Saturday, April 25, 2015

How the prosperity gospel hurts racial reconciliation from Desiring God

How the Prosperity Gospel Hurts Racial Reconciliation

How many hospitality hotspots does your church have?

It is common for a congregation to have an information booth where new folks can get information on what is happening and where to go. All good. But what would happen if every major ministry was a hospitality hotspot with trained hosts whose job it is to make people comfortable and ensure that people are engaged and have the information they need. 

A hospitality hotspot is one where there is an individual or individuals who:

  • Look for new people and engage them
  • Ensure that you get their name and them yours
  • Introduce them to several others in the vicinity
  • Re-welcome by name the following week
  • Help get them connected
  • Get their story as you can
One of key reasons people do not come back to a church is that no one engaged them when they came. Having multiple hospitality hotspots would solve that issue. It would also train a greater number of people in your congregation to engage with new folks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A fairly nutty article on Mars Hill Governance

After reading this three part series all I wanted to do was to ask, "How well did this work for you?"

Church Governance: Local Elders or Outside Board?ResultSource Part 3

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seven reasons why I refuse to become cynical about the church and always remain hopeful.

Because I often consult with hurting churches (and fortunately some very healthy ones) I am often asked why I remain optimistic about the church. The truth is that I have seen the good, bad and the ugly but there are seven reasons that I never lose hope, refuse to become cynical and will always value the local church, domestically and internationally. 

First, the church is the Bride of Jesus. That is what He calls it (Ephesians 5) and it is the bride that will be reunited with the Bridegroom at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The local church is God's hope of the world, and His local strategy for making disciples of His. How can I be cynical if He, knowing the best and the worst of the church still calls it His bride?

Second, wherever the people of God are gathered, the Holy Spirit is present. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to kill off a church! Where His followers are present, He is present and where He is present, He does His work whether we think He should or not. 

Third, lives are changed through the relationships of a local church. We might wonder how given some of the obvious dysfunctions but it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes this possible. This is why even a bad sermon can make a huge difference in the listener as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts in spite of our deficiencies (Romans 8). 

Fourth, even in the midst of great church dysfunction (and I have seen my share) many of God's people continue to live out their particular calling (Ephesians 2:10) in spite of what they see around them. In one particularly dysfunctional church many people said to me, "I wish the leaders would get their act together but in the meantime I am just doing what God has called me to do. And so real and effective ministry went on despite the dysfunction of the leaders.

Fifth, my own spiritual growth is not held hostage by church dysfunction. I am responsible for my growth and ministry and frankly I have left dysfunctional churches without any guilt. I cannot speak for others but I am not willing to give my life long term to a congregation that I cannot bring my neighbors to. It is not sacrilege to leave a church. At times it is the only thing that will get the attention of church leaders.

Sixth, churches can be revitalized. I can attest to that after working with many hurting churches. It is the will of good leaders and the Holy Spirit that makes this possible. Where leaders and pastors are unwilling to face truth, churches should frankly die and let something new grow.  But if the will is there it is possible for churches to become renewed and missional once again.

Seventh, Jesus is not unaware of the challenges of local churches and in spite of the challenges He continues to bless those who are committed to His plan for great fruit (John 15). He will bless the efforts of those who are committed to being the bride of His. However imperfect we are. 

It is my prayer that I will always be hopeful for the church and never succumb to cynicism which Jesus never has. However imperfect it is His bride and it is His joy and we will celebrate His family when we arrive in heaven at the second coming.

The God sized ask instead of a vision statement

In my long experience in working with churches and ministries there is inevitably confusion and disagreement over mission statements and vision statements. For me, the mission statement answers the question of why we exist and vision is a long term description of what we would love to see happen. However, the debate over which is which can take up a lot of time and conversation. In addition, many feel it presumptuous to assume that we can "deliver" on our vision as God is the source of the fruit our ministries see. 

I have a simple suggestion that makes the debate irrelevant.

Rather than a vision statement, what about a God sized ask that all are praying for in the spirit of Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

God wants to surprise us with his power and he wants to show his glory in the church - for all generations. So why not ask Him a God sized ask and see what He does?

The mission of ReachGlobal is the same as that of our denomination. "We exist to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people." Pretty straightforward.

But here is our God sized ask: We are asking God for one million disciplemakers impacting 100 million people with the Gospel and that He would give us 100 Acts 19 locations where the Gospel penetrates a whole city or region.

If that were simply our vision it could be seen as presumptuous. But instead it is a God sized ask (we cannot do it but He can). He is pleased with those who pray in faith and he loves to surprise us. We know that only He can make that happen. And it eliminates the debate between mission and vision.

We have a mission. We also have a God sized ask and He is fully capable of surprising us by doing immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. Finally, vision statements can be exciting and motivating. But a God sized ask is different. It is mobilization around prayer rather than around a statement. It mobilizes our people to pray for a common and God honoring result. It places the focus on Him rather than on us. And that is a big difference. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It takes a moment but lasts a long time

It is a gift that is easily given and one that is deeply needed: A simple thank you, word of encouragement or a quick prayer for a specific need someone has. A small gift but one that acknowledges others and encourages their heart.

Leaders who take the time to do this are deeply appreciated. Anyone who does this is is giving value to another and encouraging their  hearts. And there is a significant encouragement deficit in our busy world today.

A friend and I were travelling in Asia recently and on our way to our ride he stopped for a moment to pray for an individual who had been part of our meeting. Eight weeks later he received an email thanking him for that small act of kindness. It was just what this individual needed at that time. Never underestimate the power of a thank you, a word of encouragement or taking an issue to the throne  of God. 

As I write this I am in Rochester, MN surrounded by patients who will be at Mayo today. I wonder how many of them will receive a word of encouragement today or someone who is interceding on their behalf. It takes a moment but lasts a long time.

Posted from Rochester, MN

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Humble and collaborative church leadership

I just returned from Santiago Chile and saw firsthand a rare phenomenon. A senior church team that displays huge humility and collaboration. The senior leader is 67, another is 35, and another 49. Together they lead a church of 500+. Rarely have I seen a team that is as non-competitive, open to one another's counsel and opinions and the ability to work collaboratively for kingdom objectives. They are an example in a country that is full of authoritarian leadership and an example to many in our own country where hubris, power and a need to get our own way is all too common.

The senior leader has deeply empowered the other two. He knows his paradigms are different from theirs and is unfazed by it. He knows that transition must come and is unfazed by that. He is a great leader who cares more about the kingdom than his kingdom. The other two senior leaders have very different gifts and yet they are noncompetitive (even about who takes over if it is one of them), understand their own gifting and how much they need one another. Nor are they anxious to lose their senior leader although they know his role will change in the future. In addition their spouses have the same attitudes. 

It is a church that has a history of conflict as many do. Yet that is now absent in their close teamwork. Their example is infecting other churches in Santiago where such a model is rare. Yet it is the model that Jesus would endorse. 

One of my greatest joys is to meet and get to know leaders who display the mind and attitude of Jesus. I long for this to be the case in the church at large. I wish there were more of this in the United States. We have a lot to learn from others. Especially humble and collaborative leadership in the church.

Posted from Oakdale, MN

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.