The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PV

The Lord's Day

The first vision!  Revelation 1: 9-11, 

 John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus

 What does it mean to you to shine before God? How does holding His true Truth help you shine and make Him known in a dark world?

Jesus is proclaimed as the Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church. This is not theory, rather, reality with which we must connect. This is also our template how we view, understand and undertake the management of His Church. That He IS, and what we do is for Him.

The context is that John is getting his people ready for his visions. To do so, John is demonstrating humility, making a connection to his people so they can have hope and endurance by the sharing of his sufferings and experiences and they will know he is still with them in spirit and in understanding. This is what we are doing as we disciple and proclaim the glory of our Lord.

John was not living the good life while his people were being persecuted; he was in the frontlines of it all. He was a leader who led by example by going first to the destination to which he was leading others. Now that he has set a tone, he tells them of his incredible vision of Christ and His call to the leadership of the Seven Churches. Jesus is speaking to him in vivid imagery, commanding him to write it all down so it can be shared and used to further the Kingdom.

This means we lead from the front. Not in the rears barking orders or giving suggestions that we have no experience or intention of doing.

John is addressing all Christians, not just the seven churches, because the seven means “completeness” and represents us all. John is making it personal and caring, yet forceful in function. He gives a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. In so doing, we are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress (Rev. 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

The Lord’s Day” was a covert term to mean when the Early Church met for worship. It refers to the day of worship, Sunday, where Christ’s resurrection, victory, and Last Supper were celebrated. Many Christians were Jews and still participated in the Sabbath observances, too (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 19:1-10).

“In the Spirit” means “spiritual exaltation,” possibly as in charismatic worship. However, John did not solicit this vision; God gave it to him. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no dream (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

Loud voice” refers to the power of Christ and our duty to reverence Him (Job 37:5-6; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6).

Trumpet” means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). 

“Seven churches.” These are not allegories, but rather real, actual churches in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey) whose tangible problems are the representation of the ones we still have with us today. There were many more churches in Asia Minor at that time, as seven is symbolic for completeness, and thus applies to all churches in all.

In the Old Testament Tabernacle that Moses built and where the Jews first worshiped God, there was one lampstand with seven branches (in practice some Jews use six to nine branches, so not to duplicate anything that was in the Temple). This is now called the “menorah,” a prime symbol of Judaism today and used in “Chanukah.” This Menorah had seven branches that symbolized the assembly of believers and how God’s light shines to us and how we are to be the ‘shine’ in others’ lives (Ex. 25:31-40; Isaiah 42:6; Zech. 4:1-6; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16).

 The Bottom-line of how we are to lead and manage the church from the precepts of Revelation, is that it also points us that it is God’s power that leads, not our ways or trends.

The essential framework to build a healthy church is to understand that its prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to please our comforts or ideas. Or bow to a personality, giving a dog and pony show. We are to shine before Christ by holding His truth, and shine for the Lord, making Him known in a dark world!

Who is Christ in your life? How is He reverenced in your church? (Not so much in worship, but in the attitude of veneration in the leadership.) This would mean, how Jesus is adored in the reality of relationships, attitudes, and daily functioning of how we are conducting our lives and church. This can be the indicator if you are on the right track or lost in pride.

 

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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.

 

Building a Church that Points to and Honors Christ PVIII

Incarnational Churches are aware of their Eternal Covenant  

Because of Christ’s incarnation, work, and sacrifice, He takes the place of our debt of sin and fulfills the old covenant and the blood sacrifice, which was temporary and flawed, to atone for our sin. Now, we can go directly to God, person-to-Person. God renews His relationship with us, His people, and gives us an age of grace in Christ by faith alone (Ex. 24:8; Deut. 30:11-14; Psalm 37:31; 40:8; 119:11; Isa. 51:7; 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 31:31; 32:40; Ezek. 37:26; Rom. 6:9; Heb. 8:8-13; 9:11-22). 

A Name for Jesus in the Hebrews text is our Great Shepherd, meaning He is the One who leads, equips, and guides us—as we all desperately need. It is our call to hear His voice and obey as a good sheep does in order to be fed and not be eaten by predators. And who and what are our predators? Our wayward ways of all infighting by our pride, and the fact that when the sheep go unfed, they bite each other. For us to be in the safety of faith, we not only need to be in Christ, we have to obey Him. This is a result of our intimate relationship with Him that is synergistically touching all those who come into His Home. We know Him, He knows us, and we do what He says. We are concerned with what concerns Him, and we act accordingly. Like sheep, we can’t lead others or ourselves without being forever lost and unfed (Psalm 23; Isa. 63:11; Jer. 23:1; 31:34; Ezek. 34:6-16, 31; Hos. 6:6; John 10:1-8; 16:13-15; Rom. 10:7).  

For our church to work well, we need to be taught and encouraged to grow so we can be our best, to reach out and to worship and function in humility and encouragement.  

In so doing, we support and remind one another to remain in Christ and not fall away. We do this as we honor the superiority of Christ and hear God’s call so we can venture into Christian maturity. The bottom line of an Incarnational Church is that we are not just the means of the communication of the Message of God; we are also the message to those who do not know Him. Because we are His work, we are His Gospel in action as an example that communicates far more than any book, program, or speaker or evangelist. We present and demonstrate not just the Jesus who lived, but also the Jesus who lives in us (Col. 1; Phil. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:3).  

The Incarnational Church produces a fellowship filled with real purpose and inspiration because we are rooted in the life of our Lord. As a result, people are treated in the parameters of Fruit and by people of character, as maturity is sought so everyone feels loved, appreciated, treasured, and encouraged because they are so—discipled and involved by mentoring before they are deployed in ministry. This is what a “Christ life” looks like before “Church life” is fully engaged. Thus, the leadership top down is producing a church authentic in spiritual maturity by its involvement in Christ so that the people are inspired to be devoted, as in caught up in Christ and with one another to be more worthy in and for the faith. In so doing, we are all making Him known in the world too. The key to making this happen is how people are cared for before they are deployed; the equipping and encouraging must always continue. The antagonist to this is our pride, apathy, or manipulation, seeking to connive, posturing ones agenda over others, and/or absent from God’s precepts, call, or love. The Incarnational Church shows the kind of direction that sees Christ glorified as our tempers and temperaments come in line with His guidelines. So our church—your church—is a collection of imitators of Christ so we go in the direction of the possibilities of His lead. And, we can indeed do this if we dare stretch beyond what we think we can do or where we can go, and seek where and what Christ has for us, even with our limitations and frailty (John 14:21-22; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Colossians 4:2-5; 1 John 1:2). 

Hebrews ends with this final exhortation: pray and live honorably so God may produce even more in you. Remember your fellow Christian workers and pray for and support them. May the God of peace who saved you continue to equip you. May you produce effectual fruit for the glory of Christ, our Great Shepherd. To God be the glory!

Building a Church that Points to and Honors Christ P VII

Incarnational Churches live as a response to what Christ has done for us!

If you love Jesus, then you are to love others too. Hebrews is almost written as a letter of recommendation to encourage the hearers to continue in the faith and not give up, and to obey their leaders, because if they do not, they will face dire problems. What they were going through then was nothing like what would come later. The author, inspired by God, advised them (and us) to “shape up” so we could grow through it with joy and not melt in bitterness. Our living faith, that God gives and builds on along with our efforts, has more of a purpose than most of us will ever see or realize. Take God’s warning about negating your spiritual development or neglecting what He gives or where He calls. If we refuse to allow His work, then our faith and the future He has for us will not be received. We will limit our sanctification and cut ourselves off from God’s reward for being faithful and fruitful; we may even fall to bad or natural consequences for refusing His guidance or the fellowship of others. Just think about how many churches in the U.S. close each year—over four thousand. Thus, we have to see our call to be responsible for one another so each can encourage and equip others, helping them when they slip or are about to slip (Psalm 137: 5-6; 147:2; Isa 62:5; Rom. 12-14; Gal. 4-5; 6:24; Eph. 4-5; Heb. 10:10; Rev. 21: 2-4, 9-27). 

With responsibility comes obedience and listening—a call to obey your leaders.

This may not be popular in a day when we are conditioned to challenge and even disrespect authority, but here we are called to respect authority and to care for and keep careful watch over the people as shepherds, because leaders will be held to account. So, to make our church incarnational, make a group effort with some top down leadership, so we can heed the call and submit to those in authority with value and respect. In this way, we can thrive, enjoy orderliness, and learn from others. In contrast, a person with a lack of faith will not respect others because the emptiness where faith is supposed to be is filled with pride and even self-destruction, worry, and stress that lead a person nowhere good. This, of course, does not mean we submit to dictatorial or dysfunctional leadership (Isa. 21:8; Jer, 23:4; Ezek. 3:17; 33:6; 35:7; Hab. 2:1; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:2-4; 3 John 9-10). 

Christianity is community; we are all mutually dependent upon one another and must act accordingly with goodness to one another so we can show Him effectively. 

As Christians, we are all priests to one another as we collectively rely on Christ and minster to one another. In the desire to pursue Christ and His precepts, we must be careful that we honor Him and not cause others to stray from Him. This must include our devotion and surrender to Christ, for only in Him—by Word and Prayer—and being held accountable by others will our conscience be clear. Even in the face of struggles and hardships, we can live honorably, by our mutual respect and focus on God as comfort! In contrast, if we just live our lives with the attitude of how things affect “me” and not “others,” then we are living with the devil, and not with God (Rom. 15: 33: 16:20; 2 Cor. 1:12; 13:11; Phil. 4:9, 18; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16; Heb. 4:16; James 1:27)!