All of us pastor types want to be bold in our leadership, right? But there are tensions that prevent our innate boldness from getting out! We would be bold in a heartbeat, but… those tensions...
What are the tensions preventing us from speaking out and leading boldly? There are many, but here are just four:
Balancing the truth with love
We’ve all seen (unfortunately) preachers and speakers who blast their opinions or what they claim the Bible is saying in obnoxious and toxic ways. This is not speaking boldly, despite what they probably want you to believe.
We also don’t want to become Pastor People P. Leaser. You know him, the guy who tells everyone what they want to hear. Scripture calls people to a radically counter cultural lifestyle. We are not doing our job if it always sounds easy.
Discerning what needs to be said and when
In past episodes we have talked about being in ministry for the long haul. If we are truly committed to our 200church then we don’t need to feel like we have to build Rome in a day.
We cannot get so comfortable in our 200church that we lose our edge. As pastors and leaders we’re called to confront uncomfortable issues. Paul does this over and over in his Epistles. He is our example as pastors. He loved his people and was committed to them, but said what needed to be said when it was needed.
Lack of desire to stir the pot
The reality is that some people are nicer than others. We (Jonny and Jeff) are both consensus seekers and that makes being bold hard sometimes. And in a 200church, you likely have personal relationships with most of the people you’re preaching to. That makes boldness hard.
Lack of desire to be bold, however, will slowly erode your church. Our goal at 200churches isn't for you to grow a huge congregation, but we also don’t want you to shrink it away. People want and need to be challenged. Platitudes only will eventually run people off.
Not wanting to offend the money people
Really, this is just bad, but we understand why the impulse is there. The reality is churches need money to continue to operate and some people give more and more often than others. But the church is God’s church and he is the one who will ultimately support the ministry he calls us to do. Our hope cannot be placed in big givers, it has to be placed in God.
Picking and choosing topics and policies based on individual taste is a losing proposition. When we add to scripture or scrub down biblical principles we have abandoned our purpose as leaders and pastors. When we’re willing to modify our convictions for higher offerings or regular paychecks, that is a sure indicator that we need to reorient our thinking, our heart, and our trust in Jesus as the Builder of his church.
Wrapping up, here are three thoughts:
That Apostle Paul guy was quite bold. In Acts 9 where he makes his big debut, and while he was still Saul, it says he was “speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.” Wow. Quite a start! How about us? Do 200church pastors speak and lead with boldness? Are we bold?
Or… do we pander, hedge, spin, and dodge the issue? Are we confident enough as leaders to be bold in our leadership, confronting doubters and worriers? Do we shrink back at the first sign of opposition or discouragement? In Episode 26 of the 200churches Podcast this Wednesday, we talk about being bold and, if we have to, creating a stir! Our people are looking for bold leadership and bold faith.
There are prerequisites to boldness though. Pastors and leaders aren't just automatically bold. Certain things have to be present in us, and practiced by us. On that note, here are 7 ways to be bold in our ministries:
Walk with God. Isn't this the bottom line? Is this not what brings us integrity and power in leadership? Walking with God by faith and by communing with the Holy Spirit is essential to boldness in ministry. Complete reliance on God for wisdom and ability in pastoral ministry is where it all starts. How are you and God getting along?
Confront sin in your own life. If we maintain willful, hidden sin in our life, we will lack the boldness to speak and to lead with authority. We can be sure that sin will ultimately bring our ruin, or at the least, hamper our effectiveness for God. How are you and sin getting along? Poorly, we hope! :)
Be full of the Book. That’s one of the “basics” we talked about in last Friday’s post. When we are consuming large quantities of scripture, we are full of God’s truth. Daily intake means it is within arm’s reach of our minds all day long. Biblical truth coming in is a prerequisite to boldness. How are you and the Bible doing?
Rely on wise advisers. In the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22) John Maxwell says that “those closest to us will determine the level of our success.” He calls that the Law of the Inner Circle in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. We will never know it all. We should be talking to people, listening, learning, and borrowing all the brains we can. Got advisers?
Listen to critics. Our critics are never all wrong, and rarely are they all right either! Critics will point out the flaws in our thinking, the gaps in our processes, and the weaknesses of our plans. When we listen to them, and learn from their insight, we can be more confident, having been strengthened by their scrutiny. We then will move forward with more boldness, enjoying clearer direction. Are you paying attention to your critics?
Plan ahead. You've heard it, “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” How true that is. Boldness and uncertainty do not occupy the same space well. If we have not planned well, thought through the potential problems, and predicted the unintended consequences, we usually won’t move forward boldly. Instead we are hesitant, halting, and indecisive. Boldness comes from quality planning. Do you have a plan?
End by giving it all to God. When we are done preparing, processing, and praying, we move forward boldly, in FAITH. Our faith is in God alone, not any of the above steps or processes. God is the one who has filled us, and commissioned us to serve him by making disciples. Boldness comes when we drive the car, but God holds the Title. It’s his game and he’s already won, we’re just moving across the board in faith. Can you say "In God I trust"?
You see, boldness in ministry is not the result of a microwaved process. Vision by sound bite doesn't go very far. There needs to be completeness about our ministry in order for us to have boldness in ministry. No shortcuts to the above 7 prerequisites. Want to be bold?
How are you doing in these seven areas? Which area do you need to work on the most today? Maybe you need to take action in order to become more bold in your ministry. Go for it! Do it!
On Wednesday’s podcast, we are going to talk about some very practical tensions that may preclude us from being bold in our ministries, and encourage you to go ahead and be bold, and perhaps “create a stir”!
This week at 200churches.com we have been on the topic of turning around a messy church. Every church is messy, and there are no perfect pastors. Whenever we get off track as pastors, it is usually in one of the basics. There are three basics that should not be messy in our lives. Here are those three basics and what we should focus on:
Focus on Scripture – The only truth we have.
When I read long sections of scripture, I usually think two things: 1) Wow, this is really wonderful, God’s word is awesome! And 2) I really should read long sections more often, I miss this, it’s so enjoyable! The Word of God really is health to our body and encouragement to our spirit. We just cannot find truth like it anywhere else.
When we have a steady flow of God’s word into our head and heart, we think better, we feel better, we make better decisions, we relate to others better, and we live better. How have you been doing with your Bible intake? It’s always time for me to read more of the Bible and to enjoy the wonders of God.
Focus on Relationships – that’s all life is about!
Sometimes as pastors we spend too much time on administrative tasks, office work, study, reading, computers, smartphones, blogs, etc. If we find ourselves getting dry or dispassionate in ministry, it’s time to get together with some of those 200people!
Relationships are life giving. Friendships are necessary. Communication, affection, care, and community are all important to our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Ministry is about people, not stupid office stuff! Let’s take some time to stop and say hello to people. Let’s not miss engaging in relationships.
Focus on Integrity – without it we have no credibility, authority, or power.
It’s hard to always do what you say and say what you do. But when our life actions are in alignment with our life words, things work better. How are you doing in the integrity department? If you lack it you lack a lot. If you have it, you are blessed, care-free, less stressed, and at peace.
When you step up to preach the Gospel to people, it doesn’t come out right if you don’t have integrity. It also doesn’t do its work in you if you don’t have integrity. We need to be people of truth and character, leaders with integrity. Ministry does not go too well without it.
Three basics, like your ABC’s and 123’s. Scripture, Relationships. Integrity. Which one do you need to pay most attention to this weekend?
In episode 25 Jeff and Jonny are joined by Greg Atkinson, from Carthage, MO.
Greg is a writer, speaker, consultant and campus pastor at Forest Park, a multi-site church based in Joplin, Missouri. Greg has started businesses including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media, a social media marketing company, and his own consulting firm.
As a consultant, Greg has worked with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches across the United States. Greg’s latest writing project is his eBook Church Leadership 101, which has been downloaded by more than 20,000 church leaders around the world.
Greg is a Campus Pastor, so the weekend preaching comes via Forest Park in Joplin and Lead Pastor John Swadley. This gives Greg a unique advantage to pour himself into people, relationships, and leadership at Forest Park Carthage.
When Greg arrived at his church, he faced immediate challenges. He was the third pastor in 3 1/2 years at this multi-site location, and had to quickly earn trust and credibility. Greg shares the specific things he gave his attention to in order to create a turn around at his church.
You can find Greg at www.gregatkinson.com, where you can also download his book for free, Church Leadership 101.
Have you ever been in, or are you now in, a messy 200church? I would not characterize my current 200church as messy, although people are messy, and we’re all dysfunctional. But, I found myself in a very messy situation in a 200church once. It was bad.
Here are 17 clues that you might be in a messy 200church. Your church has:
Makes you tired just reading through that list, right? Happy Monday morning!
About ten years ago, I found myself in a 200church I would characterize as messy. At least half of the above list was true of that ministry. Certainly mistrust and misunderstandings were numerous.
I was caught off guard, and it all came crashing in on me one Sunday morning. I had come to the church as a staff pastor, but was the acting senior pastor at the time. We were considering a young man as our youth pastor. The board had decided to call him to our church. I had met with our board one extra time on a Tuesday night to double-check and make sure they were in favor of calling this man. (that is really the first clue!) To a man, they said they were, which means yes, which means a positive vote, which meant a unanimous approval. Or so I thought.
On the following Sunday morning, five days later, we were to vote on this. During the “question and discussion time” one of the members challenged the board’s support of the proposal to call this man. He asked that any board members who were against calling this man stand up. I don’t recall the particular number, but a majority of the board members stood up, something like five of the nine present. Wow.
So much difficult stuff had happened in the previous year, but I was committed and completely optimistic that the church would come around. Not after that meeting though, that was the last straw for me – board members who would lie to the congregation. That was my last Sunday at that church; I resigned two days later effective immediately.
That was a messy situation I was not able to turn around. Perhaps you are in a 200church that is messy – today! How can you turn it around? What are some principles or practices you need to keep in mind?
How to turn around a messy 200church is the subject of this week's podcast, episode 25, which will be released on Wednesday morning.
If you would like to send us questions on this topic, you can do so until 12:00 noon tomorrow, Tuesday, July 2. We will have a special guest join us for our podcast on Tuesday, the day we record, and we could consider your questions and include them on Wednesday’s podcast.
You can submit a question via voicemail using SpeakPipe on our homepage, or at www.speakpipe.com/200churches, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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