Tuesday, May 31, 2011

5 Reasons I Didn't Build A Leadership Team Before Planting A Church

I know it's common for people planting a church to build a team beforehand. This makes a ton of sense, for a lot of reasons.  I have plenty of friends that have walked this path and are thankful they did so.

However, I didn't follow this strategy.  There were some people that ended up moving with me and I am SO THANKFUL for all of their service to the Lord.  They came committed, willing to do anything at any time it was needed and there is no way our church would be where we are today without their continued service!!!  But, none of them came having a leadership position.  This had nothing to do with them as individuals, but it was intentional on my part.

Here are 5 reasons I chose not to "build a leadership team" before coming:

1.  Longevity Reason. Every planter I know that has moved to a new city with a group of people have had some of that group leave and go back "home."  This happens for a variety of reasons, so I wanted to see who would stick for the long haul, first.

2.  Indigenous Reason. I moved a thousand miles away from an upper-middle class Republican community to Portland, Oregon. Portland is obviously still the United States, but there is no doubt this is also a different culture from Simi Valley, CA.  Very different, in fact.  I guess you could say I didn't want to plant a Simi Valley church in Portland.  For us to be healthy we needed people from the area to come alongside in leadership and there needed to be room for that.

3. Trust Reason.   I felt I needed to trust God to bring along leaders over time and, at least for me, building a team ahead of time would've just been me striving for a sense of comfort.

4. Structure Reason.  Putting people in leadership meant we would have a structure in place prior to moving.  This would've caused me to try and force a culture into our structure - without even knowing the culture here.  Instead, we wanted to develop culture over time and then structure around it and in a way that supported that culture.  I didn't plant a church in my head and then move here.  I moved here to plant a church in a community. This approach required me to develop leadership structure as we went along.

5. Relational Reason.  If I had approached people to ask them if they would come with me, there was far too much room for awkward expectations that could damage relationships.  The reality is if I asked someone to come and they agreed, picking up everything and moving, they would have expectations to be involved in just about everything.  This could be a wonderful thing and I certainly wouldn't blame them if they had this expectation, but it could have also been relationally disastrous.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Powerful And Disturbing Illustration

Yesterday I showed this video in the beginning of my message.  Random, yes.  Disturbing, yes.  Good illustration, I believe so.  I prefaced this clip prior to showing it, letting people know that they might wonder why I'm showing it or even if it's real.  It is real and I did have some points.  Watch the video and then check out my brief application points below.

My main point was, "This is unfortunately exactly what Christians do."  I brought out the following application points:

  1. The man lives two lives - on one side a mature adult, on the other an infant.  Often times when Christians get around mature Christians they will talk with maturity and act like they are living mature lives.  But once they are by themselves they continue living, thinking, behaving like an infant - refusing to grow and mature holistically.
  2. The nurse caring for him is enabling him to continue living in this way.  This man wants and in ways needs the enabling person in his life so he can justify it.  Christians often look to spiritual leaders to do the same.  They are looking for a spiritual leader that will enable them to continue living as an infant in their faith, never having to step up and take ownership as a maturing believer themselves, and often justify this by saying their leader should be gracious and loving.
  3. The man thought his behavior was odd until he noticed other people doing it.  We do this too.  We inherently know something is not right, but then we notice other people that are living in a similar manner which then causes us to justify our behavior/thinking.  People tend to compare themselves with others that are not as far along as they are versus with those further along the path of maturity.
The thrust of the passage I was teaching was contrasting between foolish/infant-like living with mature/wise living.  This was a bit of a shocking illustration for most and one that caused people to have images they could've probably done without, but everyone did get the point.

Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Keys To Cultivating Inter-generational Relationships

This past week I taught a couple seminars at the Orange Conference.  I love this conference.  I've had the chance to teach there the past few years.  I love how people from senior pastors to children's ministry volunteers are all coming together to prayerfully seek a unified, cohesive approach to ministry.

I've written about these in books, but in my Friday seminar I discussed 5 values churches need to embrace, promote and protect in order to cultivate inter-generational relationships.  We can get people from different generations to sit in the same room, but this doesn't mean they are "connecting."  So, I discussed the following values and key points necessary if we are truly going to help people from different generations connect with one another in a local church context:
  1. Value of Difference.  We must help everyone embrace their unique differences, but also value the differences of others (personality, giftedness, etc) to the point where they intentionally pursue people that are different.  We must show this value in words and structures.  My key point for this was: Start with structuring to promote diversity and affinity will naturally happen.  Start with structuring around affinity and you will lose a value of diversity.
  2. Value of Responsibility.  We must help older believers understand their responsibility to invest in younger people.  We cannot consider ourselves successful in ministry if we don't focus on this.  My key point for this was: Faithfulness in ministry must include holding people to the standards of scripture.
  3. Value of Family.  We cannot alienate people by language.  When we speak of "family" we ought to focus on our theological family rather than nuclear structures so that we do not alienate singles, college age people, or children who unwillingly find themselves in a broken home.  My key point for this was: Healthy nuclear families are not an end, they are a means to an end.
  4. Value of Others.  We must help people embrace the call of the gospel to focus on others, first.  If people think their faith is about them they will then think the church exists for them and thus will not interact inter-generationally unless they feel like it benefits them.  My key point for this was: A gospel-centered person seeks to give community to others, not seek it for themselves.
  5. Value of Quality.  We must begin finding ways to measure quality of relationships.  We typically only measure quantitative elements in ministry.  Churches that are helping cultivate inter-generational relationships are finding ways to measure quality.  My key point for this was: Measuring quantity is not necessarily a sign of success for spiritual leaders.