• Have Younger Evangelicals Lost What the Mission of the Church is?

    I hear and read of so many young evangelicals talk about what the church should be doing. The church should be “making sure our city flourish” or “bringing shalom to our world” or “eradicating injustice, oppression and poverty”. This is all couched in such language that if your church isn’t doing these things your church is not truly living as salt and light in out world or your church doesn’t have a kingdom mentality.

    But the question is “What is the mission of the church?” Is the mission of the church narrowly defined or broadly defined? Is everything mission or are only a few things mission?

    What does Jesus say that the mission of the church is? In Matthew 28 Jesus says:

    “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    For Jesus, and therefore for us, the mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel to a dying world so that people escape the wrath to come and to grow Christians in their knowledge, love and service of Jesus.  Now does this means that doing social justice is a bad or unbiblical thing? Not at all, in fact the bible says a lot about caring and loving the poor. But we need to be clear and say social justice might be what a church does but it is not the primary thing a church does. Preaching the gospel is the primary thing the church does. Gresham Machen nails what the primary thing a church does is in this quote:

    “The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life–no, all the length of human history–is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth–no, all the wonders of the starry heavens–area as the dust of the street.

    “An unpopular message it is–an impractical message, we are told. But it is the message of the Christian church. Neglect it, and you will have destruction; heed it, and you will have life”  Gresham Machen in Selected Shorter Writings: J. Gresham Machen, edited by D.G. Hart, 376

     

  • 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!

  • Why so many pastors are wrong about leadership

    I am in Tony Morgan’s new church leaders coaching network and I have been reading some of the ebooks he has written and have found them very useful. I found this quote very convicting as I read so many business leadership books but often neglect the bible on Leadership. This has been a helpful corrective for me:
    “It is true that we church leaders can learn from business leaders, but the corporate world should not set the foundation from which we lead. We can also learn from fellow church leaders, but they are also human and don’t provide a perfect model for Biblical leadership. When we look to other leaders, we are essentially holding on to our traditions rather than embracing the truth about leadership found in God’s Word. The Bible needs to become our filter for truth in every area of our life and ministry just because we see others doing it doesn’t mean that’s how God designed it.”
    Tony Morgan Developing a Theology of Leadership
    So many pastors are wrong about leadership because we look to secular models of leadership more than looking at what the Bible Says about Leadership. This is something we (especially myself) need to repent of.
  • 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?

     

  • You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55, do you?

    I have always considered myself quite fit and healthy. That was until a few weeks ago when I went to the doctor. He did a pretty routine checkup and then said to me words I will never for get. He said:

    “Hans, if you keep eating like you are and not exercising you will be morbidly obese by the time you are 55! You don’t want to be a dead pastor at 55 do you?”

    Well, to say the least, these words  shocked me into action. I now go to the gym three times a week and have started out on a diet. I have already seen results and my energy has increased dramatically.

    Pastors have a lot on their plate. We have sermons to write, leaders to train, people to visit, our families to tend to and so many other things to do. Our schedule means that taking care of ourselves is put way down our priority list. So a lot of us eat badly because bad food is quick and we don’t exercise because we don’t have the time.

    This kind of living poses two theological problems:

    1.  Stewardship: God Has given us two things that are extremely precious. Firstly time and secondly our bodies. How we use our bodies affects how we use our time. If we eat well and are fit we will use our time more effectively because we will have more energy. So whether or not we exercise or eat well becomes a stewardship issue. Are we stewarding the resources of time and our physical bodies that God has given us well?

    2. Character: Character is doing the right thing at the right time no matter what it costs and no matter what we feel like. If we are not exercising or eating well it says something about us as individuals. It says that we are lazy when it comes to the important but not urgent things in life. This is theological because it is God who calls leaders to have great character (1 Timothy 3).

    What changes do you have to make in these areas?

    • Have you ever thought about planning out what you will eat for a week and sticking to it? So much of the time we eat junk because it is convenient.
    • Have you put times in your diary where you are going to drop everything and exercise? If you have do you keep them?
    • Have you got someone holding you accountable to your eating and exercising?

    Brothers and sisters, God has given us one body and one life. Let’s steward these resources well.

  • Keeping your Word

    “Is this done?” I was asked by a member of Resolved. The problem was that it wasn’t done and today was the day I said I would have it done. What was I going to do? I thought of so many rationalizations for why I haven’t got this thing done:

    • I had less sleep now that Kate and I have a small baby. (Not really true)
    • I have been too busy writing the sermon for this weekend or in other meetings that have come up. (Kind of true but still no excuse)
    • She hadn’t reminded me that I had to get it done. (But we hadn’t agreed that she would remind me either)

    I looked her in the eye and told her the truth “No, I haven’t done it. I am sorry.” Her words were kind and gracious. She and I agreed on the date I needed to have it done by. But there was still an issue. When I told her I didn’t have it done, for a split second, I saw in her eyes that I had let her down. I had disappointed her. I told her I would do something and I didn’t do what I said I would do.

    I didnt keep my word.

    I lacked integrity.

    Integrity is the key to leadership. In their famous book The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner surveyed 1000’s of people around the world and found people wanted integrity in their leaders more than anything else.

    Get that, your people want you to do what you say you will do more than they want you to be dynamic leader or a visionary leader.

    But not only do your people want you to have integrity God values you keeping your word more than almost anything else.

    Ecclesiastes 4:4 says:

    When you vow a vow to God. do not delay in paying it for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 

    Did you see what God calls a person who doesn’t keep his word or his vow? That’s right a FOOL.

    Wow that hurts! But it is true, a fool is rash with their words and doesn’t  think about how to use them. A fool makes promises and doesn’t keep them.

    So do you keep your word?

    Do you have integrity?

    Keeping your word or integrity is the key to you being a biblical leader.

    Keeping your word or integrity is the first step in you becoming the best leader you can be.

    “According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.”  ~ John MacArthur 

    How do you think you can have more integrity?