“Taking the Church’s Biblical Pulse”

(This is a continuation of an  article I wrote for Light and Life Magazine’s January issue)

photo by: urbanchristiannews.com
photo by: urbanchristiannews.com

Most Churches have a degree of illness in them.  It’s to be expected…Church is comprised of flawed people.  Now, we really can’t talk about Church health without utilizing the Bible.  I know we ‘say’ that, but do we regularly compare our Church health to Biblical principles?  Let’s take a look at what I believe to be 5 key issues that make up the foundation of a healthy Church.

1) People Before Task Lists –  Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39), not to put our ‘To-Do’ lists before people.  Life gets busy for all of us.  Tasks and errands affect everyone.  If we are not careful, however, we will get all of our boxes checked off but miss the hungry soul that crosses our path and not even know it.  This is what I normally refer to as Spirit Awareness.  I am constantly finding myself praying daily for the Holy Spirit to grab my attention when I am about to have an opportunity to plant a seed for the Kingdom.  If I do not ask for this I am typically not going to look for it.

2) Scripture Before Comfort –  This one is so uncomfortable, yet singlehandedly kills Churches.  When a fellow believer needs to have an unhealthy aspect of their life addressed, Ephesians 4:15 encourages the Church family to speak the truth in love, not ignore it in hopes that the issue will magically disappear (because it never does).  And if there is an offense or sin between believers, Matthew 18:15-17 clearly tells us how to go to the individual and take care of it.  Note, texting or sending them a direct message on Facebook does not count.  Trust me, even if Jesus had an iphone in his day I am pretty sure he would say what he had to say to your face and not drop subtle hints on your Instagram account.

3) Lord Before Pastor –  I realize this one might be a bit sensitive for some folks,  but it is right there in the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:3).  We are to have no other gods before Him.  Did you know that the use of ‘gods’ here could translate “person of greatness or power?”  Lead Pastors are in this category.  This does not make them bad people, but Churches often place their Pastor on a pedestal so high (unintentionally) that they become the focal point of who is leading the Church instead of God.   Here is a tough question.  If your Pastor left your Church (circumstances aside) would it continue making an impact for Heaven without skipping a beat, or would it completely implode?

4) Sabbath and Prayer – There are seasons when we simply must rest.  Jesus modeled this with his disciples saying, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)  This applies to us as individuals as well as to the Church.  Might I suggest that it is O.K. occasionally for the Church to shut down ministry for a week of prayer?  Our church does this three times a year.  During a week of prayer we strongly encourage (all but mandate) all Bible studies, groups, student ministries, and outreach events to cease.  We then ask the congregation to join us in prayer and worship each night at the Church.  

5) Keep everything in the light – In other words, do not lead the Church via top secret Board meetings and ‘off record’ one-on-one talks with people who have personal agendas.  Likewise, avoid ignoring problems of gossip, infidelity, and other compromises of the faith within the Church.  Address these issues head on and with everyone involved once you become aware.  When evil is brought into light it cannot thrive away from darkness (Eph. 5:13-14).

Healthy Churches make greater impact for the Kingdom of God.

Is there anything you would add to this list?  What are some examples of solid Church health that you have seen?

Comments are welcome below, or you can leave me a voice message HERE.  God bless.

* Credit:  The majority of these principles come directly from our Operational Values at Christ Community Church, compiled by Rev. Keith Cowart.

Mentoring/Coaching Opportunity

infuseLooking for a mentoring/coaching experience that will challenge you?  Check out Infuse with Jim Wideman!  Hurry…spots are filling up quickly.

Jim writes about Ten Fundamentals of authentic leadership in his book.  Here are the Top Three that most resonated with me.  Get the book and read about the other seven for yourself.

Leaders set an example – Jim says to give others something worth following.  This is so true…and not just regarding ministry work.  The way you and I tangibly live out our personal lives will greatly impact the trust level people have in us.  The people we lead need to observe zero difference in our personality and character inside and out of the office.

Leaders grow spiritually – This is a topic I’ve personally come to understand & respect more in the past year than in my prior 20 years of ministry.  Ministry doesn’t just begin with the Spirit moving us toward Kingdom work.  The Holy Spirit lives in us as believers.  If our lives are spiritual, then shouldn’t our work and leadership be reflective of how close we are growing toward our Father?  It is absolutely critical that church leaders constantly revisit the spiritual disciplines to keep themselves sharp and useful.

Leaders are lifelong learners – This is as valuable to the young seminary grad as it is the 70 year old pastor who has been leading the same church body for 50 years.  Read books on leadership (even some from secular authors).  Study examples of Jesus and how he led the disciples.  Attend a conference once a year.  And finally, find yourself a life coach (mentor, or accountability partner).  You and I don’t know everything, and the things we lack will limit the effectiveness of our leadership.

Comments are welcome below, or you can leave me a voice message HERE.  God bless.

8 Favorite Leadership Blogs

photo by: www.keralpatel.com
photo by: http://www.keralpatel.com

I love blogging!  I also enjoy following other bloggers who share the same passion as I do for healthy leadership, and who are  a bit further down the road than I am regarding experience.  So, I thought I’d compile a list of the ‘Top 8 Blogs’ I follow regularly and share them with you.

Chances are  if you are reading this post you may already be aware of many of the names I’ve mentioned below.  But I’d encourage you to definitely check out the ones that might be new to you.

So, here’s my list…in no particular order.

Carey Nieuwhof – Lead Pastor of Connexus Community Church located north of Toronto.  Author of Leading Change without Losing It.  Carey blogs on the things which are on his heart: leading change, parenting, church leadership, personal spiritual health.  This is honestly one of the best blogs out there.  You’ve got to check it out!  Follow Carey on Twitter.

Craig Jutila – I’ve been learning from Craig for over a decade from when he first started publishing Children’s Ministry curriculum.  Creativity and brilliant insight are two characteristics you will notice immediately in everything that he puts out there.  My wife and I had the amazing privilege of assisting Craig and his wife (Mary) while he spoke at the Orange Conference this year.  This couple is the real deal!  Follow Craig on Twitter.

Jim Wideman – Jim is the Children’s Pastor at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, TN.  Let me just say that most of our churches have fewer adults visiting on Sunday morning than Jim has in his Children’s Church ministries.  I had the personal privilege of participating in a mentorship group led by Jim called ‘infuse’ in 2012.  The personal insights and challenges I gained from Jim and his coaches were priceless and I’d recommend it to anyone who leads a church ministry.  Follow Jim on Twitter.

Mac Lake – Our church has had the privilege of learning how to be intentional with our leadership culture from Mac in this past year.  He is the Visionary Architect for the Launch Network, and served as the Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast Church previously.  Check out Mac’s blog.  Maybe even consider using some of his material as discussion points in your staff meetings.  Follow Mac on Twitter.

Kelli Wommack – Kelli is a ministry partner and good friend of mine.  She’s also a gifted leadership coach, writer, and speaker.  She is the SERVE Minister at Chirst Community Church in Columbus, GA helping people reach their full potential in Christ.  Visit her blog and leave her a comment.  You’ll be glad you did!  Follow Kelli on Twitter.

Ron Edmondson – Lead Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.  His posts are quite insightful and authentic.  He writes on church leadership, culture, and the behind-the-scenes life of pastoring a church.  This is a very well thought out blog across the board.  Follow Ron on Twitter.

Tony Morgan – Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com and author of ‘Developing a Theology of Leadership.’  When you hear leaders talk about doing the best things for your ministry, even if it means negative pushback….Tony is one of the foremost authorities on the topic.  He offers practical how-to’s and Biblical reasoning to strengthen leadership.  Follow Tony on Twitter.

Michael Hyatt – I have to start with just one word…..WOW!  Michael’s personal and professional portfolio is unlike anyone else I know (and I don’t personally know him).  Rarely is there a post that doesn’t catch my eye or challenge me.  Blogs don’t get any better than this, people!  Follow Michael on Twitter.

Dan Rockwell – Lead Pastor of Good News Bible Church in Williamsport, PA.  His blog offers a plethora of tips and methods for new and veteran leaders of all types.  This is a blog subscription well worth your time.  Follow Dan on Twitter.

Follow just a few of these blogs and I assure you that you will never go a day without something worthwhile and educational to read.

Whose blogs do YOU follow?

Comment below or leave a voicemail.