish a multitude because many seeds will be carried to other gardens.

Are you losing your grip on the ministries you oversee? It’s much easier to support from below ground. Letting go allows others to grow up to their potential in Christ instead of depending on your strength to hold them in place.

Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

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