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Friday, December 24, 2004

Leadership Lessons from The Apprentice

Donald Were you hooked on this season's episodes of "The Apprentice"?  I must hestitantly admit that I was.  I find Donald Trump to be the epitimy of ego, power, and self-indulgence; but yet somehow still find him likeable.  Ray Pritchard has an interesting take on some positives that we can take away from "The Apprentice".  If you find this kind of mundane chatter a waste of time on a Christmas Eve... then... 'you're fired!' Ray writes at Crosswalk.com...

Last night I watched the three-hour rerun of the final episode of "The Apprentice" on CNBC. I came away with the distinct feeling that Mr. Trump was not nearly as impressed with Kelly Perdew as he was with Bill Rancic, the winner of season one. For one thing, I think he has a weakness for tall, beautiful, strong, smart, impetuous, outspoken women, which pretty much describes Jen Massey, the runner-up. But choosing her would have meant rejecting the recommendations of virtually all his advisors. In the end, he seemed almost resigned to choosing Kelly.

Although I've not watched all the episodes this season, I did watch the last few when the competition narrowed and the in-fighting became intense. Besides being good entertainment, what can we learn from "The Apprentice"?

The most important thing involves likeability. Simply put, most of Jen's competitors grew to dislike her intensely while most of Kelly's rivals seemed to enjoy working with him. In the end, Donald Trump could not ignore that reality. No one wants to hire a superstar that no one wants to work with. To put it in football terms, if you're going to be moody, petulant, spoiled and mean-spirited, you'd better score twenty touchdowns if you want to stay on the team. The simple ability to get along with others over the long haul may be the single most important trait you can have. If people perceive you as a good person, a hard worker, a team player, and someone who is positive, upbeat, and fun to be around, you're going to have a ton of job security. Many people get fired simply because they rub others the wrong way. One of Mr. Trump's associates called Jen "abrasive." He wanted Mr. Trump to choose her anyway, but it wasn't going to happen.

What else sticks out? Brains and talent matter but not perhaps as much as some might think. Passion matters a lot, especially the passion to speak up for yourself when your job is on the line. Taking care of details came up again and again. People who let things slide eventually get found out. Manipulation works for a while, but in the end people rally to a leader with integrity.

Finally, the series demonstrates that in life there are many factors we can't control. It's not clear that the best leader actually won the contest. You could argue that a half-dozen others were more qualified than either Kelly or Jen, and that Mr. Trump made some bad decisions along the way. Not that it matters greatly since every one of the contestants will be making huge money eventually (if they aren't already). But in any competition, there can only be one winner. When you don't get accepted, when you don't get the job, when someone else makes the sale, when you are rejected in favor of someone else, all you know is that you didn't win. You don't always know why, and maybe it wouldn't help to know why anyway. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle always to the strong. The smart don't always get rich nor do to the skillful always rise to the top. "Time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11). You can do your best, and you can even be the best, but you still may be passed over. That truth ought to humble all of us.

Meanwhile it helps to know that being a good person still counts for something.

Any thoughts?

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December 24, 2004 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Scott Peterson Who Attends Your Church

Scott_peterson I found this interesting article by Russell Moore at SBCBaptistPress.com last week.  Interesting...

Did you notice Scott Peterson in your church this past Sunday?

Right back there, on the third pew from the back. The now-convicted death row inmate probably didn’t fill out a visitor card, but he was there. Of course, in a literal sense, you would have noticed Peterson, recently convicted of brutally murdering his wife and unborn baby -- dumping them in the water while he partied on with his adulterous lover. The paparazzi would have followed him through your foyer and into the sanctuary.

But Scott Peterson is far from alone. There were little boys and young men in your congregation, this past Sunday, who are wondering what it means to be a man, who have no idea how to be a protector of women and children. Any one of them could be the next generation’s Scott Peterson, in heart if not in deed.

We err if we think that Scott Peterson is all that unusual.

And we err even further when we think that this phenomenon exists only outside our church walls. We all have seen the faces of women we can’t get to visit our churches for weeks at a time, because they don’t want anyone to see the bruised eye left by a man’s fist. We all have heard of the teenage Southern Baptist girl driven off to a “clinic” in the big city to dispose of a baby her deacon father or youth group leader boyfriend didn’t want ever discovered. We all have seen the tearful woman silently crying in a church building while her adulterous husband sings the special music, with hands raised and eyes closed on the platform up front. We have all seen the little boy, with eyes averted and head low, walking into our Vacation Bible School, dropped off by a mom who must work three jobs because his father abandoned them for a woman with a particular way with peroxide, silicon and Botox.

As Christians, we know what this is -- a spirit of murder. Jesus has taught us that hatred of our brother (or our sister or our child) is not simply an emotion. It is instead the fountainhead of murder (Matthew 5:21-22). The Apostle John explicitly identifies hatred with the kind of murderous spirit that led to the slaughter of Abel (1 John 3:11-15). And Jesus traces all of this back to the one who was a “murderer from the beginning,” the “evil one” himself (John 8:44).

This is especially appalling when men act murderously against their wives and children -- see the public’s fascination not only with Peterson but also with Robert Blake and, in the last decade, O.J. Simpson. We seem to know instinctively, whatever our egalitarian feminist culture tells us, that men have a unique responsibility to protect women and children. We’re eerily disturbed when they instead become predators against them.

The responsibility of our churches is heavy, and growing heavier by the year. Our culture is skyrocketing in hostility toward women and children, even as it encourages men to view “responsibility” and “commitment” (i.e., being husbands and fathers) with dread and disdain. And I am not just talking about the obvious family revisionists from the left-fringe of the culture wars. R.W. Connell, a sociologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, writes about a new wave of what he calls “transnational business masculinity” -- the way the global market now expects men to be men. He notes that this vision of masculinity combines a corporate cutthroat competitiveness with a libertarian sexuality that tends to view women as commodities to be consumed. Connell cites as an example the near-universal reality that hotels catering to businessmen are now expected to provide pornographic videos in their rooms. And so it will take more than mere political conservatism to address the values of Scott Peterson subversively celebrated all around us.

The Scriptures give us the pattern for training up men who will love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25-29) and who will model for their children the love of the Father (Ephesians 6:4). In the Proverbs, a father teaches his son not only how to avoid irresponsibility and heartache, but also how to rejoice in his sexuality with the wife of his youth and how to nurture another generation of children with wisdom and godliness. This is far more difficult in an era when so many fathers have a different zip code and when often, even the fathers who are present every day, are passive dupes when it comes to spiritual leadership in their homes or churches.

So what can pastors and church leaders do? First, stop telling jokes about the “old ball and chain” or how “when mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.” Model for your congregation what it means to revel in the joy of loving and caring for your wife and children. Make sure your people know that you wouldn’t trade one moment with your wife for any Internet-generated pornographic picture or any Friday night fling with a movie star. Make sure your people know that you would rather be in the backyard with your children than on a golf course with your buddies -- or in front of the television with a bucket of chicken and a Diet Coke. Keep before your people the joys of marriage and fatherhood -- and the joyful responsibilities to protect and to lead that come along with it.

Also, older men, make sure you take responsibility for teaching the younger generations what it means to be a protector of women and children. This starts in the church nursery by teaching toddler boys why hitting girls is especially wrong. It continues by teaching teenage boys to have respect for women, whether through obedience to their moms or by refusing to drool over someone else’s future wife on the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Sometimes it means telling young married men it is time to take off the baseball caps, to stop playing video games and to grow up. Sometimes it means gently telling a young man that he needs to work two jobs so his stressed-out wife can stay home and care for their children. Above all, it means keeping before all of our men -- young and old -- the transformative power of the Gospel and the sanctifying power of the Word of God.

Look around in your pews next Sunday morning. A young Scott Peterson just might be there. Do you have a message for him?

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December 23, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Conflict? Ask Ken": In Times of War, is Peace Possible?

War_1  Dearest Mother,

Just returned... after the most extra­ordinary [day] in the trenches you could possibly imagine. Words fail me completely in trying to describe it, but here it goes.

So began an amazing letter by British soldier Captain Sir Edward Hulse in the midst of World War I. It received wide circulation both in England and in the U.S.  Here's the essence of what he wrote.

It was on a Wednesday when the captain and his troops were ordered to the front line against German troops. The exchange of fire between the warring armies was intense.

Early Friday morning, how­ever, the shooting by the Ger­mans began to subside. By 8:00 a.m., they were not firing at all. Then at 8:30 Captain Hulse was startled by an unexpected sight. Four unarmed Germans left their protected positions and began walking toward the British side. Unsure of their intentions and not wanting them to get too close, the captain and one of his men headed out to meet them. Weapons from both sides were pointed at them.

As the men huddled together, Captain Hulse questioned their purpose. "What orders do you have from your officers?" "None," the Germans replied.  They explained why they ceased firing and then said that unless ordered otherwise, they were going to withhold their fire.

After 30 minutes, the English party escorted the Germans back to their line of barbed wire. They parted after a friendly exchange of British cigarettes and German cigars. Then Captain Hulse immediately went to headquarters to report the incident.

Returning at 10 am, he couldn't believe his eyes. In the open space between the two armies, "I saw, to my amazement, not only a crowd of about 150 British and Germans... [in front of] my lines, but six or seven such crowds, all the way down... extending toward the 8th Division on our right." The only thing left in the trenches were the weapons.

Stunned, Hulse observed the soldiers "were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged... photos of families shown, etc." The captain noted, "it was absolutely astounding, and if I had seen it on... film I [w]ould have sworn that it was faked!"

During this lull in hostilities, an agreement for the care of the dead was reached. Soldiers who had been killed near the opposing side were carried out to the half­way line where they were honored and buried. Personal effects of the dead were exchanged. And so it went all day.

The Rest of the Story

In recounting Captain Hulse's letter, one im­portant detail was dele­ted. What wasn't said was that the events described took place on December 25. What Captain Hulse actually referred to in his opening sentence to his mother was not a "most extra­ordinary day," but rather, a "most extraordinary Christmas."

When the four Germans came out from their trenches it wasn't because of any cowardliness on their parts. It was because of the birth of Jesus Christ. They wanted to wish their British counterparts a Merry Christmas. In turn, a British soldier said, "It's only right that we should show that we could desist from hostilities on a day which is so important in both countries." A commitment to something greater (or more accurately, Someone greater) was at work here. For this reason, the sounds of war were stilled and the voices of goodwill emerged that day among soldiers who were otherwise locked in a struggle of life and death.

Devotional Thought

We live in an often hostile and violent world. Captain Hulse himself was killed in action in France at age 25, two and a half months after he wrote his letter. Yet the message of Christmas is still one of peace. Like a powerful magnet that draws particles to itself as well as together, so Jesus not only attracts us to God, but also unites us to one another.

This was, in fact, the essence of the angel's message the night Jesus was born: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.  What this means is that there is no heart which cannot be softened, no marriage which cannot be restored, no division which cannot be bridged through a spirit of unity centered around Bethlehem's babe. Those who bow down before Him, like the soldiers of WWI, will find, when they arise, a unity among them that they had previously thought impossible.

May the peace that Israel’s Messiah brings to those who conform their will to His be yours, your family's, and your church’s this Christmas season!

With warmest wishes,

Ken Newberger

©  2004  Kenneth C. Newberger

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December 22, 2004 in Church Growth | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Is it Time to Leave? Assessing your Family Well-being

Before_you_move_8 This week, we'll pick up in on our continuing look at John Cionca's book "Before You Move: A Guide to Making Transitions in Ministry." This week we'll discuss how to discern your "Family Well-Being ".

John writes, This factor is fairly easy to read. Whereas size of impact or giftedness may require deliberation, family contentment, or the lack thereof is usually obvious."

"Care and management of our families is essential to ministry effectiveness. (I Tim. 3:5) And being in a caring congregation is essential to family well-being. So if you find yourselves identifying with the pastor who said, "I love how they make my kids feel special," remaining at your present church is probably a wise choise. But if your experience is more like the colleague who conceded, "We couldn't stay any longer -- my wife was increasingly unhappy, close to a nervous breakdown-- and I wasn't too far behind her," a green light is signaling that a move is probably just down the road."

(Remember, this is just one of twenty factors we are looking at from John's book... for a full dialouge of the other ones, check out our blog archives, or better yet... pick up copy of the book!)

How has this "Possible Impact" been a part of your decisions? What was the outcome? Maybe you're currently going through this right quandry right now... I'd love to hear your comments!

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December 21, 2004 in Personnel Issues | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Monday, December 20, 2004

What's the Real Difference Between a Traditional Church Plant and a Multi-Site Satellite Campus?

Johnsonferry I was saved almost 30 years ago in a small church plant in Montpelier, OH.  Today the evangelical church world is being rocked by a new type of church plant.  The 'multi-site church' movement is gaining strength every week in America.  Clint Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently wrote an interesting article on another church that is opening a new church via a multi-site, satellite campus approach. Take a few minutes to read this article and consider some of the questions and ideas that I took from this article...

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church has grown from a few families meeting in a doctor's office to a sprawling campus in east Cobb serving 7,000 members.

In January, the church will open its first franchise, of sorts.

"Johnson Ferry Baptist Church has a great reputation, and we're transferring the core mission, the values of that institution, to this campus," said Terry Nelson, head pastor of the new Johnson Ferry @ Cedarcrest.

The 23-year-old church is counting on its trusted name. Such branding is used to sell everything from hamburgers to computers, so, why not use a brand name to sell salvation?

The spinoff church will draw people from west Cobb and east Paulding counties and will initially hold services at Shelton Elementary School on Cedarcrest Road in Paulding County.

Services at Johnson Ferry @ Cedarcrest will be a mix of live music, live prayer and videotaped sermons delivered by Bryant Wright, the senior pastor at Johnson Ferry for 23 years, who is known for his "right from the heart" 60-second radio homilies.

The mix of live worship and videotaped sermon has been used at Johnson Ferry, Wright said.

Midmorning services are held simultaneously in the chapel and the church gym. One week, Wright delivers the sermon live in the chapel. The next week he speaks in the gym while those in the main sanctuary see a video version.

Such spiritual franchises, Wright said, "are definitely a trend across the country, especially among larger churches of all denominations."

North Point Community Church of Alpharetta has a branch in Buckhead, where the Rev. Andy Stanley appears via 3-D video image. North Point also has started a congregation in Dothan, Ala., and plans another in Forsyth County.

A 2000 Hartford Seminary study of 153 megachurches (there are an estimated 850 nationwide) found that 22 percent had satellite churches. Being a branch of a big church, as opposed to an independent start-up, has several advantages, Nelson said.

Church members know what to expect. "There are no unpleasant surprises," Nelson said.

The worldly expenses of running a church — rendering unto the power company what is the power company's — are covered by the established church.

"You can pour your passion and your energy into the ministry instead of worrying if you'll survive," Nelson said.

Until a a Cedarcrest campus is built, Sunday services are being held in the school gym.

The church paid to have heating and air conditioning installed in the gym, an expense beyond the reach of a typical start-up operation, Nelson said.

The staff of the new church is holding practice services in preparation for the Jan. 16 official first service. Equipment loaded into four trailers and a 26-foot cargo truck transforms the school gym into a worship center in about 45 minutes. About 120 people have been attending the practice services.

The services will be a bit more casual than those of the mother church, Nelson said.

"We'll never be in a coat and tie over there," he said.

Is this really any different of an idea than what we're used to in the past with the traditional church plant model for church growth?

Montpelier Baptist Church was a church plant of First Baptist Church of Stryker, OH (a church about 20 miles away).  MBC was started because one local church cared about the spiritual well-being of people from another local community.  Fortunately, I lived in that other community.  :)

What's the difference between what Johnson Ferry is doing in January and what First Baptist Church did 35 years ago?  There are only two things that intially come to mind:

1.  The name of the church

2.  Technology

I know many are reluctant to take the multi-site movement seriously.  I know that many think that multi-site churches somehow should not exist ("Why are they making their kingdom larger rather than just starting an entirely new church?"  "Multi-sites are just another way to make mega-church pastors more popular and feed their own ego").  But in many ways, multi-sites make sense from a start-up standpoint... they take a local church's strengths (their values, vision, and mission) in their own community and duplicate this to a nearby community.  Everyone is on the same page because they come from a mother church.  And the financial pressure that many church plants find themselves under can be better leveraged by being more closely connected to the mother church.

Just as First Baptist saw spiritual fruit through their efforts 35 years ago, so will Johnson Ferry during 2005.  Lives will be reached.  Souls will be saved because God's people are once again reaching out.

For those who are opposed or look down on the multi-site approach, I would ask you to consider what the differences really are from the ways that we are already using and willingly 'accept'.

That should be enough to get the wheels rolling this morning... what do you think?


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December 20, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (62) | TrackBack

Friday, December 17, 2004

HUMOR: In the Beginning

Beginning In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Devil said, "It doesn't get any better than this."

And God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit," and God saw that it was good. And the Devil said, "There goes the neighborhood."

And God said, "Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth." And so God created Man in his own image; male and female did He create.

And God looked upon Man and Woman and saw that they were lean and fit.

And the Devil said, "I know how I can get back in this game."

And God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

And the Devil created McDonald's. And McDonald's brought forth the 79-cent double cheeseburger. And the Devil said to Man: "You want fries with that?" And Man said: "Supersize them." And Man gained 5 pounds.

And God created the healthful yogurt, that woman might keep her figure that man found so fair. And the Devil brought forth chocolate. And Woman gained 5 pounds.

And God said, "Try my crispy fresh salad."

And the Devil brought forth Ben and Jerry's. And Woman gained 10 pounds.

And God said, "I have sent thee heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them."

And the Devil brought forth chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained 10 pounds and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.

And God brought forth running shoes and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.

And the Devil brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil to change channels between ESPN and ESPN2. And Man gained another 20 pounds.

And God said, "You're running up the score, Devil."

And God brought forth the potato, a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.

And the Devil peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fat fried them. And the Devil created sour cream dip.

And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol. And the Devil saw and said, "It is good." And Man went into cardiac arrest.

And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

And the Devil canceled Man's health insurance.

Then God showed Woman how to peel the skin off chicken and cook the nourishing whole grain brown rice.

And the Devil created light beer so Man could poison his body with alcohol while feeling righteous because he had to drink twice as much of the now-insipid brew to get the same buzz. And Man gained another ten pounds.

And God created the life-giving tofu.

And Woman ventured forth into the land of Godiva Chocolate and upon returning asked Man: "Do I look fat?"

And the Devil said, "Always tell the truth." And Man did.

And Woman went out from the presence of Man and dwelt in the land of the divorce lawyer, east of the marriage counselor.

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December 17, 2004 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Conflict? Ask Ken: How to Select a Competent Church Mediator

Argument This week, I am excerpting three sentences from a recent email I received from a senior pastor who was inquiring about my services.  He decided not to turn to his denomination for help.  He wrote, in part,

Our denomination has a state staff which is available for mediation and conflict resolution.  But my honest opinion is that they know just enough to be dangerous. I've not worked with them because every church I know of where they've "helped" has ended up worse than before they intervened.

This may seem like an oddly-timed quotation.  Last week, I extolled mediation as the divine pattern for reconciling sinners to God, and therefore the pattern most appropriate for us in sorting through our interpersonal conflicts.  Nevertheless, the reason I bring attention to this senior pastor’s observation is to emphasize the important point that not all peacemakers are worthy of their name.

I can speak from personal experience when I served as a senior pastor several years ago.  After more than five years of ministry, conflict emerged in my church.  The denominational person responsible for my geographical area was tied up with other churches in conflict.  He asked a fellow pastor in the region to help in our situation.  This pastor called himself a mediator and indicated that he had experience in this field.  I knew nothing about what was involved and naively assumed that he knew what he was doing.  After one personal meeting at the very beginning of his involvement, weeks went by without any word.  My wife used to ask me, “why aren’t we hearing anything.”  I told her not to worry.  I finally received a phone call from the mediator in order to ask me two or three questions.  The conversation was not long.  More time passed and we heard nothing.  My wife kept asking me, “why aren’t we hearing anything?”  I had no idea what was going on.  Finally, I received a brief informational call by the mediator.  Shortly thereafter, a “Mediation Report” was issued.  The matter was officially over and so were my days at that church.  We were flabbergasted by a process which, among other things, never brought the disputing sides together, not even once!  Though the specific details in my case have their unique features, my overall experience is little different than what the senior pastor above expressed.

Should you ever need the assistance of a mediator for your church, how can you make a wise choice?  I offer you three guidelines:

(1) Require the mediator to provide you with an outline of the process he intends to use  from beginning to end.  The more understandable the process is to all sides, the less  energy has to expended on being concerned about what’s going to happen next and the  more energy can be focused on addressing the issues at hand.  If the mediator can’t tell  you the process he intends to follow, and the rationale behind it, look elsewhere.

(2) If the end of his process involves an investigative “report” to the congregation with the  findings of the “mediator” watch out.  Such reports typically assign blame.  This may  be appropriate for an arbitrator, who by necessity must make judgments on the past.  It   should not be, however, what a mediator strives to do.  The disputing parties are  already finding fault with each other.  For the mediator to do the same is, in reality,  little different than becoming another disputant.  Look, therefore, for a person whose  primary questions are, “where does the church go from here?” and “how can we get  there in as collaborative a fashion as possible?”

(3) Look to the training and experience of the conflict resolution specialist.  One who is  experienced in interpersonal mediation, may have no experience in an organizational  setting such as a church where a much larger number of people are involved.  One who  is experienced in organizational settings may have no experience working with  churches.  More than just facilitating a process, churches need mediators who  understand how congregations operate as well as church culture, theology, etc.  To the  extent that they have experienced congregational life from all sides: member, lay elder,  pastoral staff member, the better they can relate to the concerns of all involved.

The truth of the matter is, anyone can call themselves a “mediator” as my wife and I painfully learned.  Not everyone is.  Discerning those who are worthy of the title from the rest can be the crucial difference between conflicts that are constructively resolved and those that are not.


Ken Newberger, an experienced church conflict resolution specialist, earned his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, has ten years senior pastoral experience, and is in the dissertation phase for his Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University, one of only two accredited doctoral programs of its kind in the United States. If your church needs individualized help, please visit Ken's website or call 301-253-8877.

To submit a question and connect with Ken, click here.

© 2004 Kenneth C. Newberger

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December 16, 2004 in Church Conflict | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How to Dispel the Myth of the Super Pastor

Superman This is from Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens new book "Simply Strategic Volunteers", just out from Group Publishing:

Dispel the Myth of the Super Pastor

"It was he who gave some... to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of services, so that the body of Christ may be built up."  (Ephesians 4:11-12)

It's a common myth in churches:  We hire pastors to do ministry.    If they can't get it done, then they hire staff to help them.  Of course, there are always a few fanatics in the church that will also help, but for the most part we rely on the pastors to do the ministry.

We call it the myth of the super pastor.  We convince ourselves that the pastor has a special connection to God and has been endowed with "pastor dust."  Being in his or her very presence is enough to make a person more spiritual.  If the pastor isn't the one doing the talking or visiting or caring or leading...then it's just not good enough.

It's typical for seminaries to perpetuate the myth.  In fact, many of them have spent decades training "doeers" rather than "leaders."

It's convenient for the laity to believe the myth.  It makes it so much easier to remain uninvolved and critical of someone else for not getting the work done. 

It's heady for the pastor to believe it.  Who doesn't want to be a super hero?

We do unintentional things to perpetuate the myth.  We ask Super Pastor to pray before every church meal.  If he's in the room, then it's up to him to bless the beans.  We expect Super Pastor to visit us in the hospital.  No one else will be able to say the right things at the right time.  Super Pastor offers financial counseling, career counseling, parenting and marriage counseling, crisis counseling, and every other kind of counseling.  Only a Super Pastor could be an expert in all those areas.

What if pastors really took the Ephesians passage seriously?  What if we saw it as our responsibility from God to equip the believers for ministry?  What if we trained our members to run meetings, teach lessons, baptize new believers, lead small groups, visit people in the hospital, offer care, and provide counsel?

What is we measured our success by how often we were equipping and measured our failure by how often we were doing?

What if it were our goal to push the ministry as far out into the church as possible?  What if we agreed upon the mission, vision, and values that we share, and then we just let people go?  What would happen in an individual in crisis were offered help by a trained leader who was already in relationship with him or her?

And then, as the church grows, what if our purpose as pastors transitioned toward training trainers and leading leaders?  What if, rather than adding leaders, we could be multiplying leaders?

Let's kill the myth of the super pastor.  Let's show our church that we are human beings placed in a position to lead the church.  Let's adopt the value that every member is a minister and that significance and fulfillment in the Christian life come though serving.

What are your thoughts?

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December 15, 2004 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Is it Time to Leave? Assessing Your Opportunity for Impact

Before_you_move_7 This week, we'll pick up in on our continuing look at John Cionca's book "Before You Move: A Guide to Making Transitions in Ministry." This week we'll discuss how to discern your "Opportunity for Impact".

John writes, "Most of us would not invest in a savings account yielding 3 percent interest if we could find one offering a 10 percent return. Neither is it prudent to spend fifty to sixty hours a week in a low-yield ministry if a higher return on our investment is possible. It makes sense to serve the Lord wherever we can make the greatest contribution."

Here is the key question to ask in this area: Do you see yourself doing anything more significant than you're currently doing? Can you have a greater impact in your current position or in a new place of ministry? (Again, remember that this is one of twenty different areas we are assessing in deciding whether we should stay or leave our current position... the others we have talked about are archived at the blog).

John continues, "Change for change's sake is usually unwise. A high-impact ministry in your present church suggests that you remain in this significant sphere of influence. But if greater outreach is possible elsewhere, you should not fear proceeding through this greenlight.

Been there, done that? What was the outcome? Maybe you're currently going through this right now...  Let's start our discussion now!  :)

For more information on the other nineteen things to consider, pick up a copy of John's book today!

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December 14, 2004 in Personnel Issues | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Monday, December 13, 2004

Innovation: Is Your Church "Beyond the Box"?

Box Last week, I opened a huge can of worms talking about the subject of churches and innovation. I heard back from many of you. In fact, we have a great discussion going on currently at the daily blog on the issue (that I'm sure will continue this week). It is true that innovation means different things to different people. The same church that finds one thing to be innovative would view another church's innovation as mundane. But regardless, it makes for some fascinating discussion (at least it fascinates me!) :)

One of my favorite books on innovation in the church is by Bill Easum and Dave Travis titled "Beyond the Box: Innovative Churches That Work" (Group Publishing). If you haven't read this book, it will definitely challenge your current thinking. In the opening chapters, Bill and Dave talk about 'Beyond the Box' churches... churches that are setting a brand new course for the future.

According to Easum/Travis, many 'Inside the Box' and 'Outside the Box' churches are cluttered with so much 'box baggage' that many of the questions they are asking don't have much meaning anymore. They automatically assume that certain things are normal or natural in Christianity (they site such things as hierarchy, structure, organization, property, location, conflict, centralized control, ordination, clergy, seminaries, and denominations.)

Many thriving congregations, they say, aren't anywhere near 'Beyond the Box'... still spending much of their time swirling with old assumptions, causing them to "waste their potential fighting battles that no longer matter." Look, for example, at the three ways they would categorize most churches:

In the Box Out of the Box Beyond the Box
Stuck and dying Thriving and growing Radically innovative
Property is important Relocate or expand Property agnostic
Looking for help Holistic growth Pursuing opportunity
Interventionist/restart How to grow our church Missionary mindset
Survives/protects heritage Institutional effectiveness Kingdom orientation
Organization, polity, control Decentralized Reproductive
Maintains Adds Multiplies
No DNA Unembedded DNA Gives DNA away
Culturally ignorant Invites public in Goes out and sends
Protects heritage Willing to be adaptive Radical innovation
Controlling Benevolent hierarchy Gospel is everything
Elects slot fillers Trains key leaders Models leadership
Avoids change Comfortable with change Embraces change
Chaplain Career Missionary/apostle
Slave to constitution Ignores constitution Flexible guidelines
Members Volunteers Discipled servants
Staff are doers Staff are equippers Equipping culture

OK... before you fire me off an angry email saying that this book and books like it cause harm to the church because they tell us to change our message; water down the gospel; disregard important traditions, cause the church to be like the world, are only based on a business-model mindset, or anything else; please take a deep breath... that is not the intention of this book. The purpose of this book is to think of innovative ways for your church to reach people in your community for Christ, not for your church to become more hip, theologically liberal, or popular.

Where does your church land on this table? Does your church have a lot of 'box baggage'? Let's discuss this idea. You can get in on the conversation and give your 2 cents worth easily and quickly by leaving your comments. Let me know how your church rated... are you "In the Box", "Out of the Box" or "Beyond the Box"? What is your church doing that's innovative?

Would you like some new ideas at how your church can be more effective in the next five years? If so, I would encourage you to grab a copy of Bill and Dave's book. It's a easy, but thought-provoking read... a book that may very well open your eyes to ways that your church can be more effective in your community.

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December 13, 2004 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack