A LT O N
I S S U E _ 01
AU G UST _ S E PT E M B ER 2 0 1 5
3 Ways to Celebrate Team Wins Finding Bivocational Balance
THE SHAPE OF LEADERSHIP
How to Support Women in Ministry
AN 8 -WE E K LEAD ERSHIP ST UDY FO R YO UR T EAM
IT’S TIME TO INFLUENCE WE B E L I E VE TH AT TR UE, GO DLY LEADERSHIP DOESN’T COME FROM A TI TL E OR PO SITIO N . IT STA RTS WIT H T HE HEART OF A SERVANT A N D G R OW S INTO A LIF E O F IMMEASURABLE IMPACT. T HAT IS WHY WE C R EATED INFLUENCE.
If You Ask Me
Get Set Finding Bivocational Balance
Like a Leader • Three steps to preserve space in your ministry • Books worth highlighting, for you and your team • America’s churchless — a profile • Podcasts and more • Apps and other tech to positively add to your life
22 Playbook • 5 Steps to Celebrate Wins With Your Team • America’s Changing Religious Landscape • Storing Up Treasure, Building the Kingdom
34 The Shape of Leadership Chris Railey offers a closer look at how Jesus led — and why you should follow suit.
42 Is Leadership a Gender-Neutral Issue? Lori O’Dea on what women leaders bring to the table — and why we can’t afford to keep them from it.
50 A SpiritEmpowered Church: The Missing Process Alton Garrison reminds us of five biblical principles of the Acts 2 church that lead to healthy, vibrant and growing churches.
• Creating the Future • A New Code • Leading and Loving It
67 Noteworthy 70 Make It Count 8 Signs of Spiritual Growth; 8 Growth Experiences
80 The Final Note The Value of Sunday Morning
THE SHAPE OF LEADERSHIP
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: Chris Armas, Tiffany Cooper, Robert C. Crosby, Alton Garrison, Bobby Gruenewald, Rob Ketterling, Justin Lathrop, Kristi Northup, Lori O’Dea, Mike Quinn, Chris Railey, Scott Wilson, George Paul Wood SPECIAL THANKS: Alton Garrison, James Bradford, Douglas Clay, Gregory Mundis, Zollie Smith, Sol Arledge, Wini Arledge, Steve
SUBSCRIPTIONS: To subscribe, go to influencemagazine.com 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@ influencemagazine.com. 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 #01 August/September 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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IF YOU ASK ME
esus Christ did not possess a diploma. His name was not found on the organizational chart of the Sanhedrin. He had no office at the temple in Jerusalem. Rather, His leadership was defined by His influence. Though He was “in very nature God,” He “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (Philippians 2:6). He forsook the trappings of His divine office for the austerity of a Bethlehem manger, the hard slog of a Judean road and the pain of a Gethsemane cross. Despite these sacrifices — or perhaps because of them — Jesus attracted and continues to attract followers. The essence of Jesus’ leadership is this: He imposed nothing; He proposed everything. In other words, He invited commitment from the inside out rather than imposing compliance from the top down. “Come, follow me,” He said to the first disciples, and they did. Following Jesus necessarily results in leading others. Like Jesus’ leadership, however, ours must be a leadership of influence — of invitation rather than imposition. You hold in your hands the inaugural issue of Influence magazine. Its mission is to provide Christians with the resources they need to become better leaders, whether they are lead pastors or lead volunteers in their churches. While there are several excellent
A NEW LOOK AT THE LEADERSHIP SPECTRUM
publications for pastors, as far as we know, Influence is the only magazine that intentionally addresses the entire spectrum of local church leadership. In our premiere cover story, “ReEnvisioning Leadership” (page 34), we’ll guide you through a deeper exploration of Jesus’ unusual leadership style. This standard shapes our discussions elsewhere, as Influence writers probe big questions such as: What is a Spirit-empowered church like? (page 50); How should your ministry celebrate successes? (page 22); Why is it important to support women in leadership? (page 42); How can you preserve margin in your life? (page 13). Along the way, you’ll find media recommendations, practical wisdom and research about the culture in which you’re leading. Finally, go beyond the articles with Make It Count (page 70), a section which prompts you and your team to assess your spiritual growth, individually and collectively. Our hope is that you share Influence with your pastoral staff or volunteers as a conversation-starter, thoughtprovoker and tool-sharpener. (For more information on providing copies to staff members and key lay leaders in your church, visit influencemagazine.com/subscribe.) In print and online, Influence wants to help you live more like Christ so you can lead more like Christ. Let’s get started.
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 Kristi Northup
FINDING BIVOCATIONAL BALANCE How one minister keeps the plates spinning
risti Northup is a passionate musician, worship leader, songwriter, ordained AG minister, church planter, wife and mother. She works bivocationally as an associate pastor and a representative for an insurance company. In 2011, Kristi and her husband, Wayne, left an established career as evangelists to plant Saints Community Church in their beloved city of New Orleans. They have two kids, Libby and Lincoln. Influence: Managing ministry, a corporate job and family is a balancing act. How do you keep all your plates spinning? Kristi Northup: I have to say “no” to many important things, so I have something to give to what matters most. The load I’m carrying impacts my balance. When the load gets too heavy, I compensate by bending lower, going slower. I have to look for indicators that tell me the load is getting too heavy. Am I shorttempered with my kids? Is the laundry sitting for days? Do I escape life by watching endless episodes of House Hunters International? Those are my indicators that I have to go slower and shift the load. Which side of the “relationship
triangle” (God, family, job/ ministry) causes you the most stress? We have faced an ongoing health crisis with my husband that has pressed us to our max. When you or the person you live with doesn’t have good health, it impacts every single area of your life. In the mercy of God, this long experience has taught us to rely on Jesus every moment. It’s not something we would have chosen, but God has brought so much good out of it. Church planting is hard work. What gives you strength for the journey? When we started the church in 2011, my grandpa, Monroe Grams, wrote a book for our family sharing the experiences he and my grandmother had as pioneer missionaries in Bolivia. My family history makes me stronger; they did not give up, nor will I. Which spiritual discipline helps you through the busyness of each day? I rely heavily on Scripture to get me through each day. God’s Word is such an important anchor for me because it does not change. I choose to walk in close communion with my Savior. That is something no one else can give and no one can take away.
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THE ART OF MARGIN Three steps to preserve space in your ministry MIKE QUINN
ecently I was working with a kindergartner named Sally on an art project. As she painted a piece of paper, she had trouble controlling her brush and also ended up “painting” half the table. I explained that if she imagined an invisible space between her art and the end of the paper, it would help her. I told Sally that the imaginary space is a “margin.” Sally responded, “Oh, but Pastor Mike, I like to use up all the paper!” Similar desires can keep us from preserving margin in ministry. Our hunger to serve with all our hearts can push us to the edge of “using up all the paper” rather than putting healthy limits around our time, treasure and talents. I am definitely a “struggling artist” when it comes to maintaining margin in my life as a pastor, but three strokes of the brush have helped me. 1. Delegate more, and watch your span of care as a leader and coach. As Robert Coleman reminds us, “Jesus didn’t neglect the masses but concentrated on the few.” 2. Find a hobby or activity you love that feeds you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Build it into your schedule without guilt. I discovered surfing in college, and it feeds my life.
3. Schedule margin daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Keep the fourth commandment. Oh, and never come back from a vacation without having the next one on your calendar. Margin is an art involving choices between the good, the better and the best. Guarding it will definitely help with choosing the best — and making less of a mess.
Mike Quinn is lead pastor of Newbreak Church in San Diego, California, a multisite church with five campuses.
THE ROAD TO CHARACTER David Brooks (Random House)
Contemporary American culture “leaves many of us inarticulate about how to cultivate the inner life,” observes David Brooks. The Road to Character aims to rectify that problem. Brooks is a secular author, so Christians will disagree with him on a number of points. Nonetheless, he provides useful insights into contemporary culture.
BOOKS WORTH HIGHLIGHTING, FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM George Paul Wood
MISSION DRIFT: THE UNSPOKEN CRISIS FACING LEADERS, CHARITIES AND CHURCHES Peter Greer & Chris Horst (Bethany House)
“Without careful attention,” Greer and Horst write, “faith-based organizations will … drift from their founding mission.” Secularization doesn’t happen overnight; small compromises lead to fundamental changes. To prevent that from happening, the authors detail the best practices of “Mission True” leaders, board members and organizations. 3 3
FOOL’S TALK: RECOVERING THE ART OF CHRISTIAN PERSUASION Os Guinness (IVP Books)
American culture is increasingly indifferent to Christianity. Some sectors of it are outright hostile. In such a culture, Os Guinness asks, “How can we as followers of Jesus be as truly persuasive as we desire to be?” Fool’s Talk outlines a form of “creative persuasion” that helps move people from “questions” to “commitment.”
THE DECHURCHING OF AMERICA Fewer people in the U.S. are attending church. Who are they and why are they leaving? America’s Top Churchless Cities Using the seven-year average from Barna: Cities 2015 report, the top ten cities with the highest percentages of the unchurched shows geography alone does not determine who the churchless are and what they believe. 1. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Calif. 2. Burlington/Plattsburgh, Vt. 3. Boston, Mass./Manchester, N.H. 4. Portland/Auburn, ME 5. Chico/Redding, Calif. 6. Las Vegas, Nev. 7. Seattle/Tacoma, Wash. 8. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, N.Y. 9. Phoenix/Prescott, Ariz. 10. New York, N.Y. A New Exodus Sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope in Church Refugees (Group Publishing, 2015) reveal why people are done with church but not their faith. Whereas the rise of the Nones (religiously unaffiliated) has increased steadily in America representing 22.8 percent of the population, a new phenomenon is emerging, the rise of the Dones (believers living their spiritual lives outside of organized religion). Why are the Dones leaving church? The authors site four reasons: 1. They are tired of the judgmental posture of church people, individually and collectively. 2. The bureaucratic methods of church organizations tend to build a church’s empire rather than the kingdom of God. 3. They want to come to their own answers about God through dialogue and struggle, not though the conclusions of church leaders.
4. They are frustrated over the church’s narrow interpretation of morality and its common disregard toward issues of equality, poverty and unjust economics. Evangelicals “Major Exception” to the National Pattern of Christianity’s Decline in U.S. Evangelicals are the only major Christian group in Pew’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study to gain more members than it lost through religious switching. Since 2007, evangelicals lost almost 8.5 percent of adherents but gained almost 10 percent for a net gain of 1.5 percent. By comparison, Catholics had a net loss of nearly 11 percent due to religious switching, while the unaffiliated had a net gain of 13.6 percent. The Refining of America’s Christianity Is Christianity in America dying? One might think so from first glance at Pew’s Religious Landscape study. Christian missiologist Ed Stetzer reports that what the research shows “is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.” He offers three takeaways from the study: 1. Convictional Christianity is rather steady. 2. Significant shifts are occurring within American Christianity. 3. Mainline Protestantism continues to hemorrhage.
琀栀攀猀攀 琀椀琀氀攀猀 愀氀猀漀 愀瘀愀椀氀愀戀氀攀 椀渀 匀瀀愀渀椀猀栀
THE CAREY NIEUWHOF LEADERSHIP PODCAST www.careynieuwhof.com
Each week, Carey Nieuwhof broadcasts an hour-long interview with a prominent Christian leader about topics related to “leadership, change and personal growth.” Interviewees include Mark Batterson, Kara Powell, Andy Stanley, Geoff Surratt and many others. Nieuwhof is pastor of Connexus Church near Toronto, Canada, so he knows what questions other pastors are asking. The goal of the podcast is “to help you — and your team — to lead as never before.” 2
REASONABLE FAITH PODCAST www.reasonablefaith.org
In our increasingly diverse world, Christians need to know how to explain and defend their faith from a variety of challenges. William Lane Craig is a leading Christian apologist who has debated well-known atheists and other non-Christian scholars. In this weekly podcast, he addresses “the most important apologetic questions of our day,” including atheism, evolution, Islam, the problem of evil and same-sex marriage. This is the graduate school of podcasts, though (thankfully) in 15 to 30 minute doses. 3
Every generation of Christians needs to write worship songs that reflect their vibrant faith in God. In fact, singing “a new song” is a biblical commandment (Psalm 33:3). SOAR includes eleven new songs by young worship leaders at Assemblies of God churches across America. Titles include “Faithful God,” “There Is a King” and “Revive.” These songs will help your spirit soar as they proclaim the goodness, faithfulness and love of God.
TELL EVERYONE ABOUT JESUS. EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW HIM.
BE THE VOICE OF THE HUMAN RIGHT AT THEHUMANRIGHT.ORG/VOICE
FIND THESE GREAT RESOURCES AND MORE.
High School Small Group Curriculum
30-Day My One Shirt Challenge & Devotional
The Human Right Album
The Bush Always Burns
Apps and tech that add to your life 1
Google Drive began as a free alternative to Microsoft Office, but has developed into one of the best cloud-based storage and syncing services for creating, editing, saving and collaborating on documents. Drive allows you to collaborate in real time on text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. From sermons and meeting notes to budgets and staff directories, you can store files on Drive and share them with your whole team. Since many organizations already use Googleâ€™s Mail and Calendar, integrating Drive into your workflow can be seamless. For more information on Google Drive, visit drive.google.com.
Take remembering and managing passwords and worrying about your personal or church data off your to-do list? Dashlane is a one-stop app that does it all. It has practical application for both personal and church use. It works on any device, on any computer â€” anywhere. Save credit cards, receipts and confidential church records to your secure digital wallet. For the password-challenged, the autologin feature works flawlessly on every website. The autoform feature fills forms with personal payment information and makes your online experience a breeze. Dashlane gives you more security, more control, more productivity. Check it out at dashlane.com.
PLAYBOOK : BUILD
elebration is a habit of the heart. When we, as pastors and other church leaders, cultivate hearts of praise for God’s majesty and blessings, our gratitude naturally overflows as we notice faithfulness, creativity and courage in the lives of those we lead. If we’re not careful, though, we can become so exhausted by work and weighed down by pressure that we lose the joy of serving God — and fail to notice the character, service and sacrifice of those we lead. On our team, I want to create an environment of celebration. At the beginning of each staff meeting — and every time I meet with someone, for that matter — I point out how God has used each person in the room to make a difference in others’ lives. It only takes a few seconds for others to join in. Soon we’re outdoing one another with affirmation and appreciation, which makes it a lot easier for people to hear suggestions or corrections if any need to be shared later in the meeting. A leader’s determination to celebrate and appreciate others transforms the church’s culture. When we notice, name and nurture gratitude for God and His people, it reinforces faith. We affirm to those around us that no hole is too deep that God’s love and power can’t reach them there. The focus of the goal and the source of power is God himself. Celebration isn’t limited to worship services. Gratitude and affirmation are such a priority and such a powerful force for spiritual health that I recommend starting every staff meeting, small group,
5 STEPS TO CELEBRATE WINS WITH YOUR TEAM How to nurture a culture of appreciation among your top leaders SCOTT WILSON
board meeting, meal at home and conversation between friends with a story about the marvelous work of God. We don’t have to be weird about it. We can just say, “Let me tell you something terrific,” and launch into the story. Some people naturally reflect on the work of God and instinctively celebrate His work in people’s lives, but others need some instruction. To train our people, I give them five steps for celebration. 1. Keep it short. It takes practice to stay on track and keep the story crisp and brief. People need a few details but not all the details. 2. Make it significant. Focus on one of the core values of the church. For us, that means most of our celebrations are about giving, serving, missions and evangelism. 3. Make it specific. I don’t want to hear a pie-in-thesky anecdote. I want a real, meaty, steak-on-a-plate story. Global, vague statements don’t inspire anyone. Give details of changed lives. 4. Give stats. To avoid generalities and eliminate assumptions, share a few numbers about who was there and how many responded. 5. Tell a story. People go to movies and read novels because they love great stories. People in meetings love great stories, too, so tell a story about God’s work in an individual, a family or a community. Storytelling is an art. Some are gifted at it, but all of us can become good at it. Let me give you an example: Last Sunday morning, 11 people came to the front to receive Christ. Two weeping women walked arm in arm. I wasn’t sure which one was getting saved and which was the friend walking with her. A few minutes later, as they walked to the gathering for new believers, one of the ladies leaned over and whispered, “That’s my friend! I’ve been praying for her, and this morning she trusted Christ. Isn’t that so cool?” When I told this story to our staff, I said, “It’s fantastic that people are coming to Christ. And it’s just as fantastic that people are praying for their friends, living the gospel in front of them, sharing the message, and then walking the aisle with them. God is at work among us!” In these two paragraphs, my celebration was short, significant and specific. It had stats, and it told a story. To train our staff to become skilled in celebration, we’ve implemented a systematic practice: • We spend the first 15 minutes of our staff meetings practicing the five steps, and we give one another feed-
Let the habit of celebration lift your spirits and refocus your attention. back so we all become more proficient. • After a few months, we asked our staff to celebrate what they’ve seen in one another’s lives and ministries. This made them more observant and positive about one another. • Finally, after a few more months, we encouraged our staff to catch other staff members celebrating with their teams. This has reinforced the value of celebration on our team and throughout the church. Of course, this strategy doesn’t just affect staff meetings. It changes our perspectives, our hearts and our words toward the people we see all day, every day. Are you exhausted and discouraged? Learn to celebrate and teach your people how to celebrate. Are you driven and frustrated? Let the habit of celebration lift your spirit and refocus your attention. A culture of celebration will touch every aspect of church life. Your church’s atmosphere — and the condition of your heart — will never be the same.
Scott Wilson is the senior pastor of The Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Texas. He is the author of several books, including Clear the Stage (Influence Resources, 2015).
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PLAYBOOK : KNOW
AMERICA’S CHANGING RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE G EO R G E PAU L WO O D
ccording to a May 2015 report from Pew Research Center, titled America’s Changing Religious Landscape, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” Sociologists refer to this latter group as Nones. (When asked to state their religious affiliation — e.g., Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. — they choose “None of the above.”) Pew found that the share of Nones grew by nearly 42 percent between 2007 and 2014, from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent of the U.S. population. In terms of age, Nones are younger than the religious. Their median age is 36, while the median age of those identifying as Christians is 49. Among Americans ages 18 to 29, 35 percent are Nones and 17 percent are Christians. By contrast, 28 percent of Nones are 50 and older, compared to 50 percent of Christians. The percentage of Nones will likely grow even more in the coming years as younger, less religious generations replace older, more religious ones. Christian leaders committed to fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20) should view Nones as a people group to reach with the gospel. In The Rise of the Nones, James Emery White outlines “a revolution of mindset and strategy” he says the Church needs for effectively evangelizing the Nones. According to Pew, only 31 percent of Nones identify as atheists or agnostics. In that sense, Nones are “spiritual but not religious.” This spirituality does not turn them into seekers, however. Rather, it is consistent with what Jonathan Rauch describes as “a disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s.” This disinclination to care exposes the flawed assumption in most churches’ outreach strategies, namely, “people want what you have to offer” (emphasis in original).
PLAYBOOK : KNOW
The truth is, White writes, “More often than not, they don’t.” When churches send out slick mailers promising a church experience with a casual atmosphere, contemporary music, relevant messages and good coffee, Nones chuck them in the trash because they already have those things — without organized religion. What is needed, White argues, is a new willingness for churches to change the way they do things to effectively reach a post-religious generation. Unfortunately, too many churches cater to the spiritual consumerism of existing Christians, even as they vocalize a desire to reach the lost. To reach Nones, White urges Christians to think of evangelism as both a process and an event. “The goal is not simply knowing how to articulate the means of coming to Christ,” White writes in reference to the conversion event. In addition to altar calls and other forms of inviting people to make a decision for Jesus, the goal must be “learning how to facilitate and enable the person to progress … [to] where he or she is able to even consider accepting Christ.” The process of evangelism looks very different in a nominally Christian culture than in a postreligious society. In the mid-20th century, when Christian influence was at its peak and churches assumed most Americans identified with and had a basic understanding of Christianity, the process looked like this: Unchurched > Christ > Community > Cause In other words, first unchurched people believed the gospel, then belonged to the church, then started behaving like Christians. White argues that the Nones require yet another change in the evangelistic process, which looks like this: Nones > Cause > Community > Christ Nones are interested in the common good (cause), not personal conversion. Jesus was interested in both. “Jesus wed mission and message together seamlessly,” White says, “proclaiming the kingdom that had come while healing the leper and feeding the hungry.” If Jesus, so the Church — Christians should be interested in both conversion and the common good, too. Notice that White has not discarded the event of evangelism, namely, a call to repentance and faith. The strategy he outlines pertains to the process whereby Nones see that conversion to Christ makes sense. “Even if it takes a while to get to talking about Christ,”
he argues, based on his own ministry experience with Nones, “they get there.” I worry that White’s focus on cause may become as unattractive to Nones as slick mailers advertising a “casual atmosphere” and “good coffee.” Can’t they get the common good elsewhere? To be sure, a church not committed to the common good is not representing Jesus well, but Nones won’t necessarily come to Christ just because the church pursues it. Regardless, Christian leaders should read both America’s Changing Religious Landscape and The Rise of the Nones. American religious commitments are changing rapidly, and Christian churches need to strategize how better to bring people to faith. Even if you ultimately disagree with White’s recommendations, his book and Pew’s report will sharpen your thinking and inspire new strategies.
George Paul Wood is executive editor of Influence.
The real mark of a None is not the rejection of God but the rejection of any specific religion.
COVERING LEADERSHIP FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH
PLAYBOOK : INVEST
STORING UP TREASURE, BUILDING THE KINGDOM ROB KETTERLING
verywhere I go, pastors ask me, “How in the world do you give so much to missions?” I light up when I hear this question because I know if they can catch the vision, their generosity will rise to a whole new level. At River Valley Church, we unashamedly teach tithing, the giving of offerings and the strategic giving of over-and-above generosity. It all started when I noticed that our church was able to give extra during our building program more than 10 years ago. You’ve probably seen it — a three-year campaign starts, people make pledges and the whole church grows more generous. But once it ends, giving returns to the usual level until the next expansion campaign. I wondered why it has to stop. Why not continue giving abundantly to build God’s kingdom — not just our local church? So we decided as a church to keep raising over-and-above resources. We call it Kingdom Builders. Every year we consider where the church is going and what missions projects and outreaches we would like to fund. We compile a list, discuss it and pray about it. The list can include anything that grows God’s kingdom. We fund our expansion projects, dig wells, build churches, support missionaries and bless ministries close to home and across the sea. Though the projects we fund are diverse, the vision helps narrow giving to two basic areas: tithing and Kingdom Builders. We still receive some special offerings, but for the most part we simply ask people to give tithes and contribute to Kingdom Builders. We present the list to the congregation in January as we reveal our vision for the year. I like to call it a giant heavenly mutual fund. We share brief updates in the services for three weeks as we talk about the projects and ask people to pray about an amount to pledge. Articulating pledges allows people to see God meet their faith. The church doesn’t follow up on pledges. Yet congregants faithfully
PLAYBOOK : INVEST
follow through. The first year, I set a goal to raise at least 30 percent over and above our annual giving. Since that time, our Kingdom Builders projects have consistently totaled around 30 to 45 percent above the annual budget. We set out clear individual goals as people pray. When we started, I said, “We would love to have 100 families or individuals give in each of these amounts: $500, $1,200, $2,400, $3,600 and $5,000 or more.” Initially, we had only a handful of givers in each category, and most opted for the $500 category, but I was excited because they were on the journey. Matthew 6:21 says that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I knew that people would love God’s kingdom more when they put their treasure into it. So any gift was a wonderful start. What started small has grown into more than 2,000 families and individuals giving to Kingdom Builders. And this past year, more than 100 families gave over $5,000 each. We present videos and updates monthly. This keeps the goal before the church and reminds everyone that we are building the Church. Each October, we give a progress update and ask the church to focus on the Miracle Offering. This is a weekend in November when we ask the church to bring their best offering toward our Kingdom Builders goal. Many people give monthly amounts, but some wait for this weekend to give their entire gift or the remaining difference. Others contribute for the first time as they hear about what God is doing through giving. The weekend of the Miracle Offering, we share the remaining need and ask everyone to participate — even if it means writing on the giving envelope, “I will give next year, God willing.” This offering generates indescribable excitement as people give, sacrifice and celebrate what God has done through them. Two weekends after the offering, after we add in online donations and money transfers, we announce the new total. A huge celebration ensues. If any need remains, we explain that all gifts received until December 31 will be go toward the year’s Kingdom Builders goal. Sometimes an additional 20 percent will come in as people see the goal within reach. Many contribute their year-end work bonuses.
Within weeks of announcing the final tally and sharing the reports of all the good we’ve accomplished together, we start working on the goal for the new year. This mission-minded focus has helped us move from contributing hundreds of thousands to giving millions of dollars every year. With God’s help, we are building the Kingdom and storing up treasure in heaven — one act of generosity at a time. Rob Ketterling is lead pastor at River Valley Church in Minnesota’s Twin Cities South Metro area and author of Change Before You Have To, Thrill Sequence and the fothcoming Front Row Leaderhip (Salubris Resources).
With God’s help, we are truly building the Kingdom and storing up treasure in heaven — one act of generosity at a time.
THE SHAPE OF
L E A D E R S H I P A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW JESUS LED — AND WHY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW SUIT
hat am I doing? I was 26 years old, driving an hour home late at night after preaching to a handful of people at a nursing home, when I asked God this question. It had been nearly a decade since I had sensed Him calling me — a shy, timid, seemingly average teenager at the time — to become a pastor and leader. During those years, I had led my way as far as the pulpit of a small Presbyterian church in rural Missouri — and to a nursing home where I preached once a month. I pleaded with God that night in my car, asking Him, “Why am I spending so much time apart from my wife and newborn baby? Why am I wasting my gifts and skills? Why does this feel so inconsequential? What am I doing?” And I heard Him answer: “This isn’t about you.” Defining Leadership As I reflect on how God spoke to me that night, I remember feeling so convicted and shaken by God’s response. This isn’t about you. Ministry isn’t about you. Leadership isn’t about you. Your calling is not about you. Somehow, in a matter of years, I’d gone from uncertainty about whether I was good enough for God to use to feeling I was too good for the ways in which God was using me. I had gone from feeling humbled by the opportunity to serve to believing I was the one deserving of service. I had gone from, “What would
You have me do?” to, “What am I doing?” I was neither the first nor the last minister to come to God with my disappointment and questions. There can be a wide gap between our expectation of what leadership is like and the reality of our performance and placement as leaders. If leaders are not careful, that gap can fill up with frustration, burnout, ego, pride and immorality. Statistics point to the dark sides of Christian leadership, especially at higher levels. According to Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, about three-quarters of pastors think about leaving their positions because of burnout. James Dobson of Focus on the Family once estimated that 1,500 ministers quit the ministry each month. Multiple studies show clergy are more likely to struggle with obesity, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, anxiety and depression. LifeWay Research reports that 23 percent of pastors admit to personal struggles with mental illness — a number on par with that of the rest of Americans — and 55 percent of ministers report recurrent feelings of loneliness or discouragement. These numbers might come as a surprise considering the abundance of theories, conferences and books on leadership. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, small churches to multicampus
ministries, our culture has an obsession with the concept of leadership (a word that, strangely enough, rarely appears in the Bible). Many of the leadership resources available today do offer great and life-changing wisdom, grounded in proven theories or godly principles. Exploring and studying such material can certainly be worthwhile. But always expecting quick fixes and simple solutions can lead to even more frustration because, ultimately, the key to leadership is not a method, but a character. It’s not a formula, but a journey. It’s not a one-time answer, but a lifetime of asking better questions, such as these: • Whom am I following? • Who is following me? • Where are we going? • How are we going to get there? • What is this all about? At its core, stripped of all titles and trappings, leadership is influence. John Maxwell may get credit for this definition of leadership, but it’s also the essence of leadership in Scripture. And there is one example of influential leadership that stands above the rest: the life of Jesus Christ. My hope is that, above any bestseller or breakout session — or even this magazine — we would prioritize Jesus’ personality and ministry, allowing His influence to shape our perspective of biblical leadership. The Problem With Success Before we define what it means to lead effectively, we first need a proper definition of success. In leading and working with countless leaders across the country, I’ve noticed that an unhealthy definition of success produces many of the problems leaders encounter. We tend to define success based on prior experience, numeric growth, comparison to others or a strategic plan we can put on paper. But defining success in these ways only widens the gap between expectation and performance, moving us into dangerous territory. The message of Scripture and the example of Jesus reveal that fruitfulness in leadership comes from faithfulness to God. True success comes through obeying Him. Personal ambition and comparison, though motivating for a time, create a cloudy view of success. This leads to all kinds of problems, including a strong desire to doubt God and quit before His purpose for our lives can really take root. When we embrace a proper definition of success, we change our attitude, the trajectory of our ministry and, ultimately, our ability to influence. The Attitude of Leadership Ask people what a leader looks like, and they might refer to some self-made, success-driven, charismatic CEO. Perhaps they will mention a president, a wellknown pastor or a world-class coach. But Scripture offers a different, less glamorous picture: that of a shepherd. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” Of course, Jesus embodies other leadership roles as well. The Bible calls Him Prophet, Priest and King. But
THE IMAGE OF INFLUENCE HOW THE INFLUENCE LOGO IS A SYMBOL OF JESUS’ LEADERSHIP MODEL IN JOHN 13 • Leadership is bottom-up, not top-down. Jesus got low, humbled himself and washed the feet of His disciples. The position of leadership is not elevated, looking down at others; it’s on bended knee, humbly serving others. • Leadership is serving, not being served. The color blue carries meaning. It illustrates the washing, purifying and serving elements of leadership. Jesus washed the dirt, poured cleansing water over their feet and showed His disciples that to lead, you must be willing to serve. • Leadership is an outward ripple, not an inward pull. True servant leadership creates a lasting impact that extends far beyond the life of the leader. Jesus’ life did this, as did the lives of His disciples. We possess the opportunity to lead in a way that has far-reaching impact and influence.
in illustrating the contrast between His leadership and that of false teachers, Jesus used the imagery of a shepherd. This shepherd model parallels a long line of great biblical leaders who also were shepherds or embraced the characteristics of the shepherd-leader. Abraham was a shepherd who traveled with his family and livestock to a land God promised to show him (Genesis 12:1). And because of his obedience to God, this humble shepherd moved from obscurity to prominence. Moses spent 40 years in the field with the sheep entrusted to his care. Those years prepared him to lead Israel from captivity to promise. David’s early years tending sheep strengthened his heart and mind to face giants and lead with courage. Second Samuel 7 emphasizes that many overlooked the shepherd boy from the fields, but God recognized him as uniquely qualified to lead His people from cowering to conquest. While there were fewer notable women shepherds mentioned in the Bible, many exhibited the brave, compassionate, hardworking traits of the shepherd-leader: Esther, Mary, Tabitha, Ruth, Priscilla and Phoebe, just to name a few. And let’s not forget that a group of shepherds were among the first to meet Jesus and then tell others about Him (Luke 2:8–17). In his description of what he calls the Level 5 Leader, bestselling business author Jim Collins highlights two key traits: extreme humility and intense professional will. To Collins, this counterintuitive combination is what turns good leaders into the best leaders. Coincidentally, these are also the two main characteristics I see in the shepherding role. Consider the shepherd’s schedule: daily, patiently working in close proximity to the sheep. Sometimes the shepherd’s tasks are carried out over long hours and in less-thanideal conditions. It is intimate, focused, selfless work. Jesus says, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14–15). This is the same shepherd’s spirit that led Jesus to kneel down and wash the feet of His own disciples in John 13. Jesus literally got low, bending down in humility. In doing so, Jesus taught that the attitude of the leader (humility) leads to the posture of the leader (bottom-up, rather than top-down). In a very physical way, Jesus modeled what influential, shepherd-like leadership looks like. The shepherd’s line of work doesn’t draw much attention — and that’s kind of Jesus’ point. To Him, good leaders aren’t looking for personal gain, glory or success. Their attitude is a humble, wholehearted one that puts the mission and the followers first. As Ezekiel 34:2 warns, “Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” My father is a shepherd. No, he’s not a real shepherd, but he embodies the shepherd-leader qualities outlined above. He is kind and
tenderhearted. He never puts others down, and he never promotes himself. Corporate America, and even much of the church world, often views such people as weaklings or pushovers. But the older I get, the more I want to be like my dad. The world could use more people like my father, true leaders who can say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). President Harry S. Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” I have a pastor friend who says something similar, and even more fitting to the subject at hand: “I don’t care who gets the credit, as long as God gets the glory.” Certainly, recognition may come to you or your department or your organization as you walk in your calling, whatever that may be. But the attitude of great leaders is to care more about spreading the message than about simply being heard. True influence comes from a place of deep humility. The Action of Leadership Let’s go back to Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13. Jesus honed a curious leadership style during His years on Earth, but He still managed to set a new standard at the Last Supper. In verses 4–20, we reach what is essentially the bookend of Jesus’ ministry, just before His betrayal and crucifixion. During a meal with His disciples, Jesus removed His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a basin with water and knelt down before each of the men to wash their feet. The Son of God — whose hands brought forth miracles, whose words drew crowds of thousands and whose soul was sinless — knelt before His followers. Jesus, whose Father
Ministry isn’t about you. Leadership isn’t about you. Your calling is not about you.
formed man from the dust, came down to wash the dust from man’s feet. And then He instructed them to do the same: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (verses 14–16). Our culture loves to honor its leaders, and this is a natural and noble instinct. But this can also create tension when leaders become too isolated to connect to their followers and too pampered to experience sacrifice. It makes it even easier for leaders to get caught up in the “church growth playbook” — always looking at the next rung on the ladder — or to embrace comfort and convenience in the pursuit of a personal platform. Remember the turning point I described earlier, when I cried out to God in my car? I’d like to say that was the last one, but there have been other major crossroads — and crises — in my personal career as a leader. Years after that pivotal car ride, I was
THE LEADERSHIP STOOL In his book, Discover Your Leadership Style, David Olson describes the three legs of the “leadership stool”: 1. Spirituality: Love God. 2. Chemistry: Love others. 3. Strategy: Fulfill the Great Commission. For additional reading, see these passages: • Ephesians 3:16–19 (Spirituality) • Galatians 5:13,14,22,23 (Chemistry) • Acts 1:8; 26:16–18 (Strategy)
on staff at a large church in Dallas, Texas, with all the support and friends and perks that such a position provides. That’s when God challenged me to leave my comfortable position and start a church in another city. It was a scary step of faith, but it brought great reward. Fast-forward five years: I was leading a rapidly growing church in North Texas, with plans for a new building and more staff to continue reaching this city my family now loved. But God urged me to take another step of faith, this time to leave the promising ministry we started to take a role in denominational leadership. During each of these transitions, the move didn’t make sense on so many levels and to so many people, but I knew it was God’s will. I prayed and wrestled with God over my purpose, and in the process I learned something about Christian influence and about myself. So much of my identity had become wrapped up in being a certain kind of pastor. But I’m not called to be a pastor — not really. I’m not called to a city. I’m not called to a platform. First and foremost, I’m called to a voice: God’s voice. God reminded me that He gave me ministry gifts for His benefit, not mine, for His kingdom, not mine, for His glory, not mine. And when the voice of God says, “Move,” what else can I do? Personal ambition is OK, and sometimes even necessary for effective leadership, as long as it does not eclipse the service of God and others. Think of leading as actually being the lead follower, ever-ready to sacrifice your pride, your comfort and your carefully laid plans for His far greater plan. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” John 13:3 reminds us that more power and influence should bring us “lower” and closer to others: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” You can’t have more authority and influence than that — yet Jesus chose to exercise it by crouching on the ground and wiping off the feet of those who called Him Lord (even the feet of those who were about to turn on Him or deny Him during His execution). I’m not saying you need to have a basin inside your office, ready to cleanse the feet of the next employee or congregant or small group member who walks in the door. But I am saying that the elevation of your ego should never drive your daily choices and actions, whether you are a senior or staff pastor, board member, elder or lead volunteer. Like Jesus, you should go instead to the people following you and say, “How can I help? How can I place value on you? How can I serve you? How can I set aside some time to clear the dust away for you?” True influence sacrificially serves.
you’re just taking a walk. I’d add that if you’re not multiplying, you’re not really leading. The goal of leadership is multiplication. I’m not just talking about multiplication in numbers. Good leaders also multiply a message, a culture and a lifestyle. Good leaders multiply their influence. When I describe this kind of holistic multiplication, I refer to my relationship with my sons. As their father, I influence them — at least right now, while they are young and I still seem cool. We all have buzzed heads. We all like the same sports teams. We are interested in many of the same things. Within my family, I’ve inevitably multiplied the things I love and do and believe. Similarly, good leadership does not begin and end with the contributions of one man or one woman at the top.
BEYOND BURNOUT Thom Rainer of LifeWay blogged about conversations with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout. According to Rainer, they did 12 things to recover vision: 1. Spent more time in prayer and the Word 2. Dreamed again 3. Stopped comparing 4. Developed relationships with non-Christians 5. Moved focus from the negative to the positive 6. Learned to have fun 7. Ended draining relationships 8. Expressed gratitude regularly 9. Spent more time doing things that energized them 10. Got in better physical shape 11. Made a commitment to have a greater servant spirit
The Outcome of Leadership I’ve heard it said that if no one is following you, you’re not leading —
12. Began praying for their community (“12 Ways Pastors Went from Burnout to Vision,” by Thom Rainer, at lifeway.com)
The influences of biblical leadership extend into the characteristics of the community in which he or she leads. What are the communal qualities, benefits and goals? How are the staff and organization growing together? If the vision stops with the leaders, they were never really leading anyway. In Matthew 25, Jesus offers a strong admonition to those who do not multiply. Verses 14–30 contain the well-known parable of the talents, in which a man entrusts his three servants with great amounts of money, or talents, and then leaves on a journey. When he returns, two of the servants have wisely invested and multiplied what they received. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” the master tells them in verse 21. “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” But there is one servant who can’t see the big picture. Out of fear and self-preservation, he buries his talent in the ground, and the master deems him “worthless” (verse 30). What is the “talent” with which God has entrusted you? Christian leadership can take many shapes. Perhaps you are a gifted academic, orator, administrator, networker, musician or manager. When you approach your leadership abilities as a shepherd and servant, you will always invest them for the greater good and the multiplication of the Kingdom, rather than hoarding them for personal gain and fame. A few books over from the parable of the talents, Scripture depicts a beautiful culture of multiplication: the Early Church. In Acts 2:42–47, there are clear indicators of the Holy Spirit’s work and the disciples’ leadership. This community was known for staying connected rather than isolated, for reaching out rather than growing complacent, for meeting needs rather than embracing consumerism, for producing growth rather than stagnating spiritually and for worshipping God rather than glorifying self. As a result, the early Christians multiplied in number and in character. We are still learning from them today. I can’t help but think it is because some of the leaders among them once sat around a table with someone like Jesus, who washed their feet and told them, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). True influence multiplies. The Basics of Influence I asked my son recently what it meant to be a leader. He said a leader is someone who follows Jesus and helps other people learn about and follow Jesus, too. I thought that was a pretty good definition. I should note that my son is 10 years old. He has never read a leadership book or attended a leadership conference. He is not wrestling with the tension of leadership versus management. He has never heard of Peter Drucker, and he has no concept of eight stages, 10 steps or 21 irrefutable anything. He does have a growing affinity for
the TV show Shark Tank, so he is trying to figure out how he can decrease his margins and diversify his portfolio. But for the most part, it’s still pretty simple for my son. To him, leadership is about pursuing a relationship with Jesus and helping others with theirs. Not bad. I’m thinking he might have leadership potential. For the older, more “seasoned” leaders, there is a lot of material to sort through. Mentors, both good and bad, have shaped our definitions and practices. Classes, articles, books and sermons have contributed to, and often complicated, our understanding of leadership. Maybe it’s time to go back to the basics — to simplify and view leadership through the lens of Christ’s life. Maybe it’s time to quit looking at what’s on our shelves, our bank statements, our résumés, our stages or our social media accounts to determine whether we’re leading well, and instead look at more enduring things, such as our attitude, our actions and our outcomes. We desperately need anointed, Spirit-empowered, divinely called men and women of God who possess passion to see change in our families, our nation and our world. Are you one of them?
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.
Is Leadership a Gender-Neutral Issue? WHAT WOMEN LEADERS BRING TO THE TABLE — AND WHY WE CAN’T AFFORD TO KEEP THEM FROM IT
hat do women bring to the table? This is a timeless question, not only in leadership but also in many of life’s arenas. It seems to be a perennial favorite in the relationship realm. In an online forum devoted to the subject, someone observed, “Women don’t have to bring anything; they own the table!” Indeed, women in the United States now control more than half of its personal wealth. Who holds the Church’s wealth? Kingdom riches are not in cash or real estate. The Holy Spirit distributes treasure, in the form of spiritual gifts, to the people who comprise the Church. Our ability to accomplish the Great Commission flows directly out of this great wealth. Since the Spirit does not distinguish gift distribution on the basis of sex (Joel 2:28–29), it seems imperative that both men and women have a place at the leadership table to ensure the success of our mission.
Leadership consultant and author Patrick Lencioni once said, “I wish there was some difference between men and women leaders. I think it would make a great book. I’ve looked and I can’t find it!” At that point in his life, he had worked for an equal number of men and women CEOs, and he could not distinguish their leadership capabilities on the basis of being male or female. Born again, Spirit-filled men and women bring similar gifts to the table. We have all seen both sexes excel and fail. Both can possess emotional intelligence. Both can build teams. Both can have big-picture visionary ability and/or strategic detail orientations. Both offer value. We shouldn’t view this reality with a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” perception, as if it makes no difference whether both men and women are at the table since one is not clearly superior to the other. Rather, spiritual guidance and logic suggest we must purposefully include both. Spiritually, acknowledging that the Spirit gives gifts to women as well as men pleases the Lord. Logically, mobilizing more people to reach the world’s sevenbillion-plus people increases our odds of success. Clearly, it is time to work together. Move Beyond the Gender Question In seeking input for this article, one woman leader remarked, “I think we make too big of a deal about women leaders. Why don’t you write an article about what redheads bring to the table?” Her tongue-in-cheek point is
well-taken. Let’s stop looking for an aha-indicator that validates the presence of women at the table. After all, we need look no further than Scripture itself. None of the gifts passages (Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12) teach sex-based distribution. What they do teach, and 1 Corinthians 12 explicitly states, is that we are not complete without everyone actively using their gifts. So to insist that a seat at the table requires women to bring something unique, in addition to leadership gifts, creates a double standard that violates scriptural teaching on gifts. The
If people do not have the opportunity to experience a woman’s leadership, they will likely avoid it, or worse, condemn it.
table is not really complete until both men and women are present (1 Corinthians 12:12–27). We cannot get the best leadership around the table if we cut the pool we draw from to less than half the population. Nor can we align our theology and practice by continuing to limit women’s access to leadership positions. Leadership is a gender-neutral issue. Most research — including leadership polls and 360-degree surveys that gather data from direct reports, peers and bosses — confirms that both men and women possess the traits for successful leadership. Perpetuating stereotypes is counterproductive. Yes, women are talkers from the earliest ages, but that does not make all of them great communicators. Yes, maternal instincts can make women born nurturers, but there are no guarantees. It’s erroneous to assume that every woman is a collaborator or team player or that every man is devoid of these qualities. Requiring women to bring something to leadership that no man could contribute to gain a seat at the table ignores the possibility that a woman can excel, and even exceed a man’s leadership capacity, when measured by an equal standard. In truth, both men and women have access to God’s leadership gifts, so let us celebrate those gifts by granting access to the men and women who possess them. Women are here, called by God and willing to lead. And they are more than qualified. Women Bring Persevering Presence “Decisions are made by those who show up,” according to an adage. Women have been showing up in churches, generally in larger numbers than men, for years. It makes sense to use as leaders the people who are present. Women in the marketplace often report feeling they must work twice as hard to be considered half as good as their male peers. Women in churches face even greater leadership bias and restriction. Yet remarkably, they remain. With or without credit or formal recognition, they show up and do the work. Women have staying power. Women Bring Essential Gifts God gives good gifts, and He marvelously equips His leaders — both men and women. They are strategic,
optimistic, emotionally intelligent and creative. They are risktakers, visionaries and innovators. Such gifts stand on their own merits. Anthropologist Helen E. Fisher writes in the book Enlightened Power that some neurological research supports the idea that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. This could explain a woman’s contextualized web thinking, the ability to integrate details quickly into complex patterns. Other sciences advocate for the innate resourcefulness and flexibility of women. I think if there is any unique, profoundly important difference in the leadership styles of men and women, it may be perspective. We tend to see things differently. Placing the same skills in vessels with different outlooks can produce different results. It seems wise to cover all bases by appointing leaders who reflect the varying perspectives of those God created and those to whom the Church is called to minister. Women Bring a Can-Do Attitude Women have a willingness to do what needs done. Sometimes it is not a woman’s gifts that make a way for her. It is simply her willingness to do what others will not. I know several women who have led, or are leading, churches no man would consider. These churches frequently offer no salaries and have dysfunctional histories, dismal facilities and congregations numbering in single digits. Too frequently, these are the only opportunities available to women. Yet women still go. Women Bring a Needed Example Several years ago I was preaching at a girls’ retreat when an altar counselor discovered a little girl crying profusely. When the worker asked how she could pray with her, the child simply replied, “I didn’t know God could call girls!” On another occasion, I taught a preaching workshop at a women’s conference. Afterward, a successful businesswoman approached me. With absolute incredulity, she asked, “Do you mean our denomination approves of women leaders?” She was a member of an Assemblies of God church. Yet because she had never encountered a woman in pastoral leadership, or even in the pulpit, she could not fathom the possibility. This intelligent, successful leader in the secular business world had compartmentalized her life and suppressed her spiritual gifts in response to the example — actually, the absence of one — she had seen in the church. I could share many such stories. Experience imprints indelible lessons. If people do not have the opportunity to experience a woman’s leadership, they will likely avoid it, or worse,
In truth, both men and women have access to God’s leadership gifts, so let us celebrate those gifts by granting access to the men and women who possess them.
condemn it. With intentionality, we can provide a formative leadership experience that produces disciples capable of learning from and following all the leaders God calls. Let’s Get More Women to the Table Once we get past the need to justify a woman’s place at the table or require her to bring something unique — beyond the sufficiency of quality leadership traits, skills and character — we can focus on the real issue: getting more women to the table. U.S. Assemblies of God statistics for 2014 reveal the following: • 22.9 percent of all credentialed ministers are women. • 12.5 percent of ordained ministers are women. • 4.8 percent of lead pastors are women. • 33.2 percent of church staff members are women. • 4.2 percent of sectional presbyters are women. • 1.5 percent of district officials are women. • Women adult adherents (56.3 percent) outnumber men (43.7 percent). The disparity of these numbers indicates we have a lot of room to grow. Women are underrepresented at the leadership table. And mirroring the corporate environment, representation shrinks at higher levels of leadership. How do we correct this problem? Encourage women to seek ordination. Most elected leadership positions require ordination as a qualification. Many credential holders — both men and women — hold steady at a lower credential level, content with the privileges it affords them. But they
women leaders by identifying gifts and making room for them. The High Cost of a Closed Table Understand that getting more women to the table cannot be a numbers game. Without the ability to speak and be heard at the table, women will still be marginalized, and leadership will lack integrity and strength. A man chairing a meeting I once attended dismissed a woman I admired. She offered an idea he disagreed with, mostly because the thought came from a woman and concerned women. The high-level gathering had an equal number of men and women at the table. But it took another woman vocalizing a good idea, and finally a man saying exactly the same thing, to communicate with the obtuse leader. That was then. This is now. Younger women leaders will not bother. They will take their skills where they are appreciated. The Church will lose leaders, surrender potential and miss out on Godâ€™s perfect design. With a great mission to fulfill and souls hanging in the balance, do we really want to settle for less than Godâ€™s best?
limit their capacity to serve the Fellowship by not pursuing ordination. Increase visibility of women leaders at all levels. From Sunday School classrooms and small group leadership to pastoral and district staffs, invite women to serve. Be intentional about inclusiveness. Have a woman lead prayer in the service. Invite a woman missionary, single or married, to preach. Use a woman worship leader for a large event. Build confidence in women. Often, the woman is the one who fails to realize she has a place at the table. This spirit of timidity contradicts the Spirit within us. Women need the security, confidence, tact and wisdom that come with affirmation, experience and mentoring. Churches can make positive changes by inviting women to lead in previously male-dominated roles. Women can serve as ushers, board members and pastors. Develop
Lori Oâ€™Dea, D.Min. is the lead pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Grand Ledge, Michigan. She is a sectional presbyter in her district and serves as a professor for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and Evangel University.
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A LT O N G A R R I S O N
dad was an alcoholic and a high school dropout. His addiction was ruining his life. When he and my mother learned she was pregnant — which the doctors had said could never happen — it was a shock. They had been married seven years but had not been able to have children. My dad had tried to quit many times, and he tried again when he learned they were expecting — without success. Everyone had given up hope in my father and his many broken promises. Shortly after learning about the pregnancy, my parents were driving home from a Fourth of July celebration. My dad had been drinking and started having chest pains. Without saying a word, he began to slow down to lessen the impact. While clutching the steering wheel and sweating, he whispered a prayer: “God, I don’t know how to pray, but my mother used to pray. If You heard her prayer, maybe You’ll hear mine. Spare my life to see my child. Save me, and if I ever take another drop of liquor as long as I live, I want You to poison me and let me drop dead.” Dad had never kept a promise to stay sober, but in His mercy, God looked past all the prior failures and broken promises and saved him, healed him and delivered him from alcohol addiction. From that day forward, my dad never took another drink.
Missing the Process My father was thoroughly converted to Christ and miraculously delivered from his alcohol addiction. But the transformation didn’t end there. About six months after I was born, Dad was appointed the pastor of a small church — after being saved less than a year. He and my mother pastored that small church in Sour Lake, Texas, for 22 years. My dad started his ministry with a supernatural experience, but he carried out his ministry without seeing numerical success. My dad had a great appreciation for the Spirit-empowered message the Church received at Pentecost. He often taught about the power of the Spirit, and while he had an experience with Christ and a message to share, he was missing something. It wasn’t that he was doing it wrong; he just didn’t have the whole picture. What he lacked was a process. I know how it feels to try so hard but feel so confused. When I became pastor of First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1986, I followed my dad’s example. I had been an evangelist for 18 years; I had the Pentecostal experience; and I had the message. When I shared my experience and began to preach a Spiritempowered message, revival came. But I was missing something. I knew how to preach a sermon, how to bring people to the altar and how to help my congregation experience blessing, but for all that my father taught me, he didn’t teach me how to take a church from where we were to where we needed to be. Dad didn’t have a process, and neither did I. I didn’t need a trendy, new process for building a healthy church. I needed to look at what God had already done in establishing the very first church. I needed a complete Acts 2 church — not just the experience and message but also a process and a plan. This realization and process changed countless lives, including mine and those of many in the church I pastored and in the Fellowship I now serve. You may be in the same place my father and I were in. You are sincere, dedicated, committed, spiritual and faithful, but you feel you lack something. I believe many of us have missed a complete understanding of what the Holy Spirit did in the first-century church. The Early Church impacted the then-known world, walking out God’s plan and doing the work of the ministry as a chosen generation and royal priesthood. The first-century church turned the world upside down. I’m convinced the church Luke describes in Acts 2 is the model, the plan and the process that Jesus envisioned for the Church on the earth. The best part is that anyone can do it. It doesn’t depend on the
size of your congregation, your building or your town. It depends solely on our limitless God with whom all things are possible. The Acts 2 Model In 1988, I began to put together my thoughts on a strategic process that eventually became the Acts 2 process. I developed material that I discovered in Luke’s account of the Early Church. This process isn’t something I’ve just read about; it’s something I’ve
If we want healthy churches, we must embrace the Source of power that enabled the first century church to explode in the midst of fierce persecution.
lived. It’s something I developed while leading a church that had plateaued for 30 years, and it all came together as I observed the five functions upon which Jesus founded the first-century church. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Later He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). Then in Acts 2:4, they had a supernatural experience — Pentecost. In Acts 2:5–41, Peter went out to the inquisitive Jews and began explaining what was happening; he was preaching the message. The content of the process God was birthing in my heart is found in Acts 2:42–47. In this passage, the Holy Spirit began to explain the process of how to move from a temple model to a church model. Before Christ, the temple had been the center of life for the Jewish people. There, God’s people read the Scriptures, prayed, encouraged one another and worshipped God. It was the place where heaven and earth met, with the Shekinah glory of God dwelling in the Holy of Holies. But when Jesus died on the cross, the thick veil isolating the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. The presence of God was unleashed and became available to all who believe. Then, at Pentecost, a dramatic thing happened: Those who believed in Jesus became the place where heaven and earth met! Decades later, Paul explained that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Freed from a place, all gatherings of believers have become the place where heaven and earth meet — and all believers are now priests
who love, serve and worship God in all they say and do. Evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry (service) and worship were to be the functions of an effective, Spirit-empowered church — they are the five functions upon which the Acts 2 process is based: connect, grow, serve, go and worship. The Five Functions A biblical, comprehensive and strategic plan requires the empowerment of the Spirit to produce spiritual fruit in the lives of people. The plan is based on the five functions. The words describing the functions in Acts 2:42–47 are nouns, but because this is a process more than a destination, we converted them to verbs. These changes don’t violate the mandate of the functions; in fact, they release the functions into action steps: • Connect — fellowship and evangelism • Grow — discipleship • Serve — ministry gifts, outreach, building up the Body, caring for the community • Go — discipleship, evangelism, missions • Worship — corporate praise, prayer, teaching and singing Let’s take a quick look at each of these to frame our understanding of them. 1. Connect. Connection focuses on the vertical and horizontal relationships in life. It begins with the process of salvation and continues through building spiritually strong relationships. The vertical relationship focuses on the process that connects people to God in all aspects of life. The horizontal relationship creates an atmosphere for relationship building person-to-person. Horizontal relationships consist of connections in every facet of life: family, church, local community and global community. 2. Grow. Growth is about discipleship. It’s how your church promotes spiritual formation in the lives of individuals, ministry teams and the congregation. It’s about answering the question: How do we grow to be more like Jesus? Growth centers on belief and behavior, while connection is about the relationship. 3. Serve. Churches of every size need to move laypeople from sitting in the pews as spectators to becoming involved in the ministry of their churches. This is where the service component comes in. As we help people learn about their gifts and abilities, we can connect them with opportunities to serve God and others — in ways that fit them. Service is about giving people outlets for using their gifts and abilities and helping them find their places in ministry. 4. Go. Going is evangelism — reaching out to those who are next door and on the other side of the globe. The evangelism component prepares and equips people to share their faith and ac-
cept the God-given mission for them and the local church. Going not only brings focus to the power of evangelism, but it also offers missional direction for individuals and the church body. It puts a great deal of emphasis on relational evangelism. This is where your church becomes more outwardly focused instead of staying inwardly focused, a transition that is incredibly important. 5. Worship. Worshipping focuses on the intimacy and reality of the presence of Christ. Through worship, leadership teams and the congregation see the character and power of Christ connecting to individuals in their daily lives and, corporately, through the church family. Worship involves far more than music, although that is a component. It includes prayer and powerful preaching. These five functions provide the framework necessary to help us discover God’s plan for living out fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and worship. It Isn’t One or the Other These five functions were the heart of God’s original plan for the Church. He had a plan — a process — but the plan was always, and only, to be carried out with His Holy Spirit’s power. Some leaders mistakenly assume it is an either/or proposition — either we are strategic and have a plan or we are Spirit-led and spontaneous. That’s not correct; it’s both/and. Some pastors don’t like to plan, so they gravitate toward spontaneous spiritual expressions. Other church leaders become so focused on their plans that they don’t leave room for God’s leading. For a church to be what God wants it to be, both are essential.
Every church small or large; urban, suburban or rural; American or international; and with whatever blend of ethnicity needs both the power of the Spirit and a process for growth.
Every church — small or large; urban, suburban or rural; American or international; and with whatever blend of ethnicity — needs both the power of the Spirit and a process for growth. Spiritual experiences are wonderful, but without a plan, you’ll find yourself wondering how to take your church from where you are to where it needs to be. The Acts 2 church had Jesus as its foundation and the Holy Spirit as its force. If we are to have healthy churches today, we need the same foundation, Jesus, and the same force, the Holy Spirit. If we want healthy churches, we must embrace the Source of power that enabled the first century church to explode in the midst of fierce persecution. As it embraced these five functions under the empowerment of the Spirit, the Church experienced exponential growth. As we have focused on these same functions, we have seen churches reinvigorated across the country. We have refined our own understanding of the process by working with hundreds of churches through what we call Acts 2 Journeys, multiweekend experiences for pastors in which we walk them through the Acts 2 process. We are seeing great results as
pastors grow in confidence because they feel better equipped, their teams come together behind a unified vision and their churches experience a profound impact. The Acts 2 process is for pastors and members of their “dream teams,” to help them understand the process that my father and I and so many other pastors once lacked. The process God revealed to me out of Acts 2 is biblical, transferable and replicable. It will work in rural and urban areas, as well as in suburbia. It will work for large churches and small ones, healthy churches and unhealthy ones. Why? Because it’s the model Christ originally used. It worked for the church I pastored, and it has worked for many others. It can happen in your church, too.
This article is adapted from chapter one of the book A Spirit-Empowered Church: An Acts 2 Ministry Model by Alton Garrison (Influence Resources, 2015).
Alton Garrison is the assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, U.S.A. He also serves as the director of the Church Transformation Initiative, which helps churches renew their spiritual vitality and reach their full Kingdom potential.
TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS FOR INCREDIBLE IMPACT IF WE LET IT Innovating and multiplying the Church JUSTIN LATHROP
are living in unique times, a brand new generation and age not only for popular culture, but also for the Church. It’s an opportunity for us, as followers of Christ. We can either cling to the past, or we can cling to Jesus. We can either reject what the future is offering, or we can embrace the tools available to us to spread our vital message. Technology allows for incredible impact — if we let it.
From Hacks to Hackathons Hack is an interesting word. In the past, it often described hackneyed, or dull, work. You might describe a poor writer as a hack. These days, hack has taken on a very different meaning. Think of a “life hack,” a trick or shortcut to increase efficiency and improve some aspect of daily living. Then there are “hackathons,” collaborative marathons of computer programming ingenuity. Participants are incredibly adept at what they do, using technology to solve complicated problems. No one wants to be an uninspiring, unimaginative church “hack.” Lifelessly going through the motions of religion does little to advance
To keep up with what God wants to do with the Church in the 21st century, we must rethink what’s possible.
the gospel. Spirit-empowered, innovative thinking, however, can change the world for Jesus. Consider the possibilities of using technology to help churches automate and increase their giving. Imagine creating audio or visual experiences to help people enter worship. Think about how apps can connect congregations or promote prayer requests. Through technology, we can leverage the power of blogging and social media to reach a new demographic of people — maybe even those who would never visit a brick-and-mortar church. The opportunities are endless. Multipliers In every issue of Influence magazine, I will profile Kingdom “multipliers.” These profiles have three purposes: 1. To examine some of the leading innovations in ministry. 2. To introduce you to world changers. 3. To challenge you to think outside the box regarding how you do ministry. As ministers, we see multiplication all around us. When you notice something interesting, resourceful or innovative in the Church, please pass it along. Your input can help keep readers informed about what God is doing. Reimagining Technology To keep up with what God wants to do with the Church in the 21st century, we must rethink what’s possible. We must get over our fear of technology and realize that God will use it to build His kingdom. The question is: Will we miss the boat? God is already using resources like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to invite new believers into loving relationships with Him. I’ve had a front-row seat to young people learning through social media — for the very first time — of a God who loves them. Imagine the impact of sermons online for those who can’t or won’t come to a Sunday morning church service. One friend confessed to me that she never would have walked into church as a young adult trapped in drug and alcohol addiction. But someone challenged her to listen to a recorded sermon. One sermon led to another sermon — and
her life changed. We can’t deny the incredible potential of technology to deliver the powerful message of the gospel. The Online Church Consider the rise of the online church services. For those who grew up firmly planted in church every Sunday morning, the idea of attending church online might seem somewhat impersonal or disconnected. But the reality is, church online has gone from niche to necessity. While it’s vital for people to connect face-to-face for discipleship and fellowship, online church is an entry point for some folks who are still wary of stepping into a sanctuary. For others, it’s the only realistic way to attend a service when schedules or distance get in the way. Of course, we want people connected in communities where their relational needs are met, but technology can help pave the way for more personal connections, on Sunday and throughout the week. The Bottom Line Technology in ministry is no longer limited to church websites. It now intersects almost every part of church life, taking the gospel through cyberspace — and to the ends of the earth. Will you come along for the ride?
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).
CREATING THE FUTURE Talking missional technology with Bobby Gruenewald, YouVersion founder and innovation leader A Q&A WITH BOBBY GRUENEWALD
Influence: How did you end up working in the Church? Gruenewald: I studied business in college and went on to start and sell Internet-based startups. I was serving at LifeChurch.tv and began helping with our technology needs. I realized my passion for the Church eclipsed my passion for business.
Bobby Gruenewald is innovation pastor at LifeChurch.tv.
How does your team integrate technology into ministry? We see technology as a tool to reach people. We’ve used technology missionally, with projects like Church Online; the YouVersion Bible App and The Bible App for Kids; our Open.Church resource-sharing site and other free tools. How has technology changed the way people interact with Scripture? Since we launched the Bible App for mobile devices in 2008, we’ve seen it installed on 180 million devices in every country. The smartphone allows people to carry the Bible with them — no matter where they go. What’s the role of online ministry? Online ministry helps some stay connected to their church when they can’t attend in person. Some see it as their mission field. It’s where some find Christ. For some new believers, it can serve as a front door of sorts, which eventually helps them connect to a local church. And for others, it’s a full-fledged church home. We created the free Church Online Platform (churchonlineplatform.com) so any church can launch an online ministry. What’s the next big thing? My hope is it’s whatever you’re working on. Hundreds of years ago, the Church was the epicenter of creativity, culture and technology. Today we’ve outsourced storytelling to Hollywood, relationships to Facebook and care of the poor to the government. The Church has the talent and resources to again become influencers of culture and agents of change. Instead of waiting for the future, we can create the future.
A NEW CODE How Chris Armas and Code for the Kingdom are transforming culture from a Christian perspective A Q&A WITH CHRIS ARMAS
Influence: How did you transition from the corporate tech world into working with churches and nonprofits? Armas: In 2011, my father passed away. That led me to a time of transition where the need to live a life of significance becomes more important than continuing in the endless quest for more business success. As a Christian, significance has Christ at its center. I prayed for God to show me what He wanted me to do, and I promised to follow. It did not take long for God to present me with an opportunity to serve that would require all my time and focus. That opportunity led me to Leadership Network, and then launching Code for the Kingdom. What is Code for The Kingdom? I think it is clear that technology is the culture-transforming tool of our time. But technology does not just happen. It is created by technologists and entrepreneurs all over the world â€” the culture-makers. The vast majority of culture-makers are not engaged with Christianity. As a result, the top technologies shaping our society and behaviors are not designed with some Christian purpose. Today, children and adults alike acquire knowledge, skills and values primarily through digital devices. What will our culture be in 20
years if we continue to grow in a digital space that lacks Christian presence? If the Church wants to affect culture, it cannot ignore the culture-makers. Code for the Kingdom takes the lessons from the marketplace and civic initiatives and helps create repeatable models that churches, Christian nonprofits and/or grass-roots organizers can use and improve on so that the creative people shaping culture have a way to explore their own purpose in God’s kingdom. We do this through hackathons: multi-day events where people get together and compete in developing some awesome technologies in a short time span, usually over a weekend. Think of it as a creative marathon where, at the end, you have some product to show for it. We want to foster an entrepreneurial culture with Christian values, but we don’t prescribe what that means. We simply engage the entrepreneurs to tackle big issues from a Christian perspective and release them to create their own solutions. We want to see the adoption of transformational technologies. What innovations have emerged from weekend hackathons? Neil Ahlsten, a well-respected and successful Google executive, led the Abide team at our first hackathon and then left Google to launch Carpenters Code to create apps that serve the gospel. Abide (abide.is) has over 50,000 monthly active users and over 100,000 downloads. They are having great impact in fostering a culture of prayer. There is also Scriptive (scriptive.org), a website and app to help people discover God’s Word for pivotal personal moments. Scriptive is likely to encourage greater Scripture engagement. What advice do you have for church leaders who want to utilize technology in ministry? It is important to understand that it is not necessary for churches to invest in creating technologies themselves. New products can be costly, and they require a continuous process of improvement. The reality is that the real work on a great technology starts after you first make it available.
Churches can leverage technologies others are creating. Instead of using the huge macro social networks like Facebook, churches should look at micro social networks designed for smaller groups that foster more intimate and deeper relationships. There are some new, promising technologies helping to foster prayer, generosity, Scripture engagement, small groups, outreach and volunteerism. I would suggest church leaders first pick one or two areas, instead of trying an all-inclusive approach, and leverage the technologies that are reaching people in those areas. They can reach out to us at Leadership Network. We are happy to share with them what we are seeing that is working — and what is not working. Most importantly, church leaders should realize that our digital lifestyle presents a very different pastoral paradigm, which is likely to require a new type of role of interacting with people. What is next for Code for the Kingdom? The big thing in 2015 is the Oct. 2–4 Global Hackathon, where over 1,000 people in 15 cities around the world will work simultaneously to tackle, from a Christian perspective, big global and local challenges. This is the first time for such a large collaboration Christian event. The 15 cities represent countries in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Chris Armas is Leadership Network director of emerging initiatives and global director of Code for the Kingdom Hackathons. Learn more at codeforthekingdom.org.
LEADING AND LOVING IT Tiffany Cooper shares how creative online tools can support women in ministry A Q & A W I T H T I F FA N Y C O O P E R
eading and Loving It (LALI) exists to equip, connect and impact pastors’ wives and women in ministry, both online and in person, through leadingandlovingit.com. Tiffany Cooper and her husband, Herbert, lead People’s Church, a congregation of 5,000 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Alongside LALI founder Lori Wilhite, she has served in various roles for LALI and was a member of the original lead team. “Most importantly,” Cooper says. “I’m a member of this big community of women who are passionate about their God-given calling.”
Influence: How has LALI seen technology nurture relationships and roles offline? Cooper: Since [women] are each called to different churches and ministries around the world, we leverage technology to help create community and encourage these women. … Churches, families and women’s lives are transformed by the investment of LALI. LALI focuses on three avenues of connection: 1. The yearly Re:Treat. 2. ConnectLIVE groups: small groups that meet virtually once a month. Each group has a specific focus (Senior Pastors’ Wives, Church Planters, Non-Profit Ministry, etc.). We receive many testimonies of women who were ready to give up on ministry, but instead they’ve found support and rediscovered their purpose through their friendships at LALI. 3. ConnectLOCAL
groups: opportunities for women from the same area to meet in small groups face to face. LALI is intended for pastors’ wives and women in ministry. How does LALI speak to this unique and broad audience? The power of LALI is our belief in women. The woman who serves behind the scenes and the woman whose service is visibly seen are equally valuable. LALI speaks to both platforms uniquely through Re:Treat breakouts sessions and ConnectLIVE groups designated for each specific group. Also, the diversity of blog topics covers each of these as well. LALI has a number of online resources, perhaps the most unique of which is the JustONE virtual conference. Why did LALI identify digital resources as a starting point? Life is busy, and ministry can be a 24/7 life; it’s hard to pull away for conferences. Using digital resources allows LALI to connect with as many women as possible without them having to leave the comfort of home or worry about covering the cost. Digital resources are cost-effective, time-conscious and a powerful tool for equipping the masses. What does the future look like for LALI? LALI is expanding resource development and the Equipping side of LALI. We are developing an e-book on 12 Steps to a Healthy Staff Culture, a YouVersion devotion that will help ladies stick it out in ministry and the JustONE 2016 conference. LALI has also started Dirigiendo Con Amor (the Spanish version of Leading and Loving It) at dirigiendoconamor. com.
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.
Clear the Stage
The Bush Always Burns The Bush Always Burns introduces a Jesus all of us can seek, find and trust in moments that are bright and moments that are dark. If you find yourself struggling to know your Heavenly Father, The Bush Always Burns offers strength and solace for today. It is a life-giving reminder that Jesus is (and always has been) waiting for us to turn and see that the bush always burns and the ground is always sacred. This is the first title in a series of three releases from this author.
Vital Resources ISBN: 9781680660005 $12.99 Spanish: La zarza siempre arde ISBN: 9781680660241 $12.99
In Clear the Stage, Scott Wilson and John Bates present a whole new way of doing church that clears the stage so the Spirit of God can do what only He can. Based on their own life-changing experiences, Scott and John share how you can use the sacred traditions of the Pentecostal experience to reach out to the lost while also discipling believers in a new and relevant way.
Influence Resources ISBN: 9781680660005 $16.99 Spanish: Despeje la plataforma ISBN: 9781681540139 $16.99
Desperate for Jesus What does it mean to live desperate for Jesus? John Hannah helps you grow more mature in your relationship with Jesus by revealing his testimony of crying out for, and finding, Jesus. As he pulls you into his own story, Hannah also studies heroes of the Bible: Moses, the blind beggar, Mary Magdalene and more. The more we crave Jesus, the more He will transform us and those around us. It’s time to live desperate!
Influence Resources ISBN: 9781680670486 $14.99 Spanish: Anhelo más de Jesús ISBN: 9781680670837 $14.99
Thrill Sequence Are you constantly looking for your next adrenaline-packed experience? What if your Christian life were just as thrilling? Jesus said that He came to give us abundant life. In Thrill Sequence, Rob Ketterling encourages readers to seek adventure in a full-on, reignited faith. He challenges others to discover the excitement in passionately pursuing a life of service and reckless faith. Thrill Sequence demonstrates that intentionally following Jesus is the ultimate thrill experience.
Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670189 $14.99
Let’s Do Family Together
The Power of Home
Renowned counselor Dr. Gary Smalley wants you to have a marriage and family where every person is valued and loved. Each chapter covers one of seven basic principles: honor, safety, anger, forgiveness, treasure hunting, teachings of Jesus, blessings and fellowship. Filled with personal stories, Let’s Do Family Together helps you enjoy a home filled with harmony and hope— for today and for generations to come.
Ted Cunningham encourages you and your household to hit pause and take stock of where you are and where you’re going: 1. What is the current state of our family? 2. What does it mean for our family to be redeemed? 3. How can we take personal responsibility for our faith and our family? If you want a healthy family now and in the future, The Power of Home can help you find a way for every family member to contribute to the spiritual growth of your home.
Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670301 $14.99 Spanish: Formemos la familia ISBN: 9781680670806 $14.99
Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670332 $14.99 Spanish: El poder del hogar ISBN: 9781680670707 $14.99
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.
MAKE IT COUNT
ROBERT C. CROSBY
8 Signs of Spiritual Growth 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 (teaminglife.com), 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 Growth Experiences Christian leaders often emphasize the importance of growing in Christ. But what are the signs, or evidences, of spiritual growth? The Bible provides a list of characteristics that exhibit spiritual growth. Acts 2:42–47 presents a model of a healthy faith community in the Early Church. It mentions at least eight signs of spiritual growth. 1. Learning provides the insights we need to grow. 2. Leadership provides the examples we need to grow. 3. Community provides the context in which we can grow. 4. Prayer provides the intimacy with God we need to grow. 5. Worship provides the humility we need to grow. 6. Grace provides the power we need to grow. 7. Giving provides the kind of heart we need to grow. 8. Witness provides the light that others need to grow. These eight make-it-count experiences will help you check your personal spiritual growth or development, along with that of your small group, ministry team or family. Dive into these sessions one at a time, and allow them to stretch and challenge you.
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 1 Growth Experience No. 1 — Learning “They devoted themselves to the … teaching” (Acts 2:42). Read: Matthew 4:1–4 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight The first evidence of spiritual growth among the earliest followers of Christ (Acts 2) was their commitment to constant learning. One New Testament word for disciple, mathētḗs, (cf. Matthew 8:23) denotes the “mental effort needed to think something through” (Strong’s Greek, 3101). A disciple is a learner, a follower of Christ who learns God’s Word and practices the lifestyle it inspires. At Jesus’ baptism, the Father publicly affirmed Jesus: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Yet Satan quickly tried to diminish Jesus’ sense of identity: “If you are the Son of God … ” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus, as our Exemplar, not only knew God’s words, He used them to fight back (“It is written.”). They grounded Him against a spiritual adversary. They will do the same for us. They were more important to Him than His next meal.
Growth Sign No. 1 Learning that comes from Scripture provides the insights we need to grow spiritually. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What verse can I use to resist temptation and discouragement? 2. Am I a passionate learner? 3. Do I ask people questions often? Am I curious enough to learn? Questions to ask your team: 1. How dependent are we on God’s Word? 2. How does Scripture guide our decisions? (Discuss a specific instance.) Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your consistency in depending on and applying God’s Word — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Frequent Engagement of Learning God’s Word
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count — Living the Insight Strengthen your Bible skills: • Picture the Bible. After reading, close your eyes and open your imagination. Picture the story unfolding. Let God’s Word present a mental movie scene. • Pray the Bible. As you encounter Bible principles, turn them into prayers. Let God’s Word focus your prayer life.
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT”
• Practice the Bible. Live out biblical directives through acts of service in your community. Let God’s Word inform your living. A Question to Grow on How will I learn today?
LESSON 2 Growth Experience No. 2 — Leadership “… the apostles” (Acts 2:42) Read: 2 Timothy 3:14–17 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Paul told his young protégé, Timothy, to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” (verse 14). Paul understood that leaders share more than just information; they engage in spiritual formation through their lives and examples. Another evidence of spiritual growth from Acts 2 is commitment to godly leadership. Hebrews 13:17 instructs believers to submit to leaders as God’s representatives who keep watch over them. The passage notes that honoring leaders helps make their work a joy rather than a burden. Growth Sign No. 2 Leadership provides the examples to grow spiritually.
Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What role do godly leaders play in my life? 2. Am I praying for them? 3. How can I make their job joyful and not burdensome? Questions to ask your team: 1. Would you rather be an empowered leader or an empowering one? Explain. 2. Does Jesus’ teaching focus more on leading or following? 3. How well are we following His discipleship model? Reflect on your progress in this area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your obedience to biblical discipleship principles — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Practice of Learning From My Leaders
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count — Living the Insight To Paul, leadership was not about wielding power but building relationships. He saw himself as a spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15). As a Christian leader, your influence is not determined by your title, but by your heart and life. Love the people you seek to lead with the heart of a spiritual father or mother, and they will love
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following you. Your example will be a source of godly wisdom that will inspire others to grow in Christ. A Question to Grow on Who or what is influencing and leading me?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 3 Growth Experience No. 3 — Prayer “They devoted themselves to … prayer” (Acts 2:42). “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). Read: John 16:24 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight On one occasion, Jesus confronted the Twelve: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask …” (John 16:24). The disciples walked with Jesus daily. Yet they had missed a golden opportunity. The third evidence of spiritual growth for followers of Christ is prayer. Philippians 4:6–7 reveals that: • Prayer is the answer to our anxieties. • Prayer is appropriate for anything. • Prayer leads to peace. Growth Sign No. 3 Prayer provides the intimacy with God we need
to grow spiritually. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What role does prayer play in my life, my family and my ministry? 2. How frequently do I practice it? 3. How can I make prayer primary? Questions to ask your team: 1. Are our prayers mostly dutiful, routine or truly desperate? 2. How can you tell? 3. How can we make prayer a priority on this team and in this church? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your commitment to prayer — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Frequent Engagement of God in Prayer
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count — Living the Insight In his book The Navigator, Robert Foster quotes Dawson Trotman, who helped Billy Graham train new converts: “I often ask Christians, ‘What’s the biggest thing you’ve asked God for this week?’ I remind them that they are going to God, the Father, the Maker of the Universe. The One who holds the world in His hands. ‘What did you ask for? Did you ask for peanuts, toys, trinkets, or did you ask for continents?’ It’s tragic! The little, itsy-bitsy things we ask of our Almighty God. Sure, nothing is too small
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— but also nothing is too big.” A Question to Grow on What is the biggest thing I am asking God for today?
LESSON 4 Growth Experience No. 4 — Grace “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs” (Acts 2:43). “God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:33). Read: Ephesians 1:18–19 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Grace is a gift from God, but we must have spiritual vision to recognize it. Paul asked God to open the eyes of the Ephesians’ hearts to see the inheritance they have in God. The fourth evidence of spiritual growth in Acts 2 is amazement over God’s grace and mercy. Unfortunately, many overlook God’s works. Paul wrote: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Improving our view of God strengthens our commitment to Him.
Growth Sign No. 4 Grace provides the power we need to see God at work. Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Have the eyes of my heart been “enlightened” as Paul prayed? 2. If so, how has it changed my views of life and people? 3. How can I keep distractions from obscuring my spiritual vision? Questions to ask your team: 1. How do you see God’s grace at work in and around us? 2. What have you seen God do lately that you would consider “miraculous” or “wondrous”? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your awareness of God’s presence — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Utter Dependency Upon God’s Grace
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Make It Count — Living the Insight Paul makes it clear in Romans 12 that our vision of God fuels our commitment to serve Him faithfully. If we asked Paul for counsel on growing spiritually, he might say something like this: • If you are neglecting prayer, you don’t have a good enough view of God and who He is! • If you are not engaging in honoring the Lord with your resources, your finances and your offerings, you don’t have a good enough view!
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• If you’re not entering into worshipping God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, you don’t have a good enough view! A Question to Grow on What is something miraculous or wondrous I see God doing today?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 5 Growth Experience No. 5 — Giving “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45). Read: Luke 14:12–14 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight The fifth evidence of spiritual growth is generosity. When the grace of God touches hearts, generosity grows. “There is a huge awakening for social concern today [in the North American church], especially from age 30 and down,” says pastor Jack Hayford. Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, authors of Global Pentecostalism, estimate that since 1980 Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians alone have contributed over $2.3 billion in more than 100 countries.
Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What has God graciously empowered me to give to others? 2. How can I cultivate generosity in my life? Questions to ask your team: 1. Which do we most frequently discuss in our meetings: What people can do for us or what we can do for people? 2. How can we become more generous as a team? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your generosity — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Growth Sign No. 5 Giving is evidence of God’s love at work in a heart.
Rating Myself on … My Practice of Biblical Stewardship and Generosity
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Make It Count — Living the Insight It has been said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and, when necessary, use words.” Pastor DeForest Soaries offers advice to balance this: “People do need help, but they also need hope.… But if you give them hope with some help, the chances are they will one day learn to find their own help, as well.” Hungry people need food, but they also need the
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life-sustaining hope of the gospel. Only Jesus can heal souls. A Question to Grow on What will I give to someone else in need today?
LESSON 6 Growth Experience No. 6 — Community “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44). Read: Mark 12:28–34 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Loneliness is one of the greatest challenges Christian leaders face today. In one LifeWay Research study, 55 percent of pastors surveyed said they are often discouraged and lonely in ministry. While working to create community for others, we shouldn’t miss out on it ourselves. The sixth evidence of spiritual growth is living in authentic community. Since New Testament times, the Church has grown in the context of community. God created us for community and formed us for friendship. In fact, Jesus made community a commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What role does authentic community play in my life and my faith journey? 2. What is one way I can love my neighbor as myself this week? Questions to ask your team: 1. How do you describe biblical community? 2. Are we experiencing it as a church/team? 3. If so, how? 4. If not, what are we missing? 5. How can we develop a stronger community? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your participation in and development of Christian community — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Growth Sign No. 6 Community provides relationships to grow spiritually. Rating Myself on … My Connection and Contribution to Authentic Community
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Make It Count — Living the Insight Community in the Church is not just a “take-one-minute-to-greet-the-person-next-to-you” segment in a worship service. It is God’s plan for our lives every day. Life is all about communing with God and others. I once heard there are two kinds of people: those who walk into the room boldly, as if to say, “Here I am!” and those who walk into the room with great interest, as if to say, “There you are!”
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After I shared this with a friend, he said, “Actually I think there is one more kind of person — the one who walks in the room and says, ‘Here we are!’” Now, that is a person who understands community. A Question to Grow on What will I do to create community today?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 7 need to grow spiritually.
Growth Experience No. 7 — Worship “… praising God” (Acts 2:47). Read: John 4:19–26 Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, He spoke of a time when people would worship the Father as sons and daughters in spirit and truth. The seventh evidence of spiritual growth is worshipping God with humility and intimacy. The Old Testament word shachah means, “bowing down and worshipping with awe and reverence; falling prostrate in the presence of the Lord.” However, the New Testament word proskuneo is more intimate. It literally means, “to kiss toward.” Jesus ushered in a new season of worship and intimacy with God. Shortly before His crucifixion, He told His disciples He would no longer refer to them as servants, but as friends (John 15:15). Growth Sign No. 7 Worship provides the humility and intimacy we
Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What are some ways I worship God each day? 2. How does my worship communicate reverence toward God? 3. How do I experience intimacy with God? Questions to ask your team: 1. What tends to make worship stale and sterile in churches or church communities? 2. How can we keep our worship of God fresh and vibrant? 3. What are some of the most worshipful moments we have shared together as a team? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your consistency in engaging in daily worship — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Frequent Encountering of God’s Presence in Worship
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Make It Count — Living the Insight Intimacy is maintained in a marriage by one thing — responsiveness. This forms give-and-take within a marriage that somehow powerfully translates into intimacy, closeness and connectedness. Worship is like that. It is a response to God, His Word and His presence. When we love Jesus, we recognize His commands and respond in obedience. He recognizes our struggles and
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desires and responds by grace. He speaks; I obey. I pray; He answers. This cycle of response causes heaven and earth to touch. Our worship bows and becomes a kiss toward God. Covenant-based intimacy grows. A Question to Grow on How will I worship God in a new way today?
LESSON 8 Growth Experience No. 8 — Witness “… enjoying the favor of all the people … the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). “I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19)
Make It Yours — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. How am I witnessing to the world for Christ? 2. In what ways do I share my faith with others? 3. How can I work in community to reach others?
Read: Matthew 4:18–22
Questions to ask your team: 1. What difference does it make if our view of witnessing for Christ is that of line fishing versus team net fishing ? 2. In what ways have you witnessed alone? 3. In what ways have we witnessed as a team? 4. How is one more effective than the other?
Make It Clear — Understanding the Insight Jesus’ metaphor of fishing for people is poignant, but modern readers don’t always fully grasp it. The fishermen Jesus called weren’t anglers with poles and lines. They threw nets into the sea. The image in Matthew 4 is of a community of fishermen casting a broad and weighted net and drawing it in together. The eighth evidence of spiritual growth is living as witnesses to the lost within the context of a community of faith. Growth Sign No. 8 Witness provides the light that others need to grow.
Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your level of participation in soul winning within the context of community — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Rating Myself on … My Participation in the Gospel — in Knowing and Sharing Christ
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Make It Count — Living the Insight I see nothing in the biblical record of Jesus sending out anyone to work for Him alone. He started His ministry by building a community of net fishermen, and eventually He sent them two-by-two. Outreach took place together. Jesus emphasized the Church living in authentic community. Right after stating His new command-
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ment in John 13:34, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (verse 35). A Question to Grow on How will I share my faith today?
THE FINAL NOTE
“CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS ...”
THE VALUE OF SUNDAY MORNING
New research from Nashville-based LifeWay reveals Americans have a positive attitude toward church attendance. An overwhelming majority of Americans, two-thirds, think church attendance is admirable, with nearly 9 in 10 calling it acceptable, and 11 percent saying church attendance is useless. Even among America’s nonreligious population, the numbers fare well. Eighty percent of them believe church attendance is acceptable, with 43 percent calling it admirable, and just 29 percent saying they find no use for it. Yet, despite America’s fondness for church attendance, they are not nearly as optimistic about the health of the church. Fifty-five percent believe church attendance is declining, or dying (42 percent) and 36 percent believe it is growing, or thriving (38 percent).
“IN AMERICA, THE CHURCH IS ...”
growing none of these