ISSUE _ 04 / FEBRUARY 2016 _ MARCH 2016
K E N T I N G L E / S A N D R A M O R G A N / W A LT E R H A R V E Y
Closing the Leadership Gap The Likeable Leader Connecting First-time Guests to the Life of Your Church
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If You Ask Me Where Are All the Leaders?
Get Set Called to Lead A Q&A with Adelita Garza
Like a Leader • Live: The Church in the City: One Pastor’s Discontent with the Divided Line • Think: Six Reasons Why Women May Be Leaving Your Church • Read: Books Worth Highlighting, for You and Your Team • Listen: Enhancing Your Listening Experience with Podcasts and More • Tech: Apps and Tech That Add to Your Life
20 Playbook • Build: Connecting Firsttime Guests to the Life of Your Church • Know: Ministers and Social Media: How to Be Prophetic without Being Partisan • Invest: How Well Are You Listening?
30 Unsigned Dispelling the Big Myths about Smaller and Larger Churches
32 A Church Like Heaven on Earth Chris Beard shares seven principles for leading your congregation into a beautifully diverse future.
40 Closing the Leadership Gap
Sandra Morgan outlines essential steps for multiplying the next generation of leaders.
48 The Likeable Leader Justin Lathrop reminds us that likeability is not about being the perfect leader — it’s about following Christ and being amazed as likeability follows.
56 Multiplier — Women of Influence • Passion Times Two • The Penny Story • Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today • Dare to Dream Big
70 Make It Count 8 Practices of Engaging Prayer
80 The Final Note Are Christians Growing Spiritually?
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: Kendall Altmyer, Chris Beard, Marla Campbell, Robert C. Crosby, Adelita Garza, Mike Harper, Walter Harvey, Maricela H. Hernández, Kent Ingle, Justin Lathrop, Sandra Morgan, Chris Railey, Elise Wood, George Paul Wood SPECIAL THANKS: Alton Garrison, James Bradford, Douglas Clay, Gregory Mundis, Zollie Smith, Gary Rhoades, Tim Strathdee EDITORIAL: For info or queries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ADVERTISING: Display rates available upon request. Contact email@example.com. By accepting an advertisement, Influence does not endorse any advertiser or product. We reserve the right to reject advertisements not consistent with the magazine’s objectives.
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 #03 December 2015/January 2016) 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. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Influence magazine: 1445 N. Boonville Avenue Springfield, MO 65802-1894 Website: influencemagazine.com Twitter: @theinfluencemag Facebook: facebook.com/theinfluencemag Instagram: @theinfluencemag
IF YOU ASK ME
live in a complex world. Global threats, local tensions and a polarized culture are now commonplace in our world. These realities create a sense of fear and unrest in people. As I look around, I ask myself: Where are all the leaders? How will I respond? Too often our reaction is to play it safe and stick to who and what we know. However, such an approach doesn’t align with the heart and leadership of Jesus. Jesus engaged; He challenged; He led with grace and truth that inspired hope and brought lasting change. The older I get, the more I realize that true leadership is rare. More than ever, we need leaders truly committed to courageously engage the culture and lead in a new and better way. In 2 Corinthians 5:18–19, Paul reminds us of the “ministry” and “message” of reconciliation that God calls us to live and preach. As ministers of reconciliation, we mustn’t lose sight of the following: 1. Mission. Reconciling people to God is our most important mission. Social media, cable news and culture want us to choose sides — to reduce ourselves to a one-versus-the-other approach. We defend and lash out against those with opposing views. This isn’t reconciliation; it’s competition. As leaders, we must elevate the conversation and engage others with love based on biblical truth. 2. Relationships. Relationships are the currency we possess to bring lasting change. Leadership without
WHERE ARE ALL THE LEADERS?
relationship is a contradiction; one cannot exist without the other. The depth of our relationships will determine the height of our success. 3. Prayer. A supernatural move of God will overcome the challenges of our current reality. For this to happen, we need to pray. A ministry of reconciliation without a life of prayer will fail. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” We can’t turn our back at the first sign of trouble. We need to stay committed, stay together and stay on our knees. This issue of Influence features courageous leaders with ministries and messages of reconciliation. They offer encouraging testimonies and leadership insights needed at this important time. Pastor Walter Harvey talks about the importance of prayer in tearing down racial walls in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kent Ingle offers tips on engaging others through the disciple of listening. In our cover story, Chris Beard shares his journey of building an ethnically diverse church and overcoming racial tension. Sandra Morgan discusses essential steps for multiplying the next generation of leaders. And Justin Lathrop challenges us to let Jesus be our compass as we seek to be truly likeable leaders. Where are all the leaders? I believe many are holding this issue of Influence. I pray God uses all the articles in this issue to shape your heart, refine your skills and encourage you to engage the world around you.
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.
5 Questions wth Adelita Garza
CALLED TO LEAD
How one single woman is pushing past the barriers and influencing other women to pursue their call to ministry delita Garza is the lead pastor of Puente de Vida (Bridge of Life), an Assemblies of God congregation she planted in 2009 in Santa Paula, California. She is a uniquely gifted communicator and popular speaker on Assemblies of God college campuses where she encourages male and female students to passionately pursue their call to ministry and plant churches. Adelita is the host of a prime-time morning Spanish-language radio program “Adelante con Adelita” on Radio Nueva Vida, the largest Spanish Christian network that broadcasts on 38 stations in 10 states. Following a spate of homicides in her community, Adelita spearheaded a movement to unify Santa Paula churches. This movement became “Light of the City,” a faith-based outreach to love and serve the community.
Influence: What motivates you to push past barriers in ministry? Adelita Garza: I’m convinced of God’s call. That spurs me on to continual obedience and perseverance no matter what. I’m motivated by opportunities to influence other women to pursue their call to ministry. And I’m motivated by the joy I receive in seeing people come to Jesus and watching God transform their lives for His glory. How can young women sensing the ministry call prepare for service? The best starting place is prayer. Prayer deepens your conviction of the call, increases courage to be obedient when the odds are against you and prepares you to pursue all God says with the power of the Holy Spirit. Find a female mentor. Seek out women who are already in ministry. Ask questions and more questions. Be willing to listen and receive pearls of wisdom from those who have gone before you.
What role has mentorship played in your life? Unfortunately, I didn’t begin ministry with a mentor in my life, and I admit it would have helped. It was only much later in ministry that I learned of its great benefits. After experiencing the encouragement and lessons that can be learned from those who’ve already traveled a similar journey, I have committed to be a mentor myself. My investment in mentoring begins with mentoring those called to ministry at the church I lead. I also have the privilege of visiting our Assemblies of God universities to speak to students. How do you encourage women leaders in your church? We are purposeful in preaching and teaching that God calls both men and women and that all spiritual gifts and talents are given to every member of the body of Christ without distinction. We also emphasize that when men and women work together, we are more effective in fulfilling the vision God has given to us as a church. At a leadership level, we are intentional in having a balance of males and females on our church board, at the pulpit and in ministry roles. What’s the secret to your success as a single woman lead pastor? First and foremost, a deep reliance on the Holy Spirit and prayer gives me boldness and willingness to say yes to God even when the task seems daunting or the moral support is lacking. My formal education has given me credibility in the eyes of those who might diminish the potential of a woman leader. I’m also grateful to two male pastors who believed in me and took a risk by allowing me to pastor alongside them. Their trust in me afforded me opportunities as an associate pastor that gave me practical experience to be a lead pastor today.
IT’S TIME TO INFLUENCE W E B E L I E V E T H AT T R U E , G O D LY LE A D E R S H I P D O E S N ’ T C O M E F R O M A T I T L E O R P O S I T I O N . I T STA R TS W I T H T H E H E A R T O F A S E R VA N T A N D G R OW S I N TO A L I F E O F I M M E A S U R A B L E I M PAC T. T H AT I S W H Y W E C R E AT E D I N F LU E N C E .
THE CHURCH IN THE CITY One pastor’s discontent with the divided line WALTER HARVEY
y hometown of Milwaukee is like most urban American cities, seething with racial tensions, poverty and other social issues. I regularly gather with Christian clergy and church lay leaders to pray for our city. We put aside our differences and work together to unify, empower and mobilize believers. We are committed to tearing down racial walls and building bridges of peace by living out Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. Politics and platitudes can’t breathe life into our deeply divided inner cities. But Jesus can. Only the light of His truth can penetrate the shadows of human conflict and bring hope to this nation and the world. The change we seek will not occur as a result of government but only as God’s people pray. God promises in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” You and I cannot ignore the problems because we assume they do not reside in our respective communities. In his historic Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The practice of praying and working together for the good of all is biblical. In
Jeremiah 29, God called the exiled Israelites in Babylon to build homes in the city, raise their families there and pray for the prosperity of the community. As the Church goes, so goes the city. Unity is God’s will for Christians, and that unity should point others to Christ. Jesus prayed to the Father for believers through the ages, saying, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22–23). The central call of the Church is to love God, love our neighbors and live out the gospel of reconciliation — even across personal, racial and congregational lines. I invite you to join me and other Christian leaders in declaring that it is no longer okay for Sunday morning to be the most segregated time in America. We cannot be content with the status quo of living along dividing lines. God is calling us to break down racial barriers and preach the good news to our cities — and to all creation. Walter Harvey is senior pastor of Parklawn Assembly of God in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He serves as vice president of the National Black Fellowship of the Assemblies of God. To learn more about the Christian reconciliation movement in Milwaukee, visit MilwaukeeDeclaration.com.
SIX REASONS WHY WOMEN MAY BE LEAVING YOUR CHURCH THOM S. RAINER
have the opportunity to be in many churches. When I enter a worship service, I do a quick scan of those attending. Almost every time I look to the congregation, I notice one clear reality: the majority in attendance are women. For this reason, volumes have been written the past couple of decades about getting more men to attend church. I want to look from a different perspective. I want to understand the motivations for women who leave the church. My process was simple; I quickly reviewed thousands of comments on my blog. Many times, I read a comment where a woman told me she had given up on a church. Here are the six most common themes on why women are leaving the church: 1. Overworked. “I had trouble saying no when I was asked to do something in the church. The leaders piled so much on me that the only way I could get relief was to leave the church.” 2. Not valued. “I really don’t think the leaders in our church value women. Our roles and opportunities are very limited. I am frustrated. I hope I can find a church where my gifts are appreciated.” 3. Relationally hurt. “There was a group of ladies in our church that did everything together. When I tried to join them, they paid me no attention. I don’t want to be in a church of cliques.” 4. Lack of quality childcare. “The preaching was great and the people were friendly, but the childcare was a mess. It was both unclean and unsafe. I’m not taking my child there.”
5. Busyness. “I work full-time. I have four kids at home. I have so many responsibilities. It’s tough to give even more of my time to the church.” 6. Husband does not attend. “It’s tough coming to church without my husband. I am totally responsible to get our three kids to church. And I really feel out of place because the church has groups for married adults and single adults. I don’t know where I fit.” Church leaders: see these comments as opportunities for ministry rather than problems that can’t be solved. Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook. com/Thom.S.Rainer.
40/40 VISION Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty (IVP Books)
An 80-country survey asked, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?” People in their 40s were least satisfied, with 46-year-olds being unhappiest. Drawing on the wisdom of Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty offer guidance to 40-somethings wondering whether life gets better and, if so, how to live it meaningfully. “[T]he test of our forties demands our full engagement,” they write, and this book shows how.
BOOKS WORTH HIGHLIGHTING, FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM George Paul Wood
THE 4 DIMENSIONS OF EXTRAORDINARY LEADERSHIP Jenni Catron (Nelson Books)
“Leadership requires all of me,” writes Jenni Catron, “my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength.” She interprets these four dimensions as “intentional relationships (heart), spiritual awareness (soul), wise counsel (mind) and relentless vision (strength).” Most leaders operate naturally and best in one dimension more than the others, but extraordinary leaders strive to grow in all four dimensions. Catron’s book outlines how leaders can grow in each dimension and thus exercise a more holistic form of leadership.
LOVE KINDNESS Barry H. Corey (Tyndale)
America’s “culture wars” have turned increasingly ugly and divisive. “Too often,” Barry Corey writes, “our centers are firm on conviction, but our edges are also hard in our tactics.” And our tactics are not winning us either battles or friends. Rather than contributing to the rancor of the public square in this way, Corey urges believers to live “from a Christcentered core that spills out into a life of kindness. It’s a life with a firm center and soft edges.”
BRING LIFE-GIVING CONTENT TO YOUR CHURCH WITH VITAL. Vital brings believers a Christ-centered perspective on news, faith and culture. Through print and digital media, Vital seeks to unite, edify and inspire the Church.
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CARNEGIE COACH http://carnegiecoach.com/podcast/
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is a business classic. With careful theological evaluation, it can be applied to the work of the local church too. Carnegie Coach is a weekly podcast hosted by Dave Stachowiak. It uses Carnegie’s principles to explore nuts-and-bolts topics of management and leadership, such as “How to Motivate for Great Performance,” “How to Deal with Disrespect” and “Three Steps to Growing Your Network.” Episodes are typically 10–20 minutes long.
THE PREACHING DONKEY PODCAST http://preachingdonkey.com/podcast/
The Preaching Donkey podcast is a weekly podcast hosted by Lane Sebring. Its purpose is “to help preachers communicate better, because we believe that if God can speak through a donkey [Numbers 22:21–38], he can preach through us.” Topics include “Nine Tips for Preaching on Controversial Topics,” “Four Mistakes to Avoid When Ending a Sermon” and “Why Shorter Sermons Are Almost Always Better.” Episodes range in length from 10 to 60 minutes.
RESEARCH ON RELIGION http://www.researchonreligion.org
Research on Religion is “a weekly podcast series devoted to the social scientific study of religion.” Hosted by Professor Anthony Gill of the University of Washington, and sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, the podcast features interviews with leading religion scholars and published authors. Recent episodes include “Bradley Wright on Religion, Race and Discrimination”; “Stephen Barr on Quantum Physics, Religion and the God Particle”; and “Louis Markos on the Poetry of Heaven and Hell.” Episodes are typically an hour long.
New Women’s Ministry
RESOURCES Left unchecked, life tends to take on a pace of its own, driving us to fatigue and burnout. This year, reach the women in your church with Rhythms of Grace and Selah resources.
ALSO AVAILABLE IN SPANISH
ALSO AVAILABLE IN SPANISH
Explore this year’s theme, Selah, with Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems. Weems shares about her journey as God taught her to walk in time with Him. Pair with Selah resources as a reminder to the women in your church to embrace the rest God offers. Download a free copy of Ministering to Women for more ministry ideas.
Find out more and order today at MyHealthyChurch.com/Selah.
Honor the women in your church on National Women’s Ministries Day, February 28, 2016. For resources and ideas, visit Women.AG.org.
Apps and tech that add to your life 1
Growing your church is hard work; making it stand out among casual visitors and first-time attendees is even harder. Showing visitors how much you care is now made easier with Orderv. Orderv is an app for your smartphone that changes how you connect with visitors. With Orderv you can introduce yourself, build trust and stand out to guests with personalized video messages. Give your first-time attendees a level of service they’ve never seen before and convert them from first-time visitors into regular attendees. With Orderv you can answer questions, recommend upcoming events or magically turn your morning message into a professional, high-quality video that includes your church’s logo and contact information. You can even add a soundtrack. Within minutes your guests will be notified, and they can view it! For more information and a free 14-day trial of Orderv, visit Orderv.com.
Busy people and effective teams get tasks and projects done thanks to Nozbe system and apps, available for all major desktop and mobile platforms. Nozbe is an intuitive project management solution that keeps you focused and accomplishing tasks no matter where you are — in the office, on the go, alone or with a team. Its intuitive apps allow you to deal with incoming tasks quickly and effectively, prioritizing and manage them within projects. If you are tired of the limitations of your current task management software tool, consider Nozbe’s benefits: It follows the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology; has an elegant, beautiful interface; has the ability to share projects; syncs seamlessly in the cloud; works with third-party applications such as Evernote, Google docs and drive, Dropbox and others; is available on almost every device; provides a quick-entry mode; and is supported by an active development team. Visit nozbe.com for more information.
PLAYBOOK : BUILD
CONNECTING FIRST-TIME GUESTS TO THE LIFE OF YOUR CHURCH
By establishing a comprehensive assimilation strategy, your church could begin growing immediately. MIKE HARPER
he promise is clear, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Each week, God faithfully sends guests to your church. Sunday after Sunday, He sends a steady stream of guest families who represent those He desires to redeem spiritually. They are the volunteers you need, the tithers you seek, the musicians you want and the leaders you have been praying for. The question is: Do you know how to partner with God and connect first-time guests to the life of your church? What if you could retain just one more family unit each week? One family unit a week represents 52 new families a year! For many churches, this would represent significant growth. Think of it: Simply by establishing a comprehensive assimilation strategy, your church could begin growing immediately.
Three Crucial Elements A gesture of genuine hospitality is the first element your church needs. Each weekend, guests enter the life of your church as they share their time with you and your congregation. In response to their visit, I encourage churches to present a simple gift to their guests as an act of hospitality. This single act speaks volumes about the church’s culture and leaves a favorable lasting impression. The second is an assimilation team. Regardless of church size, the formal establishment of this hands-on team is
necessary. Don’t let the word “formal” scare you. Someone must take responsibility for identifying, tracking and reaching your guests. While it is true that helping people become a part of the church is everyone’s responsibility, I have found that “everyone’s responsibility” can easily become “no one’s responsibility” unless a formal team is in place. A weekly communication or connection card is the final component, and the key informational gathering piece of an assimilation strategy. In a real sense, it enables you to engage in a dialogue of sorts with everyone who attends your church on a given Sunday. Communication cards take the guesswork out of figuring out how many guests were in the service. A communication card standardizes your process and tracks your progress with guest retention. Once you establish these elements, take it a step further by using the following seven-step retention strategy. According to our internal tracking in the North Texas District, churches that successfully implement this strategy consistently retain 20 to 25 percent of all first-time guests. In contrast, churches without a comprehensive assimilation strategy retain less than 10 percent. The strength of the strategy is its sequential framework and flexibility. I suggest churches experiment with the timing of each step to discover what works best for their individual communities. Note that the first four steps immediately follow a guest’s first visit to your church. Step 1: Thank-You Call This brief Sunday afternoon call by a member of the assimilation team is a critical first step. A thank-you call within the first eight hours increases the potential of a return visit by 30 to 40 percent, in comparison to a first contact within the first 24 hours. Step 2: Deliver Personal Gifts to the Guest’s Home Monday Night Two team members deliver gifts on behalf of the church and pastor. To alleviate safety concerns, do not enter a guest’s home, even if someone offers. The newcomer will probably be glad you decline. Step 3: Send a First-Time Guest Letter from the Church by Tuesday or Wednesday Personalize this form letter by a handwritten note on the bottom of the page. If you met them, recall an important piece of information from the conversation. Step 4: Senior Pastor Call The Saturday following their first visit, the senior pastor initiates a brief call. This includes a thank-you and an invitation to come
back tomorrow. If the pastor did not greet the guest on the first visit, this connection assures the guest of the pastor’s desire to connect personally. Steps 5 and 6 are initiated upon each guest’s subsequent visit to the church. Step 5: Senior Pastor Calls SecondTime Guests on Sunday Afternoon Guests returning to the church for a second visit signal that the church is on their short list of churches worthy of consideration as a home church. No one is better equipped than the senior pastor to answer any questions they may have. This second visit also triggers a second-time guest letter. Step 6: Send Third-Time Guest Letter Third-time guests are indicating, “We want this to be our church home.” To affirm this, sign the third-time guest letter, “Your Pastor.” Additionally, invite all third-time guests to a monthly/bimonthly dessert night at the pastor’s home. (The visitor flow will determine the frequency of this social gathering.) Key to the success of the event is the invitation into the pastor’s home. Including other key church leaders in this dessert night ensures the establishment of the broader relational networks. There is only one rule for this event: Do not discuss deep questions about the church. This is purely a social event. Step 7: Communicate Appropriate Next-Step Opportunities Regularly scheduled newcomers’ and membership classes create clear paths for deeper connection to the church family. These seven steps create a framework every church can use in growing the local church. Mike Harper is the chair of church planting and development for the North Texas District Council in Waxahachie, Texas.
COVERING LEADERSHIP FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH
PLAYBOOK : KNOW
MINISTERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA How to Be Prophetic Without Being Partisan G EO R G E PAU L WO O D
astors have influence beyond the pulpit. In particular, their social media usage has the ability to shape people’s minds and hearts. The question is, are we using this influence well? Two statements from the apostle Paul sharpen the focus of this question. The first comes from Acts 20:27, where Paul told the Ephesians, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Other translations speak of “the whole counsel of God.”) The second comes from 2 Corinthians 6:3, where Paul wrote, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” The question we must ask ourselves, then, is this: Does our social media usage address the whole counsel of God without putting stumbling blocks in people’s way? This question is especially important in an election year. Like many pastors, I have strong opinions about politics, which I share online. My motto could be, “I have a blog, and I’m not afraid to use it.” During a presidential election year, I want to use my voice to influence the vote. Perhaps you have this desire too. It is the desire to speak and act prophetically in our culture. Unfortunately, what feels prophetic to us often looks partisan to others. A prophet prioritizes the interests of the kingdom of God. A partisan prioritizes the interests of the Democratic or Republican party. When God’s kingdom gets reduced to the political shibboleths of one party or the other, we have put partisan stumbling blocks in the way of people who are trying to get to Jesus. Here, then, are some suggestions about how pastors — and other church leaders — can use social media in a prophetic, not partisan way. I’ve drawn these from reflection on Scripture as well as from reflection on my own social media successes and failures. First, tone. People evaluate how you say something before they evaluate what you
PLAYBOOK : KNOW
I hope my use of social media leads many people to Jesus. It would be a shame to win an election battle but lose a spiritual war. say. Many posts on social media go unread because their tone is angry, mocking, condescending and the like. In his new book, Love Kindness, Barry Corey argues that when Christians speak in the public square, their message should be characterized by kindness. Kindness is neither aggressiveness nor niceness. Rather it is a “firm center” with “soft edges,” biblical conviction combined with personal civility. The Bible connects kindness with change in Romans 2:4: “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” Pastors can do no better than follow God’s personal example. Second, source. My Facebook friends span the spectrums of religious belief and political opinion. I have friends who are hardcore atheists and devout Christians, socialists and libertarians and everything in between. That makes my Facebook feed interesting to read. One of the first questions I ask when reading one of their posts is whether it is well sourced. If a friend uses a bogus statistic, cites a discredited study, tells a tall tale or links to some whack-a-doodle website, I ignore the post. After all, you cannot form a good opinion based on misinformation or disinformation. Knowing this, work hard to use only reputable sources of information in your own social media. Third, reasonableness. I have found that people who disagree with my political opinions will nevertheless listen to me if I make a good case for my point of view. A “good case” is biblical, logical and fair-minded, so I ask myself the following three questions: (1) What does the Bible say, explicitly or implicitly, about this issue? (2) Given that the Bible requires or prohibits a certain behavior, does it logically follow that politicians should pass a law about it? Sometimes, yes; take murder for example (Exodus 20:13). Other times, no, however. How exactly could the Law even begin to outlaw envy (Exodus 20:17)? (3) Have I taken into account the other side’s arguments about this issue, stating them fairly, responding to them comprehensively? If people feel you are not listening to their point of view, they will not listen to yours. Fourth, wholeness. Some Christians emphasize “liberal” issues, such as immigration, poverty and racism. Others emphasize “conservative” issues such as abortion and marriage.
The Bible addresses them all. It teaches us both to protect life (Exodus 20:13) and to love the immigrant (Deuteronomy 10:18– 19). It teaches us both to honor marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and to care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). It teaches us to “make disciple of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), since we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). When we consistently and exclusively post about the issues on only one side of the political spectrum, we demonstrate that we have been captured by partisan ideology rather than captivated by a holistic understanding of the Bible. Fifth, emphasis. Do I make the gospel great on social media? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I must confess that I have room for improvement here. A person reading my Facebook posts might come to the conclusion that I am a Christian with a well-sourced, reasonable, holistic understanding of politics, which I (usually) communicate with a kind tone. I’m not sure they will come to the conclusion that God loves them, though. What messages do your social media communicate through what you say and what you leave unsaid? This election year, I plan to speak prophetically to the issues facing our nation. I hope my social media usage is kind, well sourced, reasonable and holistic. Most importantly, though, I hope my use of social media leads many people to Jesus. It would be a shame to win an election battle but lose a spiritual war George Paul Wood is executive editor of Influence.
PLAYBOOK : INVEST
HOW WELL ARE YOU LISTENING? Four areas to tune in to when listening to your people. KENT INGLE
he right set of disciplines is essential to effective team leadership — in ministry and in every other field. One of these disciplines is the ability to listen. You’ll never know the potential of your church, organization or team until you know the potential of the people. To unlock the power of a team, leaders must first look internally. One trap many leaders fall into is failing to listen intentionally. Jesus modeled the power of listening throughout His ministry as He paid careful attention to the needs of those around Him. We must do the same as church leaders. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize that hearing and vision work best together. This creates blind spots for leaders who attempt to cast vision without hearing people out. Listening begins with people.
Listening Framework The good news is leaders can cultivate listening, just as they develop other skills. With every step the organization takes, its leaders must intentionally pay attention. At Southeastern University (SEU), we do this through a framework of listening. It’s the only way to capture the breadth and depth of our community. Consider the four areas we tune in to when listening to our people. 1. Listen for strengths. The goal is identifying your organization’s unique advantages. Your people will show you their potential. Many leaders rush to bring change before they take the time to discover the potential of the organization. When I arrived as a presidential candidate at SEU, the faculty asked, “What is your vision for Southeastern?” They were shocked to hear me say, “I don’t have a vision for Southeastern.” When I explained that the first thing I would do is listen, they began to understand that it would be arrogant for me to assume that I had all the answers without even hearing the
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Jesus modeled the power of listening throughout His ministry as He paid careful attention to the needs of those around Him. people. I wanted to hear their stories and concerns so I could understand the potential of the organization. We discover strengths when we pay attention to peopleâ€™s passions and ideas. Through listening, God reveals the strength of your team. 2. Listen for potential pitfalls. Your people can save you time and money by helping you identify systematic issues that are continually damaging your organization. While the people on your team or in your organization are great at sharing strengths, they may not be as good at telling you directly about the holes in your church or organization. A listening leader must ask. What do the people regularly criticize about the ministry, church or organization? Think about the repeated themes that you continue to hear. 3. Listen for innovation. Your people may surprise you by helping you discover new avenues of success for your organization. Opportunities constantly open to your church or organization, even if you canâ€™t see them. Most of the time, an opportunity has a name, works in a particular field and somehow has a connection to someone else in your organization. That is why, in many instances, the members of your team or organization can identify and take hold of an opportunity long before the leadership is aware of it. Letting someone else find an avenue of success does not make you a weak leader â€” it makes you a listening leader. Learn to empower the people of your organization to identify these opportunities, and then listen to them when they alert you to a potential. This will increase your successes exponentially. 4. Listen to your demographic. The demographic is the environment around your church or organization. The people you serve will shape your growth. They can help you develop new curves of growth. Encouraging your team and organization to listen to your target demographic will determine your future. A word of caution, though: Listening to the demographic will force you to make a choice. Will you respond and step out of your comfort zone? Or will you ignore what you hear?
At SEU, our team listened, and we heard loud and clear that nursing was in high demand. Students wanted to gain training to go serve in the medical sector. Developing a nursing degree would be a huge risk for our organization. We planned, prayed and acted in faith, and we decided to meet the need of the marketplace. And risk-taking decisions, like a nursing program, directly created the growth we have seen on our campus. The Bottom Line The bottom line is that listening will determine the success and/or failure of your church or organization. The people of the organization have the potential either to set the organization on track or derail it from its destined purpose. When we listen to people, God will unveil the hidden narrative of the organization and shape the strategy of the future. When we listen intentionally and make ourselves available to change, we will be postured to succeed. Do you want to know the potential of you organization? Start listening. Kent Ingle, D.Min. is the president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.
Introduction “[S]peak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” These words from Ephesians 4:25 are some of the first instructions after Paul calls believers to put on their “new self” in Christ. It reminds us of the universal need for human connection and understanding — to know and to be known. When we work together, we need to empathize with one another. To do this, we need transparency. But in a ministry context, this is often fraught with difficulties.
That’s why we have this section: to allow you to say the things you need to say, in a safe context. Our hope is the anonymity here will encourage more transparency face-to-face and allow you to express your true feelings. The following Unsigned Letters are written by two pastors: one from a large church and the other from a small church. They discuss common misperceptions each has of the other’s church.
The Simple Little Truth About My Larger Church Dear Small Church Pastor, I am incredibly grateful for the small churches that have influenced my life over the years. I grew up attending a small church. I have served in small churches and partnered with small churches. I owe much of who I am today to the pastors of such congregations — leaders who sacrificially poured out their lives for the sake of the gospel, accomplishing big things for God in littleknown places. I pastor a church that started small but outgrew that designation. As the size of our gathering changed, it seems perceptions about us changed as well. Misunderstandings grew along with our numbers. By addressing some of those notions here, perhaps I can help bridge the gap between churches of various sizes. The biggest criticism I hear about large churches is that they are too seeker sensitive. It’s a strange complaint. After all, is it possible to focus too much on reaching the lost? I don’t compromise or water down the Bible message, but I am unashamedly seeker sensitive because I believe that is Jesus’ heart. In Matthew 9:12, He revealed His desire to seek out the spiritually destitute when He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” I believe the weekend gathering is the best time to reach the lost. So we gear our services toward welcoming those who have wandered from the faith, as well as the increasing number of people who have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel. Another misconception is that large churches never
have money challenges. When we were smaller, the financial stress of bringing in enough money to pay the bills was real. But as we’ve grown, that stress has simply shifted. Instead of worrying about paying the utility bill, I sometimes lose sleep over the 25+ staff members who count on a paycheck every week. What happens if I leave? Or worse, what happens if I mess up? The larger we’ve grown, the more financial weight I feel as pastor. Finally, large church pastors often face criticism for focusing too much on money or spending too much time with high-capacity givers. The Bible clearly forbids showing favoritism (James 2:1–13), and, of course, all church leaders must be careful to heed that warning. But to reach our communities, churches of all sizes do need resources. Sometimes that means prayerfully knocking on doors, challenging people to give or seeking out financial partners as the Lord leads. The fact is, large and small churches aren’t as different as some people claim. Almost every large church was once a small church, and nearly every pastor of a large congregation remembers the joys and trials of leading a small congregation. At the end of the day, we’re all members of the same team. And whether the place to which God calls us seems large or small by human standards, we’re all working together to accomplish an enormous mission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). FROM: LARGE CHURCH PASTOR
ONE ISSUE. TWO PERSPECTIVES.
Dispelling the Big Myths About Small Churches Dear Large Church Pastor, Allow me to express my sincere appreciation for your Kingdom service. Large churches like yours play a vital role in reaching our communities for Christ. You have the resources, volunteer numbers and visibility to dream big and launch initiatives most small congregations wouldn’t consider. I’m not envious of your success; I’m deeply grateful for the privilege of serving alongside you in the harvest field. People need Jesus, and every Bible-teaching church — large and small — is a part of God’s beautiful plan to reveal Him to the world. Of course, you probably realize large churches like yours are not typical. The sprawling churches of the world are a tremendous blessing, but there are many more smaller churches dotting the landscape. Though small churches are common, they’re often overlooked, underestimated and misunderstood. As the pastor of a fantastic small church, I welcome the opportunity to speak for the quiet, faithful voices of small congregations everywhere. In doing so, I hope I can put a few wrong ideas to rest. First, small does not mean broken. Church growth is wonderful. In fact, it is an essential element of fulfilling the Great Commission. But not every church that is participating in Kingdom growth experiences corresponding numerical growth in its congregation. Some people assume that if a church isn’t growing numerically, something is wrong. If that’s the case, 90 percent of the world’s churches are broken, including
most Assemblies of God churches. We must all faithfully do the work to which God has called us — and trust Him with the results. Sometimes, those results are immediately and dramatically visible. Other times, they’re not. Small churches are as different from big churches as roses are from redwoods. What they all have in common is that healthy ones grow, but roses and redwoods grow to different sizes and serve different purposes. Unfortunately, there are few resources to help leaders do small church ministry with excellence. Most pastoral instruction comes from a big-church perspective and carries underlying big-church assumptions. Small churches operate differently than big churches do. It’s not just a matter of scale. You can’t expect to take what’s working in a church of 5,000, drop two zeros and then make it work in a church of 50. Not only do we have different purposes, but we also excel at different skills. The advantages of big churches are obvious. The advantages of small churches are just as real. For example, small churches multiply much faster than big churches. In regions where the body of Christ is growing as a percentage of the population, it is typically through the multiplication of small churches. Paul’s desire was “that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25). Every part of the Body matters. Big churches matter. Small churches matter. And when we work together, Jesus can do amazing things through us. FROM: SMALL CHURCH PASTOR
The world is hungering to see and experience the Church as God designed it. Are we capable and motivated enough to give the Lamb what He purchased? CHRIS BEARD
recent months, racial tensions have torn at the fabric of this nation. From city streets to university campuses, an atmosphere of simmering resentment reminds us that we don’t live in a post-racial society. The reality of this is even evident in many of the churches in which we worship. This became apparent to me personally during my first year as lead pastor of (then) First Christian Assembly of God. It was April 2001, and Cincinnati was burning. The unrest started when police killed an unarmed teenager of color. The city was slow to respond, and the anger spilled into the streets. The local government instituted a 6 p.m. curfew for several days to restore order. God had been working in my heart for years that our church needed a big change. We worshipped at the geographic heart of our city, just one mile from the fires and breaking glass during that week of unrest. Yet the
congregation was a homogeneous 98 percent white commuter church. Not only was there a demographic dissonance for me, there was a biblical dissonance. Hadn’t Jesus died to create “one new humanity” through the power of the Cross (Ephesians 2:15)? Couldn’t a reconciling Church be the missing component in our nation’s racial strife? Was the racially segregated church unwittingly contributing to the problem? Even worse, were we as the American Church actually devoid of the most compelling evidence that the gospel is true (John 17:20–23)? These questions caused a wrestling in me that led to a major transformation for our church. Those changes didn’t come easily, and there were a lot of things to learn along the way to becoming Peoples Church Cincinnati. Today, our congregation is rich in stories and testimonies of racial reconciliation. Allow me to share a snapshot of what we’ve experienced. Black and White The changes began through friendships with black pastors in my city. These men loved the Lord and walked in the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
The 7 Best Books on the Multiethnic Church 1. David A. Anderson, Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2010). 2. Mark DeYmaz, Building A Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation (San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2007). 3. Mark DeYmaz and Oneya Fennell Okuwobi, The Multi-Ethnic Christian Life Primer: An Eight Week Guide to Walking, Working, Worshipping God Together As One (Mosaix Global Network, 2013). Reader e-book. 4. Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 5. Derwin L. Gray, The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015). 6. Soong-Chan Rah, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010). 7. Efrem Smith, The Post-Black and PostWhite Church (San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2012).
Prior to the age of 28, I’d never had a heart-level friend of color in my life. The 1995 AG General Council, which included an impactful resolution of repentance for the role of racism in our 1914 founding, helped open my eyes to the importance of cross-racial friendship. A reconciliation theme also punctuated the 1996 Atlanta Promise Keeper’s clergy gathering. I sensed God prompting me to make a positive change. I reached out to influential pastors of black churches in Cincinnati. Over lunches, many cups of coffee, and, eventually, monthly small group times, I listened and learned — and I allowed God to change me. Before making these friends, I had no idea what it was really like living life in America as a black person. My perceptions were limited to what I saw or heard from television, movies or the news. Over time, my perspective changed from one of believing I understood to a humble realization that there was a lot I didn’t know. I also experienced the joy of racial reconciliation with real people — real families. I soon gained a vision for what this could mean for a whole church. As I studied the Word of God through this lens, Scriptures I’d never noticed before began to fly off the page at me. I earnestly pondered the connection between Revelation 7:9 and Matthew 6:10 — a worshipping Church of every tribe, tongue, nation and people before the Lamb in the age to come, and the Lord’s prayer, “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” One of my new friends of color pointed me to John 17:20–23 and raised the question, “Are our churches missing a fundamental apologetic for the gospel?” If Jesus’ prayer for His future church in that passage asked the Father for our unity so the world would believe in Him, were we actually, through our default segregation, holding back the answer to Jesus’ prayer for our cities and our nation? What began to germinate in me was a vision far more profound than just an ethnically diverse Sunday worship experience. What was growing in me was a sense of God’s intended intercultural depth of biblical church. Never before had I noticed that Paul’s teaching of salvation by grace through faith in Ephesians 2:1–10 preceded an electrifying vision of one new Body that comes together to form a temple, the dwelling place for God’s Spirit (verses 11–22). By this point, a passion to lead our church into a new future and a realization of what it could mean for our city pulsed within me. Then came the riots of April 2001. It was my ninth year on staff and my fourth month as lead pastor. Little did I know how hard this journey would be — or how truly powerful God’s direction would become for racial healing in our city. Come Together We knew we needed to diversify our staff, our platform and our board as soon as possible to demonstrate our heart for inclusion. As I shared the vision, the Scriptures and these steps with our board, there were natural questions. Would this work? Would people stay? Would our finances drop? Would
people misinterpret our desire to please God as political correctness? Would people of color really come? Was this really about the gospel? My heart sank. I wondered how we could think in such a preservationist manner. Yet I knew these questions were natural. We leaned into the Scriptures, and we leaned into prayer. Within three years, we were ready to declare a clear new vision statement: God had called us to be a racially reconciled, generationally rich, life-giving church thriving in the heart of the city. At the end of our spring 2004 series of seven messages, Brandon Wilkes joined our staff as our second-ever pastor of color. Brandon came from the corporate world and brought tremendous organizational and leadership skills, as well as a rich walk with Christ. There was an evident call on his life, but he held no Bible degree and had not yet earned pastoral credentials. We immediately came under criticism that we were hiring him only because of his color. Brandon stayed steady, and so did the board. We were gaining cross-racial traction. As our preaching began to include more teaching on biblical justice, in addition to evangelism and discipleship, people struggled to integrate their personal politics with the call of Scripture to love enemies, orphans, widows, immigrants and the poor. At times, folks got angry and would leave, saying, “You love the new people more than you love us.”
7 Scriptures Calling for Church Like Heaven 1) Revelation 7:9 2) John 17:20–23 3) Acts 13:1–2 4) Ephesians 2:14–16 5) Ephesians 3:6 6) Colossians 3:11–17 7) Revelation 5:9–10
This bewildered me. How could they not see what I was seeing: that the gospel was now profoundly including more marginalized people into our church? How could they not join in the joy of new conversions, new disciples and new city-impacting activities? Even as long-term congregants slipped out, however, new lives came in. Throughout the journey, the church experienced and celebrated fresh victories for all to see. Of course, the losses were deeply painful. And some surprised me. In 2006, for instance, we lost an entire home group of influential members who struggled to adjust. The secretary of the board was the last of the group to leave. He insisted he needed to step down because the church was changing so much. We agreed that on his last Sunday we would publicly pray over him and his wife as he prepared to take on a teaching role at another local church. All the while, my heart ached. I feared this loss would shake the church profoundly. In the early stages of our vision, this couple had enthusiastically supported the Revelation 7:9 model. Were we failing? On that same Sunday, we received 21 new members who, together, looked like a beautiful microcosm of heaven: black, white and brown. Only God could have arranged the timing. In the services that day, we first prayed over the couple leaving. Then we welcomed the new members. The church rocked with energy and momentum. God was decidedly building “one new humanity” for himself (Ephesians 2:15). That same year, the Lord added our first language group, an Ethiopian/Eritrean fellowship. Their vision matched ours in that they didn’t prefer a separate, segregated church. They realized their children needed American expressions of the Kingdom to unify their lives as they walked with Christ in a new country. Yet the adult immigrants had unique needs for culturally contextualized fellowship and support. How would we solve these challenges? As the Lord led us — especially through the wisdom of Pastor Petros Yefru, who founded the Amharic language fellowship — we found our answers. The children joined the children’s ministry fully (there were only a few young ones at the time). The adults kept a Sunday School hour in their language and, over time, matriculated into the life and leadership of the church at large. This approach worked. As each new nationality joined, the Lord granted wisdom for honoring, including and celebrating the cultures and unique needs represented. Before long, we realized that our small groups were not mixing. There were intense divides around election times, and the racially segregated clusters in the Sunday morning café were reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. Was this vision really going to work, or would we simply be a more diverse — but still virtually segregated — body of believers? Over a board/staff retreat, we pressed in to the Lord for answers. First, we searched our hearts. Had we heard from God to
When People Say ... • When people say they agree with the vision but not the changes required to go there. Response: lovingly stay the course. • When people say: “This is secular multiculturalism.” Response: “This is biblical Christianity. Let me show you in the Word.” • When people say: “This church is becoming liberal.” Response: “This is biblical Christianity. Let me show you in the Word.” • When people say: “People are leaving.” Response: “People are also coming. Look what God is doing. Not everyone is ready to lay down their preferences to reach the lost. We love and pray for those leaving.” • When people say: “You are changing this church to your personal vision.” Response: “I’m trying to lead this church according to John 17:20–23; Ephesians 2:15; Revelation 7:9. Will you help us?” • When people say: “What does this have to do with the gospel?” Response: “Everything. Jesus called us to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ That includes those in our community.” • When people say: “This is harder than we thought.” Response: “Yes it is, but it’s worth it to give Jesus what He died for.”
As believers from every nation come to understand that their primary citizenship is in heaven, they will more easily relate to their true fellow citizens.
head in this direction? Yes. Was this scriptural? Yes. Then we needed His wisdom to learn how to become one in Jesus (John 17:20â€“23). Our next step was developing a small group curriculum: The Vision Experience. There were no resources for this, so we commissioned our own cross-racial team to do the work. We wanted desperately to unite, to give the world a picture of the kingdom of God on earth. God answered our prayers. Today the church is still learning what reconciliation includes, but the cross-racial intentionality, inclusion and authenticity is very rich. That richness is becoming a witness in our city. When an unarmed father of color recently was shot in the head by a white University of Cincinnati police officer, our church body came together to pray, discuss and add our input into this fractious situation. University, city and media leaders actually sought our counsel and insight because of our well-known multiracial constituency. In the end, the African American family who suffered the tragic, unjust loss of life shockingly received a just indictment from a grand jury and prosecutor. They also received a quick release of the body cam video for all to see. Instead of rioting and protests, Cincinnati experienced peace, and the university is pursuing proactive change to further grow racial understanding and biblical justice for everyone in its surrounding community, which is also our church neighborhood. In all such moments, we try to seize the opportunity to amplify
As our preaching began to include more teaching on biblical justice, in addition to evangelism and discipleship, people struggled to integrate their personal politics with the call of Scripture to love enemies, orphans, widows, immigrants and the poor. that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a reconciling gospel, unashamedly drawing attention to His name and the Scriptures that guide our input. Over the past 15 years, the church has seen significant growth. People are surrendering their lives to Christ from every walk of life and cultural background. This has given the church many exciting testimonies to celebrate. We’ve diversified from one percent black and one percent international to 25 percent black, 50 percent white and 25 percent international, with 30 nations represented. Our board, staff, small groups and worship services all richly reflect heaven on earth. In 2012, this momentum compelled us to a name change, from First Christian Assembly of God to Peoples Church Cincinnati. Just as important as our ethnic and socio-economic diversity, the congregation is building deep relationships across political, cultural and language barriers. This is a profound effect of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16). We are learning to unite in Jesus so the world will believe He is the Son of the living God. Time and again, we hear words like these from new guests: “When I came in here, I could hardly believe what I was experiencing: diverse people loving each other and worshipping as one. It was like heaven.” Fulfilling the Heavenly Vision Reflecting back over this 15-year journey, there are a number of things I wish I’d fully understood at the beginning. As you welcome new people from a variety of backgrounds, consider these seven principles for leading your congregation into a beautifully diverse future. 1. Lead with Scripture. The people of God must recognize that this vision of worshipping and serving in a church like heaven is God’s idea. The human condition inclines toward the path of least resistance, but the gospel calls us to transformation through Christ (Romans 12:2). Point your church to God’s Word every step of the way. 2. Lead through personal development. Reading, relationships and growth are vital for leading a church into a more racially and ethnically inclusive future. As you grow in these areas and develop friendships with a variety of people, your congregation will follow. 3. Lead courageously. Don’t be afraid of Spirit-led intentionality. 38
Whether you’re diversifying the platform, hiring staff, changing print and online media, modifying sermon illustrations or adding board members, natural processes never move quickly enough. Political terms, like “quotas” or “affirmative action,” can create friction and keep churches from moving in the right direction. Promoting church diversity is not about political correctness. It’s about spreading the gospel. First Corinthians 9:22 says it best: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 4. Lead by welcoming variety rather than forcing assimilation. It’s a mistake to think you can assimilate diverse people into the church without changing. Every group needs the joy of contributing its gifts, beauty and culture to the mosaic that God is creating. Such an atmosphere will allow your congregation to experience the power of Ephesians 4:16, as “each part does its work.” The richness that ensues in the life of the Body is the church-like-heaven stuff. And this is attractive to newcomers — the lost and the seekers. 5. Lead the way to healing. Especially in cities or communities where there are sharp racial divides, make the deepest breach
the primary healing point. Reconciliation through Christ speaks powerfully to all people. Many times over the years, we heard from Latinos, Asians and Africans who said, “When we came, we saw that blacks and whites love each other in this church. We knew this meant we would be welcome, too.” Prioritizing racial healing matters. 6. Lead justly. Some churchgoers dismiss biblical love and grace as liberal ideology or a social gospel. Biblical justice is part of the full gospel. The enemy wants to hoodwink Christians on this, but Psalm 89:14 declares that God establishes His throne in both righteousness and justice. These are dual expressions of His kingdom. The key is to keep the gospel of Jesus at the center of all you do. Not only is this good biblical theology for the church, it’s also powerfully attractive to the spiritually lost of all backgrounds. Jesus saves, and He saves people to do good works in the earth (Ephesians 2:9-10). 7. Lead as a Kingdom representative. Each of us must die to our ethnocentrism to do church like heaven on earth. As believers from every nation come to understand that their primary citizenship is in heaven, they will more easily relate to their true fellow citizens.
As we fulfill our roles as ambassadors of another government here on earth, we can be more of a blessing to our earthly governments and societies. The multicultural church realizes that the true hero of the Church is King Jesus, not the founding fathers of any earthly country. This kind of thinking isn’t always easy. People naturally want to see their group as exceptional and other groups as inferior. But God wants to change our natural inclinations so we can see people as He sees them: not just genetically similar, but fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, redeemed by His blood and filled with His Spirit. As we realize that all earthly kingdoms and cultures fall short of our heavenly country, we can begin to unite as one “new humanity” in Christ (Ephesians 2:15). Revelation 5:9-10, says, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and peoples and nation. You made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” The world is hungering to see and experience the Church as God designed it. Are we capable and motivated enough to give the Lamb what He purchased? I think we are. We are His Church. And this is His vision.
Keys to Leading a Multiethnic Church • Have a regular, weekly day of fasting and prayer. • Love people with your whole heart, those who are struggling and the new comers. • Enrich your life with intentional cross-ethnic relationships and experiences. • Teach, teach, teach. Model, model, model. • Be intentional in every aspect of the process. Don’t expect people to naturally know what to do. • Personally build a relationship with first attenders from a major new group. Seek to love and understand them. • Celebrate every win along the way, even when first-time guests from a new country visit. “Ghana is in the house!” • Share stories showing what God is doing. • Keep learning. • Keep Christ and His cross central. • Be Kingdom-minded in every aspect of the process. • Add biblical justice involvement as a ministry of the church: orphans, widows, immigrants, prisoners and the poor. • Celebrating new salvations and baptisms.
Chris Beard is lead pastor of Peoples Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
CLOSING THE LEADERSHIP GAP ESSENTIAL STEPS FOR MULTIPLYING THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS SANDRA MORGAN
“A Golden Age of Philanthropy Still Beckons: National Wealth Transfer and Potential for Philanthropy Technical Report,” John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College estimate that the greatest wealth transfer in history, more than $50 trillion, will occur in the next few decades. I was listening to the Coaching for Leaders podcast interview with Chip Espinoza, author of Managing Millennials, when he compared that historic transfer of wealth to an equally historic transfer of knowledge. Nearly 80 million U.S. baby boomers will attempt the greatest transfer of knowledge to more than 80 million millennials in the next two decades. As a Fellowship, the Assemblies of God must ask: How are we managing the transfer of our century-plus knowledge base? It is much more than theological and polity writings. It is the understood, and often unstated, knowledge of our roots — tacit knowledge that goes beyond the information in organizational handbooks. It is clear that our leadership recognizes the urgency of effective transfer of knowledge, another way of describing mentoring. Perhaps the most poignant example of this that I’ve seen was from my second-row seat at the 2015 National Fine Arts Awards on a muggy August night in Orlando, Florida. The energy in the room was electric. Cheers were long and loud with each award announcement. It was inspiring to see the talent and passion of the next generation. However, what captured my attention was
How will you recognize leadership potential in a different generation, especially if leadership models do not reflect traditional church paradigms? our National Assemblies of God Executive Leadership Team’s participation in announcing and celebrating the winners. Here’s my take-away from that event: The awards night that celebrated days of competition was not a post-Council activity that only the youth leaders stayed around to witness. Developing leadership potential is intentional. In this article, we will consider three steps to building a healthy strategy for multiplying the next generation of leaders: determine your leadership development goals, identify and invest in mentees and motivate for results. Step 1: Determine Your Leadership Development Goals We do not have the same goal for every leadership mentoring relationship. As a new professor, I enjoyed bringing my missionary field experiences to the classroom and hallways of Vanguard University. I was excited to see opportunities to mentor, and I poured into these new young leaders, creating
spaces for them to exercise their growing skills. The result was a thriving campus justice club, Live2free. Then commencement came, and the entire leadership team graduated. I had been mentoring using a succession model and found myself in a leadership gap of my own making. We must determine our goals. Are we mentoring leaders for succession or replication? There are entire books on succession-oriented leadership development. Author Bill Bliss in Success in the C-Suite says, “The number one role of any leader is to identify and prepare their successor.” His advice focuses on bench strength. Imagine a pitcher warming up and a batter practicing his swing as they wait their turn to take their places on the field. We can see a great biblical model of succession leadership development in the story of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah’s relationship with his mentor was clear. He recognized God’s call on Elisha and groomed him for leadership — essentially training and preparing his own successor. When the authority transferred to Elisha, Elijah was no longer on the scene. Contrast that with Jesus and the Twelve. Jesus’ goal was producing
leaders to go to the nations. There are many books and articles that can expand our competency and capacity to do this well. But I’d like to look at a few lessons I have found especially useful when mentoring millennials. Step 2: Identify and Invest Whom will you mentor? How will you recognize leadership potential in a different generation, especially if leadership models do not reflect traditional church paradigms? When we return to the model of recruitment that Jesus used, it’s clear that He did not depend on established qualifications. A seasoned leader may even wonder at the insistence of the Holy Spirit’s nudging to sit and talk with a rather ragtag group of young adults. Jesus’ mentoring style is evident in Matthew 28:19, what we call the Great Commission. While living in Greece, I discovered that the first verb in the verse — “go” — was originally a participle, poreuthentes. This Greek word describes how to make disciples. Many scholars suggest the verse should sound
more like, “As you go about your life, make disciples.” When I learned that, I thought of Deuteronomy 11:19, a verse my dad shared with me on the arrival of his first granddaughter: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Matthew’s listeners already knew the Old Testament model of transferring knowledge from generation to generation. But Jesus rocked their world when He mandated they ramp it up to include all nations. Would they find enough leaders in the traditional pipeline? Jesus found disciples while He was walking along the road. As He identified them, He began a relationship. He invited His students to walk with Him. I don’t walk along the road, but I do invite students to go with me to professional trainings and meetings I attend. Living in Southern California, there is the added benefit of being able to use the carpool lane. Students even stop by my office to ask whether I need someone to ride along so I can drive in the carpool lane. Such opportunities are about much more than convenience; they can have eternal significance. The camaraderie, the one-on-one time and the lack of interruptions create rare opportunities that mirror the “walk along the road” model of the Old Testament. This was especially clear when a female student of mine made a decision that produced less-than-desirable results. Later, she called and asked whether she could go with me to the next training I was doing. As she got in the car, the student said, “I’m staying in the seat next to you from now on.” She is now a valued Homeland Security
5 Millennial Myths Debunked Myth No. 1: Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations. Findings: Millennials have similar career aspirations to those of older generations. They want financial security and seniority just as much as Gen Xers and baby boomers. Myth No. 2: Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy. Findings: Millennials say they want a manager who is ethical, fair and transparent more than one who recognizes their accomplishments. Myth No. 3: Millennials are digital addicts who want to do — and share — everything online, without regard for personal or professional boundaries. Findings: Millennials are adept at interacting online, but this doesn’t mean they want to do everything virtually. Millennials prefer face-to-face contact when learning new skills at work. Myth No. 4: Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in. Findings: Despite their reputation for crowdsourcing, millennials are no more likely than many of their older colleagues to solicit advice at work. Myth No. 5: Millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions. Findings: Millennials change jobs for many of the same reasons as Gen Xers and baby boomers. More than 40 percent of all respondents said they would change jobs for more money and a more innovative environment.
special agent. I didn’t teach her to investigate crimes or show her how to clean a weapon; I did pass on the values and beliefs that frame my life and commitment to making disciples of all nations. Others may have seen a ragtag group of young adults when they looked at the disciples following Jesus. But Jesus saw them differently. Identifying the next generation of leaders requires a little study to learn more about who they are so that we can avoid generational stereotypes and assumptions that distort our expectations. A 2015 IBM Institute for Business Value study says: “By 2020, Millennials will be approximately 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, and by 2030, 75 percent of the global workforce.” The study identifies five “myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths” about millennials (ages 21 to 34) that can inform our expectations, as well as our communication style. There are many stereotypes about millennials that we must overcome. This report suggests millennials have more in common with other generations than we may realize. You can read more about the myths in the sidebar “5 Millennial Myths Debunked.” Let’s consider myth No. 3 and deconstruct one very tired stereotype about millennials. This myth arises from the fact that this is the first generation of digital natives entering the workplace. In spite of their digital immersion, however, millennials are not disconnected from real human interaction. The report found that they prefer face-toface engagement as they learn. They even ask for opportunities to work with seasoned colleagues. Do churches embrace this stereotype? I was at a youth event for college students when I heard the speaker declare, “If Jesus walked the Earth today, He would text you.” I don’t agree. I believe this generation wants to see Jesus faceto-face. They want personal, up-close relationships. Millennials use technology in a utilitarian fashion. For example, this week a student texted me three times to see whether I was in my office. When our schedules were finally in sync, we sat at the table as we discussed the big question every senior has, “What is next?” After our discussion, I had to ask, “So, I’m curious, why didn’t you just ask this question in your texts?” The reply: “Oh, no! I had to see you face-to-face!” Once you identify your own group of young leaders to mentor, invest in them. Bliss’s corporate model suggests a 10 percent strategy for annual professional development of up-and-coming leaders. Should we do less in developing the next generation of church leaders? Factor it into your budget. Be sure to capture results so that you can track the benefits
Identifying the next generation of leaders requires a little study to learn more about who they are so that we can avoid generational stereotypes and assumptions that distort our expectations. and support sustainability when new board members come along and suggest cost reductions. Take some time right now to make a list of everything you have invested in young leaders that you hope will impact ministry. What is your expected ROI (return on investment)? What results will demonstrate success? Jesus sent them out rather than building His own organization. For the past two years, we have invested in a leadership seminar for our Live2free team, knowing that these students will not stay at Vanguard forever. We are investing in leaders to send out! Step 3: Motivate Once you identify potential leaders and intentionally begin to set aside resources to invest in their development, the third step is building a strategy that will motivate and produce results. Daniel Pink, author of the highly acclaimed book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, made a 140-character summary of the book in the style of Twitter: “Carrots & Sticks are
so last Century. Drive says for 21st-century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.” According to Pink, it takes more than rewards and disincentives to motivate people of any generation. Mentees need encouragement and support, as well as a developing sense of autonomy. Autonomy is not the same thing as doing things alone. Autonomy creates an environment that supports self-sufficiency in increments. Throwing young leaders into the deep end to see whether they will sink or swim is not autonomy. It would not be wise to send your brand new intern to the hospital alone to visit a parishioner whose family is gathering around the bedside to say their good-byes. Instead, send the intern to visit a lonely saint in the assisted living facility. Providing feedback and facilitating access to resources is part of investing. Experiment with self-directed work timelines and offsite project work. Will it always work out? Absolutely not! That’s why the second aspect of motivation is mastery. Mastery is the desire to get better and better at something. It turns out that video games may be more than just mindless entertainment. New studies suggest gaming may help develop a mastery mindset. In the case of ministry, access to resources promotes mastery. Education levels matter; there are no shortcuts. When mentors invest in education, the ROI may not be immediately evident. As a returning missionary — not a millennial, but a leader in need of transitional mentoring — I needed a support network. Several mentors made the difference in helping me complete my Vanguard University master’s degree. They gave me their best, passed on their books and even wrote personal checks to keep me in the program during the 2008 recession. Mastery also requires practice. Listening is useful, but doing builds consistency and confidence. Jesus gave His young leaders many opportunities to practice — and to fail. Remember the story of the demon-possessed boy? The disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon. Jesus did not make it easy or pretend the disciples had not missed the mark when He said, “Because you have so little faith” (Matthew 17:20). As a mentor, you may sometimes be disappointed and frustrated. You may even be tempted to give up on a slow starter so you can move on to a more promising candidate. That’s understandable, but what if Jesus had given up on Peter? Pink’s third ingredient for motivation is purpose, which he defines as “the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves.”
Not unlike my generation, millennials want to know that their purpose is bigger than them. When we do not know why we are doing what we are doing, it is easy to stop. When we know the bigger vision, we persevere. Purpose for millennials is often reflected in their pursuit of justice — a quest to restore the broken and make things fair. Purpose will sustain us when inspiration has evaporated. Autonomy, mastery and purpose were aptly illustrated in a recent modification of former knowledge transfer practices as SoCal Women in Ministry sought to engage women religion majors. When an activity fell flat, the students received an invitation to attend the next planning meeting. At first, the students were reluctant to criticize the activities, but they eventually opened up about their desire to grow and hone their preaching skills. So for the next activity, students accepted the responsibility of choosing three of their peers to present minisermons. Autonomy and mastery were key elements that contributed to the ultimate success of the activity. As each young woman preached, seasoned ministers took notes and then made comments, affirmations and critiques to promote mastery. These millennials explained their response: “It’s powerful to do what I’m called to do.” Purpose inspired them.
knowledge and wisdom. There are obvious risks if we drop the baton. There will be gaps in leadership in our churches, as well as in our mission to all nations. However, there is another risk that is subtler. If our youth do not find a path for serving and taking on their generation’s call to lead, where will they go instead? Sometimes I hear ministry leaders expressing fears of social justice creeping into churches. To protect the mission, some put up resistance and erect barriers. Nevertheless, the next generation of leaders are eager to learn and serve and will look for alternative opportunities in the ever-growing surge in nonprofit social justice organizations. The result is a significant drain of potential leaders from our pews and resources to fund those initiatives. They will create new nonprofits where they have autonomy to work toward mastery to fulfill their purpose. Without an intentional strategy, many will not find a path to serve in our churches. Determine your leadership goals. Identify and invest in young leaders. Motivate with a pattern of autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Sandra Morgan, Ph.D. is a former missionary to Europe and the current director of the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. She also oversees the
Conclusion It is vital that we develop intelligent and intentional plans for mentoring the next generations so we can transfer hard-won
Women’s Studies minor at Vanguard where she teaches on family violence and human trafficking.
The Likeable Leader SINCE JESUS WAS THE EXAMPLE OF WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO LIVE A SINLESS LIFE, LET’S ALLOW HIM TO BE OUR COMPASS AS WE SEEK TO BE TRULY LIKEABLE LEADERS
J U S T I N L AT H R O P
hristians aren’t always the most likeable people. If you take a minute to think about pop culture depictions of churchgoers — from TV characters and comedy bits to songs and movies — you’ll realize Christians have an image problem. In the eyes of the world, we don’t always come across as the kindest, most understanding people. How much of this is our fault? As Christians, we’re called to be likeable — even more so if we are pastors, ministers or leaders in the local church. This article isn’t about culture wars or politics. It’s a call to consider how we, as leaders, can exude great love — the kind of love Jesus showed to people of all backgrounds, lifestyles and beliefs — even as we live with strong convictions. Our convictions don’t have to be needlessly divisive. Since Jesus was the example of what it looks like to live a sinless life, let’s allow Him to be our compass as we seek to be truly likeable leaders.
Are You a Likeable Leader? Are you a likeable leader? I don’t ask this to make you feel uneasy. Likeability isn’t easy. You have ample opportunities throughout your day to be unlikeable. But there are also moments when, with a slightly different mindset, you can share the love of Christ. I’m certain I could be more likeable as I go about my day. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to respond in a way that honors and reflects Jesus. When I stop to get gas on my way to the office and the pump isn’t working properly, I can either get frustrated or I can be gracious as I walk into the gas station for help. That’s an opportunity for me to be likeable. When my wife and I don’t agree about something, I can either fight to get my way or I can work to listen. These are opportunities to be likeable. I’m not sure I always do the best job, but I know it’s important, and I’m constantly working to get better. Can you recall moments in your life when you could have been more likeable? I’m guessing you can. This isn’t a personality quiz to help you assess your likeability. Rather, it’s a challenge to be more like Christ. Likeability for the Wrong Reasons Think about leaders you know who are likeable. Who are they? Can you picture their faces? Now think about what makes them truly likeable. What makes you want to be more like them? Mother Teresa is an example
Jesus didn’t overturn tables while standing on the street corner, watching sinners pass by. He overturned tables when He saw religious leaders abusing their power. of someone who was truly likeable. What caused people to trust her and want to be like her? We know her actions were admirable, but it wasn’t simply her actions that made her likeable; it was her motives. Mother Teresa’s motive was not to be liked or famous. She didn’t love people so they would admire her or say nice things about her. She didn’t try to sell books, gain fans or build a Twitter following. Her motives were love and looking more like Christ. And that’s exactly the point. I think most of us can agree we want people to like us. But when popularity is our motive, we’re missing the bigger picture. When we’re kind, loving or even likeable so others will honor us, we miss out on the blessings God would have given us if He had been our motive instead of the accolades. Our goal is to become more like Jesus and, in turn, draw more people to Him. Likeability is always the by-product of that. A Leadership Challenge When I talk with other leaders about Jesus and likeability, they usually say something like this: “Wait, but people hated Jesus for His faith. They even killed Him!” And my response is always, “Yes, He was hated by some, but this wasn’t because He was difficult to get along with.” Jesus’ detractors couldn’t honestly accuse Him of being egotistical, aloof or selfish. They disliked Him because His sheer existence revealed the ways in which they were falling short. They hated Him because He challenged their traditional understanding of right and wrong. They hated Him because He confused, confounded and messed up the system
they had carefully put in place. If people find fault with our leadership for those reasons, I’d say we’re doing something right. However, if they hate us for being proud, judgmental, rude or mean, something is wrong. To spend our energy trying to get everyone to like us is a waste of time. But we can, collectively, accept the responsibility God has given us to act with kindness, regardless of whom we’re interacting with and where we fall on any given social, political or biblical issue. As leaders, our mission includes living with personal conviction, promoting unity within the body of Christ and reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us. What Likeability Is and Isn’t Why are some people more likeable than others? If the number of likes we get on social media can change based on how we interact there, is it possible to become more likeable by changing the way we interact in real life? Being a likeable leader isn’t about becoming a celebrity or winning a popularity contest. Rather, it’s about treating people with love and respect, as Jesus would have treated them. It’s about discovering principles that make us the most admirable and spiritually thriving version of ourselves. Becoming a likeable leader isn’t about pandering to the needs and agendas of others. It isn’t about being a people pleaser or a doormat, or begging for affirmation. It isn’t about gaining a large following so we can feel important or competent. It isn’t about using others for our own personal gain. People are quick to remind me that Jesus acted in ways that were unpopular and sometimes downright offensive. They often cite the passage in which He overturned the money tables in the temple. Flipping over tables isn’t exactly loveable behavior. It’s not gentle or kind. It is condemning and forceful. Jesus was angry over the sin He saw in His Father’s temple, and He made His feelings more than clear. When we use this incident as an excuse to express similar rage over other people’s sin, we fail to consider why Jesus was angry. He didn’t overturn tables because of the Samaritan woman’s sin. He didn’t overturn tables while standing on the street corner,
Our goal is to become more like Jesus and, in turn, draw more people to Him. Likeability is always the by-product of that. watching sinners pass by. He overturned tables when He saw religious leaders abusing their power. That’s a distinction that gives me great pause. The hypocrisy of the people who claimed to be His followers frustrated Jesus. Rather than protecting and loving the downtrodden and weak, religious leaders were taking advantage of them in a complete abuse of power. When we’re tempted to use this story as justification for our own actions, we need to pause and reflect. Why are we angry? Why do we want to overturn tables, and what does our anger do to help the situation? Are we angry about the injustices God’s people are suffering? Are we angry with them for being sinners? The first feels much different from the second. The first is more likeable, more loving and much closer to what Jesus modeled for us. We can’t bully someone into changing. We aren’t speaking the truth in love if all we do is judge the sinner and call out their sin. This response to sin will not gain us likeability among unbelievers. It rarely convinces sinners of
God’s love. An unbeliever’s heart is more likely to change when we share the message of how Jesus’ love changed us and how He wants to change others — no matter the sin, no matter the circumstance. Speaking the truth in love increases our likeability quotient. This isn’t easy. Our likeability as leaders is never harder to maintain than when we see people we care about living in blatant sin and rebellion toward God. We feel the tension between loving them and confronting them over their sinfulness. I imagine some of you are thinking: So, you’re saying if we see someone living a sinful life, we should just ignore it? If we ignore it, aren’t we also condoning it? Jesus didn’t disregard sin. He didn’t congratulate the Samaritan woman for her lifestyle or give her a high-five and tell her to get back out and continue sinning. The woman’s sin grieved Jesus. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have mentioned it to her (John 4:16–18). Yet Jesus sat down with sinners. He spent time with them and healed them. His love, attention and devotion had no limit, regardless of what someone had done or continued to do. He didn’t shame people into submission — He just loved them, and His love changed them. That’s what likeability is about. We don’t have to be the loudest, angriest, most passionate or zealous leaders on the planet. Our job is to be the most loving people on the planet — because love changes everything. Can you imagine what would happen if people actually recognized us as Christians by our love? I have a feeling the world would see us in a much different light. Likeability Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint John 15 contains one of Jesus’ most memorable metaphors for His relationship to the Church: “I am the vine; you are the branches” (verse 5). He’s talking about grapevines, which were a staple crop in ancient Israel, especially in the region of Galilee. Growing
When we’re kind, loving or even likeable so others will honor us, we miss out on the blessings God would have given us if He had been our motive instead of the accolades.
grapes isn’t easy. Viticulturists follow a complicated process and work hard to grow perfect grapes. Pruning them for best results is an art. Over time, the plants become stronger and more fruitful. The best vines have been producing grapes for decades. Growing grapevines isn’t an instantaneous process; it takes a long time and a lot of patience. The same is true for developing likeability. We’d prefer to think it’s a short-term project rather than a lengthy process. But true likeability takes time to develop. As with any personal growth area we pursue, reaping an abundant harvest requires diligence and patience. That’s the path to greatness. We don’t become better leaders overnight. A weekend conference isn’t enough to make us perfectly disciplined leaders. Quality leadership characteristics develop over time as we tend, grow and prune our spiritual lives — and then grow and prune some more. This is a lifelong journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sprinting into likeability — promoting ourselves and constantly looking around to see who is noticing — doesn’t produce real fruit. Sprint likeability is faux likeability. Our motives are crucial to genuine likeability. In fact, they’re the foundation for all Christlike attributes.
Christ and being amazed as likeability follows. It requires nothing more than living like Christ, doing what He did and loving people the way He did. When we focus on those simple goals, and make Christ our model for how to treat people and how to live, we simply are more likeable. Jesus lived out the principles of likeability in healthy ways during His ministry on Earth, and so can we.
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). This article is adapted from
Conclusion Likeability is not about being the perfect leader — it’s about following
The Likeable Christian and is used by permission.
THE HISTORIC BIBLICAL MESSAGE IN YOUR LIFE
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WOMEN OF INFLUENCE Women are expanding their own boundaries of influence and doing powerful things for God
he subject of women in ministry is close to my heart. For 16 years, I’ve watched my wife, Andrea, navigate roadblocks as a leader in the local church. Early in her ministry, she could find only administrative roles in which to serve. All the while, I filled pastoral roles in the same churches. Wherever they serve, women in ministry face unique hurdles as they seek to fulfill God’s call on their lives. Many women fight an ongoing theo-
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).
logical battle with those who believe Scripture prohibits women from key leadership functions in the local church. This battle exists for women in the Assemblies of God, but it’s not as arduous as it is in some denominations. The Assemblies of God has a longstanding tradition and theological understanding that supports and encourages women in ministry. The barrier many AG women ministers face is not a theological one, but a challenge of a more practical nature. I’m alarmed at how few AG churches and parachurch ministries utilize women in leadership roles. Making more room for gifted, Godcalled women in places of service in the local church and beyond is a practical issue the Fellowship must continue to address. What is the solution? I believe one effective approach is telling stories of women who are expanding their own boundaries of influence for God. So this issue’s Multiplier section does just that — sharing four profiles of remarkable women who are doing remarkable things for Jesus. These leaders represent four distinct areas of ministry, highlighting the variety of ways God is using women to advance His kingdom. My prayer is that these stories will inspire women to pursue God’s call on their lives with boldness and courage. I also trust the stories will persuade men to encourage and welcome women in ministry.
PASSION TIMES TWO How Marla Campbell is combining two life-callings A Q&A WITH MARLA CAMPBELL
Influence: Your educational accomplishments are impressive. How did you became interested in teaching and in what ways has your instruction extended beyond the classroom? Marla Campbell: I felt God’s call to teach when I accepted the Lord as a child but never dreamed it would take me globally. I began teaching high school and have now been at two universities along with many Bible colleges abroad. You served as an Assemblies of God missionary in Eastern Europe and later with Asia-Pacific Education. How were you first introduced, then called to missions? I received a stamp collection when I was young. Piquing my interest, I found the stamps’ locations on my grandparents’ globe. I’ve been interested in the world as long as I can recall. When I rededicated my life to the Lord at age 15, He gave me Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I. Send me!” That remains my life verse as it describes travel to about 70 countries. In what other ways have you managed to combine these two life-long callings? That’s easy! I teach Intercultural Studies at Biola University thereby equipping the next generation to go into missions and other crosscultural work. Secondly, I have lived abroad and continue to go periodically in a variety of capacities, including teaching and training. How would you describe your passion, specifically as it pertains to adding value
and multiplying the kingdom of God in the current culture? My passion has always been teaching. I’m also passionate about missions, both going myself and training others to do likewise. I send 40 to 50 Intercultural Studies interns annually to locations worldwide. I’m impacted by how the Lord works in and through these young individuals preparing the next generation to reach the nations. For me, my heart is currently toward Europe. I’m privileged to work again with that region of the world to help mobilize the Europe Prayer Initiative that started several years ago. Europe is positioned with the most affluence and influence to reach the world. The Light of Truth that Paul brought in the Book of Acts to that continent first is but a flicker now. Rekindling the fire into flames is crucial especially as the enemy’s evil now infiltrates so vehemently. I also desire to speak stateside, where and whenever possible, invoking awareness and prayer for Europe. I’m also continuing to encourage missionaries, offering support, retreat and other needs so they will be bolstered to continue Kingdom work reaching spiritually dark Europe. How would you encourage other women in ministry who share a similar passion or now feel challenged to expand their own boundaries of influence? I would encourage women to cultivate time with God, listening to His call. When He gives passion in a particular area, He also gives favor to open doors as a person allows Him to equip and send. Twothirds of the body of Christ is female. We must heed God’s call! Marla Campbell serves on the faculty of BIOLA University’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies. She holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and Ph.D. in Intercultural Education. Her primary teaching focus includes Intercultural Education and Women in Cross-cultural Ministry.
THE PENNY STORY
Kendall Altmyer is fighting human trafficking one penny at a time. A Q & A W I T H K E N D A L L A LT M Y E R
Influence: What is the Penny Story? Kendall Altmyer: The Penny Story started in October 2013 in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a reminder that every human life matters. Pennies are stepped on, stepped over and forgotten about, and have become worthless in our society. Pennies lie on the ground, but we do not take the time to notice or pick them up. At gas stations, they are left on the counter for our convenience — we take one if we need one; we leave it if we don’t. These pennies represent victims of human trafficking — 27 million of them. They are invisible, yet they are everywhere — forgotten about and used for our convenience. The penny bracelet is worn not only as a symbol, but as an action in the movement to abolish slavery in the 21st century. The simple, copper, worthless coin has become a symbol of worthiness, hope and restoration in the fight against human trafficking. Why fight human trafficking over other injustices? Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world. Less than 2 percent of victims are rescued out of trafficking situations, and many are re-trafficked within two years after exiting a trafficking situation.
Unlike drugs that can be sold once, a person can be sold over and over again, every day, multiple times a day. This makes the crime extremely financially lucrative. How can we know human trafficking exists but not do something about it? Who says you can’t put forth effort in fighting multiple injustices? You can fight human trafficking by purchasing a penny bracelet, and then go conquer the rest of the world with a penny on your wrist. The Penny Story has grabbed the attention of some high profile leaders. To what do you attribute this? Nothing but God! I was interning with the A21 Campaign in Greece when I met Sandy Jobe, mother of Kari Jobe, at a dinner. She told Kari about the penny bracelet, and Kari was immediately interested in selling the bracelets at her concerts and online. She had been praying for a way to support Christine Caine’s ministry and believed the penny bracelet was an answer to that prayer. Thanks to the partnership of people like Kari Jobe, over 12,000 penny bracelets have been sold. How can Influence readers get involved? Influence readers can get involved in two ways: Host a human trafficking awareness event with a screening of “Common Cents,” a documentary that tells what can happen when a dream becomes a movement and people unite to fight for human life. After the screening, I can share the Penny Story journey and my experience working in Greece with A21. Fill out a contact form on www.thepennystory.com for more information. Another way to get involved is by purchasing a penny bracelet through the Penny Story’s website (www.thepennystory.com). Talk about the Penny Story in your sphere of influence, pray for the pennies and believe with us that we will see human trafficking statistics decrease. Kendall Altmyer is a graduate student at Southeastern University, studying professional counseling. Aside from her academic pursuits, her life exists to tell the Penny Story and bring hope and restoration to women throughout the world.
PREPARING TOMORROW’S LEADERS TODAY When Maricela Hernández said “yes” to God… A Q&A WITH MARICELA H. HERNÁNDEZ
Influence: What’s the secret to your success as a former lead pastor and now copastor and district leader? Maricela: Although I don’t think it is a secret, many people ignore the powerful promise of God found in Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
I began reading the Bible at age twelve, at a time when I was experiencing turmoil, culture shock and language adjustment. My mother’s decision to move from Mexico to the United States brought unrest and fear to my life as a young teenager. My hiding place was the Bible. I not only read the Word of God, but I believed it. My secret to success in ministry is found in taking ownership of God’s promises, and practicing God’s Word. It has provided me with security, protection, love and a sense of belonging. Women of Fire Ministries and Flames of Fire Bible School are ministries you founded and continue to direct. How are these ministries preparing the next generation of leaders? In 2008, I founded Women of Fire Ministries, which gave birth to Flames of Fire Bible School. The ministry began as a dream
house, a place where women could live, earn Bible course credit and receive an entry-level credential with the Assemblies of God. Fourteen women showed up for the first program. By the summer of 2009, young men became interested in the program, so a second dorm was built to house them. The name of the Bible School changed to Flames of Fire Bible School because God was expanding the vision to also include men. Now eight summers later, the vision includes ninety beds, five large classrooms, a community computer lab and a large dining hall. We are preparing the next generation of leaders by providing ministry opportunities in community outreaches, church plants and short, domestic missions projects. Every student finds an active role in ministry and desires to be a protagonist in reaching their generation. How can women gain credibility in the eyes of those who might otherwise diminish the potential of women leaders? As women, we need to understand we are not in ministry because a man said “no” to God. I am here because I said “yes” to God. I am not here to replace anyone else, but to offer myself to God so He can use me. Women are instruments in the hands of God, and we must bring honor and glory to Him in all we do. Women are not in competition, nor are we trying to prove we are better than anyone else. I believe women gain credibility and respect from men just as Abigail, from the Bible, gained the respect of King David. In my experience, several key attributes are important to help women gain credibility among those who might otherwise try to diminish it: Be humble: When we appreciate and recognize the value of others in their Kingdom contribution, we become humble before them and God. Be a team player: Women don’t have to be in command to make their efforts count. The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: “We are co-workers in God’s service (1 Cor. 3:9). Ministry isn’t about who gets the credit; it’s about God’s work and our contribution to it. Be a servant leader: Ministry opportunities will open when we serve with excellence. Many women in the Bible were recognized for their service, even in a period of less opportunity. The apostle Paul sent greetings to men and
women who labored with him. The women he mentions are recognized for their service (Romans 16). Be prepared: The discipline of study will add value and credibility to your ministry. John Maxwell says that preparation precedes opportunity, and preparation for tomorrow begins with the right use of today. Be diligent: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). How have you overcome the challenges involved in pastoral leadership as a female? Fortunately, I have not encountered intimidating challenges for being female in my ministry. I believe this is because I have worked in church plants and not in established churches. I do find this ironic, however, in that I come from a Hispanic background where there is a strong sense of male pride. I also find it interesting that a significant number of female ministers come from Hispanic districts. Hispanic men respect women who have a true calling and a clean testimony. Most women in ministry that I know don’t have a victim mentality. The challenges we face help us to grow and be persistent. It is important to keep a circle of prayer warriors and mentors who will be there when trials do come. The Word of God is our hiding place. Share a final thought with other women leaders who have a similar passion as yours or now feel challenged to expand their own boundaries of influence. God is calling men and women to the harvest field (Luke 10:2). There is no specific gender prerequisite to go to the harvest field. The field is plentiful and the workers are few. Women have plenty of opportunities to serve. It is not about titles, positions or recognition by a denomination. It is about obedience to God. Remain humble, be a servant and be available to God and others. Maricela H. Hernández is a dynamic and inspirational speaker and married to Rev. Rafael Hernández Jr., pastor at Centro Cristiano Familiar in Peñitas, Texas. She is the founder of Women of Fire Ministries and director of Flames of Fire Bible School. Presently she serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Texas Gulf Hispanic District of the Assemblies of God.
DARE TO DREAM BIG
How Elise Wood is challenging young women leaders to change the world A Q&A WITH ELISE WOOD
Influence: How have you overcome the challenges involved in pastoral leadership as a female? Elise Wood: Instead of getting caught up in what others think or assume, I keep my focus on the One who called me. It is important to lead out of a place of identity, rather than position or title. Titles change, but who we are in Christ is not based on the opinions of others. It’s also not my job to win people over as fans. It is to point them to the truth of Scripture and to the love of Jesus, regardless of their belief about me, or my gender. It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus! Tell us about the work you are doing to raise up the next generation of leaders for the Church. In August 2014, I founded Life Church Leadership College, an extension site of Southwestern Assemblies of God University,
where students receive hands-on ministry experience and a four-year B.A. degree in Church Leadership. We train the next generation of ministers to lead in the capacity they have been called as Spirit-filled disciples of the gospel. What started with just four students has grown to 16 in just one year. We are anticipating double growth next year! This is not just about investing in individuals — it’s about the God-given destiny represented in each one of them! What advice do you have for women who are frustrated because they lack opportunities that appear to go to men first? Some opportunities may go to men first. But we do not serve men; we serve God. How big is your God? It’s not a question if God is big. We know He is. He is the sovereign, providential God. He is bigger than our human perspective. Do we trust Him to lead us to our destiny? God may shut doors of opportunity where we feel fit to serve. But He will bring us to greater conquests that we don’t yet see. We must trust that if God calls us to a particular place of ministry, He will open that door of opportunity. We must remember that ministry isn’t about the title we hold; it is about who we are in Christ. How would you encourage other women in ministry who feel challenged to expand their own boundaries of influence? We need more fearless women to rise up and pursue the great destiny God has given them. If God has called us to something great, we can’t afford to wait and waste precious time. We need to run our race. Do not be passive. There’s too much at stake. A small dream is much easier to manage, but it’s never the small dreams that change the world. Dare to dream BIG! Elise Wood is founder and director of Life Church Leadership College, a ministry of Life Church Assembly of God in Roscoe, Illinois. Her passion is to raise up the next generation of world-changers.
YOUR WORLD FROM A SPIRITEMPOWERED PERSPECTIVE
ONLY 15 $
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.
SYMBIS Assessment Couple’s Gift Kit The wedding? Check. The marriage? That’s where you come in. Provide the couples in your church and community with the resources they need to build a healthy marriage with the Couple’s Gift Kit. Featuring Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott with his and her workbooks, and After the Honeymoon by Rod Loy. Start the couples in your care on the path to a healthy, happy marriage. ISBN: 020383
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott present the world’s most practical premarriage counseling system. The SYMBIS Assessment gives couples a personalized roadmap to making marriage everything it was meant to be. Helping engaged and newly married couples is easier than ever. Visit MyHealthyChurch. SYMBISassessment. com to become a certified SYMBIS facilitator. Use promo code FA4C8BE for $20 off facilitator training.
After the Honeymoon After the Honeymoon features 90 devotions that provide insight and wisdom to couples from Rod Loy based on his own 27-year marriage. Whether seeking to start a marriage off on solid ground or wanting to strengthen one’s own marriage, this book will help couples build a thriving relationship. Pair with premarriage counseling materials or provide the book to couples as a wedding gift. Influence Resources ISBN: 9781629121895 $14.99 Salubris Resources Spanish: Después de la luna de mie ISBN: 9781680670585 $14.99
The Power of Home Ted Cunningham encourages families to hit pause and take stock: 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 will help you. Now available in Spanish. Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670332 $14.99 Spanish: El poder del hogar ISBN: 9781680670707 $14.99
A Pilgrim’s Journey
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. Be challenged to discover the excitement of pursuing a life of service and reckless faith. This book is a great option for individual or group study. Featured for Men’s Ministries groups this spring. Pair with free downloadable resources for small group study available at men.ag.org.
Explore the people, places, and events of the Bible in their real-world, historical contexts. This 30-day devotional can open the door to the time and culture of God’s revelation, enabling Him to speak in new and fresh ways. As the Bible is read through this lens, its message will bridge across time and space to transform how people live in the twenty-first century. Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680671155 $14.99
Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670189 $14.99
Momentum Leadership Development Units Encourage ministry volunteers to get to a higher level of preparation by helping them sharpen their skills and become more effective in the classroom. The material covered is vitally important to all who minister in the local church. Incorporates strategies to help develop or further enhance a teacher’s skills in various areas of education, community, and personal growth. Topics include: The Dynamics of Mentoring, Children with Special Needs or Disabilities, Blending the Generations, Managing Conflict, and Building a Biblical Worldview. Gospel Publishing House ISBN: 024103, 024104, 024105 $10.49 each
MEGA Sports Camp Epic Moments Kit The MEGA Sports Camp kit, four-time winner of Outreach magazine’s Children’s Outreach Resource of the Year, is an easy, effective way to reach kids. Churches report up to 90% visitors and over 20% of attendees ask Jesus into their hearts. Every athlete experiences epic moments they’ll never forget — their first score, a big victory or defeat, a time their team counted on them for the win. In MEGA Sports Camp Epic Moments, athletes will learn a relationship with Jesus can be marked with epic moments too. Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670103 $139.99
Fire Bible for Kids 21 Devotions Each booklet contains 21 short, kid-friendly devotions that pull kids into the Word of God and keep them coming back for more. Kids can begin a lifelong journey — the healthy habit of daily time in the Word. Each day’s reading closes with a Power Note section suggesting an innovative idea, compelling question, or fun activity that reinforces that day’s reading. Bonus Feature: Coordinates with interactive elements from the FREE Fire Bible for Kids Devotional App. Gospel Publishing House For Boys: ISBN: 9781607314103 $2.99 For Girls: ISBN: 9781607314110 $2.99
BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) PowerPak DVDs How are you teaching kids in your church to have a heart of compassion for the world? BGMC provides resources to do just that! In March BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) encourages kids to pray, give, and go! Use these DVD PowerPaks to inspire your kids to care about people around the world and raise money for missions. Each DVD set contains nearly a dozen great videos for teaching your kids about misions. BGMC.ag.org Gospel Publishing House PowerPak 1 ISBN:715220 $10.00
Rich Wilkerson and his wife, Robyn, share exciting stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God. The Wilkersons’ concept is that anyone can be a servant leader. Their book isn’t about culture, politics, or religion. It’s about setting aside differences, forming new bonds with others who choose to meet needs, and taking action. In these pages, you’ll find concrete reasons to both lead and serve.
Purity. What exactly is it? Bestselling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco show that purity is far more than abstinence from sex or other sexual activities. Purity starts in the heart and involves every thought, desire, and, action. They show that purity is a daily choice that every teen must make. It’s never too late to become pure because lost purity can be redeemed through God’s grace. ISBN: 9780800720681 $13.99
Salubris Resources ISBN: 9781680670363 $14.99
PowerPak 2 ISBN:715316 $10.00 PowerPak 3 ISBN:715317 $10.00
MAKE IT COUNT 8 Practices of Engaging Prayer 8 growth experiences
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
Introduction Week after week, you invest time and energy into making every Sunday count. But you also have to think about staff meetings and board meetings, as well as meetings with key volunteers and other church leaders. Juggling so many meetings can seem overwhelming, especially as you think about how to develop the leaders around you. That’s where the Make It Count section of Influence comes in. We asked leaders from around the country to share their meeting insights and provide great leadership development content you can use with your ministry leaders and key volunteers. This way, you can make every meeting count. This Make It Count section contains eight easy-to-use sessions, or lessons, by Dr. Robert C. Crosby, co-founder of Teaming Life (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 Practices of Engaging Prayer/ 8 Growth Experiences What role does prayer play in your life — on your team and as a leader? Is it a priority and passion or something more preliminary and perfunctory? In these eight team sessions, we will take a closer look together at the ways your team and church can experience engaging prayer. Sometimes, the most familiar Bible verses are also the least understood. Such may be the case with the oft-quoted Lord’s Prayer. This unique passage, found in Matthew 6:9–13, is right in the middle of Jesus’ discourse we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). But these words warrant more than memorization; they call for meditation. In the verses preceding the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gave instructions about some of the things we should avoid when praying. They include resisting excessive, repetitive and empty wordiness (verse 6). Ironically, at times the Lord’s Prayer may receive far more repetition than contemplation. But Jesus taught it not as a script for us to repeat, but rather as a pattern for us to explore, engage and follow. The passage reveals at least eight practices of engaging prayer, including intimacy, adoration, submission, petition, forgiveness, guidance, deliverance and exaltation. Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray” (verse 9).
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 1 Growth Experience No. 1 — A Fully Fathered Heart “Our Father in heaven … ” (Matthew 6:9). Read: Matthew 6:5–14 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight Kenneth Woodward, writing in Newsweek magazine, noted that today’s Christians seem to ignore God the Father. He observed that often evangelicals focus on the Son, Pentecostals on the Spirit, and Catholics on Mary. Woodward writes: “Few [of us] these days seem to want a God who takes charge, … makes demands, risks rebuffs, punishes as well as forgives. In a word, a Father.” The first words of Jesus’ prayer, however, are quite telling: “Our Father.” These two words set the tone for the kinds of prayers Jesus calls us to pray. Hubert van Zeller wrote, “A lot of the trouble about prayer would disappear if we only realized that we go to pray not because we love prayer, but because we love God.”
Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I mostly approach God from day-to-day as a judge evaluating me, a teacher instructing me, a boss managing me or a Father deeply in love with me? 2. Does this need to change? If so, how? Question to ask your team: 1. Was your heart well-fathered growing up? 2. In what ways has your relationship with your earthly father enriched or hindered your approach to your Heavenly Father? 3. Would you say the church we serve is well-fathered? What can we do to improve this? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — with 1 representing spiritual immaturity and 10 representing rock-solid maturity. For an added challenge, ask a friend to rate your development.
Prayer Practice No. 1 Intimacy — engaging prayer nurtures more fully Fathered hearts. Rating Myself on … My Frequent Practice of Engaging God as My Father
“I AM MISSING OUT” Make It Count! — Living the Insight Statistics highlight the consequences of fatherlessness. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that children growing up without a father in the home are four times more likely to be poor. Fatherless children are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The bottom line is this: We really need a father. Jesus came to show us how to live in relationship with a Heavenly Father. A major aspect of His 72
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ministry was revealing the Father. He said, “No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). Jesus lived a fully Fathered life. Engaging prayer helps us do the same. A Question to Grow On How will I engage God today more fully as my Father?
LESSON 2 Growth Experience No. 2 — Prayer & Awe “[H]allowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Read: Psalm 148 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight Looking up at a skyscraper changed my view of God. When I first visited the CN Tower in Toronto, then the world’s tallest self-supporting structure, I stood beneath the behemoth, overtaken with awe. It soared upward into the sky 1,815 feet, some 300 times my own height. Silenced by the sight, I just stood there, looking up with amazement at a modern wonder. Only an hour earlier, as my car first approached the outskirts of the city, the same tower that would later engulf me was but a blip on the horizon. Reduced by distance, this tower could fit between my two fingers. Our view of God can often be the same. Instead of standing in awe, we stay at a distance, where He may seem to be more manageable or controllable. We reduce God in our minds and hearts.
Prayer Practice No. 2: Adoration — engaging prayer embraces more aweinspired worship. Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I tend to keep God at a certain distance in my life? If so, how? 2. At what times in my life have I been most in awe of Him? Questions to ask your team: 1. What are some of the most impressive views you have experienced in life and in your travels (i.e., mountain views, great architecture, etc.)? How did they affect you? 2. What are the aspects of God that you most adore? Explain. Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 Adoring God in Prayer
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count! — Living the Insight Many things in life compete every day for our adoration, attention and affection. In a sense, idolatry itself is misplaced adoration. Yet, nothing deserves our wholehearted adoration like God and His holy name. David understood this when he said, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT”
the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). Engaging prayer helps us focus our adoration on God the Father. A Question to Grow On What are three aspects of God’s nature I will take time to adore today?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 3 Growth Experience No. 3 — Kingdom Come “[Y]our kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Kingdom prayers always place Him before us. Always. Jesus first. Kingdom first. Prayer Practice No. 3: Submission — engaging prayer turns Kingdom priorities into present realities.
Read: Psalm 145 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight The Kingdom is a major theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching. Thus, “Your kingdom come” is one of the things He wants us to pray. While John said the Kingdom was coming, Jesus announced that it had arrived. When detractors confronted Jesus, accusing Him of doing His miracles by Satan’s power, Jesus said, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). Wherever the Kingdom is, the King is at work. Jesus’ prayer includes submission to God. The possessive pronouns in the Lord’s Prayer say it all: “hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done … ” (verses 9-10). Then: “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us …. And lead us not into temptation …” (verse 11).
Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. In my faith walk, do I live as if I have a King or simply a religious preference? What is the difference? Questions to ask your team: 1. In Psalm 145, how does living with a King and a Kingdom mindset affect the view and attitude of David? 2. How could we develop more of a Kingdom culture in this church? What needs to change? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … The Practice of Praying Kingdom-First Prayers
“I AM MISSING OUT” Make It Count! — Living the Insight
Pastor and evangelist D.L. Moody was the recipient of so many prayers, he once became overwhelmed by the magnitude of the blessing. Seized with the realization, he paused to pray, and, with great volume said, “Stop, God! Please, stop it!” Talk about a unique prayer — and a rare one! Can you imagine? Perhaps you find it difficult to relate to that. You may be among those who would say, “I have a different prayer for God. How about, ‘God, start! Please start pouring out Your blessings
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT” more on me and my team!’ ” Jesus taught us that prayer starts with a King and His kingdom: “your kingdom come, your will be done.” Evangelist and author Alan Redpath wrote, “Before we can pray, ‘Lord, Thy Kingdom come,’ we must be willing to pray, ‘My Kingdom go.’ ’’
A Question to Grow On Today, what is the one thing I most need to “submit” to God as my King?
LESSON 4 into daily dependency on God.
Growth Experience No. 4 — The Dailies “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Read: Matthew 6:25–34 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight The need to keep “bread” on the table is a daily concern, perhaps the most common one. While Jesus instructs us to pray about it, He also tells us not to worry. He teaches us to bring today’s real needs to Him honestly. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus not only calls us to seek uncommon and eternal things, but also things quite common and daily. Theologian Richard Foster writes, “For sheer power and majesty, no prayer can equal the [Lord’s Prayer]. [It] is really a total prayer. Its concerns embrace the whole world, from the coming of the kingdom to daily bread. Large things and small things, spiritual things and material things, inward things and outward things — nothing is beyond the purview of this prayer.” Prayer Practice No. 4: Petition — engaging prayer transforms our worries
Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What are the daily concerns most often on my mind? In response to them, which do I tend to do most — worry or pray? Questions to ask your team: 1. What kinds of things do you worry about the most? 2. What physical and emotional effects does worry have on our lives? 3. What are some of the myths we believe about life that increase our worrying? How can we disarm those myths? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … Praying and Trusting Instead of Worrying
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count! — Living the Insight Someone once said that the toughest part of life is that it is “just so daily.” God designed our world and us in such a way that we need to trust Him — not periodically, but daily. “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). The Greek word translated as “daily,” epiousion, occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). It can be interpreted as “sufficient for each day.” In other words, in this prayer Jesus is teaching us to
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT”
trust in the Father’s provision for our daily needs and to let go of our worries. This requires faith, and according to Hebrews 11:1, “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” A Question to Grow On How will I cast all my cares and anxiety on the Lord today, as instructed in 1 Peter 5:7 and Psalm 55:22?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 5 Growth Experience No. 5 — Forgiven and Forgiving “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Read: Colossians 3:12–17 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight Francis of Assisi prayed, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.” Francis sought to respond to hurts rather than react to them. In verse 12 of Jesus’ exemplary prayer in Matthew 6, He paints a two-dimensional picture of forgiveness. He shows us that while we seek forgiveness from God for our sins, we must also seek to be forgiving toward others who sin against us. In other words, genuine forgiveness not only has a vertical effect, but a corresponding horizontal one, as well.
Prayer Practice No. 5 Forgiveness — engaging prayer leads to God’s forgiveness, and helps us become more forgiving. Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I spend more time asking God to forgive me or to help me forgive others? 2. What does that reveal about my own heart? Should this change? If so, how? Questions to ask your team: 1. The prayer of Matthew 6:12 is “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” What is the significance or weight of that little two-letter word “as”? How should it inform the way we live our lives today? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … The Practice of Praying Prayers of Repentance
“I AM MISSING OUT” Make It Count! — Living the Insight In Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, the lead character is the vengeful Captain Ahab. Obsessive and cruel, he utterly hates Moby Dick, the great whale. Every waking moment he wrestles with the question of how to destroy the behemoth creature that has crippled him. Ironically, the ultimate victim of this saga is not the whale alone, but the fact that the captain’s obsessions finally destroy every life around him, including his own. With the subject of forgiveness, the questions often emerge: Must I be the first one to forgive? Can’t I wait for
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT” the other person to take the initiative first? From the example of Jesus, the answer is undeniable: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Author William Arthur Ward said, “We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.” A Question to Grow On How can I prepare my heart now to forgive the next person who offends (or sins against) me in some way?
LESSON 6 Growth Experience No. 6 — Don’t Lead Us There “And lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). Read: James 1:12–15 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight A recent Barna Group study revealed the top five most frequent temptations people say they face today. According to the researchers, the top temptation is worrying, followed by procrastinating, overeating, spending too much time on media and laziness. Temptations come in all shapes and sizes, but what do we need to understand to avoid them? We are taught in Jesus’ prayer to ask God to “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). Theologian Helmut Thielicke interprets this as, “Let nothing become a temptation to me.” As we pray and yield our passions to God, He changes us and equips us to resist temptation. Prayer Practice No. 6 Guidance — engaging prayer helps us overcome temptations that can trip us up.
Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. What are some of the more subtle temptations in my life and ministry — the ones I may easily fall prey to or overlook? 2. When am I most tempted in life? 3. How well am I doing at resisting temptation? Questions to ask your team: 1. What are some of the temptations associated with success in ministry? 2. What are some of the temptations associated with failure or struggle? 3. What are ways we can help support and protect one another from temptations as brothers and sisters in Christ? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … Engaging Prayer to Overcome Temptation
“I AM MISSING OUT” Make It Count! — Living the Insight Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words paint a vivid picture of temptation: “In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce .… Joy in God is … extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real .… Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God .… The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us.”
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT” Temptation itself is not necessarily something bad. It presents us not only with an opportunity to do something wrong, but it also gives us a chance to do something right. Jude 24 describes God as the One “who is able to keep you from stumbling.” A Question to Grow On What is the biggest temptation I have faced in the last few weeks, and how does it provide me with an opportunity to do something right?
MAKE IT COUNT
LESSON 7 Growth Experience No. 7 — Deliver Us “[D]eliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
Prayer Practice No. 7 Deliverance — engaging prayer breaks evils that can hold us back.
Read: Ephesians 6:10–20 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight The warning was clear, but observers overlooked it. The Opana Radar Site of the United States 55th Signal Aircraft Warning Service near Hawaii’s Kahuku Point detected a large mass of incoming aircraft at 136 miles. However, officials at Information Center advised the airmen on duty not to worry. At this point in history, radar was a new technology, and people didn’t entirely trust it. The day was December 7, 1941. The approaching aircraft turned out to be none other than the vanguard of Japan’s “wild eagles” — 353 carrier-based warplanes that would sink and heavily damage 18 U.S. warships in Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 men. The warning of war was right under the noses of those watching, but they chose to ignore it. As Christians, how often do we do the same?
Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul says he is not unaware of Satan’s schemes. In light of this verse, do I pray in a state of awareness? 2. In my prayers, do I seek God’s discernment and grace for recognizing and resisting evil? If so, how? Questions to ask your team: 1. In Ephesians 6:10–20, Paul challenges the church to enter a new level of prayer engagement — venturing into spiritual warfare. As a team and a church, do our prayers seek transforming deliverance? If so, how? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … The Commitment to Pray Desperate Prayers
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count — Living the Insight Jesus taught His followers to pray for deliverance from the evil one. In what ways did Jesus himself deliver people from evil? First John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” According to Helmut Thielicke, we are to seek God’s help in avoiding Satan’s schemes: “Literally translated, this petition reads: ‘Deliver us from the evil.’ And here again what is meant is not evil in general, and therefore
“I AM MAKING IT COUNT”
what is bad, imperfect, vicious, perhaps even demonic, but rather ‘the evil one.’ It is therefore a personal magnitude. It is nothing less than — the devil. From his tyranny may the Father deliver us. This is what Jesus teaches us to pray.” A Question to Grow On Are my prayers only petitions for my desires or intercessions for people’s deliverance?
LESSON 8 Growth Experience No. 8 — A Kingdom Vision “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13, NASB). Read: Revelation 21 Make It Clear! — Understanding the Insight At Sagamore Hill, the summer home of Teddy Roosevelt, the president and his friends often went out to the lawn for a talk after dinner. They routinely gazed at the stars and searched for a particular place in the constellation. Roosevelt would say, “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of 100 million galaxies. It is 750,000 light-years away.” Then Roosevelt would smile and say, “Now, I think we are all small enough! It’s time to go to bed.” Often, our lives and minds become so full of our needs and interests that we leave little room for God. Exalting God in our lives reduces us to the right size, back to the places of worship. Prayer Practice No. 8 Exaltation — engaging prayer refreshes a Kingdom
vision that can move us ahead. Make It Yours! — Unpacking the Insight Questions to ask yourself: 1. Do I live with a growing view and perspective of God’s kingdom? Or am I focusing more on my personal kingdom and self-centered concerns? 2. How can I grow my view of the kingdom of God? Questions to ask your team: 1. Does our team only live with a church perspective, or does it have a Kingdom perspective? Does it focus more on the things that won’t last or the bigger story — the gospel? 2. What can we do to enlarge our view as a church of the kingdom of God? Reflect on your progress in this spiritual growth area. On a scale from 1 to 10, rate yourself — 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 … Engaging Prayer to Refresh My Kingdom Vision
“I AM MISSING OUT”
Make It Count — Living the Insight From our childhood, stories set the tone for our bedtimes, our entertainment and even our education. At every stage of life, stories powerfully shape us. Whether sports, politics or faith, we all tend to live within a bigger story of some kind. We deeply desire connection to something beyond ourselves. God designed us to be a part of a bigger community, a bigger purpose and a bigger story. The “good news,” or
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“good story,” of Jesus Christ, not only offers forgiveness, but it also calls us into the great story of God’s plan of redemption. Paul said it this way: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). A Question to Grow On Is my current view of God big enough to keep my concerns about myself small enough?
THE FINAL NOTE
ARE CHRISTIANS GROWING SPIRITUALLY?
Ask Christian adults if they think their church is doing a good job in the area of discipleship. You might be surprised to know that 52 percent who have attended church in the past six months “definitely” think so, according to Barna Group’s December 2015 “State of Discipleship Report.” Church leaders, on the other hand, are not so optimistic and think the opposite is true, with only 1 percent indicating the church is doing “very well” at discipling new and young believers.
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