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Follow Your God-Given Gut Check for a Seamless Service By David Leuschner


MinistryToday July // August 2016

bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come.” When I read that passage, I realized that the Holy Spirit lives inside us and guides us. God loves us and gave us the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It’s important to know we have an advocate. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). Good church-tech leadership has nothing to do with systems, policies or gear, or with how we look and sound. It has to do with whether or not we are listening to the Holy Spirit and following His guidance. As I rewound through all the church services I was involved with and which services worked or didn’t, I realized that the first benchmark was, “Were we listening to the Holy Spirit?” Of course, I don’t believe this is an excuse to have a free-for-all in our church services. I am not saying we should throw out systems, policies and order. After all, in 1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV),

the Bible says to do all things “decently and in order.” The key word in that verse is “all.” I firmly believe our services should be done in an orderly fashion. But I also believe we need to leave room for the Spirit to move during the planning, setup and execution. If we don’t leave room for that, church services can easily become just a show. As leaders, it’s very important that we ask the question, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?” If not, no matter what we have been given to work with, we will struggle to facilitate an atmosphere that engages people in God’s presence. Like the three servants Jesus spoke about in Matthew 25, our Father has entrusted us with resources, some small, some large. No matter the size, He wants us to invest these resources in His people and listen for the God-given gut check called the Holy Spirit. Are you listening?

      David Leuschner is associate senior director of technology and technical arts at Gateway Church in Dallas-Fort Worth. He directs more than 500 volunteers and staff to facilitate several hundred events a month for Gateway’s seven venues. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (both @davidleuschner). This article originally appeared at

G Made This

Often people say to me, “If I had the same resources you have, I could make my church services awesome and everyone would respect my leadership skills and technical decisions.” But Gateway Church started very small. I’m certain we didn’t have moving lights, cool sound systems and video projection systems in the beginning. I believe Gateway has grown because leadership listens to what I call a “gut check.” A great church service is not about how much you have or how your services flow technically speaking. I have had the privilege of working with churches that only had a microphone and a broken speaker, which were used to announce food lines for the homeless. Churches with far fewer resources were as impactful and meaningful as the ones I am part of now. Why? Gut check. So what is a gut check? Why did these services have the same impact on me as the services I am currently privileged to assist with? Why do I attribute it all to a gut check? To understand the answer, you’d have to understand my thinking as a younger tech leader. Many times, I would get “checks” about a decision I made or was about to make. At the time, I didn’t understand it, but would make decisions based on these checks and would flow with them during the service. As an audio engineer, my timing and volume would be based on these checks. I didn’t know how to define a gut check but quickly realized these checks were helping me make good decisions. At one point, our team tracked several years of weekend services without missing a mic cue. We also would catch last-minute changes on the fly. I chalked up this record of success to these checks. I listened to the gut check as if it were my guiding light. As I got older and dug into Scripture more, I realized what my gut checks were and what made an impactful church service. These checks in my spirit had nothing to do with the physical. John 16:12-13 says, “I have yet many things to tell you, but you cannot

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3 Tips to Help You Build a Great Team in Your Small Church By Joshua Mohline

leaders must look to build a worship team that sounds great, carries spiritual authority and operates in unity for the glory of God. In the last issue, we looked at three points to consider in achieving these goals. In this issue, we’ll wind up with three more tips to guide you as you aim for excellence:

1) Build with the right people, not just the right musicians.Imagine you have access to

the best drummer in the world. He played on Michael Jackson’s greatest record— Bad—toured with U2 while Larry Mullen Jr. was sick and taught Hillsong everything they know about drumming. Say this drummer is willing to play for your band. He can’t make it to rehearsal, however. Also, he will be out of town a couple of Sundays every month. And he’s not totally sold on the whole “God” thing. He likes church but is still not sure if it’s for him. His drumming style is more jazzy and hip-hop than what your team is aiming to sound like. This guy doesn’t exactly seem like the greatest fit, does he? Do you think it would be worth playing with him simply because of how awesome he is on drums? Even though the person in this example doesn’t actually exist, this elaborate picture 8

MinistryToday July // August 2016

gets across a simple point: Look for the right people first. Obviously, the individual needs to have some musical inclination to be a member of the band. But more so, it’s critical to find someone who aligns with your ministry vision, looks to serve God before serving himself, is trustworthy and reliable and looks to grow with you. In the long run, you will have a band with far superior chemistry, flow and spiritual authority if you choose this approach rather than a band full of musical all-stars who play different styles, do not serve the Lord and have no loyalty to the ministry or team. If this means you have a team that sounds a little rocky, remember what I said about excellence: When your people have confidence, play within their ability and are teachable, they are winners! 2) Set goals and take risks.At the core of every individual, there is the desire to be great. Unfortunately, few have developed a vision for how to achieve greatness or have received the support to go after it. As Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish; but happy is he who keeps the teaching.” So as a leader who is building a team in a small church, you may not have all the resources to chase after every dream, but you can have a goal in sight to share with your worship band. Set some goals and work toward them together. Here are a few examples of such goals: Goal 1: Write original songs. Co-write original songs and then give your team members the excitement of playing their songs for the church. Build cool arrangements and take risks. Be willing to take chances to achieve some awesome goals. Goal 2: Record an album. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver—like a budget or timeline—but if it’s in your heart to record

an original worship album as a group, let them know! Let them be a part of your dream. Set some achievable markers that can help you realize that dream.

Goal 3: Engage in travel opportunities and itinerant ministry. Start small. Play youth

retreats and local worship nights. Play for free. Wherever you start, it will build excitement for the future and give your team a vision. It will motivate them to become better because they will see their dreams are not as far off as they may have thought. You and your team may never aspire to any of these things, and that’s OK. I simply want to stress the importance of vision and goals. Always remember, every goal and aspiration of your team should support, first and foremost, the strength and building of the local church. We want churches to be healthy and thriving and, out of that, see goals and dreams realized. 3) Have fun.The foundation upon which you must build your worship team is community and camaraderie. Encourage each other, pray for one another and laugh together. Be sure your team knows how much you genuinely care about them. Otherwise, they won’t care how awesome your team’s potential is. Be connected. Be loving. Be family. Be a team. These points will help you achieve the impact you desire with your worship team. Rehearse a lot. Pray big. Take risks. Pursue excellence. You can do it. God will always bring the right people across your path. Be open to building new relationships and discovering the hearts of the people around you. This is going to be fun!

      Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (, the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide.

© iStockphoto/poba

Worship leaders who try to keep up with today’s modern-worship sensibilities have a challenge on their hands. After all, not all churches have the same musical and financial resources as megachurches do. With a few obstacles to overcome, church worship

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Ministry Matters: K I D S V o l . 3 4 // N o . 4

4 Keys to Releasing Children in Ministry

need to look beyond who they are now to see who they will become and view our role in light of that process of becoming. We need to see their destiny in the Lord and how important today is to that destiny.

2) Treat children as full members of God’s family.Your church is their house too!

When you see a child in church in the next five years, just look at him and say, “It is your church too.” When I want to pray for children and teach them about the Holy Spirit, I often look them in the eye and say, “I want to tell you about something before I pray for you. God’s house is your house too.” If you get a bunch of children believing that the church is for them and that it is their house too, they are going to blow the doors off your church. So be intentional and treat children as full members of God’s family. 10 MinistryToday July // August 2016

Managing Editor, Online SHAWN A. AKERS

did. He looked beyond the external to the eternal. Who are the children He let come? I asked myself that: “Who was there? Did He see some future leader in the church of Jerusalem or Antioch?” He must have seen something in those kids, so He prayed over them and blessed them.

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4) Don’t dumb down your teaching.

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Jesus had faith that His life would have an effect on the children, even while He knew they didn’t fully understand what was taking place. This doesn’t mean we should teach above the children, but you don’t have to dumb down the things of God either. There is no Junior Holy Spirit, Peewee Holy Spirit or 7-year-old’s Holy Spirit. “Oh, Holy Spirit, we need your 7-year-old version to come into little Johnny here because he is only 7.” No, we need the Holy Spirit, period! This is really easy. Look at all the childish mistakes the disciples made, and yet Jesus kept teaching them. He didn’t give up but instead made them into men who went out to change the world. Your students can be world-changers too. Be encouraged to pray this prayer before you plan or teach your next lesson or when you communicate the Word of God to the children: “Father, give us the emotions Jesus had when He let the children come to Him. In our families and our ministries, let us see what Jesus sees. Let us see what You see, Father. Help us look beyond their childlike frames to what You have planned for them as they grow, and help us call them into that fullness by not hindering them from coming to You.”

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3) Impart a blessing.That is what Jesus

Lenny La Guardia is executive director of the Children’s Equipping Center and vice president of ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

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1) Look beyond the external to the eternal.

That is what Jesus did when He let the children come to Him (Luke 18:15-17). Don’t see them as 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-year-olds. Look beyond the external to the eternal. If you look at the external very long, your mission is over. You feel you are there to babysit, change a diaper and entertain. Rather, we


By Lenny La Guardia As children’s ministry leaders, embracing the full release of the Holy Spirit among your children will empower your ministry. Do you want to see the children worship, pray, walk in power and preach the gospel? Here are four keys we see when we observe what Jesus did when He let them come to Him:






Dealing With Tension at the Top

How to proceed when conflict among church leaders is beyond resolving


magine a scenario in which two widely known and well-respected ministerial leaders have a serious conflict over which associate to hire—so serious, in fact, that they end their professional association and go their separate ways. Each then hires his own associate and they never work together again. Imagining such a story hardly stretches one’s creativity. It reads exactly like the petty conflicts that rupture ministries and make for sad headlines in the modern Christian press. That particular story of ministerial conflict, however, is not modern. Two thousand years ago, Paul the apostle and his sponsor and mentor, Barnabas, differed on whether or not to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey. Both Paul and Barnabas had seen John Mark’s pitiful failure on a previous journey. The young man had left the team in a lurch and gone home. Barnabas, the aptly named encourager, wanted to scoop the youngster up off the sidewalk and give him a chance to redeem himself. Paul, however, was a type-A choleric with “Never Give an Inch” tattooed on his bicep. Paul maintained that mollycoddling quitters was no way to do the dangerous and demanding work of first-century church-building. Barnabas insisted that giving up on talented and anointed young people because of a failure was no way to do the difficult task of believer-building. The conflict was beyond resolving, and what had been designed as one mission team became two. Paul hired Silas and formed his own missionary team. Barnabas elected to “mollycoddle” John Mark. Great leaders can have insurmountable differences of opinion and viewpoint. Both may still be great. Both may even be “right,” and for that matter, both may be “wrong.” The story of Paul and Barnabas is more than a cautionary tale about church squabbles. It affords some important insights. First, in some conflicts, there may not even be a right and wrong. Neither Paul nor Barnabas was wrong. They just had differing goals. Paul was focused on the sacred importance of the mission, while Barnabas was unwilling to leave a wounded warrior behind. Both were valid and important points of view, but both could not be the presiding value in the selection of a lieutenant. Second, not every conflict will be resolved or even needs to be resolved. Sometimes there is no resolution. Two teams rather than one may be the correct answer. Having said that, the separation

must be accomplished ethically. Paul did nothing to harm Barnabas. Every associate pastor has the right to leave. But he cannot walk off with the money or the members, and he cannot roll a hand grenade in the door as he exits. Finally, the long-run view may reveal where in the conflict each party was “righter” or “wronger” than he knew at the time. When Paul and Silas separated, Paul, who had been Barnabas’ understudy, jumped to the head of the leadership queue. From that moment, Paul, not Barnabas or even Peter himself, became the pre-eminent luminary of the New Testament church. That Paul’s ascendency was undoubtedly God’s will hardly makes Barnabas wrong about John Mark. Were it not for Barnabas’ restoration of John Mark, we might not have the Gospel of Mark. Likewise, but for Paul’s somewhat uncompromising talent development program, the New Testament might not include the names of Silas and Timothy. No record exists of some later reunion at which Paul and Barnabas discussed their rift, but what if it happened like this? What if Paul said, “You see, I was right about that journey”? What if Barnabas replied, “Yes, you were right about that. But I was right about John Mark”? We do, however, have the New Testament, in which Paul subsequently wrote of John Mark, “I find him useful.” One cannot help but wonder if that statement brought a wry smile to Barnabas’ lips. “Now you find him useful, now that I’ve cleaned him up and healed him after you rejected him! Sure. Now you find him useful.” As long as there are humans, even sanctified, apostolic humans in church leadership, there will be conflict. God’s grace, His calling and His destiny is unique in each of us. Conflict is not always bad, and it is not always resolvable. Yet it must be handled with grace and love. Not long before he died, I asked Jamie Buckingham if he had some great truth to share with me. I will never forget what he said: “Sometimes it is better to be kind than right.”

12 MinistryToday July // August 2016

D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of both Global Servants and the National Institute of Christian Leadership. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.

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Engage Your Team in Meaningful Work

Help your employees move beyond the standard ‘gainful employment’ paradigm


ow do you define work? In American culture today, most people define it as “gainful employment.” But this definition is backward because it emphasizes wages and profit, which are only the by-products of work. Rather, the essence of work is the actual product or service being produced, and that should be the focus. The “gainful employment” paradigm has contributed to the creation of jobs that are inherently meaningless and alienating. Does the Bible have anything to say to us here? Indeed, it does. A biblical view of work starts with calling, not wages. Our Creator has given every one of us a unique blend of gifts, personalities and passions. He calls each of us to work as a craftsman for whom work is the natural expression of our gifts. Esteemed British author Dorothy Sayers shows this is a major shift, as the “craftsman lives to do the work he loves, but the factory hand lives by doing the work he despises.” Indeed, our Lord Himself was a carpenter well before His public ministry started and much longer than its duration. I doubt the Father saw that as a waste! I believe Jesus was a first-rate craftsman. So what should we make of this? God cares about how we do our work. Usually we think all the church has to say to the worker is that he should exercise morality and attend services, but Sayers notes that to the craftsman, “the first demand that his religion makes on him is that he should make good tables.” In my 24 years in business, I have found that deep down all employees want to do good work, but when work is not meaningful, they become disengaged. A 2015 Gallup poll revealed only 33.2 percent of the American workforce is engaged in—or involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to—their work and workplace, and millennials are the least engaged at 28.9 percent. Gallup suggests this is because they are not “working in jobs that allow them to use their talents and strengths.” Successful employers will do what they can to give meaning to their employees’ jobs and help them utilize their talents on the job. Employers should understand that every job is critical to the corporate mission and celebrate the role each team member plays. In modern, efficiency-driven division-oflabor models, work is taken further away from the final deliverable, leading to alienation. Employers should seek to give each job a meaningful deliverable, a sense of what it means for employees to work at the highest level of their

craft and why their role is important to the corporate mission. Every job should allow the employee to creatively express himself in some way, something that is possible even for the most mundane jobs. For instance, few jobs are more mundane than that of a hotel maid, yet we find that maids at the best hotels fold the toilet paper into a triangle, place chocolates on the bed and leave a nice note telling us they hope we are enjoying our stay. These creative touches not only give the guest a better experience, but the maid gains satisfaction in knowing she participated in a meaningful way to the successful operation of a world-class property. Creativity goes hand in hand with employee engagement and is a good measure of it. Leaders should cultivate this craftsman-like creativity wherever they can. Because work is the expression of natural gifting, employers need to exercise proper pre-hire due diligence to make sure prospective staff are a good fit for the position. This starts with a well-defined job that accurately matches the skills needed to the candidate, followed by testing to ensure he has the right gifting and personality for the position and then the necessary discipline to make sure the right hire is made. But this is harder than it sounds. The pressure to hire quickly to fill a need rather than wait for the right person can overwhelm the best intentions. At one point in our company, we found ourselves consistently hiring people because they had experience even though, in retrospect, these hires were poor personality fits for the jobs. It’s easy to define work in terms of monetary considerations because it is the culture’s default measure of success, but be careful to avoid this paradigm. The essence of work is the product or service being produced, which is the expression of who we are and how we are created. Successful leaders will use this biblical truth and create organizations with highly productive and engaged employees.

“Deep down all employees want to do good work, but when work is not meaningful, they become disengaged.”

14 MinistryToday July // August 2016

M a r k T e d f o r d is a partner at Tedford Insurance, a secondgeneration insurance brokerage, and has business interests in transportation and real estate. After obtaining a Master of Business Administration at Tulsa University, he went to Biola University to broaden his studies and received a Master of Christian Apologetics degree. A regular speaker for business organizations, he serves on several boards and is chairman of the Oklahoma Apologetics Alliance.






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Rising and Falling

4 principles for determining what really matters in your effectiveness as a leader


verything rises and falls on leadership.” For years, John Maxwell has taught that basic principle of leadership through his words and actions. As ministry leaders, Maxwell’s quote—or some thought close to it—stares us in the face every morning as we prepare for another day of being God’s hands and feet in the world. Our leadership lid—or the leadership ability that determines our effectiveness—has an influence, and that haunts us a bit, especially if we’re not hitting our metrics. But while that can be frustrating, it also keeps us motivated. The key to balancing our desire to do more and the weight of our responsibility is discovering what “winning” looks like in our particular ministry and what principles move us in that direction. Once we get a handle on that, we can adjust our leadership to make it more effective. For example, at Ramsey Solutions, we regularly wrestle with what it means to win and how we can get there. We always work to determine what matters most to us and, ultimately, to the people we help. Those principles connect to our core values—the non-negotiables that determine how we operate as a business. I’ve outlined four of those principles below. I believe they are tried and true, and that they will work for any ministry or business: 1) People matter. Every person—family members, volunteers, staff members, attendees, vendors or even other leaders—is a human being, not a unit of production. They should feel valued and respected. They should be treated with kindness, even if they aren’t in our good graces at the moment. In short, ministry leadership is all about the people. Instead of using the people to accomplish tasks, we have to let the tasks build the people. We have a responsibility to follow the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31) and love others as Jesus loves them. After all, if we treat someone like family, they’ll start acting like family. 2) Excellence matters. Everything we do should be done with excellence, and that passion should flow to the team. Passionate people working in their personal sweet spot allows a ministry to do its best work. Of course, that starts with hiring, so it’s important not to rush to fill an open spot. We need to take our time and get it right. At Ramsey Solutions, prospective team members go through at least five interviews, including one with their spouse, in the course of several weeks. If we ensure excellence first, it will trickle down into every nook and cranny of the ministry. In a church context, it’s also good to remember that excellence

doesn’t mean having the same staff as the church down the road. It means having the best staff possible at your church’s stage of development. Other churches are likely in different seasons, so they have different variables. Seek excellence in your own context. That is the foundation of biblical stewardship and leads to contentment. 3) Slow and steady matters. Sometimes leaders think success means astronomical growth. Many times, the opposite might be true. Effective businesses and ministries typically follow the same model as The Tortoise and the Hare: Slow and steady wins the race every time. Pursue growth, but make sure your infrastructure can sustain that growth. Some seasons are perfect for increases, while other seasons let us strengthen our stakes (Is. 54:2). As Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy used to say, “We have to get better before we get bigger.” Slow and steady gives you the freedom to plan but still have the flexibility to make course corrections. 4) Financial principles matter. Don’t borrow money to make it big. Instead, save for what you need and then expand. Avoiding debt lowers risk and minimizes mistakes. Follow these four tips when thinking through big-ticket issues: hh Always pay with cash. hh Rent until you can pay cash. hh Outsource to avoid going into debt. hh Buy high-quality, used equipment. We’ve found that consistently doing these simple things fosters success, whereas neglecting them leads to decline. Filter your calendars and agendas through these principles to see where you can improve. Since today’s success is yesterday’s execution, patience is more than just a virtue. It’s a necessity. But it’s also a key ingredient in expanding our God-given ministries. What’s more, it can help you manage some of the tension you feel as a leader. Who knows? You might enjoy John Maxwell’s quote a whole lot more. Knowing what really matters makes all the difference.

16 MinistryToday July // August 2016

C h r i s B r o w n is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, “Chris Brown’s True Stewardship” provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Follow him at, on Twitter (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair.)

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The Real

Family Feud What the legendary Hatfields and McCoys can teach leaders about


conflict resolution

18 MinistryToday July // August 2016

Tune into our Charisma Podcast Network shows—”Greenelines” and “Charisma Connection”—as Pastor Bill Hatfield tells how the Hatfields & McCoys’ feud was finally resolved.


A “The Lord commands us to love our enemies, but that’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.”

West Virginia Division of Culture and History | © iStockphoto/darkbird77

—Ron McCoy

lthough cameras from the National Geographic Channel’s Diggers show were rolling that November day of 2014, Billy Hatfield and Ron McCoy shared an intensely personal moment as they knelt together at the site of an historic tragedy. Nearly 127 years earlier, a band of Hatfields had killed two McCoys and burned down the McCoys’ family’s cabin. “I’m really sorry all this happened,” said Billy, great-grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield. His family had slain two adult children of Randolph McCoy (aka Randall McCoy) and severely beaten his wife in a New Year’s Day attack in 1888. In return, Ron—great-great-great grandson of Randolph McCoy—shrugged off the apology, saying his family had done bad things to the Hatfields as well. Yet as Ron reflected on the gesture, its significance overwhelmed him. “It was a few days later before I realized how profound that was, that Devil Anse’s great-grandson had apologized to me,” says McCoy, a financial officer for the state of North Carolina. “It showed how far we had come. It meant so much for Billy to do that. It was no accident that we were kneeling on the ground. That painted a real picture of where we’ve come the last 18 years.” Since Ron McCoy awakened to his family’s heritage in 1998, the Hatfields and McCoys have come to a further blending of the two clans from southern West Virginia (Hatfields) and eastern Kentucky (McCoys), families whose hatred for each other had led to lawsuits, beatings and murders. Even though there were other feuds— some bloodier—in the region, none stirred the national imagination quite as much. That included a host of newspaper reporters chronicling the carnage, the governors of their respective states getting involved and the feud becoming a staple of history books and stage productions. May marked the fifth anniversary of

two daily productions of a drama at the Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Jenny Wiley Theater in Pikeville, Kentucky, hosts a version of the story every summer, as does the Hatfields and McCoys Heritage Council in nearby Phelps, Kentucky. Since a History Channel miniseries starring Kevin Costner (Devil Anse Hatfield) and Bill Paxton (Randall McCoy) aired in 2012, tourists have come from across the world to visit battle sites and historical markers in the region bordering southeastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. The curious see and hear about the Civil War-era conflict that arose between patriarchs William Anderson (Devil Anse) Hatfield and Randolph McCoy and their respective families. Both fought for the South in the Civil War and lived in relative peace on both sides of the Tug River that separated the two states. But that changed after the war ended and McCoy filed a lawsuit alleging that Devil Anse had stolen his horse. Though Hatfield insisted on his innocence, when Asa Harmon McCoy, Randolph’s brother—who fought for the Union—was found shot to death, the family suspected a Hatfield. What followed in the ensuing years can only be described as disastrous. In one incident in 1882, members of the McCoy clan stabbed Devil Anse’s brother, Ellison, 26 times before shooting him. After Ellison died, the Hatfields retaliated by killing the McCoys alleged to have committed the act. Although bench warrants were issued in Kentucky for the arrest of several of the Hatfields, they were never executed. Years of skirmishes followed until the Hatfields attacked the McCoys’ homeplace about 25 miles east of Pikeville at the dawn of 1888. The death of Randolph McCoy’s children inspired him to move his remaining family members to Pikeville. Meanwhile, Devil Anse sold his land and moved farther away from Williamson, West Virginia, with both moves symbolizing the division that » lived on for years. July // August 2016 MinistryToday   19

Not nearly as well-known is how the feud began to dissipate more than a century ago, when the longtime efforts of a circuit-riding preacher bore fruit. Dyke Garrett, a farmer known as “The Mountain Preacher,” led Devil Anse to faith in Christ at a revival meeting in September 1911. In addition to Garrett’s faithful witnessing, another key event spurred

Devil Anse’s decision, says Pikeville historian Reed Potter. Two of Devil Anse’s sons were killed in a shootout in Wheeling, West Virginia—most likely in a dispute over liquor rights since the Hatfields were major moonshine dealers. “For the first time at their funeral, Devil Anse went to his uncle and said, ‘I’m ready to come to church,’” Potter recalls. “In every (previous) photo I could find of Devil Anse, he had a gun in his hand. From

Changing the Family Tree When it comes to reconciling deep-seated divisions in a church or in an organization, it may help to call on outside consultants to resolve the tension. But for years, no one in Pikeville, Kentucky, or surrounding towns wanted to discuss the Hatfields-and-McCoys feud that plagued the region in the late 1800s, says historian Reed Potter. At first, many newspapers in West Virginia reflected the same sentiment. Once the feud achieved greater recognition, however, the state’s tourism authority warmed to discussing the Hatfields, says Potter, director of the Big Sandy Heritage Center, which houses the Hatfields and McCoys Museum.

The Hatfields and McCoys signed

a truce to end their feud in 2003. “In the Pikeville area, people didn’t want to talk about it,” Potter says. “There is still that feeling here.”

That’s where the efforts of family members from outside the area paid off. Their initiative led to a 2003 ceremony where sides of both families signed a truce marking the end of the feud. Held during the fourth annual Hatfield-McCoy Reunion, the event was broadcast on The Early Show, CBS’ morning program at the time. It was initiated by Reo Hatfield, Ron McCoy, Bo McCoy and other family members, Potter says. This outside intervention was key in spurring the continuing efforts to bridge the historic gap, Potter says. The director of a nondenominational ministry at the University of Pikeville, Potter sees a key lesson emerging from the reconciliation: It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to bring lasting change. “You couldn’t have had a much worse situation in the Hatfield family, and yet Devil Anse (Hatfield) gave his life to the Lord and the whole family changes for generations,” Potter says. “Look at what (Pastor) Bill is doing now, and you can see what that decision meant from that day forward.”—Ken Walker 20 MinistryToday July // August 2016

that point forward, I can’t find any photos of him with a gun in his hand. “That was a sea change. His sons, who had killed several people, got converted. One became a lawyer, and his nephew later became the governor of West Virginia. I think Devil Anse was truly converted.” It is that redemption and the reconciliations that followed that Billy Hatfield and Ron McCoy hope will attract more attention from the public. After his conversion, then-71-year-old Devil Anse became as peaceful a neighbor as anyone could want, says Billy Hatfield, pastor of Charity Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, noting that photos of Devil Anse’s baptism still exist. Pastor Hatfield recalls that his grandmother lived with Devil Anse after she married Devil Anse’s son, Tennyson, known as “Tennis.” Revealing how much her father-in-law had changed, she described him as a “kind gentleman.” “She adored him and went horseback riding with him,” says Pastor Hatfield, an avid family historian. “Devil Anse’s son, Cap, gave up his guns and got a law degree. Author and historian F. Keith Davis says it helped end the feud and impacted generations of Hatfields. What happened in 1911 is still going on today.” McCoy says the thawing of relations between the two sides sounds impossible. Echoing several other family members, Ron says the point is that if God can do this kind of work among their families, He can do the same in any family, church or organization grappling with longstanding animosity. “Anybody can embrace their enemies,” McCoy says. “Anyone can forgive those who have wronged them. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us. The Lord commands us to love our enemies, but that’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.”

Long-Term Work

That the Hatfields and McCoys are still working to repair the breach demonstrates the long-term nature of achieving lasting peace. Billy Hatfield says the first effort occurred nearly 90 years ago, when Tennis Hatfield—then sheriff of Logan County, West Virginia—visited Pikeville. As Tennis

Jerry D. Hatfield

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Sadie’s husband called a reconciliatory meeting with the McCoys. That eventually led to Ron and his cousin Bo launching a Hatfield-McCoy Reunion in 2000, featuring softball games, a tug of war, plays, dinners and other events. The thawing of the atmosphere continues, with annual reunions held in June in Matewan, West Virginia, and in September in Pikeville, Kentucky. In addition to Billy and Ron’s

Demonstrating the Power of Reconciliation Heather Vaillancourt, great-granddaughter of Devil Anse Hatfield, thinks reconciliation can have a tremendous impact when demonstrated by men. “People naturally expect women to be softer and forgiving, but when you see men like my brother (Billy Hatfield) and Ron McCoy down in the dirt that day, kneeling and forgiving each other, it’s very moving,” Vaillancourt says. Although Vaillancourt has family roots in the region where the famous feud took place, she grew up in Detroit and later moved to Arkansas. She had never met a McCoy until she returned for the first reunion in Pikeville, Kentucky, in 2000. The Hatfields and McCoys played softball together and ostensibly got along, but Vaillancourt saw little mingling between them that day. Even after attending several more festivals—including one in nearby Matewan, West Virginia—riding in parades and meeting residents, her pessimism remained. But her expectations changed in November 2014 when she came to an archeological dig at Randolph and Sarah McCoy’s homestead Actor Kevin Costner portrayed Devil Anse Hatfield in the 2012 in Hardy, Kentucky. History Channel miniseries. After Billy dropped to his knees and asked Ron for forgiveness, Vaillancourt followed suit. “I apologized to Ron and told him how horrible we felt for what our family had done to his,” she says. “Ron was gracious. They felt bad, too, for the part their family played in the feud. Now we feel like cousins. The (McCoys) are great men and want their legacy (to) go forward in a totally different direction than it has in the past.” Billy and Ron’s step of courage to bring together their families shows how reconciliation can have a significant impact well beyond a single moment in time. —Ken Walker 22 MinistryToday July // August 2016

apology that took place on the Diggers set in 2014, descendants of both families formed the Hatfields & McCoys Foundation in January 2016. The group’s goal is to purchase the property where the McCoy cabin was set on fire and rebuild the cabin, add public restrooms and incorporate historical materials into the exhibit. In regard to multiple reconciliations, Billy Hatfield says as each generation matures and becomes aware of the terrible things their ancestors did to each other, they are drawn closer together. “Ron McCoy is like a real brother to me,” Billy says. “Here we are today, brothers in Christ and far removed (from the conflict). We have a tremendous bond now in the love and reconciliation of Christ.” Ron says he has become close to a number of Hatfields, such as Jerry and Joann of Texarkana, Texas, whom he calls his aunt and uncle; Reo, a Waynesboro, Virginia, businessman who was a key figure in the signing of an official truce between the families in 2003; and Bob Scott, who owns the site where the McCoy cabin once stood. “I’m very proud to call them friends,” Ron says. “They’re more than friends. We’re this hyphenated family: HatfieldsMcCoys. You can’t have one without the other.” Still, this doesn’t mean achieving such positive relationships came easily. Billy Hatfield’s sister, Heather Vaillancourt, recalls the painful emotions that rose to the surface when she watched the History Channel miniseries and realized the full nature of what her family had done to the McCoys. When she called Billy at the conclusion of the broadcast, both struggled for words. The TV series was a key reason she and Billy apologized to Ron two years later. “I don’t know if that would have happened without the miniseries,” Vaillancourt says. “Knowing Devil Anse later accepted the Lord means the world to me. I’m looking forward to meeting him (in heaven).”

Conflict Resolution

As a pastor for four decades, Billy Hatfield has considerable experience

Kevin Lynch

sat on a friend’s front porch, Randolph’s son Jim came walking up the street. Jim was a small boy when the Hatfields attacked his family’s cabin in 1888. After learning of Jim’s identity, Tennis walked over, introduced himself and grasped his hand warmly. Word quickly spread, and a photo of the pair and three other friends appeared in newspapers nationwide. Fifty years later, in 1978, Billy Hatfield’s Uncle Willis, Grandmother Sadie and

in conflict resolution. He says it starts with focusing on the nature of a conflict, which typically belongs in one of three primary categories: hh Natural—the kind that originate with normal differences of opinion, such as music styles or sanctuary colors. hh Unnatural—the source of serious trouble, arising from personality disorders, selfishness, past abuse or people harboring resentment and bitterness. hh Evil—the most serious type, which involves people who are intentionally malicious and use lies, exaggerations or false accusations to get their own way. The Civil War represented a conflict that divided many families. Since people are still arguing over whether the Confederate cause was just, Pastor Hatfield says it is natural to assume the Civil War stirred heated debate in Kentucky and Virginia prior to and during the war. (The state of West Virginia didn’t form until 1863.) But it was evil for neighbors to return from fighting and use the breakdown of law and order that occurred during the war as an excuse to raid their neighbors’ farms. It was also evil for the Hatfields to allegedly kill a McCoy as he hid in a 24 MinistryToday July // August 2016

cave after returning from action with the Union army, Billy says. The conflict that reigned for decades is what made Devil Anse’s salvation so crucial to reorienting history. Likewise, anyone who has experienced conversion to Christ should take their responsibility as a peacemaker seriously. “Spirit-filled believers are healthy people who really listen, forgive, love, have patience, are humble and are willing to submit to authority,” the pastor says. “They will confess and ask forgiveness when they are in the wrong. They will not pridefully forge ahead with selfish goals, destroying all in their paths. Randolph and Devil Anse were none of this.” Another key to achieving reconciliation is understanding the dysfunctional history of members of congregations and organizational teams. Hatfield says the clannishness, litigious nature and “mountain man” mentality of relying on yourself instead of on civil authority would have made ministering to his family or the McCoys in the past a truly monumental challenge. The same problems exist today. People hold grudges, divide into factions and vent emotions in unhealthy

K e n W a l k e r is a freelance writer and book editor based in Huntington, West Virginia. He wrote his first story about the Hatfield-and -McCoy feud as a newspaper editor nearly 40 years ago.

P. Stewart Smith

At the Kentucky State Fair, Ron McCoy, left, and Billy Hatfield, right, stop by to see P. Stewart Smith, who painted pictures of their families’ patriarchs.

ways. Pastors or leaders working in this kind of environment must encourage their people to air grievances, let each side speak and seek to resolve the differences, Billy says. “Leaders need to stay good-natured, loving and kind as they go through this,” Billy Hatfield says. “They need to have conflict resolution skills and empathize with both sides. “A lot of people tend to be chronically unhappy. What they’re directing toward you is not really toward you. It’s far better to get them alone and say, ‘I sense something here. You seem to have a lot of anger. What is really bothering you?’ Then speak the truth in love.” Pastors and leaders should also remember that reconciliation can open the same kind of doors it has for Ron McCoy, who is often asked to speak about the feud at churches, Rotary Clubs and other venues. While people in the church often understand how Christ’s death reconciles us with God, the concept is less familiar in secular environments. That is why Christians should recognize why mending fences can speak so powerfully to the world, Ron says. “Outside of the Holy Spirit and God’s influence, this reconciliation never would have happened,” McCoy says. “We have felt the move of the Holy Spirit. “I’ve seen total strangers embrace in tears. Hatfields and McCoy who never knew each other have embraced and become lifelong friends. When Bo and I started the annual reunions (in 2000), we didn’t know God had a grander plan.” Vaillancourt says such a remarkable feat should inspire pastors, church members and others to strive for a similar understanding in the midst of conflict. “If Christians would live their lives like that, always putting others first and loving God, all the pieces would fall into place,” she says. “There’s so much beauty and grace in forgiveness.”



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Fights Handling clashes within and conflicts without

© iStockphoto/PeopleImages; schus



hen conflict arises in a church, a tired or stressed pastor may not respond well. Ed Stetzer, then executive director of LifeWay Research, voiced that fact after reviewing LifeWay’s 2015 online study that showed 25 percent of pastors who left their positions did so because of conflict. Although a “change in calling” was the top reason pastors gave for leaving their congregations prematurely, LifeWay found that conflict was the second. For the study, LifeWay surveyed 734 former senior pastors from the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptist Convention, Church of the Nazarene and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The respondents had all left the pastorate before retirement age. The research revealed that about 56 percent of the pastors experienced conflicts from changes they proposed in


the church, while 54 percent faced personal attacks. From offended members to full-blown disagreements concerning the direction of the church, most pastors are not prepared in Bible college or seminary to deal with people. Nearly 48 percent of pastors in the study say they were not equipped to handle the people side of ministry. In that light, Ministry Today spoke with three pastors from different church backgrounds who have dealt with conflict in their congregations. Aaron Campbell of Rising Sun Outreach Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee, and president of the Memphis chapter of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America; Bubba Justice of Inverness Vineyard Church in Birmingham, Alabama; and Scott Hagan of Real Life Sacramento in Sacramento, California, shared their wisdom and experience in handling conflict and its causes.

What type of conflict is common in churches today?


Aaron Campbell

Rising Sun Outreach Ministries Memphis, Tennessee

“Churches generally agreed on what was considered moral or indecent for Christians (in the past, but) now we live in a society where members within the church disagree on what’s considered right and what’s considered wrong. For instance, the great majority of Christians years ago believed that homosexuality was biblically wrong. Now within the same church setting, many believe there’s nothing wrong with samesex marriage. This definitely presents conflict. Many in the church have strayed from fundamental biblical teaching, while others endorse the Bible as our guide to Christian living. Many in the church have moved toward a more worldly view concerning moral issues. As a result, great conflict has developed within the church.”

Tony Wright


What pitfalls should pastors be aware of when handling conflicts with staff or members?


“The pastor should be aware of certain factions within the church that disagree with his stance on moral issues and use wisdom to correct the situation before it gets out of hand. The greatest pitfall would be other members gaining support against his teaching that could lead to a split in the church.”


When should a pastor delegate addressing a conflict?

“Delegation should start at the onset when it is discovered that there are factions within the church causing problems concerning the issue.”


How can a leader prevent or de-escalate a conflict that is starting?




“The only way a leader can prevent this type of conflict from escalating within the church is to make sure the church understands his position clearly on moral issues,

especially in a setting where there is much disagreement.”

What legal issues might pastors and leaders run into when addressing a church conflict?

“If the church does not have it spelled out in their by-laws what the church believes concerning moral issues such as same-sex marriage, this could present some legal problems.” » July // August 2016 MinistryToday   29


How can a leader prevent or de-escalate a conflict that is starting?


Real Life Sacramento Sacramento, California


What type of conflict is common in churches today?


“I have a deeply held belief that a person’s relational maturity (intelligence) isn’t based on their inability to offend but on their inability to be offended. I also believe that most conflict happens when an overreaction collides with an underreaction. The most common types of conflict arise over jealousies. People feel they can do a better job than someone else they perceive was promoted over them. And I’m not talking about staff serving in paid positions but volunteers in roles that require some type of empowerment. When a person harbors resentment over another person’s success, they will either become aloof or disloyal or seek to sabotage that person’s success. If that person’s effort or competency is holding back the team, then feelings of hurt arise when they quietly or loudly want them replaced. “Someone feels disrespected by a terse and short answer or left out because they weren’t invited. Everything that affects the workplace affects the local church. In my opinion, most conflict of any size starts small and involves some kind of offense.” 30 MinistryToday July // August 2016


What pitfalls should pastors be aware of when handling conflicts with staff or members?


What legal issues might pastors and leaders run into when addressing a church conflict?


“We don’t believe it’s scriptural to sue a fellow brother or sister, according to 1 Corinthians 6:5-7. We have an arbitration process in place for members that’s nonbinding but still valid. The greatest issues involve cash investments in which money was lost and the injured party felt the church had someone endorsed them because they perceived them as a congregational leader. Those are very difficult to deal with.”


“When you hide some of the facts or diminish the role a person is playing in the conflict because of family loyalties or long-standing friendship loyalties, chaos is coming. There must be structural mechanisms in place to promote the integrity of the organization as a whole so that fairness and truth remains strong. When it comes to money or family members, the ease by which a pastor can lose his or her discernment soars. I’m not opposed to family serving in ministry—I have several family members on staff—but I’m crystal clear on the pitfalls and have constructed an honest administrative system that’s above reproach.”


When should a pastor delegate addressing a conflict?


“As far as congregationally, we teach our flock the basics of reconciliation, but we also want them to know they’re safe, and if they’re not getting to the root of something and it’s hindering their ability to freely worship at church, our pastors and elders will step into the situation. I want them to grow and be biblically capable of reconciling and de-escalating themselves, but they have at their disposal wise and seasoned

Bubba Justice

Vineyard Church Birmingham, Alabama


What type of conflict is common in churches today?


“The most common conflict is relational conflict from perceived slights to lack of inclusion, such as how children or youth have been treated to someone feeling like he’s been ignored. The pastor who mentored me taught me, ‘God will give you grace to deal with those who harm you, but God

Frank Carnaggio


“It’s imperative a pastor keeps his or her cool, no raising of the voice or threats. I’ve never heard something wise spoken harshly. A gentle answer is the always the right answer. I also move quickly because I recognize the devastating consequences of procrastination. Procrastination doubles the price of everything in life. That doesn’t mean I don’t deliberate, but I tell those waiting on me for leadership that I’m ‘reflecting’ on the situation so I can get a clear understanding of reality.”

leaders who are available to them on short notice.”

will not give you grace for someone else’s offense.’”


How can a leader prevent or de-escalate a conflict that is starting?


“My partner in ministry and worship leader, Steve Cole, has been with me for 23 years. He and I have never had a serious long-term conflict. He attributes that to the fact that we pray together almost every day of the work week for an hour.”


What pitfalls should pastors be aware of when handling conflicts with staff or members?


“I believe pastors should be aware of the multiple types of relationships that we have with both

staff and members. As a pastor, my job is to nurture, encourage and build up. When dealing with staff members, sometimes I have to address areas that wound a person. When addressing conflicts with members, pastors should be aware of their authority. People honor my spiritual position, so my words have weight. I have to be much more gentle than if I were resolving conflict in a business context.”


When should a pastor delegate addressing a conflict?




What type of conflict is common in churches today?


How can a leader prevent or de-escalate a conflict that is starting?

32 MinistryToday July // August 2016

What legal issues might pastors and leaders run into when addressing a church conflict?

“I let the issue be addressed at the lowest level of leadership. I learned this from Todd Hunter, former national director of Vineyard USA after John Wimber’s death. By letting a lower-level leader deal with the issue first, there’s an ability to


“Much of the conflict that occurs in the church today is caused by assumed, unmet expectations. As far as conflict goes, I believe the world operates by the principle of respect, but the kingdom is different. The kingdom of God operates by honor. Respect is earned, but honor is given. You give honor because you are honorable. It is not based on how others treat you. If we approach how we treat each other with honor, in whatever situation, it takes a lot of the bite out of any conflict.”

Guts Church Tulsa, Oklahoma


“Again, the answer to this question depends on the nature of the conflict. If a law has been broken and the authorities have been called in, then I believe the church should find the best attorney who also submits his or her practice to kingdom principles. If no law been broken, then I believe the church should seek mediation.”



appeal any decision to the next level of leadership. Apostles appointed deacons to deal with conflict in Jerusalem. If the conflict is doctrinal in nature or could lead to a church split, the pastor needs to be fully engaged in resolving the conflict.”


“I try to live my life being on time—no excuses, no explanations—and staying alert. With this in mind, explanations can cause conflicts to deepen because everybody has a side, everybody has an opinion. The Bible is very clear: ‘Where there are many words, transgression surely follows’ (Prov. 10:19). The best way to handle conflict is to resolve it quickly, professionally and lovingly.”

What pitfalls should pastors be aware of when handling conflicts with staff or members?


“My wife, Sandy, and I have a personal agenda to give ministry away. Ministry boils down to three things: correction, reproof and edification. People need to be developed to delegate that through the leadership of the church.”


When should a pastor delegate addressing a conflict?


“I personally believe that most, if not all, conflicts we face with church members can be prevented if we are intentional to communicate on the front end. It eliminates the potential for conflict later. At Guts Church, we try to approach things in the simplest form and let people know how we handle situations, so that when that situation arises, the response isn’t a surprise to anyone.” L e i l a n i H a y w o o d is the online editor of SpiritLed Woman, a Charisma Media magazine, and the author of Ten Keys to Raising Kids That Love God. Follow her on Twitter (@leilanihaywood).



Pre- or postmillennial? Recent LifeWay research reveals US pastors’ end-times views BY BILLY HALLOWELL


iews on the end times are anything but fluid or unanimous, with pastors and parishioners alike taking divergent stances on the rapture, the millennium, the Antichrist and other eschatological elements. It’s a seemingly never-ending Bible battle extensively documented and unpacked in my new book, The Armageddon Code: One Journalist’s Quest for End-Times Answers. This end-times book differs from past works on the subject in that the topic is approached through a journalistic lens. The book also includes original polling of 1,000 Protestant pastors in the U.S. to explore their views about the biblical “end of days.”

Reigning With Christ on Earth

36 MinistryToday July // August 2016

© iStockphoto/MartialRed; Rastan/Petrovich9; egal; MIHAI ANDRITOIU

When it comes to the theological circumstances surrounding the Second Coming of Christ, it turns out that American pastors espouse a variety of divergent viewpoints, especially regarding the text of Revelation 20. At the center of the debate is the “millennium kingdom,” which is referenced in that chapter. The short description of this time period in the Scriptures has created a plethora of questions and prophetic theories among theologians and end-times enthusiasts. Before diving deeper into the debate, it is essential to explore that section of Revelation: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be set free for a little while. »

“It’s a good thing to come to firm conclusions. But I don’t think we need to have on boxing gloves.” —Ron Rhodes

38 MinistryToday July // August 2016

chose “none of these” or “not sure” when presented with the options.

Caught Up in the Clouds

In addition to asking about pastors’ views on the millennial kingdom, the survey also asked whether preachers believe that millions of Christians will be “raptured” and spared from the tribulation period. Well-known faith leaders also frequently take divergent stands on what the tribulation might look like. Christians who subscribe to “dispensational premillennialism” generally

when the biblical rapture will occur?” The options were: hh The rapture has already occurred (a view associated with Preterism). hh Christians will be taken up before the tribulation period that precedes the Second Coming (often called the pre-trib view). hh Christians will be taken up in the middle of the tribulation period that precedes the Second Coming (often called the mid-trib view). hh Christians will be taken up before the great wrath of God is poured out

“The debate over the rapture is as contentious as ever and is, perhaps, the most disputed and divisive eschatological element.” hold a belief in a rapture event during which Christians will simultaneously leave Earth and ascend to heaven before the chaos of a seven-year tribulation period, concluding with the Second Coming of Christ. Some pastors place the rapture in another part of the tribulation, while others believe the tribulation has already come to fruition at another point in history. While debate has raged for some time, surprisingly there is little data on where American pastors stand on the issue of the rapture. This is precisely why the survey also asked faith leaders the following question: “Which one of the following statements best describes your views on

late in the tribulation period that precedes the Second Coming (often called the pre-wrath view). hh The rapture and the Second Coming are describing events that will unfold simultaneously or close together at the end of the tribulation (often called the post-trib view). hh The concept of the rapture is not to be taken literally. hh None of these hh Not sure Overall, 36 percent of pastors—the largest proportion by far—aligned themselves with the pre-tribulation view, with the second-largest proportion (25 percent) saying, “the concept of the rapture is not to be taken literally.” An

© iStockphoto/Igor Zhuravlov

“I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and the authority to judge was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who takes part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6). These words of Scripture have created quite a bit of discussion and debate. Pastors and theologians have disagreed over whether the millennium period is literal or figurative, and have also haggled over where it fits into proposed eschatological timelines. The poll, which was commissioned through LifeWay Research, asked the clergy members: “Which one of the following statements best fits your views on the millennium described in Revelation 20? The chapter says that Christ shall reign ‘a thousand years.’” The pastors were given these answer choices: hh There is no literal millennium, but Christ is currently reigning spiritually and in the hearts of Christians (often called amillennialism). hh The millennium is not a literal 1,000 years, but an era in which the world will gradually grow more Christian and just ending with Christ’s Second Coming (often called postmillennialism). hh The millennium will be a future literal 1,000-year period during which Jesus reigns on Earth following Christ’s Second Coming (often called premillennialism). hh None of these/Not sure Overall, the largest proportion of pastors—48 percent—expressed support for premillennialism, with an additional 31 percent opting for amillennialism. The third most prevalent view was postmillennialism, which attracted just 11 percent of ministers. An additional 12 percent

additional 18 percent aligned themselves with the post-tribulation belief that the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ are essentially one in the same. As documented in The Armageddon Code, the debate over the rapture is as contentious as ever and is, perhaps, the most disputed and divisive eschatological element. While proponents claim that the Bible backs the mass disappearance of believers from the Earth, others say its advocates are confusing and misreading Scripture. While numerous Scripture references point to an event or moment in which Jesus returns and Christians ascend to heaven, there’s a great deal of debate over the finer details, Dr. Ron Rhodes, end-times expert and best-selling author, once told TheBlaze. “You’ve got a lot of Christians who have different opinions on a lot of this ... and so I think it’s a good thing to come to firm conclusions,” Rhodes said. “But I don’t think we need to have on boxing gloves.” TO LEARN MORE, READ THIS:

Billy Hallowell’s new book, The Armageddon Code (FrontLine/Charisma House), is available at, amazon .com or wherever Christian books are sold. Learn more at 40 MinistryToday July // August 2016

While he acknowledges that there are pre-, post- and mid-tribulation theories, Rhodes believes that the Bible supports the pre-tribulation paradigm— and that many of the events going on in the world are intertwined with biblical eschatology. Chaos in the Middle East—which is certainly not unique to contemporary times—is a factor that leads Rhodes to conclude that the end times could be approaching. Others, of course, fervently disagree.

The Spirit of Antichrist

The last question the survey asked involved the theological proposal of an Antichrist—a figure some believe will rise to power and wreak havoc on the Earth. While some pastors say they see biblical evidence for this, others push back, yielding a variety of alternative views on the matter. Nearly half of the Protestant pastors surveyed (49 percent) said they believe the Antichrist will be “a figure who will arise sometime in the future” when asked to choose from a series of descriptions about him. The secondlargest proportion of preachers (14 percent) said they believe the Antichrist is “just a personification of evil,” with an additional 12 percent saying “there is no individual Antichrist.” Almost equal proportions of pastors

B i l l y H a l l o w e l l is the faith editor and an assistant editor at TheBlaze. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Human Events, The Daily Caller and The Huffington Post, among other news sites. You can follow Hallowell on Twitter (@billyhallowell).

© iStockphoto/Rich Legg

Many pastors believe the eschatological clock is ticking toward the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

said that the Antichrist is “a figure who already arose sometime in the past” (6 percent) or is “an institution” (7 percent). An additional 7 percent of pastors surveyed said that they are not sure where they stand on the matter. As noted in The Armageddon Code, there are a number of key Scripture passages in which some Christians see references to an Antichrist figure, including the following: “And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator” (Dan. 9:27). “Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For that Day will not come unless a falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself as God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4). As many pastors know, the term “antichrist” only appears a few times in the Bible and is seen solely in the books of 1 John and 2 John, though the context of those references seems to be speaking more to the “spirit of the antichrist,” which is described as the character of a person who denies Jesus. For example, 1 John 2:18 reads: “Little children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that the antichrist will come, even now there are many antichrists. By this, we know that it is the last hour.” Pastors seeking to lead their congregations in understanding end-times theology know that the subject can demand significant time and attention. Disparate views on these doctrines, as seen in the LifeWay research, reveal the need for continued study, all the while acknowledging the sovereignty of God in the last days. 


Passing on the Mantle

How longtime minister Marilyn Hickey trains young leaders


42 MinistryToday July // August 2016

Marilyn visited with people door to door to share the gospel. “We always had people saved because we went and got them, and we had people Spiritfilled,” she says. After about a year, the Hickeys moved to Amarillo, Texas, where they served as assistant pastors at First Assembly. There she taught a Sunday school class for young married couples. “I hadn’t taught the Bible, but I loved the Bible,” she says. “I had been reading and even memorizing Scripture since I was 11. I’d never taught, but God really blessed the teaching.” The couple moved to Denver where they started a church, which has gone through several name changes. First called Full Gospel Chapel, it was later renamed Happy Church and now is known as Orchard Road Christian Center. The church is located in Greenwood Village. Marilyn’s desire to reach the lost has been burning in her spirit for many years. “But they don’t just come to you always, so the Lord said to me, ‘If you want lost people, you have to go where they are. They’re not going to come to you,’” she says. “So God opened a door for me to start teaching home Bible studies—day and night. So I had 22 home Bible studies, and over a cup of coffee and a cookie and a Bible, people would get saved.” Those Bible studies led to her radio ministry, which eventually expanded to 488 stations. She also has ministered through television and continues to do so, co-hosting with her daughter, Sarah Bowling, on the daily show Today With Marilyn and Sarah (, reaching a potential 2.2 billion households worldwide. »

© iStockphoto/kiyanochka | Courtesy of Marilyn Hickey Ministries


ith 58 years in ministry and still going strong, Marilyn Hickey has accumulated significant experience and expertise she is now compelled to share with today’s up-and-coming Christian leaders. At this stage of life, Marilyn believes wholeheartedly that she should not be buried with the mantle of ministry entrusted to her. “Elisha, he caught Elijah’s (mantle), but Elisha was buried with his,” she recalls. “They threw a dead man in on him, and the dead man was raised. The Lord dealt with me and said, ‘Don’t be buried with your mantle. Pass it on.’ So that’s where God began to put a passion in me to mentor people.” When God first called her into ministry, it came as a surprise. Born in Delhart, Texas, Marilyn and her family moved to Sewickley, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh, when she was around 10 years old. Later they made their way to Denver when she was 16. Marilyn became a public school teacher of multiple languages—Spanish, French, Latin and English—but she never anticipated visiting more than 130 countries, many since her pastorhusband, Wallace “Wally” Hickey, went to be with the Lord in 2012. Considering her significant platform, she also has interacted with government leaders and heads of state, but her ministry started small and grew significantly. “Three years after we were married, he felt called into the ministry, which shocked me,” says Marilyn, who turns 85 this July 1. “I didn’t quite know what to do with it, and so he began to get a degree, went with the AG (Assemblies of God), and I would go along, and we went to these little churches.”

“In Pakistan, we had 230,000 people when I was 81. I’m getting ready to go back. We expect a half a million.” —Marilyn Hickey

TOP: Marilyn Hickey clearly loves preaching God’s Word. BOTTOM LEFT: Marilyn, left, and her daughter, Sarah Bowling, appear together on the television program “Today With Marilyn and Sarah.” BOTTOM RIGHT: Marilyn ministers to a child in Pakistan.

“We learn the Word, get in the anointing and (choose to) be around people who are anointed. They’re very contagious.”—Marilyn Hickey When Marilyn was 42, it became clear that God had big plans for her after she asked God a significant question: “God, have You called me? I’m responding to You by Your Word, but have You really called me?” She then heard God speak to her: “I’ve called you to cover the Earth with the Word.” God’s personal word to her “really propelled me from television into international ministry,” she says.

Personal and Powerful

Marilyn has persevered in ministry even at a time of life when most would want to hang up their proverbial hats. “I’m probably more active in my 80s than I was in my 40s and have had my biggest meetings in my 80s,” she says. “In Pakistan, we had 230,000 people when I was 81. I’m getting ready to go back (in the fall). We expect a half a million.” She is focused on three arenas in her mentoring fellow ministers: experience, anointing and miracles. “One is being a pastor’s wife,” she says. “As a pastor’s wife of 54 years, I loved pastoring. To me, that’s where the rubber meets the road. “The second would be I could mentor people in media with radio. I’ve been on television the longest of anyone, like 44 years or 45 now,” along with accompanying resources such as books and CDs. “The third thing I feel like I can mentor people with is international ministry.” A pastor at heart, Marilyn is open and willing to invite people into her home to 44 MinistryToday July // August 2016

be mentored. Her approach is personal. “I would spend four to five hours with them just ministering to them and what they feel their need is, and then I would anoint them with oil, ask for miraculous ministries through them and take them to lunch.” Upon his retirement, Oral Roberts mentored others in his home, and that was the inspiration behind Marilyn’s approach to mentoring. “After he retired, I was still chairman of the board with Richard (Roberts),” Marilyn says. “(Oral) would have people come to his home in California and mentor them. And so Richard told me, ‘You should do that. A lot of people were really helped by that.’ So that’s what kind of sparked me.” Her daughter—Marilyn also has a son, Michael—was the first to benefit from Marilyn’s ministry mantle. “Sarah shocked me,” Marilyn says. “She always told me she didn’t feel called to do what I do, and I said, ‘I don’t want you to be called to that. I want you to do what God calls you to do.’” Sarah, in fact, wanted to engage in another kind of heavenly career. “She was going to be an astronaut and all those things, and it ended up that God called her,” Marilyn says. “I’ve had beautiful opportunity with Sarah, with Reece, and now my grandchildren. That’s where I feel I have an edge on mentoring and I could be a blessing, and I don’t want to be buried with it—I want to send it on.”

Marilyn observes that one-on-one isn’t the only way a person can be mentored. For instance, although she never met Bill Gothard of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, “one lesson he taught on meditating changed my life,” she says. “I think we’ve all been mentored by a lot of people with their tapes, with their books, their television,” she says. Today though, she wants to mentor face to face, and she has mentored women and men. Taffi Dollar, co-pastor of two World Changers Church congregations in College Park, Georgia, and New York City, didn’t wait for an invitation but took the initiative to ask Marilyn to mentor her. Marilyn had known the Dollar family for some time. “She said, ‘I’m coming to your house and staying with you, and you’re going to mentor me,’” Marilyn says. “So she came for two days, and I mentored her basically on her speaking, her studying. I didn’t need to mentor her on that, her preparation behind it, but her speaking, her altar calls, how she dressed, how she walked to the platform, her movements on the platform, that’s what we worked on. So not everybody’s the same.” Marilyn takes care to approach each person according to their calling. And when it comes to practicalities such as how to dress, Marilyn emphasizes that the colors that are worn are very important. When traveling internationally, there are cross-cultural issues of concern, but it’s more than that. “In a Muslim country, which I go to a lot, I dress the way they dress,” explains Marilyn, whose largest meetings are in Muslim countries. “I have the hair covering, and in Pakistan, oh my goodness, their clothes are beautiful. Sudan also. But in Europe, I would wear, depending on the conservative churches, more suits and academic-looking things. In Hungary, I wear young, contemporary clothes, boots and so on. I wear boots in Pittsburgh.” With regard to mentoring, Marilyn says she “fell into” it. “Two young men in our city who are pastors asked if I would mentor them, and so I had been doing that for 3 1/2 years.” Those young men, who now have started churches, still contact her, so she continues to mentor them to some degree. “They’ve invited me to come and speak in their churches, but they call me with

Courtesy of Marilyn Hickey Ministries

Marilyn, right, sits with her daughter, Sarah Bowling, whom she mentored in ministry.

crises or problems, which I’m not offering to people coming to my home, although I wouldn’t mind,” Marilyn says. “If you pastor, you really love people.” Marilyn says she has also mentored Dr. Mark Rutland’s daughter, Emily Leatherbarrow, “in the miraculous.” Pastor Leatherbarrow directs Global Servants’ House of Grace and coordinates fundraising for the international ministry. “I prayed for years that the Lord would help me to operate more in the gift of healing,” Leatherbarrow says. “When Marilyn Hickey became my mentor, I was changed forever. Dr. Hickey gave me so much more than guidance and mentorship. She became an inspiration, a counselor, a teacher and a friend. Still, the greatest gift Marilyn gave me was the opportunity to witness her in life. Her authenticity, love and endless joy pours out to everyone she meets, from the waiter at the restaurant to the taxi driver to the crippled man on the street. Marilyn’s life has inspired me to live each day in the miraculous! Through the miraculous power of our heavenly Father, we can fearlessly and with great love reach out to heal the sick and dying world.”

our lifestyle has to be godly.” Experience is critical, but so is knowledge of the Scriptures. “I never went to Bible school, but I memorized 23 books of the Bible, a lot of the Psalms, and I’m still memorizing,” she says. Raised in a “liberal Methodist” church, Marilyn says she “learned more against the Bible than for the Bible.” But it was also when she attended a Methodist youth camp at 16 that she was born again. “When I came home, my parents didn’t quite know what to do with me and just thought it was teenager—hormones—and

“Marilyn’s life has inspired me to live each day in the miraculous! Through the miraculous power of our heavenly Father, we can fearlessly and with great love reach out to heal the sick and dying world.”

Courtesy of Global Servants, Inc.

Word Focused and Spirit Filled

Both the Word and the Spirit play a role in Marilyn’s mentoring relationships, as anyone who knows her ministry would attest. Prayer has a significant place in her home, for instance. Every Wednesday when she is not traveling, she hosts a prayer meeting. “We just pray in tongues for an hour, and we have people all over the nation who join us in prayer, like in D.C. and Tampa and Dallas and Waxahachie (Florida),” she says. “There are various places, and sometimes I Periscope it, and I’ll have 100 people who will join me in prayer. So I think we want the miraculous, but it has to be Word and Spirit.” There’s a reason prayer is so important to her. “You have to have a good prayer life, because you have to learn to hear from Him,” she says. “That’s so key.” In mentoring on relationships, she brings the experience of being “married to one man for 57 years,” she says. “It’s only by grace. I don’t mean to bring condemnation, but if we want to help people, I think

came after she sensed God’s presence pass over her heart during a mission service. Another time, one of Marilyn’s doctors was flabbergasted when he learned that after Brown prophesied about a child, Sarah was born, something the doctor had declared medically impossible. Anointed messengers of faith have imparted much into Marilyn’s life and ministry. “We learn the Word, get in the anointing and (choose to) be around people who are anointed,” she says. “They’re very contagious. I was around William Brown, A.A. Allen, Oral Roberts, and I was

Marilyn, left, and Emily Leatherbarrow

then my mother got born again and Spirit filled when I was 19,” she says. “And so that began to have a tremendous influence on me.” At one point, Marilyn’s father suffered a mental breakdown, but God used her mother to bring him back to health. “My mother watched Oral Roberts, got saved, got Spirit filled and just really began to pray for my father,” Marilyn says. When her mother went to a William Brown meeting, he saw her crying and told her to take the handkerchief in which she was shedding her tears and put it on her husband’s body. After following his instructions, her husband was released from a mental hospital within a year. Marilyn also has experienced significant healing in her own life. At the time she was married, she had an enlarged heart, but later, a doctor verified that she had “the most wonderful heart.” This declaration

—Emily Leatherbarrow

chairman of his board for 19 years, so those kinds of people are contagious.” Oral Roberts University honored Marilyn in 2015 for her many years of service and ministry with the school’s Lifetime Global Achievement Award. With such accomplishments in her rearview mirror, some people wonder why Marilyn is still so active in ministry. “People say, ‘Well, when are you going to retire?’” Marilyn says. “I say, ‘I am retired.’ They say, ‘What do you mean? You travel all the time.’ I say, ‘Retiring is doing what you like. I’m doing what I like.’” She’s doing what she likes, and part of what she likes is mentoring. Many young ministers are thankful Marilyn is not tired yet. C h r i s t i n e D . J o h n s o n is editor of Ministry Today magazine. Contact her at July // August 2016 MinistryToday   45


The Fast Track of Evangelism BY SHAWN A. AKERS

f George Whitefield were alive today, Steve Wingfield believes the 18th-century Anglican preacher who helped sparked the First Great Awakening in America wouldn’t be leading crusades in stadiums or megachurches. Rather, Whitefield would be spending a great deal of his time on weekends at NASCAR events. Instead of Whitefield though, it’s Wingfield, the founder and CEO of Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Ministries and Victory Weekend Ministries, who finds himself in the middle of hundreds to thousands of raucous, rambunctious race fans, preaching to the masses and spreading the gospel on select weekends through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at campgrounds and reserved venues just outside the racetracks. With a background of 30 years of crusade evangelism, Wingfield says there’s no place he would rather be. He imagines Whitefield— who earned a reputation as an open-air orator and field preacher—would feel right at home each weekend at the track among rabid NASCAR fans. “Because he went from the church to the field, I am convinced, based on my own experience, that Whitefield would be at a NASCAR event on many weekends,” says Wingfield, 48 MinistryToday July // August 2016

who began his racing ministry in 2010. “When we go to an event, we spend our time not only ministering to people, but mingling out among them in the campgrounds, getting to know them. “Can you imagine someone like Whitefield pitching horseshoes, playing cornhole or enjoying a grilled hamburger with the people he shares the gospel with? I can, and I think he would love it because that’s the type of preacher he was. Lives were changed when he went out into the fields and preached, and that’s what we believe we’re doing with Victory Weekend—changing lives.” Whitefield once declared the whole world as his “parish.” In the historical biography, George Whitefield, Field Preacher, author James Paterson Gledstone quoted Whitefield as saying, “Every one hath his proper gift. Field-Preaching is my plan; in this I am carried as on eagles’ wings. God makes way for me everywhere.”

© iStockphoto/ vectorloop; avid_creative; nycshooter; rendixalextian


Former crusade preacher revels in bringing the gospel to NASCAR fans

Renewed Vision for Outreach

After many years as an evangelist, Wingfield began to notice what he called a “disturbing trend” in his work. Wingfield, who is based in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, says responses to his crusades were declining, and the events “were

“To see all of these people at this event, I thought to myself, There are a lot of Subhead subhead subhead subhead subhead subhead subhead possibilities for Jesus subhead subhead subhead subhead here. subhead I knew about Wingfield speaks at Motor Racing Outreach a NASCAR event on Memorial Day weekend. BY AUTHOR NAME and about Raceway Ministries, but I didn’t know of anyone doing really what we wanted to do.”

Pictures courtesy of Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association

—Steve Wingfield

Wingfield meets with NASCAR fans while taking the opportunity to share the gospel.

A Victory Weekend event in Bristol, Tennessee, drew race fans.

A Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association event draws a crowd Memorial Day weekend.

becoming nothing more than a rally for Christians.” As a result, Wingfield longed for something more in his ministry. In 2005, the Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association held a crusade and festival in Bristol, Tennessee, home to Bristol Motor Speedway, tucked 50 MinistryToday July // August 2016

in the northeast corner of the state near the Virginia border. Jeff Byrd, then the speedway’s general manager, asked Wingfield to conduct the Sunday morning chapel service for the Sprint Cup Series drivers and their families. The experience had a significant impact

Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association

Wingfield poses with a young race fan at a Victory Weekend event.

on Wingfield. At the time, Bristol, which sold out 55 consecutive Sprint Cup Series races from 1982 to 2010, sported a capacity of 147,000 fans. It now holds more than 160,000. “I remember that day distinctly because it was the day that the pope (John Paul II) died,” Wingfield says. “The crowd was huge. To see all of these people at this event, I thought to myself, There are a lot of possibilities for Jesus here. I knew about Motor Racing Outreach and about Raceway Ministries (other NASCAR evangelistic ministries), but I didn’t know of anyone doing really what we wanted to do. “A couple of years later, by chance at a golf outing, I met Jerry Caldwell, Jeff Byrd’s son-in-law, who had taken over for Jeff after he died of pancreatic cancer. I asked for a meeting with Bristol’s general manager, and when I walked in his office, Jerry remembered me. I explained what I wanted to do, and Jerry was thrilled with the idea. The next spring, we made it happen. We had a full-blown festival set up at the Bristol Drag strip near the track. We’ve been doing it ever since.” Jim McBride, former president of Raceway Ministries—a national fellowship of NASCAR ministries—has known Wingfield for more than 15 years. The two met during one of Wingfield’s crusades and kept in touch until Wingfield made his move into the NASCAR arena. McBride, who worked closely with Dover International Speedway, says he felt it was a perfect opportunity to connect with a ministry he believed in to help bring the gospel to NASCAR fans. “Steve knew we had a ministry at Dover, and he told me about his new vision,” McBride says. “He knew a partnership would be beneficial, and he wanted to know if we would partner with Victory Weekend. We didn’t have as many resources to fulfill our vision as we would have liked. We felt like Steve was giving us an avenue for us to be able to reach more fans with the gospel. It turned out to be a blessing for both of us.” Dover International Speedway has now become a staple on Victory Weekend’s annual NASCAR schedule » with two stops each year.

Race Weekend Preparation

Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association

Patriotic NASCAR ministry branches out to serve veterans Each weekend that the Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association (SWEA) heads for the track for a NASCAR event, the organization pays tribute to American service men and women. But Wingfield believes Americans owe much more than that to those who sacrifice for their country every day. It is by what he calls “the grace and favor of God in action” that his organization is able to show gratitude to these military personnel. To honor and care for these men and women, SWEA is in the process of building a retreat center— called The Inn—in Upper Tract, West Virginia, where veterans can find refreshVictory Weekend staff present medals to ment. The property where the center is being built was honor military veterans for their service. completely debt free. In 2015, Wingfield received a call from a friend inviting him to see a piece of property. Wingfield hesitated since he was not in the market to purchase the land, but God directed him to invite a man named Paul Weaver, founder of Lodestar Guidance, to view the property. Weaver visited the property, and after spending the day committing his decision to the Lord, he wrote Wingfield a check to cover the purchase price. “The presence of God is all over this place, and I want everyone to be a part of it,” Wingfield says. “Our stated mission for the center is to provide a place for relaxation, renewal and refreshment for those men and women who have sacrificed so much to serve. The verse that brought me to tears was Proverbs 11:25, which reads, ‘A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.’” The Inn has a total of 12 units, and Wingfield says it will take “at least a million dollars to get this place where it needs to be.” God provided for the property, so Wingfield’s faith is strong for the fulfillment of the expense for the infrastructure. The retreat center is an extension of what Wingfield and his organization do at NASCAR tracks each year. At each race, Victory Weekend pays tribute to military personnel by praying for them and presenting them with a specially minted medal featuring the Victory Weekend logo. The inscription on the back says, “We honor your service,” along with Philippians 1:6 (“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ”). Anyone who wants to donate toward the veterans’ medals can visit to contribute.—Shawn A. Akers

Because most NASCAR events are spread out over a three-day period, many fans come in early during the week to set up their tents, motor homes and campsites at the designated campgrounds. Wingfield and his staff will usually come in the Wednesday prior to the race to prepare for their evangelistic efforts. While NASCAR holds many night races, Victory only travels to events with day races. With eight paid staff on board, Wingfield estimates the cost to his ministry is $25,000 per weekend event. The racetracks, however, do allow him to bring in his 18-wheeler and set up for free, which is a bonus. “They’ve embraced what we’re doing,” the evangelist says. “It’s a God thing.” Each Victory Weekend launches Thursday evening with a concert from a top-notch local band. Wingfield invites drivers who are Christians to share their testimonies, interact with the crowd and sign autographs. Friday evening’s service brings more music and allows Wingfield and his staff to share the gospel. During the service, veterans, active service members and other public servants such as firefighters and police officers are honored. On Saturday nights, Wingfield says, the “clear and simple message of the gospel is preached, and people are invited to respond and make a commitment to Christ.”

Ready Response From Fans

With all of the activities planned for each weekend, Wingfield and his staff have plenty of opportunities to spread the gospel. It’s the impromptu evangelism among the crowds, however, that he believes brings the most satisfaction. That’s when Wingfield’s staff heads to the infield campgrounds—where numerous trailers and motor homes are parked—and to the campgrounds outside the track to mingle with the fans. While some may resist the presence of Wingfield’s staff, most are friendly and welcome them. It’s somewhat of a strange dynamic, considering a large sect of NASCAR fans have developed a reputation as “hearty” partiers. Dell Hamilton, a former Xfinity Series July // August 2016 MinistryToday   51

part-time team owner and sponsor who works with Wingfield to help recruit Christian drivers to participate in Victory Weekend’s events, says the

lives. They may drink, but they’re still able to carry on a decent conversation. “Steve and his people—all they do is love on the fans. There is no judgment

“I’ve been in church all my life, but I’ve seen more life-changing decisions among the NASCAR fans than I have at any time before in the church.”—Dell Hamilton ministry is effective because he and his staff aren’t Pharisees—they refuse to judge the fans who drink. “I’ve seen this firsthand,” says Hamilton, who works with Xfinity Series drivers, including Blake Koch, Josh Reaume and Cody Ware, and Sprint Cup Series driver Michael McDowell. “It’s incredible. When you’re talking to them about the Lord, it seems like their walls come down because a lot of what is said is speaking directly into their

52 MinistryToday July // August 2016

and condemnation if they’ve got a beer in their hand. Sometimes you don’t know if some of them listen intently or not, but then you get a note from someone down the road whose information you took down, and you find out that his life has changed. I’ve been a Christian for 50 years and have worked as a music leader, associate pastor and youth director. I’ve been in church all my life, but I’ve seen more life-changing decisions among the NASCAR fans

than I have at any time before in the church. Yes, God does work mightily in NASCAR.” Wingfield says the most gratifying part about Victory Weekends is when fans contact them after the event, and the response has been overwhelming. From 2013 to 2015, Wingfield’s organization held 32 events, attended by nearly 150,000 people with nearly 2,300 decisions for Christ. “When George Whitefield held revivals, there was spiritual change that resulted in social change,” Wingfield says. “If America is on the cusp of a spiritual awakening—and many people believe it is—then people should check out a NASCAR event. I truly believe revival is happening, and it’s happening at the racetracks. George Whitefield would love it.” S h a w n A . A k e r s is the online managing editor at Charisma Media and is co-host of the “Javelin” podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network.

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How pastors can lead wealth-builders to greater spiritual influence BY TRACEY ARMSTRONG


y pastor doesn’t understand me!” A man desperate to be a blessing for God stood before me, yet he was filled with frustration because he felt his pastor didn’t understand him. God had given this man a special gift to be a blessing for the kingdom, but he was not utilizing his gift to its full potential. Shortly thereafter, another business professional shared the same challenge with me, then another and another. Each of these professionals confessed the same frustration. Their spiritual leaders did not understand their needs and gifts as businessmen. I could see the problem as clear as day. They wanted the best of both worlds, connection with God but also marketplace influence. With that goal in mind, they wanted a spiritual leader who understood them while being guided into greater truth. They didn’t need another motivational leader. Rather, they needed a man or woman of God who could pray with them and challenge them from a biblical standpoint to live the most influential life possible. Bottom line, they wanted to be influential for the kingdom of God, and they needed a pastor to help guide them. This is where my business coaching began. My goals in assisting these marketplace leaders were simple: hh Help them grow spiritually hh Help them increase in influence through biblical principles hh Help them set standards that would influence every sphere of life hh Train them to have family, business and life from the Lord’s perspective hh Help them understand that business is a ministry hh Talk to other ministers to understand why there may be a wall between ministry and business In communicating with other ministers, I realized there was 56 MinistryToday July // August 2016

much to learn about how they should address the business professionals in their care. The following are the key principles that came to the fore in responding to this common frustration:

Material vs. Spiritual

Some ministers have the perspective that sacred and secular should not meet. Many spiritual leaders are trained to think that money is materialistic and evil, but business in and of itself is not evil. In fact, business and ministry are similar. Business is based upon covenant relationships, as is ministry. The Bible is a book of covenants. Jesus was a carpenter in His earthly father’s business, and He was a minister in His heavenly Father’s business. Jesus considered His calling “being about my Father’s business,” as stated in Luke 2:49. He was fulfilling a covenant with His Father. This should make it easy for ministers and business professionals to work together. Yet the challenges are real. Why? Business is about bottom lines, margins, profits, values, measurable risk and measurable results—all of which must be measured. Ministry seems to be about the opposite. Ministry is about love, hope, faith, eternity and the unseen. Spirituality is not measurable. From the world’s understanding, anything that is measurable is material. So on the surface, businesspeople are materialist, while ministers are spiritual. But if that were true, Jesus would also be considered materialistic. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:19). Jesus called it “bringing forth fruit.” In business, it’s called ROI. Tracking a return on investment is a way to determine if the covenant is benefiting both parties. »

Juliane Arielle

Pastor Tracey Armstrong brings his communication skills to the church and the marketplace.

It’s About People

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Even though, at a glance, business appears to be materialistic, it’s not. Business is a spiritual activity that is measured by material results. Business is about people. Businesses are built by people who have emotions, people who need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Professionals can only grow their businesses to the level of their spiritual or soul capacity. The same is true for their employees. Business is more than developing an organization. Business develops employees with values, character and skills. These are the aspects of business that are not measurable. Business is a powerful, people-development process. People are moved by vision, another

making money. There is an internal force driving businesspeople to achieve. They desire to make a difference and live a life of significance. It’s a God-given desire, a desire to live a life that matters. It’s about influence. Yet there is a stumbling block to this drive. It’s the temptation to love money more than influence. The love of money is a spiritual condition. It has the potential to choke out the power of influence. The way to keep from the temptation of the love of money is to focus on influence. Business professionals use spiritual influences such as faith, hope, joy and peace to influence the world around them every day. They motivate people to perform at levels they never thought possible. Professionals create business systems and processes to

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“Business is a spiritual activity that is measured by material results.” aspect of business that is spiritual. “By faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things that are seen were not made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).

produce the same result every time. They overcome limitations. These are the same tools needed for them to be successful in their homes as well as at the office.

Money or Influence

Years ago, I coached a man who was an extremely successful salesman, the top in his field in the U.S. market. He said the key to his success was that he hated poverty. This hatred influenced his decisions in the marketplace, yet he didn’t realize he was experiencing

58 MinistryToday July // August 2016

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Entrepreneurship is about creating more than it is about making money. Of course, money is one reason entrepreneurs are in business, but there’s more. Bill Gates started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation because life is about more than

Standards of Influence


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relational poverty in his home. He was blind to the poverty in his life. He only knew there were frustrations at home but never associated them with poverty. He didn’t set the same standard for success at home as he did at work. Therefore, he didn’t realize he possessed the power to have the same success and influence in his home. He set standards on the sales floor that gave him the success he desired in his career, and once he recognized the lack in his family life, he established standards to be successful

transform the world as we consistently inspire business professionals toward greatness. We can help business leaders become ministers of influence. We do this by helping them set standards that work in any sphere. Business leaders look for standards that will put them on top of their game. Achievers enjoy a good challenge. The worst thing we can do for businessmen and women is to lower the standards for them. Pastors are God’s gift to help marketplace ministers walk in their

“The further away from the house of God a believer goes, the greater the grace of God must be to function in his life.” at home as well. He set standards in his communication, attention to detail and in other areas. These small corrections changed his home life. In business, in ministry and at home, standards will raise the bar and break limits. God uses standards to overcome restriction and resistance. Standards influence whatever environment they are used to engage. According to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, the word influence means “to flow in; referring to substances spiritual or too subtle to be visible, like inspiration.” Influence is a substance spiritual or too subtle to be visible. If we as ministers allow our God-given influence to be like water, we will 60 MinistryToday July // August 2016

God-given potential. God sent them to your ministry for you to help them. Your influence in their lives will dramatically transform their thinking and lifestyles.

Grace for Influence

Spiritual business leaders have God’s grace available so that, through grace, they can experience greater influence in the marketplace. Paul writes to the Corinthian church about influential grace: “Now concerning spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 12:1). The original manuscript does not have the word “gifts” in it. The original is more consistent with: “Now concerning spirituals, I don’t want you to be ignorant.” Translators of the Word of God use the word “gifts” to translate



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charisma. The word is also translated as “grace” or “favor.” The best way we can help our business leaders is to associate charisma with favor and grace. Grace empowers us to reach heights that are humanly impossible. Grace is a spiritual business leader’s secret weapon. Once a business leader identifies a problem, she goes to work on it to remove all limits. The power of God is available to business leaders to empower them to be more influential in every area of life. Years ago, I went through a season of acquisitions. The businesses, buildings and ministries I acquired were in disrepair and distressed. As I worked on these projects, they all began to turn around. I prayed for insight as to why I was given one opportunity after another on projects that needed repair. Then one day, a thought hit me: It’s the gift of healing. What an “aha” moment for me! After further study, I realized the “gift of healing” could also be “a grace for restoration.” I also realized that the “gift of wisdom” is the “grace for solutions.” I soon discovered that each of the gifts of the Spirit has an amazing marketplace grace—grace that empowers business leaders to have great influence. The more I study influence, the more I recognize the grace of God for success in the marketplace.

Big-Picture influence

According to Ezekiel, the kingdom of God is to influence the world through a stream that flows from the house of God. “Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and water was flowing out from under the threshold of the temple eastward, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing down from under from the right side of the temple, south of the altar” (Ezek. 47:1). The stream increased in depth and strength the farther away it flowed from the house of God. The further away from the house of God a believer goes, the greater the grace of God must be in his life. The greater the grace, the greater the influence. The standard of the kingdom of God is to influence the marketplace. We are to teach God’s 62 MinistryToday July // August 2016

standards to our business leaders, marking them as marketplace ministers. If a business leader has 500 employees, they have 500 people who need pastoral ministry. A business leader with 500 employees will need to prepare differently for their workday to handle the challenges before him. He must prepare like a ministry leader does and start the day with a devotional, which includes prayer, Bible reading and listening to God for direction. God will cooperate with these business leaders to help them be ministers of influence. The greater the influence, the greater the success. The greater the success, the greater credibility the business professional will experience. In summary, these are the key points business leaders need to prioritize and areas in which their pastors can help: 1) Honor covenant relationships. 2) Pursue the standards of the Bible. 3) Walk in God’s grace and favor for influence. 4) Pursue influence, not wealth. Wealth will follow influence. 5) Embrace the power to make money and do business as a spiritual pursuit. 6) Prayerfully gain insight and understanding into the Holy Spirit’s grace for the marketplace, such as grace for restoration or grace for solutions. 7) Pursue a vision that can only be achieved through God’s grace and favor. God wants to use the pastor and his ministry to develop ministers of influence who will impact the marketplace. In leading the church, the pastor is graced to equip these ministers of business who will become ministers of influence. The challenge for pastors is to embrace their calling to raise up marketplace ministers and to embrace the business leaders in their congregations who will increase in influence in the marketplace. T r a c e y A r m s t r o n g and his wife, Nathalie, are the pastors at Seattle’s Citadel Church. A coach to businesspeople and entrepreneurs, Armstrong conducts Crowns Academy of Influence (, a weekly meeting for achievers and wealthbuilders with the goal of introducing businesspeople to their Creator and equipping them to use their God-given creativity without limits.

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Seeing With Jim and Amy Schneider

Pepper Glen

“We joke we’re the largest and the smallest faith-based eye care company because no one else is doing it. We don’t sell to Christian bookstores. We sell to eyewear companies.”—Jim Schneider

Eyes of Faith Embracing the vision to care for the impoverished around the world BY TAYLOR BERGLUND


im and Amy Schneider describe their eyewear company as a “business of ministry.” Based in Western Pennsylvania, Eyes of Faith Optical designs eyewear— which features Scripture on the temple of the glasses—and sells the frames to independent eye care professionals across the U.S. The mission is not to make money off of God’s Word, but similar to what TOMS Shoes does, with every purchase,

the Eyes of Faith’s Wear & Share program donates eyewear to someone in need. Kingwood, Texas-based Sight Ministries International ( the funds to deliver eyewear and eye care to impoverished individuals around the world. On most days for the Schneiders, that means working in the office, designing

new frames and making business contacts. But on one particular trip, Jim’s work took him to a small village deep into the Kenyan bush. Jim has been to Kenya three times on Wear & Share optical mission trips, setting up appointments and making glasses for people with no access to eye care. On the trip, Jim turned to his companion, a doctor from Illinois, and asked if anyone from the village had ever seen an eye doctor before. His friend laughed: “There’s no way.” One of their patients was a 75-year-old pastor from the bush who had been unable to see clearly his entire life. Jim and the team determined his prescription and outfitted him with his first pair of glasses. The pastor walked out the door, put his glasses on for the first time, looked out at the horizon and then shouted excitedly in Swahili, “I can see my people!” Bishop Moses, an African church planter, noted that this was not the only success story from the trip. “I remember this one woman who put on glasses, and she literally fainted in shock,” the bishop says. “I mean, she was so overjoyed she even collapsed.” These Wear & Share optical missions have brought eye care and the gospel to 35,000 people around the world—but none of it would have been possible without a leap of faith eight years ago.

Mission Appointment

On the morning of Sept. 28, 2008, Jim was praying for God to reveal his purpose in life. What did the Lord want him to do? As he prayed, the thought of an eyewear company sprang to mind. Jim says it wasn’t a shout from heaven or anything overwhelming, but the thought stuck in his head. He woke Amy from her sleep and told her about his idea. Blearyeyed, she responded, “You’re crazy. Go back to bed.” But when the sleepiness wore off, Amy realized Jim’s idea for an inspirational eyewear company was an answer to her own prayers. She too was seeking guidance for her life and wanted to serve God more directly. She remembers praying, “Lord, I don’t know how You can use me. All I know how to do is love people and fit them with eyewear.” One of the largest optical industry events—Vision Expo West—was set for later that week in Las Vegas. The Schneiders decided to go and investigate how realistic it would be to create a Christian eyewear company. Even now, Jim is amazed as he recounts how quickly everything came together. “On Sunday, the thought came to me, Monday we’re booking a trip, and Wednesday we arrived in Vegas,” he says. “We looked around for a few days at this big event and noticed nothing in this world represented faith.” Eyes of Faith was born there, and for the next six months, the Schneiders July // August 2016 MinistryToday   65

worked passionately at making their new company a reality. First, they had to take a leap of faith. Amy’s fibromyalgia diagnosis meant a steady income was important for the couple. Jim was a part-owner of one of the largest insurance agencies in their hometown. He had a very successful

Kenyan children enjoy their new sunglasses.

book of clients, but he also felt strongly led to resign his position. Leaving the company, he sold off his entire interest in the organization and used the money to fund Eyes of Faith. By May 2009, the Schneiders were ready for the official product launch; they just needed a platform. Jim read in an issue of Charisma about Night of Joy, a Christian music festival at Disney World, and joked to Amy that they should launch their brand there. The next day, Jim got a phone call from a man named Buddy, who said, “Have you ever heard of Night of Joy?” Buddy was the sponsor coordinator for Night of Joy, and he was interested in having Eyes of Faith take part. “It was super-crazy,” Jim says. “One day I read about it in Charisma, and the next we’re flying to Disney, looking to become the first-ever state sponsor of Night of Joy.” Amy can see how God used their past experience and their talent to prepare them to launch Eyes of Faith. She wants that experience to be an inspiration to other 66 MinistryToday July // August 2016

believers who wonder how God can use their particular gifts. “(I want) people to be able to step out and use their gifts and talents to honor and serve the Lord,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what those gifts and talents are. I didn’t think I had any except being really good at

“Eighty-five percent of learning happens visually. If these kids can’t see, they can’t learn—and if they can’t learn, that holds them back in life.” —Amy Schneider

my job as an optician, and I didn’t know how I could use that for the Lord. But by praying and asking for His guidance, He opened up this beautiful ministry that no one in the world was doing. He gave this gift to Jim and me, that we could use our gifts and our talents—Jim’s business giftings, my optical workings and frame-design skills—to do something that no one in the world was doing.”

Mission Moments

A shopper who visits his local eyewear company will see lots of designer brands on the shelf—Versace and Vogue, Ralph Lauren and Ray-Ban, to name a few. But that shopper will only see one Christian-themed designer brand—Eyes of Faith—and that sets it apart from the pack. “We joke we’re the largest and the smallest faith-based eye care company because no one else is doing it,” Jim says. “We don’t sell to Christian bookstores. We sell to eyewear companies. ... We are considered a designer line of eyewear.

Everything is custom done and done by us. That’s why we can sell to these independents who are looking for something unique and different in the marketplace.” He believes their position in the industry as the only faith-based company presents them with unique opportunities for “mission moments.” “There’s something in a name,” Jim says. “The name ‘Eyes of Faith’ is automatically the trigger for folks: ‘Hey, what is this company about?’ We want people to know more about it based on the name. But then we name our frames ‘Honor,’ ‘Compassion’ or ‘Grace,’ and every frame has a corresponding verse that matches the name of that frame. So when you’re in an eye care professional’s office and you see Eyes of Faith and pick up Honor, you read Psalm 62:7. So that in itself creates a really cool fellowship opportunity, and there’s even potential for a brother or sister in Christ to pray for one another inside the optical office.” But Eyes of Faith’s true customers are not the people buying the glasses; rather, its customers are the eyewear companies. Eyes of Faith is beginning to develop a reputation for excellence and positivity within the industry. They have a continued presence at optical industry events, like the Las Vegas show where they began their company. “We try to lead by example in our industry,” Jim explains. “We want our behavior to show the love of Christ in our industry that’s predominantly Jewish from the supply-side element. We’ve become wonderful friends with so many people in the optical industry. ... We just try to shine a light in the industry with our brand.” “We’re helping other people in the optical industry to serve and use their gifts and talents,” Amy adds. The company also has a page on its website where anyone, including their customers, can submit prayer requests—and Jim and Amy will pray for them corporately and individually. Jim models faith for his customers through his openness about prayer. He believes prayer should be an integral part of the workplace, and he isn’t afraid to ask potential clients if he can pray for them. “I love it when people say, ‘Hey, let’s pray right now together,’” Jim says, affirming the power of prayer. “We do that on phone calls. If I’m sensing something

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Mission Impact

Another way that Eyes of Faith takes after Jesus’ example is in its focus on the poor and needy. Through the company’s Wear & Share program, every eyewear purchase also pays for eye care for people who may never otherwise receive it. Sight Ministries International—on whose board Jim

Eyes of Faith’s glasses make Scripture a conversation piece.

serves—conducts optical missions in Costa Rica, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia and other countries where many have zero access to eye care. “We like the term ‘Wear & Share’ because when you wear Eyes of Faith (glasses), you’re sharing glasses and the gospel with someone you may never know,” Jim says. “We support pastors by going and putting the clinic right in that

church. It drives people to that church to get eye care and prescription glasses. We supply it on the spot for them. We have a unique program that provides a brand-new pair to that individual. We also supply reading glasses and sunglasses.” Jim has seen the powerful impact of these trips firsthand. He says his own prescription is a -7, bad enough that he can’t see without his glasses. He met a little girl in Kenya whose eyes were -12. She had been coping, but when Jim gave her a pair of glasses, he says she “lit up” with joy. But Jim and Amy don’t have to go far from home to find people to help; Amy has been blessed to serve in a neighboring school district that has a homelessness problem. As part of the Wear & Share program, she meets with the school nurse, who brings students in to see her. She makes sure each student gets an eye exam, personally fits them for lenses and makes the lenses for them. “Eighty-five percent of learning happens visually,” Amy says. “If these kids can’t see, they can’t learn—and if they can’t learn,

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when I’m talking to one of our eye care professionals—what’s really cool about our brand is they open (up) to us like they would never open up to someone else— we’ll just pray then and there. You don’t know how much they can appreciate that or how that can reverse their day from ‘Nothing is going right.’” In Matthew 11:5, one of the signs of Jesus’ ministry is that “the blind receive their sight.” Amy and Jim hope Eyes of Faith can follow in Christ’s footsteps by giving people the gift of clear sight. “Jesus gave the gift of sight to so many people,” Amy says. “He showed us we could do that within the secular world, bringing Him the glory.”

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that holds them back in life. It’s so sad. I’m helping with these homeless kids, and we’re hearing stories these kids’ grades are going up, and they’re participating in the classroom. So domestically, we’re seeing we can help in schools and help these kids.”

Mission Accomplished

As the mission to Kenya was concluding, an elderly man from the village animatedly shared his feelings on camera in his native dialect while sporting his new Eyes of Faith glasses and a radiant smile. When he finished talking, the translator explained why the man was so excited. “He is now able to read the Bible,” the translator says. “He has known the Bible with his head and heart; he just now can see it.” Everywhere Jim and Amy go, they hear about the amazing impact their frames have on people. Whether it’s the eye care professionals or the people—young or old—receiving glasses for the first time, they are grateful for the ministry of Eyes of Faith. And it never would have happened

These patients in Kenya were given Wear & Share sunglasses after receiving a clean bill of vision health.

if Jim and Amy had not taken that leap of faith and followed God’s mission for their lives. They trusted Him, and in return, He’s given them a thriving business and ministry opportunity. “Eyewear is the most visible accessory we can wear,” Amy says. “And anytime you see someone who has a new pair of glasses or a fun pair of glasses, it always sparks a conversation. ... Sometimes it can lead into an icebreaking conversation with a nonbeliever.” And that, as Jim explains, serves as a powerful reminder that companies operating from a scriptural worldview

can serve a much larger audience than only Christians. “(The eye care professionals) are an amazing group of people who want to support a brand like this,” he says. “They may be active in the church or they may not be, but they see this brand and they want to support it. They love the positive message behind it. In this day and age when people are trying to move faith out of places, we’re trying to move faith into new places.” T a y l o r B e r g l u n d is the assistant online editor at Charisma Media and co-host of the “C-Pop” and “Charisma News” podcasts.

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7 Behaviors of High-Capacity Leaders


eadership is a mix of iron and water. One part never bends; the other part is fluid and adaptive. Effective leaders understand not only the relationship between iron and water, but also the connection between their motor and motive—it takes both energy and humility to become great at what a leader does. Leadership has nothing to do with luck. A leader soars for a reason. Here are seven things that great leaders seem to embrace: 1) Great leaders pay attention. Poor leaders seek attention. The fastest way to taste the contents of your heart is to hear your competition complimented. King Saul’s paranoia skyrocketed the moment he heard the women of Israel dancing and saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). The thought of someone else getting excessive attention drove Saul senseless. Attention seekers have a short shelf life when it comes to leadership. Great leaders are different because they pay attention to themselves and to the world around

them, not for the purpose of applause but to acquire and absorb anything and everything that might help them transform into something new. Remember, the moment you brag, you become less noticeable. 2) Know how to turn personal criticism into personal improvement. Criticism is different than accusation. There is zero truth in an accusation, so dismiss it. An accusation is demonic in nature. Criticism, however, is different because it usually includes some measure of truth. A mature leader listens for the smaller portions of the criticism that are factual instead of only hearing the larger portions that are usually exaggerated and unjust. It’s human nature to focus on the parts that are untrue and miss out on the opportunity to grow past your blind spots. Never treat criticism like an accusation. You will be dismissing something the Lord wants you to hear. 3) It’s not what you achieve—it’s what you set in motion. Great leaders have the same passion for planting as they do for reaping. They know they will never see the full results of 72 MinistryToday July // August 2016

their efforts. To stay engaged, you have to practice “emotional patience,” knowing that some results are years in the making while other results will never arrive during your lifespan. 4) Insecurity will emotionally rearrange everything you see and hear. Healthy leaders know how to give love and receive love. Insecurity sabotages that process. Everyone fears being insignificant, but when you allow those feelings to fester and dominate, your leadership becomes toxic. Insecurity deceives by telling the person they must delve past the mistrusting words they are hearing and discern the darker agenda inside the person. This constant guesswork makes leadership impossible. You cannot lead if you are insecure. 5) Leadership happens over time—not overnight. For leaders, the conflict between seed and speed is relentless. Many leaders fail because they see leadership as a competition. They are desperate to be first to the marketplace with a product or to be seen as the cultural thought leader on a certain subject. But great leadership is about anti-speed. The science of God’s kingdom is agriculture, not technology. It takes the same amount of time to grow an apple today as it did in the days of Jesus. Great leaders pace themselves, not simply to avoid burnout but because they understand that substance and wisdom grow like tree bark. 6) It’s the responsibility of leaders to make complex things simple, never to make simple things complex. In an era of competitive creativity, leaders believe they must impress their listeners with deeply intellectual sayings to prove they are a cut above. The effect, though, is that people are left confused about spiritual and life principles because their leaders are making simple truths complex. Life is tough and taxing for the average person. Your job is not to wow them with pseudo-intellectualism. Your role is to bring clarity, not complexity. Help them identify their next step and then encourage them to take it. 7) The attitude is always louder than the answer. Nothing communicates more than your countenance. You cannot hide your heart; whatever fills spills. When people hear you speak, what they really want to know is, “What’s in your heart?” Everybody knows that words can be constructed, manipulated and controlled, but an attitude has a life of its own. A negative person can figure out a way to say positive words, but he will still come across as a negative person because you cannot mask an attitude. People hear words, but they feel attitudes. Presentations are quickly forgotten, but an attitude is remembered for a lifetime. S c o t t H a g a n is the founding pastor of Real Life Church in Sacramento, California, and the author of two books from Charisma House, They Felt the Spirit’s Touch and They Walked With the Savior. This article originally appeared online at

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Are You All Thumbs?

Design your message to stand out in a crowd of noise


here is nothing all that remarkable about a thumb. But when it sticks out, it suddenly becomes relevant. A thumbs-up gesture is a sign of approval or readiness. A protruding thumb extended while walking on a road tends to suggest the walker can’t find an Uber ride. A sore thumb sticks out. An idiom tells me so. Recently, I received an email that screamed, “This sticks out like a sore thumb.” I don’t think it was a compliment, but marketing types would tend to think, “Great! That was the goal!” My problem with the negative connotation of the thumb phrase, which has been in our vocabulary since the early 1600s, is that platform leaders are coached to stand out from the crowd. The alternative to a standout platform is one that blends into the ocean of blogs, books and podcasts. To do the work required to build a platform and not stand out seems like a workable definition of folly. Consider these tips for creating a standout platform: 1) Focus on the message. Words matter. An audience is attracted to a platform because of the writer’s words. Great marketing cannot light up a meaningless message. What is it that you say that helps people the most? Continue to develop a message that meets the felt need of the people in the audience who come to you for help. One of the best tests to determine the power of a platform is the “acid test.” What does the platform deliver that cannot be found anywhere else? The proliferation of content delivered on the web and through social media is alarmingly similar and repetitive. There seems to be a solution looking for a problem with every Google query. Platform messages are often curated, not created, and spread like Cheez Whiz across every medium. Message writers often define creativity as switching lanes to provide insight into a topic of less importance to the core audience. Develop one lane with excellence and stay there. 2) Create more frequency. A little does not go a long way in platform development. If a platform has a powerful and unique message that addresses a felt need, an audience will crave more. There are certain performances that beg for no

encore—please close the curtain and load the bus. By definition, cover bands offer nothing original. Effective platforms scream original content and provide a consistent flow of new material. An often asked question about frequency is whether the content should be freshened daily, weekly or monthly. Fresh content builds trust in an audience. The most wellknown and helpful platforms offer fresh content every day. Anything less is less. A true message becomes a legacy. 3) Broaden the platform. Many platforms consist of a single source. This is often the case with book authors. All content can be repurposed to expand the author’s reach and impact. A Facebook page is not a platform. A blog is not likely to be a platform. But if a book, a blog and social media are combined, it is much easier to fully develop a platform with a known audience. 4) Don’t forget email. Great platforms almost always have a foundation built on the use of email for one-to-one communication. Please let go of the notion that people don’t want to hear from you. If your message is valued, the readers will welcome anything you send to them. Continue to earn the right to communicate with an audience by producing quality content. The goal of producing quality content is achieved when every reader says, “Wow, I’m glad I read this.” Platform development is a full-time job. It is also a slow cook. But the return on investment is larger than any marketing investment I know. I don’t regret specifying the concept of marketing to help spread a message. “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick. And it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matt. 5:15). Little Jack Horner understood the power of a thumb. He used his—to fetch a plumb from a pie. What a legacy.

74 MinistryToday July // August 2016

D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is publisher and executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. Follow his daily, practical Greenelines blog at and download his Greenelines leadership podcast at

Sean Roberts

“Fresh content builds trust in an audience. The most well-known and helpful platforms offer fresh content every day.”

LAURA HENRY HARRIS The Church is in an identity crisis. The Lord promised that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. The Church must understand the biblical mandate to appeal to the King of kings for the salvation of the Jews. The inclusion of the Jews as a part of the bride of Christ will loose blessing and favor of the Lord on the Church.

The original vision and mandate of

Jesus Christ for the Ecclesia!










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Ministry Today Jul/Aug 2016  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry.

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