Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pastor Brady Boyd Speaks Out On Church Security

New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness. One place where leaders made a conscious choice not to wait until their kids die was New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. The story of concealed handgun license-holder and New Life Church member Jeanne Assam's brave actions to stop a murderous rampage killer when he stormed onto the church campus on that December Sunday morning won't soon be forgotten.

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What Kind of Team Members Does a Pastor Need?

As a pastor/leader, what kind of people do you surround yourself with? What kind of leadership team is needed to accomplish the Great Commission in a community of faith?

After years of working with successful teams, and teams that failed, let me offer the following suggestions:

  1. An Awesome Team Member ALWAYS Tells The Truth. You might consider invoking the following rule; nothing but the raw, honest, painful truth about ANYTHING that is being discussed in a leadership team meeting. As a leader YOU must make sure to do all that you can to create this type of environment. You MUST invite conflict. It does create tension … but this is how the best decisions are made. If the leader shares an idea and it is not good, he needs to know. If a team member is not truthful, he/she should be removed form the team. Life is too short to waste time and effort by being surrounded with people who avoid the truth.
  2. An Awesome Team Member ALWAYS Respects Everyone Else On The Team.
    Respect is absolutely necessary. I am convinced that the only reason that I am where I am in life is because of the favor and blessing of God, NEITHER of which I deserve. So, the leader deserves no more respect than any other member of the team. The leader must respect the team, the team must respect the leader, and the team must respect one another. If you have members on your team that you cannot respect for some reason, they should be removed from the team. You must love and listen to every team member. When they speak, you must listen. God has used them to fire you up, inspire you, teach you and humble you. If there is disrespect among the team members, the team will always drift toward dysfunction.
  3. An Awesome Staff Member Is Always Loyal. Loyalty is the highest on my list. The team must have one another's back. Now let me be very clear … the team should never conceal any type of sin and disguise it as “being loyal.” That, to me, is overriding a Biblical mandate with a desire for comfort. But, when someone else comes to a team member and tries to talk smack about someone else on the team, it should never be tolerated! That should not be put up with - ever. –we don’t put up with that–EVER. Trust is ESSENTIAL for a team to achieve its maximum potential. You can’t sit around a table with people who you believe are going to go out of the room and bash you to their friends and co-workers. Any team member guilty of being disloyal to the leader or any other member of the team must be removed immediately. Behind closed doors anyone should be free to say anything to anyone … but when the team walks out of that room, they must do so with one vision …and do not allow people to take your eyes off of it.
  4. An Awesome Team Member Never Seeks To Do The Minimum. If you have someone on your team who is constantly trying to get out of work (or who wants a divine marching band to play for him/her every time they seemingly go above and beyond) – WATCH OUT! Every team member must have a divine Call and a passion for that calling. When a project comes along, and gets assigned to someone on the team, it cannot be half-way done. God expects and deserves no less than our very best. Good team members make things happen. They are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Take time to make sure that God’s work is done with EXCELLENCE. Jesus Christ did not change the world with half-hearted, lazy, self seeking people whose biggest desire was to play solitaire on their computer! He turned the world upside down with men and women who were willing to go wherever and do whatever He asked of them … and He’s still seeking the same type of people today.

Engage 21 Conference Tomorrow & Friday

The Engage 21 Conference starts tomorrow at North Cleveland Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee.

There will be a COG Theological Seminary alumni breakfast on February 29 at 7:30 a.m. at the Seminary.

3 Ways to Cultivate a Culture of Risk

[From Ministry Best Practices by Bill Reichart]

Most churches say that they risk. Most pastors believe that they are risk takers. But too often risk just becomes a buzz word. Also, most often our commitment to risk will only tolerate success - not failure. If when we risk, roll the dice and it comes up craps - we blame, we recoil and we won't risk again. If, as a leader, that becomes your response and reaction, your staff and ministry leaders will pick up on the message, "Don't RISK!" loud and clear. The staff and leaders may hear from you in the pulpit or within the staff meetings that you desire "risk," but the ata-boys really only come when you play it safe and produce mediocre success. You are sending mixed messages. Cultivating a culture of risk isn't easy and it won't come naturally, so you will need to be intentional.

How to cultivate a culture a risk:
  1. As a Leader -You need to Lead by Risking Boldly! If you really want your church to risk boldly, there is no shortcut than you leading out front. I can't say it any better than Bil Cornelius said at the recent Evolve conference for church planters. Therefore, if you want to hear about risking as a leader, I recommend listing to Bil Cornelius' talk given at this past Evolve Conference. You can find it HERE.
  2. Empower your leaders. If you are micro-managing your leaders, then you are not willing to risk. Cast the vision, define the outcomes and then release and empower your leaders. How do you empower them? One way is to make sure that they know your budgets. Budgets should give them freedom. They shouldn't have to be apologetic when they spend money - that is what the money is there for. (It is wise to have accountability though - for purchases over $1000 our leaders must have their supervisor's approval). But for most stuff - make sure they have permission to spend it in order to accomplish their objectives.
  3. Evaluate! Evaluate! Evaluate! You should always take the time evaluate. With risk there is going to be failure. Not everything you attempt is going to be a home run. That is why evaluation is important. You can LEARN from failure for the next time you risk. Do you remember your school experience growing up? I certainly do. In elementary school I spent my time split between two places - my 3rd. grade classroom and the principle's office. The classroom was the place where I learned. The principle's office is where I got disciplined. Failure should be like a classroom and not a principle's office. Failure should become a classroom to learn within and not the principle's office to be punished. Allow yourself to learn from your failures.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Death Announcement - Carol Howell

Carol Howell passed away this morning following a long illness.

Carol was the wife of television producer Dan Howell of World Impact (Voice of Salvation), and Chattanooga local television.

The National Pastor Conference Opened Yesterday

Nearly 2,000 pastors and ministry workers convened in San Diego Tuesday for the opening day of the National Pastors Convention (NPC). The four-day event is designed to be a Christ-centered vacation spot for pastors and ministry leaders each year to re-energize them physically and spiritually while offering opportunities for leaders to grow.

"This year marks the 8th annual National Pastor Convention and we're excited to welcome returning attendees from previous years as well as new people experiencing the NPC for the first time," says Joe Sherman, vice president of pastor and church engagement for Zondervan, in a statement. "These next few days are designed to meet the unique needs of those in ministry through nourishment, engagement, and connection."

NPC is presented by Christian publisher Zondervan in partnership with InterVarsity Press. During the convention, attendees can participate in critical concern courses, an educational track on Hispanic ministry, and over 60 seminars featuring more than 50 speakers on a variety of relevant topics. Seminar speakers include Chuck Colson, Krista Tippett and John Ortberg. Musical and comedic entertainment, including The House of Blues Gospel Choir, Ken Medema, and Sylvia St. James, will also be featured.

“This may have saved my life,” testified an attendee last year identified as Darrin H. from Pennsylvania. “I reflected, wept, was convicted, refreshed, encouraged, broken, filled, appreciated, entertained, and motivated to pursue Jesus in a new way.”

Pastors are encouraged to unwind during the convention for a week without a “hectic ministry schedule.” “No meetings. No late-night phone calls. No sermon preparation,” the NPC 2008 brochure enticed. “A week where you can nourish your soul, engage your mind, and connect in meaningful conversation,” it offered. “Or, if you prefer, you can just kick back in the warmth of the sun, relax by the pool, and appreciate the wonders of God’s creation in sunny San Diego.”

The National Pastors Convention will conclude Friday.


Are you the pastor of a GROWING church?

David Foster writes, "Every pastor, just like every businessman, wants to be successful. For both pastors and businessmen the same criteria are applied for success – are you growing? Now if you take the attendance from this past Sunday, depending on whether it was a good day or a bad day, you might feel really good about the growth of your church. And attendance is important, no matter what anyone says. We all count. We know who’s there. And when we avoid counting, it’s because we know there were fewer people there today than there were this time last year. We just simply know these things. But the question is, how do you know if you’re the pastor of a growing church? What criteria do you use? Here are four that I think are grounded in the principles of Scripture..."

David then shares four areas of growth he thinks are great measures, rather than just looking at attendance figures:
  1. Are you growing together in love? (Not just the words.)
  2. Are you growing up in Christ?
  3. Are you growing out through ministry?
  4. Are you growing more through conversion?

David goes into more detail on each of these points at his blog. Go over and read… it’s good!

So, how do YOU measure growth in your church? Are you the pastor of a GROWING church?

What We Know About Religion In America Today

As reported in USA Today, there is an interesting new study out about religion in America. According to the article here are the main findings:
  • Faith is fluid: 44% say they're no longer tied to the religious or secular upbringing of their childhood. They've changed religions or denominations, adopted a faith for the first time or abandoned any affiliation altogether.
  • "Nothing" matters: 12.1% say their religious identity is "nothing in particular," outranking every denomination and tradition except Catholics (23.9%) and all groups of Baptists (17.2%).
  • Protestants are fading: 51.3% call themselves Protestant, but roughly one-third of this group were "unable or unwilling" to describe their denomination.
  • Immigrants sustain Catholic numbers: 46% of foreign-born U.S. adults are Catholics, compared with only 21% of native-born adults. Latinos are now 45% of all U.S. Catholics ages 18-29.

I'm Taking a Sabbatical

Pastors rarely serve a church that understands the need for sabbatical. Congregations tend to have very high, sometimes unreasonable, expectations. They expect a pastor to give and give of himself without the opportunity to recharge.

Conferences and conventions are not a vacation - they are hard work. They are necessary to stay abreast of what God is doing in the Kingdom, but they are not time off. They can be inspiring and motivating, but no physical or emotional restoration takes place. Even events called "retreat" are rarely an actual retreat. Most "retreats" have jam packed schedules, sessions, interaction, and professional development.

After 23 years of pastoring and 30 years of ministry, here is what I have learned:
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • I think, dream, and lead on another level when I take occasional breaks.
  • You need tension to grow. You also need release. Resting a muscle that you've exercised is as important as exercising. The tension is partially destructive. The rest brings repair.
  • I used to live a life largely devoid of reflection. That changed 2 years ago thankfully. I’m wiser and slightly more balanced. Elected rest beats forced rest.
  • A change of place and a change of pace equals a fresh perspective.
So, Yvonne and I are off to a destination unknown for the month of March. We will be reading, writing, reflecting, meditating, journaling, and praying alone with God without a schedule. I call it "seclusion with God." We will be listening for His voice, His will, and His direction. When we return April 1, we hope to be refreshed, recharged, rejuvenated, and clear with a vision for the future.