This is a guest post by my friend Thom S. Rainer.
I have a great love for local congregations. To be sure, I’ve never been in a perfect church. They just don’t exist.
But I still love local churches.
One of my greatest joys in the past several years has been to see and work with churches that have experienced significant turnaround. While that turnaround is typically evident in attendance numbers, it is much more than that.
I recently categorized those reasons some churches experience revitalization. I then compared them to churches that have not been revitalized. I found seven differences between the two sets of churches.
These are the seven traits unique to the revitalized churches:
The leaders and members faced reality. One of the reasons most churches don’t experience revitalization is their unwillingness to “look in the mirror.” Denial leads to decline which leads to death.
Many in the church began explicitly praying for God to revitalize the church. I know of a leadership group in one church that prayed every week for over two years. The church is now in true revitalization.
The churches had an explicit and clear focus on the gospel. Preaching became clearly gospel-centered. Ministries became gospel-centered. And many members began intentionally sharing the gospel, which brings me to the next reason.
Members did not just talk evangelism; they did evangelism. I did not see a specific approach or methodology to share the gospel in these congregations. It was clear, however, that there was a more focused intentionality on sharing Christ than in many previous years.
Many members in these churches began focusing on serving Christ through the church rather than seeking their own preferences. Another way of stating it is that these members became other-focused rather than self-focused. This attitude seemed to be directly connected to their prayers for revitalization.
These churches raised the bar of expectations. Thus membership in these congregations became meaningful. Members moved from spectators to participants.
The churches developed a clear process of discipleship. The members became more immersed in the Word. There was a clear and cogent plan to help members grow in their walk with Christ.
Do not count me among those who have their heads in the sand about the state of congregations in North America. As many as 100,000 churches are very sick or dying. Many more also need revitalization.
I hope you can join me for a video consultation on church revitalization at RevitalizedChurches.com. It will almost be like I’m at your church offering you guidance and hope toward the future. You can CLICK HERE to sign up for the four-part overview of the series at no cost.
Yes, I remain an obnoxious optimist about local churches. I am seeing too many indicators of His work to believe otherwise. Let me hear from you. And I hope to see you in the video consultation on church revitalization.
What are your perspectives on the need for church revitalization? What do you think might be missing in many churches?
Let me warn you this is a random post…from my random thoughts.
And, that makes more sense considering my Myers Briggs. Random. Stay tuned.
I have used the Myers Briggs personality profile for years. I even became certified to instruct and administer the assessment a decade ago.
I have shared and talked about my type HERE and have written mostly about the difference in the Extrovert and Introvert preferences. I’m an Introvert.
I’m an INTJ — in case you were wondering.
I think it’s a great tool for leadership development, relationship enhancement, self awareness and career evaluation. I’ve used it with church staff, couples, and with small groups. Everyone is unique — and especially some “types” hate labels that assume they are a certain way — but sometimes this can be a good starting point of discovery into relationships.
I love the application of the assessment, but if I were to rewrite Myers Briggs, I would change a few of the titles. I think at times it has been confusing. Maybe it’s the age of the terms.
If you don’t recall the options — there’s E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P.
Some changes I would make:
I’m happy with the E and I.
E is for extrovert..
Most people can hear that term and have a decent idea what it means — they are more social by preference, although, in my experience, extroverted people are less likely to think they are extroverted than introverted people know they are introverted. These people are more likely to say what they think when they think it. They are generally more apt to engage in conversation — and are energized by doing so.
I is for introvert.
Introverts are desperate for alone time. It’s where they get their energy for life. In years of working with Myers Briggs, I seldom meet an introvert who doesn’t already know they are one. I’ve written tons about introverts — search the blog — but it’s important to know introverts don’t dislike people — they just get energized from their down time.
From this point is where I would want to play with the terms.
The S and N terms can be a little confusing.
S is for sensing.
A sensing person prefers to use the information available, using the five senses, to make decisions. I agree with that.
N is for iNtuition.
And, people with this preference prefer to make up their minds by adding their own information to what’s apparent. (You’ll normally find the creative types here.)
I’d probably leave the S, because that makes “sense” to me. But, I would change the N to the letter R — for Random. These people (like me) tend to have more random thoughts. They’re thoughts are not tied necessarily to one of the senses. They often have the thought before they make “sense” of it.
The T and F cause me problems also.
T stands for Thinking. It’s a preference for making decisions based on the rational facts at hand. This person prefers truth over tact.
F stands for Feeling. It’s a preference for considering the people or values aspect involved before making a decision. It’s tact over truth.
I just don’t think these are the best terms.
In my experience, men often resist being a “F” because of the word “feelings”.
I’ve experienced some women who resist being a “T”, because they assume that means they have no feelings.
And the fact is — there’s nothing wrong with a man or woman being wired with either type….
Also, we all think AND we all feel — just to lesser degrees of each.
So, I’d prefer to title the T – Logic
I’d prefer to title the F – Values
Those seem to fit better for how I see these preferences played out in a personality.
The ones wired for “Thinking” tend to make decisions based more on logic. They can’t dismiss the facts of the matter — the rational, logical, cold hard facts.
The ones wired for “Feeling” tend to make decisions based more on their set of values. That could be people, or it could be a set of principles important to them, but when a value gets in the midst, it affects how they make decisions.
Then there are the last two letters.
The terms J and P — for Judging and Perceiving are, again, pretty confusing terms.
Basically a “J” prefers to have things decided and a “P” would prefer to stay open to new options.
I might change the J to an O for Order
These types tend to prefer a more orderly life — where the future is more scripted. They prefer to have a plan and work from the plan. Everyone procrastinates, but these people stress when they did.
I’d change the P to the letter N for Now
These folks seem to prefer to live in the moment. They let life evolve. They sometimes have less stress too! When they put things off — well — we can still have fun — right?
These are just my observations. I’m sure there are even better terms. Just my thoughts. In this case, I would be an IRLO.
An IRLO. But, now I’m confused. Maybe we should leave things as they were. Carry on.
Have you ever had an official Myers Briggs administered to you? What’s your type?
For those of you who know Myers Briggs talk — what changes would you make?
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about — how’d you make it this far?
I love team dynamics and organizational structures. I have written many times about what makes a healthy team, my expectations of team members, and elements to build health into your team.
I previously wrote 7 Traits of a Great Team Member.
But, how does a great team member perform on a team? I’m not sure I’ve talked specifically about the performance characteristics I believe make a great team member. How do they act on the team?
Here are 7 performance characteristics of a great team member:
Needs very little supervision – He or she catches on quickly, learning the expectations of the team, has confidence in his or her ability, and knows the vision of the organization well enough to make routine decisions. He or she attempts to figure out problems and asks specific questions when something is unclear. This saves everyone time and speeds progress. A great team member follows through on what he or she committed to do with limited oversight. They don’t need a “boss” — they are truly part of a team. “Let’s get it done together!”
Adds to team spirit - A great team member knows there is work to do as a team and limits the drama that comes from working with people. They aren’t known for gossip, back-stabbing, or pouting when things aren’t going as they would have them. Everyone has bad seasons and a good team is their to assist during those times, but a great team member doesn’t allow their personal life doesn’t impact their professional life on a daily basis. They are known to improve team spirit rather than detract from it.
Remains flexible – The work of a team requires synergy from all members. Sometimes one team member carries unequal weight for a season. Great team members are flexible to pick up slack from others. They do what needs doing. They don’t participate or foster “turf wars”.
Recognizes results as part of the reward – Not to take anything away from fair compensation, but the great team player does the work to see the results of a project done well. Their motivation is achieving the agreed upon goal of the team. They love their work — even more the work of the team — and they are motivated to celebrate when the team succeeds.
Considers the interests of the entire team – Great team members are good listeners. They value others on the team. They are humble enough to look out for good of the entire team. They aren’t self-serving. He or she wants what is best for everyone, even if that means having to personally sacrifice for the win of the team.
Adds intrinsic value to the team – Great team members add something to the team no one else brings. They know themselves and allow their strengths to shine through hard work and dedication to the vision, providing a unique value to the entire team.
Demonstrates Loyalty in Action – No one questions the loyalty of a great team member. They are “on board” with the vision, supportive of the leadership and direction of the organization, and committed unless something unforeseen takes them away from the team.
Of course, I forgot the one about bringing homemade snacks occasionally for the break room, but I’ll save that for another post.
It also bears mentioning that it is difficult to be a great team member without a great team environment and a great team leader. I get that. Granted. I have, however, worked with some great team members who served on a dysfunctional team. And, I’ve seen one great team member help transform an unhealthy team.
I’m confident there are plenty more ways a great team member performs on a team. Feel free to add to my list. I’d love to hear from you.
In your experience, what does a great team member do on a team?
Is your marriage struggling? Sometimes, in my experience, there may be a problem with expectations.
Expectations are critical for the success of any good relationship — especially in a marriage.
Here are 4 expectations that can injure a good marriage:
Unspoken expectations. When the couple never lays out their expectations in the marriage one spouse or the other will be disappointed at some point. A lot of couples assume they are on the same page until a problem arises where they find out otherwise.
Unclear expectations. When the couple thinks they’ve communicated expectations, but they didn’t use language the other one could understand. Everyone communicates differently. Expectations must be clear. And, many times they have to be tested before we understand them.
Unmet expectations. When the couple had clear expectations — everyone understood them — they’ve even been tested — but, one spouse isn’t holding up their end of the deal. Happens all the time.
Unrealistic expectations. When the couple has expectations that are impossible for the other spouse to meet. Our spouse is not our savior. Not perfect. Can’t read minds. Will make mistakes. Etc.
How are you doing with setting and keeping expectations in your marriage?
By the way, these 4 are true in other relationships also.
I was talking to another dad recently. We were comparing notes. Both of us are empty nesters. We recognized — equally — that being the parent of adult children is sometimes more difficult than when the children are still at home.
That’s hard for some parents with teenage children to believe — isn’t it?
Or the parent with multiple children still in diapers — right?
But, it is — sometimes.
When adult children leave the home you don’t have much control over their lives — you are no longer “raising” them — you influence them.
The “raising” part was mostly done when they graduated from high school. Maybe even when they got their driver’s license. Parenting moves primarily to influencing when they are away from you more than with you and when they can pretty much do what they want to do when they are away from you.
That’s why it’s important to grab their heart early so your influence sticks. And, still, sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t and there’s little you can do about that when they are on their own. But, it doesn’t lower your concern for them, your desire to help them, or your thoughts about them — hence the hardness at times.
So, what should the parents of adult children do?
Well, I’m still fairly new at this one. And, I’m learning, but I have learned a few things. And, I’ve learned a few more from countless hours spent with other people’s adult children. And, the parents of adult children who are struggling with their adult children.
I can’t tell you how many strained relationships, bitterness, hurt and even anger I’ve witnessed over the years with adult children. I know some young adults who, though they still speak, avoid their parents influence because of the way it has been offered to them. I know some parents of adult children who are miserable watching their adult children make bad decisions, but not knowing how to reach them.
Thankfully, I have a wonderful relationship with my two adult children. They are two of my best friends. But, I’m careful. I want to protect my influence in their life. And, I know the lines are delicate at times.
So, I offer these thoughts with reservation — knowing that I don’t know it all — but I do have some “experienced” thoughts.
Here are 7 suggestions for parenting adult children:
Speak reservedly – Don’t share every opinion you have about how they should be handling their life. That’s a key word. It’s “their” life. And, they may not tell you in so many words, but most adult children want to live their life. Just like you probably want to live yours. You can share on occasion — especially when asked or you know they are about to make a major mistake — but if you share everything it will eventually be noise not influence in their life.
Model – Be the maturer one in the relationship. That makes sense, right? You’ve got more experience, shouldn’t you have more maturity? I’ve known parents who give the silent treatment to their adult children because they didn’t call when they should or perform as they expected. Is that the mature response? And, does it work? It may guilt a response but it doesn’t promote growth and health in the relationship. Model the behavior you think your adult children should have. They will likely follow actions more than words.
Pray – Pray like crazy for your adult kids. Intercede for them. You don’t even have to tell them you are — although occasionally I suspect they’d like to hear it — even if they act like they don’t. In fact, when you’re tempted to worry about them — pray for them. It’s far more powerful and one of the best ways you can influence them.
Remember you were once this age. That’s a key. Remember what it was like to be their age. You wanted to explore. You had dreams. You were scared at times. Confused. Not sure what steps to take. Some days you were just trying to hold it all together. You didn’t know everything. You were still learning. (Hopefully you still are.) You got aggravated at parents at times. And, those parents got aggravated at you. Remember? Try to identify with them by remembering you at their age again. You can influence them better if you can identify more with their season of life.
Keep the door open. Always. As soon as you close the door — when you draw hard lines on the ground or place strict rules upon the relationship — it will be much harder to open the doors again. That doesn’t mean you have to let them take advantage of you. There may be some non-negotiable issues, but let those be rare. Be generous with grace and forgiveness. Remember, you’re trying to develop a long-term opportunity to influence them.
Love them more than their life. You may not love all the decisions they are making. You may even think they are making a mistake. Again, if there’s an open door to share your insight — share it. I find writing a letter is sometimes the best way, especially if communication is strained. But, the fact is again, you are not raising — you’re influencing. And, they may or may not accept your influence. So, love them — generously and unconditionally — more than you love the decisions they are making with their life. And, make sure they know how unconditional your love is also. It will guard your influence — if not now — in the future.
Guard the heart. Yours and theirs. You want to protect the opportunity to speak into their life for years to come. Be careful making statements or doing things you may later regret.
Hopefully, if influence is protected — if they can understand your intentions towards them are good — you can speak into their life — from your success, your failure, and your experience.
I’m still learning, so what insight do you have for me — those of you who have had adult children even longer than I have?
Mothers are great. They make the world a better place. My mom is my hero. Where would we be without Momma?
But, I wonder — is there a handbook of sayings all mothers must use?
Did your mother say any of these?
“Whatever floats your boat”
“If I had a dollar for every time”
“I’m always a day late and a dollar short”
“You’re cruising for a bruising”
Followed closely behind by…
“And if you don’t quit it you’re gonna get it”
“Use your head for more than a hat rack”
“These socks won’t pick up themselves.”
“If you keep looking like that your face is gonna freeze.”
“Cut it out before someone gets hurt.”
“When I was growing up…”
“Starving children in Africa…”
“Get outside and play”
“A little “birdy” told me!”
“Am I talking to a brick wall?”
“You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached to your shoulders.”
“I don’t care who started it, I said stop!”
“If you don’t stop crying, I am going to give you something to cry about!”
“If it were a snake, it would have bitten you.”
“You will eat it, and you WILL like it!”
“You can’t find it? Well, where did you leave it last?”
“I’m not made of money”
“Don’t give me that attitude.”
“Put that back where you found it.”
“…talk until I’m blue in the face….”
“You’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off.”
Bonus: “Do you know how much I love you?”
What else did Momma say?
This is an updated version of a previous post.
It seems every day we hear of another big name celebrity, politician or pastor that has fallen into the temptation of lust and had an affair. I think it is dangerous for any leader to assume this could never happen to him or her.
Speaking as a man, (I have never been very good at speaking as a woman), I understand that temptation is very real these days. When the mind begins to wander in a lustful direction, it is very hard to control. The failure, I believe, comes more in not protecting the heart and mind before the time of failure.
I know that I must personally work to protect myself, my wife, my boys and my church from the scandal and embarrassment of an affair. I also know — first hand — and I teach pastors frequently — that positions of authority and leadership gain special attention in the area of temptation.
For those reasons, I have placed some rules in my life to protect my heart. Does everyone agree with or understand them? No. Am I more concerned about finishing well than making sure everyone loves my approach? Yes!
Here are 7 ways I’m attempting to protect my heart from an affair:
I never meet alone with a woman besides my wife — or maybe my mother or sister. The key word in that sentence is alone. I do meet with women, but I always take someone along to lunch meetings with a female. I make sure others are in the office when I meet with women. And — very important — I never exercise with other women. (If you need explanation, then you’ve never been a guy going to a gym where girls are in workout clothes. Trust me!) I realize this is not popular with some people. Honestly, some women never understand this. I have had women tell me that I “think too highly of myself”, but my family is too important to me not to take this precaution.
I try not to conduct very personal or intimate conversations with women. This doesn’t mean I don’t discuss serious issues with women — I do, but I am careful in this area not to get into the more personal areas of a woman’s life. There are women on our staff and in our church equal or more capable than me to deal with these type conversations. And, I do not to compliment women on their appearance. The exception would be if I feel she needs the encouragement and her husband or my wife is in the conversation. If a woman is in tears I am careful about prolonging the conversation until others are brought into the conversation. The principle here is that when emotions are flowing, people get vulnerable.
I limit online communication with women. This is grown in importance in recent years. The rise of Facebook and other social media — and texting — has made it easier to interact with people. I try not to cross lines with women in this area. People share private information with pastors and online seems to make that even easier. I give my wife access to my computer and phone and I share with her any conversations that if she read them on her own my seem too intimate.
I try not to stare at women. When an attractive woman catches my eye, I try to quickly bounce my attention elsewhere. Yes, I notice a pretty woman in the room. That’s a reflex. Easy to do. God made some beautiful women. I just know my heart and mind well enough to not allow myself to stare. Trust me. I shouldn’t. I can’t. Have you ever read 2 Samuel 11?)
I hear and understand the debate that a woman should not have to worry what she wears as much as a man should worry about where he looks. Okay, I understand — so this is my response.
I spend lots of time with my wife. The best defense is a good offense. The most certain way to protect my heart is to strengthen my marriage. Cheryl and I spend most of our leisure time together.
I try to always remember my boys. My boys are two of my very best friends, and thankfully, as for right now, they still have tremendous respect for me as a dad and man. I would never want to disappoint them by being unfaithful to my wife. I believe that fact alone should keep me from wrongdoing.
I love my church. I would never want to injure the work God is doing at Immanuel. If I were ever tempted to sin against God in this way, I would hope my love for the church would draw me back.
Do my rules offend you? What are you doing to protect your heart?
You might also want to read 7 Ways I Protect My Family Life in Ministry
Cheryl and I were watching a drama show on television once — I don’t even remember which show it was — but the character’s lives were filled with marriage problems, health issues and work problems. Drama.
Funny how we tend to enjoy shows watching other people’s drama. Maybe that’s because we know our life is sometimes filled with drama too.
But, towards the end of the show, Cheryl looked at me and simply said, “I’m glad our life is not a drama right now.”
Wow! I hadn’t thought about it — but when I considered the definition — ME TOO!
Drama: any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results: the drama of a murder trial.
We’ve certainly had more than our share of drama before and we may be there again. Thankfully most of it involved problems out of our control — we can’t control all the drama that the world brings in life — rather than mistakes we were making. Plus, much of the drama we have had in our life has involved people outside our immediate family. Our immediate family has remained mostly drama-free. That’s a blessing. And, we know it.
The conversation reminded me, however, of some principles I have learned walking through periods of drama in my life, but also with others.
Here are 7 suggestions when life is a drama:
Draw near to God – People tend to go one direction or another during the difficult seasons of life. After years of struggling through trials, I have learned one thing well. Your life is best when your closest relationship is your God relationship. Allow the trials of life to strengthen that bond as you rely on His strength to see you through this season of drama.
Don’t make quick decisions – In the early days of drama you should be careful not to make life-altering decisions until you are certain you aren’t making them with an emotional response. There may be immediate decisions that have to be made. When that is the case, rely on an inner circle of people you trust to help you make them, but delay major decisions until you are able to think rationally about the situation. (Dramatic decisions made in the heat of the moment may keep a television drama viewership high, but it can be disastrous in real life.)
Keep the circle small – As much as you need others around you, not everyone needs to know the intimate details of your life either. Your life is not a television show — even if the script appears so well written for one. I have seen so many people who never feel they can walk with pride in a church or community again because they shared too many details about their struggles with too many people. When the struggles are over they are embarrassed to return to the same circles of people. People love to repeat your drama and they don’t always tell it accurately or with the right intentions. Find a few people you can trust, who will bear your burdens in confidence and point you in the right direction in life. You need these people, but keep that circle small. (Also, in this day of social media, be careful of the details of your life you place on Facebook. Don’t be the Sunday night drama everyone is talking about Monday morning.)
Seek wise counsel – Now is the time to find wise advice. You need a more outside perspective on your drama. It’s great to build these type mentors and/or investors before the need arises. But, even if you have to be awkward in the request — reaching out for help is a sign of maturity. Don’t be afraid of professional counseling. That can be a healthy response to drama.
Work towards forgiveness – Drama most always involves some need for forgiveness. It may be a need to forgive others, yourself, or even God, but you will have injured emotions that need to heal. Part of that healing will likely require some letting go — some forgiveness to occur. Living as forgiving and forgiven people allows God to help ease your pain and strengthen your availability to receive joy by opens the door to complete restoration in your heart. Holding a grudge, remaining angry or bitter, only keeps you from moving forward from the drama.
Protect your heart for the future - Seasons of drama come and go, but we are more prepared for them when our heart is kept close to God’s heart through the calmer seasons of life. I’m learning that all seasons of life contain drama, sometimes the drama is more intense than others, but throughout the whole of life our goal should be to guard our heart for God and people.
Learn from this time – Don’t allow your drama to have a meaningless plot in your life. Learn from this season. There will be other times where life is in drama. If you’re intentional to grow during the drama times of life, you’ll be better prepared the next time.
Where are you now? Is this a season of intense drama — or would your life be more of a sitcom right now? How are you dealing with the drama of life?