5 Ways to Grow Mission-Hearted Leaders

Every leader needs a compass in their head. The mission answers “Question Zero”: “What are we ultimately supposed to be doing?” It makes the overall direction of the church unquestionable and points everyone in that direction. The mission is a golden thread that weaves through every activity of the church. It brings greater meaning to the most menial functions of ministry.

It’s true that every church has a General Calling to glorify God and make disciples. Every church that has ever been, or will ever be, has that same universal calling. But each church also has a Specific Calling. God has called your church to do things that no church before you or after you can do. There are good works prepared in advance just for you, and your mission should reflect that! (For example, take a look at the different mission statements of these 10 churches in Dallas, Texas, all within 30 minutes of each other. Each has a General Calling, but it’s fascinating to see how their uniqueness is stamped into their mission.)

As you can imagine, the leadership team of a church is critical to the activation of the unique mission of the church. But as Dallas Willard says, “Familiarity can breed unfamiliarity.” Things that once stoked the fires of our heart can grow colder as we spend more and more time around it. In short…we just get used to it and the thing that made it once seem extraordinary, now seem ordinary.

Even if your church has a profound missional mandate and a mission statement that’s more sticky and viral than any Nike campaign, the sharpness of it can dull over time for your church leadership team. It is essential that we are constantly letting the calling of our church reach deep into our heart and shape what we do. (If this idea of a mission and vision shaped church really piques your imagination, check out this free download from my friend Will Mancini, who’s done a Visual Summary of his book Church Unique.)


Here are five ways you can grow your team’s heart for your mission, using five different kinds of spiritual practices:

1. Pray together.

We all know that the mission of the church is inherently spiritual, but it’s easy to let the spiritual fire die down. If there’s anything that can engage us with this spiritual task, it’s connecting our heart to the heart of the Father for the mission. In the same way that Paul says that sometimes we don’t fully know how to pray but the “Spirit helps us in our weakness,” so too will praying as a team into the mission ignite the flame again.

2. Read stories from the Word of God.

Find fresh stories in the Bible that connect to the specific calling of your church. Who are the main characters? Why do they connect on an emotional and visceral level? How do these stories connect to the essence of who God has shaped your church to be?

3. Guard the deposit.

Paul instructs Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to you.” In your church and in your leadership team, God has placed a very particular deposit through your spiritual gifts, redemption stories, “hand of God” experiences and leadership. Does your team know what those things are? Can they name them? Can they see how God has sovereignly brought those things together?

4. Identify five new stories.

As leaders, we often times we use the same stories to point to what the mission looks like when it’s realized (we see this happen often in the Bible). Maybe it’s a miracle that happened or transformation in someone’s life early on in the life of the church and it because a kind of story passed down from person to person. But what about the here and now? Have each staff person identify five stories in the life of the church in the last 12 months that signify what the mission of the church is about.

5. Fast together.

There are all sorts of reasons to fast, but growing the heart for mission in the spirit of your team is a great one. Whether it’s giving up food for 24 hours or social media for a week, set aside a dedicated amount of time for fasting (which includes you!) and each time they feel the desire for food or to check social media, pray that God’s mission would be accomplished in and through your church family.

As leaders, it’s easy to assume that what’s clear to us and what lights the fire for the Gospel in our heart burns the exact same way. Whether you use these five ideas or have others of your own, I greatly encourage you to continue to recast the mission of your church into the hearts of your best leaders.

If you would like some help with developing or clarifying your church’s mission, I highly recommend the team at Auxano. Over a period of a few months, a navigator can meet with your team to see great clarity in your mission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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One Word Makes Your Mission Missional

One word. That’s it… one word could mean the difference between your congregation merely liking – or really living – the church’s mission. This idea surfaced last week on the latest My Ministry Breakthrough podcast.

Barrett Bowden, lead pastor of Island Community Church in downtown Memphis, and I discussed one word in their mission. Using “our” instead of “the” when talking about a calling to the world immediately made ICC’s missional mandate intensively relevant to each person.

One word may seem minor, but imagine the difference between “being transformed by Jesus to impact the world” versus “being transformed by Jesus to impact our world.” One names an ethereal, general notion of outreach. The other forces people to consider how the Gospel will impact their neighbors, co-workers, and classmates – as well as distant people groups in other countries. As Barrett stated it:

“We should have that shared ownership of our local context, our neighborhood, but also distant peoples. God gives us, the local church, that burden… and opportunity. It is ours to own, and to joyfully see it, and then go after it.”

One word will make the difference between people smiling and nodding when you cast vision from the mission – or being moved to imagine and envision themselves on-mission in everyday life.

One word engages people beyond fellowship around a phrase into ownership of a purpose. Here are a few other church mission statements in which one simple word moves people from appreciation to invitation:

Visalia Christian Reformed Church in Visalia, California: Grafting each person into Gospel shaped community. Using the word each, instead of all or every, brings the object of the calling to know the unique individual, not merely a nameless group.

Calvary Christian Church in Burke, Virginia: Guiding people to forge a life-long reliance on God.Now renamed as Foundry Church, using the word guiding instead of helping leads every member of Foundry to both be forged and lead others to do the same. Guides cannot lead from the seats in worship, they have to be on the trails of life.

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Illinois: Inviting broken-world people to experience complete freedom in Christ Jesus. For Northwoods, it took courage to use broken-world instead of a safer, user-friendlier word like “all people” or “every person.” Naming this broken world draws every member into the understanding that “the world” is broken, “our world” is broken, and “my world” is broken, and therefore we must be actively inviting people to experience freedom in this brokenness.

St John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas: Connecting our neighbors to true riches in Jesus.Similar to Island Community Church, the word “our” in front of neighbors make it every person’s responsibility to connect in an upwardly mobile suburb of Houston, not just the staff’s.

Highland Park Baptist Church, Muscle Shoals, Alabama: Mobilizing all people to live as Jesus-followers. For HP, it was adding one word, the word “all” to an already well-established mission that shifted their focus from organizational purpose to an individual and missional mandate.

If one word could make a difference in your mission, it could just be an eternal one.

Auxano provides church leaders with a free 30-minute vision assessment call with one of our team of vision-crafting practitioners. To evaluate the words of your mission, schedule an assessment call here, or shoot me an email with a specific question (contact details here).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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6 Times When It’s a Good Idea to Change Your Church’s Mission Statement

Classic wisdom taught us that our mission or purpose statements are timeless. In many ways that’s true and its a helpful teaching concept. And in an ideal world, it works. But in reality, there are times when a leader should change or renew or recreate the sense of mission. So don’t let the classic wisdom freeze you and prevent a significant opportunity to create fresh meaning and new progress for God’s people under your care today. When should you rewrite your mission?

1) When no one knows the one you have

This happens when leaders have not been emotionally connected to the big idea of what the church is about; therefore they don’t use it as an everyday leadership tool. It never makes it into conversations, team meetings, volunteer recruitment or preaching. Usually this is the result of some ridiculous committee-based jargon that is way too long. Or it may be just a short over-generalization of the Great Commission or Great Commandment that has no real teeth for folks in the congregation.

EXAMPLE: Grace Presbyterian in Houston is in a two-year interim between senior pastors. The people of Grace engaged a vision process to better articulate their identity their and direction. Their previous mission to “Love God, Love people” wasn’t specific or actionable enough. So they are currently proposing a new expression, “Building a faith family by encouraging people overwhelmed by life to trust Christ in everything.”

2) When your existing mission reinforces, unintentionally, a consumeristic mentality

We look for the “catalytic” factor in a good mission; that is, it should reinforce upon hearing it, that it involves everyone in the gathering of God’s people. Sometimes a statement subtly reinforces the idea that “we have a pastor or staff who does the mission for us.” (Even thought this is always unintentional, it is more common than you would think.) The last thing you want is a statement that strengthens the death of the church with a clergy-laity false divide.

EXAMPLE: Bruce Miller grew Christ Fellowship in McKinney, Texas to about 2,000 in worship attendance. As the growth began to slow, I challenged him the idea that his mission wasn’t working any more: “Helping people follow Christ” What had clearly been everyone’s role when the church was 200 people (helping people), wasn’t so clear now that the church was 2,000 in attendance.  He didn’t believe me, so he tested it out. I told him to ask his leaders “Who helps people around here?” They all replied, “The staff.” So within the Vision Pathway process, the team added two simple words that changed everything. The mission of Christ Fellowship is now “People helping people, find and follow Christ”

3) When you simply have a better way to be more clear and compelling as your church grows and multiplies

Sometimes greater clarity comes as you lead. Sometimes a significant accomplishment behind you leaves you with an entirely new perspective looking ahead. At such times, a tweak or evolution of your mission can be strategic and powerful for the people you are leading.

EXAMPLE: At Faithbridge UMC, Ken Werlein saw tremendous growth in the first ten years to over 3,000 in worship attendance. Up to that point he had always led passionately with the same mission: “Making more and stronger disciples of Jesus.” To keep it catalytic, it would often be followed with the phrase, “By being a bridge of faith to people everyday.” But as the church grew, Ken was concerned about the quality of reproducing disciples. They spend an entire year re-envisioning their groups process and wanted to further clarify the end that was already embedded in the mission but not clearly expressed as it could be. Their mission now: “Making more and stronger disciples of Jesus, who make more and stronger disciples of Jesus.”

4) When you have discovered your Kingdom Concept  and can be more contextual with your language

We have worked with churches that have a good statements of mission that become less meaningful on the backside of our Kingdom Concept discovery work at Auxano. The Kingdom Concept is an tool we use to further discern your church’s unique strength by examining more thoughtfully, the unique place the church is located (local predicament) the unique people that God has gathered (collective potential) and the unique passion of the leadership team(apostolic spirit).  It answers the question, :What can your church do better than 10,000 others.”  Church leaders love to refresh their mission after this experience.

EXAMPLE: The Elders at Northwest Bible Church, led by Neil Tomba, were excited to land the plane on their Kingdom Concept, that unpacked how the church was called to “Make Jesus real in a make-believe world.” They discuss how their local area is filled with worldly and religious pretense. They discussed their passion to embrace and reinterpret brokenness.  Afterwards their existing mission, albeit good, didn’t feel great. It was, “Equipping people to passionately pursue Christ to do whatever he asks of us in the world.” Now their mission is “Inviting people into the unexpected joy of desperate dependance on Jesus.” Can you feel the difference?

5) When you borrowed the language of another church model to get started and now you have “grown -up”

Yes, many great leaders planted churches in the 80s, 90s and 00s by looking to great models like Willowcreek, Saddleback, NorthPoint, LifeChurch.tv, to name a few. These model churches also created vocabulary that leaders were inspired to adopt. This borrowing of language works fine in the early years. The problem is, God is always doing something unique and new. That means at some point in the church’s history and the leader’s core, a hunger emerges to express that something new; that something one-of-a-kind that God is doing. If this is happening you should name it by re-articulating your mission.

EXAMPLE: David Saathoff at Bandera Road City Church has seen God do amazing things at their church in San Antonio. In the early days, David was proud to take many cues from Bill Hybels. In fact, BRCC was a poster child seeker church. The church’s mission in its first chapter of ministry was, “Helping people far from God become fully devoted followers of Christ.” The mission ws meaningful and strong in the beginning. But a leader always knows where they get their words. David never forgot that his words were really articulated from the heart of Bill Hybels, not his own. Later, through the Vision Pathway, David would find the perfect words for what God was doing uniquely through the people of BRCC. Today their mission is, “Helping people far from God be catalysts of spiritual and social change.”

6) When you are reinventing or reinvigorating a declining church

If the mission isn’t happening it isn’t happening. I don’t think I have ever seen a turn-a-round without some new leadership or leadership tools in place. Remember the most fundamental tool of leadership is the statement of mission. It answers question zero- the question before all other questions. There are simply times where you need a re-statement to be a part of a congregational reboot.

EXAMPLE: Years ago Crozet Baptist Church realized that life wasn’t going to get better as a congregation unless they started focusing outward. With twenty-five deacons in the room  we set out to re-articulate their mission. With many different opinions in the room, there was one thing they could agree on: their town was located in the fastest growing county in the state and they would see unprecedented opportunity to reach people in  the church’s one-hundred plus year history. At the end of the Vision Pathway, they had a brand new day of clarity starting with the mission to encourage people in our ever-expanding community to follow Christ with ever-increasing passion.

> Read more from Will here.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about your church’s mission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Clarity Process

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Three Places to Uncover Values in Your Culture

While serving alongside the Auxano team, I learned the important distinction between vision, mission, strategy, and values. Well-intentioned leaders can confuse those and mix and match them in a way that actually harms clarity.

  • Mission is the what. Your mission is what your organization or ministry is on the planet to do.
  • Strategy is the how. Your strategy is how you accomplish the mission.
  • Vision is what you are pursuing now – the major goals in front of your team that are in alignment with your mission.
  • And your values impact everything you do because your values form the culture of your ministry organization.

Because it is the shared values and beliefs that form the culture, it is critically important for leaders to understand the values beneath the surface. Wise leaders don’t declare values; they uncover the values that are already there. In your organization, you can learn the values that are beneath the surface by looking in a few places. Doing so will help you understand the culture, and understanding the culture is more important than understanding the strategy because strategy is much more flexible than culture. So where do you look? To uncover the values in your culture, look in these three places:

1. The Heroes and Stories

The leaders in the culture that are spoken of as the epitome of the ministry or organization are good examples of the values on display. Listen to the stories that describe the heroes in the culture and you can learn what is valued. As I interviewed and onboarded into my new role at Mariners Church, I heard numerous stories of God’s people at Mariners serving the poor and marginalized in our community and around the world. The stories are beautiful and amazing. By listening, you can learn a lot about what is valued.

2. The Celebrations

Plato famously declared, “What is celebrated in a country is cultivated.” The same is true in any ministry or organization. Whatever has been celebrated has formed the culture. If a ministry celebrates tangible impact in a local community, you know local engagement is in the culture. If a ministry celebrates volunteers who are equipped for ministry, you know that leadership development is in the culture. If you pay attention to what is celebrated you will you learn what is valued. If you want to add a value to a culture, you will need to find ways to celebrate and cultivate that value. You won’t be able to merely speak a value into existence. You may be the leader, but you are not God.

3. The Language

As the new senior pastor of Mariners, I knew one of my first tasks was to understand the culture beneath the surface at Mariners. Thankfully there was language and history for me to study.

I have been fortunate and blessed to follow an exceptional leader in Kenton Beshore. He has, infused the church with values that have created the culture. When he became the senior pastor 35 years ago, he brought the church a list of five values to the church:

  • We teach God’s Word.
  • Be God’s loving family.
  • Every believer is a minister with a ministry.
  • Be innovative in our ministry and relevant in our community.
  • Be contagious in sharing Jesus Christ

Those values have been crystalized over time. I am leading our team through those values again. We are spending one staff meeting a month, with our whole team, walking through the importance and the implications of each value. It is helping me learn the culture, and I hope and pray it is helping us all renew our commitment to and unify around values that have formed the church we are honored to serve.

I love strategy. I have a tendency to go there first. Strategy is important, but culture is more so. Peter Drucker wisely quipped that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” My friend Will Mancini has provided helpful tools, such as this one, to help leaders articulate values through demonstration of those values.

If you are a ministry leader who would like some strategic outside eyes to help you and your team uncover your unique identity, not only your values but also your mission and your strategy, I highly recommend Auxano. I have learned a great deal from the team and believe wholeheartedly they would serve you and your team well. To reach out to the team, click here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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The Real Meaning of Community and Mission

My wife and I have a rugged wooden farm table. It’s not impressive—there are scratches, stains, and some cracks that make you wonder if it can even hold another plate. As a family of four, the table is probably too big for us. As a matter of fact, we don’t even have enough chairs to go around it so an old trunk that sits on iron cast wheels acts as a bench. Even though the table is bulky and awkward, it has become the most significant place in our house. It is our place of meeting. Around this simple piece of furniture we share stories, corny jokes, old memories, laughter and tears, joys and pain. Together we eat, pray, and live around this tattered table.

It’s rare that our family is the only one gathering around this table. Our kids love having others join us and are constantly asking the question, “Who’s coming over tonight?” Having others share a meal with us has become a regular rhythm in which we live. We are learning to view our home, and this farm table, as a means of advancing the gospel.

Through this God-ordained transition we have seen God transform our understanding of both community and mission.

COMMUNITY AND MISSION MEET

 Within the church, we tend to equate the word “mission” with a trip we take or a weekend project that we interact with on occasion. We are prone to define “community” as something that we experience through some type of Sunday program or home group bible study. Thankfully there is no need to separate community and mission. In the wisdom of God’s plan, these two critical aspects of the Christian life work in tandem. Jesus, in fact, prayed for this in John 17. He begs the Father “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (Jn 17:23). Jesus links the love that we have with one another with his mission to the world. As we grow in love for one another, the world will be drawn to saving faith.

Your city can be transformed when community and mission meet at the table. Your table can be more than a place that meals are shared—it can become the place where community and mission meet. Picture it: a table for the hurting, the lonely, the rich, the has-beens, the have-nots, the popular, the rebellious, and the self-righteous. Imagine God taking those gathered around your table and forming them together for the greatest mission they could ever join. This is His track record from Genesis to now. Community is more than a Sunday and mission is more than a trip.

The Christians mission involves you to bringing your friends who know Jesus into your home while intentionally and simultaneously inviting friends who do not yet know Christ. Set the table, serve the food, pray for God’s blessing, and watch Him do the work.

I believe that the Christian community and God’s mission go hand in hand. We must create the space for those who do not have the gospel to see the gospel put on display. Jesus said in John 13:35, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

 God has a divine meeting waiting on you—I invite you to pull up a seat at the table and experience life in community.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dustin Willis

Dustin Willis

Dustin Willis co-authored the book Life On Mission with Aaron Coe and is now following up with his second Moody Published book, Life In Community | Joining Together to Display the Gospel. Dustin's desire is to see everyday people join together in the history-sweeping mission of God. Dustin currently serves with the North American Mission Board and speaks across North America. Dustin earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from Clemson University and his master's degree from Liberty Theological Seminary. Dustin is a regular contributor at sendnetwork.com. Dustin lives in metro Atlanta, with his wife, Renie, and their two children, Jack and Piper.

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The Missional Value of Being Constant

It is one thing to have a mission and quite another to have a missional lens, where all activity is viewed through the lens of that mission, where all decision-making is filtered through the lens of the mission. It is one thing to have a mission hanging on the wall and another to work hard to align activity to that mission.

At the beginning of each calendar year, I remind our team of our mission and values, our identity that is beneath all the activity. I know the reminders are redundant, but redundancy is important in communication of mission and values. I recently met with all the managers and directors of the Resources Division at LifeWay, the division I am responsible to lead. We have nearly 650 employees in the division, and they all report to the leaders who were in that room. For five years we have lived with the same mission and values and have seen the impact on the culture of being crystal clear about our identity. As I shared recently, we have been intentional about driving mission and values into our culture. I asked our team about the impact of living with the same mission and values for a sustained season, and we identified many wins, including:

1. Attracting the right players

If mission and values are not part of the hiring process, you don’t really have a mission and values. You merely have a statement on a website or a brochure. When you really have a mission, it becomes central in recruiting. And because it is central, the wrong players are more likely to be filtered out and the right players, those already aligned, are more likely to surface.

2. Mutual accountability

When mission and values are really in a culture, the leaders are not the only ones holding people accountable. The whole team views the work through the lens of the mission and the values, and the culture holds people accountable. People remind each other of the values, and violations are called out because people want to protect the culture they love.

3. Increased enthusiasm

When tasks are viewed through the lens of mission, the enthusiasm that drives the execution increases. On the contrary, when people don’t see how tasks they are fulfilling are connected to a grand mission, the tasks feel more mundane and less meaningful.

4. Unity around mission

There is strength in a diverse team, particularly when the people are united around a mission that transcends the differences. People can only unite around a mission and values when they are continually made clear.

It is challenging to live with the same mission and values over a sustained period of time as we can so easily drift from rooting our activity in our identity. But doing so is well worth it.


Learn more about the importance of viewing everything through your mission lens. Connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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Clarity Process

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Six Responses to Mission Resistance

Every great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question in the comments – how, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some very legalistic Jews known as the Judaizers were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a closed discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. (Acts 15:19-22 NLT)

As I walk through this passage, I think there is some key wisdom to be applied all these centuries later in a more modern context.

We are charged to defend not only the faith of the gospel, but also its fruit. That is, we must uphold the content of the gospel as well as protect its ability to reach new people. To claim to hold to an orthodox view of Scripture while allowing non-scriptural viewpoints to be interposed in our doctrine, resulting in the alienation of those who need Jesus most, isn’t faithfulness to the gospel.

Let me put it more practically. Our role as pastors is to protect the flock from wolves and from false teachers. But it’s also to remind our flock that there are sheep who haven’t joined the fold yet and we must do everything in our power to take the gospel to every last one of them.

There are battles that aren’t worth fighting. When it comes to our preferences over style and approach, we are called to make allowance for differences of opinion.

And then there are battles that absolutely are worth fighting. In fact, there are battles worth risking everything over. The vision, the mission, and the purposes of God for his people are worth being stubborn about. The cause of evangelism and the pathway to discipleship are well worth working for and defending from error.

But how? How do we handle the Judaizers and joysuckers and complainers who would rather keep their preferred religious systems to the detriment of evangelism? I think we handle people the way the early apostles did.

  1. Get godly counsel. The elders consult with one another. James probably could have handled it himself, but he chose to invite input from other godly leaders.
  2. Be bold in your calling. The elders stand with confidence, believing God had called them to lead through this particular moment with clarity and conviction.
  3. Stand with and for the lost. They made it clear that we should not make it any more difficult than it already naturally was for non-Jewish people to come to know Jesus.
  4. Show them what grace is like. Nobody got kicked out. Everyone was still welcome and the apostles set an example of grace for everyone to observe.
  5. Fight against anything that competes with discipleship. They kept the pathway clear and asked people to make voluntary sacrifices for the benefit of others.
  6. Point to Jesus. The pointed people back to the gospel – the good news that Jesus Christ alone saves by grace alone through faith alone.

So, when confronting legalists and traditionalists who would ultimately stand in the way of lost people coming into God’s family to protect their own preferences, always choose to stand on the side of the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

I often pray for God to give me the boldness of a lion. Granted, sometimes I choose to have the boldness of an angry chinchilla, but I’m a work in progress. I’m still learning to love everyone – even the legalists and traditionalists – while being mean about the vision.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about dealing with resistance to your vision and mission.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leaders Must Model One Thing First

What can my church learn from the mission-focused leadership of the United States Marines?

A clear, executable mission is the key to success for every branch of the military. An outstanding attention to teamwork and training make the United States Armed Forces the most formidable fighting force on the planet. Leadership is just as important to each service branch as it is to your church.

In the U.S. Marines, the leaders model the mission.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Semper Fi, by Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh

For more than 200 years, the U.S. Marine Corps has been a paragon of world-class leadership, excelling in the areas of motivation, training, and management. However, the Corps doesn’t create an elite force simply by barking orders at underlings or demanding grueling rounds of laps. Rather, the Corps is the master of in-depth training, nonstop motivating, and world-class leadership.

Semper Fi shows readers how to adapt these proven practices for their own organizations. The book goes behind the scenes to pinpoint what works for the USMC, showing readers how to create a training and management culture that brings out the best in all their employees.

The book gives readers tough, practical tips for:

  • Inspiring individual initiative
  • Rewarding hard work
  • Encouraging loyalty
  • Working with limited resources
  • Dealing with change
  • “Leading the troops”” at every level of the organization 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The reputation of a Marine Corps officer is widely known and greatly admired. As an officer, he commands the respect of his troops, having endured training more difficult than the troops he leads. Intellectually, he has been well schooled in strategies that will help his unit succeed in their mission. Physically, he is as tough – if not tougher – than his troops.

The Marine Corps officer is in command of his troops because he belongs there. Prepared and entitled to lead, both he and his troops know it.

Leaders on a church staff team have many of the same characteristics described above. While not usually facing life and death situations as a Marine Corps officer would, the staff member nevertheless would do well to learn from, and apply, leadership strategies of the Marine Corps officer.

A manager should walk just as tall as a Marine Corps officer in front of his column. Like the officer, he is totally exposed if the collective mission fails and must account alone to upper management. Like the officer, he takes the job home with him. Like the officer, he has ambition, requiring the virtues of courage, self-sacrifice, and the ability to delay gratification.

Leadership Strategies Checklist

  • See that every member feels entitled to lead

  • Ensure that managers can never distance themselves from a subordinate’s failure

  • Understand that the wider his perspective, the more effective the leader

  • Lead by personal example

  • Put the concerns of your personnel before any task

  • Keep your people fully informed

  • Personally exemplify mental and physical readiness

  • Encourage and empower your subordinates to find the solution

  • Prepare your subordinates for two jobs – theirs and yours

  • Encourage questions, even in urgent situations

  • Be prepared to occasionally withhold guidance and praise

  • Never promote beyond the next organizational step

  • Avoid close personal relationships with anyone under your authority

  • Be especially motivating to those who are unhappy in their positions

  • Ask for a verbal or written confirmation of your instructions

  • Create a team culture of self-sacrifice

  • Make use of peer evaluations at all levels of management

  • Be a teacher, not a boss

Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh, Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way

A NEXT STEP

Prior to your next leadership team meeting, duplicate the Leadership Strategies Checklist listed above. Ask your team to rank how well they are currently living out the strategies from 1 to 5, with 1 signifying the action is never done and 5 signifying the action is consistently done.

When your team gathers together, ask them for all the actions they scored a five on, writing the action on a chart tablet. If more than one team member duplicates an action, place a check mark by it. Discuss the results, asking the team to share personal examples to illustrate the action.

In the same manner, ask the team for all the actions they scored a four on, writing the action on a chart tablet. If more than one member duplicates an action, place a check mark by it. Discuss the results, asking the team for ideas on how to move each action from a “four” to a “five.”

Finally, in a general discussion, list actions that were NOT scored a four or five that surprised the team by their absence from the lists prepared above. After the discussion, select three actions that the team agrees would be most important in moving to a four or five in the next three months. List specifics as to how these actions can be achieved, and encourage the team to review the list often.

At the end of the three-month period, display those top three actions on a chart tablet, and ask the team to rate themselves again, using the same scale. If the team feels they have moved to a four or five, celebrate the success with stories that illustrate the action. If there is still room to improve, discuss how the team can do so.


Taken from SUMS Remix 41-3, published May 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How NOT to Run a Church

Something’s driving your church.  There are a variety of things that run a church…the challenge for many church leaders is no one is really quite clear on what that is.

What drives your church is critical because it impacts everything you do. Ultimately, it directly impacts both your health and your growth as a congregation.

As I talk to leaders of churches of all sizes, I find different factors at work.

As much as we’d all love to say Jesus runs the church, the reality is that church is a partnership. God seems to delight in human interaction, and while God is in control, we have a role.

How we play that role can can create health or dysfunction.

Here are 4 bad ways to run a church and one good one.

1. A Person

Small churches are almost always run or controlled by a single person. That’s rarely—if ever—healthy and almost always an impediment to growth.

The usual candidate for this kind of church is a matriarch, patriarch or the pastor.

Matriarchs and patriarchs often emerge in a small church as the one person that effectively keeps the doors open and the lights on.

Interestingly enough, the matriarch or patriarch doesn’t even have to be on the board to exercise their control. It’s just that everyone knows nothing gets done without the approval, blessing or consent of X.

The commendable side of a matriarch or patriarch is that the church likely wouldn’t still be in existence without them. They are deeply committed to seeing it exist.

The challenges outweigh the benefits though for a number of reasons. First, the church is programmed to stay small…one person leadership naturally stunts growth.

Second, churches run by a single person are usually in preservation mode—the goal is to keep it going.

Sometimes the single person who runs a church is the pastor. That’s also a bad idea.

It’s the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church, but not to run it.

Again, scripture makes it clear the role of a church leader is to equip people to do the work of ministry, each operating in their area of gifting.

Clergy who insist on doing everything deny people their ability, and the church ends up with a much smaller impact than if the pastor truly led. Leaders who insist on running everything end up with relatively little to run.

Churches were never designed to be run by one person.

2. A Personality

Being run by a person and personality are two variations of a similar theme.

Personality driven churches are usually bigger and actually more effective in reaching people than person-run churches.

Usually in a personality-driven church, the personality of the senior leader functions like a magnet, attracting staff, volunteers and new people to the church.

The challenge is that both the growth engine and the loyalty in the church are to the senior leader. And that’s the achilles heel.

The problem with a personality-driven church is that when you remove the central personality, the church falters.

It can also distract people from following who they should be following—Jesus.

No personality should ever compete with the centrality of Christ in the church.

God can use people to lead people (Moses and Paul were pretty imposing figures), but the goal of a leader should always be to point people to Christ.

Personality-driven churches are only as strong as their leader. And that’s an often fatal flaw.

3. An Agenda

Nobody likes a hidden agenda. Except people who have agendas.

If you’re not careful, an agenda other than the main mission of the church end up running the church.

This happens when an influential leader (staff or otherwise) gets the church to focus on something minor until it becomes a defining characteristic of the church.

The possibilities are endless. They include:

  • Opposition to change (Nothing changes around here; everything stays the same)
  • A theological sub point (How we do baptism becomes more important than why we do baptism)
  • A political viewpoint (This is a Republican/Democrat only zone)
  • A single, non-biblical issue (Our church is all about X)

Churches that allow agendas to dominate usually only attract like-minded people who are more passionate about the cause in question than the Gospel itself.

4. Staying Alive

When only a small percentage of churches are actually growing and the church as a whole is lagging behind population growth, it’s no surprise that many churches are battling simply to stay alive.

Unfortunately, that can easily become the mission. When the mission is to merely keep a church alive, death is the most likely outcome.

You effectively end up saying “Come join our church so we can keep our church open.” That begs about 1000 questions.

As soon as you start to maintain what you’ve built, rather than build something new, you know the end is near.

5. The Mission

The one good way to run a church is simple: let the mission drive everything you do.

As Rick Warren so helpfully pointed out 20 years ago, purpose or mission-driven churches are always the most effective.

Why?

First, the mission is bigger than anyone and anything. The true mission of the church has lasted 2,000 years and will endure until Christ comes back. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

Second, the mission outlasts every leader. The church is far less affected by personality when the mission is bigger than any one personality.

Finally—and most importantly—the true mission of the church resonates because, well, it’s the true mission of the church. Enough said.


Learn more about how mission can drive your church – talk with an Auxano Navigator today!


> Read more from Carey.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Health Doesn’t Just Happen: 2 Ways to Avoid Drift

Organizations and churches drift away from their identity and mission. Without constant care and godly leadership, drift pulls a church from her core message and mission. A church doesn’t drift into greater health or better focus.

We drift as individuals in the same manner. We don’t drift into physical fitness or spiritual growth. We drift away from those things, not toward them. D.A. Carson wrote, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.”

In terms of strategy and mission, there are two common and related drifts that plague churches.

1. Churches drift toward complexity.

As a church grows and matures, there is an inevitable pull to add layers of bureaucracy and to fill calendars with lots of events and programs. As a church drifts toward complexity, staff members become program managers instead of equippers. Communication becomes increasingly challenging because there is increasingly more to communicate. New people have a difficult time figuring out what is most important because there are so many things happening. Ministries, within the same church, compete for resources and energy. Complexity presents a plethora of problems.

Ironically, many pastors have told congregations, “If Satan cannot get you to walk away from God, he will tempt you to be busy.” Or, “Just because you are busy doing things for God does not mean you are walkingwith God.” So while lamenting the busyness of people and of the surrounding culture, many churches grow busier.

2. Churches drift off mission.

As a church increasingly drifts toward complexity, she also increasingly drifts off mission. If a church is complicated, she will not have the energy or the resources available to be highly engaged in mission. The church will spend her time existing for herself, setting up systems for herself, and communicating to herself. When you are complex, you tend to be inward. When there is so much to manage at the church building, there is so little time to think strategically about the community and minimal energy to serve those in the community.

Complexity isn’t always the beginning point. A drift off mission will result in complexity. When a mission and strategy are not clear, anything can be added to the church. When mission does not grab the collective soul of the church, something else will.

Mission drift never self-corrects. Leaders must constantly address the pull away from mission and the pull toward complexity. Here’s how:

Keep the mission central.

The core message of a church must be the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves sinners by giving us His righteousness in exchange for our sin. And the core mission of a church must be the mission He gave us: make disciples. Churches may express their mission in contextual terms, but the mission must be in constant view. Leaders must continually point people to the church’s mission and work to embed a passion for the mission into everything the church does.

Keep the strategy simple.

Strategy is how the mission is accomplished. A simple strategy fights against the inevitable drift toward complexity. When the strategy is simple, the most important environments that flow from the mission of making disciples are emphasized. An overcrowded calendar is abhorred because it would drown the strategy.

> Read more from Eric.


Learn more about strategy for your church; connect with an Auxano Navigator today.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.