Reverencing Christ

awe-of-god

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” Colossians 1:9-10

We must understand the importance of our reverence to Christ. We come before a holy God.

Jesus is not just a pal or friend or guide, He is our Savior and our Lord (2 Cor. 5:16; Rev. 2-3). A healthy church is all about who Christ is and what He has done. He is not just a Savior and/or best Friend; He gives us life, holds our lives, and will judge our lives. He is the One who overcame life and death for our benefit, and when we seek to run His church our way, we embarrass and dishonor Him and His Way. He has the keys in His hand, as the door to knowing Him and making Him known is only locked from our side. We have no need to fear our future when He is our Light, Guide, and Lord!

This understanding of Who Christ is will help us truly worship Him, and be people who are humble and be a church that, lives a life worthy, that He can use. 

One of the central themes of humbleness is if we do not do it, God will. God asks us to “humble yourselves” for the essential reason that if we do not, He will, and when that happens, it may just be too late. If we do not start to reform our churches to be as they were designed and destined to be, then it will be too late. The doors will close just as has already happened in most parts of Europe. The church once flourished there, but apathy and disease took over and now her pews sit empty in the midst of a confused and decadent culture. We cannot just visualize what a healthy church can and should look like; we must act on it to make it happen.

A healthy church is not just a question of believing in Christ, but being filled with the knowledge, of doing what He has called us to do with trust and obedience.

A healthy church is not about our comfort or what we can experience, but about being people of faith and maturity, bearing fruit, and being what we can be for His glory.

If you have spent any time at all observing churches, then you have seen what takes place. And, if you have spent any time in the Scriptures, then you know what Christ has called us to do. Many times, these two are in conflict. I have personally seen the results of what happens when we do, and when we do not follow our Lord, when we do not humble ourselves. So, the choice is up to us; we are given choices in life, options to follow. We can see for ourselves in the church that is worshipping the Lord, caring and loving one another, steeping itself in prayer, and reaching its neighborhood and world for Christ. Conversely, we can see the church that is full of strife and conflict.

The church that has given up its call to be in Christ and substituted it with their own inclinations and agenda results in people leaving the church, bitter and disillusioned. Too many Christians have traded their election of grace for advertisements of hostility, thus they have forgotten the main thing. As a result, the disillusioned world has confused the strife of Christians for the care of the Lord, thus seeing an uncaring God by seeing His uncaring people and leaders.

 

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We Are To Have the Attitude of Christ! P5

Did you know after over 30 years of conducting church growth research, one of the primary ways a church grows is because of its fruitfulness demonstrated by “Hospitality?” 

How does the fact that the great news of Christ gives us the ability to have Hospitality  to take you through your community connections? How can it better keep you from being distracted from the real call and the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ?

The Quintessential way to Grow your Church is to Understand and Implement Hospitality!

Key Passages: Matthew 25:34-43; Luke 10:30-37; Acts 4:32; Romans 12:13; 16:33; 1 Timothy 5:10; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:7-11; 3 John 1:5-8

However, as a “spiritual gift,” some Christians will have a specific call and empowerment to do this. People in the world may be more concerned for their own needs and agendas than they are for God’s clear doctrine and purpose, but as Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2).

How do we know this is at work? “Kindness” is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:4-21; 16:1; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!

If your church is personality driven, that is the pastor is the center stage, a hipster or megalomaniac personality, what you have is not a church, but at best a motivational speaker club. Thus, there is no real reason a person will be at your church except to have their ears tickled and with such a shallow pool, no real ministry will commence or people helped effectually. A true pastor must teach, lead, coach and disciple and point the church leadership to Hospitality foremost before any wants of the leadership come and not the needs of anything that disrupts or distracts peoples from Christ.

What does this mean in a church?

As Christians, we are to typify faith and reason together so we can exhibit the maturity needed to make the fruit of the Spirit and its byproduct of Hospitality, by also making wise decisions and have a purpose in life and put it in play as a community. This also means directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed, and poor.

 

 

Spiritual Maturity and its Importance

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1).

Research Conducted between 1996 and 2010:

· Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church.

· Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church.

· Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice.

· Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 70% of their congregation members do not assess their spiritual journey or have a means to effectively examine their spiritual lives, such as a mentor or pastor to talk with.

· Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that more than 68% of their congregational members are not in an accountability or small group.

· Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there is no significant effort from the leadership to be devoted, as a church, to spiritual growth. Most think this is to be from the pulpit only and/or in the privacy of the member’s home.

· Sixty-two percent (62%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was little to no effort in teaching spiritual maturity or Christian formation from the small groups, such as doctrine, prayer, and/or essentials of growing in Christ.

· Sixty-one percent (61%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said that their duty as leaders was first to pursue their faith, or else placed it as a significant factor. 

© 2008, Research from 1996- 20107, , Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

The Leadership Challenge P IV

Leaders with Responsibility

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees”. Psalm 119:9-12 NIV

Never forget who you are and what Christ has called you to. The leadership position is not a place of power and control over other peoples’ lives. It is a place to be humble before our Holy God and to respond to His grace with the best of our gifts, abilities, and time to further His Kingdom. Leadership is not about the personality of the leader, it is about being surrendered to our Lord and being a humble example of His character.

It has been my experience and observations over the years that the most qualified and best leaders are the ones who are hard to get. That is they are not usually seeking the position, you have to go after them. They do not want to be in the ‘limelight’, and they feel they are not qualified and able. The ‘what to be’ leader who pursues the position with lust, tend to be the worst leaders, because they tend to have distorted motives. Now these are just broad observations, make sure you and whoever is the leader has the right motives.

We are to act as examples of the Lord first before we can ask others to do so.

There are few things worse in the church than bully leaders who put others down and do not follow their own teaching. We cannot be in leadership with the focus of power and control over others, this is not the call and example of our Lord! Read the life of David and how God blessed him when his heart was in tune with His. And then take careful note of how and when David was not in tune with God, but was engulfed in his pride and lust, and the consequences of his actions.

The committee is not the ministry, but a huddle to plan the ministry!

Too many churches think that being on a committee is a ministry and the buck stops there for the ministry of the church. So what is the point in that? I cannot tell you how frustrating it is from a pastor’s perspective to be on a committee, such as Youth or Christian Education, where its board members do nothing to help the ministry. Their view is to only “oversee it,” but never see it for themselves or attend, let alone help out. It is not the call of the Lord to be a Christian supervisor, God does not need anybody to sit in a room to critique and manage His servants, who themselves are separated from the ministry. Do you see the absurdity in that? It is funny when you read it in a “Dilbert” comic strip of an incompetent boss, clueless to their task and duties, only to supervise their employees out of ignorance and apathy. I do not see the humor when Christ’s church is the example!

The church needs leaders who are involved in the ministry they are supposed to lead,…

…and if they refuse, they are the incompetent fools “Dilbert” makes fun of. We do not need this in the church! People are the feet to the mission and vision of the church, the leader will lead by example, and not from a chair or bully pulpit. The vision and mission statement are the instructions to build the model. If we try to build a model and don’t use the instructions, we will have a lot of pieces left over, and it will not look like the picture on the box. And if we spend all of our time reading the directions and never reach for the pieces and glue, what good would that be? Yet this is what a lot of leaders in the church do and then feel good about it. Our Lord does not feel good about His children sitting in rooms talking in circles and coming up with excuses when there is work to be done, and His message to be spread.

Meetings are important and necessary to do His work. They are the planning and springboard for action that needs to take place.

We need to see the committee as a football huddle, the strategy planning for the game, to plan the next play of action. As our coach, the Lord instructs us from His Word and prayer.

Do not lower your standards or compromise key theological points or Scripture for personal gain or to please some politically correct whim. Churches that compromise with Scripture and with moral and value judgments will be very surprised at the end of the game when they are called home for Judgment! We must take our task and call seriously, and take God’s Word seriously too.

Remember all the aspects of leadership require the practice of care and love.

This is the fuel to the call and attitude we are to model. This is what God calls us to do, to have the attitude of love and caring. This is what people need, and what makes a compatible church that people want to attend versus a church we go to out of obligation or flee from!

Leadership, as with all things with our Lord, has grace to it.

I have seen churches so picky with its leader selection that they pass up a lot of good people. And I have seen total boneheads brought in and the mess that occurs under their leadership. We must take careful heed to the responsibility of being leaders, and the awesome power that is at our hand, and the people under our care. With the knowledge of discipleship and growth in our Lord will come more responsibility, we must acknowledge this importance and essential element of the Christian walk. When we turn our backs to the essentials of the call and replace it with the quintessence of our own self-focus, we are spitting in the face of the sovereign Lord of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul; not a good thing to do.

So we must strive to be our best for His glory, always learning and growing.

We may never be perfect, and we will make mistakes, but the grace and the love of the Lord will allow us to persevere. The key element is to be our best for His glory, not to our whims, then we will be the great leaders that Christ calls us to. Then we will have churches that are healthy, are reaching their neighborhoods, and are filled with people growing in Christ who want to be there!

© 1994, 2001, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

More here http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=66919

The Leadership Challenge P III

 

The Training and Discipling of your Leaders must be a Priory!

Are your leaders effectively trained? Do they know what they are doing? If not why not?

Perhaps there has been no person in history who has had more influence on and instruction to the body of believers since the close of Scripture than Augustine. Augustine was the bishop of Hippo, who fought the decline of the Roman Empire and its lust towards self-destruction, and called Christians to an early reformation. He has had considerable influence on both Luther, who was an Augustinian Monk, and Calvin who quoted Augustine more than any other source, except Scripture. His “Confessions” is a must read for any serious Bible student and essential for pastors and leaders of the church!

Augustine knew human nature and the holiness of God well. He called God’s people to experience the Christian life with passion and the realization of our responsibility in the face of sin. He called leaders and pastors to “self watch,” that is to examine their spiritual condition, abilities, and sin. We must be intently aware of who we are in Christ and where we are in our walk with Christ to be effective leaders. If not, we will fail. It was true in Augustine’s time and is still true today. Because of our sinful nature, we require accountability to each other. We need to have people who know us, ask us about our prayer life, whether we’ve sinned, have been in Scripture and what we’ve learned.

Being accountable will incite us to grow further and not hide behind our natural laziness.

Accountability gives us the perimeters to be effective Christians because it forces us out of our self-desires and ourselves and into relationships with others, “as iron sharpens iron.” If the leaders of the church spend all their energies preparing themselves for their vocation, and virtually zero in preparation to be a Christian and a leader, how good and influential will they be? The disciplines of the faith will lead us to personal holiness and closer to our Lord. Time spent in Scripture and prayer, along with accountability, will hone the skill to be an effective force for our Lord and to further His Kingdom!

We must realize the responsibility we have as leaders and step up to the plate of challenge, with a surrendered will and passion to serve our Lord. Let our Lord reveal Himself to you in your devotions so it impacts who you are and how you are.

We will be effective leaders if we follow Augustine’s example. Augustine knows life well, as he spent the first 32 years of his life as the ultimate “partyer,” and then, at his conversion and realization of his sinful nature, devoted the rest of his life to show us the true way, not the self-centered party approach! The people we minister to will benefit greatly from us getting to know Augustine’s “Confessions!”

The best training is our realization of our dependence on God and each other. And the growth of our devotional life, coupled with our accountability, will make us the disciple that our Lord will greatly use. Is this not what the purpose and call of leadership is about, to serve our Lord and His people? We cannot serve Him unless we are His people and are His example in society.

The capable leader will be in tune to his gifts and abilities and will truly desire to grow in them. We need to read resources and attend seminars to further encourage and challenge us. I was asked at a recent youth pastors’ convention why I was there attending and not leading or speaking. My response was that I need to be learning too. If I spend all my time teaching, then I will not be learning effectively from other talented and capable people. Do not be the pastor or leader who sits in their office thinking they are better and do not need any training! We all need training and further education, and we cannot do this by being selfish with our minds and unwilling to yield from our pride.

 

The Leadership Challenge P II

Be a good leader who points to Christ and not to yourself!

All that it takes is a few wrong decisions where sin and desire have taken over the responsibility of our call. It will cause a ripple effect that will cost and keep costing until the church is distorted and destroyed, unless repentance and forgiveness places a firewall to end the shame. The leader has to ask themselves what will my decisions cost? Pride and immorality, and placing our desires over His has a price that can never be paid. We may think a quick prayer will be the cure all, after all God is love and my decisions really do not matter in the grand scope of the universe. This thinking is dead wrong! (Yes God is love, and then what do we respond to love with?) That cost will keep escalating with compound interest that only Christ can stop.

Clean strong leadership with a focus on Christ will bring riches. Sin will bring a cost that will foreclose on the ministry and joy of what we could have had. When we defy God, then all those around us for generations to come will suffer. Let us put a stop to this insanity with the firewall of who Christ is.

So how do we do this? Let God’s Word be the mirror to show your true character and response to His call and grace. This will allow us to see our own true selves and the areas we need to grow in and listen. Because the result of these characteristics is the care, nurture and the passion to grow in Christ, this is for the listener and the hearer. Our relationship with Christ gives us the motivation to be the “Lover of the Call.” Caring by listening gives us the motivation to be the “Energizer,” that leads to being an effective leader all stemming from “Following” and “Vision.” All these characteristics are synergistically combined to build the character and leadership “right stuff” that it takes to be a leader. If we leave out one of these characteristics then we will not be as effective as we can be and as we are called to be.

Do you make it easy for people to follow you, or do you make it difficult for them?

Ministry is not an easy task, nor should we expect it to be. However this does not mean we are to put obstacles in each other’s path for spite, no are we to put others down in fear they may be better than us. We are to create the path of least resistance, while challenging them to take ownership of their task and most importantly our Lord.

It is not always realistic to find people who manifest all of these characteristics equally and effectively. That is why a team mentality is necessary in leadership. Because there will be people who are weak in some areas that others are strong in. It is essential for the leader to be sensitive to their abilities and those of others so they know their weak areas and strengths. Therefore, an effective leadership team will have a combination of all these characteristics and be a synergistic powerhouse for our Lord!

It has been said recently by a prominent church growth guru that if the pastor is not a visionary, they should not be in the pulpit. To a degree this is true when vision is from the revelation of His Word. If the pastor, or any leader, is not capable of seeing the goal and call that the Lord has, what are they going to accomplish anyway? Not much. If the pastor and leader do not know where they are going or what to do, then they cannot possibly lead others. If vision is just a plan and mission statement to push ahead with what the latest polls say, or what the large church down the street is doing, then that statement from the church growth guru is harsh because that is not leadership. Mission and purpose are very important, but is no substitute for the pastor’s heart and the shepherd’s call.

The Leadership Challenge P I

Is it about our expectations or God’s characteristics? The answer is summed up on what is the purpose of your church? Is it painful, prideful and dysfunctional as to satisfy one’s ego and plans or is it Biblical and effectual, to glorify our Living Loving LORD?

Leadership expectations of pastors and elders are often unrealistic and not centered on what leadership is really about. Too often people confuse a strong-willed personality as an effective leader, leadership is not being strong-willed, rather having a strong sense of purpose that’s centered upon God.

The church of our Lord needs leaders, not petty instigators. There are too many churches that substitute a petty person for a godly person and see no distinction, because the people who put them in power do not know the difference. People who like to quote man’s ideas and not quote God, who like the social and psychological trends not God’s Biblical precepts, people who like to be in the spotlight and not be the light to point to the blood of Christ!

What are the Biblical Characteristics of a real called of Christ Leader?

The 11 Principle Leadership Characteristics: Vision, Knowledge, Energizer, Learning, Perseverance, Maturity, Love their Call, Spunk, No Fear of Failure, Followers and Listening:

  • Vision: A vision will have your primary call from Scripture, to hear and obey His Word!
  • Knowledge is being assured that what Christ did is relevant and impacting, and is a reality that must be accepted and committed to.
  • Love their Call is Passion, it means there is nothing better you would rather do than…
  • Energizer is the importance of influence, and being attractive with Christ who gets excited and is joyful for Him!
  • Learning is to learn and grow from the experience the Lord gives us so we are an example for His work!
  • Maturity is to know that our need is to be in Christ, and not to be to ourselves!
  • Perseverance is to continue in our state of grace so we live it out in our lives and walk with Christ to the end for our eternal reward!
  • Spunk is the willingness to take a risk and go beyond ourselves, our experience and knowledge and into what is best for the body of Christ!
  • No Fear of Failure is the ability to take a risk and keep the focus and attention on our call and obedience!
  • Followers is knowing that you cannot lead where you have not been, unless the leader is a good follower of the Lord they cannot lead others effectively!
  • Listening knows to be an effectual leader, you must know how to listen, all its takes is the will to turn it on and let it work.

None of the characteristics will work unless a foundation of maturity and Godliness is the foundation of the leader. Without a growing love relationship with Christ, you will have conflict and strife, and be running a nursery for adults instead of the church for Christ. If we choose not to grow and live for our Lord, then we are choosing to live for ourselves. So prepare yourself to be a baby-sitter in a nursery, who constantly puts out fires of hurt feelings and misdirected expectations causing all kinds of problems, all leading away from the call of Christ. You will not able to function as a leader, but will be functioning as a bitter, frustrated, unfulfilled, immature individual. And I do mean individual, because you will be going it alone without the support of the Holy Spirit and of our Lord because you will be acting contrary to His call and moving forward in the direction of your own will.