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Great Church Great People Pt 1

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Jan 29, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

Great Church Great People Pt 1

“What makes a great church is having great people.”  Dr. Jack Hyles

Great churches are not the richest ones, nor the ones with the most educated people, they are not the ones that have the best facilities, or even the ones with the greatest history. These things may contribute to the success of a church, but they are no guarantee that the church will impact and reach their generation resulting in what I would call, “greatness”.

What makes a great church? If you go on line and ask that question you will get a number of answers. This is a question that many are asking.  Why? Because the quest to become something great is actually a very common one. In fact, I would conjecture that it is even universal. In reality, everyone wants to be great in some sense. The desire is seen in our dreams of wanting to make a difference, or leave behind a great legacy, or even in our wanting to be the best in a certain field of study or expertise. This desire can also become the cause of depression in many people who find that they are not accomplishing more with their lives, or are experiencing feelings of failure, or even in that vague uncertainty concerning the meaning of life itself.

For the leader, this question becomes even more crucial. What makes the church I lead a great church? Do I want to lead a church that is not great? What are the problems in a church that is not great? If my church is not great what do I do about that? I love this last question because it centers on where the problems come from and begins a search for how to solve it.

John Maxwell coined the phrase, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” We can blame the economy, the culture, the people, the pressures everyone is under, etc. But the truth is… the lack of greatness in a church rests on the leader. To whom did Jesus write when sending correction for the problems of the 7 churches in Revelations 2-3? “The angels” were who He wrote to and they are best understood as the spokesmen or leaders of the assembly. The warning and encouragement was first given to the leaders and then they were to pass it on. The danger for the church who did not reach its capacity for greatness was the warning that they would be removed.

A great church is led by great leaders! That much is becoming clear as we think about this issue. Is the church being led by a leader who is more like King Saul or King David? What a contrast we can see between these two leaders and what a contrast to their kingdoms!  One was a leader whose kingdom was mediocre or average (the worst word in the English language!) and the other was great!

I have not yet really given the Biblical definition of “great”, but consider the consequences of ignoring or downplaying the importance of this. God sent His Son to die, for what? Acts 20:28 clearly states His blood purchased or paid for the church!  Yes, His death is focused on the victory and success of His kingdom on earth!  He has gone to the extreme of laying down His glory, His rights, His comforts, His position as God, and His very life for something extremely important and precious: the church we lead! His desire is that it is to be a beautiful bride, a glorious church without spots or blemishes. He wants her flame to shine like a brilliant light in your community, and to warm the cold hearts around her with the mighty love of Christ.

Jesus addresses the desire for greatness. He wants His kingdom members to be great. He wants us to be great leaders who develop a great church.  In Matthew 5:19 Jesus defines greatness as “those who take every command of God seriously, obey His commands with sincerity, and teach others to do the same”. So a great church is led by a great leader who, firstly, wants to know what God expects of him or her. Start there. The commands of Jesus are the passions of our heart. We want to follow Him because we love Him. But we love Him because He first loves us. This is the starting place for all greatness!  The source for our life of greatness and for a great church is the very love that Jesus has for His leaders and for His church. Our awareness of that fact stirs our hearts to want the name of Jesus to be great, and the Kingdom of Jesus to be great as well. Why? Because we love Him and want others to love Him as well.  He truly deserves that!

Secondly, the commands of Jesus must be known before they can be obeyed or taught to others. This takes time to read and study so that we can be approved as workmen of the word who know what their Esteemed Leader wants done. Our passion for Jesus leads us to the Bible to research and embrace the truth of His will. We have no other passion but to please Him. Jesus clearly pointed out that if we love Him we will show it by keeping His commands. He commands us to trust Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to develop our lives to be useful for good works.

Thirdly, the great leader practices what he learns. He puts what he knows and believes into daily habits and choices. This is called spiritual formation or spiritual disciplines. It becomes the leader’s character and reputation. He becomes known as one who consistently obeys whatever God says. This leader puts off the old self-centered way of living and puts on the new mind of Christ. Others see it and observe it in the leaders’ lives.

Lastly, the leader teaches others to do the same. Aha! The missing element in many churches is right here.  “What?!”  You say, “Don’t we weekly preach the Bible and exhort our people to follow this Divine counsel?” I hear that objection and respond with this. Speaking to a crowd is only half of our duty. We must also do as Jesus did, we must personally train and develop people as He developed His men. He spent personal time with them away from public preaching and spent much of His time explaining the deeper meanings and insights. He clarified and dialogued back and forth about the truths He taught. He asked a lot of questions to make them think and ponder. Then he checked up on their progress to see if they were doing as He taught them. This process is called mentoring or discipleship. It is a must for every leader.

You see, our churches that we lead are a reflection of us even more than we realize. The church is like looking into a mirror. Our neglect shows, our distractions are their distractions, our frustrations are their frustrations, our love is what they will love, and our focus is what they will focus on as well. These issues and qualities will all be seen in the health and victory of our church.

Do you have the desire to be a leader that develops a great church? The first step is to start with yourself. Begin today and make it your goal to become a great leader who loves Jesus sincerely. Search for His will and begin to live by His commands… make them your habits in life! Lastly, find those with whom you will personally take time to train and develop. Start the path of multiplying your life in someone who will multiply their life in another as well.  Let’s become great leaders who develop great people and grow our church into a great church!

Father, we love You and are thankful for Your confidence in us that we can become great leaders who develop great churches. The dream of this is powerful and delightful. But we confess this work is difficult and demands our best efforts. We start out strong and then find ourselves becoming weary. Please inspire and empower us to accomplish this call to greatness. We want Your church to be a bride without spots or blemishes, a victorious church, a glory to Your Son. In His Name we ask it. Amen.

Day 5: Search for the Person of Peace (read Luke 10)

Filed under: Pray & Fast,Prayer and Fast 2013 — Pastor David Jan 10, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

The secret locked up in these verses is what unleashed the early church, allowing them to reach so many in such a short amount of time. This chapter is regarded by scholars as the chapter that became the plan used when entering new territory and expanding God’s kingdom.

The secret was rediscovered just a few years ago by a missionary church planter. He had been successful and planted many churches in different parts of the world, so it was decided that they send him to Buddha’s home town where a church had never been planted. For a few years he gave it all he had with no success. Discouraged he contemplated giving up. But then he prayed, “Lord the answers are here in this Book. Show me what to do.” For the next six months he did nothing but read the Bible. He came to Luke 10 and his eyes were opened to “the man of peace” concept.

What is a man or woman of peace?  It is someone who has an ability to include and welcome others into their life. They have a natural ability to connect with others and bridge relationships.  People are drawn to and feel accepted and  welcomed around them.

Next, they have responsiveness to spiritual things. They are willing to talk about the Bible, God, and their own need for Him.  Throughout the gospel accounts we are able to see these special people. Luke 10 records the first person of peace when Martha welcomes Jesus into her house. This opened up the village of Bethany!  That’s what these kinds of people do, they create greater and more opportunites for the greater!  Another person of peace was Legion. As shocking as this is, the reality is that this demon possessed man responded and opened his heart to Christ.  He later, as a believer, opened up the entire Decapolis area.  We can also see that the Samaritan woman was another person who opened up a whole city. Later in Acts we see Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, and Aquila and Priscilla…the list goes on!

My last insight into a person of peace is that they are those who encourage and build an environment of trust. People relax and settle in and are usually  willing to share very intimately with them. They are trusted. This is a crucial quality. People do not open up and share real stories if they do not trust their audience.   Take our Connect Groups, the “I will” statements or applications to personal lives will never be deep and transformational if the audience (in this case the small group) is not trusted.  People will not be free to give or to unselfishly serve others if they do not trust the one encouraging them to get involved. Trust opens hearts and hands! Trust built within a group will also create the freedom to invite others to come as well!  Trust is what creates opportunities for many kinds of new relationships and opportunities to share the Gospel.

How do we find these people of peace? Prayer is where we start! Pray for laborers and pray for persons of peace. They will be the ones who tend to have a lot of friends or influence in their community. They may be well liked or very important to the world they work in, like a baseball coach in the community, or snack shack mom, a boss at the local deli, or even the mailman, etc… They can use their influence to open or even to close opportunities. This is the secret of why Jesus said for us to find this person and work with them and through them! They can be seen to be used to open up the hardest to reach areas of the world.

This is what the missionary I spoke about earlier found out. He went on to plant thousands of house churches in the area where there had never been a church. The same idea has been used all over India, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and other nations with incredible success!

What will God do here through our wise use of this insight Jesus taught? May our prayers open our eyes to see these precious people and connect with them. And may they then come with you to church or join a Bible study, or join us in building strong and thriving connect groups which… is ultimately building… the kingdom of God!

 

Day 4: Multiplication (read 2 Tim 2)

Filed under: Pray & Fast,Prayer and Fast 2013 — Pastor David Jan 9, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

Gen 1 teaches us that God commanded the original couple to be fruitful and multiply. This desire of God is that His gift of life is expressed and continued by the process of multiplication. This command and process, this vision and desire of God, will take more than one person to fulfill. Once again we see the genius of God. We must work and connect with others effectively if there is ever to be a new generation of believers and leaders. We cannot do this alone!

Look at verse 2 closely. Paul writes to Timothy that there is generation one developing generation two. Timothy was to pass on what Paul gave to him to “faithful men”, resulting in… generation three!  The third generation was to pass it on to “others” who would be generation four. In one verse, 4 generations!

It is not enough to train one person and stop there. We must see that person train another who in turn trains another. The cycle must continue from one generation all the way past the fourth generation by our careful looking after it!  This process does not just happen! It must be very intentional and deliberate.  Paul gave illustrations of a teacher, a soldier, a farmer, and an athlete. All four of these illustrations show us the strategy involved in success. The teacher plans ahead what will be taught and how they will develop their students. The soldier focuses on the battle and knowing the orders and obeying His superiors. He knows he must be available and willing to go where it may be dangerous. War is very strategic and deliberate. So is farming. What we plant, when we plant, and where we plant is part of what we do as a farmer. The athlete is extremely strategic if he plans on winning.

What will the future be if the soldier does not think ahead? Or the teacher, or the farmer, and the athlete? Will there be a future? What about the future of God’s kingdom if we are not thinking ahead?

Pause right now and see who there is in your life who needs you to develop them and encourage them to think like this in their walk with God. Every person we train must be encouraged and trained to pass on their training to another. Every group must have in their plans the desire and goal to also start another group. Every leader we develop must develop other leaders. And it doesn’t just stop here in our local body… we need to think about multiplying new churches as well!

I get very excited when I consider this, for it breaths into our hearts a future and a hope for the world. If there are no new followers of Christ, then there is no hope for the future.  We will all die and that will be the end of the matter. And so it is the same for us if we do not multiply new leaders, new groups, and especially…new churches!  If we will multiply, just as the early Christians did, there is hope, real wonderful hope for our city, and our world!

Prayer is vital to our success.  I encourage you to take today to pray and plan where you will start multiplying. If you do not know where to start, I encourage you to talk to an elder, a Connect Group leader or myself and we will help you make this a reality.

Pray this week about the future of your family, our church…our city!  Pray for a multiplication movement!!

 

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