Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

THE PASTORAL ROLE IN A DIFFERENCE MAKING CHURCH

Growing congregations are led by visionary pastors. How do I know this? Through observing successful congregations. This doesn’t eliminate the role lay members must play in a church. But the excitement for growth and mission will start with having visionary pastors. For congregations look to their pastors to show them the way.

Sometimes pastoral leaders will have and demonstrate visionary congregational direction. At other times, however, pastors will lack this gift. But please note: You cannot turn congregations around if pastoral leaders do ministry only as pastors and shepherds. With these thoughts in mind, why are there so many congregations today that are stagnant and passive?

  • Because persons in past days grew up in a congregation where ministry was mainly pastoral. And many of today’s pastors grew up in these kinds of context. They were conditioned to think of the church as a place where you took care of the flock.
  • Even earlier college and seminary training portrayed the practice of ministry as being pastoral. Thus, the pastor graduated, was ordained, then accepted a local church ministry to care for the souls under his care. Church growth and church health were not even in his academic program of study. He may have taken a personal evangelism course, but that was somewhat of a sidelight to the larger and more important issue of general pastoral ministry.
  • It’s also true that some pastors graduated from college/seminary with a great flair for developing growing congregations. But their passion soon died as their excitement didn’t square with the thinking of a particular congregation and its leaders. Many established and comfortable congregations do not want to change. And they pour cold water on pastors who attempt to change them.
  • Another problem pastors will face when they walk into an established congregation is that it has performed a cultural form of church ministry for a long period of time. This established form has placed the congregation in a very familiar and comfortable rut. Thus, focusing on reaching those outside their walls is a function established congregations will find difficult, if not impossible, to accept.
  • What is most disconcerting is to recognize the amount of difference between the college and seminary’s thinking and that of local churches. The academic institution believes they train pastors to  go out and change the thinking of a passive church and its leaders. But zealous pastors will predictably encounter a major roadblock when they try. Why? Because the local church has operated too long in a traditional fashion. As a result, they will resent and barricade pastors efforts to  exert any change. Some way we need to begin building crossable bridges between the college/seminary and the local church, as they are often on huge divergent paths.
  • Allow me to also stress that pastoral leaders will go into a church with wrong mindsets. For example, they will do everything members wish in order to gain their admiration. Or, they will function in a way in which they do everything for the members. This continues until their health breaks and they can no longer minister. Pastors will even fall victim to thinking they can minister to everyone in a church. The only thing wrong with this kind of thinking is that it’s wrong!!
  • An important transition for pastoral leaders to be able to turn a church around today, is to learn the important fuction of ministry balance. Simply stated, they need to possess an inside and outside focus. In this way, they can balance the roles of inside ministry with that of outside mission. Making this transition will mean that pastors will need to grow through planning and delegating much more. They will do less “hands on” ministry. But they will not become so overwhelmed, as they will now be able to see the bigger picture, and secure the increased involvement of others with them.

I love pastoral ministers. I always have. And I always will. I know their hearts and concerns, as I’ve been in their moccasins. They wish to be effective channels for the Lord and His church. But they are often caught in that tense bind between what a congregation needs to be, and what it currently is.

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April 13, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

DOING THE CONGREGATIONAL TURNAROUND

Being a turnaround congregation was my concern in the previous blog. I endeavored there to paint a word picture of the type of congregation that could be defined as a congregation being in need of turnaround.

But why was it necessary to spend considerable time focusing on the problem or problems? Because unless one sees a congregation’s problems clearly, it will be impossible to have the necessary information in place for knowing the positive steps that need to be taken by a plateaued or declining church body.

Becoming a turnaround congregation can be experienced, I suggest, through taking the following path:

  • By a congregation being able to see itself through the lens of the previous blog in which I endeavored to open a door through which a church body can see itself. Until this spark of seeing a church needing change is ignited, there can be no possible turnaround.
  • This turnaround process must begin at the congregational leadership level. This means that the minister or ministers, including the complete church leadership team, must catch a shared vision of the existing problem or problems needing to be resolved.
  • A considerable period of time needs to be spent by the leadership team in Scripture, identifying there the purposes of a congregation’s life and ministry. This process needs to be matched equally with prayer. The church leadership team needs to appeal to God in a continued and concentrated fashion to open their eyes to the important steps and actions they need to take.
  • Important reading resources should next be consulted that will help further highlight and inspire the leadership team to understand the many practical and important principles of a healthy and growth directed church. Two resource examples to consult are: Bob and Rusty Russell’s book, When God Builds A Church; and my own book, The Magnificent Church.
  • Identify two or three congregations that have achieved significant turnaround, as these become another important step. Congregations, that is, which have been on a plateau or have declined, and have reversed directions in a positive fashion. Being able to see a turnaround congregation functioning effectively, and drawing from their turnaround experiences, can become a rich resource from which to learn.
  • Secure the services of an outside church consultant/coach. Those inside are really too close to their problems. They need outside eyes to come inside and help them see what they are unable to clearly see. A consultant/coach needs to function with the spiritual body much like a medical doctor does with the human body. This means the church consultant/coach needs to have much experience and training to function as a spiritual physician.

The path suggested here for congregation’s in need of turnaround is not an armchair road to follow. Rather, it is the path many derailed congregations have followed to get themselves back on track.

Do you need get on track in your congregation? If so, the call is to begin, not tomorrow, but right now. You need to, “get off your donkey!!” Dismount from your current comfort zone, and get busy with what needs to begin immediately within your church.

April 6, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

ON MINISTRY AND CALLING

As a result of reports received from congregations, I am coming to the growing awareness that there is a foundational need for having pastoral leaders who have been called into church ministry leadership. Without this awareness of being called by God, church ministry evolves into simply being one more job among others.  That is, one of many options for making a living. But no amount of hyped personal charisma, religious encouragement from peers, or even professional religious training, can prepare one to engage in church ministry, unless a person has experienced a call by God into leadership ministry.

Why stress though the need for having been called to Christian ministry? Because this experience provides the essential and unwavering foundation for using one’s gifts to effectively teach, preach and lead. For one’s sense of calling sets the pace for being a channel through which God can reach out to others.

I remember once hearing and being deeply moved by a seminary professor who responded to  the following question: Which is more important for a ministry leader, that he be seminary trained or possess Christian commitment? Without blinking an eye this humble teacher stressed Christian commitment. He then added: you can train persons to excel in ministry functions, but if they lack basic and foundational commitment to Christ, you will set them and the persons to whom they minister up for a big fall.

I am now seeing this played out. Played out in one congregational setting after another. For many congregations today have become intensely heated war zones. Places where there is more fighting than faith; more competition than conviction; more legalism than love; more grumbling than grace; and more selfishness than spirituality. They are no longer functional spiritual organisms, but have become dead dys-functional religious organizations.

One major underlying cause of faltering congregations in this day is in the area of pastoral leadership. That is, the existing quality of spiritual leadership that is within them. Congregations often conform to the culture more than they do Christ. Stated another way, they cater to the wants of the society around them, and even the members who perpetually demand having the right people, along with the preferred programs and procedures. As a result, the purpose of a congregation becomes relegated to persons and what they want rather than the one PERSON: CHRIST!!

Allow me to share some important reasons for having church leaders who have been called by God to faithfully and responsibly serve within a congregation. It is:

  • Because having a call is essential to one engaging in Christian ministry.
  • Because having a sense of call overcomes ones human insecurities and uncertainties.
  • Because it reveals that God is the source for one’s involvement in leadership ministry.
  • Because it makes clear to you and others that God is the source for your involvement in ministry.
  • Because without an awareness of Divine calling one will lack passion in ministry.
  • Because knowing that God has called you enables you to live above the criticisms of those who would try to discourage you.
  • Because testing and re-evaluating your participation in ministry is a necessary factor in embarking and continuing on the Christian journey.

My ultimate point is this: Congregations would be much healthier fellowships today if a sense of calling by God undergirded its pastoral leaders.

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Service, Shepherds, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

GIVING ATTENTION TO THE AURA

I continue to preach, teach, and write in regard to church health. Not because I’ve assumed it as my job as a Christian leader. Nor is it because I derive some special joy in pointing the ills of congregations in our time. So, why then do I continue the ministry of church health?

Someone once taught me that NEED is the MOTHER of INVENTION. And there is a need to address the health issues of congregations today. Why? Because everywhere I go words are being directed at me about the concerns persons have with their stumbling congregations. What can we do? How can we become an attractive and influential fellowship once again? We’ve lost our glory days! Those times in which we were a joyful and excited fellowship. Now, we are aimed downhill and seem to be headed there on a fast track. These and many other comments have been shared and have troubled me to no end.

Allow me to also point out that the biblical writers shared my current concern. For they courageously addressed items that were destroying the health of congregations in their time. While these early writers and leaders shared a positive message of good news, they nonetheless followed this up with various items of deep concern about the health and well-being of their early congregations. Evidently the problems of the early church were reaching their ears.

A word that has gripped me of late is the word, aura. What does it mean? Imply? Or, what message does it give? For my purposes here I wish to define the word as having a certain air. A certain feeling. A certain awareness that something is amiss. Has gone wrong. It gives a rather negative sense that something just isn’t right.

When I move among established congregations I pick up rather quickly on this negative aura that has invaded many congregations. As I relate with the members I get a sense that something is stirring that isn’t good. There are some who have formed their own comfortable cliques, or, special groups; words and actions are demonstrated that reveal members are out of sorts with one another; negative criticism is encountered from some; gossip is heard; complaining is in the air; threats about leaving the church are uttered; playing the blame-game is on a rampage; and one feels worse after coming inside than he or she does in the outside world.

In one meeting with a congregations leadership I listened for two hours to the uttering of one gripe after another. When I was finally given a chance to speak I asked, “is there anything you can tell me about this church that’s positive?” Silence reigned for a few moments. And finally a few good points were shared. But the church was so full of negativities and conflicts, it was evident to me that it would be next to impossible for this church to get its head above water and become a healthy organism again.

As I was preparing today’s blog I read some alarming thoughts from Bill Easum. He indicated that when church guests enter a service, their antennas are up. Never think for one moment they do not read the unsettling state of affairs that often exist inside a troubled church. Easum then states: “You may think we’re being overly dramatic, but time after time we find unresolved conflict literally killing a church.” What is worse, congregations are tolerating this conflict, and do nothing about what is making them ill and signing their death warrant.

What is the message here? The problem isn’t the outside world. Rather, the problem is more often the church itself. And unless the abnormal conflict is addressed and dealt with responsibly, the graveyard may be the next step for a church!!

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, The Devil, The Tongue | Leave a comment

BEHAVING LIKE A BELIEVER (Part Two)

Some responses to yesterday’s blog made me aware that I needed to return and offer some positive prescriptions for the behavior problem described there. What does a church do with those who are a source of behavior that threatens the witness and spiritual health of the church?

Generally, congregations have been guilty of ignoring these people. Thinking that addressing the issues will only make matters worse. Don’t rock the boat, they reason, and make things worse than they are now. While that sounds plausible, it only allows the problem to grow. Enlarge. Probably even to greatly increase in its intensity. It seems that many congregations are committed to having peace, even when disciplinary measures are necessary and clearly need to be taken.

What are the kinds of behavior problems that need to be addressed in congregations? Initially, there is the kind of negative behavior in process that I attempted to describe in yesterday’s blog. Outright negative criticism by some of others who do not measure up to their expectations. Others work under the surface. Behind closed doors. They spread poisonous gossip and create a rumor mill. Predictably, they will seek to disrupt the current equilibrium of a congregation. Another group will endeavor to utilize the power they’ve been able to establish over time in a church fellowship. Control of the existing system is their quest. In virtually every congregation some form of these problems are presently being played out.

The foregoing being true, how are these negative behaviors to be effectively addressed? Allow me to respond.

  • Before correction can be put in place, a church must be able to see the problems. See them clearly. Sometimes the problems are not seen and understood. At other times they are seen, but nothing is ever done to adequately address them.
  • Rather than addressing only issues of theology and doctrine today, congregations need to spend more significant time with ethical and behavioral issues. Why? Because the Scriptures are literally full of teachings on conduct and relationships. These are often ignored or sidestepped in preaching and teaching.
  • The problems revealed in this blog are areas where Elders/Shepherds in our congregations should be functioning. Where they should be taking care of the Lord’s flock. Guiding them and keeping them free of dis-functionality and dangerous spiritual health issues. In too many instances though church shepherds get “hung up” on meetings and conducting business, and they fail to minister “hands on” for the well-being of the flock.
  • When any believer sees disruptive and negative behavior in operation, he or she should responsibly step forward and address it. Do so, however, in the spirit of love and consideration, not with words that serve to condemn and alienate. Addressing negative issues is never a pleasant matter. But if they’re not addressed, further problems are always waiting in the wings. And when they are not addressed a believer is not functioning responsibly on behalf of his or her brethren.
  • I’m increasingly aware of the presence of small groups in our fellowships. They are excellent contexts for growing together. Becoming mature in Christ. Yet, many of these contexts today have become the hotbeds of controversy and congregational divisiveness. In order to be healthy fellowships, they will require leaders or facilitators who are gifted at directing the group into working together positively. They should not be settings where irritations, animosity and discord are allowed to grow and flourish.

I’m committed to helping experience healthy congregations. But doing so requires that we see our problems clearly before helpful and positive prescriptions can be followed. But you can be sure of the following: A healthy body is able to exist when our inner attitudes result in healthy outward actions.

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Preaching, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spirituality, The Tongue | Leave a comment

A PATH FOR YOUR CHURCH TO FOLLOW

Church health continues to be a matter of growing concern in congregations. I hear it from church members and church leaders everywhere today. 

But why?

One would think that congregations would be the one exceptional place where peace on earth exists. Can be experienced. Enjoyed. But not so. For numerous congregations of which I’m aware have become war zones. Battle fronts. Artillery ranges. And many within the church find themselves caught in the line of rapid fire. As a result, they become wounded. Experience serious and lethal injuries. 

I hear these reports from church members who are unhappy with their leadership. I nonetheless hear from leadership ministers who are unhappy with the leadership in their church, and with the way they’re often treated by church members generally. What’s worse, these reported issues do not seem to be improving. Getting better. Healing. Rather, they appear to be increasing. Snowballing. 

What can congregations do that are caught in the fierce heat of all these raging battles? Do they ignore them? Hope they will go away? Work harder? Remove suspected problem staff members? Blackball some in-house leaders? Do membership surveys? Have more meetings in which to solve existing problems? Or, do they just simply throw in the towel and close their church doors?

All these questions have been raised. Often. And many congregations have even chosen one or more of the paths here suggested. But to no avail. With no positive results. In fact, all these human efforts have only resulted in bringing greater discouragement and destruction. 

So, what can be done? How can congregations experience relief? Simply talking about the problems will lead nowhere that is helpful. Solutions will not be found. Thus, with these thoughts in mind allow me to offer a helpful path.

  • Begin by openly acknowledging that your church has a problem. This initial suggestion, however, is often side-stepped. Ignored today. For no church wishes to admit that they have a problem. But until this step is taken, no headway can be made.
  • Cease having endless meetings to talk and talk some more. It is a wheel-spinning exercise. Congregations that follow this path only perpetuate the negative climate in their church.
  • Transform your talk sessions into prayer sessions. Seek God’s face. Pour out your concerns to Him. Listen intently for His voice and the direction He will offer you.
  • Search the Scriptures in regard to relating with one another as brethren; be sensitive to the scriptural teaching on practicing love; begin to seriously engage in forgiving one another; focus on what unifies in place of what divides followers of Christ.
  • Study a good textbook together. Bob Russell’s book, When God Builds A Church, is a good example of what I’m here suggesting. Yet, there are many excellent volumns available. 
  • Seek the assistance of a trained church health consultant/coach. These persons bring to you veteran experience and maturity. Furthermore, they will bring objectivity rather than a continued outpouring of negative emotional thoughts and feelings. 
  • Church consulting/coaching is my ministry role. I’m ready, prepared and willing to help your church move toward the needed healing and restoration.

But the question is now this one: Are you willing to acknowledge your existing problems, and to seek the outside trained assistance that is available? If so, help can soon be on the way.

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spirituality | Leave a comment

THE MAGNIFICENT MINISTRY OF MENTORING

In past days a majority of instruction and teaching in congregations has taken place inside a formal classroom. And classroom teaching was and still is important. But I am increasingly seeing another instructional center: that of mentoring. By mentoring I am referring to one person enabling another person to understand the Christian faith, and to grow through the mentoring process into a strong believer in Christ Jesus.

But we need to take a closer look at a mentor. A mentor is anyone who informs and shapes another person, with the underlying purpose of molding that individual. It is important that the one being mentored is both an open and receptive student. For this is the only way a mentor is able to pour his insights and understanding into someone else. 

Mentoring, it needs to be understood, requires a great deal from the mentor. Some considerable input. It will require his time, patience, and growing a mutual trust between  himself and the person he or she is mentoring.

Where does the mentoring need to take place? In what context? Actually in various places. Allow me to suggest some of these areas in which mentoring should occur today.

  • With persons who are in the process of becoming Christian disciples. Those who are beginning the Christian life. They need the foundation with which to both begin and continue in the faith.
  • With those who are struggling to live the Christian life. Some of these persons have not been taught the basics of Christian discipleship. They need direction and much encouragement.
  • With youth who have chosen to follow Christ, but lack the support of Christian parents. Those who will guide them responsibly in the Christian walk. Thus, equipped youth leaders are a must in these dark times.  
  • With those who would assume ministry roles in the church. Among these are: church Elders; church teachers; church ministry team leaders; church youth instructors and coaches; church volunteers who will function in various ministries in congregational life.

I would be overjoyed to see every Christian serving according to his or her giftedness in the life of the church. On a daily basis. Perpetually. But if this is going to happen and become an ongoing reality in our day then we must have an ever growing cadre of Christian mentors. Those who are able to instruct on an individual basis. Who are able to show the way. Mold and develop individuals to be responsible followers of Christ Jesus.

Paul envisioned the mentoring ministry when he stressed the importance of   the “… equipping of the saints for the work of ministry … ” (see Ephesians 4:13). Enabling believers to become adults. To no longer remain children. To grow up.

Why is this effort of mentoring/equipping necessary? Essential? Important to stress? Because it is ” … for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12b-13).  

Mentoring is the call of this desperate hour of history. Coach Tony Dungy has said it all beautifully in one brief statement: “Relationships are ultimately what matter—our relationships with God and with other people.”

You are in one of the two positions: to be a mentor, or, to be mentored by someone who can equip and enable you to be all God would have you be.

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Ministry, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

THE CHALLENGE OF LEADERSHIP

There is one ingredient that is absolutely essential too a strong and vibrant congregation: HEALTHY LEADERSHIP.

In far to many congregations I have both served with and have likewise observed is a frequent error. A blind spot. A blocking wall. Simply stated, these congregations suffer from being over-managed and under-led.

When a congregation has many managers, and no leader in place who is given the freedom to lead, a church will plateau and eventually suffocate. Why? Because managers seek to maintain things the way they’ve always been. No changes are allowed. Things staying the same are a requirement.

On the other hand, leaders are innovators. Creators. They have followers. And they are taking those following them on a life-enhancing journey toward ends they have become passionate and knowledgable about.

Managers differ greatly from leaders. For they do not draw followers. Take others with them on a fruitful and faithful journey. Instead, they alienate persons. Drive them away. Pour cold water on flames that have been ignited by a leader.

Not only have I noted that congregations are often well infiltrated with managers, they are also harassed by certain individuals who have stepped up to the position of being controllers. They must rubber stamp any decision. Give their permission. Offer the right-of-way. And they will often enforce their control by red-tape organizational procedures that absolutely destroy leadership.

What is my point here? We need leadership in our congregations today in place of heavy-handed management and control. Unless this happens, congregations will continue to be stifled and sidetracked. They will be unable to move forward. Make progress. Help enlarge God’s kingdom.

I have often used the analogy of riding a bicycle in reference to management and leadership. If a bike isn’t moving forward a reliable prediction can be made: it will fall over! A bike must be continuously pedaled and moving forward if it is to remain in an upright position, and the rider is to reach his or her destination.

In numerous congregations the bicycle is in neutral. It is standing still. In a state of motionless existence. Paralyzed. As a result, congregations are on a plateau, or, they have begun to degenerate. Unless we begin to conquer the management and control syndrome that is destroying our congregations, God’s kingdom cannot advance. Grow. Bear fruit.

So here is my ultimate challenge: “LEAD … FOLLOW … OR, GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!”

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Christ, Church, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Service, Shepherds, Spirituality | Leave a comment

MOVING OUT OF MAINTENANCE

One of my opportunities as a church consultant/coach is that of being able to listen to persons share information about their local churches. This kind of involvement on my part enables me to see the big picture of much that is going on in day to day church life.

A frequent complaint of church leaders is the maintenance orientation into which their churches have evolved. When leaders meet, I’m told, they focus mainly on conducting “church business.” Whatever that is. Putting out forest fires. Running the church. Oiling the religious machine. Keeping church members happy and entertained. Reacting to the various negative moods church members express. Not allowing things to escape their notice and control.

If your church is about maintaining things as they’ve always traditionally been done, then your congregation is locked into maintenance. And when a church becomes a maintenance oriented organization it will predictably plateau and decline. Religious business as usual needs to be vacated. Left behind. Why? because it forms a roadblock to fulfilling the true mission of the church. 

Leaders who set and do maintenance thinking and planning are not functioning in ways that achieve the mission of the church: MAKING DISCIPLES. They are running a religious organization. A religious institution. Being a culturally oriented group. If your congregation is not focused on its true mission in this dark day it is headed for death row. 

How does a church though become a mission oriented organism? Get back to its roots? Function as a fellowship committed to the ultimate commission of Jesus? It begins with the leadership of your church. They must cease being, “keepers of the aquarium.” Micro-managing the church ship. Having their ears tuned in to every congregational moan and groan that seeks attention. Wants its way. Demands its agenda.

Leaders may find themselves unpopular when they become true Christian leaders. When they become focused on mission in place of maintenance. They will most likely be disliked. Resisted. Ignored. Find themselves targeted as an enemy of the flock. But a firm determination to return to being a church on mission today will take this kind of commitment and orientation. 

One of the items I have never understood about congregations is their tendency to float toward being a democracy. A cause that is, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” When will we ever understand that the church is not a democracy. It is a theocracy. Our Lord is King! And we should be determined to do whatever HE expects. Commands. Places before us to do.

And the world today is need of Christ Jesus. More than anything else they need HIM. To be in a living and dynamic relationship with HIM. Thus, the road toward Christian discipleship is the burning need in this most confusing world in which we find ourselves.

But are congregations willing to transition out of routine maintenance and into serious mission? A most important question. I would hope congregations would be increasingly guided by Richard of Chichester’s famous prayer: “That we may be enabled to know Jesus Christ more clearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly.” 

March 30, 2011 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spirituality | Leave a comment

REACHING OUT TO GOD’S MESSENGERS

Have you been let down? Hurt? Rejected? Betrayed? My questions here are directed to those persons who are engaged in leadership ministry.

Let me assure you: It isn’t a shameful thing to acknowledge your pain. Admit that you have been victimized. To allow yourself to vent.

You know why? Because I encounter these Christian leaders weekly. Many of them have shriveled. Become withdrawn. Assumed a martyr’s role. Retired to the sidelines. Thrown in the towel. Are filled with hate and retaliation.

One individual comes quickly to mind. He’s a man at mid-age. Very gifted. Talented. Educated. Has a beautiful family. Possesses several years of ministry know how and experience.

Reggie would immediately attract you with his winsome personality. His God driven spirit. His excitement for serving. But the once joyful spirited Christian leader has moved to the sidelines. Withdrawn into a shell. Left the scene. Vacated the building.

Two weeks ago I visited with him. For a lengthy time. Pumped everything I had to offer into him. When I left his eyes appeared to be in the distance. I couldn’t keep him on the same page with me. Tears formed in his eyes as I prayed with him. As I drove away that day I cried for him most of the rest of the day.

Why was I hurting? Because Reggie was but another victim of the recurring abuse that is happening in more and more churches today. Reggie angered a certain segment of the church, and they found a sly way to release him as their spiritual leader. Reggie was a man who had much to offer. Able to minister and help change hurting lives.

But now he is unable to offer anyone anything. He is unable to assume a ministry. I fear he will never serve with a church again. For you see, Reggie has become another statistic. Another lost statistic. Another of the devil’s victims of dirty work in congregational life.

This picture is one of the most current lethal examples of an unhealthy church. Yet, this malady is really nothing new. The prophets in Scripture were, like Reggie, abused and rejected for their efforts among the Israelites, God’s people. First century preachers were also rejected and even jailed because of their ministries.

What can be done today to more effectively embrace and encourage our preachers? Allow me to offer you some of my immediate thoughts on this matter.

  • Take a personal interest in those men of God who have been abused and rejected by congregations. Don’t let them continue life on a solo flight. They need you by their side.
  • Become a caring friend to listen and be a sounding board for them in their pain and hurt.
  • Attempt to connect a betrayed minister with another congregation that will love him and be responsive to his direction and leadership.
  • Mark congregations that have evolved into preacher killing institutions. It is time to start placing roadblocks in their path, so that other men of God will not be hurt by them.
  • Much coaching and consulting needs to be done today among our congregations. Why? Because they need to be taught how to both receive and treat those who come to minister with them.

Congregations are not perfect. Preachers are not perfect either. But it is high time that we turn the shadows into rays of sunshine everywhere in our congregations. What’s your thoughts?

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Christ, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Shepherds, Spirituality, The Devil | Leave a comment