The Bible provides us a great narrative of how God has interacted with His people from the very beginning. The Old Testament is filled with covenants that God made along the way to foster a better relationship with His people on earth. There is a great deal of evidence that suggests that God desires relationship with people and that He loves them. God is active in the lives of His people and He has written his laws on our heart to guide us. He is constantly desiring fellowship and reconciliation. God desires His people so much, that He sent His one and only son to die for our sins and to create a new covenant.
Through all of the covenants between God and mankind, he has invited people in a progressive manner, to have a more intimate relationship with Him. A relationship that is authentic and real, not one based on conditions or how obedient we are. He wants our heart, He wants devotion, He wants our love. The only worship that pleases Him, is from children that love Him genuinely, who put it all on the line to be close to Him.
As John Piper so keenly writes, “Missions exist where worship does not.” The spreading of the Gospel is an action that is taken by mankind as an act of devotion, where God’s children gather lost children to reconcile them unto Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit. Not only did God give us a new covenant in the New Testament, he gave us a perfect example, Jesus. By the life of Jesus, we know how God wants us to live on this earth and how to fulfill God’s mission. The more we seek to understand our relationship with God and what He wants us to do, we must draw closer to God, to be molded like clay in His image. Our understanding and theology of missions should constantly be evaluated ensuring that our focus is on Him, knowing Him and telling the world about Him.
The Apostle Paul acted boldly. A man with such conviction was obviously impacted by his encounter with the Lord on the Damascus road. Paul’s primary direction for each of his missionary endeavors came from the Holy Spirit. It was in Paul’s nature to not only lead, but be an evangelist. Paul’s writings tell us that whatever he did for the Lord, he did with all of who he was. Paul took his calling very seriously.
Even though Paul did not walk with Jesus when he was on earth, several of his ideas and strategies to spread the good news came from Jesus. Paul’s approach was practical. He would step into town, goto those that were wavering and speak the truth to them. He led by example and the Holy Spirit converted the people. He would utilize the converts to foster and grow communities of believers. These communities resemble today’s church plants. Paul invested his time and resources. He equipped the leaders to eventually take over and lead these new churches, usually located in large cities.
Jesus was able to deliver and communicate perfectly. Paul could not, so he had to be flexible, to learn from the situation, surroundings and audience to be able to connect to people intellectually. When it came down to it, the message was perfect and all he had to do was share the truth and let the Holy Spirit move in the lives of the people. Today, we should remember, just as Paul did, that people are brought to Jesus only by the power of the Holy Sprit and not by anything we can do ourselves.
What do you do when a division, department or ministry in your organization is underperforming? Is this a time of opportunity, a time of heightened observation, or do you just close your eyes and hope it fixes itself or that someone will magically come in and fix it?
Not only is this a time of crisis for the organization but one for leadership as well. This is where the "big bucks" are earned. What does the leadership in your organization do? Ah, this is something that is usually discovered post-interview and can standout when you're recently hired.
There are many different ways to approach this dilema. Maybe you can look from the outside in and find out how many direct reports to the "CEO" can articulate the mission, vision, values of the organization. Maybe there's a robust team concept in place where the "knights" around the roundtable step up and invest in their peer. Either way, is the culture immersed with people all marching to the beat of the same drummer?
Developing leaders should be the highest strategic priority in any organization! Everything rises and falls on leadership. If the "CEO" doesn't invest time in helping other leaders grow and develop, then the people in the organization won't see it as a priority, and they won't invest their time either. We demonstrate our priorities with the way we allocate our resources. Is the leadership in your organization busy leading, if not what is your organization doing? Do the leaders merely exist, coast, or rely on the leaders of the past? Are you serving a leader who serves, or one that is self-serving?
Leadership is more about what others don't see than what they do see. In the book, "The Secret," leadership is described as an iceberg - the 20% you see above the waterline and the 80% you can't see, below the water. If you don't feel like you're hitting on all cylinders, go out and grab the book - much of it can be deployed in as little as a year.
Ever since my college days, I have been unable to shake myself from thoughts of leadership. While my original fascination began with observing and dissecting Fortune 500 titans, it has evolved to a continual study of all different levels, in all types of organizations, regardless of size. Wherever there is a successful organization, there is a good and well functioning leadership team at its core.
While my scope may be limited, I am continually amazed to hear about organizations that are dying from the inside. As I inquire, the more I discover the lack of leadership at the highest of all levels. If the "CEO" acquired the position by luck, potential or simply by rising to the level of his or her incompetence, and does not know what to do to lead an organization, how can everyone else in the organization be on mission and be successful? Take a look around in society, we have leadership voids everywhere.
As I travelled to Boston today, I read an insightful book that can serve as a great tool for leaders to identify what they can do different, by how they can be different. "The Five Temptations of a CEO," written by Patrick Lencioni, outlines 5 easily teachable concepts. Warning: this does require some self-analysis!
Read the book, and let me know what you think.
A little while ago a simple book stood out to me, "The Fred Factor." This book is a light read, but packed with lots of good stuff. Since I'm in the communications/marketing world, I'm commonly looking for ways to move projects beyond just regular promotion to those that have a value-added component to them. Value isn't just about what we produce, but how we can exhibit it on a personal level, one-on-one with those around us. Living on autopilot is dangerous, we should reinvent ourselves regularly.
So many of us do things because of what we get out of it, here's an excerpt from the book:
If you expect praise and recognition, it will seldom come. Life has demonstrated repeatedly that if your motive for doing something is to receive thanks or praise, you'll often be disappointed. Go about doing the right thing, knowing that the doing is its own reward, you'll be fulfilled whether or not you get recognition from others.
To make a difference you should:
1. Identify when you'll make a difference
2. Target the people to whom you'll make a difference
3. Be the difference
Share with your fellow team member that they can make a difference. Remind them to make an important contribution or have the ability to do so. Tell your team what kind of difference they are making. Be specific. Be sure that positive feedback about their efforts is a rule, and not the exception. Intention without action is only a dream.
Go spread Fred. I believe this book will serve as a catalyst to help you to be more at peace with yourself and what you do, but also add value to someone's life. This is certainly important for those that are in the ministry.
Ps. Check out the Seven Bs of Relationship Building...good insight.
Churches sure can have their turnover. Regardless of what denomination or religion you may be devoted to, many church leadership structures are designed on results of the moment and on personality rather than a continuation of solid-ground spiritual leadership.
There's not a better chance to grow the church and it's leaders than by planting seeds at all levels, helping them grow and when the time is right, harvest them. Students and children see so much in action and so much of it is by accident. Instead of thinking of them as a demographic that we cater to - how about we think of them as the future, by placing more importance on living a life of high example, gathering them along side to walk the walk with us. There are so many opportunities to see first hand what works and what doesn't work in life, in worship and in leadership of the church. The opportunities of teaching moments are numerous.
Such a technique involves the young at early stages in life. Shepherds then nurture and grow them over the years. The teacher/shepherd can provide opportunities to try, be there to see it through, and to help pick up the pieces when it fails. Shepherding is not just a technique for raising up people in positions but a raising up of teaching and discipleship.
So many churches fall victim to: we're too big to be effective at discipleship like it is demonstrated by Jesus, so we'll try to "shotgun it" to the masses or to those that read about our "opportunities" in our bulletins and worship guides. When we skip crucial discipleship steps, it's too easy for people to "fall" into positions for the wrong reasons and become a victim to temptations that they weren't prepared for.
A generational strategy in worship and church life is the most prevailing thought in my mind these days. I've never heard it more clearily defined, in ideas or philosophy than I did today from Darlene Zschech when listening to a keynote on "Generational Transitions."
It's so common that leaders and ministers of the church rotate in and out, where the congregation stays steady. Is there more turnover in the congregation or in the leadership? Usually its within the leadership. So often "callings" for some involve a better situation, better compensation. Wouldn't it be beautiful if the calling was for the church instead. What I bring up is not a personality-created and maintained church, but one that involves a natural turn over based on the generation passing on the torch from generation to generation.
This is not a unique struggle, just today I had this very conversation with a worship pastor friend who shared that his church's strategy is solely based on programming: events and activities for the generational segments we think are worth investing in. What this friend described can be seen everywhere and we wonder why people are not engaging in church more?
Moses and Joshua were on the same journey together when the torch was passed. Joshua wasn't an outsider who had two-weeks to learn the heritage and culture...
A few years ago the book "Extravagant Worship" was written by Darlene Zschech. I purchased the book intending to read it, but for some reason I was afraid of it. I am one that has always been interested in Hillsong - especially when it comes to the driving force behind it. Success does not happen merely by accident. At some level there is intentionality, a God-based vision and a yielding to God's call and a desire to be obedient to Him. This book was good for me to read, it served as a reminder of all the things we should deprogram ourselves of when we go to church on Sunday and worship.
I have served in many capacities over the years. Sometimes a divine vision is exposed through the "capital campaign" process. I've been there, I've done that (on the 5th now) and have seen all kinds of visions at play. I can only think of one instance were a step to do God's call required a deep faith because of what we were challenged to do was bigger than anyone - it could only be done by God. If your dream is too big, then it must be from God - if your dream is not too big for you, then you don't need God to fulfill it!
Worship can become so routine in church culture. From the inside, Sundays run-together very quickly and there are always so many things that come in to play: big ideas, announcements, choir songs, praise-team songs, musicians, organ and the sermon! A guy in my position is commonly asking, "What is our target?" In talking with a dear friend (a student minister) the other day, this very thing came up. We were talking about targets and that all too often we forget that worship's target audience is not the musicians or the audience - it's God.
I have frequently struggled in worship, sometimes more than others. Some churches have an atmosphere where it's easy to be expressive and to engage in worship, but most are only about singing songs and staying on a schedule. It wasn't until I visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle in the late nineties was I stretched and began to have an outward expression of the tremendous amount of emotion inside of me.
One of the parts in Darlene Zschech’s book that sticks out to me the most is:
People have accused me of a performance-based ministry, of being too expressive, but there is a fire in my inmost being that I can't contain. God's love and forgiveness and the power of the cross cause me to dance into my future, regardless of what people think.
Worship is to God, everyone in the room joins in unity, as a single voice of praise to an Almighty King! It does not matter what those around you think about you.
I filmed a testimony of a student today and he shared with me about a time when he experienced an indescribable worship service - one that really made an impact on him, once. My prayer today is that we as church leaders do more to focus on God, where we forget the order of service, the schedule and allow the Holy Spirit to work without a script or restraints. There's an entire generation out there that's yearning, that's hungry, for something authentic and something that gives them purpose...
Vision allows you to see the unseen.
Vision gets you doing things you never dreamed of accomplishing.
Vision creates an environment in which a team operates at its very best.
Vision pushes you to look past the obvious and look to the supernatural.
To watch a vision come to pass only requires good eyesight. To actually birth a vision and then watch over its development to completion requires great faith, great strength, and great wisdom! It is one thing to have a vision, but another to communicate that vision and make it real for others so that they may run with it and make it their aspiration too.
A book on teamwork was shared with me recently. I've seen this book a dozen times on the bookshelf, but thought that it probably didn't apply, because I felt good about the organization that I worked for. But after hearing some principles from the book, I had to pick it up and read it. "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni is fantastic. This book is primarily a leadership fable about the complex world of teams and what makes them successful.
I drew so much from this book, I felt like I had encountered just about every scenario over the years. It was quite entertaining to see it through the lens of intentional strategy by the "CEO." While I digest what I've read and have looked around, these "dysfunctions" can be seen everywhere, in all types of organizations.
Do you work where the "Coach" has one-on-ones with each player on the team in private. On a team, each person is accountable to the other. Everyone on a team is responsible for every function of the team and its collective goal. No one person, regardless of position, is omni-competent.
If you haven't read this book and want to grow and raise up a highly functional team, I think there is much you can draw from this book. Enjoy, I would love to hear your thoughts about the book!
Tonight I witnessed something beautiful, God's people in worship at Hillsong United event. The evening was loud, energetic, and inspiring. Given my background, it was easy to look into the techniques. But this evening was unscripted and hard to describe. There were several times where the people in the house broke out into song and the band and worship team complemented it. What makes this so unique is that the songs being sung were mostly created by the team on the platform. There was a peace in the playing that you could tell that was in faith trusting God to lead the way. The worship leaders led us in worship, they didn't just sing, and in many instances they didn't need to. You couldn't help but notice the faces all around, not only were we surrounded by a younger generation, but one that was hungry to worship. God was at work!
There's nothing like the power in a movement. People want to be involved with a movement, especially one with a deep and meaningful purpose - one that has a point. There's a younger generation out there leading the way forward, can you see it, can you sense it? If you look carefully, you'll see the remarkable and the divine, led by ordinary people who have a God-given passion.
There's a movement going on all across the globe, even though it may look and sound differently than what it did a dozen years ago.
The church has never seen days like this before, we, have not lived these days before.
Food for thought:
I Heart Revolution
We are all ordinary people. We all have our flaws. We all have gifts and talents, but they don't necessary place us in a special social class of our own, even if we are ministers or pastors.
In church and in worship, we are to focus on God and that our purpose is divine and to worship Him in all that we do. Our hearts must be set on the right course, it's not performance, it's not perfection it's an offering up to a mighty God. It's so easy for us to draw from our human instincts, to attack what is divine to satisfy our ego.
Worship can happen any where, the most common happens at every rock concert, focusing intently on the band and the performer on stage. This is so instinctive that the default behavior in church is commonly the same, and it's never been more important for the worship leader to strip away the knowns of humanity and status, and to focus on God. Are we submissive spirits our manipulators demonstrating a falsehood of what worship is and worrying about what others view us as. Passion for the Lord is not found on a platform.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total, all of these acts will be written in the history of this generation.
Thus you, and your young compatriots everywhere, have had thrust upon you a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived.
I believe that in this generation, those with the courage to enter the conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.
Robert F. Kennedy, 1966, Day of Affirmation, South Africa
With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
President John F. Kennedy, 1961, Inaugural Address