SIX FACTORS FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP

SIX LEADERSHIP FACTORS FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP

From the IGNITE newsletter May 2020

This article is based on the material on Leadership Competence developed by Zenger and Folkman. They are the co-authors of The Extraordinary Leader. They interviewed 300,000 leaders. From the data they collected in that process they developed a list of ten competency factors for effective leaders. 

After working through the results of their study, Zenger and Folkman came up with a ranking of the leadership skills that are most important for success. The following are those I have selected for application in leading a local church. For the church the primary test of effectiveness is Transformation. This is consistently being accomplished, measured, and validated in the lives of the congregants you serve.  Here are six factors of leadership that especially apply to church leadership:

1. Inspires and motivates others.

Competent leaders create a vision of the future that is vivid and compelling, and that motivates people to want to achieve it. Everyone wants to work for an organization that makes a difference in the world. As a leader, you are best able to help the members of your team connect what they do to the impact it has on individual people and communities.

2. Displays high integrity and honesty.

Competent leaders are honest and transparent, and have high integrity–they do what they say they are going to do, and they walk their talk. As Umpqua Bank CEO Ray Davis said in his book Leading Through Uncertainty, “I always tell our people that they’re entitled to get answers to every question they have. … That doesn’t mean they’re going to like the answers. But it’s going to be truthful, and I know they can deal with the truth. This might create additional questions, but we’ll get through them. And we do.”

3. Identifies and resolves problems and dysfunctional issues.

Competent leaders are called and chosen to identify and resolve organizational dysfunction. This requires not only excellent analytical abilities, but also above-average people skills.

4. Communicates. Communication must be timely, accurate, and abundant.

Competent leaders communicate with their people often, and in a variety of different ways. Whether by means of one-on-one conversations, team meetings, blog posts, email messages, phone or Skype/ZOOM calls, or any other such medium, leaders don’t talk about communicating–they do it.

5. Build relationships.

Competent leaders build on a solid foundation of relationships and trust. Without these two things, you can’t have an effective ministry. Take time every day to build relationships with the members of your ministry team, your congregation, and your community. The stronger your relationships, the more competent you are as a leader.

6. Develops others.

Competent leaders develop and build their own ministry expertise. The best leaders also set aside time (and money in their budgets) to develop others. They identify people that the Lord has marked for ministry. They provide them with the training, equipping, and resources they require to contribute to ministry effectiveness.

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TEN LESSONS FOR NEW BELIEVERS

10 LESSONS FOR NEW BELIEVERS . . . AND OLDER ONES, TOO

 by Chuck Lawless  

My first years as a Christ-follower weren’t easy. I was in my early teens, wanting to be faithful to God but also seeking to fit in with my peers. I wish someone had helped prepare me for the journey. If I were writing today a new believer’s guide today for people like me, I would include a simple “lessons learned” section with at least these lessons:

  1. It’s okay to be a baby in Christ. Everybody in my Bible study class knew all the answers, it seemed. Others knew all the song lyrics by heart, and they knew exactly what to do at every church event. I didn’t know any of that – and no one told me that every believer begins as a baby in Christ.
  2. The Bible isn’t always easy to read. I was fascinated when I first started reading the Bible. Genesis was great, and Exodus was equally exciting, filled with burning bushes, judgment plagues, dividing seas, and shaking mountains. But, then I reached Leviticus. . . . and I quit reading. I needed someone to help me when the reading became difficult.
  3. The Christian life will have ups and downs. Because I didn’t know Christianity has mountains and valleys, I assumed that the “down” moments were the result of a lack of faith or an unconfessed sin. Sometimes that was the case, but sometimes God was stretching and testing my faith. I just didn’t know that.
  4. You’re not alone in your struggles. I was sure nobody else battled with temptation like I did. Nobody had sin lurking in the shadows like I did. I was so certain of that truth that I didn’t dare talk to anyone about my struggles. I just battled—and lost—alone.
  5. The devil is real. In my young mind, the devil was a Halloween character more than a supernatural enemy against God and His people. No one told me about spiritual warfare, and I was losing a war I didn’t even know existed.
  6. Many people don’t pray well. The only prayers I heard then were prayers from the pastor, a deacon, or a Bible study teacher. I was certain I’d never reach that level of praying. Little did I know these same folks often struggled in their prayer life, and perhaps we could have helped each other with this discipline.
  7. Some people won’t share your excitement. My Christian conversion was powerful. Because it was so life changing, I couldn’t understand why anybody would choose not to follow Jesus. Had I known then that not everyone listens, perhaps I would have felt less defeated in my evangelism efforts.
  8. Churches are not perfect. I was unprepared for the tares among the wheat, the sin in the camp, the arrogance among the redeemed. It took some time for me to learn that the church exists for the sick and the needy – that is, for people like me.
  9. You may need to ask for help. I wish older believers reached out to new believers and invited them into discipling relationships—but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, newer believers need to take the initiative.
  10. God will always be faithful. Perhaps you learn this lesson only through the years, but I wish someone would have challenged me then to trust – and even memorize – these words: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread” (Psa. 37:25). God really does take care of His own. Always.

If you know baby believers, send them this list. If you were writing a new believer’s guide, what lessons would you include?

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The Importance of Pastoral Leadership from the Pulpit by Chuck Lawless

DECEMBER 16, 2017  by Chuck lawless

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PERSON IN THE PULPIT

Though I don’t believe a plurality of leaders is the only New Testament model of church, I do think there’s great wisdom in the accountability and shared leadership that come with a plurality. At the same time, though, the significance of the person who preaches most Sundays cannot be overstated. As I’ve studied churches over the years, I’ve seldom seen a church that is stronger than the primary preaching pastor in these areas:

  1. Personal godliness. Of course, pastors have fallen morally, so there are exceptions to this rule. In general, though, a church sets its standards for personal holiness by the person who opens the Word each week.
  2. A church may have pockets of evangelistic people even if the pastor isn’t evangelistic, but the evangelistic heartbeat that changes a church comes from the pulpit.
  3. In this case, I’ve never seen a church with missions in its DNA unless it has a pastor whose heart bleeds for the nations. Even then, the pastor must work hard to turn a church in this direction.
  4. For many people, the only prayers they hear all week are the prayers they hear from the pulpit. They’ll model that prayer simply because that’s all they know—and if it’s dispassionate and perfunctory, their prayer will be, too.
  5. Scripture memorization.Church members take note when it’s clear the pastor knows the Word without opening his Bible. They’re watching and listening, and somebody who’s paying attention will want to memorize the Word, too.
  6. The best pastors I know not only interpret the Bible well, but they also model for their folks how to do it. They give them knowledge and skills.
  7. Congregations can figure out when pastors love their wives as Christ loves the church. Women then long for that kind of husband, and men want to be that type.
  8. I realize that believers differ on whether fasting is expected today. Churches I know that build the discipline into their lives, though, are led by pastors who regularly practice it.

Here’s my point: churches often learn about all of these areas from the one in the pulpit who preaches to them week in and week out. Pastors who walk in godliness, do strong exposition, develop relevant illustrations, and practice personal application have much influence over a congregation.

Pastors, how well do you model these areas?

 

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PASSION IN MINISTRY

I have been so called “in the ministry” for most of my adult life.  I have seen MANY people come and go.  I need to do a lot more homework on this but it seems to me that the adversary likes to rob a pastor (or other) of his passion.  I have seen far too many (including myself) just go through the motions of ministry in a lifeless fashion.   There are many causes for this but if this continues for a long period it will affect everything related to what that pastor does.  There is not an easy cure for this.  The cure will always go back to the surety of God’s call.  And beyond that the cure is of course staying fresh with the Lord in confessed sin.  But you can do all that and still be so clinical that everything seems plastic and lifeless.  Passion is fueled by God’s call and God’s call always has a vision associated with it.  Unless the pastor is tapped into God’s vision for the particular place of service he is assigned to then he will struggle.  There must be a way forward for the pastor to have passion.  I will have more on this in the days to come.

 

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FOUR MISTAKES THAT LEAD TO MINISTRY BURNOUT by Warren

May 30, 2014

Four Big Mistakes that Lead to Ministry Burnout

By Rick Warren

One of the issues that we sometimes address here at pastors.com is the issue of ministry burnout. And when we do address it, the responses are overwhelming. It’s a big issue. Why do so many Pastors burn out in ministry? It’s because of faulty thinking. Our thinking controls our emotions and our emotions control the way we act.

The problem is, when we’re at an emotional low, we typically make four common mistakes. Next week I want to talk about how to overcome these emotions and prevent burnout, but today I want you to become aware of four of the most threatening internal causes of burnout in ministry.

Mistake #1: We focus on our feelings rather than the facts.

Emotional reasoning is dangerous. Emotional reasoning says, “If I feel it, it must be so.” If I feel like a failure, I am a failure. If I don’t feel close to God, I must not be close to God. If I feel like a lousy pastor, I must be a lousy pastor. The fact is, feelings are not always facts. Your feelings will tell you that you’re helpless and hopeless, but those feelings aren’t rooted in truth.

Mistake #2: We compare ourselves to others.

When we are emotionally drained, we start comparing ourselves. The Bible warns against this over and over again. When you start comparing yourself to other people you are setting yourself up for depression. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s unique. Only you can be you. When you get to heaven, God is not going to say, “How come you weren’t more like Billy Graham?” or “How come you weren’t more like Moses?” or “How come you weren’t more like…?”

He’s really going to say, “How come you weren’t more like you?” We get emotionally burnt out because we start comparing ourselves. When we compare ourselves we compare our weaknesses with other people’s strengths. We ignore the fact that they have weaknesses that we may be strong in. We make comparisons that get us into all kinds of trouble.

Mistake #3: We blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault.

We tend to blame ourselves and when we’re feeling emotionally low we tend to blame all of the world’s problems on ourselves. If you get in a helping profession like counseling or pastoring or social work, you’re going to discover that the people don’t always respond the way you’d like them to respond. You can influence people but you cannot control them. Yet we tend to blame ourselves when others make choices we don’t approve of or don’t understand.

Mistake #4: We exaggerate the negative.

Have you noticed the fact that when you’re discouraged, everything seems to be wrong? When your life becomes filled with fear and resentment and low self-esteem and anger and loneliness and worry, you’re headed for burnout. Then, if you focus on your feelings, and you compare yourself to others, and you accept responsibility for everybody else, and you exaggerate the negative, you’re only going to make matters worse.

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CHURCHES IN AMERICA IN CHALLENGING DAYS

I recently read an article entitled 7 STARTLING FACTS: An Up Close Look at Church in America by Rebecca Barnes and Lindy Lowry.  I was truck by the fact that less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church – half of what the pollsters report.  And we are talking about “orthodox” churches….those that have basic biblical beliefs; the attendance at these kinds of churches is waning.  And it is at this time that some churches are in a comfort zone and they are in a dangerous place and do not even know it.  The doctrinally sound churches are WAY BEHIND the population growth even with the increase in church planting.  And it seems that church planting along with church revitalization are the way forward if things are to change.  I believe in our area we are suffering from a malaise about the purpose of the local church.  Read below what one said about mid-sized churches: 

David Anderson, senior pastor and founder of Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia Maryland and President of Bridgeleader Network after consulting with church leaders nationwide said that in his work he has observed that MID-SIZED CONGREGATIONS TEND TO LOSE THE EVANGELISTIC FOCUS THEY ONCE HAD, AND AND INSTEAD ADOPT WHAT HE CALLS A “CLUB MENTALITY”.  “You have just enough people not to be missional anymore,” he explains.  “You don’t have to grow anymore to sustain your budget”. 

I believe that this describes MANY churches in our region.   I am praying for a revival and renewal resulting in Spirit Filled personal and group outreach; personal evangelism and discipleship.  We need a fresh look at our Savior AND a fresh brokenness for the people all around us. 

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DOING FAMILY IN THE 21ST CENTURY THE BIBLE IS STILL RELEVANT

I am copying and posting  my last FATHER’S DAY message as Co-Pastor of Green Ridge Baptist Church.  It is quite lengthy.  I hope some will copy and keep it for future use.  There are some very good quotes in here from the Life Action Family Seminar AND from Paul Tripp.  Just hope some will get something from it.  If any other pastors can use it I am grateful.  I am sure you all have done much better but the quoted material is useful for future teaching.  GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU AND I HOPE I CAN BE HELPFUL TO YOU IN THE FUTURE.  Michael Palmer (the formatting did not come through properly; use as best you can)

DOING FAMILY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE BIBLE IS STILL RELEVANT!!Ephesians 5:22 – 6:4

As I begin today I am going to try and give an overview of the family from one section in God’s Word. It is impossible to cover every aspect of Family Life, but it is possible to give a construct that semi-responsible adults can work towards with the grace of God operative in their lives! And that is the KEY: GOD’S GRACE. The outline given below is only achievable by God Himself as He moves in our hearts and lives changing us and giving us grace. First of all I want you to listen as I give some statistics and personal observations about what I am seeing in family life today (not in these notes).

THE HOME IS BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF GOD LEADING PEOPLE TO BE ONE WITH HIM

Picture a triangle with God at the top and the husband and wife on each side. The hope is that marriage itself is SUPPOSED to start with God moving in the lives of two people giving them a sense that He is drawing them together.

  • I realize that this is the rarity today BUT even with those who are already married THIS CAN BE RESTORED TO ANY (YES ANY) CURRENT MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP.
  • In this model the Lord God is the leader of the home and the leader of the husband and the wife!
  • Marriage is meant to be a picture of Jesus and His relationship to His church—He GAVE HIMSELF FOR HIS CHURCH. In marriage the partners (and especially the husband as the loving leader) give themselves first to the Lord and then to each other without reservation.
  • The need for this model to work is for BOTH the husband and the wife to be in submission to God, growing in Christ, and desiring of God’s best in their home. Now like I said above, this can be given to any home. This is one reason why we exist as a church: we want to help families know the forgiveness of Christ and the purpose, peace, and love He can bring into ANY home. So we see here in Ephesians that the marriage, and therefore the home, is built on the concept that the husband and wife are together because of God’s grace and through His grace. There is a common understanding that they sense God’s leadership in their marriage and the future of their home. Now this is only possible as each of them knows Jesus personally.
  • If this reality of God’s leadership is gained in marriage THEN there is the possibility and probability of CONTINUED GROWTH in marriage, and there is always something to look forward to together in the marriage relationship! That is a KEY for marriage. So many things can draw people away from each other and some good and Godly goals; not to mention, of course, the basic tendency of our flesh to coast and wander in our relationship with God!

THE HUSBAND IS TO BE THE LOVING LEADER IN THE HOUSEHOLD, SEEKING THE LORD AND HAVING A GENUINE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD

This is one area in which the “headship” of the home has been woefully misunderstood in the past. Remember that this headship is predicated on the “fullness of the Holy Spirit” mentioned just before this passage (Eph. 5:18). So the assumption for this whole passage is that the husband is a spiritual person: one who unashamedly knows Jesus, regularly admits his need for Jesus to his wife and children, and one who has some daily disciplines in place in which he cooperates with the Lord Jesus in learning from Him daily.   In other words the Godly home is predicated on the husband having something substantive going on with Jesus!! For this guy the wife does not have to prod to get him to do something as simple as being in the fellowship of believers on a regular basis.

  • It is hard to get the husband to lead spiritually and learn how to be a “good husband,” a “good father,” a “responsible steward” unless there is SOMETHING going on with Jesus and him as far as communication and followership.
  • A clear understanding of the GOSPEL will foster a desire to become a better husband, father, leader, steward, etc. The gospel must bring a BREAK TO A MAN’S WILL in order for this to facilitate all the above. Once a man’s will is broken and the wife and the children know this, then there will be a God-given desire and conviction brought to them (by the Holy Spirit) to follow the leadership of the husband/father. The exception is when there may be an unsaved family, and there can be (when the husband or wife comes to Jesus) a rebellious spirit on the part of the spouse. I have seen this over the years and it is tragic when it occurs.
  • Being the spiritual leader in the home means that the husband is the first to be humble before the Lord and his family! It means that he continually acknowledges his need for the Lord God before himself and all the members of his family.
  • The passage before us also speaks of the active love that the husband is to have for his wife, a love like that of Christ for His church—giving one’s life for your wife and of course it follows your family. This agape love is given by God’s grace as the husband leans on Jesus. It is in this context that mutual submission happens and submission of the wife to the husband’s loving leadership.

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT THE HUSBAND’S LEADERSHIP 

  1. The Husband is NOT to be the dictator!
  2. The Husband is NOT superior because he is the loving leader.
  3. The Husband is NOT the exclusive decision maker; the wise husband collaborates with the wife in the decision making process and discerns what the Lord is putting on her heart.
  4. The husband is NOT always right. But if the decisions are made as best as the couple can discern from the Lord there will be a “protection” in the process and the ability to deal with the circumstances. The key here is the response of the wife when there is subtle sin that leads to wrong decision. Couples can choose to learn together and not recriminate, and in doing so the Lord can still get glory and victory can come to that couple and that home. In summary, the husband needs to have something going on with Jesus. The Gospel needs to be active and working in his life. What do I mean? I mean that the sacrifice of Jesus is acknowledged as needed daily and is appropriated by faith daily. There is some COMMUNICATION going on between the husband and Jesus. And there is a sense of His Lordship and a basic desire to follow Him. Now this does not mean he has it all together BUT that there is a basic desire to listen to the Lord Jesus and a submission of his will to Jesus’ will. Husbands and wives will both need some basic discipleship growth to learn how to apply some principles of a good marriage. And they will often need the encouragement and accountability of some others (same sex) along the way. Again, being a Godly husband and father IS SOMETHING THAT CAN BE LEARNED! So take heart guys. And wives remember that you are not the “junior holy spirit” to do that which only God can do!

THE ROLE OF THE GODLY WIFE: SUBMISSION AND RELEASING CONTROL OF THE HUSBAND TO JESUS CHRIST!

Submission is not a dirty word; although you would think so in our culture today. It means voluntarily placing oneself under authority; choosing to complement and work with God’s plan even when you do not think it makes sense. I want you to read some of the material below which is taken from the LIFE ACTION Family Revival Seminar notebook (it is not exhaustive but it is a good start). RESPONSIBILITIES FOR WIVES: Over the centuries, nothing has done more to elevate the status of women in society than the impact of Christianity. In those countries where the Gospel has made little penetration, women still have a secondary position. This is not so in the areas where Christianity has taken root. The Bible makes it clear that a woman is a “sister” in Christ, to be treated with dignity and respect.In this day of much confusion about the place of women in our society, it is needful for us to examine biblical principles to grant the wife the freedom of expressing herself in a biblical manner. Perhaps a closer look at some of the titles given to the wife in Scripture would help in encouraging women to “follow after things [roles] that make for peace [harmony].” A Help Meet       A crown is a distinguishing factor of respect for position and honor. Therefore, a wise wife will aid her husband in maintaining proper authority in the home. A woman of character will be a constant source of joy and delight to her husband (Prov. 12:4).A Good Thing       A wife does herself an injustice by seeking the role of the “strong one” in the home (1 Pet. 3:7). She is the greatest benefit to a successful man when she is a constant source of comfort to her husband and children, and greets them with warm, comforting smiles to brighten their day.       A companion is one who has determined to remain faithful through all things (Mal. 2:14). Companionship is gained by each partner taking a serious interest in the likes and dislike of his or her mate.Just what does the Bible mean by “submission”?      God’s plan for the home is one that brings harmony, unity, and the security of loving relationships. If you take up the challenge of your opportunities as a wife, your life will take on the depth of meaning and significance that God has planned for you. Be prepared for a blessing!OPPORTUNITIES FOR WIVES:       God will ultimately reveal His will through the direction of the husband. As a wife, your responsibility ends when you have expressed your concern for the matter at hand. “Submit” and “commit” will be two important aspects of your relationship to your husband. Submit to the leadership of your husband and commit the matter to God. God, in turn, will take the opportunity to work on your behalf.       An ungrateful spirit will drive an emotional wedge into the marital relationship. A husband thrives on the genuine gratitude of the wife. In the age of “equal rights,” many couples are losing the joy of experiencing gratefulness in their family because of the development of an independent spirit.Need to Develop Leadership       An unsubmissive spirit does great damage in the physical relationship between the husband and wife. A wife who submits in body but not in spirit may bring a disturbance into the ongoing marriage relationship.Need for Understanding

A wife with a discerning spirit can help her husband in making wise decisions; be sure to provide that counsel with a meek and gentle spirit. Seek to understand his spiritual gift according to Romans 12. A husband is motived to do certain things because of the way God has made him. A man will respond in life according to the “measure of the gift that is given” to him.[1]

Need for Submission

One major deterrent to a good personal concept of a husband is to be considered “less than a man” by his wife. A good positive personal concept is built in the relationship when a wife verbalizes her dependency upon the leadership of her husband. Pressure from the wife upon the husband will only create strife and conflict.

Need of a Grateful Spirit

Need of Learning Through Success or Failure

Meeting the Needs of Your Husband

Submission to your husband’s leadership is not taking a second-rate position. Submission does not mean that the wife is considered of less worth. Submission is a God-given opportunity to experience the genuine fulfillment of being a woman.

A Companion

The Weaker Vessel

“A good thing” can only refer to that which brings delight and is of great value. A good thing (a wife) has in her the qualities that make her cherishable (Prov. 18:22). The greatest contentment comes to a woman when she is keenly aware of her value to her husband and family.

A Crown to Her Husband

In Genesis 2:18 we see that God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” A woman of great understanding will develop a servant’s heart that will make her compatible with her husband. The most satisfying relationship that a husband and wife can experience is one that is characterized by harmony and unity.

In the home, however, the Bible also makes it clear that there should be one “head,” or final authority. The Christian wife is to recognize this “headship” in her own husband. When there is no final source of authority in the family, all differences of opinion must be settled by arguing. This teaches the children to argue as well, instead of obeying their parents.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). The Bible’s direction for the wife is as clear as any statement in Scripture. She is to submit to her husband’s leadership in the same way and to the same degree that she would submit to Christ as Lord of her life.

Respectful Submission

PARENTING THE AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY AND PRIVILEGE FROM GOD

In our passage the ESV says to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. These two words mean to nurture, feed (the mind and heart), provide parameters, teach, give Godly input, and provide “consequences” to rebellion and disobedience that teach the heart! In order to do this, parents MUST have a close connection to the Lord Jesus and MUST THEMSELVES BE UNDER HIS AUTHORITY. If you want to raise a rebellious child, simply tell your child to be under your authority while you yourself demonstrate (through a lack of self-control or hidden sin, etc.) that you are not under authority. The child will sense this and react to you if you are not broken before God and there is a basic sense of desiring to obey God on your (the Parent’s part). If the parent is UNDER the Lord (not perfect but the basic issue of who is in charge has been settled) . . . if the parent is under God’s authority then they will have the moral and spiritual authority for their children. It does not change the sinful nature of the children BUT it does provide more spiritual strength to do the job of parenting. And it brings a sense of accountability into the home. If Dad and Mom are accountable to God and the children know this, then there is a sense of that in the child’s heart. This actually brings SECURITY to the child. One of the things every home ought to do is that of reading, teaching, learning God’s Word. The children ought to know the story of the Bible as they grow and mature into the elementary school age! Yes, even by that age the child can know the basic history and message of the Bible. Now most parents do not have a clue as to how to do that. And most parents actually learn this at the same time they are teaching this to their own children. But that is fine; you can learn with your child and stay one step ahead as you the parent learn this Bible history and overarching message. There are ample Bible tools for the parent. There are “apps” available for your IPAD and your “smart phone” and best of all there are good Bible story books available now that were never available before. You can use simple Bible story books to even help your child learn to read! BUT THE KEY IS THIS . . . YOU AS THE PARENT HAVE TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE TO SPEND TIME READING AND PRAYING AND HAVING SOME FUN TELLING THE BIBLE STORIES WITH EACH OF YOUR CHILDREN!!! And FATHERS MUST TAKE THE LEAD (if there is a father in the home) in this. That is another issue, but the Lord does protect the single parent home IF the parent engages the Lord and tells the child that the Lord is the leader in the home and will provide the presence and help needed to “cover” the gap when there is a single parent. But when there is a father present . . . FATHERS PLEASE PLEASE DO THIS! You take this time and your children will reap the rewards for the rest of their lives. Along with this time for reading and instruction in God’s Word is a time for Family Worship. A regular time of Family Worship can be very instructive and helpful. There are many helps in this area also. It is IMPORTANT for the child to see Daddy and Mommy interacting with the Living God: responding to His Spirit, expressing genuine love for Him, confessing sin to Him, and expressing a desire to obey Him. When a child sees his parent cry out to Jesus to help him/her to be the kind of parent God wants, this gives strength to the relationship and lets the child know that God is active in the lives of his/her parents. There are so many things I could mention about parenting today but I do want to say this one thing: your child will not be scarred for life if you use spanking as one form of an overall plan of discipline. In fact your child will be much better off. Of course this is if the “rod” is a part of the ongoing plan of loving instruction and teaching and never used in anger. Our culture has overreacted in a crazy way to this important method given by God to instruct and discipline and help provide parameters. I could write a book here (some of you think I have anyway!) on this, but let me give you what Tedd and Marcy Tripp said about helping your child interpret life correctly.Helping Them Interpret Life CorrectlyWhen truth about God is our greatest joy, we will help our children interpret life from a biblical perspective.Truths to impress on our children:

  • Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. It is not found in new jeans, a new iPod, a car, one’s abilities, or exciting, heart-pounding experiences.
  • We need to walk in wisdom, submit to the goodness of God’s way, and turn away from our own agendas.
  • A life of prayer and godly counsel is our desire.
  • Choices that are principled rather than popular, foregoing immediate gratification for the sake of eternal reward, are the goal.
  • God’s authority structures are a blessing. For an eight-year-old this means I can trust Mom’s decision that I need an eight o’clock bedtime. Demanding my own way when I still need parental guidance short-circuits God’s training process.
  • Loving parents are a blessing from God. Loyalty to parental instruction is an expression of gratitude to God. The majority culture offers a fraudulent counterfeit by encouraging young people to be loyal to their peers rather than their parents.
  • The heart is the wellspring of life. The things children give their hearts to—the hopes, ambitions, desires, dreams, joys, and concerns—will set the course of life.
  • Our hearts cannot be trusted (Jer. 17:9). Our hearts will lie to us. Children (and their parents) are easily entrapped and need to be accessible to others for counsel, instruction, and nurture.
  • Friendships are for the purpose of glorifying God, encouraging others, showing love and compassion, and gaining encouragement to do what is right.
  • There is a sowing and reaping principle in the Bible and we need to develop a harvest mentality. Children who trust and obey God find their heads crowned with wonderful blessings. Of course, this truth cuts both ways. The ten-year-old boy who is lazy about his chores will reap what he is sowing because God will not be mocked.[2]

In this book the Tripps help the parent do this one essential thing in parenting: THEY REMIND US THAT THE GOAL OF PARENTING IS TO GET FROM THE HEAD TO HEART—IN OTHER WORDS WE WANT TO SHAPE THE HEART, HELP BEND THE WILL TOWARDS THE LORD GOD IN ALL THNGS.   And that is NOT done through getting the desired performance only. In fact performance-oriented parenting teaches rebellion and bitterness and deception. In today’s culture everything is “cheesy” and “emotional based” and there is no standard of right and wrong. And some parents (even parents in the church) see no problem with letting their child decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Nothing could be more devastating. Let me close with the quote below from the Tripps.

Children need a standard that is held up for them with firm but compassionate tenacity. God’s law is the standard. God expects all people to live in his world according to his law, not just believers. God will judge all who do not. But he extends mercy to those who come to him in faith.

Think about the symmetry of God’s provision for our fallen race! He designed the earth, its creatures and humankind to live in perfect harmony with him and one another. The Fall brought a devastating end to that perfectly glorious existence. But God made provision—not by changing the rules and laws by which the universe would operate to accommodate our fallenness—but by sacrificing his Son to redeem all that was destroyed. When we change the standard, we make God’s provision unnecessary. It is as if we say, “Well, that won’t work. It is too much to ask you to . . . , therefore, just try to do this much. You should be able to do that.” In doing this, we take our children away from God, rather than to the cross. Remember, the law is “the schoolmaster that leads to salvation” (KJV).[3]

Our culture of “touchy-feely” sentimentality loves the mistaken notion that compassion and love require lowering standards to make them achievable. This is devastating to the very means that God has established to redeem mankind. God’s law is consistent with our creation design and compatible with our creation purpose. When we diminish the law to make it “doable” for our children, we remove the necessity of the gospel. We also demean the nobility of purpose embodied in the two tables of the law, “Love the Lord your God with your heart, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

The family is a unit ordained by God. Husband and wife and children with God’s purposes; His love and peace . . . the fruit of the Spirit to be present in each home.   The husband and wife communicating together in love about everything and growing closer together in all ways. This takes time and effort. The family and the relationships within in it can be analogous to a garden. The fruit God intends to produce will come from all the faithful labor put forth to grow the garden. God will work through each family that seeks Him and applies His principles to insure growth and a Godly harvest. The family unit is to have God’s purposes. They are like a “mini-church”. As the family is being discipled (bent towards Jesus daily), they are used by God to touch others . . . to be on His Mission. God will bless (tremendously) any family that seeks to grow in Him and OBEY His Great Commission through the activities of their home life. This is more important that any sports team, any club, any recreational activity, any Christmas gift, or anything else that you can do within your family. If the husband and wife grow together and desire for the Lord to use them and their children to touch others in Jesus’ name for the Gospel . . . THIS IS THE GREATEST THING ANY FAMILY COULD EVER DO. Some people think . . . man preacher, that is asking way too much. I am just being honest with you: the family is to be a microcosm of the church—on mission with the Lord God, full of the Spirit, CRAZY FOR JESUS. Hey don’t be ashamed of this. This is who we are.

The only way we can apply this today is admit our need for Jesus! Do you know Him? Jesus died a cruel death for you. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ death was a payment for your sin. He loved you so much He took the punishment meant for you. But you must admit your need for His sacrifice! You must admit you are a sinner and turn from that sin.   And you must give your heart (trust) to Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Let Him know that you need Him to lead you, and that you WILL accept His leadership now and forever. Dads and Moms everywhere across this Valley need Him today. He can heal their homes and bring Godly presence and purpose to everything. Trust Jesus today!

 

[1]Life Action Ministries, The Family Revival Seminar (Buchanan, MI, 1999), 6-7, 9-10.

 

[2]Tedd & Marcy Tripp, Instructing a Child’s Heart (Wapwallopen, PA: 2008), 42-42.

[3]Tedd & Marcy Tripp, Instructing a Child’s Heart (Wapwallopen, PA: 2008), 164.

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THE GOSPEL AND TRUE CONVERSION by Paul Washer

It is unsound hermeneutically and extremely dangerous to use the almost constant rebellion of Israel to justify the near constant rebellion of the so-called carnal Christian and the professing church.  The rampant rebellion in much of Western evangelicalism is not because the new covenant is not better than the old is or because it shares some of the same weaknesses.  On the contrary, apathy, materialism, and rebellion have occurred because many who profess Christ are not really of Christ, and much of what is called the church is not the true, living church at all.  We have reduced the gospel of Christ and its demands; we have dressed the church to look like the world; we have refused to preach costly grace or separation from what defiles; and we have all but disdained any form of censure or church discipline.  For these reasons and more, numerous individuals make a claim to Christianity without any of its accompanying evidences, and ecclesiastical organizations proudly identify themselves as the church, yet bear little resemblance to the bride of Christ as she is revealed in the New Testament. 

We must therefore return to a biblical understanding of regeneration and conversion.  We must deny the popular rhetoric that portrays the church as primarily a collection of saved but carnal people with only a tiny remnant of spiritual or devout followers of Christ within its midst.  We must again cry out, “Ye must be born again!” and we must explain that such a new birth WILL RESULT IN A HEART THAT DELIGHTS IN THE LAW THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN ON IT BY THE VERY FINGER OF GOD.   

By Paul Washer in his book The Gospel Call and True Conversion, p. 125

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FOUR WAYS TO HELP CREAT UNITY IN YOUR CHURCH

Four Ways to Create Unity in Your Church

May 1, 2013    From Thom Rainer’s blog

In last week’s post about an autopsy of a deceased church, one of the characteristics was the members had “more and more arguments about what they wanted.” This selfishness both created and sustained one thing no church can tolerate very long and survive: disunity.

It is very common for pastors and church members to desire unity and even talk about the importance of it. Beyond desire, though, should be a plan to foster unity in the local body. Unity can be very hard to achieve and it never happens on its own.

Ultimately, only the Lord can bring unity to His people. Here are four ways to help foster unity in your church.

  1. Preach on it. I don’t mean mentioning unity on occasion, or talking about it during the Lord’s Supper. I don’t even mean bringing it up when you know of a disagreement in the body. I mean preach on unity regularly, emphasizing why no church will accomplish God’s mission without it. Preach a series on the goodness and pleasantness of unity (Psalm 133:1) or how unity contributes to peace in the body (Ephesians 4:3).
  2. Talk about Jesus’ emphasis on it. In John 17, we find the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. Over and over in the space of only three verses Jesus emphasized unity, saying, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (vs. 21-23). If unity is important to Jesus it should be important to us.
  3. Model it. You cannot lead your church to be unified if there are broken relationships in your own life. What you live, people learn. The old saying, “More caught than taught,” is perhaps more true for pastors than most. People expect the pastor to model the behavior of a fully mature disciple, and pastors should. This seems clear in Paul’s challenge to “follow me as I follow Christ.”
  4. Get everyone on the same page—literally. In recent years, many churches have given small group leaders and Sunday School teachers the option to choose from a range of Bible studies. This has been beneficial to many, and I don’t mean to demean that option. However, if your church is struggling with unity, consider using a single Bible study tool as one way to help facilitate it.

Using a single Bible study can help promote ongoing conversations between small-group members, leaders and family members. Creating biblically centered conversations between parents, teens and children is easier when everyone is studying the same concepts at the same time.

One of the many things I am excited about at LifeWay is a new ongoing Bible study series that gives churches the option of getting everyone on the same page. The new series, called Bible Studies for Life, has been developed for every age in the church so everyone will study the same biblical concepts at the same time making home-based as well as church-based discipleship more accessible.

How would our churches change if we joined Jesus in His prayer for unity? What if churches were actually operating in unity? What if members were striving together, constantly, to fulfill the mission of God?

We might just see a move of God like none of us has ever seen.

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Gospel: More Than An Equation

Copied from:  Phil Moore, Straight to the Heart of Acts (Monarch Books, 2010), p. 36-37

          Most Western Gospel messages treat the Gospel as a kind of spiritual equation – sin plus the cross plus repentance equals salvation – but this falls short of what we have truly been called to do.  It treats the Gospel as a God-inspired formula, a set of well-crafted theological propositions, which the non-Christian hearer is asked to believe.  It is nowhere near as powerful as introducing the hearer to the man Jesus Christ – to his life, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection and ascension.  These are not opinions, but facts, and incontrovertible facts if the hearer will listen.  What is more, Christians who find listening to Gospel sermons “boring” because they have heard the message so many times before, suddenly find them fascinating.  The story of Jesus is simply too multifaceted ever to become boring.  Instead, Christians find themselves falling more in love with him every time.

What’s more, preaching the Gospel as a spiritual equation creates stillborn and self-centered “converts.”  Put simply, it presents Jesus as a solution to my need of forgiveness and reconciliation.  If I accept it, I get up off my knees thinking that Jesus has made a transaction with me, and I wonder what other great things he can do for me too.  Hearing the story of Jesus, however, is entirely different.  I realize that the Gospel is not primarily about me at all; it’s about him, and about his call to follow him.  If I accept it, I get up off my knees understanding that I have made a transaction with him.  I have received his forgiveness and been reconciled to God, but I have done so as part of being raised to a new life of following him as King.  Although I know that he will bless me in a thousand different ways, my focus is on what I now need to do in obedience to him.  I have actually understood that Jesus is Lord and Christ, and that my biggest need was not just forgiveness, but total repentance.  This was Peter’s message when it cut people to the heart, and it made them want to be baptized straight way.

Jesus has called you to be his witness too.  I know you weren’t there to watch his ministry in Galilee and Judea, but neither was Stephen, who is called a witness, or Paul who is called one too.  You are one of those that Jesus said are more blessed in John 20:29 because you believed what others told you and can now bear witness from your own experience that this first-century message is true.  You are one of his modern-day witnesses, telling people the story they so desperately need to hear.

So tell people about Jesus: not just as the bridge, but as the destination; not just as the one who died to forgive, but as the one who lives that we might follow; not just as the one who helps, but as the one who humbles; not just as the one who balances the equation, but as the one who is its answer as well.  That was Peter’s message when 3,000 were converted, and it’s still the message to which we are witnesses today.

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