We just wanted to send out a message to thank everyone for another wonderful year on our blog. The following lists show the ten most-read posts this year. Looking forward to another year of serving and writing!
Thank you, Lord! One of the requirements for our Ph.D. program is the development of a portfolio that includes a display of scholarship ability. This requirement could be satisfied in two ways. The first was a presentation at an academic peer-reviewed conference. I completed this option in April 2018, at the McDonough Leadership Conference. The presentation was on “Community Collaboration and Transformation.”
The second option to complete the academic requirement was to have an article published in a scholarly peer-reviewed journal. Usually meaning that scholars in a discipline read articles in a blind test where they do not know the author and progressively come to a consensus on what pieces to accept. To make sure I had more chances of meeting the academic requirement. I also submitted to a few journals. I am thankful to say that I had an article published. The Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) out of Regent University has published my article on “Steward Leadership and Paul.” Out of 45 total submissions, only 23 articles were accepted.
You can find the journal and my article by using the following link and scrolling through the abstracts.
A few years ago, I was introduced to a concept called legacy leadership. This model of leadership is one of many attempts to understand the Biblical perspective on leadership. What’s funny is there are many people who would try to appear spiritual and say something to the effect, “But the Bible says never uses the word leadership.” Which is true, but there are many other words that we use to explains concepts in the Bible that still have a strong and clear presence in Scripture (e.g., Trinity). There is no culture or individual who has not been touched by the principles contained in the theories of leadership. In this post, I want to introduce you to legacy leadership and then explore how to leave a legacy in your congregation.
Legacy leadership was introduced by researchers Whittington, Pitts, Kageler, and Goodwin (2005) as an exploration of Paul’s approach to leading. The theory is based on 1 Thessalonians 1:2-2:12.
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. 3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
The idea of legacy leadership is that we are perpetuating ourselves through others, but rather the content of our message. In Paul’s case, this was the method he used to spread the Gospel. First Thessalonians 1:4b-8 is key to understanding his approach. He would go into a place where the Gospel was not found and begin to build. After the Chuch was established in an area, he would ordain elders to lead. He would leave but would periodically check on the congregations. As in the case of the Thessalonians, he would find the church not only grew in itself but would spread the Gospel to other areas. Paul did not have to go to those areas to plant churches because the Gospel was already present. This was Paul’s legacy. He was to be a leader worthy of imitation, who would lead others, and in turn, they would lead others. Paul put it like this in 2 Timothy, 2:2
“And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
The researchers then put together the qualities of legacy leadership.
- Worthy of imitation.
- Boldness amid opposition.
- Pure motive.
- Influence without asserting authority.
- Affectionate and emotional.
- Vulnerable and transparent.
- Authentic and sincere.
- Active, not passive.
- Follower-centered, not self-centered.
- Changed lives: The real measure of leader effectiveness (Whittington, 2005, p. 754).
Legacy in the Church
So, how can we promote a legacy culture in congregations? Especially one that is not centered on an individual person but on the Gospel? I want to offer three examples from a pastor’s perspective.
A life worth living shared through testimonies.
First, as a pastor, I know and understand the importance of living a life worthy of imitation. Again, some people trying to act spiritual say that we don’t follow others. However, Paul, as we read, shared many times to follow Him. Why? Because he was following Christ and wanted us all to go to the same place He was going. We ought to act in a way at all times as an example to believers and unbelievers (1 Tim. 4:12-16).
Still, one of the best ways I see this achieved by everyone in the church is through testimonies. The testimony of believers shared through living life faithfully and through vocal testimony of God’s grace and goodness. I can remember many dear saints testimonies, and they make an impact on me daily. The same is true for others as what we celebrate proliferates.
Intentional discipleship of the next generation and new converts.
We really need to emphasize the importance of discipleship in our congregations. However, we shouldn’t put all our energy into one method. Most churches have a Sunday School program, and that’s great. Yet, more can be added. Connecting the church to formal Bible and ministry classes are essential as well.
Yet, that will all fail if there is no intentional thought given to modeling and being a daily example in front of the next generation of believers and new converts. It is important that we invite them into our daily lives, homes, and activities. So many people have a misconception about what a Christian does every day. The disciples basically lived with Jesus for three and a half years. They ate what He ate and did so much together. And, we can say that Jesus never did anything with wasted breath. Every moment with Jesus was an intentional building block of their discipleship.
Investment in the lives of those in our seats.
This final area is significant to me. Many times we bring others into our congregations to fill needs. This often happens in smaller churches because they may not have the talent. However, I’m not for stealing sheep. Instead, I think it is more important to invest in the people in your current congregation and equip them to serve.
I want to give an example of how this has happened in our congregation. When I first started pastoring, we wanted more musicians. We had a piano player, and I could play guitar, bass, and drums (but not at the same time, ha!). So, we could have asked for others to come and help, but we didn’t. Instead, I offered to give free lessons to anyone who wanted to learn the guitar. Three people in the congregation took up the offer. Within just a few months, they were learning and taking part during worship service. Eventually, this ability developed in the church spread to them learning the other instruments as well.
What can you take from this example? Let us say you will need a new piano player in a few years or as soon as possible. You could bring someone else in from another congregation. But, entertain two other possibilities that I think is better. One, if you have a piano player and want to ensure a legacy, have them teach another person in the congregation. Or, take someone that is willing to learn and pay for their lessons. I believe these last two approaches will create a longer lasting legacy and a true spirit of discipleship in your congregation.
What are some other ways you have seen a legacy worthy of imitation passed on to others?
Whittington, J. L., Pitts. T. M., Kageler, W. V., & Goodwin, V. L. (2005) Legacy leadership: the leadership wisdom of the Apostle Paul. The Leadership Quarterly. 16. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.07.006
In every group or organization, there are unwritten rules. Even in church organizations. I am reminded of this daily through observances and conversations. It is something that most know, but very few pay attention to unless they are directly affected by it. In this post, I want to point out a few categories that these unwritten and sometimes unspoken rules fall into. For the pastor of the small church which may not have much in the way of formal organization, leading through these unwritten rules is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
First up is the foundation that all the unwritten rules create. Culture is probably the most explicit way for people to understand and discuss the unwritten rules. Peter Drucker is attributed with the saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Many pastors and church leaders are often frustrated with a lack of progress when they implement their big plans. Basically, the unwritten rule of “How we do things around here” undermines any strategy. If your plan does not account for the culture of your church or group, it most likely will fail.
While unattentiveness to culture may frustrate a pastor’s plans for whatever, unwritten expectations are destructive. A church may or may not have a written list of expectations or duties for the pastor, but they all have expectations that are not articulated. These range from attendance at events, evangelistic efforts, pastoral care, preaching ministry and more. These rules become highly problematic as they tend to become unrealistic demands. When a person is then held accountable in the person’s mind or publicly, they are blindsided and left confused as to what happened.
How do you change the unwritten rules?
- You have to become aware of them.
- They need to be addressed humbly and candidly discussed.
- Solutions presented, accepted, and implemented.
- Accountability and reflection.
What unwritten and unspoken rules have you come across?
What is leadership? Some understand leadership is Influence – Every person is an influencer. Good leaders motivate others for the others right. Bad leaders manipulate others for the leaders good. Another way of understanding leadership is through the actions of a person during stressful situations. In either stream, local churches are in need of godly leadership. Sometimes pastors go into churches, and there are few to no leaders, and they need help to share the ministry with others fast. Selecting and further development of these leaders are essential where there is lack. This is a model that I have been implementing.
F.A.S.T Church Leadership
- This model is about identifying leaders in the congregation. The four areas are essential qualities of each leaders quality that help you see future growth.
- This model is about equipping people. It’s not enough to identify leaders. They need to grow, and you need to provide them with help for that growth.
- This model is about shared leadership. Each quality is more than a personal pursuit. Leaders work in tandem with other people, not alone. No one is a leader without anyone willing to follow.
- This model is about Christian leadership. FAST reminds us of the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting is about mental fitness, not physical (Mt. 17:21; Mk 9:29). Ultimately, the unnamed requirement is the person has an obvious relationship with the Lord. Don’t make the mistake of being desperate enough to just put warm bodies into positions of leadership. Especially if they have not repented of their sin and professed faith in Christ.
As implied by the previous section, leaders need to have a personal relationship with God. This means they are faithful to God (Pro. 3:5; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; Heb. 10:23) and committed to the Church (Acts 2:42, 20:28; Heb. 10:25, 13:17). It also implies they are available to answer the call to lead in the local church (Is. 6:8; Mk 1:17-18).
As stewards of the Gospel and church, leaders need to be held accountable. They are responsible for honesty (Pro. 11:3; 1 Jn 1:6, 3:18), responsibility (Rom. 12:6-8; Gal. 6:5; 1 Cor. 3:8), accountable to the church (Pro. 17:17; Gal. 6:1-2; James 5:16).
Servant leadership is a great model to follow for further development. However, in identifying your next leader, there should be some hints of servanthood already. They should be a servant first, leader second (Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17) They need charisma, but not by the typical definition of an outgoing personality. Instead, charisma in that they are other-centered (1 Cor. 10:24) Finally, they need to be content in knowing their identity is found in Christ (Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1)
The final quality is that this person has a holy discontent with their current state and want to be taught and developed further. They learn to listen (Pro. 1:5, 19:20, 25:12; James 1:19). Learn the learning process of action, reflecting, and changing, (Pro. 1:7, 9:9; 10:17). They pursue learning opportunities intentionally (James 5:12; 1 Pet. 2:2). Leaders are open to not only instruction but also correction (Pro. 18:13; John 8:32, 16:13; 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:16-17).
There are many ways to describe the culture of a church. But, what about the values of a congregation? An organization’s values are those underlying assumptions that guide the decision-making and actions taken. Many times values are put into competition with one another. As though one category is more desirable than another. Terms such as maintenance vs. mission or traditional vs. contemporary are used to note these distinctions.
In a pastoral leadership course I took in undergrad, we discussed this dichotomy and the group created two lists of values. I recently came across it. The list looked at the values of churches but focused on a healthier set of categories. The terms used were foundational and functional. If memory serves me correctly, there were ten students in the class and the professor. We had students from different denominations and pastoral experience. This is the list we made during a single class meeting.
The table itself brings back good memories of that class. However, it also reminds me of the need for good teachers who help students get past misconceptions and see things at a deeper level.
While there are indeed some issues on both sides of the table, reasonable thinking would see both sides having desirable values. We certainly need the timeless foundational values that center around doctrine and the Christian faith. At the same time, the functional or operational values note that while the message does not change, the method does. Our local churches would benefit from a healthy dose of excellence. If we continually pursue mediocrity or worse, our ability to lead people to Christ and disciple them is severely impacted.
Are there other foundational or functional values you would add?
The following list of apps is the “go to” helps for Bible study, communications and social media, and overall productivity. Some of these tools are a daily part of my ministry. Most of these apps come with options at different prices, and most have free levels. Which is great for small budgets. However, if there was one common theme about all of these apps that I absolutely love is they allow me to be mobile. Whether at my desk with a laptop or in a waiting room on my phone or tablet, I can enjoy not being tethered to just my office. Taking my Bible study with me wherever I am, along with all the other techier points of ministry, is a wonderful opportunity.
Blue letter bible has an app to accompanying its website. I primarily use this site for looking up verses and original language studies. However, they do have commentaries as well.
When I need to use the computer for a broader period of study, e-sword is the way to go. I have Logos, but it can be very slow at times. However, e-sword delivers everything needed for taking those deep dives into Scripture. There are apps for phones and tablets, along with a software program for computers.
Communications and Social Media
When it comes to communication, social media is essential, and Facebook is still king of the hill here. The feed is directly linked to our website, and what is updated on the page is automatically updated on the site. Facebook pages also make it simple to still manage our churches facebook account without being distracted by my own account and getting them confused. 🙂
Twitter is another social media platform that we use for the church and ministry. Primarily this is for engagement with a different demographic group, usually younger.
Instagram is quickly becoming the most engaging social media platform for our church. It’s fun and centers around pictures and short movie clips. It can also be linked directly to our churches website in a way to make an instant photo gallery.
With so many different social media accounts, it can become tedious to post the same thing, or even different things, to each account at a time. HootSuite and Buffer both do the same thing, scheduling out your posts so that you don’t have to sit in front of the screen all day. You can schedule way in advance and find even more metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your posts. I’ve used both and really can’t say there is much difference except interface. HootSuite is my preference, but I have nothing against using Buffer again.
Sometimes, using email is the way to go. For that I use MailChimp. With this website (and app) you can build your mailing list through sign-ups. Then you can either use a template or create your own email layout. When you send the email, you are provided with real-time metrics of engagement. Also, you add your personal email to the sender, which helps avoid junk mail.
There are also times when snail mail is most beneficial still. For mass mailers, Click2Mail is a great option. I upload my letter or flyer, the address list, and the printing and mailing are done for a small fee. Its great and the quality has been high. It saves my ink, paper, stamps, and time.
One Call Now is a mass calling line. Previous to finding this gem, our church had a prayer chain. It was a pass it on to the next person on the list. The horror stories of playing the telephone game and the message being lost in transition are real. However, we can record our message, text-to-voice, mass text, or even email to our entire congregation. We can also create thousands of sub-group combination. This tool alone has saved us thousands of hours.
I have used Zoom interface for both board meetings, conferences, and classes. It is amazing. Being able to see and hear every participant at the same time in a “facetime-like” technology is a great way to save time and miles. I am able to share my screen and for teaching and planning sessions is a great addition.
I use Google drive every day. Whether it’s creating a document, spreadsheet, or slideshow, every tool I need for ministry is here. This is the essential tool. In fact, if I wanted, I could do everything in Google Drive that we also have in Planning Center. It would be a little more work to get everything transferred over, but it really is this good. It does not have as much capability as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, but there is very little that I can’t do with Drive. Also, it is one of the ways that I have access to all my files wherever I am.
Planning Center is a great website and app that we use for Church Management. It is a record keeping hub. There are a few options you need to pay to use, but the basic people management (contact information) is free and secure. We utilize this with our online giving options at church and is highly recommended.
We put the Sunday morning sermons on Facebook Live from the Church. To do this, we are now using switcher studio instead of directly through facebook live. There is a free trial period and then becomes a monthly fee. However, I am able to use up to ten cameras from iPhones, iPads, and Apple Computers. The app allows seamless switching and overlays to provide a very professional touch. The app also includes interaction with those on the Facebook feed.
I am recommending two website hosting and builder options. I use both of these hosts because of different needs. Wix is excellent at building a professional website quickly and easily. They have very affordable pricing, state of the art software, and can be linked to Google Drive and Email to give you a complete online solution.
I use WordPress for my personal website. Mostly, because of the blogging capabilities that are associated with it. It is another excellent and affordable option for blogs or websites in general.
This final app is a lifesaver. With so many copyright issues, the easiest way to stay clear this is to create your own media. Wordswag is an excellent app that allows you to create captioned pictures. Whether it is inspirational or informational, WordSwag is a quick and easy tool to create professional looking media for your website and social media posts.
In every church, there are some primary ministries. The size of the congregation or the purpose of a new pastor to come in doesn’t matter when it comes to these essential activities. In a way, the following four types of ministry describe much of what groups of believers do in the world.
Ministry of the Word in Discipleship
As a foundation, the Word of God is the starting point for everything else. So much Scripture attests this point (for example Mt. 4:4; 28:18-20; John 21:15; Acts 6:4; Eph 4:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17). The great commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 focuses on our teaching the Jesus’ word to all nations. The Scriptures are to be used in evangelistic and discipleship efforts. Everything the church does is to be biblically-informed. Our worship is to be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the Scriptures are sufficient in fully equipping people to do the work of God.
Christian caregiving is not something that only the pastor does. The whole congregation should be involved in the care of souls. The pastor should take the lead here to model before the congregation and equip them to provide care for one another. Acts 6, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 each demonstrate that all believers have a place of service in God’s assembly of believers.
It was already stated that worship is to be done in spirit and truth (John 4:24). This is more than musical experiences in congregational services. Worship is both personal and congregational. In both settings, the character, position of the heart, and development of the believer in Jesus is essential to true worship. Worship is coming before God in thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100).
Sharing the Gospel
Evangelizing is another essential component of church ministry. The church is supposed to teach the Gospel, pray for sinners, help individuals develop a personal ministry of evangelism and incorporate them into the larger outreach ministries of the church. Sharing the Gospel as found in Matthew 28:18-20 notes that all the people in the world are the scope of our mission. We are to go global and go local with the Word of God.
If you are a new pastor, church leader, or a new believer, these four essential church ministries make up the foundation everything else we in the Church. Make sure they are Biblically-based and give honor to God and not man.
I recently gave a presentation on the impact individuals have on cross-organizational teamwork. The study was based on a group I work with that has members comprised of different community churches and other local organizations. The study was based on research from Roloff, Wolley, & Edmonson’s (2011) research on team learning (pp. 249-271). Three areas were addressed: learning curve, task mastery, and group processes. The step forward is that the original research focused on teams made up of individuals in a single organization. The study I conducted focused on cross-organizational teamwork.
I believe this is an excellent study for those in Church leadership to apply to their local church work. It is immediately applicable to those working together in a local church and also the work that is done in unity with other local churches, with denominational efforts, and other groups. What follows is a summary of each stream of team learning.
The first stream, learning curves, is currently focused on the speed of initial task mastery (Roloff et al., 2011, p. 254). However, the learning curve is impacted by the change in either the task or team membership (Roloff et al., 2011, p. 255). As the task is modified or a new function is given by the demands of the organization, the team may need to coordinate its members to new roles, seek new members, or training. When groups experience a high volume or member turnover, individuals are not able to move through the early learning curve together, diminishing efficiency.
In the second stream, task mastery is focused on “knowing who knows what” (Roloff et al., 2011, p. 257). In task mastery, the team can efficiently accomplish tasks because members are coordinated in a way to employ their strengths. However, this requires a high level of communication. Steiner (1998) noted the difficulty communication barriers and dilemmas cause to a learning organization (p. 6). It is necessary for an open and safe environment for dialogue in the team and across the organization (Schein, 2010, pp. 305-307).
The last stream in team learning is the group process.Communication, knowledge management, and interpersonal knowledge among the team members can aid or restrain team learning (Roloff et al., 2011, p. 258). Without the presence of psychological safety, team members will disengage from the group and impede total organizational learning (Roloff et al., 2011, pp. 259-260). The research seems to imply promoting psychological safety among teams and the entire organization, along with other team strengthen exercises will help encourage team learning.
Roloff, K. S., Woolley, A. W., & Edmonson, A. C. (2011). The contribution of teams to organizational learning. In M. Easterby-Smith & M. A. Lyles (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management (pp. 249-271). UK: John Wiley and Sons
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Steiner, L. (1998). Organizational dilemmas as barriers to learning. The Learning Organization, 5(4). doi:10.1108/09696479810228577
The following series of blog post will explore each verse of the beloved twenty-third Psalm. These posts are based on a set of sermons I preached through in the summer of 2017. I pray for your soul to find encouragement, comfort, and challenge through this psalm.
Why Psalm 23? Out of the 150 Psalms, which are short lyrical pieces for singing, Psalm 23 is well-beloved Psalm and is one of the most well known. This psalm is attributed to David. He wrote about the care and comfort God gives to his people. Psalm 23 has provided a source of inspiration to people throughout time and continues today.
Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
The Lord is my Shepherd – Yahweh Rohi
Shepherd language is all through Scripture. It seems as if the shepherd metaphor is one of the Lord’s favorite descriptions of Himself. Look at the sample of the Old and New Testament passages.
Isa. 40:11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
Jer. 31:10, “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.”
Ez. 34:12, “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
Ez. 34:23, “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”
John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
Heb. 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.”
1 Pet. 5:4, “And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
The truth David shares essential to notice is “the Lord is my shepherd.” The Lord is not distant and unmoved by our condition. David noted a personal relationship with the Lord and the remainder of the psalm details the benefits of this close proximity to the Shepherd of our souls. We are his sheep. We are ignorant and straightforward because of the limitations of our nature. Our nature is one that requires outside care and substance to sustain us. The Lord is my Shepherd, and He provides the care I need. All of us who are a part of the Lord’s flock can rejoice and be at rest because of our Shepherd.
I shall not want.
David does not mean we will receive all our desires. It does not mean we won’t face difficulties. The exclamation “I shall not want” means, I will not lack care from my Shepherd. I shall not want for salvation, acceptance, or hope. There is no other that can provide these blessings. We will not find our salvation insufficient on the day of judgment. God’s grace alone is sufficient for all my need in this present life (2 Cor. 12:9). Only through our relationship with Jesus will we find peace in this world and hope for the world to come. May we rest in this statement, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”