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ISSUE _ 02





10 Tips to Fact-Check Sermons Worship Leaders on the Future of Music Ministry

David Kinnaman on


What new data can teach us about contextualizing ministry “for such a time as this”


How to Be a CTO (Chief Theological Officer)


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If You Ask Me

Teachability — Our Greatest Competitive Edge

Get Set Growing Yourself and Your Organization: A Q&A with Brian Carroll




Like a Leader • Live: From cookies to Christ: one pastor’s journey to health and fitness • Read: Books worth highlighting, for you and your team • Think: A look at how America’s perspective on suicide is changing • Listen: Enhancing your listening experience with podcasts and more • Tech: Apps and tech that add to your life

20 Playbook


• Build: Three ways to make it safe to fail without dodging responsibility • Know: How can Christian leaders be heard in a changing moral landscape? • Invest: Helping leaders take flight

30 Unsigned Ministering with Family: The Challenges and the Benefits


32 Finding Your Church’s Fit What new data can teach us about contextualizing ministry “for such a time as this”

40 Chief Theological Officer


George Paul Wood on why and how pastors must lead the renewal of theology in the local church

48 The FactChecked Sermon Doug Green offers practical insights on how to teach when information is everywhere



57 Multiplier • From the Studio to the Platform • More than a Chorus • Balancing Artistry with Authenticity • Passing the Torch

70 Make It Count 8 Paradoxes of Godly Leadership

80 The Final Note The Difference a Good Leader Makes




INFLUENCE MAGAZINE 1445 N. Boonville Avenue Springfield, MO 65802-1894 Influence magazine is published by Influence Resources. Editor-in-Chief: George O. Wood Executive Director: Chris Railey Executive Editor: George Paul Wood Managing Editor: Rick Knoth Director of Strategic Relations: Justin Lathrop New Media Assistant: Ron Kopczick CONTRIBUTORS: Stephen Blandino, Brian Carroll, Robert C. Crosby, Chris Estes, Doug Green, Rachel Hunter, Wilfredo De Jesús, Aaron Keyes, David Kinnaman, Justin Lathrop, Daryn Pederson, Chris Railey, David Santistevan, George Paul Wood SPECIAL THANKS: Alton Garrison, James Bradford, Douglas Clay, Gregory Mundis, Zollie Smith, Steve Blount, Susan Blount, Gary

SUBSCRIPTIONS: To subscribe, go to or call 1.855.642.2011. Individual one-year subscriptions are $15. Bulk one-year subscriptions are $10 per subscriptions, for a minimum of six or more. For additional subscription rates, contact subscribe@ Please send all other feedback, requests and questions to feedback@influencemagazine. com. All rights reserved. Copyrighted material reprinted with permission. All Scripture references used are from the New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise noted. Influence magazine (Issue #02 October/November 2015) is published six times a year, in December, February, April, June, August and October for $15 per year by Influence Resources (1445 N. Boonville Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802-1894). Periodicals postage paid at Springfield, MO.

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I asked you to identify the most important quality of a leader, what would you say? There are many from which to choose, but allow me to propose one that I believe may stand above the others: teachability. One dictionary defines teachability as “the ability to learn by instruction.” Teachability combines qualities such as humility, flexibility, adaptability and relatability to enhance the ability of the leader. Futurist Alvin Toffler once said, “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Simply put, teachability may be our greatest competitive advantage and the most important quality of a leader. If teachability is learning by instruction, from what kinds of instruction do we need to learn? Four stand out: 1. Experiences 2. Relationships 3. Successes 4. Failures One of the greatest tests of teachability is the ability to learn from mistakes. Failure is a wonderful instructor for those humble and teachable enough to learn from it. Learning from mistakes brings greater influence in leadership. As Christ followers, an awareness of limitations and a hunger for personal growth are essential. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives


grace to the humble.” The grace and favor of God rest on the humble — those who possess teachability. A hunger to learn flows from the heart of a leader. A wise leader, recognizing that he or she doesn’t know everything, seeks out information for improvement and growth. In this issue of Influence, you’ll find articles that reflect leadership influence flowing from teachable people who have learned from all kinds of teachable moments. In “Live Like a Leader,” Daryn Pederson shares about a crossroads he came to in his journey toward physical health (page 13). In “Playbook Build,” Pastor Stephen Blandino talks about building a healthy team by helping your team own their mistakes (page 201). And in our cover article from Barna Group (page 32), you’ll discover four important things churches and ministry leaders should examine as they contextualize the gospel into their own unique contexts. We hope these articles and the others in this issue will resonate and provide opportunities for discussion and growth for you and your team . As legendary coach John Wooden once said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” From whom are you learning right now? How are you learning? And what are you learning in this season of your life? Stay humble, keep learning and be teachable!

Chris Railey is the executive director of Influence and the senior director of leadership and church development ministries for the Assemblies of God, U.S.A.




4 Questions with Brian Carroll


How a college VP looks at personal and organizational success rian Carroll is the executive vice president at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, where he has oversight of operations, finances, master planning, facilities/construction and advancement. He holds a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Regent University; an M.B.A. in management from Southeastern University; and a B.S. in management from Southeastern University. He is also a candidate for the A.L.M. in finance at Harvard University. Carroll has 20 years’ experience in streamlining and reorganizing operations management with Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and higher education institutions.


Influence: How important are growth and development in your life and organization? Brian Carroll: Growth is a painful process. If you ever made a New Year’s resolution to start working out, you no doubt regretted it the next day as you had aches and pains all over you body. However, after weeks and months of physical exercise, you begin to notice that you feel better — you’re more alert and healthy. Many of us have personal dreams or organizational goals. But these aspirations always come at a cost, whether it is time, talent or treasure. Nothing worth having is free, but the pain and sacrifice of constantly growing is worth the reward. Hebrews 5:12–13 tells us that we should be constantly growing and maturing in our faith. What resources have you looked to for growing yourself and your organization? Mentorship is one of the most important resources for achieving and sustaining personal growth. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one

person sharpens another.” Selecting the right mentor helps to stretch and grow you or your organization. Conversely, selecting the wrong mentor can impede your growth or stifle it all together. Jesus asked in Luke 6:39, “Can the blind lead the blind?” If you want to climb Mt. Everest, you wouldn’t choose a guide whose greatest accomplishment is conquering the rock wall at the state fair. You would research who has the most experience and success and who is the most respected in the field. The quest for the right personal or professional mentor should be the same. How do you get an organization to buy into change? Few things are as frustrating as creating change in a stagnant organization. One of the best resources for cultivating change is The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It isn’t enough to create change. You have to cultivate a culture of change, which requires empowering others to act and carry the vision. Celebrate victories and recognize an individual’s excellence when he or she makes contributions toward the organization’s vision. This fosters a spirit of community and teamwork that will institutionalize a culture of change. How do you deal with the possibility of failure? Failure shouldn’t be a fear. It’s just another way of learning and gaining experience so that you can become a superior leader. One of the best ways to deal with failure is to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this mistake?” After you’ve answered the question, put it behind you and move on. Failure only becomes inhibitive when you fail to learn from it.


FEEDBACK I S S U E 0 1 - A U G U S T/ S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 5

WHAT DO YOU THINK? In the future, this Feedback page will be reserved for comments, suggestions and questions from Influence readers like you. Share your thoughts via or get in touch with us on social media. The mission of Influence is to provide resources and ongoing education for leaders in today’s Spirit-empowered church, from the senior pastor to the lead lay volunteer.


PRAISE FOR OUR PREMIERE ISSUE “Influence magazine is such a powerful, insightful and helpful magazine for the body of Christ!” Herbert Cooper, lead pastor, People’s Church, Oklahoma City, OK

“Influence is a great tool for keeping your ministry fresh and fruitful. I would recommend it for all church leaders.”

Can you produce written material for church leaders offering insight or instruction that is biblically based, methodologically sound and thoroughly Pentecostal? If so, you might be a voice of Influence. Express your interest by emailing and providing an introduction. We’ll plan to follow up.


Wilfredo De Jesús, lead pastor, New Life Covenant Church, Chicago, IL

“Influence magazine is a page-turner because of the servant leadership principles that my “TEAM” learns with each edition.” Rich Wilkerson Sr., senior pastor, Trinity Church, Miami, FL

“If you want to grow your leadership skills, I can’t think of a better tool than Influence magazine.” Rob Ketterling, lead pastor, River Valley Church, Minneapolis, MN


Your home should be an environment of growth where each member finds forgiveness, love, acceptance, and honor. In Let’s Do Family Together, renowned counselor Dr. Gary Smalley reveals ways to build a marriage and a family that honors God and honors each family member. Filled with personal stories that will make you laugh and cry, Dr. Smalley shares wisdom from his many years of experience as a husband, father, grandfather, and counselor. He offers both spiritual depth and practical insight. “The way you interact with your spouse and your children now can impact your family for generations to come. Gary Smalley understands this better than most, and he outlines seven key principles for making it happen in this excellent book.”

- Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

also available in spanish



WHEN LOSING IS WINNING From cookies to Christ: one pastor’s journey to health and fitness DARYN PEDERSON

am a pastor — in a small church, in a small town, in rural America. I am a pastor who struggled with addictions. I also struggled with self-control and confidence, and I felt incapable in ministry. I needed a change. My addictions had to do with food. To use a quote from Ricky Van Pay, founder and executive director of Fit Pastors, “I turned to cookies instead of Christ.” I sought my fill of pizza instead of the Holy Spirit. I lacked confidence. I felt incapable of talking about issues of self-control and discipline and handling the demands of ministry. Also, at the rate I was going, I was shortening my lifespan. All of these thoughts hit me in late 2013 when I saw a random Facebook post for Fit Pastors. I decided it was for me, and I started my health journey with Fit Pastors in January 2014. Since then, I feel like I have gone from death to life. Two things made a world of difference: eating right and exercising. Those two things did in me what no pill or surgery could do. My confidence grew as my energy, self-control and selfimage improved. I gained credibility in my church and in the community.


I can now lead and speak with conviction in areas of self-control, as well as preparedness, routine, stewardship and desires. I don’t worry about health issues that I can control sidelining me. I have given myself the opportunity for longevity in life and ministry. How did I do it? I counted calories and watched my intake, which everyone has to do if they are interested in proper nutrition. I used an app and online resource called Lose It. And I exercised about five times a week. I went from 255 pounds to 175 pounds in nine months. My blood pressure improved from 140/80 to 100/70, and my resting heart rate went from 80 to 55. None of this was possible without God, through the work of the Holy Spirit. I cried out for help, and He answered — leading, guiding, strengthening and empowering me every step of the way. And now I am able to lead, with His help, in confidence, credibility and longevity.

Daryn Pederson is senior pastor at Tioga Assembly of God in Tioga, North Dakota.




TRUTH OVERRULED Ryan T. Anderson (Regnery)

“[W]e are sleepwalking into an unprecedented cultural and social revolution,” writes Ryan T. Anderson about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In Truth Overruled, he shows why traditional marriage is good public policy, why the Court’s decision was badly reasoned and why religious freedom must be protected. He concludes his advice about how the Church can help America rebuild its marriage culture with a call to personal example: “The beauty and splendor of a happy family is our most eloquent testimony.”



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TEAMS THAT THRIVE Ryan T. Hartwig & Warren Bird (IVP Books)

The church’s ministries are team-based, but not all teams perform equally well. Drawing on Scripture and research, Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird identify five disciplines of “teams that thrive”: (1) Focus on purpose (2) Leverage differences in team membership (3) Rely on inspiration more than control to lead (4) Intentionally structure your decision-making process (5) Build a culture of continuous collaboration. Though the book examines overall church leadership, all the teams in your church can benefit from its insights.



SOUL KEEPING John Ortberg(Zondervan)

“The most important thing in your life,” Dallas Willard once told John Ortberg, “is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity. You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.” Soul Keeping expands on Willard’s insight by examining what the soul is, what it needs and how it is restored. The spirit of our age is hurry and achievement; therefore, our deepest need is to slow down and soul-keep.


BEYOND TABOOS A look at how America’s perspective on suicide is changing In 2013 (the most recent year for which the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data are available), 41,149 suicide deaths were reported in the United States, making suicide the tenth leading cause of death for Americans across all age groups. However, for those ages 10-14, suicide is the third leading cause of death and the second leading cause for those ages 15-24 and 25-34. In a recent survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research, 56 percent of Americans believe there is an epidemic in the United States of people taking their own lives. The research found this perception highest among older millennials (ages 25-34) with 66 percent saying so. But those same findings indicate Americans’ views on suicide are changing, with fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (36 percent) saying people who commit suicide are selfish. Those numbers, however, are higher among Christians (39 percent) and evangelicals (44 percent). Though a majority of Americans believe suicide is an epidemic, fewer than 23 percent of them say those who commit suicide go to hell, and 16 percent are not sure. Christians (27 percent) and evangelicals (32 percent) are more likely than others to say suicide sends a person to hell. Catholics (63 percent), on the other hand, believe more firmly than Protestants (54 percent) that suicide does not send people to hell. Scott McConnell, vice president of Lifeway Research, stated “The finality of suicide makes people wonder about its consequences. Most churches teach suicide is wrong, but many also acknowledge God’s mercy and sovereignty.” Mental illness affects about 90 percent of people who take their own lives. McConnell


Mental illness affects about 90 percent of people who take their own lives.

The human tragedy of suicide often affects many in our churches and communities. As leaders, it’s important to know how the public regards it. says suicide and mental illness have been taboo topics in many churches. When polled, two-thirds of Protestant pastors said they speak to their church on mental illness once a year or less. Sixty-five percent of family members of someone with mental illness say pastors should talk about it more so the topic is not so taboo. “For too long, many Christians have viewed mental illness as a character flaw rather than a medical condition,” McConnell said. “It’s encouraging to see the culture begin to change. Open discussion of suicide and mental health in churches can make the difference of life or death.”





The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast is “a conversation designed to help leaders go further, faster.” This monthly, 20-minute podcast uses an interview format to talk about leadership best practices — for example: delegation, staffing, teamwork, self-leadership, family and teamwork. Stanley is pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, so his podcast is relevant to church ministries. Christian leaders in secular professions will find his insights helpful, too. 2



Music is an essential component of any worship service. The goal of David Santistevan’s podcast is to help worship pastors “grow in the heart, skill and calling of worship leadership.” Episodes are weekly and include interviews with leading worship pastors and songwriters. The topics range widely from the very practical (e.g., “How to Build and Lead an Effective Worship Set”) to the more philosophical (e.g., “The Intersection of Theology, Music, Culture and Your Local Church”).



Proverbs 18:17 says, “In a lawsuit, the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.” In other words, listen to both sides of a story before making a decision. National Public Radio’s “Intelligence Squared” podcast brings both sides together to debate “hot button” issues: Can Israel live with a nuclear Iran? Is Obamacare beyond rescue? Should the death penalty be abolished? The perspective is usually secular, but these thought-provoking debates are a model of informed public discourse.




After a prophetic word from friend John Bates, pastor Scott Wilson was confronted with the reality that he'd stopped seeking God's vision for his church services. The following Sunday, Wilson went on stage with nothing but God's instructions to let the Holy Spirit work. What followed was a deep spiritual awakening and renewal, both for Scott and his church. 



Apps and tech that add to your life 1




Do you struggle collecting all your important ministry information in one place without fear of losing it? Evernote is a proven ministry tool that will make your life less chaotic and more organized and simple enough to use every day. Evernote is a note-taking app for iOS and Android devices that focuses on four Cs of digital organization: Cloud (for syncing devices); Convenience (take it with you on the go); Collaboration (the email function makes it easier to share notes or sermon ideas with your team or other ministry leaders); and Content (store all your important data in one place). For more information, visit

NeuBible is a noise-free Bible-reading app that provides intuitive access to the Bible verses you love. Enhance your personal reading experience with these NeuBible features: • Smart Bookmarking automatically returns to the last page the reader visited. • Timeline View provides a chronological snapshot of the reader’s interactions with verses, including dates and times. • Smart Highlights automatically group highlights for quick reference. • Quick Search and Enhanced Navigation help the reader locate verses quickly and easily. For a free download, visit




Three ways to make it safe to fail without dodging responsibility STEPHEN BLANDINO

hink about the last time you said or did something you later regretted. Maybe it was a broken promise, an unmet deadline or a new ministry initiative that failed. Mistakes are emotional! With each mistake, your emotional pulse rate increased as feelings of shame, embarrassment or disappointment flooded your heart. Questions of “what if ” and “if only” riddled your mind like an avalanche of accusations and condemnation. We hate to fail. And when we fail as leaders, we’re usually not the only ones to pay a price. The same is true on a team. Mistakes have a ripple effect. But the impact of a mistake is exponentially worse when a team member fails to own it. Mistakes move from emotional to debilitating when people hide behind walls of denial and blame. No one is perfect. Every person on your team — including you — has a record of failure. It’s the price we pay for progress. And since we can’t erase our mistakes, we have to own them.


The impact of a mistake is exponentially worse when a team member fails to own it. 20

As leaders, our job is to create a team environment in which it’s safe to fail but not acceptable to dodge responsibility. We have to create a positive, life-giving culture without turning a blind eye to disowned mistakes. How can you help your team admit mistakes without becoming defeated, demoralized or disengaged? Here are three strategies to get you started. Establish Clear Expectations Before your team will own mistakes, they must first own expectations. Until you clarify your expectations, your team has nothing to own, and you have nothing to which you can hold people accountable. It’s hard to admit a mistake if you don’t know what’s expected of you. Expectations should include performance goals (specific, measurable and time-bound ministry objectives); personal growth goals (addressing spiritual, mental, relational and physical growth); leadership competencies (essential skills for effective leadership); and cultural DNA (the church’s unique vision, values and culture). Setting expectations keeps your team from guessing what’s important to you. It eases tension and establishes a unified effort toward a shared vision. Once these expectations are established for each member of your team, set quarterly meetings to evaluate their progress, give encouragement, provide coaching and celebrate wins. Create a Culture of “Candor and Care” At 7 City Church, we’ve established Internal Operational Values (IOVs) that define how our staff operates. IOVs speak into the culture we want to create. One of these values is “candor and care.” We say, “We communicate with candor and care about our ideas and realities.” Whenever I hire a new staff member, I spend extra time communicating this value because it’s so important to our ability to make forward progress. Candor and care allow us to tell it like it is without demeaning or disrespecting fellow team members. When we’re candid about our ideas and willing to face harsh realities, we prevent bureaucracy and dysfunction from setting down roots in our culture. Candor and care is a balancing act between truth and grace. We don’t always get it right, but we’ve created an environment where accountability and safety coexist.

As leaders, our job is to create a team environment in which it’s safe to fail but not acceptable to dodge responsibility. Set Limits and Consequences What do you do if the first two strategies don’t work? Occasionally, you’ll have a team member take extreme measures to avoid owning a mistake. This is unfortunate, but it cannot be ignored. In his book Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud describes three types of people found in Scripture: the wise person, the fool and the evil person. Each of these people requires a different response when mistakes happen. Because wise people are receptive to feedback and correction, they take ownership of areas where they need to grow. Talking helps the wise person see the light and make improvements. At the other extreme, Cloud says evil people are bent on destroying you. Unfortunately, because of their extreme behavior, legal action is sometimes necessary. The fool is in the middle. Rather than adjusting to the truth, the foolish person adjusts the truth. A fool is defensive, casts blame, resists feedback and rarely owns his or her mistakes. What makes it difficult is that fools are often high performers. To address the fool’s behavior, Cloud recommends setting “limits and consequences.” If limits don’t work, set consequences so the fool feels the pain of his or her own mistakes. One final point: Be careful not to shift into “suspicion” mode. Your job is not to sniff out every mistake your team makes. Believe in people. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Mistakes are a normal part of life and leadership. Every team will experience its fair share. When people are willing to admit their mistakes, it’s a sign you are moving in the right direction.

Stephen Blandino is lead pastor of 7 City Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the author of several books, including Creating Your Church’s Culture.He blogs at





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EARNING YOUR AUDIENCE How can Christian leaders be heard in a changing moral landscape? G EO R G E PAU L WO O D

Sixty-three percent of Americans approve of “gay or lesbian relations,” up 23 percentage points since 2001.

allup, Inc. reports, “Americans are more likely now than in the early 2000s to find a variety of behaviors morally acceptable.” Sixty-three percent of Americans approve of “gay or lesbian relations,” for example, up 23 percentage points since 2001. Sixty-one percent approve of “having a baby outside of marriage,” up 16 percentage points. And 68 percent approve of “sex between an unmarried man and woman,” up 15 percentage points. According to Gallup, “Moral acceptability of many of these issues is now at a record-high level.” Demographic trends help explain America’s changing moral landscape. Younger Americans are less religious and more socially liberal than older Americans, and they constitute a growing share of the population. In 2012, Pew Research Center reported that religiously unaffiliated Americans “are more likely than those with a religious affiliation to say that homosexuality should be accepted by society.” Similarly, they are “significantly more likely than the general public to say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases.” In 2015, Pew reported that while 22.8 percent of the general population is religiously unaffiliated, 36 percent of millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34 percent of millennials ages 25 to 33. According to Pew, millennials will become the nation’s “largest living generation” in 2015. How should Christian leaders respond to this changing moral, religious and demographic landscape? We cannot retreat into our churches and hunker down with people who agree with us. Instead, we must go outside church walls, build relationships across ideological and demographic lines and begin gospel-oriented conversations — engaging people with intelligence, integrity and empathy.


Intelligence First, Christian leaders must exhibit intelligence in their conversations. Younger Americans tend to be well educated and tech-savvy. 23


To persuade them, then, we must be able to show them both what the Bible teaches about sexual morality and abortion and why that teaching is reasonable. Our side of the conversation thus requires a combination of sound biblical interpretation and solid moral apologetics. We cannot expect anyone to listen to us if we cannot or do not want to answer their questions. Our model here should be the apostle Paul who “reasoned” with people, “arguing persuasively” to lead them to Christ (Acts 17:2,17; 18:4,19; 19:8-9; 24:12,25). The Greek word in these verses is dialegomai, from which we get the English word “dialogue.” Christian leaders must engage in intelligent dialogue with those they wish to persuade. Integrity Second, Christian leaders must exhibit integrity in their conversations. Few things ruin a Christian leader’s credibility quicker than hypocrisy and inconsistency. As Christian leaders, do we practice what we preach when it comes to sexual morality? If we’re single, are we celibate? If we’re married, are we faithful to our spouse? Do we avoid pornography? If we call others to repentance, we must first repent ourselves. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Further, do we apply the Bible’s moral norms consistently — to men as well as women, to “straight” sins as well as “gay” sins, to nonsexual sins as well as sexual ones? If not, we need to remember Jesus’ words to the religious leaders when they brought Him the adulterous woman: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Jesus said this because adultery is a sin committed by two people, and yet the religious leaders had arrested only the woman, letting the man go free. Integrity demands consistency. Empathy Third, Christian leaders must exhibit empathy in their conversations. Our words can trigger in people emotional resistance to the gospel, or they can catalyze an affirmative response. When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan confronted him. However, Nathan did so in a way that bypassed David’s emotional resistance and led to an


affirmative response: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). Nathan’s message required creativity and patience, but it achieved the desired result more effectively than straightforward condemnation. Empathy also teaches that how we say something is as important as what we say. In Romans 2:4, Paul asks, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” A little kindness goes a long way in persuading people of the truth. In America’s changing moral landscape, intelligence, integrity and empathy do not guarantee an affirmative response. But I guarantee you this: Without intelligence, integrity and empathy, we won’t even get a listen. George Paul Wood is executive editor of Influence.

A little kindness goes a long way in persuading people of the truth.

New Women’s Ministry

RESOURCES Left unchecked, life tends to take on a pace of its own, driving us to fatigue and burnout. This year, reach the women in your church with Rhythms of Grace and Selah resources.



Explore this year’s theme, Selah, with Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems. Weems shares about her journey as God taught her to walk in time with Him. Pair with Selah resources as a reminder to the women in your church to embrace the rest God offers. Download a free copy of Ministering to Women for more ministry ideas.

Find out more and order today at

Need ideas for Men’s Ministry? Download a free copy of Discipling Men at




How to help church leaders take flight WILFREDO DE JESÚS

ew Life Covenant is a church for the hurting. We embrace those who are disenfranchised, hurt, broken and in need of hope. We welcome all with open arms, from dignitaries to the homeless. They are all honored guests in the house of the Lord. As the senior pastor, it is my responsibility to nurture and equip our ministry leaders to work together toward a common vision. In developing ministry leaders, I focus on five key elements: 1. Discipleship 2. Relationship 3. Encouragement 4. Accountability 5. Maturity Jesus provides us with the ultimate template for developing ministry leaders. His disciples would not have met the organizational standards for leadership. They were not welleducated, even-tempered, articulate or great visionaries. They were ordinary men, with an extraordinary call on their lives. However Jesus chose them, He took time to develop His disciples through relationship, encouragement and accountability as He watched them mature into roles that would change the world. If we are not open to seeing the leadership potential that exists in our ministries, we risk missing out on a great harvest in the Kingdom because we failed to prepare the laborers. Leadership development in ministry is biblical. Pastors and leaders, you can’t reach your communities alone. Ephesians 4:11–16 says: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in




every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” I take seriously my responsibility to develop, disciple and build leaders. Discipleship is not a single action or event; it’s a process in which pastors and leaders must be willing to participate. To inspire leadership in my ministry, I acknowledge that I’m not the only leader in the room. I intentionally give away power. For example, we have a 25-year-old dynamic children’s ministry director who is part of our leadership team and provides training to all our children’s ministry volunteers — over 100 of them. Before I put her in that position, we spent years pouring into her life and developing her God-given talent to lead children. I believe God has prepared other men and women to live out their calling in ministry. The development of the next generation of leaders will take long-term commitment, long-term conviction and long-term connection. When I speak about long-term connection, I mean making ourselves available to develop meaningful relationships that will encourage us — and disappoint us at times. This involves times of personal sacrifice to promote the spiritual and physical well-being of others. It’s a transformational journey that requires a serious commitment to help others reach their full potential in Christ. In our church, we utilize a variety of resources for developing leaders, such as our school of ministry, membership classes, conferences, retreats, small groups and evangelism classes, just to name a few. After events, we take time to build relationships — to disciple and develop our people. As a result, we have been blessed with more than 100 outreach ministries, each with a ministry leader. To ensure they have support and continue to grow, we connect each leader with a “pillar pastor,” who oversees and responds to the leader’s needs in ministry, personally and spiritually. To develop the next leaders, you must be willing to create a runway for them as


you offer a watchtower of vigilance over their flights. In other words, no matter how gifted and powerful your leaders may be, provide room and space for them to grow. I don’t focus on success, but on progress. I leave ministry success to God, for He alone gets all the glory. My role is discipling, building relationships, encouraging servant-leaders, providing accountability and celebrating as leaders mature in their walk. You must trust the training you have provided and allow your church leaders to take off and fly. As the Holy Spirit guides and empowers them, they will be prepared to deal with the turbulence, disruptions and distractions, because they’ve come to know who is really in control. Wilfredo De Jesús is senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, author of In the Gap (Influence Resources) and was featured in TIME’s 2013 100 Most Influential People in the World. He is also the vice president of social justice for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents more than 16 million Hispanic Christians.

No matter how gifted and powerful your leaders may be, provide room and space for them to grow.


Introduction “[S]peak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” These words from Ephesians 4:25 are some of the first instructions after Paul calls believers to put on their “new self ” in Christ. It reminds us of the universal need for human connection and understanding — to know and to be known. When we work together, we need to empathize with one another. To do this, we need transparency. But

in a ministry context, this is fraught with difficulties. That’s why we have this section: to allow you to say the things you need to say, in a safe context. Our hope is the anonymity here will encourage more transparency face-to-face and allow you to express your true feelings. In this issue, two pastors discuss the concerns of having family members on staff.

Ministering with Family: The Challenges There is no doubt that most senior pastors dream of serving alongside their families, with their spouses inviting new guests to lunch and their kids leading ministry teams or even leading the church one day. As a non-family staff member, I want to see that dream come true for my pastor. I want to see his legacy passed on through the next generation, and I want his family to be a part of it. If bringing family into that vision means they come on staff, I’m all for it. It is the ultimate “hire from within.” They already understand the cultural and relational dynamics and can speak openly with the pastor. They are the antidotes to the “yes” people. In most cases, the benefits of hiring family far outweigh the risks. But there are still challenges that come with the territory, all of which have one thing in common. They all stem from the trust between you and your staff. So, if you’re considering hiring a family member, you can get ahead of the challenges now by investing in your team relationally. This investment will be much needed as you investigate issues your family members report to you. It is a huge benefit to have eyes and ears on the ministries your family members are serving, allowing you to fix what is broken before it causes more problems. The downside is that staff members may sense they are under constant surveillance. Usually, they would feel free to try out some things and fix issues under the radar before reporting them. Having the pastor’s family members on staff can hijack the process, potentially




hampering leadership development. Trust staff members enough to give them room to think and find solutions before you step in. Trust non-family staffers when making decisions as well, and don’t allow the opinions of family members to trump everyone else’s. It can be challenging to land on the best answer when simultaneously wearing the hats of pastor, boss, spouse and parent. Yet it’s important to keep work and family roles in their proper places, remembering that there are other valuable opinions at the table. If you don’t know whether you can trust your nonfamily staff members, spend some time with them, hear their ideas more often and build mutual trust and respect. I think most staff pastors would say they’d like more time with their senior pastor. So when you hire a family member, be even more intentional about developing bonds with the rest of the team. Your family member(s) will get the most time with you — that’s a given. However, the disparity can hurt your team if they’re not also getting what they need from you. Ultimately, investing in your staff on a regular basis, especially through quality time and honest communication, can help you avoid most of these challenges. If you’re already in this situation and recognize some of the challenges, start building trust today by communicating God’s love to your entire staff. When the trust is there, we can all be one big, happy family in Christ. FROM: STAFF PASTOR


Ministering with Family: The Benefits I am a senior pastor privileged to have my wife and two of my sons serve on my ministry team. I realize that sends up red flags for many. There is no shortage of people who say it’s never a good idea work with family. I am not in denial. The pitfalls and problems are both well chronicled and real. We’ve put some careful controls in place. Among them, none of my family members report directly to me. I have regular discussions with our leadership team to make sure I treat all staff members in a consistent manner. I also regularly talk with my wife and sons to ensure we balance my different and sometimes competing roles. No doubt, working with family can be complicated and challenging. But before you say, “I will never work with family,” consider the benefits. The average tenure of a staff member is short. It’s different with family members. They are intensely loyal and will stay with you through challenging and difficult times. You can be confident, knowing that they love you and have your best interests at heart. As a pastor, you need candid — even if painful — feedback. Your family will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. When I say something that isn’t accurate, my wife corrects me. When I am frustrated, she forces me to focus on the positive. When I have a blind spot, she exposes it. Recently, in a programming meeting, I shared what I considered a great idea for a sermon illustration. My son said, “Don’t do that. It’s not going to work, and you’re going to look foolish. You’re going to change the focus in a way that won’t help you.”



My wife and sons feel the freedom to express things other people are probably thinking but are afraid to say. You need that on your team. Most people tend to agree with the leader, even when the leader is wrong. Your family’s honest evaluations will open the door for others to be more forthright. Your church and team will be better as a result. Your family cares about your emotional and physical well-being even more than your pastoral performance. They know when you are stressed and working too much. They recognize when you are too hard on yourself or internalize church problems. They can tell when you need a break. If you give them the freedom to challenge you, they will. Your family members often know what you are thinking before you say it. They instinctively respond while others are still trying to figure out what to do. They see needs and opportunities others can’t. They anticipate problems others miss. Their ability to read you is a great blessing. Finally, your family has deep relationships with the church people. When they go on a hospital visit, attend a funeral or respond to an emergency, they represent you like no one else. They carry your name and influence. The impact is remarkable. Are there challenges to working with family? Sure. But the benefits far outweigh them. My wife and sons are called and qualified — and they are tremendous assets to this pastor and church. We love doing ministry together. Chances are, so will you and your family. FROM: SENIOR PASTOR




Finding Your Church’s Fit What new data can teach us about contextualizing ministry “for such a time as this” DAVID KINNAMAN


emographics are destiny. We often use this phrase in our public presentations for pastors. And whenever we do, heads nod throughout the audience. This phrase packs a punch because it tells us that the future is out there, a knowable reality. Yet it is somewhere outside of our control. We can predict something about what will happen, but there may not be a lot we can do about it. For example, observers expect the Hispanic population in America to nearly double in the next 25 years, from 17 percent to almost 29 percent. How will that trend affect your ministry? What about the neighborhoods surrounding your church? How can your church

prepare to minister to this growing group? In the 1960s, most young people completed five major life transitions to adulthood before age 30. They left home, completed an education, earned financial independence, got married and became parents. Today’s 20-somethings do not experience most of the five events. Does your church know how to minister to the emerging adult? Just over a decade ago, 60 percent of unchurched people were men. Today, only 54 percent of the unchurched are men. In other words, the gender gap has narrowed from 20 points to just eight points in the last 10 years. What is causing this church departure among women? How does it correspond with other cultural shifts in the lives of women? Understanding cultural realities is one of the most important functions of a spiritual leader. The Church must have a grip on the macro- and the micro-trends affecting its work and respond in a biblical and Kingdom-enhancing way.



four things churches and ministry leaders should examine as they take the gospel into their own unique contexts. 1. Contextualize for the spiritual landscape. If you are a spiritual leader in Atlanta, you will encounter people who are familiar with Christianity and have a strong affinity for it. It’s unlikely that you will run into an atheist (only 7 percent of the city’s population claims “no faith”) or someone who is hostile toward Scripture (76 percent of residents strongly agree that the Bible has accurate principles). Yet, while familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, it often breeds apathy. While nearly nine in 10 Atlanta residents say they are

The Most “Post-Christian” Cities in America The top 10 post-Christian cities in America, defined based on the percentage of the population meeting at least 60 percent of Barna Group’s post-Christian metrics (visit barna. org for a detailed description)

Albany, NY


San Francisco, CA


Boston, MA What Is Contextualization, and Why Does It Matter? Have you ever heard of the tribe of Issachar? First Chronicles 12:32 describes the people of Issachar as those who “understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” They contextualized. It’s a bit part in the overall biblical narrative — an aside, almost. But at Barna Group, we’ve taken a lot of cues from this tribe of Issachar — so much so that it’s part of our mission statement: “We seek to give spiritual leaders the knowledge they need to navigate a changing world.” Contextualization, then, is this work of not only observing your surroundings but also understanding the implications they hold for your ministry. There are as many factors to consider in contextualizing as there are unique types of people and experiences in this world. But here are



Burlington, VT


Portland, ME


Providence, RI


New York, NY


Las Vegas, NV


Hartford, CT


Buffalo, NY


Christian, a full three-quarters of the population (76 percent) qualifies as “casual Christians” — meaning they fail to meet several key faith practice and belief markers, such as weekly Bible reading, prayer or regular church attendance. The challenge of a spiritual influencer in Atlanta is to help fan the flames of faith — to encourage an active, relevant and daily spiritual life. On the other side of the country, spiritual leaders in San Francisco will meet different challenges as they work in a city that is more likely to actively reject Christianity. When nearly four in 10 residents (36 percent) identify as “nonChristian” (twice as many as the national average) and 12 percent say they do not believe in God (compared to five percent of the national average), the landscape in which Christians do ministry in San Francisco demands a different approach. Spiritual leaders need to become adept at navigating hostility, skepticism and a strong mistrust of religion, the Bible and Christianity. 2. Contextualize for generations. In our research, we consistently find some of the greatest disparities in answers between adult generations. In study after study, we find massive generational divides in experiences, expectations, perspectives and beliefs. Most churches are fairly effective at contextualizing for older generations, but they often struggle to connect with younger adults — especially those between the ages of 20 and 29. Nearly 60 percent of 20-somethings who grew up in church say they have dropped out at some point. And the top two reasons millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2002, give for this migration should not escape the Church’s notice. Forty percent say they find God elsewhere, and 35 percent feel church is not relevant to them personally. Those are strong indicators that the Church has some contextualization problems when it comes to young adults. 3. Contextualize for race and ethnicity. As noted earlier, demographic experts predict that the Hispanic population in America will nearly double in the next 25 years. That will have a significant effect on many cities and churches. Understanding the racial and ethnic experiences and perspectives of those in your church and neighborhood is critical to doing effective ministry there. One poll asked about the most pressing challenges for the Latino community. The three answers that rose to the top were employment (27 percent), education (24 percent) and “the breakup of Hispanic families” (22 percent). Knowing that these are the things keeping Hispanic families up at night should inform the kind of ministry and services a church might offer to Latinos in their neighborhoods. In another example, we asked Americans to identify their top two concerns when it comes to violence in the world. While 22 percent of black Americans named “police brutality” as a top concern, only 7 percent of white Americans did. The realities of such statistics are being borne out in real time on our screens this year as the country divides over questions of racial inequality in our justice system. 4. Contextualize for culture. In 2014, Barna Group published a series of nine small books called FRAMES. These books are, in many ways, an exercise in contextualizing the gospel for our times. Taking on issues such as

Generational Divides To what extent are each of the following a part of your personal identity? (Percent who answered “a lot.”)

FAMILY Millenials: 54%

Gen Xers: 61%

Boomers: 64%

Elders: 76%

BEING AN AMERICAN Millennials: 34%

Gen Xers: 37%

Boomers: 66%

Elders: 80%

MY RELIGIOUS FAITH Millennials: 28%

Gen Xers: 34%

Boomers: 45%

Elders: 46%



technology, burnout, violence and the roles of women in the modern world, we examined how our cultural realities are shaping the ways we live — for better and worse. One of the most recurring themes we discovered is the level of busyness and stress in which people live today. Fifty-three percent of adults say they feel physically or mentally overwhelmed at least once last month. Only 42 percent of Americans feel satisfied with the evertenuous work-life balance, and even fewer are content with relationship boundaries (38 percent), overall stress (28 percent) and their practice of rest (39 percent). In this hectic, fast-paced world, is your church offering a place of sanctuary — or is it just another demand on people’s stretched schedules? Three Keys to Effective Contextualization So even if you know you should contextualize for these and other factors, what does that actually look like? What do you do with your knowledge about a particular context — spiritual landscapes or generations or ethnicities or cultural experiences? We’ve identified three important questions that can help ministers respond to the times like the people of Issachar: • What are the circumstances of my context? • As a result of those circumstances, what are people’s pain points or concerns? • In light of those concerns, what is the needed action or calling? Considering these three implications — circumstances, concerns and calling — is key to contextualizing the gospel for your specific time and place. As an exercise, let’s go through these steps with one of our above areas of contextualization. Understanding today’s millennials has been a major area of focus for us over the last eight years, so we will provide an example of how to think about contextualizing for this younger generation. 20-Somethings: The Circumstances There are a number of factors reshaping young adulthood in the 21st century, including the rise of technology, delayed marriage and a new career fluidity. Technology. This is perhaps the greatest culture-shaping agent of our time. millennials, more than any other generation, have felt the effects of sweeping technological innovation in every part of their lives. Millennials are more likely than average to say they check their phones first thing in the morning (56 percent verses 40 percent of all adults) and last thing before bed (54 percent verses 33 percent). They are also twice as likely as other age groups to check it in the middle of the night (12 percent verses 6 percent).


Delayed marriage. The age of first marriage is at a historic high: 29 for men and 27 for women. Marriage and children are no longer major markers of adulthood. The most important goals for young adults ages 18 to 29 are gaining financial independence from their parents (59 percent), completing their education (52 percent) and starting a career (51 percent). After that, they hope to discover themselves (40 percent), follow their dreams (31 percent) and become more spiritually mature (29 percent). Marriage ranks seventh

3 KEYS TO CONTEXTUALIZING 1. Circumstances. What are the circumstances within which you are ministering? Are the people you’re serving mostly from poorer or affluent families? Are they working in blue-collar or white-collar industries? Are they older or younger? Are they immersed in technology or surrounded by wheat fields? Are they leading busy, hectic lives, or are they retired and looking for new purpose? 2. Concerns. What are people’s pain points? These are often born out of circumstances. What keeps the people of your church or neighborhood up at night? Debt? Falling stocks? Systemic racism? Education inequality? Putting food on the table? Passing finals? Finding purpose at work? Finding a spouse? Maintaining work-life balance? Getting enough rain for the harvest? 3.Calling. In light of these circumstances and concerns, what is God’s calling? How can the gospel offer hope or solutions to the pain points? How is God at work in the renewal of broken circumstances? How can the people in your church or neighborhood participate in that renewal?

Ministry isn’t about you. Leadership isn’t about you. Your calling is not about you.

in importance as an objective among young adults (28 percent), which is only slightly higher than enjoying life before taking on the responsibilities of adulthood (24 percent). Just 21 percent of today’s millennials aspire to become parents by age 30, tying parenthood with overseas travel as a goal for 20-somethings. Career fluidity. The current economic climate poses great challenges for job-hunting young adults. The unemployment rate for 18- to 31-year-olds in 2012 was 13 percent. Even college-educated young people are struggling to find employment; the rate of unemployment for 20-somethings holding a bachelor’s or graduate degree jumped from 7.7 percent in 2007 to 13.3 percent in in 2012. A changing economy, a burgeoning entrepreneurial movement and the digital-age ability to work from anywhere have all contributed to a distinct turn in the traditional career path. While the typical career path in previous generations took the shape of a slow, upward climb, today’s professional journeys look more like kaleidoscopes of shifting opportunities. For example, the typical young adult today does not expect to have a single job for more than three years. Moreover, the 9-to-5 workplace has morphed for millions of people into side jobs, passion projects, moonlighting, freelancing, entrepreneurial start-ups and more.



20-Somethings: The Concerns What concerns and pain points arise from the circumstances in which millennials live? Technology. Beyond the brute facts of tech compulsion, about half of millennials agree with this statement: “My personal electronics sometimes separate me from other people.” Cognitive psychologists tell us humans can only focus on seven or so chunks of information at any one time (neuroscience suggests it may be even fewer). That is insufficient bandwidth to process the sheer volume of data that demands our attention each day. No wonder 56 percent say, “There are times when I think I have too much information.” Millennials are more likely than older generations to say they felt physically or mentally overwhelmed five or more times during the past month (25 percent compared to 21 percent of all adults). Delayed marriage. Though millennials are deprioritizing marriage in their 20s, this doesn’t mean they don’t ever want to marry and have kids. Rather, the millennial attitude toward marriage and kids can be summed up in one word: someday. And in the meantime, they’re trying to build toward it. The vast majority (82 percent) want to get married someday, but they believe they should be financially established (69 percent) and “fully developed as a person” (70 percent) before saying vows. And 60 percent believe “it’s a good idea to live with a person before you get married.” For young people, there seems to be a real emphasis on waiting for readiness before committing. Perhaps their biggest fear is being under-prepared. Young adults today who feel equipped to marry are in the minority — only 40 percent. Even fewer (36 percent) say they feel ready to have kids. Career fluidity. Millennials may not expect to stay in one job for life, but our research shows they are serious about their work. In fact, 52 percent of young adults expect that in five years they will have their “dream job.” Nearly the same percentage (49 percent) says they are anxious about choosing a career because they don’t want to make the wrong choice. When it comes to work and career, this generation seeks inspiration above all. Finding a job they are passionate about is the career priority millennials ranked highest (42 percent), above finding a job that helps them become financially secure (34 percent) or landing one that provides enough money to enjoy life (24 percent). They don’t want a job merely for the paycheck, and they are willing to wait to find the right job. 20-Somethings: The Calling In the context of the circumstances and concerns surrounding young adults in today’s world, what is God’s calling on their lives —


and on yours as you minister to them? Technology. When it comes to young people and digital technology, we often focus on the importance of avoiding ungodly content, such as pornography. Since porn consumption, even among Christians, has reached epidemic proportions, those efforts are a necessary response to our times. But a list of don’ts isn’t enough. Many millennials are seeking a more holistic, cohesive approach to tech — an approach that is fully integrated with the Christian understanding of what it means to be created in God’s image. Is your community of faith thinking deeply about these issues? Are you mentoring young adults toward wise use of technology that connects good teaching with godly practice? Delayed marriage. In an environment that prioritizes choice, selffulfillment and “living it up” before marriage, a call to chastity and fidelity will be a significant countercultural narrative. Ministry leaders must be prepared to help single 20-somethings develop a holistic ethic toward dating, sex and even friendships. Modern romance is a minefield of casual sex, ambiguous relationships and almost unlimited access (think: online dating). The Church has an opportunity to come alongside and mentor young adults in these fraught relationships — and to celebrate the gifts of committed intimacy. What does your single ministry look like? Are you conscious of the realities of today’s dating landscape? Do you have mentors in place who can speak into these realities with relevance and wisdom? Career fluidity. Millennials see their 20s as a time to explore their

career options so they can find a job that will provide a sense of meaning and fulfillment. For this reason, vocation is one of the most critical areas of ministry for 20-somethings. The good news is that millennials truly want to find a sense of calling and significance in their work. According to a 2012 Net Impact Study, graduating university students say they would go so far as to take a 15 percent pay cut for a job that makes a social or environmental contribution (45 percent) or to work for an organization with values that are similar to their own (58 percent). In the same survey, 72 percent of those students said that working where they can make a difference is essential to their happiness — compared to 53 percent of all Americans. How are you mentoring young adults in finding God’s vocational calling on their lives? Do they understand how they can make an impact in the world through their work — one that also serves God’s kingdom? What might it look like for you to connect young adults in your church with older adults who work in the same field? Making It Happen Now that we’ve considered this example of contextualizing, let’s take a look at some of the key lessons our team at Barna has learned in three decades of this kind of work. 1. Contextualization has implications for staffing. Do the people on your staff represent the people you are trying to reach? Do they understand the culture and lives of those in your pews? Do their job descriptions and performance indicators reflect the goals of contextualizing? 2. It’s vital to understand what it means to transform lives, rather than merely shuffling people through programs. Being good at contextualizing means measuring important things — gospel things —instead of just tallying weekend attendance and budget. We suggest measuring things such as Bible engagement; ministry health; effectiveness in reaching children, teens, young adults and families; the evangelistic readiness of your congregation; care and concern for the poor in your community; and so on. 3. Recognize that your facilities make a huge statement about your ability to contextualize. As we learned in our research for the Barna report Making Space for Millennials, your ability to make use of that space effectively and orient it toward life transformation is a massive task of leadership. This could affect how you view and use the space, how you remodel or renovate facilities, when you meet and where, whether and how you use coffee shops or multisite venues, and a host of

other decisions. 4. We are increasingly learning that professional ministers are not the only ones who can do — or should do — contextualization. Make sure you’ve enlisted lots of help from your congregation. This might take the shape of letting people in your congregation tell their stories. (You aren’t the only one who has insights or applications into reaching your community.) Another way to put this into practice is to pay attention and partner with other organizations and local groups that are working to serve and renew the neighborhoods near your church. 5. Keep the gospel in focus. As important as contextualization is, we must not overlook the gospel’s ability to bridge groups of people, breaking down barriers of income, age, gender, ethnicity and background. So even as we are contextualizing our efforts, let’s make sure we don’t swing to the opposite extreme and miss that the gospel compels us to push past our comfort zones into ministry with and for each other, across our differences.

David Kinnaman is president and majority owner of Barna Group. Since joining Barna in 1995, David has overseen studies, polling the opinions and perspectives of more than 400,000 individuals. He is the author of the bestselling books, You Lost Me and unChristian and the co-editor of Churchless.






everal years ago, I talked to a young woman who had left the faith and begun living with her boyfriend. I asked her what had caused these radical changes in her life. There were many things, she replied, but the major catalyst was a confrontation with her pastor. Her college studies had raised troubling questions about her faith. When she brought those questions to him, instead of answering them, he told her not to question his spiritual authority. The pastor, it turned out, had less formal education than she did and took her questions as a personal insult rather than an honest inquiry. Her troubling questions unanswered, and now alienated from her church by her pastor, she began to drift away. Theological Anemia Stories like this are common in churches. We interpret them as cautionary tales about the dangers higher education can pose to faith. Sometimes that is indeed what they are — though not in the young woman’s case. Instead, her story is a cautionary tale about the dangers theologically unprepared pastors can

pose to members of their churches, especially when they become unnecessarily defensive. Pastors have tremendous influence within a congregation. Used properly, that influence points people to Jesus Christ. Misused or abused, however, it points them away from Him. In their book The Pastor Theologian, Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson write about “the theological anemia of the church.” Medical anemia is a deficiency of oxygenbearing red blood cells, resulting in weakness and fatigue, among other things. By analogy, theological anemia is a deficiency of sound doctrine in the body of Christ, resulting in moral laxity and missional apathy, among other things. Hiestand and Wilson argue that “what we believe about God, ourselves, and the world inevitably informs our vision of the good life. And this vision in turn shapes our desires, which then direct our actions.” Many Christians’ eyes glaze over when they hear terms like theology or doctrine, which they associate with their congregation’s Statement of Faith they learned in membership class but never heard about again. Hiestand and Wilson mean something different than canned statements recited from rote memory. “The theologian seeks to grasp and then articulate the central message of the gospel in such a way that the gospel becomes the norm by which all the various messages [about who we are, who God is and what it means to live the good life] are judged worthy or unworthy of belief,” they write. Good theology, in this sense, shapes good desires and good actions; bad theology misshapes them both. As an example of the shaping power of theology, consider what Paul says about the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. The Corinthians received salvation when they believed the gospel Paul preached to them (verses 1–2). The resurrection of Jesus



Christ from the dead is an essential component of that gospel (verses 3–8). Some Corinthian Christians denied the resurrection of the dead, however (verse 12). Paul exposed the logical conclusion to that bad theology: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. ... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (verses 13,17). Paul went on to argue that absent the Resurrection, the Corinthians had no reason to endure suffering for Christ’s sake, as Paul himself had done — and as Christians around the world continue to do. He asked, “why do we endanger ourselves every hour?” (verse 30). Not only that, they had no reason to live holy lives. “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ ” (verse 32). For Paul, good theology shapes a life of faith, endurance and holiness. Bad theology, on the other hand, shapes lives of disbelief, impatience and sinfulness. Surely American Christians are doing better than their firstcentury Corinthian counterparts, right? Hiestand and Wilson disagree: “Divorce rates among evangelicals are not substantially better than the culture at large; the sexual ethics of evangelical singles are virtually indistinguishable from their non-Christian counterparts; and avarice and greed are now so common that we gaze at our excesses without blinking.” There are many causes of this “moral laxity,” but Hiestand and Wilson ask, “who will deny that a failure of belief is at least partly to blame?” (emphasis in original). Not me. Certainly not Paul. So what is the antidote? In Romans 12:2, Paul wrote: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (emphasis added). Spiritual and moral renewal requires theological renewal. Chief Theological Officer In the local church, whose responsibility is this? To answer that question, think of a bull’s-eye with three concentric circles. The outer circle is the congregation as a whole. The middle circle is the class of Christian leaders generally. The inner circle is the pastor — meaning the senior or lead pastor — specifically. To some degree, all bear some responsibility for the work of theological renewal, as the following Scriptures demonstrate: • Congregation: “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 3). • Christian leaders: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his


people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13). • Pastor: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful

Good theology shapes good desires and good actions; bad theology misshapes them both.

instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Also, “command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1 Timothy 1:3). All Christians bear some responsibility for theological renewal, but pastors bear special responsibility. Hiestand and Wilson explain: “the burden of maintaining the theological and ethical integrity of the people of God is inevitably linked to an office within the church, not to a group of people with intellectual giftings. Insofar as pastors bear the dayto-day burden of teaching and leading God’s people, they simply are the theological leaders of the church. As goes the pastoral community, so goes the church” (emphasis in original). I would take Hiestand and Wilson’s remark one step further and focus on the role of the senior or lead pastor — i.e., the pastor. Paul addresses Timothy and Titus as individual pastors in his letters to them, assuming that they exercise final authority over a church or group of churches. Though different Christian traditions practice different forms of church governance (i.e., congregational, presbyterian, or episcopal), each of them recognizes the need for a first-amongequals in the leadership structure of the local church. This person does not bear full responsibility for the theological renewal of the church, but he or she does bear final responsibility. To use a modern corporate analogy, the pastor is the chief theological officer (CTO) of the local church. A modern corporation has three basic tiers in its organizational structure: labor, management and C-suite leaders (e.g., chief executive officer, chief operations officer, chief financial officer). All contribute to the design, manufacture and distribution of the corporation’s product. The chief executive officer (CEO) bears overall final

JOHN WESLEY AS PASTOR-THEOLOGIAN Though best known as an evangelist and the founder of Methodism, John Wesley (1703–1791) is a model pastor-theologian. His sermons, essays and Bible commentary cover the basic tenets of Christianity in a manner that instructs the head, inspires the heart and prepares the hands for good works. Check out these excellent resources: • John Wesley, The Standard Sermons in Modern English, ed., Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, 3 vols. (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon, 2002–2003). • Thomas C. Oden, John Wesley’s Teachings, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2012–2014). • Fred Sanders, Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013).



responsibility, however. He or she reports to the board of directors, which represents the interests of the shareholders. If the corporation does not turn a profit, the CEO’s job is on the line. In a similar way, as noted above, all Christians bear some responsibility for the theological renewal of the local church. But a greater share of responsibility lies with church leaders (“pastors and teachers”), and the final responsibility lies with the senior or lead pastor. The pastor is CTO. This greater responsibility explains why pastors are “worthy of double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17), not to mention why they will be “judged more strictly” (James 3:1). As goes the pastor, so goes the church. Leading Theological Renewal How, then, does the CTO lead theological renewal in the local church? Through a combination of self-leadership and otherleadership. Self-leadership refers to those practices that develop the character and competence of a leader. It is internal and personal in nature. For CTOs, there are two essential self-leadership practices. Paradoxically, the first is followership. When Jesus called Simon and Andrew out of their fishing boat, He said: “Come, follow me … and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17). Following Jesus always precedes leading others. Forgetting this is one of the greatest temptations church leaders face. When we succumb to this temptation, God becomes an object to be analyzed rather than a Person to be loved. Practicing spiritual disciplines is the best way to resist this temptation. The goal is to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ on a continual basis. Being Spirit-filled has a direct bearing on the theological task. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Absent the abiding presence of the Spirit within us, our faith and our theology tend to rest on “human wisdom” rather than “God’s wisdom” (2:4,7). The second essential practice is seeking continuing education. Late in life, Paul asked Timothy to “bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul was attentive to his own physical needs (“the cloak”) but also to his intellectual needs (“the scrolls”). Likewise, pastors should commit themselves to a regimen of physical and intellectual fitness. They must especially be lifelong learners. Pursuing advanced theological education at a seminary or graduate school is one way to do this. Cultivating a habit of reading biblical


WHEN MILLENNIALS TALK ABOUT GOD A growing number of Americans, especially younger Americans, claim no religious affiliation. The “nones” have not stopped believing in or talking about God, however. Pastor-theologians need to be aware of how their God-talk often differs from orthodox Christianity. Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers coined the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) to describe the religious beliefs of millennials (born 1981–1996). MTD has five core beliefs: 1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. 2. God wants people to be good, nice and fair to one another, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. 3. The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself. 4. The involvement of God in one’s life is not necessary except to resolve an occasional problem. 5. Good people go to heaven when they die. “[MTD] is colonizing many historical religious traditions,” Smith and Denton write, “and almost without anyone noticing, converting believers in the old faiths to its alternative religious vision of divinely underwritten personal happiness and interpersonal niceness.”

Table waiting and Word ministry are essential functions of the Church, but the former is essential to the ministry of deacons and the latter to the ministry of pastors. commentaries, Church histories, systematic theologies and studies in apologetics is an even more important way. Theological leaders must be readers. Whereas self-leadership is internal and personal, other-leadership is external and interpersonal. In other words, it is leadership per se, the ability to influence the thoughts, emotions and actions others take. To lead theological renewal, CTOs should implement the following four practices. 1. Practice expository preaching. “Preach the word,” Paul exhorted Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2). Pastors, whether senior or associate, do many things, but preaching and teaching is a core ministry function that they cannot outsource. The best way to preach and teach theologically is to do so inductively rather than deductively. This means expository preaching, where we start with Scripture, reveals its theology and shows how that theology shapes the lives of Christians. For example, a sermon on Philippians 2:1–11 would show that the Christian life is one of unity: “[be] like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (verse 2). Unity requires that Christians set aside “selfish ambition [and] vain conceit,” and instead “in humility value others above yourselves” (verse 3). The theological underpinning of that unity-through-humility is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, “[w]ho, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (verse 6). Deductive sermons — in which we define a doctrine and cite proof texts in support of it — have their place. However, they tend to be unemotional, impractical and overly intellectual. Expository sermons, being inductive, keep heart, hands and head together, for Scripture always addresses the whole person.

Expository preaching is inherently theological and practical because Scripture is inherently theological and practical. 2. Strive for theologically rich worship services. Sound theology is caught as well as taught. While expository preaching shoulders the burden of explicit theologizing, other elements of the worship service carry that burden implicitly too, especially congregational singing, the Lord’s Supper and water baptism. Sung doctrine stays with worshipers long after they have forgotten the points of a pastor’s sermon. And the tangible qualities of the ordinances, when explained from Scripture, leave a lasting impression on the participant. 3. Build a theologically competent staff. When congregations hire pastors, when pastors hire associates or when associates hire volunteers with teaching duties, they look for “the three C’s”: character, competence and chemistry. Do they demonstrate integrity? Can they do the job? Do they work well with others? Unfortunately, church leaders rarely examine theological competence beyond a cursory, “Do you agree with our Statement of Faith?” Pastors and other Christian leaders should look for more than a check-off-the-box orthodoxy from teachers. They also should look for biblical fluency, sound theological judgment and the ability to research questions to which they do not have immediate answers. 4. Delegate nonessential functions. The local church is a spiritually gifted congregation in which all members must exercise their ministries (1 Corinthians 12:7–31). Unfortunately, too many pastors take on responsibilities that are not essential to their ministries, robbing congregational members of the exercise of their spiritual gifts and stealing pastors’ time that could be more profitably spent studying for Sunday sermons and other Bible lessons. This results in congregational frustration and pastoral burnout. The answer to this twofold problem is to delegate to others whatever is not essential to pastoral ministry. The apostles modeled delegation when they appointed deacons to “wait on tables” so they could focus on “the ministry of the word of God” (Acts 6:1–4). Both table waiting and Word ministry are essential functions of the Church, but the former is essential to the ministry of deacons and the latter to the ministry of pastors. We accomplish more for the kingdom



of God by distributing ministry as the Spirit provides the gifts. Questions Given



Recognizing that counterfactuals are tricky propositions, I wonder whether the young woman I mentioned at the outset would have made different choices had her pastor responded differently to her. What if, instead of dismissing her questions, he had taken the time to answer them? What if, instead of seeing her questions as a personal insult, he had seen them as a spiritual opportunity to help her grow in Christ? The present generation is not committed to church but is interested in God. An effective Christian outreach to them will depend on our ability, as pastors, to sit patiently with others as they ask tough questions about God. Are you creating that kind of environment at your church — where questions are welcomed and answers are given?

George Paul Wood is the executive editor of Influence magazine and Assemblies of God publications, Springfield, Missouri.






you remember the church world before the smartphone? I do. About 15 years ago, I told a great story on a Sunday about Bob, a businessman from Washington, DC. It was a powerful part of my sermon. It was, after all, the “hot story” floating all over the Internet and preached from many pulpits. It came from a respected national ministry. A few weeks later, while visiting our nation’s capital, I spontaneously mentioned the story to a friend who lives there. He said, “I know Bob. Let me call him. Would you like to meet him?” When he hung up the phone, he said, “He will meet with us, but only under one condition: We can’t talk about that story.” I asked, “Why not?” “Because he just said it’s not true.”



Oops. I would like to have that Sunday back! That was then; this is now. Today, if the story sounds too good to be true, before you’re even done telling it, one of your congregants can already know it’s not true. Not only can they do it, they will do it — especially the younger members of your congregation, the millennials, armed with smartphones and the wherewithal to use them. In “How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith,” the Barna Group explains our current reality: “Now with the ability to fact-check at their fingertips, Millennials aren’t taking the teaching of faith leaders for granted. In fact, 14 percent of Millennials say they search to verify something a faith leader has said. A striking 38 percent of practicing Christian Millennials say the same.” Whether they are checking or not, the truth matters, and consequently, your trustworthiness is up for grabs. Nevertheless, because they are checking whether what you say is true, so should you. Sermon integrity matters. It’s huge. It’s not just a matter of validating great stories. Validate every part of your sermon — statistics, quotations, names, logic, math and even citations from the Scripture. The fallout of bad facts is not worth the shortcuts. Bad facts are distracting. Listeners unhook from the worship experience when they discover you’ve said something untrue. The interference to sort out the incorrect information can cloud the hearing of the rest of the sermon, befuddle their prayer and singing and, ultimately, divert them from responding to the work of the Holy Spirit. Bad facts are a tool of the enemy.


Bad facts damage your credibility. Like it or not, when 1 percent of what you say is not true, it casts doubt on the 99 percent that is. Truth be told, you would treat the car salesman who fudges here and there the same way your audience is treating you. Your reputation in all things is a result of your reputation in small things. A bad fact here and a bad fact there do your character no favors. Bad facts do not honor God. People in the pew want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, which, by the way, is a great way to describe and reflect the character of God. Giving bad

If the story sounds too good to be true, before you’re even done telling it, one of your congregants can already know it’s not true.

information on purpose is sinful. Giving it because you’re too lazy to do your research isn’t much better. As a kid, my mother attached this verse to every report card I brought home: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). I suggest we also attach this apostolic advice to our preaching, especially since Paul’s original intent was to encourage Timothy toward sound teaching and warn him to stay away from sloppy doctrine. It comes down to this: The careful preacher fact-checks. Consider these practical tips for getting your stories straight. 1. Assume the worst. Without becoming an out-andout skeptic, assume every story and statistic you hear (even from other religious leaders) might be untrue, or at least partially inaccurate. For example, perhaps you hear the divorce rate is as high in the church as it is outside the church. Even if you heard it at a church conference, that does not make it true, especially if it’s not — which, by the way, it’s not. (See Bob Smietana, “False Facts: Why We Love Bad Stats,” Facts & Trends, January 7, 2014.) 2. Just Google it! Anything and everything you’d ever want to know can be found with a simple Internet search. It’s amazing how this has changed the world. Guess what? As quickly as members of your congregation can search to find whether you’re telling the truth during a sermon, you can confirm you’re telling the truth when preparing the sermon. Two minutes. 3. Utilize a fact-checking site. My friend Karl Vaters, pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, Calif., offers this practical advice in “4 Ways People are Fact-Checking Your Preaching” for Ministry Today (March/April 2015): “Snopes your stories. I’ve learned never to trust a story that fits my worldview too perfectly. After all, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.” So, whether you choose, TruthOrFiction. com, or another resource, benefit from the cumulative wisdom of others. 4. Cite your sources. Put in your notes the bibliographic information of every source. It’s there if you need it later. If you can’t find a source, your information is probably flimsy. 5. Cite your verses. Make sure you’re actually quoting the Bible when you say you are (e.g., “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible). Also, do your best to give the correct biblical reference



4 Tips for Better Preaching In the lonely world of preparing and preaching sermons, help is needed from time to time. Here are four preaching tips to make you a better preacher.





Tip #1

A message isn’t ready for our church until it goes through a few channels. It starts off with prayer for God’s power to change lives through it. Then I verbally process to an intern, and he records it on an iPhone. I’ve trained him to ask me key questions to extract more ideas from inside my heart. Next, we work these thoughts into my template of key sermon elements, identifying the take-home (action steps) to apply. Early Sunday morning I rehearse key parts out loud again. Finally, I preach a two-minute version to my staff, and we pray over the weekend. My sermon is now ready to preach. — Chris Harrell is lead pastor at South Hills Church in Corona, California.


Tip #2

As a pastor, I’m always in sermon mode. Whether I’m studying or out and about, my mind is always thinking about the next message. Over the years, I have developed a method to my sermon planning madness. I call it the four A’s of preaching. 1. Be articulate — speak to the mind. 2. Be anointed — speak to the Spirit. 3. Be authoritative — speak to the stronghold. 4. Be authentic — speak to the heart. This method of prepping allows me to stay true to the call and true to the cause. Preaching is not an art; it’s a privilege. Each week, I get the opportunity to shape people’s lives and lead them into their destiny. So as I plan and prepare to deliver God’s Word, I try to always be articulate, anointed, authoritative and authentic. Then I will see what God has always seen — and what He wants to reveal to others through me. — Obed Martinez is lead pastor at Destiny Church in Indio, California.


Tip #3

As a missionary, I share in many pulpits. So, my first step is praying, “God, given this people, time, place and occasion, what are You saying to Your people?” With that prayer comes a growing sense of topic, biblical theme and key truths. Then I craft the message for hearers with different learning styles — a clear outline for more analytical listeners, and integrated stories from Scripture and everyday life for more relational listeners. I talk the message through and rework it for a natural flow of thought and spirit. Finally, I read the biblical text aloud until it’s “in my voice.” That way, the spirit of the Word comes alive for me — it soars in my soul — and I can proclaim it with authority to others. — Beth Grant is an Assemblies of God executive presbyter, Eurasia missionary and co-director of Project Rescue, a ministry to survivors of sexual slavery.

Tip #4

When preparing my weekly message, I use God’s Word, write a title, choose a text, line up the points and determine to keep my SIM card handy. A preacher’s SIM card includes: Stories, Images and Metaphors. People who have a hard time holding on to our deep reasoning often remember the stories. I’m always amazed after delivering my heart, soul and mind on a Sunday morning when someone comes up and says, “Pastor, that story really touched me.” Verify stories and statistics and work through any problem areas before stepping into the pulpit. I do my best to memorize the manuscript before I preach, and my wife is my “chief critical thinker” who helps me analyze and refine the message. It takes study, meditation, long hours, hard work and, most of all, prayer to deliver the counsel of God. — Rich Wilkerson, Sr. is senior pastor of Trinity Church in Miami, Florida.

The interference to sort out the incorrect information can cloud the hearing of the rest of the sermon, befuddle their prayer and singing and, ultimately, divert them from responding to the work of the Holy Spirit. when you cite a verse so listeners can find it and read it, too. Every detail adds to your credibility. 6. Check the data. Check the dates (e.g., if you are not sure whether the Enlightenment happened in the 17th or 18th century, check it). Check the math (e.g., if you say 9/11 happened 14 years ago, do the math: 2015 - 2001 = 14). Check the directions (e.g., Rome is northwest of Jerusalem, whereas Jerusalem is southeast of Rome, etc.). 7. Check pronunciations. You can either, with confidence, fake your way through the list of biblical names and cities in your given passage, or you can listen and trust the way Max McLean and pronounce them. They’ve done their research, and they pronounce the names appropriately. Check anything and everything that seems odd. 8. Steer clear of email spam. Not only are the stories often untrue, they are almost always overused. If you’ve seen it multiple times, your audience has seen it, too. There’s nothing worse than telling a crucial story when the majority of the crowd already knows the punch line!



9. Use original, recent content. It’s always most powerful to tell personal stories from your last week, for you will be telling (1) something you’ve never told before, (2) something contemporary to your context and (3) the truth, for it’s harder, although not impossible, to lie about something that happened last week. 10. Prepare as a sermon team. Another friend, Mike Quinn, is the pastor of Newbreak Church in San Diego. All his sermons are prepared alongside the other campus pastors and team members in his unique network. Even before he had a larger paid staff, he prepared his sermons in advance with a volunteer team. He stocks his team with lots of different skill sets and vantage points. “When you have lots of eyes on your illustrations and your facts, you tend to vet out the false information,” Quinn says. So, consider preparing your message alongside others. This reduces the risk of passing along bogus material. You cannot outlaw smartphones from worship. They simply aren’t going away. In fact, they are only going to get smarter and smarter as technology gets faster and faster. They’re here to stay. So, how should a preacher respond? Address them. Teach the appropriate use of electronics in a worship setting. What’s helpful and what’s not? Rather than pretending everybody is paying attention to the worship experience, stop and authentically call for behavior that focuses on sacred worship.


Teach them how to worship in a media-saturated world. Employ them. Every once in awhile, ask attendees to use their smartphones for spiritual purposes. Find ways to engage the audience in biblical research that will help them discover eternal truths. They’ll surprise you. I love how Vaters views this opportunity in “4 Ways People are FactChecking Your Preaching”: “Just when too many people were ready to write off the Millennials as apathetic slackers, they prove themselves to be high-tech Bereans.” Trust them. As they trust you because you are trustworthy, be aware of the openings for electronic ministry dialogue that spring from this sacred trust. Trust is built on truth. As you proclaim God’s Word with compassion and truth, they will respond with trust. So do you remember the church world before the smartphone? I do, but I like the world we’re in now. It has sharpened my craft and made me need God’s power all the more, for as smart as my smartphone may be, nothing beats a smart connection to the Smartest One. The smart — and honest — preacher will stay linked to Him.

Doug Green is the lead pastor of North Hils Church in Brea, California.

Assemblies of God

U.S. Missions

Reaching the changing

face of America Assemblies of God U.S. Missions


WHERE MUSIC MEETS MINISTRY How can the multipliers in our worship ministries not only develop good musicians but also grow devoted followers of Christ?

orship pastors are arguably among the most influential leaders in the church. After all, other than lead pastors, few leaders spend more time holding the mic. It’s a huge responsibility and a lot of pressure, especially since worship leaders are often younger and less experienced than lead pastors. Of course, there is a difference between standing on the platform as a worship leader and filling the demanding role of worship pastor. The former leads congregational worship. The latter also leads musicians, singers and others in discipleship. What does it take for a worship leader to make the transition and truly start pastoring? Clayton Brooks has been leading


Justin Lathrop is strategic relations director for the General Council of the Assemblies of God, U.S.A., and the author of The Likeable Christian (Salubris Resources, 2015).


worship at The Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Texas, for more than 15 years — an impressive tenure considering he’s only 33. I asked him recently about his ideas concerning mentoring and discipleship. “The Great Commission doesn’t call us to duplicate worshipers,” Brooks said. “It calls us to make disciples.” As Brooks works with others, he prayerfully considers who God calls them to be in the Kingdom, not just where he can use them on stage. “I focus on developing leaders,” he says. “I wasn’t hired to sing, but to grow people. My area of focus is with singers and musicians, but it is in the context of developing them as disciples.” Brooks recalls hearing Rachel Hunter (page 58) share a devotion before worship practice. Brooks says watching this worship pastor pour into people as disciples, and not just musicians, helped shape his outlook on the far-reaching potential of music ministry in the church. Will we train the next generation of worship leaders to seize such ministry opportunities? How can the multipliers in our worship ministries not only develop good musicians but also grow devoted followers of Christ? This Multipliers section features four people who are using their gifts in worship, music and leadership to serve as dynamic multipliers for Jesus.

FROM THE STUDIO TO THE PLATFORM Chris Estes and Influence Music are equipping worship musicians A Q&A WITH CHRIS ESTES

or more than 23 years, Chris Estes has devoted his life to music, media, entertainment and emerging technologies. His extensive background in Christian music merchandising, content creation, marketing and sales channel development has allowed him to work with large ministries, including Hillsong, New Life Worship, Integrity Music, Bethel Music, Gateway Church and Israel Houghton. Chris has worked with five projects that won Grammy Awards and 11 that garnered Dove Awards. Chris and Influence Music have teamed to develop a music training website dedicated to teaching, training and equipping the worship community (


Influence: How did you end up in the world of music? Chris Estes: I grew up in New Orleans, so music was a big part of my life from an early age. I played in bands through high school and college and started managing bands after graduation. I started worship leading in the local church about five years before I took a position as the senior marketing director at Integrity Music. During my seven years with Integrity, I worked with amazing worship leaders and movements, like Hillsong United, Israel

Houghton, Paul Baloche, All Sons & Daughters, John Mark McMillan and many others. What is Influence Music Training? The Influence Music Training website ( is dedicated to teaching, training and equipping the worship community. Our mission is to see the Church worship with excellence. There is a need for practical training that is accessible to worship teams of all skill levels. This platform provides an affordable solution. How can worship pastors utilize this kind of technology? We see worship pastors using the website to grow the level of excellence on their teams. It is built with the worship leader and team in mind. You can sign up the whole worship team with a worship leader user level that is designed to manage and encourage the team’s growth. The worship leader can monitor progress through the lessons, while recommending new areas to explore. What can we expect to see in future developments of the platform? In the future, we will incorporate biblical teaching on worship from Assemblies of God pastors, leaders and universities. We also will develop a song writing community that will facilitate song writing collaboration and growth.




How Rachel Hunter is helping future worship leaders connect with God in a genuine way A Q&A WITH RACHEL HUNTER

Influence: You’ve served at large churches, as well as a church plant. What worship ministry challenges do churches of different sizes bring? Rachel Hunter: Every church brings a unique set of challenges. Larger churches have a great sense of energy and expectancy, which can make congregational leading seem almost effortless. The challenge of a larger church can be the fear of anything less than perfection. With larger churches, there can be more systems and higher expectations in place that inhibit the freedom to be sensitive to the Spirit. It can also be a challenge to help find the right place of ministry for those who desire to use their gifts but may not meet the technical standard. Leading at a church plant is certainly not without challenges. Finding qualified instrumentalists, singers, sound engineers and even proper equipment can be problematic. The upside is that the people in a church plant are usually flexible. They aren’t tied to a formula or style and can be very forgiving. Another challenge in a church plant is bringing people from varied backgrounds into a spiritually harmonious worship time. That can be a problem in any growing church, but it seems to be a bigger challenge in a newly founded congregation.


As you train students at SAGU, what excites you about our future worship leaders? They have a passion for the presence of God. With the development of streaming content and highly accessible music, these leaders have been immersed in worship music and desire to live in an atmosphere of worship. This constant access to the most current worship music has helped develop a strong sense of musicianship and creativity. The influx and popularity of current-sounding worship music has also created a hunger for the simplicity of the worship of past generations. How have you directed and trained worship teams so effectively over the years? Creating a sense of family is key. When people know they are known, loved and cared for, their faithful service is a joy. Being part of a growing worship ministry can be a big-time commitment. It is the worship pastor’s job to help them feel that their investment is worthwhile. What advice would you give young worship pastors? Remember that you are a pastor who leads worship, not a singer who leads songs. Some of your most meaningful ministry will be in pastoring people. The Spirit of God will equip you with all you need to fulfill your calling. Rachel Hunter is the chapel worship director at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. Rachel and her husband, Dan, are lead pastors and founders of Living Church in Mansfield, Texas.


BALANCING ARTISTRY WITH AUTHENTICITY A worship leader and blogger on resourcing music ministers



Influence: When did you realize you wanted to use your knowledge and influence to help other worship pastors/ leaders? David Santistevan: I realized that doing ministry myself wasn’t enough to leave a lasting legacy. I wanted to help others succeed. I believe we all have a responsibility to pass along what we know to raise up the next generation and spread our influence wherever we can. This can be an encouragement to someone reading this who may not feel qualified. You may feel you don’t have enough experience or think you aren’t a good enough worship leader. But that doesn’t get you off the hook. No matter what stage of the journey we are on, we all have a responsibility to pass along what we know to others. That’s why I do this. What is your biggest concern for up and coming worship leaders? This may sound weird, but I feel there is a danger for all of us becoming too professional. I’m all for excellence in what we do. But it’s possible to be talented, work hard, be innovative and leave God out of the equation. We have to maintain a heart that burns for the glory of the Lord and a pastoral heart for His people. We need to pursue artistry without just putting on a show for the church to be impressed by. Give voice to your community. Make them the heroes. The church is the focus for what we do, not our own creativity and innovation. Be influenced by the people you lead. Pray for them. Worship behind closed doors. Live for Jesus. The main goal of a worship leader isn’t to discover what’s new and novel; it’s to never lose the wonder of what God has already done. Other than your blog and podcast, what is the one resource you would recommend to worship leaders? There are so many great resources out there for discovering new music and improving your craft — Influence Music, All About Worship and We Are Worship — to name a

few. But let me recommend a habit — take time to write. Write in a journal. Write about your failures. Write about what you are learning. Write down new ideas every day. Get your thoughts out of your head onto paper. This will make you a better leader and give you a clearer prospective on what you’re leading and where you’re headed. If you could pass along one great idea to a new worship pastor, what would it be? You need a strong vision and a calendar. Don’t let your discipleship happen by chance. Determine with your lead pastor what your vision is and get it on your weekly/monthly/annual calendar in actionable goals and events. It’s easy to dream. It’s another thing to do the hard work of making it happen. What worship album are you listening to right now? I’ve been loving “Everything and Nothing Less” by Chris McClarney. The songs are powerful, well-written and convey a real sense of hunger for God. That’s the challenge — balancing excellent craftsmanship with an honest, real cry for Jesus. I’ve also been digging into United Pursuit’s “The Simple Gospel.” I always love how they distill corporate worship to its essence. They don’t seek to impress but to be raw and real. What is your favorite podcast interview you have done and why? It’s really hard to narrow this down. I would say my recent episode with John Mark McMillan was super enlightening on the artistic side. Malcolm DuPlessis

was probably the most spiritually challenging. This is the main reason why I love podcasting. These conversations are priceless. Not only do I get to learn a ton from my heroes, I get to share them with people all over the world from my simple house. Incredible! There’s no excuse to not start something. What’s the best way for a worship leader to stay fresh? That’s the challenge isn’t it? The majority of worship leaders aren’t artists in the sense that they play to a different audience night after night. They are serving the same people week in and week out. This can get old if you allow it to. But I like to encourage myself with the truth that every worship service is an opportunity to encounter the Divine. Anything is possible when God is in the room. In every service, the Holy Spirit is awakening dead hearts, healing the sick, reuniting families and calling prodigals. It’s a glorious opportunity. This is how you need to encourage yourself. It also helps to stay fresh musically and artistically. Learn a new instrument. Experiment with new ideas. Write new songs, all through the filter of what will help your church see Jesus clearer. I also like to challenge young worship leaders — for every hour you spend on stage, spend two hours in private. This discipline will keep your worship real. Before you are a leader, you need to be a worshiper. David Santistevan is the worship and creative arts pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He blogs at




Why this pastor is committed to discipling young people for worship ministry A Q&A WITH AARON KEYES

Influence: How did you start leading worship? Aaron Keyes: I was in college, and the summer camp worship leader didn’t show up one night. Somebody yelled, “Aaron can do it!” I quickly replied, “No, he can’t!” But God worked in spite of my incompetence. I led worship for that camp the rest of the summer. I never would have dreamed all the places that road would take me — touring the United States and Europe to lead worship, writing and recording songs with my heroes, shepherding church congregations. It has been quite a gift of grace. What are you sensing God doing in local church worship? I sense that the worship renewal we’ve enjoyed the last several decades is ripe for reform. Just like the great Protestant Reformation, which put the Scrip-


tures in the hands of regular people, reemphasized the priesthood of all believers and emphasized authentic personal faith over rote ritual and religiosity, I see the Holy Spirit bringing these all back to the center of worship ministry. How are you helping raise up a new generation of worship leaders? My wife and I bought a house where we could have worship leaders come live with us indefinitely, be a part of our family and do life together with us in community. That has evolved, and we are now a growing, organic community — and postgraduate college — of nearly 200 worship pastors from all over the world, leading in all sorts of contexts, within all of our own unique callings. We are all committed to growing in the character of Jesus and inviting others into our lives so they can do the same. This wonderful community is called 10,000 Fathers. What is your advice to young people just getting started in worship ministry? Find someone who will invite you into their life so you can be transformed through the process of imitation — a spiritual father or mother. In other words, get discipled. That way, once you’re ready, you can do much more than just lead worship. You can do what Jesus actually called us all to do: make more disciples of Him. Aaron Keyes is worship pastor at Grace Fellowship Church located in the metro Atlanta area. Aaron and his band travel nationally and internationally, leading worship and training leaders. He is the founder of 10,000 Fathers, a worship school for training and discipling worship leaders.







In A Spirit-Empowered Church, Alton Garrison points us to the heart of dynamic church growth: creating Spirit-empowered disciples who are involved in 5 activities—connect, grow, go, serve, and worship—to change people and communities with the power of God’s Spirit. Add A Spirit-Empowered Life and the accompanying Small Group Kits to gain a deeper understanding of how Holy Spirit empowerment can change your life. Each kit contains a Study Guide and DVD with 4 sessions. FIND OUT MORE AND ORDER TODAY AT MYHEALTHYCHURCH.COM/SPIRITEMPOWERED OR CALL 1.855.642.2011

Welcome to the My Healthy Church store section. We curate an exclusive collection of Spirit-empowered resources, simplifying the search for your next book, album or curriculum. Check out what’s inside and see the difference My Healthy Church can make. 

Believe for Greater Things Are people in your small group facing situations that seem impossible? These Small Group Kits for adults, women and youth, will connect you with dozens of Spirit-filled people who needed to see God move in an amazing way. Dr. George O. Wood also shares biblical examples of people who chose to believe God in spite of challenges. As you look at what God has done in others’ lives, you’ll be inspired to believe God for greater things in your own life, too. Includes the Believe for Greater Things DVD and Study Guide.

My Healthy Church 027047 $27.99

The Big Ten Scotty Gibbons draws on 20 years of youth ministry experience to give you the most important thoughts on the top 10 youth ministry essentials. The Big Ten includes essentials to help you write sermon messages that move students to action, create a safe place for students to find and follow Jesus and more. This quickaccess resource is a must-have for your ministry.

Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670745 $12.99 Spanish: Loz diez grandes ISBN: 9781680670516 $12.99

Good Kids, Big Events, and Matching Tshirts Good Kids, Big Events, & Matching T-Shirts invites youth leaders into a game-changing conversation. Writer and youth worker David Hertweck moves through three pivotal points: 1) Are youth becoming fluent in the gospel? 2) Are youth Spirit-dependent? 3) Do youth have biblical community? When youth leaders choose to refocus on these values, they are heeding Jesus’ command to make disciples. My Healthy Church ISBN: 9781624232541 $14.99 Spanish: Buenos chicos, grandes eventos y camisetas que hacen juego ISBN: 9781681540108 $14.99

When Words Hurt

The Word & The Spirit

Talk Now and Later

Criticism is a fact of life. How should a Christian respond? When Words Hurt: Helping Godly Leaders Respond Wisely to Criticism by Warren Bullock provides a wide array of biblical, gracefilled responses that will enable you to maintain your dignity while enhancing your personal integrity. Whatever your level of leadership, When Words Hurt will help you learn to face the criticism and the critic with grace.

As a Christian minister who works with youth and youth leaders, David Hertweck could supply quick answers about the Holy Spirit. Instead, Hertweck compels young men and women to embark on an exciting journey and dive into the Bible. Interactive questions entice young people to keep going. Featuring insights from other youth who know the Holy Spirit in an invigorating, personal, life-changing way.

Don’t wait until something big happens to talk to your kids—start now! In Talk Now and Later, author Brian Dollar presents 10 common topics your child deals with — or will soon — and detailed advice on how to approach and discuss the issues with them. Provides conversation starters for: God, Death and Tragedy, Sex, SelfImage, Making Wise Choices, Divorce, Friendships, Money, Bullying and Restoring Broken Relationships.

Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670424 $12.99

Gospel Publishing House ISBN: 9781607313946 $12.99 Spanish: La Palabra y el Espíritu ISBN: 9781607314028 $12.99


Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670271 $17.99 Spanish: Hable ahora y después ISBN: 9781680670868 $17.99



Fearless A caring pastor and author meets with you daily in this collection of 261 inspiring devotions. Dr. George O. Wood examines the Book of Mark while providing a Scripture passage and prayer for each day. Wood is an engaging storyteller who shares an upbeat mini-story or vignette every day. Vital Resources ISBN: 9781680660005 $12.99

A Psalm in Your Heart

Let the Holy Spirit speak God’s truth into your life through the Psalms. Originally printed as a serial column, A Psalm in Your Heart by Dr. George O. Wood provides insight and encouragement through meditations on all 150 psalms. Meet the Lord in a fresh, new way as you explore these beloved Scriptures. Vital Resources ISBN: 9781680660005 $12.99

Why Some Churches Are Blessed How do you grow a church? Unfortunately there is no one-size-fitsall answer. But in Why Some Churches Are Blessed, you’ll learn the one biblical principle author Dan Betzer says is the secret: Give and it will be given to you. Through generously supporting missions, phenomenal growth occurred in Betzer’s church, and it can happen in yours too. With Why Some Churches Are Blessed, you can help your church on the path to blessings beyond measure supernaturally so. Gospel Publishing House ISBN: 9781607314073 $12.99

Lead So Others Can Follow In our world, some churches seem increasingly powerless against the rise of cultural secularism and moral relativism. So how can you, as a leader, fight this oncoming tide and revitalize your church? Lead So Others Can Follow by Jim Bradford offers practical tips on creating a Christhonoring, peoplecentered ministry. Let this book help you face the challenge to keep spirituality and biblical principles hardwired into your leadership. Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670738 $12.99 Spanish: El líder que otros seguirán ISBN: 9781680671360 $12.99

Praying with Confidence

Broken Escalators

Over the course of 31 days, author Jeff Leake provides tips and patterns to help you develop a new discipline of prayer. Each day features a unique prayer pattern based on well-known prayers throughout the Bible, as well as the six main elements of prayer: Worship, Agreement, Thanksgiving, Specific requests, Confession, Worship. Learn to have confidence, variety and effectiveness in your prayer life.

Approaching Scripture with comedy, stats and storytelling, a Minnesota minister explores some counterintuitive twists behind happiness and promotion. Diving deeper than others would dare, this gutsy writer wrestles with theological issues many leaders would avoid on Sunday. This author hopes to increase the time and energy you and the people you know are investing in prayer, thinking and even blogging.

Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670394 $12.99 Spanish: Ora con confianza ISBN: 9781680670899 $12.99

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Inside Out When you pair selflessness with compassion, you’ve got transformational force. Rich Wilkerson and his wife Robyn fill this exhilarating book with exciting stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God. Their book isn’t about culture, politics,or religion. It’s about setting aside differences, forming new bonds and taking action. In these pages you’ll find concrete reasons to both lead and serve.

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MAKE IT COUNT Connect. Grow. Serve. Go. Worship. A tool for team growth, inspired by Acts 2:42-47

Every Influence magazine will contain an eightweek study designed for leadership teams. Our hope is that by wrestling with the material together, you will grow closer as a unit as you strive to lead more like Christ.



Introduction Week after week, you invest time and energy into making every Sunday count. But you also have to think about staff meetings and board meetings, as well as meetings with key volunteers and other church leaders. Juggling so many meetings can seem overwhelming, especially as you think about how to develop the leaders around you. That’s where the Make It Count section of Influence comes in. We asked leaders from around the country to share their meeting insights and provide great leadership development content you can use with your ministry leaders and key volunteers. This way, you can make every meeting count. This Make It Count section contains eight easy-to-use sessions, or lessons, by Dr. Robert C. Crosby, co-founder of Teaming Life (, professor of practical theology at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and author of several books including The One Jesus Loves (Thomas Nelson, 2014). You can follow him on Twitter @rccrosby. These lessons are easily adaptable for individual or group discussion. The flexible format encourages group discussion, personal application and reflection among ministry leaders. Studying and growing together is key to building strong and healthy relationships with team members. Regardless of your church’s size, Make It Count can help develop leaders and bring you and your congregation closer to Jesus.

8 Paradoxes of Godly Leadership/8 Growth Experiences Jesus did not focus on leadership, at least not in the way many do today. In fact, I cannot find one place in all of His red-letter words where He called anyone to a title or position of “leadership,” per se. Certainly, Jesus was, and is, a leader who led a band of brothers and a movement that would fascinate and dominate the interests of countless millions — and change the world. Still, although I am intrigued with leadership, I am hard-pressed to find in the Gospels the same fascination or preoccupation we have today. Make no mistake: Jesus did lead. However, He never taught a course in leadership. At one point, when a crowd tried to make Him king by force, He actually left town (John 6:15). And when people questioned His authority, He pointed them to His relationship with the Father, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). So if Jesus did not focus on leadership, what did He do? He redefined it and turned it on its heels by His example. Christlike leadership is paradoxical. A paradox is an apparent contradiction that, upon closer examination, turns out to express a truth. In these team sessions, we will consider eight paradoxes of godly leadership.



LESSON 1 Growth Experience No. 1 — Leading by Serving “ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Read: Mark 10:35–45 Make It Clear — Understanding The Insight The first paradox of Christlike leadership is the most central of the list of eight. In the Mark 10 narrative, James and John come to Jesus with an agenda — to secure their position and provision in His future glory. Jesus responded to His disciples’ request with an evaluation and a question: “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (verse 38). In others words, they didn’t have a clue what they were asking. The path of the Cross calls for sacrifice. While these two disciples were concerned about the place they would hold or their positions, Jesus had something else in mind. He was about to turn their understanding of leadership on its heels.

Leadership Paradox No. 1 Christlike leaders understand that leadership is not a position you hold for yourself, but a place from which you serve others. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I spend more time thinking and worrying about the position I hold or the people I serve? 2. Is my understanding of leadership formed more by the business world, popular culture or the example of Jesus? How so? Questions to ask your team: 1. What is the difference between leading by control and leading by serving? 2. What did Jesus let go of in order to serve? Of what did He take hold? 3. What should serving look like in our city or community?

Rating Myself on … My Frequent Practice of Leading by Serving Others







Make It Count — Living the Insight Leonard Bernstein, the late famed conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, made an interesting observation. During a discussion on what it takes to draw beautiful music out of a diverse group of musicians and instruments, an interviewer asked Bernstein, “What is the most difficult instrument to play?” “Second fiddle!” Bernstein promptly replied.








The conductor went on to explain that while the majority of his musicians desire only to sit in first chair, few people want to play second violin, second trombone or second flute. Yet Bernstein emphasized that unless someone is willing to do so, there is no harmony, no symphony. A Question to Grow on How will I lead by serving someone today?

LESSON 2 Growth Experience No. 2 — Organizing by Delegating “Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” (Exodus 18:14). Read: Exodus 18 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Moses provides one of the best examples we have in the Bible of how to — and how not to — lead a team. Early on in his leadership journey, he tried to lead his own way by killing an enemy. This started a downward spiral that ended up with him in exile and obscurity. But God didn’t give up on Moses. He patiently taught him what it really means to lead. Sometimes He used people to help teach Moses. For example, Moses received a much-needed leadership lesson from his father-in-law, Jethro. That brings us to the second paradox of Christlike leadership: delegation. In a sense, delegation helps us pull things together by giving some of them away. After observing the struggles of his son-in-law, Jethro

offered some fatherly (or father-in-lawly) counsel. Read about Jethro’s advice in Exodus 18:13–23. Leadership Paradox No. 2 Christlike leaders understand that leadership is not a position you hold for yourself, but a place from which you serve others. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Am I trying to do too much of the ministry on my own? 2. Are there things I am doing that others could do just as well? 3. Am I a control freak or a Spirit-led leader? Questions to ask your team: 1. Of all you are doing and managing currently, what should you delegate to others? (Think of at least one duty you might delegate.) 2. Why are we sometimes hesitant to delegate? 3. Is it a control issue or a trust issue?

Rating Myself on … My Practice of Organizing by Delegating







Make It Count — Living the Insight D.L. Moody once said, “I would rather put a thousand men to work than do the work of a thousand men.” Sometimes that may seem easier to say than do. Some leaders are reluctant to part with certain responsibilities, duties, authorities and roles because they “don’t want to be a burden” on someone else. However, more often than not, when we hold onto tasks that someone else







could do, we are depriving people of opportunities to serve. It could be that when it comes to ministry, there is someone who will never step in until you are willing to move over. A Question to Grow on What do you regularly do that someone else could do 80 percent as effectively as you? It’s time to let it go!



LESSON 3 Growth Experience No. 3 — Building Trust by Giving It “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20). Read: Philippians 2:19–24 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Trust is an essential component of an effective team. While the team leader must trust the team members, it’s just as important for team members to trust the leader. Trust grows every time team members and leaders keep their commitments and promises. It is strengthened each time a timeline item or commitment is promptly met, no matter how small or preliminary in nature. Trust is that good feeling that exists among people on a team who have confidence in the team itself. So the third paradox is building trust by giving it.

Leadership Paradox No. 3 Christlike leaders know that to accomplish great things, their teams must develop great trust. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I trust my co-workers and team members? 2. What could I do today that would help build trust on my team? 3. Is there anything I need to do to repair some broken trust? Questions to ask your team: 1. By nature, do you find it difficult or easy to trust people? 2. To what do you attribute this tendency? 3. What are some things that help build trust on a team? 4. What are some things that diminish it?

Rating Myself on … My Consistent Practice of Building Trust by Giving It







Make It Count — Living the Insight Building trust on a team is not at all unlike building trust in a marriage. It is a process. It takes time. When someone experiences unfaithfulness in his or her marriage, the broken trust is so devastating that rebuilding the relationship can be difficult. The unfaithful spouse often asks, “How can I ever get my spouse to trust me again?” My answer is simple and direct: “Trust is much more quickly lost than built. Building trust is one day and one








step at a time. Your breach of faith destroyed trust, and you cannot bring it back in a brief moment. You have to earn it by faithfully keeping one promise at a time.” Recovering trust on a team is work. Cultivating it is vital. But a team that wants to accomplish exceptional goals must have an exceptional sense of trust. A Question to Grow on What can you do today to build more trust on your team?

LESSON 4 Growth Experience No. 4 — Equipping by Asking “Then Jesus asked them … ” (Luke 22:35). Read: Mark 8 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Perhaps the team leadership skill most lacking today is the ability to ask effective questions. While a good question can open a conversation, a great question can open a soul. The fourth paradox is equipping by asking. Michael Marquardt, author of Leading with Questions, points out that “the leader of the past may have been a person who knew how to tell, but certainly the leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask. … The leader simply won’t know enough to adequately tell people what to do; the world is changing too rapidly.” One of the most important tools for any team leader is asking great questions. The right question asked of the right person at the right time can do much to draw out insight and creativity. Today’s wise leaders will use ques-

tions to challenge and inspire their teams to greatness. Leadership Paradox No. 4 Christlike leaders know that in order to be interesting, they must be interested; great questions are an essential tool. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. In most conversations, do I tend to ask enough questions? 2. Do I listen intentionally and fully? 3. Or do I tend to wait for people to ask me questions? Questions to ask your team: 1. What are the most common questions we tend to ask people every day? Are they sincere? 2. What are some questions you would love others to ask of you? 3. What are some of the questions Jesus asked? 4. Why do you think He asked those things?

Rating Myself on … Equipping Others by Asking Them Great Questions







Make It Count — Living the Insight Jesus was a great question-asker. He used questions as a tool, not just for finding out information, but also for transforming lives. Here are some of the ways He used questions in just one chapter of the Gospel of Mark: • Answering a question with questions (Mark 8:5) • Gathering data (Mark 8:5,19–21) • Making statements (Mark 8:12) • Communicating passion (Mark 8:17–18) • Correcting (Mark 8:21)







• Seeking feedback (Mark 8:23) • Encouraging personal application (Mark 8:27–29) • Soul searching (Mark 8:36–37) A Question to Grow on What is one great question you can ask some people on your team today?



LESSON 5 Growth Experience No. 5 — Empowered by Empowering “He humbled himself … ” (Philippians 2:8). Read: Philippians 2:1–11 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight One way to diminish a team is for the leader to focus on holding on to power. Teams don’t need empowered leaders but ones who are truly empowering. Great team leaders know that their opportunity to serve a church and ministry team is also a great privilege. Perhaps a good way to illustrate this is to consider the difference between a boss and leader. For starters, a boss creates fear, but a leader creates trust. A boss fixes blame, but a leader fixes mistakes. And while a boss relies on authority, a leader relies on cooperation. There’s a difference. Which are you? The fifth paradox of Christlike leadership is that we are most empowered by empowering others.

Leadership Paradox No. 5 Christlike leaders know that the most empowered leaders are those who also choose to be the most empowering. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I behave more like a boss or a leader? 2. Is my leadership more about my own power or empowering the team? 3. How could I better serve and empower the team? Questions to ask your team: 1. Which do we discuss the most in our meetings: what people can do for us or what we can do for them? 2. Are church volunteers working for us, or are we working for them? 3. How can we better empower those we serve?

Rating Myself on … My Practice of Empowering Others Around Me







Make It Count — Living the Insight Christlike leaders do not obsess over their own power and control. Instead, they use their entrusted power to empower those around them. Leonard Sweet writes in AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture: “Leadership is less about employing people than empowering people. Leadership is less about controlling people than releasing them.”








Remember, the “control towers” of Christlike leaders are not thrones, but bleachers on a playing field. The truly empowered leaders are the ones on the edges of their seats, cheering on the team! A Question to Grow on What will I do to empower someone on my team wisely today?

LESSON 6 Growth Experience No. 6 — Advancing by Surrender “Peter took him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him” (Matthew 16:22). Read: Matthew 16:13–27 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Within moments of proclaiming Jesus as Christ, Peter turned the tables on Him. After hearing of the challenges Jesus would face, the rebukes started flying. Tim Keller writes in King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus: “Peter begins to ‘rebuke’ [Jesus]. This is the verb used elsewhere for what Jesus does to demons. This means Peter is condemning Jesus in the strongest possible language. Why is Peter so undone, that he would turn on Jesus like this right after identifying him as the Messiah?” Fortunately, Peter’s journey does not end here. When he “rebuked” Jesus, he didn’t know it but he was about to be dressed down himself. Read the story in Matthew 16. Jesus was trying to teach Peter the sixth paradox of Christ-

like leadership — that of advancing by surrendering. Leadership Paradox No. 6 Christlike leaders realize that the only way to advance in God’s will is to regularly surrender their own. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Are you currently operating on your own agenda or God’s? 2. What fuels your current ministry activities and actions: pressure or God’s leading? 3. Is the way you live evidence of God’s calling or your personal ambition? Questions to ask your team: 1. What are some of the things we must regularly surrender to God to serve Him with a right spirit, motive or attitude? 2. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it” (John 12:25)? 3. What should those words mean to us as a team?

Rating Myself on … My Commitment to Advancing by Surrendering to God







Make It Count — Living the Insight Jesus had some words to confront Peter’s attempts to control: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It appears that Peter wanted a certain kind of Jesus, one of his own wishes or design. Perhaps Peter wanted a Christ who would bring him comforts rather than one who would allow him to face challenges.







Despite this, Jesus laid out in no uncertain terms that obedience involves following. A Question to Grow on Is following Jesus really the “supreme passion” of my life, my family and ministry?



LESSON 7 Growth Experience No. 7 — Acknowledging Weakness, Experiencing Strength “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29, NLT). Read: 2 Corinthians 12:1–10 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Leaders should be in touch with their strengths — and also their weaknesses. According to the apostle Paul, there is a time simply to be “strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10). There is also a time to “glory in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3). In 1 Corinthians 12:1–10, Paul describes a struggle that was nothing short of tormenting. It was so difficult that three times he pleaded with God to remove it. Amid these challenges, Paul was learning the seventh paradox of Christlike leadership: finding God’s strength in his weakness. Here are four things we know from this epistle about Paul’s “thorn”: • Paul asked three times for God to take the thorn away.

• God would not take it away, for it served a purpose — to keep him humble. • God’s grace was all Paul needed to endure it. • God’s strength was revealed through the challenge. Leadership Paradox No. 7 Christlike leaders find that their weakest point is God’s strongest opportunity. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. How aware am I of my weaknesses, struggles and limitations? 2. Do I consider the ways God wants to use my weaknesses, or only my strengths? Questions to ask your team: 1. What is your “thorn”? 2. How has it changed you as a Christ follower and as a leader? 3. What can we do to help people not only realize their strengths but navigate their weaknesses?

Rating Myself on … Recognizing God’s Strengths Amid My Weaknesses







Make It Count — Living the Insight Paul described the process of wrestling with his own challenge. Through the frustrations and discouragements and pleading with God to change his situation, Paul finally came to a point of resolve. It happened when a revelation settled into his spirit of God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9).








This was a powerfully freeing moment for Paul. Such a moment is powerful for you as well — a grace moment. The Message version says it this way: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness” (verse 9). A Question to Grow on What weakness will you entrust to God today?

LESSON 8 Growth Experience No. 8 — Honored by Honoring “Honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17). Read: Matthew 3:13–17 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight At the water baptism of Jesus, God the Father honored God the Son: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Honor is the eighth paradox of Christlike leadership. (Read more about drawing “circles of honor” in my book The Teaming Church.) One of the worst mistakes a team leader can make is allowing his or her team to feel undervalued. A key part of a team leader’s role is reminding the team members of how valuable and important they are. In The Carrot Principle, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton write that 69 percent of North American workers reported they were not recognized at all in their jobs last year. And 79 percent of the top performers who change jobs cited a lack of recognition for the work they had done as one of the main reasons.

Perhaps most amazing in the research was the discovery that organizations that effectively recognize and praise their employees are three times as profitable as those that do not. Leadership Paradox No. 8 Christlike leaders understand that the best way to receive honor is by learning how to honor others. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. When did I feel the most honored by someone? 2. What did that person do that was so honoring, and what can I learn from the experience? Questions to ask your team: 1. Do you think there is an “honor deficit” in our culture today? 2. What about in this church? If so, how? 3. How did Jesus honor others? In what ways do you believe God is calling you to honor those around you?

Rating Myself on … My Practice of Being Most Honored by Honoring Others







Make It Count — Living the Insight You might say we are never more like God than when we are honoring others. The Bible commands us to honor one another: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV). When we honor the people around us — when we work this way on teams and small groups — we are doing something God has always done and is always do-







ing. We are reflecting the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “Give to everyone what you owe them … if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7). A Question to Grow on How will we honor someone today?




Are you a good leader or a bad leader? Most leaders fall somewhere in between. If you’re not sure how your leadership is affecting the performance of your team, consider that in a recent Barna Group study of Americans in the workforce, 90 percent said the nation is facing a crisis of leadership. Here are some findings on the difference a good leader makes:

On The Hunt

Work Enjoyment

More than six in 10 of those who work for a bad boss (61 percent) plan to be on the job hunt this next year, while less than three in 10 of those who work for a good boss (27 percent) say the same.

More than nine in 10 (91 percent) of those who work for a good leader enjoy going to work each day, while 62 percent who work for a bad leader look forward to work each day.

A Positive Difference

Empowering Leaders

More than eight in 10 (82 percent) say a good leader makes them feel they can make a positive difference in the world, while only 63 percent who work for a bad leader say the same.

More than seven in 10 (74 percent) who work for a good leader feel empowered to be a leader at work, while only 61 percent of employees of bad leaders feel empowered.


Influence Issue 02  

October/November 2015

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