Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Does Success Look Like at Your Church (Revisited)

When you look at your church and its core values and vision how would you define success?

How would you compare the success of your church's core values and vision with the priorities of Jesus and the teachings of scripture?

When people meet you or the people that attend your church do they want to come and see what Jesus is doing among you?

Has your church gotten stuck in a cultural or generation version of the Christian life that is no longer appealing to those seeking Jesus?

One place to evaluate success in the local church is to examine the priorities of Jesus and the New Testament writers. Another way to evaluate Biblical success is to study the lives of people in the Old Testament who were considered pleasing and favored of God.

Scripture points to two specific areas that make a person pleasing to God in the Old Testament.
1. The first is having 'a heart after God' 1 Sa 13:14: But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command." NIV.
2. The second is obedience to God's Word. 1 Sam 15:22: Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. NIV

Jesus also came 'to do the will of the Father' powered by the Holy Spirit.
1. In fact Phil 2:5-11 says that Jesus humbled or emptied Himself. 'Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
2. He operated by the father’s authority and the Holy Spirit's power so that he would be the perfect model for us. Jn 17:4 “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. NASU
3. Mt 3:16-17: 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

The next two places we need to look are the command of Jesus and teaching of the Apostles.
1.First, to continue His work by making disciples of all nations. Mt 28:19-20, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."NIV
2. Second, to equip God’s people. Eph 4:11-13, And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
If you evaluate what we are doing and compare it with these verses, how is your church doing?
Is the next generation of leaders flourishing among us or are they being driven away or held in captivity to our old ways of doing things?
We are commanded to be making, equipping and releasing into leadership the next group or generation of disciples on a continual basis.
We should follow the model of Paul and continue our relationship as partners and co-laborers with the next generation of leaders as we release them to lead and make disciples of all nations.
This will assure them of support and help them to continue the work that Jesus began to do and teach us about!
We will need to allow them their vision and their God inspired methods. New wine needs new wineskins! God is raising up young Davids and Debras. They should be doing Great exploits for God and not starting God's work over again.

Can it be said of us that we are equipping the next generation to do great and mighty things and become men and women of valor as they do the will of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit in our world today?


Sunday, October 21, 2007

His Presence = His Solutions and His Victory

This article was previously titled "The Imprint and Authority of His Presence." This reprint contains more of the material originally given as part of my introductory teaching in the area of Fulfilling the Vision and Assignment You Were Created for Series.

There is a time and place for each of us who follow Jesus, in which the dream he places in our heart presses us into action
to fulfill the assignment he has birthed within us. If we are not careful we will look for solutions or formulas that others have found to fulfill the dream or assignment which God has placed within them. We seem to be comforted by quick fixes and pre-packaged answers. The statement below sums up what we experience.

"God has Called, You have answered yes, You have been preparing, Now you want to Build it, but where do you start? "

So how do we Go From The Dream or Vision to Reality?
To begin I have listed some brain storming notes on going from the dream to the reality. These are from my teaching notes from a college class I taught on "Planting a Church and Starting a Ministry."

What do we need to think about when starting or renewing a ministry or church?
Dream the Dream
Listen to Your Team
Write Out the Vision
Dream Big Start Small
Where do You Start
Develop a Plan-Work the Plan-Make it Real
Define who and what you need to make it happen.
Job Descriptions and the gifts and skills necessary to do them..
Sow the Vision or Cast the Vision
Understand the Financial reality. Where will the money come from?
Pick Team Members and Board
Communication and Marketing
Work Toward Birth or Launch
Location, Location, Physical and Spiritual
Write a Timetable
What is next as you grow?
Long Range Planning
Ongoing Evaluations of your progress toward your vision goals
Make adjustments as needed to continue to fulfill the Vision

But Wait!

This all sound like the beginning draft for a good teaching, but there is a missing element without which this is a person or group of people attempting to fulfill the Supernatural Vision God has given them with the plans and ideas of mankind. It might even be a good plan, but without the "Fire of God's Presence", it is a plan that will not produce the fruit God has desired! Throughout the Bible fire is seen as bringing purity, representing the glory of God, or the results of God's presence. In the Bible whenGod's people seek Him for solutions, wisdom and deliverance he provides the plan and resources for victory.

Today we are often so busy 'doing the work of the ministry', that we fail to spend time in with God's where the Fire of His Presence can accomplish its work in making us like Him. What do I mean by this? The following points will help us in our understanding.

1. When Moses came down from the mountain after spending 40 days in God's presence or Glory his face was aglow 'literally' with the Glow or Glory of God's presence.

2. In the New Testament, the word that is used when speaking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has within it the the imagery of a garment which is dipped in dye or the making of a pickle from a cucumber.

3. Although there are certain text that speak clearly to the baptism in the Holy Spirit and Fire there are additional text which speak about additional fillings with the Holy Spirit experienced by the disciples.

From these verses we can say that the more continously you are filled with His Spirit the more like Him you will become. The more we are in His presence the more we not only become like Him but the more we know His heart and His mind and His ways. This knowing the Heart of the Father, the Mind of Christ and the Power of the Spirit comes as we learn of Him and obey what we see and know Him to do and be.

His Word plays a key role in this but we must be wise in using His Word as it can be a weapon of both life and death.
We must read, meditate on and study His word.

Prayer plays a important role as well. When we communicate both in prayer and fellowship with him by meditation on His Word and His Ways we build a relationship from which we can know His heart.

Worship, praise and adoration in word, in song and with instruments lift Him up and help us come into proper alignment with Him.

We could go on to speak of all of the Spiritual disciplines, but the point is, we must have a relationship in which our whole being, Spirit, Soul (mind, will + emotion) and Body is moving toward maturity with Him. This relation must be on His terms as declared in His Word (the Bible).

Our relationship with Him must be one in which we begin to realize these two truth:

1. We are in the world but not of it.

2. In Him we live and move and have our being. It seems that we want a relationship with God that is based on our preferences, but a review of the interactions of God with people in the Bible are varied in many ways. What is never varied is that He is a Supernatural being interacting with His creation.

So, let us seek Him, 'the author and finisher of our faith.'

So, let us make Him and not our labor for Him our number priority.

So, let us spend time in His presence as outlined above.

So, let it be known far and wide that we continue this relationship through out the day and not just in a devotional time or place.

In closing we can have an exciting relationship with Him every day all day without being so 'Heavenly Minded that we are no Earthly Good." The more we are in His presence the easier it is to hear His voice, know His ways and see His power displayed in the lives of people.

Then His plans and the Visions for ministry that He gives us will have the Owners Authority and Imprint!

This teaching is also important for groups of believers as well as individuals. The major difference between the individual and group application of this teaching is that the birth of and fulfillment of the assignment within a group requires an understanding of the unique combination of gifts, personalities and experiences within the group and a willingness to seek the Lord together for the carrying out or fulfillment of that assignment or vision.

If we believe that He is the head of the Church or Body of Christ then we must also believe that it is from the Fire of His Presence that we will receive all that is needed to fulfill His vision and assignment for each local group of believers!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lead Like Jesus

Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time

"The more I read the Bible, the more evident it becomes that everything I have ever taught or written about effective leadership over the past 25 years, Jesus did to perfection. He is simply the greatest leadership role model of all time." Ken Blanchard

Effective leadership-whether on the job, in the community, at church or in the home-starts on the inside. Before you can hope to lead anyone else, you have to know who you are. Every leader must answer two critical questions: Whose are you going to be? Who are you going to be? One deals with your relationship to Christ. The other with your life purpose.

With simple yet profound principles from the life of Jesus, and dozens of stories and leadership examples from his life experiences, veteran author, speaker and leadership expert Ken Blanchard, guides readers through the process of discovering how to lead like Jesus. It really could be described as the process of aligning two internal domains-the heart and the head-and two external domains, the hands and the habits. These four dimensions of leadership form the outline for this very practical and transformational

Materials from Thomas Nelson

Lead Like Jesus