Friday, January 31, 2014

You'll Never Bring Lasting Change To Your Church If You Skip These Two Steps

John Holm more from this author »

Date Published:

Anyone can introduce new ideas. Making them last is something else entirely.
Great leaders stay connected to a constantly changing world. Organizations most often fail when they do not keep pace with the changing world around them.
Great leaders know how to assess the world and the organization, and bring the needed strategic changes to maintain and grow impact. So what we often look for in great leaders are those who can be catalysts for change. We loathe the leader who simply attempts to maintain the status quo. We want visionary leaders who can set the stage for change.
That is all good, but ... great leaders not only understand what needs to happen to stimulate progress, they also understand what doesn’t change. As a church consultant, I come into congregations and partner with leaders for the purpose of identifying what change is needed and how to implement and navigate the change processes.
I look at the demographic and ethnographic trends in the community surrounding the church—what is changing in the culture outside of the church? I assess the strengths and other key issues of the church, and then seek to make the connections of what needs to change. However, before we do any of the work of strategic change, we spend just as much time on the foundational things that must not change.
I am invited into a church when they have the insight and the courage to seek change to improve their missional impact. But when I arrive, there are invariably leaders and members who are anxious about the process. They are nervous because change means loss. What will change? Will it affect me? Will they change what I like about the church?
One reason to begin with identifying and articulating what doesn’t change is to assure everyone that indeed there are many things that will not change. By beginning any change process with what doesn’t change, we relieve the tension and anxieties at the front end, or at least as much of it as we can.
By beginning with what doesn’t change, we also lay the necessary foundation for aligning the change to the foundational identity and purpose of the church. Without preserving why a particular congregation exists, strategic change will not be aligned to anything, and what ends up changing is based on the loudest voices in the church.
So great leaders have two very important roles:
1.  Preserve and protect
  • Values: What makes us unique?
  • Beliefs: What are the non-negotiables of our theology?
  • Mission: What do we do, and what do we not do?
2. Stimulate progress
  • Strategy: Where do we focus?
  • Vision: Where are we going, and how will we know when we’ve arrived?
  • Initiatives: What action will we take?
By beginning a change process with what doesn’t change, a leader will lower anxiety and align the change to the cornerstone of identity and purpose.

John Holm
After a career as a pastor, John is now a consultant with TAG Consulting. He specializes in coaching individuals and teams in the process of transformational leadership.


Every Leader Needs a God-sized Ambition

Road Ahead
Many leaders never achieve the level of influence they could potentially have because they drift through life on autopilot, maintaining the status quo, without a big ambition. They have no master plan, no big purpose, no dreams pulling them along. But if you’re going to be a great leader, you need to dream great dreams.
When you stop dreaming, you start dying. If you have no goals, you have no growth. God put it in your mind the ability to think great thoughts and dream great dreams and to have great visions. When you’re stretching and growing and developing, you’re a healthy human being. We grow by being stretched. We grow by facing new challenges. In fact, I would say that if you’re not facing any challenges right now, you need to go find one quick.
There are three common misconceptions that keep people from having a great ambition in life, and these are especially prevalent among Pastors and Christian leaders.

We confuse humility and fear

God wants you to be humble, but He does not want you to be fearful. And fear will prevent you from accomplishing meaningful things. Every leaders is unique, with an individual make-up of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, a unique personality, and unique experiences. And God’s desire for how a leader will influence the world around them is closely tied to that uniqueness. But however God has uniquely shaped you, you need to desire all the influence He will grant you in your leadership so that you can make as large an impact as possible for the Kingdom’s sake.
Humility is not assuming that I can’t be a great leader and have a meaningful impact. That’s fear. And fear will strip us of our ability to do great, world-changing things. Humility is rightly understanding my identity as I am defined by my Creator and my relationship to Jesus. While fear holds us back, genuine humility propels us forward because we believe that we serve a really BIG God!

We confuse contentment with laziness

In Philippians 4:12 Paul says, “I have learned to be content in every situation.” But that does not mean I don’t have any ambition, that I never set any goals. Many leaders believe that because of this verse they should never have any goals for their church, but should be content with wherever it is. Paul was not saying, “I don’t have any desires about tomorrow. I don’t hope for the future. I don’t have any ambitions.”
As a pastor, you need to learn to be happy while your church is at its current stage of growth. There’s a misconception that says, “Once my church has 300 members (or 500, 2,000, or some other number) then I’ll be happy.” No, you won’t. If can’t find joy in the place where God has you right now, you won’t be happy as it continues to grow because you’ll always fall into the trap of “when and then” thinking – “When I get such and such, then I’ll be happy.”
On the other hand, if everybody used contentment as an excuse for laziness, who would work intentionally to build churches that reach people? Who would care about world hunger? Who would fight for justice and equality? We cannot confuse contentment and laziness.

We confuse little thinking with spirituality

Some people use God as an excuse, and Satan is an expert at getting us to think small. There’s the old myth that quality is the opposite of quantity. Actually, they’re both important. In a ministry, you want to reach as many people for Christ as possible and you want them to grow as deeply as possible.
Don’t confuse little thinking with spirituality. I encourage you in your prayer life to start saying, “God, enlarge my impact.” We who serve a great God should have great expectations of what God can and wants to do in, around, and through a surrendered leader.
Go even deeper into this with today’s devotional via The Daily Hope: Dream Big!
photo by Matt Gruber

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Worship WARS: The Problems and How to Fix Them

Worship WARS: The Problems and How to Fix Them
Navigating the worship style of your church is a sensitive and emotional issue.
Before we even get started, please know this isn’t a slam against any style of music in the church.
In fact, I admire all churches that are innovating to become more effective in their mission.
But here’s the challenge.
Many leaders have almost spilled blood getting their church to change in the area of music (or making sure their church doesn’t change).

And yet, despite the battles fought over music, many churches are actually not much further ahead in reaching people because of it.

Why is that?

Here are five problems I see church leaders struggle with when navigating the sensitive and emotional issue of worship style in church:

1. You become so focused on pleasing the people you have that you lose sight of the people you’re trying to reach.

Before you start pointing fingers, realize this nails almost everybody.

Whatever your music style, many church leaders are overly worried about how ‘their people’ will handle the change. And when this becomes an overriding fear, the mission shifts away from reaching new people to keeping the people you have happy.

Most leaders are concerned at some level with pleasing their members. But that pleasing often comes from a deep seated fear. Fear of losing people. Fear of giving drying up. Fear of becoming unpopular.

As a result, leaders:
Abandon change to keep people happy.
Compromise vision to try to satisfy the discontent.
Stop innovating to try to placate people.
These attempts at making people happy virtually never work (I wrote about the problems people-pleasing leaders face here).

How do you address this?

Focus on who you’re trying to reach AND cast vision about why reaching them requires the change you’re trying to lead. If you focus on why you’re making the change (to reach people) far more people will accept what you’re trying to do (changing the style of worship). If you want more on this subject, I’ve written more on leading change here.

Next Page »

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We all know the old way of “keeping score” isn’t working. Here’s a new—and better—way your church can win.

3 Movement-Making Shifts to Help Your Church Win

Growing up in Chicago, I remember a couple of scoreboards. There was a scoreboard at the old Comiskey Park where my White Sox played when I was a kid—I loved it! Every time someone hit a home run, the scoreboard would explode with fireworks.
Another scoreboard I remember is the one on the sanctuary wall of the little rural church my Grandpa and Grandma attended in Farber, Mo. That scoreboard, like all the other scoreboards, was there to tell us if the home team was winning. Winning, according to that church scoreboard, came down to a couple of key measurements: attendance this week versus last week, and offering this Sunday versus last Sunday. As long as both were increasing, then the church was winning.
Here’s my observation: Most churches are still using a scoreboard similar to the one used in my grandparents’ church. Now, I doubt your church is still using the wooden “register of offering and attendance,” but maybe it lives on a program passed out on the weekends, or is plotted out on an Excel spreadsheet, or is accessible on the church website. What most churches are measuring is still the same: how many nickels and how many noses—offering and attendance. In Comiskey Park fashion, we need to explode the old scoreboard! Why?

Exploding the Old Scoreboard

There are at least two problems with the current scoreboard:
1. It is entirely possible for a church’s attendance to be growing, while the kingdom of God is shrinking! Right now, there are more people attending church on any given weekend in the United States than ever before! We could conclude that U.S. church attendance is growing and therefore we must be winning, right? Wrong! While there are more people attending church than ever before, a smaller percentage of the total population in every state in the country is attending church than ever before!  If we are content with that, we will never accomplish the mission of Jesus.
2. It is entirely possible for a church’s attendance to be growing, but the impact of the church is shrinking. The second problem is that, even if church attendance numbers were increasing faster than our country is growing, that stat completely ignores other vital statistics. I believe God is interested in a neighborhood’s crime rate, the percentage of people living below poverty level, the high school graduation rate, home ownership and more! Church attendance says nothing about the social metrics of our communities. And church attendance says nothing qualitative about the lives of the people in our churches. An attendance graph that is up and to the right does not guarantee that people are faithful in following Jesus and displaying the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

A New Kind of Scoreboard

My friend and futurist Reggie McNeal describes a new scoreboard and three shifts that are taking place in forward-thinking churches.
1. From an internal to an external focus, McNeal says:
“First, we must move from an internal to an external focus. The church does not exist for itself. When it thinks it does, we’ve created a church-centric world. Our perception of reality is skewed. By external focus of ministry, we radically reorient to understand that we exist primarily to do ministry beyond ourselves.”
One of our newer sites at COMMUNITY is on the far north side of Chicago in the diverse neighborhood of Edgewater. This new location understands what it means to be externally focused. For more than a year before ever having a celebration service, Rich and Dori Gorman and their team volunteered every week in the local elementary school and at the alderman’s office.
When we had the first celebration service at Swift Elementary School, the place was not only packed with people who were part of COMMUNITY, but also people who were part of several other not-for-profits that we honored. This new site of COMMUNITY was both “in” and “for” the Edgewater community from the very beginning.
There are now a number of very creative metrics being used by churches that have made the shift from an internal to an external focus. They are measuring the number of hours that volunteers from their church are investing in the community. Other churches have placed a priority on measuring the number of partnerships they have with local not-for-profits. The first shift we have to make is from internal to external.
2. From program development to people development, (Reggie) McNeal continues to make his case by saying:
“We need to move from a program-driven agenda to a people-development agenda. Over time, the North American church has largely become a collection of programs run by staff or lay leaders. While we will certainly continue to have programs, I believe a new, people-development agenda will base its sense of accomplishment on how well its people are doing, not its programs. If you start with people, the programs then serve the people, not the other way around.”
I’m convicted that the best kind of people development happens through apprenticeship—a life-on-life relationship where one person invests in another. At COMMUNITY, we have used the “5-steps” for developing people and leaders with tremendous success. This is simple, reproducible and can be used with any leader at any level. Here are the steps:
1. I do. You watch. We talk.
2. I do. You help. We talk.
3. You do. I help. We talk.
4. You do. I watch. We talk.
5. You do. Someone else watches.
Because of our commitment to people development and leadership development, we keep track of and report every month how many apprenticeships are taking place and what percentage of our leaders have apprentices.
3. From church-based to kingdom-based leadership, McNeal explains the third shift by saying:
“It is really a leadership response to the other two. It will require that leaders move from a maintenance or institutional model of leadership to a ‘movement model’ of leadership. Leading a movement is very different from leading an organization. Christianity was largely a street movement in its early days, when it turned the world on its head. Once we institutionalized it and put it into the hands of the clergy to run, then we lost the virility of that movement. It became all about institutional management. We have to return to the kind of leadership that’s required in leading a street movement, if we’re going to recapture that energy.”
In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave His team of apprentices a final challenge by saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus was describing a movement that would start right there with this small band of brothers and sisters and would move from Jerusalem across Judea into Samaria and, ultimately, around the globe of this planet.
Jesus was casting a vision for a movement that would accomplish His mission. Church-based leaders only see the four walls and the programs of the building from which they lead. Kingdom-based leaders see the four directions of north, south, east and west and look for people whom they can invest themselves in to accelerate the movement of Jesus to the far-reaching parts of the world.
At COMMUNITY, we have exploded the old scoreboard of counting only nickels and noses and are now keeping track of what we call the “family tree.” Annually, each campus is asked to account for the attendance of not just their campus, but of all the campuses and churches they have helped plant and reproduce. A great example comes from our Montgomery Campus.
This campus has a 1960s church building that was given to us and seats almost 200 people. Every weekend, they have one Saturday night service and two Sunday services and average about 450 in attendance. But, if you look at their “family tree” metric, it averages an outreach of over 1,200 weekly because they have launched two local campuses, as well as a church they planted in Boston.
The motivation to destroy and explode the old scoreboard is all about accomplishing the mission of Jesus. And to accomplish the mission of Jesus (not just where you live, but globally, like Jesus describes in Acts 1:8), there must be movement!

Lindy Lowry is communications director and editor for Exponential. Learn more »

How to Lead When You're Not in Charge

For all of the books (thousands) written on leadership, individuals (millions) who have participated in leadership seminars and dollars (billions) invested in leadership development, too many leadership experts still fail to distinguish between the practice of leadership and the exercise of bureaucratic power.
In order to engage in a conversation about leadership, you have to assume you have no power — that you aren’t “in charge” of anything and that you can’t sanction those who are unwilling to do your bidding. If, given this starting point, you can mobilize others and accomplish amazing things, then you’re a leader. If you can’t, well then, you’re a bureaucrat.
To gain a true leadership advantage, organizations must be filled with individuals who understand how to maximize their own ratio of “accomplishment over authority.” They must believe it’s possible to do something big with a little dab of power. Think, for example, of Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, the world’s largest compendium of knowledge. None of the thousands of individuals who’ve contributed to Wikipedia report to Wales, and yet, as a “social architect,” he built a platform that energized and organized an extraordinary amount of human effort.
What, then, are the attributes of individuals who can inspire others and multiply their impact?
They are seers — individuals who are living in the future, who possess a compelling vision of “what could be.” As human beings, we’re constantly looking forward, and we love to sign on with individuals who are already working on “the next big thing.”
They are contrarians — free of the shackles of conventional wisdom and eager to help others stage a jailbreak. It’s exciting to be around these free-spirited thinkers who liberate us from the status quo and open our minds to new possibilities.
They are architects — adept at building systems that elicit contribution and facilitate collaboration. They leverage social technologies in ways that amplify dissident voices, coalesce communities of passion and unleash the forces of change.
They are mentors — rather than hoarding power, they give it away. Like Mary Parker Follett, the early 20th-century management pioneer, they believe the primary job of a leader is to create more leaders. To this end, they coach, tutor, challenge and encourage.
They are connectors — with a gift for spotting the “combinational chemistry” between ideas and individuals. They help others achieve their dreams by connecting them with sponsors, like-minded peers, and complementary resources.
They are bushwhackers — they clear the trail for new ideas and initiatives by chopping away at the undergrowth of bureaucracy. They’re more committed to doing the right thing than to doing things right.
They are guardians — vigilant defenders of core values and enemies of expediency. Their unflinching commitment to a higher purpose inspires others and encourages them to stand tall for their beliefs.
They are citizens — true activists, their courage to challenge the status quo comes from their abiding commitment to doing as much good as possible for as many as possible. They are other-centered, not self-centered.
Critically, all these roles are rooted in the most potent and admirable human qualities — passion, curiosity, compassion, daring, generosity, accountability and grit. These are the qualities that attract allies and amplify accomplishments. These are the DNA strands of 21st-century leadership. Only by strengthening them can we fully unleash the latent leadership talents that reside in every organization.
That’s why we have launched the Leaders Everywhere Challenge in partnership with HBR and McKinsey & Company. Tell us what your organization is doing to encourage leadership everywhere. How is it working to escape the limits of top-down power structures? What is it doing to equip and energize individuals to exercise their leadership gifts, wherever they are in the organization? How is it nurturing the sort of leaders whom others will want to follow in a post-bureaucratic world? Learn more here.

Gary Hamel is Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School and Director of the Management Lab. He is also the Innovation Architect at the Management Innovation eXchange (MiX), where he oversees the site's strategic direction. Polly LaBarre is editorial director of the MiX.

From the Harvard Business Review ( via Carey Nieuwhof

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a new blog at LifeWay called Pastors Today. It is written bypastors for pastors, and addresses many of the challenges pastors face in ministry.

My first article was posted yesterday: 5 Warning Signs Your Relationship with God Is Strictly Professional:

“Ministry is more than a job. It’s not less than a job, of course. It is what we do to make money to provide for ourselves and our families. That’s what a job is.

But pastoral ministry is much more than a job because it can never be separated from the pastor’s personal life. Whatever the opposite of oil and water is, that is the metaphor for the pastor’s personal and professional life.

Because of this vital connection between our life and our ministry, Satan schemes to nudge pastors toward a strictly professional relationship with God. By “strictly professional” I mean the kind of relationship that is exists simply to get a job done, but exhibits little warmth, care, or love away from the task. Think Kobe and Shaq circa 2004.

If our adversary can get our relationship with Jesus on strictly professional terms, he will subtly turn us down a path toward destruction. Since the link between our life, our ministry, and our God is inextricable, it is impossible to serve your church in “on the job” mode for very long. Our ministry will unravel. That’s because our spiritual life already has.

Does your relationship with God serve merely a ministerial function? Are you increasingly disconnected from God in terms of a personal, vibrant relationship?

Here are five signs that your relationship with God is strictly professional.”

Read the rest here.

(Image credit)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

John Piper's Eight Guidelines for Tough Leadership Decisions

John Piper more from this author »

Desiring God

Date Published:
The truth is not enough: we need wisdom, prayer and excellence.
I assume in the following that the “Leadership” (board, eldership, pastoral staff, etc.) are of one mind in a shared vision. At Bethlehem Baptist Church, Desiring God, Bethlehem Urban Initiatives, and The Bethlehem Institute, this vision is “We exist to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
With that assumption, the following guidelines are intended to guide a pastor or elder or director in writing recommendations that will help the Leadership (and, if appropriate, the congregation) understand, approve and act on significant suggested courses of action. I don’t mean that all these guidelines must be followed for every decision the Leadership must make. They apply to more major proposals—the kind that will be costly or will affect many people in important ways or may seem to the Leadership different from an assumed path. In these cases, thorough, careful, Biblical persuasion is needed. The assumption behind these guidelines is that at every point truth is paramount.

1. Pray Without Ceasing.

That is, bathe every part of the process of decision making in prayer. This will be largely invisible in the early stages of dreaming and conceiving if the proposal is coming from one person.

2. Meditate On The Word Of God Day And Night.

The person or group bringing the proposal should be in the Word, ponder all aspects of the proposal from the standpoint of God’s Word, and saturate all thinking and communicating about the proposal with parts of the Word that show the wisdom of the proposal.

3. Gather True Information Related To The Proposal.

Ideas for the future can be mistaken and unwise for several reasons. One of them is lack of relevant information: cost, people to be involved, skills needed, impact on other priorities, possible perceptions and reactions, possible outcomes in-sync with or out-of-sync with the vision.
Gathering this information involves research and imagination. One must put oneself forward into dozens of situations and imagine what the proposed reality will be like in order to have some idea of its implications. These implications are part of the information that must eventually be shared with the Leadership. The more of such information is brought to the table in advance, the more confident the Leadership will be that the proposal is workable and wise.

4. Think Through As Many Implications Of The Proposal As Possible.

This step overlaps with the previous one and adds “thinking” to “gathering.” Thinking requires time and energy and imagination and raw materials of information. It is hard work. It is solitary work. It requires writing, since the connectedness of thoughts are lost if they are not written down. And it requires rewriting, since the first set of connections that one sees must usually be adjusted as other thoughts come to mind. Thinking is analytical, imaginary and constructive.
One must analyze how things will work, how people will think, what costs will be, what skill will be needed, how all these will affect what already exists, and how all of these relate to each other.
All along this process, imagination is required. The most persuasive leader will have the best imagination of what the future will really look like and how everything will relate to everything else. The success of his proposal will hang largely on how well he has used his imagination to foresee the implications of all that he is proposing. The quality of his leadership will be seen partly in that he has already asked and answered the questions the Leadership will have. This does not happen without hard thinking in solitude while writing.
Fruitful thinking must also be constructiveThat is one must apply one’s mind to construct an integrated whole. It will not do to simply share fragments of an idea with the Leadership. If we want Leadership to affirm our idea for the future, we should bring them a coherent, unified picture of what it looks like. This only happens through constructive thinking. This is often the hardest work. It forces us to do the kind of tough thinking that saves Leadership time and effort.

5. Write The Proposal Including A Coherent And Orderly Presentation Of The Proposal, An Explanation Of It, The Implications And The Rationale.

First, state the proposal clearly and briefly in a few sentences.
Second, explain the proposal. That is, unpack its terms and make sure that it is clear.
Third, spell out the implications: people involved, time commitments, expenses, effects on present practices and people, etc. Foresee and state fairly and answer as many objections as you can.
Fourth, give a compelling rationale that would justify the implications and link the outcomes to the Vision.

6. Give Copies Of This Written Proposal To The Leadership Sufficiently In Advance Of The Meeting At Which It Will Be Considered.

Avoid pressure to act without adequate time for discussion and prayer.

7. Read The Proposal To The Leadership Or Read A Coherent Summary Of Its Key Parts At The Meeting When It Is To Be Discussed.

Most busy people will not have the details in their mind when they come to a meeting and will need to hear the written proposal or a well-prepared summary of it. It is almost always a mistake to try to “talk one’s way through it” as though that would save time. Generally, it does not save time and is harder to follow than a simple reading or a well-prepared summary. In addition, by jumping around in the paper, one often loses the listener who cannot follow. If significant things need to be added to the paper by means of a “walk through,” the written proposal was probably not thorough enough.

8. Seek A Thorough Discussion Of The Proposal With All The Leadership Urged To Participate In The Discussion. Allow The Head Of The Leadership Group To Guide The Discussion To Appropriate Action.

The person bringing the proposal should be a well-prepared advocate, but not usually the leader of the discussion. After the presentation, he should speak when asked questions or given permission but not dominate the discussion. He should encourage the Leadership to give themselves to prayer and the Word in the process.

John Piper
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Munich. For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.

pastor-roles-church-membersBetween school plays, little league teams, and numerous other ways, we have all been given roles that we thought were below us. We wanted the leading role, but got curtain duty. We wanted to pitch, but got stuck in right field.
What was that role for you? (Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself.)
Like a director of a play, pastors view all the parts of our church in terms of how they contribute to the whole. Pastors determine what is primary, what is secondary, and what is tertiary. You have to do this if you want to be a good leader.
The problem is when pastors do this to their church members and attenders, too. We have a tendency to cast them for roles based on our concept of our church’s narrative, rather than on the basis God’s grand unfolding narrative for his kingdom.

Three ways NOT to cast your church members and attenders

1. Extras
Extras don’t affect the storyline at all. They add motion to the scenery. They are props.
Is that how you view visitors? Is that how you view people who don’t serve or lead?
In the drama that God has written for human history, there are no extras. Everyone is wrapped in a narrative of their own. The fact that God wrote their story gives it dignity and purpose.
Your job as a pastor is to learn whether and how Jesus has become the main character of everyone in your church. If your church is too big for that, then you need to facilitate it through your elders, small groups, an assimilation process, etc. You are, after all, responsible for the care of their soul (Heb. 13:17).
2. Flat Characters
Flat characters play a bigger part than extras – they get lines! But they are only there for the main characters to play off of. Flat characters serve the development of the main characters, but don’t develop themselves. Their role is subservient to the role of the more important people.
Who do you view as flat characters? Your administrative staff? Your A/V team? Longtime members who have hung around but haven’t gotten very involved?
No church has flat characters. Everyone has pain and joy, hopes and dreams. Everyone is on some path of character development: they are either being hardened or softened to the things of God. Whatever direction they are heading, as pastors, we need to guide each of them with the gospel. To think of them as flat is to view your individual sheep as a mere means to your goals for your church.
3. Caricatures
Caricatures are main characters who are not well-rounded. They are either good or bad. They fit a given personality type and never divert from it. If you need an example, think of the entire cast of Downton Abbey.
Pastors are susceptible to viewing members of their church in such a black and white fashion. You might not be able to imagine it, but that member you have regular conflict with has a good side. He loves God. He desires things that bring him glory. On the other side of the coin, your strong leaders who have served so faithfully have the potential to stumble egregiously. Not temptation has seized us except what is common to man.
I’ve known pastors who have committed adultery and I’ve known hard-hearted people who have been changed by the power of the gospel. Sometimes even the worst curmudgeon stops complaining! We need to shepherd our church knowing that anything can happen at any time, while praying for the good surprises and praying against the bad.

The goal: view everyone as a character

The best stories are filled with characters. Characters play integral roles in the story. Characters develop and grow through the conflict they face. All characters have propensity for good and bad, though they certainly lean harder in one of those directions than the other.
But we all, as a default position, view ourselves as the main character of our story. This is why pastoral ministry exists! We need to point to the true main character, Jesus. Our job is to pray and preach toward the end that everyone who comes into our church receives him, no matter how central – or not – they may seem at first glance.

(Image credit)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good Leadership Is Going to Cost You

Good Leadership Is Going to Cost You
Cheap leadership is never good leadership.
Leadership is expensive. Costly. Cheap leadership is never good leadership.

Here are seven high costs of good leadership:

1. Personal agenda.

Good leaders give up their personal desires for the good of others, the team or the organization.

2. Control.

What you control, you limit. Good leaders give freedom and flexibility to others in how they accomplish the predetermined goals and objectives.

3. Popularity.

Leading well is no guarantee a leader will be popular. In fact, there will be times where the opposite is more true. Leaders take people through change. Change is almost never initially popular.

4. Comfort.

If you are leading well, you don’t often get to lead “comfortably.” You get to wrestle with messiness and awkwardness and push through conflict and difficulty. It’s for a noble purpose, but it isn’t easy.

5. Fear.

Good leadership goes into the unknown. That’s often scary. Even the best leaders are anxious at times about what is next.

6. Loneliness.

I believe every leader should surround themselves with other leaders. We should be vulnerable enough to let others speak into our lives. But there will be days when a leader has to stand alone. Others won’t immediately understand. On those days, the quality of strength in a leader is revealed. This one should never be intentional, but when you are leading change … when it involves risk and unknowns … this will often be, for a season, a significant cost.

7. Outcome.

We follow worthy visions. We create measurable goals and objectives. We discipline for the tasks ahead. We don’t, however, get to script the way people respond, how times change or how the future unfolds.

As leaders, we should consider whether or not we are willing to pay the price for good leadership. It’s not cheap!

I’ve identified seven costs of leadership. Help me identify a few more.
What costs of leadership have you discovered?  

Ron EdmondsonRon Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at