• Does Knowing Theology Make you a Mature Christian?

    Have you ever met a person who knows a bunch of theology but hardly lives it out? Does knowing theology make someone a mature Christian? How can some people (even some pastors) seemingly know the Bible cover to cover and know a lot of theology but don’t seem to love like Jesus or live like him?

    I think Paul Tripp in his great book A Dangerous Calling nails these questions in this quote:

    Since seminary tends to academize the faith, making it a world of ideas to be mastered (I will write about this at length later in this book), it is quite easy for students to buy into the belief that biblical maturity is about the precision of theological knowledge and the completeness of their biblical literacy. So seminary graduates, who are Bible and theology experts, tend to think of themselves as being mature. But it must be said that maturity is not merely something you do with your mind (although that is an important element of spiritual maturity). No, maturity is about how you live your life. It is possible to be theologically astute and be very immature. It is possible to be biblically literate and be in need of significant spiritual growth.

     

    Paul Tripp A Dangerous Calling

    What do you think?

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  • Who Is Leading Your Church?

    Senior leadership teams of a church, whether they be a parish council, a staff team, an elder board or something else, are crucial for healthy, high functioning churches.

    I have been reading a book by Tony Morgan called Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team. He says this about senior leadership teams in churches:

    The reality is, the decision about who will be on your senior leadership team is probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church. This decision is much bigger than those about discipleship strategies, series plans, buildings, budgets, etc. Determining who is on your senior leadership team will shape every other decision.

    Did you see how crucial senior leadership teams are? They are “probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church” Now of course Tony is speaking here on a human level. He would be the first to admit that God grows his church and so we need to be careful before we think all that we need to do to grow a church is to get the right people in the right positions. It is God who gives the growth. But God does work through humans and our good and bad decisions and so we need to think carefully about who is on our senior leadership teams.

    The wrong person(s) in a senior leadership team can frustrate the growth of a church and the right person(s) can make a church flourish as Tony says:

     I’ve seen firsthand how the right person can propel a church forward. I’ve also seen how the wrong person—though talented and gifted by God—can truly disrupt culture and growth. There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.”

    I love that sentence There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.” There is a lot at stake isn’t there? If your church has the wrong people in positions of leadership and the work of the church is hampered and as a knock on effect evangelism, pastoral care and the like doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen in the manner in which it should there are eternal consequences.

    Pastor, are you going to have the courage to build the right senior leadership team for your church? If you do some people will be offended and some people may leave. But the stakes are far too high for you not to get the right people in the right positions on your senior leadership team.

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  • How Old Should the Archbishop of Sydney be?

    The election of a new Archbishop for the diocese of Sydney is happening next year. This is huge news and we should all be praying that God would choose the right man for the job.

    I came across this survey from the Australian Church Record. It is about the age of the next Archbishop of Sydney. Surely if you were going to put out a survey on what you want in the next Archbishop his age would not be your first concern? Surely his theology would be wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you then think  about other matters like his leadership ability, his pastoral skill, his ability to deal with the media and those of other theological persuasions before how many years he has been on earth?

    I am not an Anglican but the next Archbishop of Sydney affects every reformed evangelical in in Sydney in some way or another. Here is my shopping list for the next Archbishop of Sydney:

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is solid theologically:  He should be reformed, hold to the inerrancy of the scriptures and be complimentarian. He not only needs to hold to great theology he needs to be able to think theologically.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is courageous  he needs to be a man who holds onto the truth of the Scriptures and solid theology come what may. This requires tonnes of courage.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who can communicate graciously and effectively:  As part of the job the new  Archbishop will have to communicate with the media and Christians of other theological persuasions as well as the usual preaching to different kinds of congregations. This will require a great ability to communicate.

    The next Archbishop should be a leader: thousands of people worldwide will be looking to this man for leadership therefore leadership needs to be one of his strengths.

    The next Archbishop should be a man who is godly: a leader of a church must be a man who “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable,able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:2-7). Therefore, those who are electing the next Archbishop need to be able to discern whether this man has these qualities.

    The next Archbishop of Sydney is crucial appointment please be in prayer that Sydney Anglicans would choose a man to lead them who is God’s man for the job.

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  • What if Everyone Was as Committed to God as You Are?

    Have you ever thought about your church and asked the question “What if everyone here was as committed to God and what he is doing as I am?”  If the people at your church were as committed as you are to the church what would your church look like? What if people at your church came as regularly as you what would the attendance look like? What if people at your church prayed as much as you did would you see God work more or less? What if people at your church gave as much as you would your church reach budget or would it be broke? What if people at your church served as much as you would your church be overstocked with people to serve or would there be a few tired people burnt out because they are the only ones serving?

    We all want our churches to be better. We all want God to move in our churches. But so many of us talk about the things other people need to do to change our church. We need others to step up, we need others to serve more, we need others to pray more, we need others to care about me more. And the list goes on.

    But what if instead of pointing our fingers at others we took a long hard look at ourselves and asked what should I be doing? Am I praying like I should be? Am I giving like should be? Am I serving like I should be? Maybe we should ask the question “If everyone at church was as as committed as I am what would the church look like?”

    We serve a great saviour who has done what we couldn’t do. He has rescued us from sin   and now we have a great hope because he raised from the dead. Let’s not be half committed to his cause but let;s radically commit to him and his cause!

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  • Pastors always look better on social media

    Here are list of things that you will never see a pastor put on Facebook or Twitter:

    “We had the lowest attendance ever but the gospel was preached!”

    “I am really bombing on this camp I am speaking at”

    “I am burnt out and I want to quit ministry!”

    “My wife is going through post natal depression and I am struggling.”

    “My Church wont seem to grow no matter what we try.”

    No here is what we (and I am putting me square in the middle of the we) put on Facebook and Twitter:

    “Please pray for me because my church has grown from 10 to a quarter of a million in 24 hours and I really need wisdom on how to pastor them.”

    “How good are the first 9 chapters of Chronicles? God’s word is amazing!”

    “Can’t wait to preach at John Piper’s church’s youth group. I am humbled by the opportunity”

    Granted, these posts are sarcastic posts that I have never seen on social media.  But I have seen and I have posted things that are very close.

    I have been challenged over the past few months to think about why I post what I post on Social Media I especially have been challenged by how my posts affect others. Sure my church is going great at the moment and I want more people to come to it but would posting how awesome my church is going discourage a godly and faithful brother in Christ who is struggling leading a church that is elderly and dying no matter what he tries to do? Putting up a post about my great wife could be cute or romantic but how does the single person who is struggling with their singleness feel when they read that post? How does the man who is married to a woman who is going through post natal depression feel when he reads my tweet about my amazing wife?

    I am not saying that we should never put things on social media about how great my church is or how awesome our spouse is but we should check our hearts before we post. We should ask what is the motivation behind posting this tweet. Is it to show the world that I have arrived  that I am awesome and that my life is fantastic? Or is it for a more noble reason? Also, ask this question before you post “Would I say what I am posting to all my Facebook friends or Twitter followers if they were right in front of me”? If not why would I post it online for them to read it?

    Twitter and Facebook has shown me for who I am in the past. That I am really quite narcissistic and this narcissism is deadly to my soul. What about you? Do you need to change they way you use social media?

  • A prayer that all Christian leaders need to pray

    I have been reading Replenish by Lance Witt and on page after page it has been cutting to the core of me and doing significant heart work. Today, I have been reading about the desire pastors have to be significant in people’s eyes which is a significant struggle I have. Here is a prayer that I am going to pray daily which Lance has in his book. I think it is  a prayer that all Christian leaders should pray:

    Today I still long for so much honour, I am so pleased with myself, so rooted in my nature. I am pleased when others as for my opinion, when I am made to feel I am needed, when people know that I am clever, talented and popular. I am glad when I am friends with everyone, when I can share what is in my heart, when I can shine.
    But Lord Jesus, you were servant of all. Today I surrender all desire to be great; I renounce all pleasure I take in being important.
    (From Baselia Schlink’s book I found the Key to the Heart of God: My Personal Story, 47-48 as quoted in Lance Witt Replenish)
    Is this a prayer you need to pray too?
  • Pastors who do you perform for?

    As pastors we have so many people looking at what we do and making judgments about it. What many people don’t realize is that we are our worst critics and so when we get an outside critique it can hurt and wound. But the other side is when we get praised. Getting praised feels so good, maybe a little too good. With all this in mind I read this quote this morning in a book called Replenish by Lance Witt:

    “A reporter once asked an insightful question when interviewing a woman from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra: “How does it feel to get a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of your performance and then wake up in the morning to a negative review from the newspaper?: He response was even more insightful. She said over time she has learned not to pay attention to the applause of the crowd or the disapproval of the critics. She was only after the approval of her conductor. After all, he was the only person who really knew how she was supposed to perform.”

    I wonder what would happen to our inner voices if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we preach if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we lead if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    What conversations would we have if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    It is my prayer that we would perform for one and one only!

  • The one word that will revolutionize your life.

    We are all looking for little things that make big differences in our lives. Whether that little thing is a new gadget, app or whatever we want to buy it and use it. But I have got a word, yes a word, that will revolutionize your life.

    That word is……

    (drum roll please)

    NO

    Yes, that’s right, the word “no” will revolutionize your life.

    One of the biggest issues I see in people today is their inability or unwillingness to say NO. We either take on too much and therefore we cant do the things we need to do with excellence or we take on things that aren’t going to get us to our goals in life.

    What would happen if you said no to everything you could not with excellence?

    What would happen if you said no to things that you don’t have to do that steal time away from your loved ones?

    What would happen if you only said yes to those things you could put in an awesome effort for?

    The great business writer Jim Collins says that all leaders need to have a stop doing list. This is a list of things that you are going to stop doing so you can focus on the things you should be doing.

    If you were going to write a stop doing list what would be on it?

    What good things do you need to say no to so that you can give your full energy to great things?

    We all need to use the word “no” more.

    If we do it will change our lives for the better.

     

  • 10 things for leaders to do from Jim Collins

    I love reading Jim Collins’ books. If you have never read one of his books you need to sell your shirt and got and buy one if not all the books he has written and read them! Last week I listened to a great talk that Jim Collins gave at the Catalyst Conference. It was basically a summary of his awesome book Great by Choice. At the end of the talk he gave ten practical things for the people at the conference to do. Here they are:

    1.  Do the Good to Great diagnostic on jimcollins.com on yourself and get your staff team to do it on your church/ ministry/ organisation.

    2. Work out what your key leadership positions are and devise a plan on how to fill them with great people in the next year.

    3.  Build a personal board of directors/mentors. Mentoring is so crucial for upcoming leaders. We need to build a group of people who are taking time to mentor us.

    4. Get your personal hedgehog straight. A hedgehog is something you can be passionate about, be great at and make the most impact with.

    5. Set a 20 mile march and stick to it. A 2o mile march is a pattern of growth that is sustainable that you and your organization are going to stick to. For example you might want to grow your youth group by 20 percent each year every year. In the beginning this may not look like much but if the your youth group grew by 20 percent every year for ten years how many people would be at your youth group? You do the maths.

    6. Fire 6 new bullets before the end of the year. Firing bullets is Collins’ way of trying something new that is low risk high reward. So you want to write a blog. Write a blog post a week for 3 months and see what happens, if it takes off then put some real time into it  but if it doesn’t take off ditch it. Or another example, you want to start a training program for young people at your church. Start it with a few people and put a little bit of time in it and if it takes off now devote a lot of time to it. What we usually do is the opposite we have a great idea and we put all out weight behind it and even if we are 50 percent successful that means we fail 50 percent of the time.

    7. Turn off electronic gadgets for two days every two weeks. This means that we will be able to do work that doesn’t rely on our computer. E.g. Sermon prep and reading.

    8. Create a stop doing list. Every leader needs to stop dong some things to be effective at what they should be doing. What are you going to stop doing to be more effective at the things you should be doing?

    9.  Double your reach to people half my age. Think about how you are going to reach and mentor people half your age.

    10. Set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that makes you really useful. Don’t set a goal that is small and don’t set a goal that is self centered. set one that is huge and will impact others.

     

    Which one of these do you find the most inspiring?

    Which one of these do you find the most challenging?

  • Are you a “breakout” leader?

    I have been reading Thom Rainer’s book Breakout Churches and it has been a great read. In the book Thom takes inspiration from Jim Collins‘ book Good to Great and tries to work out why some churches go from declining attendance and low to no baptisms to spikes in attendance and high numbers of baptisms.

    In Good to great, Collins found that all Good to Great companies had a Level 5 Leader Thom and his team found that the breakout churches had an Acts 6/7 leader. He also found that there were different levels of leadership present in the leaders of churches. He called each of these levels Acts and then a number because he found the levels of leadership in the book of Acts. Here is how Thom defines the different levels of leadership that he and his team found in pastors:

    Acts 1: The Acts 1 leaders has a particular call to ministry. They don’t see ministry as a job or a paycheck but they are called by God to ministry.

    Acts 2: The Acts 2 leader is the contributing leader. He is a leader who spends a great amount of his time in sermon preparation and prayer. The Breakout leaders spent 20 hours a week in sermon prep and prayer whereas other leaders spent as little as 5 hours per week on these tasks. The key to this kind of leadership is discipline.

    Acts 3: The Acts 3 leader is the outwardly focused leader. This leader makes sure his church is focused on reaching the community.

    Acts 4: Acts 4 is the passionate leader. These leaders have a passion for their job, the gospel and their people that is evident for all to see.

    Acts 5: The Acts 5 leaders is a bold leader. This leader will take steps to realize the vision that God has for the church he leads.

    Acts 6/7: The Acts 6/7 leader is a the leader that think beyond his life. He is looking to set up his church for the next generation and the one after that and the one after that.

    Rainer and his team saw that the breakout leaders were leaders who encompassed everything from Acts 1- Acts 6/7. But he found that only 1 percent of all the leaders that they surveyed showed all the traits.

    Rainer’s book shows that leadership is crucial for the growth of your church. The questions is what kind of leader are you?

    Are you a called, disciplined, outward focused, passionate, bold leader that is seeking for your church to cast it’s influence decades into the future?