Saturday, November 14, 2009

The First Steps of Leadership

I was talking with a pastor friend the other day in Kiev about the lack of a leader for his youth ministry as well as a problem that I solved in our new church meetings. My problem is that since we are small and getting started I was leading every aspect of the meetings. I opened the meeting, I lead worship, I made announcements, I preached & then closed the meetings. At the same time I noticed that the whole meeting had an awkward feeling that one of our team said was like being in school.

My friend was doing the same thing with his youth because he did not have anyone experienced enough to lead. After an hour of discussion, the root as well as the solution was uncovered. It is true we did not have anyone as experienced as ourselves to lead the team or the whole meeting for that matter, but we did have people who could lead individual parts of the meetings.

I had already decided to divide up various roles at this point so that I would not be seen as a schoolmaster or even worse, the church master. Our team had a great creative staff meeting where they even decided the topic that I would preach. Another guy helped me choose the songs, and since he plays guitar, he will also play a few.

In the end it was decided that my only role in the meeting would be to preach for 15 minutes, and our team was encouraged and empowered to have been a part of the whole process.

So who was the leader in all this? I lead our team, but I lead them to lead. The first step in my leadership is to help and encourage my team to take the first steps in their leadership. We have experienced full-time leaders on our team, but we also have volunteers who are just getting started. It is unrealistic to think that we will simply find someone among the untrained volunteers or new believers who is born with the full package for leading a meeting.

I am not the only one who is leading leaders either. We pass this principle of first steps on to everyone with whom we are working. The result is that we will have a happier team and less boring meetings, and as they grow in confidence and ability God’s kingdom will not simply grow but will multiply.

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim 2:2

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Relationships: Becoming Sticky Again

In my last post I talked about how relationships before marriage can damage us and make our marriages less cohesive (sticky). Of course, it is great to enter into marriage as pure as snow, but the reality is that many – including Christians – come into marriage with a lot of unwanted baggage, including some photo albums in our heads that we can’t seem to get rid of. How can we remedy this?

As with tape or glue, we need to remove the residue of old relationships, and this starts with restoration of our souls in Christ Jesus. The very first thing needed is repentance, the removal of guilt and a subsequent clean conscience.

Another important step is to repent of the idolatry of relationships. Memories of old relationships are often so sticky because we have placed that person or that experience at the center of our lives. When a marriage goes through a difficult period, an unrenewed mind can become untethered and drift to so-called “better things”, and if that better thing is an old memory we are on a dangerous road. However, when Christ is the center He is the “better thing” and the anchor of our souls during stormy seasons of life.

The last point is that there is no better surface for tape to stick to than another piece of tape. This is why a man and a woman – unfortunately it is necessary these days to specify genders – with Christ as the center of renewed hearts and minds have the best chance of sticking together in a world where many forces seek to tear us apart. Therefore, don’t marry an unbeliever, and make sure you are spiritually prepared for marriage. (clean sticky surface again)

This may all sound oversimplified, but when anyone has overcome a difficult past to build a strong marriage they will look back and see that they have more or less done these very things.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:17