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Home Friendship Groups - Helping close the back door.
By: James Smith
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” Prov 18:19
Bob stopped me a while back to thank me. A trustee and board member in his church, he explained that he and his wife were greatly offended by a situation and people in the church. He told how one Sunday without knowing their situation, I encouraged them. I told them that “they were very important to the work of God there” and a “wonderful example to me”. I didn’t know they had already decided this was their last service in that church. He told me that had it not been for my encouraging them that day, they never would have gone back.
I wonder how many Bob’s leave the church without anybody noticing.
It is often said, “If we could just win back those who have already left, that would be a great revival. My question is, “how did we ever let them get away in the first place”?
In my years of pastoring and ministry, I’ve found that people usually leave the church because they were never truly assimilated into the family of God to begin with. Once a person is established into the church and have formed nurturing relationships, it’s less likely they would become offended and leave.
We think that we have to “get them into the choir right away” or “find them a position or job in the church” to keep new converts. This may help that person feel more attached, but it will never assimilate them into the church.
Why do people exit the church? Many times, a person leaves because they were never provided the proper relationships within the church.
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Some leadership styles are role-specific, but several traits of leadership styles seem to work in all congregations.
Twelve Traits For Maximum Effect:
1. Spiritual consciousness. In the Middle Ages, being knighted gave someone a special relationship with the king. Likewise, the words and behavior of Christian leaders point people toward God.
2. Enthusiasm. Meaningful ideas delivered in a dull, listless manner can seem irrelevant. The same ideas communicated with enthusiasm can light the fire of commitment that leads to positive change.
3. Joyful attitude. Joyfulness and a sense of humor help people relax and enjoy their work. They also send the signal that having fun while working together is as important as the work itself.
4. Spiritual optimism. People who dispense the quality of hope in their conversation are appreciated like rain after a drought. They attract allegiance to themselves and their goals.
5. High energy level. Effective leaders can maintain a fast pace and juggle several demands simultaneously. As Lewis Carroll says in Alice in Wonderland, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast.”
6. Self- discipline. Some people accomplish two to six times as much as coworkers during a 40-hour week. Such productivity comes from a high-energy level charged by motivation and self-discipline.
7. Positive appearance. Neat apparel and shiny shoes do not bring people into the kingdom of God. But, if the package is shabby, people may not bother to examine its contents.[ read more...]
Every pastor, preacher, and minister should memorize these words that Paul shared with Timothy;
2 Tim 4:1-5 New Living Translation
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Each time I read this letter I find myself asking these questions:
1. Am I prepared to preach; whether the time is favorable or not?
2. Am I able to correct and encourage my congregation with good teaching?[ read more...]
Fundamental principles underlie the thinking and conduct of all true leaders, and these principles are even sharply defined for leaders within the kingdom of God. From time to time those whom the Lord has chosen for leadership need to examine themselves in the mirror of thought- provoking maxims. These proverbs are designed to help Christian leaders move forward in administrative excellence.
Responsible leaders do not make irresponsible statements.
A godly leader speaks out of the presence of God.
A humble leader never makes light of eternal truths, but esteems them with reverence.
A wise leader resolves conflicts peacefully, not forcefully.
An enduring leader withstands insult without anger.
A wholesome leader is characterized by tolerance, which saves him from hasty decisions in crisis, and retaliations in the face of contrariness.
The good leader attempts to make friends, not enemies.
Dealing harshly with opponents causes more aggravation and hostility. A polite leader uses gentleness and kindness.[ read more...]
Matthew 15:18-19; James 4:1-12 There are times when we as Christians are called to arms, as the song goes, “onward Christian solders.” As they said in the Middle Ages, “if the cause is just…”of course most of the causes were not just. But for us, if there is a situation that must be defended, we need to prepare ourselves and be willing to fight for our Lord. Conflicts that are worth fighting for are such as moral and value issues, spiritual warfare, evil desires, or physical attack. “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” (Galatians 2:11) If someone is going to assault you or a family member and all means available to involve the authorities is exhausted, then we fight. I personally do not get into fist fights, but as a youth pastor, I was on a trip where one of my girls was being assaulted and I had to respond to that situation with physical force or the girl would have been raped. There have been numerous times I had to keep bad intentioned people away from my group to protect them and even use physical force. We as leaders must protect the people God entrusts to us. In working in some inner-city areas, I hired security to prevent potential problems with various events. Yes we are to trust in the Lord, but we are also to use commonsense and practical judgment. As Jesus told His disciples to buy a sword, we to need to follow suit. I do not believe we need to literally be buying swords and wearing guns like the old west. But, we do need to protect the people under our care. A case in point, several years ago I was doing some intervention counseling with a couple. The husband was severally beating his wife. So I put her into a battered women’s shelter. He then came to me very violently, threatened my life if I did not disclose her location. The police were immediately called, but there was nothing they could do. I heard that the husband found her location so I took some elders with me to the women’s shelter to protect the wife. She got scared and left the shelter and went home. The husband was in the process of literally killing her when we showed up; the police were called and we had to wrestle him to the ground. He was a very big man. I had to knock him out in order to subdue him. It was one of those situations that you may never have to deal with, but they do accrue. By the way, it took the police over two hours to show up as we sat on him; life in the inner city of America.
There are times when we as Christians are called to arms, as the song goes, “onward Christian solders.” As they said in the Middle Ages, “if the cause is just…”of course most of the causes were not just. But for us, if there is a situation that must be defended, we need to prepare ourselves and be willing to fight for our Lord. Conflicts that are worth fighting for are such as moral and value issues, spiritual warfare, evil desires, or physical attack.
“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” (Galatians 2:11)
If someone is going to assault you or a family member and all means available to involve the authorities is exhausted, then we fight. I personally do not get into fist fights, but as a youth pastor, I was on a trip where one of my girls was being assaulted and I had to respond to that situation with physical force or the girl would have been raped. There have been numerous times I had to keep bad intentioned people away from my group to protect them and even use physical force. We as leaders must protect the people God entrusts to us. In working in some inner-city areas, I hired security to prevent potential problems with various events. Yes we are to trust in the Lord, but we are also to use commonsense and practical judgment. As Jesus told His disciples to buy a sword, we to need to follow suit. I do not believe we need to literally be buying swords and wearing guns like the old west. But, we do need to protect the people under our care.
A case in point, several years ago I was doing some intervention counseling with a couple. The husband was severally beating his wife. So I put her into a battered women’s shelter. He then came to me very violently, threatened my life if I did not disclose her location. The police were immediately called, but there was nothing they could do. I heard that the husband found her location so I took some elders with me to the women’s shelter to protect the wife. She got scared and left the shelter and went home. The husband was in the process of literally killing her when we showed up; the police were called and we had to wrestle him to the ground. He was a very big man. I had to knock him out in order to subdue him. It was one of those situations that you may never have to deal with, but they do accrue. By the way, it took the police over two hours to show up as we sat on him; life in the inner city of America.[ read more...]
Have you ever preached a message, then walked away from the pulpit feeling like the message was more for you than anyone in the congregation?
I preached one of those last night. The title of it was Being Fruitful. In John chapter 15, Jesus lets us know that if we are going to be a part of the vine, that we are going to have to be fruitful. I'm not sure we totally understand what that means. Often times we allow ourselves to be overwhelmingly busy with situations that will never be fruitful. So much of a ministers time is spent on things that if we were to take the time to think about it, could be delegated. People will let you do all the work if you let them. They will smile at you, thank you and tell you that you are the greatest thing that ever happened to their church. But ultimately you have to ask yourself, what am I really accomplishing that is relative to my calling.
The scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure. Of course it is calling us here to settle in our minds what is our calling. However, it is saying more than that to us. It is telling us also to know our job description. I have learned by Pastoring, that people will let the Pastor mop the floors, shovel the sidewalks, cut the grass, and nearly every other menial task of the church if he lets them. There is a certain source of self gratification that comes with having done some manual labor. It is even good exercise. However, we truly have to ask ourselves, is this my calling. Did God call me to this city to mop the kitchen floor and to cut the grass? Did he call me here to teach every single Bible Study? If you answered yes to those questions, then keep at it. However, you are about to find that the human body is only capable of so much. As well, your mind can only take in so much information.
If however, you were called to that city to Preach the Gospel and Pastor a church, you may need to learn the art of delegation. Finding someone to accomplish a simple task is not as hard as we make it. It might be as easy as making a list of areas you need help with and putting it on the bulletin board of the church. Let people sign up to help you. God brought those people to your church for more reasons than paying a tithe and showing up on time. He brought them into your local assembly to help you raise up a church for the name of Jesus.
Reaching the lost is not just the Pastor's job. In fact, your soul winning efforts would be better served by teaching and training others to be soul winners. Now we all know that you may be better at it than they are, but training and delegating others may serve to bring more results. The scripture tells us that we are chosen and anointed to bear much fruit. I'm not sure I fully understand this idea of much fruit. I'm only capable of so much. However, by using the many talents and abilities of those placed in my care, much fruit can be harvested.[ read more...]
Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way, that is not easy. - Aristotle
Some of you will not appreciate us quoting from Aristotle, but you have to admit, the guy has a good point. Anger can eat a person up. Your true potential as a minister of God can be thwarted by un-harnessed anger.
People who explode and express anger easily can cause great harm to those they are called to encourage. It’s important for us to understand anger and its potential to destroy.
Exploding because someone hurt you. When most people get hurt they cry out. This is natural. But it is not healthy to express anger every time someone hurts your feelings.
A good leader has the ability to harness his anger and even displace it toward healthy and more productive avenues. Mistreating someone because they hurt you is not just. It is bullying.
It is entirely possible that the person who hurt you did it unintentionally and without malice. You would be wise to forgive them quickly and swallow that anger before you create a fissure in a relationship that cannot be mended.
Being addicted to anger. Some people love to be angry. They enjoy the feeling of superiority they get when they have told someone off. They actually look for opportunities to get after someone or give someone a hard time. Certain hormones even create a strong physical sensation when they really get mad.
These people are addicted to this hormone and the emotion of anger and have no place in church leadership. It is important to be a person of peace. If you find yourself constantly getting angry at others for little reasons, you might be addicted to anger. Just like any other addict, you can actually build up a tolerance for this drug. Once this happens, you will find it necessary to constantly become angrier in order to get the same euphoria. This could end in a terrible way if you do not get deliverance from this addiction.
Using anger to exploit. Most people learn to exploit by anger at a very early age. Babies learn quickly to cry out in anger when they are not getting what they want. They will use anger tantrums to control their parents who simply want to appease them.
These same people grow up believing that they can use anger to get their way all the time. On the job, they will use anger to cause others to cave into their demands. These people may not stomp their feet in the workplace or church office, but you know when they are mad and they will use this to control others.[ read more...]
I marveled as I observed each presentation. The goals were impressive, and every presenter received accolades at the conclusion of each delivery. It was an annual goal setting and calendar planning session. It was expected that I would be impressed. When everyone was finished the pastor asked me if I had any questions for the various department leaders now that the presentations were finished. I did have a few.
“How many people on your team or in each department have any clue as to what you just presented? As the department leader did any of you create these presentations on your own and without the input of your team? Were any of these presentations simply modifications to last years? Did anyone achieve what was proposed to do last year? How do you hold yourselves accountable to attaining these goals? Do you or they know how you are going to accomplish these goals? How do your goals support the goals of the other departments? Are the goals of every department mutually supporting one common church vision? Are the goals of any one department pulling in a separate direction and counteracting the goals of another? Did the church develop its vision first and then have every department develop goals that are essential in order to reach the vision? Are your goals self-serving or do they benefit everyone else? Are any departments competing for people, calendar time, resources or talents in order to achieve your goals? How do you intend to measure these goals in order to track them? What data did you use in order to set your goals? Does anybody know exactly where this church is heading and what its vision is?”
These were just a few of the questions I asked. Surprisingly nobody had answers for any of these questions.
I then told them a true story. Recently my wife and were stopped at a traffic light. A Day Care Center was located on the corner and we observed over twenty children and a few teachers having a car wash. It was hilarious! Each child had on a little yellow T-shirt with the Day Care Center logo emblazoned proudly across the front. They were running, chasing each other, and expending a lot of energy. It looked like a swarm of little bees humming around. One little boy was chasing some girls with a soapy sponge. Another was spraying his friends with the water hose. There was a cacophony of screaming and laughter in the air. We both laughed at the sight of the people actually doing all of the work. The teachers were washing the cars and trying in vain to get everyone to cooperate with them.[ read more...]
Understand the value of your time. In the corporate world, managers are encouraged to assess the actual dollar value of their time. This helps the person and their staff understand that time equals money. As much as the church is not focused on money as the corporate world is, a minister should understand that his time is very valuable and it is limited.
Invest your time wisely. Understand that you only have so much time to invest in a given ministry, project or person. Make the best use of it. Don’t allow distractions or other people’s agendas to keep you from staying on track. A minister should be allowed the same courtesy as any other professional when it comes to his time.
Think of your time like you think of your money. You would never think of investing your money unwisely or just wasting it on every person would ask you for it. You would consider wisely where it should be spend and on who. Time is more valuable than your money, invest it wisely.
Set aside time each day to prioritize the demands on your time. Yes, you should be allowed to decide how your time should be spent. Prioritizing the demands of your time will allow you to spend time in areas where it is most needed and where the greatest return will come from it.[ read more...]