14 Apr 2015

4 Ways to Make Disciples through Your Church

disciplesAs church leaders, we have the privilege and responsibility to provide Kingdom influence. In other words, we have the opportunity to make disciples of Jesus.

We need to be good organizers as leaders and take responsibility to grow healthy churches, but we can’t let the tasks of organization overshadow our responsibility to make disciples. We can’t let tasks become more important than the people. The tasks need to get done, but we are in the business of discipling people in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, every task and responsibility must help to advance this disciple-making mandate.

As pastors, how can we keep discipleship as a priority despite the need to get things done?

1 – Build Transparent Relationships

As leaders, we must build relationships with those we are discipling. Jesus modeled this perfectly and demonstrated this throughout the Gospels through his relationships with his disciples.

As leaders, we must be transparent toward those we are discipling, letting them know we were once where they are now. We also need to share that we are not leaders deserving to be put up on a pedestal but that we are leaders among equals.

Even though we are leaders, we must grow in our spiritual development, just as we expect from our people. This requires transparency. We must let them know we have the same kinds of struggles. We must let them know we are living the same Romans 7 experience that they are. They need to know that, sometimes, we do things that we wish we hadn’t done.

People need to see we are real and we are on the same journey of discipleship they are on. When they see that, we will have the opportunity to influence them.

2 – Ask Powerful Questions

Not only do we need to provide answers for the people around us, we need to help them think for themselves.

Jesus asked questions on a regular basis that forced other people to stop, reflect, and think on their own. Through asking questions, he helped them to arrive at their own conclusions.

Sometimes, our questions will cause people to think about their own character. Other times, they will cause people to think about the character of God. When we ask powerful questions, they facilitate growth opportunities for the people we are discipling.

3 – Tell Amazing Stories

Stories help people to understand how faithful God has been, not only in our lives, but in the church. When people can see how amazing God is and how he has come through in amazing ways, they become drawn to him.

Our testimonies of God’s faithfulness will expand their faith, which is what we are trying to do in discipleship.

4 – Present Powerful Principles

To keep disciple-making as a priority, we must present powerful principles. When there is an opportunity to teach a scriptural lesson or principle in response to a real-life situation, we must seize the opportunity. This will help our people to understand why we react the way we do. They will begin to understand why we face conflict in a biblical way. They will understand why we pray the way we pray. They will understand why we wait and why we move forward in certain leadership decisions.

When we can present powerful scriptural principles to people, and they can learn where to apply those principles in their lives, we are expanding discipleship at our church.

When church leaders tell me that they are struggling to develop leaders in their churches, I often say, “You do not have a leadership problem; you have a discipleship problem.”

People who are being discipled will turn into leaders. The 12 Disciples proved that. After Jesus had discipled them, they had turned the world upside down by Acts Chapter 17. Nobody anticipated they would become the leaders they became. Because Jesus poured into them as disciples, they became the leaders the world needed.

Who in your church will someday be the leader your church needs because you stopped and discipled them first?

 

 

3 Mar 2015

How to Clarify Expectations for Your Church Staff

clarity churchAs the church expands and more people take on leadership roles, a greater level of communication is necessary. At the same time, this creates a greater potential for miscommunication, hurt feelings, and more frustration.
Make sure to clarify expectations. This includes defining the roles people are supposed to have and tasks they need to get done. Follow-up to make sure roles are clear. Miscommunications can happen concerning what a person is supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it.
Clarifying expectations can help to prevent hurt feelings and under-performance. There will be no guesswork about what needs to be done. Conflict will be reduced. Clarifying expectations also fosters a greater sense of unity within the team when everyone knows their role.
Never be afraid to over-communicate 
“People are down on what they are not up on.” What this means is, when you don’t know what is going on, you assume something is wrong. To reduce this problem, make sure things are getting done through over-communication. Communicate what is going right, not just what is wrong.
Face conflict or tough conversations, head on 
In leadership roles, we often face tough situations that can make it difficult to work together with our teams effectively. At these times, it is important to face the situation head on rather than letting it keep happening and cause greater disruption.
Unresolved issues will derail relationships. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said that, if I have an issue with someone, I should tell him or her. If you have an issue with someone or something that is going on, run to that person or toward that situation, and meet it head on.
In order to do this, we may need to have a “fierce conversation.” According to Susan Scott, there are four purposes of a fierce conversation:

  • Interrogate reality
  • Provoke learning
  • Tackle tough issues
  • Enrich relationships

There are seven steps in a fierce conversation:
1. Name the issue
2. Provide a specific example of the behavior and talk about how it needs to change
3. Describe your emotions (How you feel)
4. Clarify what is at stake (What could be lost? i.e. relationships/ ministry/ organization)
5. Identify your contribution to the problem (How you have enabled it to happen?)
6. Indicate your desire to correct or resolve the problem
7. Invite the other party to respond (How can WE solve the problem?)

Fierce conversations can help you to correct a problem and provide constructive criticism to, ideally, change the situation.

What are some techniques that you use to clarify expectations for your church staff?  

24 Feb 2015

3 Ways to Create a Culture of Volunteering in Your Church

volunteer

We don’t recruit volunteers just for the purpose of getting tasks done in the church. There has to be more than that.

Some believers are called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4). The Father has given us these gifts for the purpose of “equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.” In other words, church leaders are called to serve and minister through equipping others to serve and minister.

As Paul writes, the church is like a “body” (Rom. 12), and Jesus is the head of this body. But, like the body, every part of your local church has a purpose. Paul says that each person is meant to find his or her function.

We ask people to volunteer and serve because it is part of the discipleship process. Everybody has a spiritual gift, and we are called to help them find it. We are called to equip them to accomplish God’s purposes for the church.

Here are a few ways that you can create a culture of volunteering in your local church, which will help God’s people to discover their roles in the body of Christ:

#1 – Recruiting

Pastors and other church leaders often ask me what creative things they can do to recruit volunteers. At the end of the day, I believe all of those things are viable options, but there is no better way to recruit volunteers than to look another person in the eye and invite him or her to participate in fulfilling the church’s vision.

What we want is to create a culture where everybody is a recruiter. Cameramen help recruit cameramen. Sound guys help recruit sound guys. Altar workers help recruit altar workers. Ushers help recruit ushers.

When we see people who are not participating or finding a responsibility in the church, the leaders must reach out to recruit them.

#2 – Equipping

Ask your leaders to come alongside others to help them learn how to use their spiritual gifts in a specific area where they are gifted. We should never ask somebody to just take on a task or responsibility without helping them understand how to do it properly.

Equip them and empower them properly. That’s how to replicate leaders in your church.

#3 – The Pursuit of Excellence

Excellence is not about trying to be better than everybody else. Excellence is not about trying to be extravagant, throwing money at the problem.

Excellence is simply caring enough to be prepared. We are asking for every volunteer, no matter where they serve in the church, to operate with excellence. Ask them to always be prepared for whatever it is they are called to do in the church.

Make sure that your greeters make people feel welcome and wanted in your church. They should smile and look people in the eye when they greet them.

Make sure that your music team is prepared to help the congregation engage in worship.

Those serving on the media and the tech teams should have a clear focus on what the message is for the day. They should help to optimize the worship experience for everyone who attends the services.

If we are going to create a culture for volunteers in the church, everyone must commit to excellence.

There is no stopping a church that is committed to recruiting, equipping, and the pursuit of excellence.

How does your church foster a culture of volunteering?

 

14 Feb 2014

Your Church Can THRIVE!

I am a cup half full kind of guy. Ithrive road sign illustration design believe every problem can be solved and nothing is ever as bad as we think it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am also a realist. We must have a clear understanding of our present realities if we are to experience our preferred futures. This combination has served me well as a Church Leader.

 I realize the church is not perfect and in many cases is unhealthy. But the cup is not half empty. There is hope for every church to THRIVE. Despite history, tradition, and current situations, there is always hope. I believe your church can THRIVE.

  • Transformational – Every church has the ability to be transformational. I believe this is true because I believe the message of the Gospel is transformational. It changed my life and I’ve seen it change countless others. Your church and community can THRIVE when you recognize the possibilities you possess for being transformational.
  • Holistic – Our culture is looking for answers to questions regarding every area of their lives. The Church has these answers. We are in the discipleship business. Serving the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. Your church can be a holistic ministry that impacts the lives of the whole person. We are a nation of broken people. Through Jesus and the Word, your church can help others THRIVE.
  • Relational – The Church is a laboratory for learning how to build relationships. Too often we have been the cause for broken relationships. But despite our personal failures, the Church is still the best place for strengthening your relationships with God, others, and yourself. Your church can be a place where relationships THRIVE.
  • Intentional – The word relevant gets overused in churches and conferences. Relevance has nothing to do with music styles, people’s preferences, and cultural whims. What makes something relevant is that it matters to me. It applies to my life…right now. This is why I prefer the word intentional over relevant. The best way for your church to be relevant is to be intentional. Do what you do on purpose.  Going through the motions as a church only provides a slow death. If your church want to THRIVE…..you need to be intentional.
  • Vibrant – The church should be creating a vibrant atmosphere of excitement and energy. I’m not talking about worship services that are loaded with technology and loud music (even though I personally prefer both). I am referring to an atmosphere created by people who are passionate about serving Jesus and have joy. Too many churches are set up to rob people of their joy. If you want your church to THRIVE…allow passion, excitement, and energy to be vibrant.
  • Experience – I’ve stated one of my personal missions as a pastor this way… I am in the business of providing others with new experiences. A church will not THRIVE if the majority of its people are simply attendees of worship services. To be true disciples we must have experiences others cannot take from us. These experiences come in all kinds of forms: worship services, small groups, mission trips, retreats, serving, and much more. The question is: How intentional are you being about creating experiences? Churches that pay attention to the experiences they are providing….THRIVE.

What do you think? Can any church THRIVE? Is your church a thriving church? What can you do to be more of a thriving church? How can I help you THRIVE?

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