Friday, August 31, 2007

Process of Leadership

The Leadership Now blog points to a book by Aubrey and Jack Daniels called Measure of a Leader. In that book they examine the processes a leader goes through, and they examine how you accomplish something as a leader is as important as what you accomplish. A couple of their thoughts I found interesting were:

1) In any undertaking that requires leadership, loyalty to the individual may be how the venture starts, but it is not how that venture thrives. If the leader cannot transfer personal loyalty to his vision, he has failed one of the critical tests of effective leadership.

2) When change exposes individuals to failure and punishment, they resist. When change increases the person’s access to reinforcement, they seek it out. Since one f the leader’s key functions is to lead change, he must view resistance as a signal that something is wrong with the process being used to achieve desired change rather than simply passing off the resistance to change as a normal characteristic of human behavior. Contrary to common opinion, it is not normal!

Michael McKinney has 3 others listed over at the Leading Blog.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spreading the news about your church one cup at a time

Dave Ferguson's team at Community Christian Church in the Chicago area came up with the coffee cup insulators below as a way to reach out into their community and get their name out. This is a great idea!
While I realize the majority of people who come to your church for the first time are ones who are coming because of a personal invitation, this is still a cost effective way of putting your name out into the community. Who says no to free coffee? (well, technically I say no to free coffee, but that's not the point) Especially if you are using high quality coffee ala Caribou, Dunn Bros., or Starbucks.

The reason this captured my thinking so much is that our church - CrossRoads Church of Cottage Grove, MN - is nearing the point where we will be starting the work for a new church building. This locations is far enough from the existing site that many people won't have a name recognition of the church. I can imagine spending an afternoon outside of Wal-Mart or any of the other local businesses in the area handing out free high quality coffee with one of these insulators wrapped around it as a great way to spread the word. What do you think?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Do we love? Do we love like Christ?

I'm going to piggy back on a great post Scott Hodge made today. Scott is reading a book on my want list, Peppermint-Filled PiƱatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love by Eric Bryant of Mosaic Church (yeah, Erwan McManus' church).

Scott writes:

In chapter one, Eric quotes this scripture:

1 John 4:9-12
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Then Eric says this:

Love equals sacrifice... For too long, I have loved when it was convenient, expedient, or even strategic. To love to the point where it actually hurts connects more closely to what the word means. Love has been reduced to "like" or "lust." Genuine love requires genuine sacrifice."

Wow. That really hits home for me. Scott asks "Can we call it love if there is no sacrifice involved?" Ouch. That's a great and very difficult question that requires some personal soul searching.

Love is a word that is often used far too lightly in our culture. Few fully understand the meaning of what love is. Many of us get glimpses from time to time, but rarely do we see it in it's fullness. To love like Christ, man that is hard. But who ever said following Jesus would be easy?

Do you have an example from your life of this true, sacrificial love? For me it would be my parents. Of course they displayed it to me as a child, but that is not what I am talking about. The love I am speaking about was their love for each other, especially my father's love for my mother. My mother got an infection in her heart when I was a kid, eventually leading to her having some extreme medical issues. A few strokes, brian surgery, open heart surgery, significant memory loss and an artificial heart valve later and my parent's love for each other is stronger. I've never asked my dad about those times, what went through his mind, the struggles he faced with two young boys, a very sick wife, and barely enough money to cover the bills (not to mention the mounting medical costs). That was love, true love, sacrificial love. Do I have that in me? I would like to think so, but the thought scares me. We all are inclined to avoid pain and seek our pleasure.

Scott closes his post with this:

You want to know what's easy? Scott's way. I don't EVER struggle with doing it MY way. No problem there. But living the way of Jesus? Now that's not easy.

So anyway... What do you think? Is it possible to display an action of love without there being any element of sacrifice involved? Is this as black and white as it seems? And if so, what does that mean for us?

My prayer is that Jesus teaches both you the reader as well as I, how to better love like He loves.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is retiring!

Evangelical stalwart Dr. D. James Kennedy was very influential on me in the years leading up to my decision to go to seminary. This must be the year for the old guys to all be retiring I guess.

Founder and Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
Steps Down from Pulpit with Rich Legacy of Faith

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., today announced the retirement of Dr. D. James Kennedy, senior pastor, assuring the congregation and international broadcast audience that the church and related ministries will continue moving forward in the direction set by this visionary leader after founding the church more than 48 years ago in 1959.

“We thank the Lord for His faithfulness to my father over nearly one-half century, through the impact this church has made in the lives of people in this congregation and community and the influence he has had on countless individuals around the world through radio and television,” said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.

“From the beginning, this has been the Lord’s ministry, and we are confident He will raise up other godly men equally committed to proclaiming biblical truth and applying the transforming message of the Gospel in our lives, our families and our culture,” Mrs. Cassidy continued. “The long-range planning committee and denominational session have been developing next steps and working to ensure the church continues to grow and thrive.”

Dr. Kennedy, 76, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later and has since been unable to return to the pulpit. A tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Dr. Kennedy will be held in the main sanctuary of the church at 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Dr. Kennedy started the church and began his pastorate on June 21, 1959, and had from the outset a vision for global impact for Christ. An author of more than 65 books, moral leader and widely quoted champion for righteousness in American life, he is one of the founding board members of the Alliance Defense Fund. In 1995, he opened the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Christian Statesmanship to offer spiritual counsel to members of Congress and their staffs.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, called Dr. Kennedy one of the Church’s “truly significant figures.” In a statement to Dr. Kennedy, Dobson said, “For decades now, you have stood strong in defense of faith, family, and most importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Believers around the world are indebted to you for your vision and leadership.”

For the full article see the News Release.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Steal the stuff you suck at...

I'm stealing this from Steven Furtick.


In keeping with the spirit of this post, I’ll note that I’m sure this thought isn’t original with me (no good ones are). But I don’t remember exactly how it originated, so I’ll post it as my own.

When it comes to using stuff from other people in sermon preparation, there are 3 kinds of preachers:

1. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and admit it
2. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and lie about it
3. Those who rip off sermon material from other guys and are so delusional they don’t even realize they are doing it

Bottom line: Everybody is ripping off somebody, whether they realize it or not.
Of course, there are sub categories for each of these categories. And I don’t want to rehash old arguments about whether or not it’s appropriate to “preach other people’s sermons”.
As for me, I study hard, pray hard, think hard, and preach hard. I feel my delivery is very authentic and unique to who I am. And I discern the heart of what God wants to say to our congregation first and foremost in planning and preparing the context and content of my sermons.

Someone told me last night they were planning on ripping off one of my sermons and my response was: “If my bullet fits your gun, shoot it.”
(I didn’t make that line up either.)
I love when something God originates through me goes beyond me. You can call that being ripped off if you want to. I call it being used by God. My friend called me last week and informed me he sang a song that I wrote while leading worship for 8000 people, and it “wrecked the joint”. He meant that in a good way. Was I upset that he “ripped off” my song? What do you think? I was honored.

So, as one who regularly rips off others, and rather enjoys being ripped off himself, let me give you a piece of advice when ripping off the ideas of others:

Steal the stuff you suck at.
Tap the strengths of others to compensate for your weaknesses. This will allow you to play to your communicative strengths.
For instance, I don’t have to steal many stories, analogies, or one liners from other guys. That’s my communicative sweet spot, so I’m usually covered there.

What I tend to suck at is condensing complicated historical backgrounds when preaching through an Old Testament passage. At least I used to suck at it. Now, I’m getting pretty good, because I learn from the masters. I encourage you to do the same. Pinpoint where you’re naturally strong as a communicator (I recommend asking others to help you identify this), and lean into these strengths wholeheartedly.
Then identify what components of your communication tend to regularly struggle or drag, and steal approaches and angles from the guys who are good at it.

This allows the uniqueness of the voice that God has given you to cut through the clutter of your natural limitations. It’s not taking a shortcut. It’s just intelligent development.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Are you ready to plant a church?

Scott Thomas wrote the following on the Acts 29 Blog.


Determining God's call and a readiness to plant a church is crucial. It demands ruthless self-examination by yourself, by a trusted friend, by someone who supervised you and by those to whom you ministered. Read Ridley's list and rate your characteristics. Get three others to do the same on you. Tally your score at the end.

Ridley's 13 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Church Planter

1. Visioning capacity

  • being a person who projects into the future beyond the present
  • developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry
  • persuasively selling the vision to the people
  • approaching challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles
  • coping effectively with non-visioning elements
  • not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously
  • establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision
  • believing in God's capacity to do great things

Visioning Capacity Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

2. Intrinsically motivated

  • having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence
  • stick-to-itiveness and persistence
  • having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations
  • having a willingness to work long and hard
  • being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing
  • having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina

Intrinsic Motivation Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

3. Creates ownership of ministry

  • helping people to "buy in" and feel responsible for the growth and success of the church
  • gaining commitment of the people to the vision
  • establishing a congregational identity
  • avoiding stereotyping of congregation by imposing unrealistic goals for which it cannot claim ownership

Empowerment Ability Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

4. Relates to the unchurched

  • communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched
  • understanding the "psychology" or mentality of the unchurched
  • moving and functioning in the "personal space" of the unchurched without fear
  • quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level
  • breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched
  • handling crises faced by the unchurched

Relating to the Unchurched Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

5. Spousal cooperation

  • having an explicit agreement regarding each partner's respective role and involvement in ministry
  • having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office
  • evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children
  • functioning as a team through individual and collective action
  • having a strategy for dealing with strangers
  • modeling wholesome family life before church and community
  • agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision
  • deliberately planning and protecting private family life

Spousal Cooperation Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

6. Effectively builds relationships

  • responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people
  • displaying Godly love and compassion to people
  • getting to know people on a personal basis
  • making others feel secure and comfortable in one's presence
  • not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people
  • appreciating and accepting a variety of persons
  • spending quality time with present parishioners without overstepping them for new people

Relationship Building Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

7. Committed to church growth

  • believing in church growth as a theological principle
  • appreciating steady and consistent growth without preoccupation with the quick success factor
  • committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples)
  • recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating
  • establishing the goal of becoming a financially self-supporting church within a specific period of time
  • not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance
  • seeing the church project within the larger context of God's kingdom

Church Growth Commitment Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

8. Responsive to community

  • understanding the culture of the community
  • identifying and assessing community needs
  • responding to community needs on a priority basis such that resources are most efficiently used
  • determining successes and failures of other organized religious attempts to respond to community needs
  • not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer
  • acquiring and understanding of the character and "pulse" of the community
  • adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community

Community Responsiveness Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

9. Utilizes giftedness of others

  • releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry
  • discerning of spiritual gifts in others
  • matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities
  • delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation
  • avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively
  • not prematurely assigning ministry assignments before people are adequately equipped
  • not placing unwarranted restrictions on other's spiritual giftedness

Gift Utilization Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

10. Flexible and adaptable

  • coping effectively with ambiguity
  • coping effectively with constant and abrupt change
  • adapting oneself and one's methods to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project
  • shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth
  • doing "whatever" is necessary "whenever" necessary

Adaptability Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

11. Builds group cohesiveness

  • developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation
  • quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships
  • engaging others in meaningful church activity
  • monitoring the morale of people
  • utilizing groups effectively
  • dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully

Networking Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

12. Resilience

  • experiencing setbacks without defeat
  • riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance)
  • expecting the unexpected
  • rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure

Resilience Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

13. Exercises faith

  • possessing a conviction regarding one's call to church planting ministry
  • believing in God's action
  • having expectation and hope
  • having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests

Faith Score: ______
1= rarely exhibited
2= sometimes exhibited
3= most of the time exhibited
4= passionately exhibited

Readiness to Plant

Gather the scores from the four sources and add them up.

Self-Analysis: ________

Friend: ________

Supervisor: ________

Ministry Recipient: ________

Total: ________

Score above 180 = Ready to Plant

Score between 180 and 161 = Can be ready to plant after working on weak areas

Score above 160 and 141 = Proceed with caution and after serious examination of weak areas.

Score 140 and below = probably not ready to plant. Find the lowest scores and reexamine your life. Look for specific discrepancies among the four results.

Dr. Charles Ridley (A leading pioneer in church planting assessment), Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

John Piper gets a little testy

From the Desiring God Blog today:

The most astonishing thing is that God's grace is so great neither the
Rabbi nor I was struck dead by God during the interview—he, because of
his blasphemous belittlings of God, and I, because of my contaminated
anger at what he said. -John Piper
Read the rest of it. It is really good.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 06, 2007

Eagle Brook Church Vision Workshop

Eagle Brook Church of Lino Lakes and White Bear Lake, MN (multi-campus church) has really stepped up to the plate in providing leadership for local churches in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area the past few years. Below you will see a flier for yet another way this forward thinking and Kingdom building church is helping surrounding churches. If Eagle Brook is doing it, it is worth your time as a leader.

To register click HERE!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge update...

(photo by Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune)

9 dead, 60 injured, 20 missing.

John Piper has responded.

(Photo by Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune)

Wow. Be in prayer. Thanks.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

We're OK! 35W bridge emergency in Minneapolis

Just checking in here, I'm OK, and my family are all OK. I work 3 miles north of that bridge, and my father-in-law works about 150 yards from that bridge. He was leaving work as it came down, but fortunately was not yet on the highway. It took us a while to get a hold of him because of the ensuing stress on the communications grid in that area. It was a long hour. The chaos this has created is beyond imagination. There will be some great stories of heroes coming out of this in the coming days.

A bunch of my wife's co-workers were at or going to the Twin's came when this happened. We're calling around right now checking in on those we can get a hold of.

7 confirmed dead, at least 38 others confirmed injured, and quite possibly still people missing with cars in the river. It's going to be a long couple of days.

Be in prayer for the families impacted by this, as well as all the outstanding rescue and emergency crews. The images we are seeing on the news are mind blowing. 150,000+ cars cross this bridge daily.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,