10 Positive Paradigms in Church Leadership

Like. Thumb up sign.

I recently posted 10 dangerous paradigms in the church. Obviously, there are positive mindsets in the church also. I decided to share some from the perception of a pastor.

Here are 10 positive paradigms in the church:

We can do it Pastor – The “can do” attitude. Who can’t work with that?

Jesus will make a way – So, if that’s your paradigm, then all we have to do is follow Him…right?

It’s not about me – Wow! To hear someone say that…makes a pastor’s day.

Let’s walk by faith – Yes, let’s do. Because, without faith, it’s impossible to please God. At least, according to the Bible.

What can I do to help? – Imagine if everyone showed up at church ready to do whatever it took to make the day work. Just imagine. We can dream, can’t we?

We need some change around here – I think we do. I think you’re right. I think I’ll clone you. Sustained momentum always requires change. Always.

I know we need to talk about money – You do? Really? You recognize that it takes money to operate a church? Wow! Are you contagious?

It’s none of my business – Okay, this is a tough one, but seriously, is it? Do you really need to know everything, or do you just like information? I wonder if we moved forward with less information if we would be closer to walking by faith…which in essence means we go without seeing… Just wondering.

I’m excited about trying something new – By excited, do you also mean you’ll support it? And speak positively about it? Even behind the pastor’s back? Because, if you do, I’m gonna hug you. Seriously.

This church is awesome! – It’s simple, but it builds momentum. Believing in the church, it’s leadership, and it’s potential is a key to welcoming people who will later feel likewise.

As a pastor, those are 10 positive paradigms I would share. I realize they aren’t for everyone. But, which one would you most like to see as a pastor?

What positive church paradigm would you add to my list?

Picking Political Battles … Winning the War

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I continually have well-meaning believers who want me to get more involved in the political debates of religion and culture. And, sometimes I do. There are certainly battles to fight. Big battles. Human slavery. For one example. Ridiculous. Let’s end it now.

For the fights I choose I vote. I speak to representatives in government when I can. I’ve written letters…even letters to the editor in years past. I’m actually friends with a few people in government. Numerous people. And, I’m not afraid to use my influence where I feel it is most effective.

Plus, I realize some people have a specific calling to fight the battle on “capital hill”. I admire and support them in their calling. I actually know of few of those “called” elected servants personally. In fact, I once served in an elected office. I firmly believe followers of Christ need to take active roles in civil affairs…in the world.

Most of the time, however, I feel like I have a higher calling these days. Higher for me. And, I’ve got to live out my calling, as you do yours.

Sometimes as believers though, I think we need to learn the battles to fight and the ones to let go. It seems to me that many believers (people) are always looking for a fight. Some, it seems to me…if I’m completely honest…are especially looking for the fight about the issue they care about most.

I wonder, however, if we should choose our battles more carefully, knowing that ultimately the outcome of the war has already been decided. Our mission now is the Great Commission. We are to make disciples. That begins with telling our story. It seems to me it is harder to get people to listen if we are always fighting with them. Sometimes it seems our argument is louder than our message…our ultimate message.

Getting people to hear about Jesus seems more important than making sure everyone complies with our view of morality. Yes, our Biblical view of morality. If they knew Jesus…He does a pretty good (really good) job of making people more holy. (I realize that’s the simplistic view. But, I’m a pretty simple guy.)

It’s a consistent battle for me…an internal battle…whether to get involved publicly or sit this one out and pray.

Recently the words of Paul from 2 Timothy encouraged me in this realm.

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead…according to my gospel. 2 Timothy 2:8

But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23

“instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:25

I realize I won’t please everyone when I don’t fight the battle of their preference. I even realize some who read this will assume I’m refusing to speak on “their” issue. That’s okay. Being misunderstood sometimes isn’t that bad.

Because, I’m picking battles carefully…

And, celebrating the winning of the war!

What do you think?

People Make Mistakes

Disappointment

People, even the “best” people, make mistakes.

I’ve stopped being surprised when I find out the person I thought had it all together doesn’t.

When “the good girl” gets pregnant…it doesn’t catch me off guard as much anymore.

When I hear about the person in ministry, who falls into repetitive sin, I’m saddened, heartbroken, but not as perplexed as I used to be.

When the “mom” is the guilty one…it stings…I may even be angry for a while…but not overly surprised.

Sin is all around us.

It’s a messed up world we live in these days…and these days have always been. Since the fall of man.

The truth is that good people make bad decisions.

We shouldn’t be too surprised when people behave like…well…people.

That’s not an excuse. I’m not letting people “off the hook”.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make better decisions.

We should. We really, really should.

We should be holy, because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

We should have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

I’m not saying there aren’t consequences for our actions.

There are. (Galatians 6:7)

But, I am saying…really remembering…that the only “good” in me (and others) is Christ.

All we like sheep have gone (and go) astray…apart from God’s grace.

The heart is deceitful above all things. (Jeremiah 17:9)

Sanctification is a process. (Philippians 2:13)

We need Jesus. We need Him desperately.

People make mistakes.

Even the “best” of people. Even believers.

Even you.

Even me. Especially me.

Are you surprised?

7 Ramifications of Bad Culture

team conflict

I previously wrote, Bad Culture Eats Good Vision. It doesn’t matter how strong your vision is…you can have the greatest strategy, but if the culture is bad…forget it. You aren’t going to be as effective as an organization as you could be.

Working with a couple of churches recently, I discovered some more ramifications of bad culture. It was obvious from an outside view.

Bad culture:

Corrupts – the organizational structure.

Controls – the growth potential.

Confuses – the team’s communication.

Collides – with good vision.

Curtails – any future momentum.

Contaminates – good team members.

Condemns – the team to mediocrity.

As leaders, we try to make our organizations bigger and better. The truth is, however, that many times, it’s the culture that is holding the team back from growing. It’s the culture that keeps things from being healthy. It’s the culture that’s frustrating people and causing burnout.

Do you want to improve the organization’s effectiveness?

Most often, you’ll need to improve the organization’s culture.

Many times, it’s the culture that is holding the team back from growing. It’s the culture that keeps things from being healthy. It’s the culture that’s frustrating people and causing burnout.

Have you ever worked in an environment of bad culture?

Handling Conflict is Easier These Days

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Thanks to cultural improvements…technological advancements…

Handling conflict has become so much easier these days.

You know what I mean…

No longer do we have to confront a problem in person.

We can send a nasty text or email.

We can easily “unfriend” someone.

We can quit following them on Twitter.

If the conflict is really bad, we can even “block” the person.

Technology allows conflict to be addressed in cyber space.

Super easy. Even seems fun sometimes to take a cheap shot when the person is in the virtual world.

It’s not the best way…it seldom really solves the problem…it often escalates things into something bigger…

But, at least it’s easier on the front end.

Who knows…maybe there’s even an app for that…

How Do You Find So Many Great Restaurants?

restaurant

I’ll be honest…I like to eat. It’s become somewhat of a habit, in fact.

Our boys used to make fun of Cheryl and me because we would often drive long distances to eat.

Since, we’ve moved to Lexington, KY, we’ve determined that there are nearly 100 locally owned restaurants…and we are half way into exploring them all. We’ve uncovered some gems too.

People keep asking us…they always have:

How do you find so many good restaurants?

People who have lived here for years are learning restaurants from us. I kind of like that.

But, it’s a great question…and by the way…the answer serves as a great leadership and life principle as well. (If you knew me…you already knew that…right?)

Here is the answer:

We don’t limit ourselves to what we already know.

  • We take risks
  • We explore
  • We listen and ask questions of others
  • We venture off the path everyone around us has paved
  • We occasionally even get lost along the way
  • We aren’t afraid to be the first ones (in our circle of influence) who try something new

We will often Google reviews and we are impacted by them somewhat, but mostly we just take chances. That’s where we discover some of the greatest places.

Recently, we were in Maryland. We took the road less traveled, ended up on a dead end at the ocean in Virginia. It was a dive. It didn’t look like much on the outside, but it was great. Another gem.

You see, for us…
Being stuck with the same short list of restaurants…with the same menu items…

Boring…boring…very, very boring. (That’s actually a song in my head…wish you could hear the tune…)

That’s our secret. How do you find good restaurants?

And, just curious, does that represent how you do life?

By the way, it’s how I often do leadership too.

Farmer Super Bowl Commercial: Reflections

I couldn’t get past the “Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl. My grandfather on my mother’s side lived in Kansas. He died when I was young, but I’ve always lived somewhat in his shadow…he was a hero of mine. Everything I knew about him was captured in that commercial. If you missed it, or want to see it again, watch it now.

A good friend…and a great leader…Jason Cummins sent me his thoughts on the commercial.

Here is a guest post from Jason reflecting on the commercial:

The Super Bowl was last night, and as always, my wife and I looked forward to the commercials. However, I’m not one to go online and view them ahead of time. I feel the precise broadcast time establishes context, and thus is an important part of the overall experience.

As we entered the second half, I was a bit disappointed. No croaking frogs, dive-bombing pigeons, or office linebacker sightings. Rather, Madison Avenue seemed content to reflect our culture’s status quo…a preference for short-term gratification over long-term reward.

Then entered what will be referred to today as simply, “The Farmer” commercial. Narrated by one of my all-time favorites, Paul Harvey, the ad immediately transported me back to my childhood, riding on the bench seat of the family roadster or huddled around the single, family radio in my grandparents’ house.

But it wasn’t merely the voice that made the commercial so powerful. Rather, it was the verbal content and the accompanying deep, pictorial images. Americans respect farmers, and the farmer was extolled for his virtuous characteristics. As I rewatched the commercial this morning, I pulled the five following traits from the rich narrative. These resonate with our souls, for deep down, we respect them, desire them, and want to be led by those who embody them:

1. Disciplined work ethic. He is willing to get up before dawn, work all day, finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon, and then work another 72 hours. He isn’t afraid of hard work. He is hard work.

2. Selfless. He attends school board meetings, applies first aid, and willingly attends to the needs of others before himself.

3. Competent. He can shape an axe handle, shoe a horse, or make a harness out of scrap. He knows his trade and confidently, yet humbly, goes about doing his work.

4. Compassion. He sits up with an ailing colt and splints the leg of a meadowlark. He heart is attune to his surroundings, and he is willing to do something about it.

5. Character. He plows deep and straight and will not cut corners. He will choose the harder right over the easier wrong. He works for good.

And then the commercial concludes with, “To the farmer in all of us.” Much like a good class, the ad not only made us think, but it also made us feel. And in the process, it reminded us of important characteristics we should all aspire to emulate. May each of us live a little more like a FARMER today.

Who do you think of when you watch that commercial?

Twitter’s New Vine App – Opportunities for the Ministry

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This is another guest post by Ben Lichtenwalner (see also “Top 5 Business Professional Confessions“). Ben is a technology executive with a passion for servant leadership. His blog, ModernServantLeader.com, is a platform for spreading servant leadership awareness, adoption and action. You can follow Ben on Twitter at@BLichtenwalner.

I didn’t originally think this was something I was interested in, since I’m saturated with social media. Then I saw my daughter-in-law on Vine. I knew, because of her savvy nature, that it is something to consider. I signed up and instantly had numerous followers, including some in ministry I consider to be trendsetters.

Twitter’s New Vine App

Twitter recently launched the Vine app, currently available only on iOS. The app let’s you record up to 6 seconds of looping video – no more – and share it on Twitter or Facebook. From it’s Twitter origin, hashtags play a key role in the filtering and categorization of content. This enables users to quickly find simple, concise, video content on a topic of interest.

How Vine Works

After installing Vine on your iPhone, you can open the app, click the record (camera icon) button and capture video. Users click on the view finder and hold their finger on the screen to record. Lift your finger to pause recording and simply press and hold the screen again to continue recording. It’s that easy. After you’re done recording, you can add a caption and share the video on Vine only, Facebook and / or Twitter.

Your audience and community can comment and like the video on Vine or provide the usual feedback options on Facebook and Twitter. Like Twitter, the brevity and standard drives the creativity and interest.

Opportunities for the Ministry

The app is new, so most content is still personal or artistic in nature. How can we use this new medium for the ministry? Below are some thoughts to get us started. I’m sure you will have many more – add them to the comments.

1. Favorite Verses – Capture your favorite verses in 6 seconds. Perhaps we could use the hashtag #FavVerse?

2. Pay it Forward – Capture folks doing something good, in the name of Jesus, and post it.

3. Capture Art – Got some great stained glass windows or other art in your church? Capture and share it.

4. Compilations – Why not capture a compilation of baptisms, communion or other sacraments and share?

5. Invitations – Have your congregation capture 6 seconds of themselves inviting others to the service. Use a hashtag and / or share them on your site.

6. Humor – Do you have some great, recurring humorous moments in your congregation or in living the Christian life? Share them and humanize the service for guests.

7. Stop Motion – There’s all kinds of stop motion video examples already. Why not make a project of this with your youth group?

How to get the Vine App

The Vine app is currently available in the App Store for iOs devices. It’s not yet available for Android or other platforms.

Question: What other uses do you see for the Vine app in Ministry?

Dancing Priest: How a Book Was Born

dancing priest

This is a guest post by Glynn Young. Glynn authored a book that I can literally say is going to be one of my all time favorites, and I just read it last month. And, it’s fiction. Dancing Priest is captivating, challenging and, I believe, potentially life-giving for some in the church who want to reach a current culture. Glynn lives in suburban St. Louis, where he works as the social media team leader for a Fortune 500 company. He’s married with two grown sons and two grandsons. He’s also a deacon at Central Presbyterian Church.

I asked Glynn to share how a book that impressed me came to be. Here’s his story.

It was 2002. I was flying to San Francisco and listening to an in-flight music program featuring a tenor with a beautiful voice – Mario Frangoulis. He sang one song, “Luna Rosa,” in Italian, which I don’t speak. I knew the title meant “Red Moon.” As I listened, an image formed – a priest dancing on a beach.

When I arrived at my downtown hotel, I found the CD at a local bookstore. It became my drive music – if I was in my car, I was listening to Mario Frangoulis.

One night not long after, I laid in bed, thinking about that priest. I realized he was Episcopal or Anglican. He was part of a tour group that included a young American woman. The possibility of romance was in the air.

For the next three years, I created the story in my head. I plotted the scenes. I moved the priest to Edinburgh and put him on a racing bike. I gave him a name – Michael. I gave the young woman a name – Sarah. I added characters. I decided my priest was originally from England, the only child of his parents’ second marriages.

I developed a conflict – a young couple in love, Michael preparing to enter the Anglican priesthood and Sarah mildly hostile to anything connected to faith. Michael is the central character, but Sarah’s lack of faith is the story’s pivot.

For three years, the story grew and developed in my head. I never thought of it becoming a book. And I didn’t say anything about it, even to my wife.

The catalyst was Hurricane Katrina. Most of my side of our family lives in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I spent a harrowing week tracking down family members and finding a way to get my elderly mother and aunt out of the city.

Something about that experience convinced me I didn’t want to lose the story in my head. I began to type.

The story poured out, some 250,000 words (enough for three average novels). When it stopped pouring, I knew it needed serious editing and rewriting. What works in your head at 11:30 at night while you’re falling asleep often won’t work as well in daylight on a computer screen.

The rewriting and editing continued until 2008. My wife convinced me to try to market the manuscript. I sent out queries to agents and editors. I developed elaborate editorial packages (designed as requirements to discourage would-be writers). I talked with editors and agents at a writer’s conference.

I almost gave up any hope of publication when an agent told me it was not marketable unless it had a vampire or werewolf in the story. And he was serious. (This was when the Twilight novels were taking off.)

I continued to write and edit. The story grew.

In 2010, a small publisher here in the St. Louis area told me he’d heard I had a manuscript, and he’d like to read it. I said no. He kept coming back at me for six months, and I finally let him take a look. He told me it was an incredible story of what coming to faith is about and he wanted to publish it. I said no. It sounds crazy, but I wasn’t ready.

He kept after me for a year. And then one day he said, “Are you going to let me publish it or not?” I surprised us both, and said yes.

Dancing Priest was born in late 2011. The sequel, A Light Shining, came a year later.

When the Church is Hated, How should Leaders Respond?

As a church leader, I realize the popularity and seemed importance of what I do has declined in recent years. Culture no longer values the voice of a pastor as the history of our nation would record that it once did. Even this week, the news of Louie Giglio’s exit as the pastor to pray at the inauguration of President Obama served as a sobering reminder…things have changed.

This is an interview with John S. Dickerson. Dickerson’s new book The Great Evangelical Recession identifies six factors of decline in the American Church and offers six solutions for leaders. Dickerson is a nationally awarded journalist and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Prescott, AZ. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Q: How would you summarize your book, The Great Evangelical Recession?

A: Culture is changing faster and faster. The conflicts around Louie Giglio, Chic-fil-A and Hobby Lobby demonstrate this. Rapid change in American culture is already shaking evangelicalism, but it’s going to worsen because the rate of change is accelerating.

As shepherds we must identify where the Church is struggling to adapt. Then we must look to God’s Word to find solutions for our day. The Great Evangelical Recession does this by documenting factors of decline—and then by building Scripture-based solutions for each area of decline.

Q: Is the homosexual-evangelical conflict an example of this cultural change? And if so, what sort of solutions does your book suggest?

A: Yes, the conflict between the evangelical and LGBTQ communities is case in point. The book documents that in the last 15 years Americans have entirely reversed their views on homosexuality. Furthermore, each younger generation is radically more pro-homosexual, so this trend will accelerate as older Americans pass away.

My solution chapter argues that we need to start treating non-evangelical “tribes” in America the same way our missionaries treat foreign tribes in Africa or New Guinea, by suspending judgment, serving and modeling unconditional love–so Christ can reach their hearts.

The chapter grows from a word study of the Greek word “good” in the New Testament. “Good” is about deeds. It’s more nuanced than this, but here’s the gist of that solution:

1. Take God’s good deeds directly to the homosexual tribe in your life and community. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

2. Refuse to classify the homosexual tribe as some worse class of people. This is unbiblical and showcases poor theology.

3. As with any tribe, don’t focus on changing behavior. Focus on changing relationship to God through Christ.

4. Don’t be surprised when you are hated and misunderstood about this issue. You will be.

5. When you are hated or misunderstood, don’t defend yourself or other evangelicals with words. Instead, let your quiet good actions eclipse any accusations (1 Peter 2:12).

6. Keep on demonstrating God’s good-ness and unconditional love—to the homosexuals closest to you.

The book includes Scripture and examples, but that overview gives you a taste.

Q: Your book identifies six trends of decline in the American Church. Is every ministry declining in these ways?

A: Typical ministries will find many trends of decline apply to them, while some don’t. Take the funding crisis for example. On average, 76 percent of evangelical gifts come from the oldest two generations. Many ministries are unprepared for the decline of donations in the next 15 years. That trend won’t apply to young-demographic ministries—like Reality LA, but other trends will.

This book is really a tool for ministry leaders. It helps leaders identify which negative trends are at play in their specific ministry. The book then gives practical Biblical solutions to adjust course in any areas of weakness.

What do you think? How have your seen the culture and church change in your lifetime?

What’s next?