Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

Risk & Reward

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

As a guest speaker it’s always tough to choose a topic. This past weekend I felt God leading me to take a more of a risk than I would normally. I was speaking at Bethany Bible Church in Bellville, MI. This was my fourth time speaking there this summer. The church is in the middle of a big transition right now. They’re senior pastor recently resigned and they are now in the middle of a search for a new pastor.

The safe choice of a topic would have been to talk about prayer, or community, or a well-known beloved Bible passage. Originally that was my plan. My original list of topics included all of those. As I prayed over the list asking for wisdom and guidance none of those topics seemed to work.
I felt God guiding me to talk about leadership. I felt that I should give the church tools to help the search committee identify their next pastor, guidance for the church to pray, and a challenge to everyone there on how to be more effective leaders. I shared the Essential Characteristics of Effective Leadership.

So, why was that a risk? Well, it’s not likely that a talk on prayer or community is going to fall flat. Those are easy topics to preach. Everyone likes to say “amen” to a talk like that. Leadership, on the other hand, doesn’t preach as easy. Not everyone gets excited about leadership. Moreover, most people don’t find leadership lessons immediately applicable. It’s really easy for a talk like that to fall flat on a Sunday morning.

Yet, no risk no reward right? God blessed the message and the worship service in huge ways this weekend. The congregation responded incredibly well to the talk. I have several people come up to me and share how God used the talk to impact them. To top that off, one of the members of the search team told me that the team was meeting that night to discuss the position and review resumes. God’s timing is awesome! It’s a privilege to be a part of what God is doing.
Please pray for Bethany Bible Church as the continue they’re search for a new pastor.

Seeing Through New Eyes

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Yesterday morning I noticed a piece of twine tied to one of the trees in my neighborhood. At first I was confused. How did a piece of twine get tied to the tree like that? Then I remembered how the trees on that street looked when we first moved in. It was a new neighborhood. All of the trees that line the main thoroughfare had three pieces of twine tied to them and to stakes in the ground to help the young trees grow straight.

It’s been six years since we moved in. Those trees have grown over the past six years and no longer need the support of the twine. Trees grow slowly. They change slowly. As I saw those trees everyday, I didn’t notice how much the trees were changing over time.

The same is true in organizations. While some changes are fast and noticeable others are slow and hard to notice in the midst of a change. We often need a fresh look at what’s going on to understand how to lead in our organizations.

This is the value of consultants. Consultants take a snapshot of the organization and help the leadership see it with new eyes. The summer is coming and this often is the time when church leaders take time to pause, refresh themselves and plan for the next ministry season. This is the perfect time to consider bringing in a consultant to help plan the next phase of your church’s ministry. For more information about consulting and information on how one might help your church, contact Jericho Ministry Solutions. Or, you can email me directly at Bryon@JerichoMinistries.net.

A Church’s Biggest Stewardship Mistake

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Most churches view stewardship as an issue for individuals within the organization but don’t think about the implications for the organization. In other words, they teach the principles of stewardship to the congregation but don’t practice them as an organization. This is the fourth wall that keeps us from being the church that God intends. As church leaders, we need to remember that stewardship is just as relevant to how we handle our ministry budget as our family budget. Organizationally we need to remember that the church organization does not own anything anymore than individuals own anything. We are stewards of what God has given us. (This also means that we are stewards (shepherds of God’s people, but that’s another post for another time.) We need to develop a stewardship plan for our organization that sets the philosophy for how we develop our budgets. We then need to be transparent about how we are practicing stewardship as an organization so that we model it to the church. Then our church will learn to be effective stewards of what God has given us.

For more information about developing at Stewardship Plan or how to guide your church to become betters stewards of what God has given them contact Jericho Ministry Solutions.

The Importance of Community in Church

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

In John 13:35 Jesus said that people would know we were Christ-followers by our love for one another. The funny thing about that is; the only way people we see us love one another is if we actually well… love one another. This is something that can’t be done in a large weekend gathering. It can only be done in the context of real relationships. It requires that we get into each other’s lives and share our triumphs and our failures. Unfortunately, churches aren’t really known as places to form relationships and develop friendships. In fact, most people that I’ve met feel that they’re more likely to find good friends at the local bar than at church.

This is the third wall that keeps us from being the church that God intends. We need to knock down this wall be creating an atmosphere where true community, true love can thrive. We need to lead our churches to love one another. This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s more than launching a cool Small Group program that gets a lot of people to study the Bible together. It requires a strategy that will encourage people to break down their own walls of insecurity and doubt and be real with each other. It requires a plan, hard work and patience.

What are you doing to develop this kind of community in your church? For more help in creating this structure, contact Jericho Ministry Solutions.

The Second Wall That Keeps Us from Being the Church that God Intends

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

The second wall that keeps churches from being all that God intends is their Spiritual Development plan, or more often, their lack of one. I’ve been to a lot of churches that do a great job getting people to show up Sunday morning. But, they don’t know what to do with to do with them once they get there. Most of these churches say things like: “We do a great job on the first half of the Great Commission” or “We need to find a way to close the back door.”

The answer is they need a Spiritual Development Plan. A Spiritual Development Plan starts with a clear vision of Spiritual Development. In my experience this is the key piece that is missing in most churches. I’ve heard churches say that the goal of their Spiritual Development program is to make people more Christ-like or more loving. Statements like that preach well. They’re inspiring. But they don’t help the average Christ-follower. They’re too vague. A vision should describe what tomorrow should look like. There should be enough detail in the vision for people to know what next steps they should take. Yet, there should be room in the vision for people to paint their own part of the story as well. A Spiritual Development Vision should describe what people will look and act like when they are more Christ-like or more loving.

With the vision for Spiritual Development in place then it’s time to develop the Spiritual Development Plan. The plan will provide key action steps, milestones, and goals that will help individuals fulfill the vision for Spiritual Development. For more information on developing a Spiritual Development Vision and Plan contact Jericho Ministry Solutions.

What keeps you from being the church that God intends?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago the Jericho Ministry Solutions website launched. You can check it out at JerichoMinistries.net. The vision of Jericho Ministry Solutions is to knock down the walls that keep us from being the church that God intends. I know, it’s too wordy but I haven’t been able to think of a way to communicate it in fewer words. Anyway, in thirteen years serving in churches and para-church organizations both as staff and as a volunteer, I have observed four walls that keep us from being the church that God intends (1) Strategic Planning, (2) Spiritual Development, (3) Small Groups, and (4) Stewardship. The next four posts on this blog will address each of those walls and why it’s so important that church leaders address them.

The first wall that keeps us from being the church that God intends is Strategic Planning. This is because most of us fail to do it. There are two things that tend to keep church leaders from developing strategic plans. One, they just don’t have the time. Two, they never learned how to do it.

A strategic plan is a plan than develops the strategy for how your church is going to fulfill its vision. Our mission is clear, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a NET). Church leaders need to discern the vision that God has for how their local church will fulfill that vision. The vision is a picture of what the church will look like when it’s successfully fulfilling the vision. The strategic plan is the step-by-step instructions with key milestones of how you will fulfill that vision. For more information about developing a strategic plan contact Jericho Ministry Solutions.

To Hire or Not To Hire (Part 3)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In this series we’ve been discussing when to hire and when to use volunteers to fulfill roles in the church.  I’ve argued the decision should be strategic not pragmatic.  I’ve proposed that the guiding principle should be that staff positions equip the church for the ministry and the church does the ministry.  All roles should, therefore, default to volunteers rather than staff.   Then I said there are two exceptions to this.  In my last post I said that volunteers should not be expected to fulfill role that require an unreasonable amount on training or experience.

The second question that needs to be asked when making these decisions is, “Are the expectations of this position unreasonable to expect from a volunteer?”  Does this role require the individual to do things or spend time that would be unreasonable for a volunteer?  My best example of this is a role I filled when I helped launch a satellite campus for NorthRidge Church in MI.  One of the tasks was loading a trailer at the original campus on Friday afternoons and driving it to the satellite location Sunday mornings before the rest of the ministry teams arrived.  This required about an hour of work on Friday afternoons hitching and loading the trailer.  Sunday mornings I had to arrive at the original campus at 5a and drive the trailer to the satellite location and have it in place by 5:30a and drive the trailer back to the original campus Sunday afternoons.  There were two reasons that I felt this should be a staff responsibility.  (1) It was really early in the morning.  (2) The vision of the satellite was to create opportunities in that community for people to serve.  The volunteers that were a part of that ministry all lived in that community.  For a volunteer to pick the trailer up they would have had to drive 20 – 30 minutes from their house to pick up the trailer and then drive it to the satellite location which was actually closer to their home.  I believe those expectations were unreasonable to expect from a volunteer.

What do you think?  What tasks are unreasonable to expect a volunteer to do?

The Church Can Get Another Pastor

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

A while back @Acts29 tweeted a quote from Pastor Mark Driscoll, “The church can get another pastor, but your wife only has one husband.” That seems like such a simple and obvious statement. Yet, I believe it is incredibly profound.

I have served in church ministry for nine years. The thing that I have seen trip up more pastors than anything else is not understanding this simple truth. The church can get another pastor, but your wife only one husband.

Often what happens for pastors is they take their wives for granted. She loves me. She supports me. She’ll be there when I get back. But, the church needs me now.
Guess what pastor, the church needs you but your wife needs you more. Moreover, your duty to be a husband supersedes your duty to be a pastor. If you fail as a husband you are disqualified from being a pastor. Don’t believe me? Read the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). Look at the qualifications for elders. Tell me how you can fulfill God’s call on your life to lead his church yet fail at God’s call to lead the family he’s given you. Moreover, how can you pastor a church full of people who’s marriages are struggling when you don’t make yours a priority?

The church can get another pastor, but your wife only has one husband.

So pastors let’s help each out. What do you do to prioritize your wife over the church?

hope and freedom

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Adrian Warnock is asking people to write about why they love the church. He’s also giving away free copies of Vintage Church, and I’m a sucker for free stuff. You can read Adrian’s blog here.

Joking about free stuff aside, I love the fact that people are being encouraged to write about why they love the Church. Particularly among younger Christians it’s very popular to not like the Church. Yet, how can you love Jesus and not love His Bride? Granted, imperfect humans make up the Church so it’s much harder to see the radiance in her that Christ sees. But it’s still there. And Jesus is madly in love with His Bride.

There are two facets of the Church’s radiance that I see and am grateful for. The first is hope. It’s almost cliche to comment on how messed up the world is. Just yesterday the front page of the Detroit News had a picture of a guy that had frozen to death, and the man that found the body was afraid to report it because he didn’t want to get introuble for trespassing. Everytime it seems like it can’t get worse something else like that happens. Yet, the Church speaks hope into this miserable experience. The Church proclaims that this misery is not permanent. The Church proclaims the Gospel of Jesus that promises not only redemption of individuals but redemption of the world. Moreover, the Church lives out the hope of the Gospel by living a redeemed life and modeling it to the world.

The second facet of the Church’s radiance is freedom. The reason that this misery exists is because humanity is held captive by sin. The evidence of this is everywhere. Although American culture tries to deny the very existence of sin stories like the one in the Detroit News cannot be explained away so easily. Yet, the Church proclaims the Gospel of Christ that frees people from the power of sin. The Church models this freedom and in so doing draws others to the freedom that is only foind in Christ.

Jesus’ Bride is radiantly adorned in the hope in freedom that is found in Christ. That is why I love the her.

Incarnational Technology

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Lately technology has become a big topic of discussion in the church world. The discussion has really been around forever. It got pretty heated in the “worship wars” of the 80s. Then the question was the use of electric instruments, words projected on screens, and image magnification. The conversation has now moved to the use streaming media, and mass collaborative tools.

Recently I read a blog post that gave a fair critique of technology in the church. You can read it here. The author raises some very good points regarding the use of technology. He’s not opposed to it but feels that technology is overused in evangelical seeker-sensitive churches.

I’d like to take a moment to respond to his point. The critique stems from a presupposition that the goal is to be cool. He uses the word relevant, but in the context in which it is used, cool definitely fits better. In truth, a lot of churches use relevant when they mean cool. When the goal is to be cool, then the technology is definately being misused. If the goal is to be relevant, and by relevant I mean communicating in a way that connects with the audience in the best possible manner, then technology is certainly incarnational.

Often the incarnational is misdefined as living among people. Although Jesus certainly did live among people, so did all of the first century Rabbis and they were not incarnational ministers. The incarnation was God communicating to his audience in the best possible manner. Look at how John describes it in the prologue to his Gospel. The incarnation was God being relevant. Greg Koester makes this point well in The Word of Life: A Theology of John’s Gospel.

The best medium of communication in the first century was the spoken word. Throughout the history of civilization the most effective medium for communication has developed as society developed. Before the Guttenberg Press the most effective communication in Medieval Europe was stained glass windows and passion plays. Today American society communicates through technology television, the internet, texting, etc.

If the goal is to be the coolest church in town then it is not an incarnational church. It’s more like Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. If the goal is to communicate the truth of God in the most relevant vehicle possible, then technology must be used. With that said, technology should be leading people into community which, I believe, must ultimately lead to human interaction. But, that is not the definition of the incarnation, and that is a topic for another post.