One of the great benefits to bringing in a new key member to our staff ministry team from outside of our church culture has been the opportunity to revisit the cultural values of our church. These are the “felt things” in our church that you catch over time but are important to articulate when someone is joining or attempting to discover things about your unique culture. Larry Osborne (Sticky Teams) calls them his plumb-lines. I call them “stuff that is important to us”.When it comes to working on our team here are some of the things that are important to us:Flexibility – We all have offices, we have minimum expectations for being in these offices but we love the opportunity that we have to be creative with when and where we do our work. I am sure this comes from my academic background but I can’t imagine working any other way.Face to face time – While many of us love our autonomy we also understand that it is imperative that we be around each other enough to establish communication and comraderie.Relationship – We absolutely must like one another and work at liking one another, even going bowling if it is absolutely necessary.Accountability – We love to be flexible but we understand the need to be accountable and do what we say we are going to do. This is an area that we need to grow more in but it is of stated importance.Resource – God has blessed our church with an absolutely amazing staff. Many of our staff are brilliant in what they do and we believe it is important that when God gives us the opportunity that we share them with others. We believe in learning from others as much as allowing others to learn from us.Dialogue – While each of us has our own areas of responsibility we love working things through together. We do our best to minimize silos and the only way we know how to do this is by interacting, discussing, disagreeing, and owning ideas and plans together.Look out for one another – There is a lot going on in our church and it can take its toll on our lives. So we are committed to making sure we are in a good space. Just this past Tuesday one of our team members, knowing I had been working around the clock the past couple of weeks, asked me in front of the rest of the team when I was going to be taking some time off. They even challenged me about what I was modeling by not taking enough time off.I wonder what some of the “stuff that is important to us” is for your team.
Well there is no doubt that Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” has spun off a whole cottage industry of books written in response. “Love Wins” has struck a nerve. One of the latest books “Is Hell for Real or Does Everyone Go to Heaven?” is a very short treatment of a response and in particular attempts to answer the question, “would our public witness and faithfulness to the God of love be better off without hell?” The book is a compilation of responses from various authors and does address some of Bell’s points albeit without directly addressing his teaching.The best chapter is the Appendix. It is a reprint from Leadership Journal of an article that Tim Keller wrote in 1997 entitled “Preaching Hell in an Intolerant Age”.
“Sticky Teams” by Larry Osborne is a very helpful book on church leadership and ministry. The book is primarily about alignment and how to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to the ministry of your church. It is written out of the North Coast experience and the applicational aspects of the chapters may or may not be appropriate for your church. The principles behind the application are absolutely necessary for every church leader. There is great wisdom in each chapter. I would especially recommend that leadership teams consider working through chapters six through twelve. The beauty of this book is that it is non-technical and will be readable for all levels of church leadership.Put the coffee on this is a great read for your leadership book club,
While I am not a believer in an attractional model of ministry, I am a believer in a compelling model of ministry. Every week people make decisions about whether or not they are going to come to the “gathering” and every week some come while others decide to do something else. Every week some serve our children during one of our gathering times and then they decide whether or not they are going to stay for the next gathering time, engage in worship and listen to the sermon live or get it later via podcast or CD, or dare I say, “not at all”. Behind every decision is a choice of one value over another.I can’t control the hearts of those who are making these decisions but what I have some measure of control over is the compelling nature of the gathering. If you believe, like I believe, that the gathering is an important part of disciple making then it is incumbent on us to make sure that the gathering is compelling.It seems to me that “compelling” is a result of being intentional in three areas – prayer, preparation, and presentation. The Spirit of God can do whatever he wants to do and whenever he wants to but clearly Scripture tells us that God loves to work in and through us. The Spirit can work spontaneously and he can work through intentional planning.So let me say it again, control what you can control and be intentional where you need to be. More often than not if you do that you will find Sunday morning compelling. Perhaps the following questions can help you in answering, “how compelling are our Sunday mornings?”PrayerHave we poured our hearts out in prayer to God this week asking him to be glorified and evident in the gathering?Have we asked God, for the sake of the gospel, to allow us to be just creative enough so that those listening and engaging in the gathering will be compelled to follow him and not us.Have we asked God for the Spirit to open the eyes of the spiritually blind?Have we cried out to God that his message would penetrate into the minds and hearts of those who will be listening? Have we asked that it would equip those who hear the Scriptures?Have we expressed to God our desire to be Christ centered in our gathering?PreparationHave we been ruminating over this gathering for some time, thinking about how to glorify God, honour Christ, and present God’s Word?Have we intentionally carved out the necessary time this week to prepare to do the absolute best that we can to lead people in Word and Worship?Have we identified a big clarifying God honouring idea for our gathering and does everyone leading understand what that is? Will everyone who attends the gathering understand what that is?Have we been sharing ideas with one another in preparation for this gathering?Do we have a sense of anticipating what God is about to do in our gathering?PresentationIs this time of gathering leading people to and lifting high Jesus Christ?If this message was preached to me would it compel me to examine my life, follow Christ and worship God?Is the liturgy and methodology of this gathering familiar and diverse enough to gain the attention of those in attendance?Just my “. of view”
This was one of those weeks. Usually that statement is followed with a pastors own version of “Alexander’s Terrible No Good Very Bad Day”. But it wasn’t one of those weeks it was one of those other kind of weeks.
This week I was reminded again of how much I love preaching God’s Word and watching the Holy Spirit do His work. I spoke twice last Sunday, like most Sundays, and then had the privilege of speaking at Heritage College and Seminary “Spiritual Emphasis Week”. I am still not sure what “spiritual emphasis” is supposed to mean but no one really clarified that with me so I spoke from the book of Judges Tuesday through Thursday. I loved doing this. It is my privilege to communicate the Word of God and this week I was reminded again of both the responsibility and the highlight that is for my life. Pastor we should never take this for granted.
This week I was reminded again of how much I love being with students. Being on campus for three days gave me the opportunity to engage in non-rushed and meaningful conversation. Listening to students share some of their dreams for the future was a thrill. I am so impressed with the number of students I talked to that are very serious about preparing to serve Jesus for the rest of their days. At least on one Christian campus I found students who want to engage in ministry and see God use them for His glory. Pastor it is important that you and I look for opportunities to see these students succeed. For the sake of the gospel we have to find a way.
This week I was struck with a sense of hope for the Church in Canada. The Spirit of God is at work in the lives of the next generation of Christian leaders. I am excited about that. Pastor we need to pray for schools like Heritage that are trying their best to help students reach their future potential.
Yes, it was one of those weeks.