5 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders

November 26, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The 5 Traits of a Highly Effective Leadership H.A.B.I.T


Leadership that works is not a destination; it’s an ongoing journey, made up of many moments and choices over time. Each decision you make has an effect on your overall character. As you practice making better choices, those choices become habits, and those good habits have the power to transform your leadership. Consider that you ultimately become what you repeatedly do. For example, if you consistently choose to be kind, respectful, and hard-working – not in every single moment, but in more moments than not — then you will eventually become a kind, respectful, and hard-working leader. If this seems daunting, know that you do not have to be perfect. You just have to do a little better today than you did yesterday. By adding even a small amount of effort and discipline to tweaking the habits in your day-to-day routine, you can greatly alter the cumulative impact on your leadership legacy.

Good habits have the power to transform your leadership.

How can you get started on developing more effective leadership habits? Use our handy H.A.B.I.T checklist as a guide. Think of these 5 leadership behaviors as you navigate the daily interactions and challenges of your day. Whenever possible, simply choose, even in the smallest way, to behave in a way that is more aligned with these 5 positive traits that are the building blocks of a highly effective leadership habit: Humility, Authenticity, Bravery, Intention, Tenacity.

HUMILITY. The best leaders are well-anchored in their own expertise and competencies, but they are also acutely aware of what they don’t know. They don’t pretend to be the smartest person in the room; in fact, they purposefully hire people even smarter than they are and rely on their expertise to get tough jobs done. There is research to support the importance of humility to an effective leadership habit. Jim Collins, in his well-known book, “Good to Great”, in which he studied successful CEOs to unearth the secrets of their effectiveness, found that the most high-performing leaders had a combination of both “humility and fierce resolve.”

To develop the habit, in your next interaction, pay attention to your default response. Do you tend to try to take credit instead of giving it away; do you interject when you could have listened a little bit longer; do you shoot down ideas without good reason? Practice engaging with more humility by listening better, reading more, being more open-minded, and giving credit to others generously. Rely on others’ expertise and thank them graciously.

AUTHENTICITY. Leadership is an inside-out craft. You can’t hope to deliver transformative results externally without being firmly rooted in who you are and what you believe internally. Authenticity is important for guiding your leadership decisions and ensuring you behave in a way that is true to yourself. But it’s also crucial for 21st century leadership because people are paying close attention to what you do and say — and you’re probably not a very good faker (most people aren’t). If you speak disingenuously, people can tell, and they won’t be likely to believe in your leadership or to work hard to honor your agenda. What’s more, authenticity is essential for building trust, which is the most important competency for modern leaders (that’s why it’s at the center of our high-impact leadership model, the ConantLeadership Flywheel). For a variety of reasons, without trust, you will not be able to deliver sustainable high-performance.

Leadership is an inside-out craft.

To build the authenticity habit, practice declaring yourself by telling people exactly who you are, what you believe, and how you intend to lead. Follow that up by doing exactly what you say and doing it well. Honor your word. Make room in your calendar for what you say is important. Show up in each moment in a way that is aligned with your code. You can also learn more about the idea of authentic leadership taking Bill George’s helpful authentic leadership self-assessment.

BRAVERY. Leadership isn’t easy. There are going to be times when you’ll have to make tough decisions that affect people’s lives. There will be moments when you’re not sure how to engage thoughtfully or when you won’t know what to say, or when you will second-guess a call you’ve made. But, no matter the challenge, people are counting on you as the leader. They need you at your best. To show up for them in the right way, in each moment, you’re going to have to be brave. Luckily, bravery, like any other virtue can be practiced. The more you practice leaning in, no matter how daunting it can be, the easier it will get, and the more meaningfully you’ll be able to respond to problems with agility and skill.

To practice bravery, in your next few interactions, notice when you’re shying away from saying what you really think, or avoiding giving some tough feedback. Have the conversation you don’t want to have, ask the question you’re apprehensive about asking. Practicing bravery doesn’t have to refer only to things that seem negative. Push yourself out of your comfort zone with giving praise, too. Maybe it feels awkward to you to express gratitude, or to give somebody a compliment they richly deserve. Force yourself to do it anyway. Fear can show up in different ways for different leaders. The best way to practice bravery is to learn to notice what you’re avoiding and choose to fully embrace and confront that very thing. Try it in your very next conversation.

Bravery can be practiced.

INTENTION. For a long time, leaders could get away with what we call “seat-of-the-pants” leadership. But the information age has ushered in an unprecedented era of complexity and dysfunction. Times have changed. Leaders can’t haphazardly hop from one fire drill to the next anymore; or, they can, but they won’t be able to deliver high performance – at least not for the long run. At ConantLeadership, we champion an intentional approach to leadership. This means adopting a mastery model in which you treat leadership as a craft: honed with intention, practiced mindfully, and improved constantly.

To learn the intention habit, try shifting your mindset from being reactive to proactive. Reactive leaders wait for things to happen to them, and as the challenges build and wash over them, they flail and flounder, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Proactive leaders approach their leadership work with discipline and intention; they take time to reflect on the kind of leader they want to be and the types of tactics they can use to bring their leadership vision to life. They practice their craft deliberately and treat interruptions as opportunities. Because they consider the daily work of leadership to be one perpetual preparation for adversity, when adversity inevitably does rear its head, they are well-equipped to dive in and leverage their expertise and experience to navigate the situation effectively.

To better practice the intention habit, get better oriented in the proactive mindset by first taking the time to reflect on the five essential questions of leadership. Then test your readiness with our character and competence checklists. Finally, you can discover a framework for approaching all of your interactions with intention in Doug’s book, co-authored with Mette Norgaard, TouchPoints.

TENACITY. This final essential leadership trait holds the key to experiencing success with the other four. Sure, you can practice with intention, engage with humility, be anchored in authenticity, and bravely stare down the scariest of circumstances, but you won’t achieve greatness without the fortitude to keep going no matter what. Tenacity, or “fierce resolve” as Jim Collins calls it, is the jewel in the crown of effective leadership. In fact, as Professor Angela Duckworth finds in her book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, tenacity is even more important than talent and luck in predicting success. Frankly, you can have astounding levels of innate talent, but if you aren’t able to persist when the going gets tough, you’re not going to get very far.

Habits are formed by practice and repetition — by simply making better choices more often.

Fittingly, we’ve found that the best way to develop tenacity – which is the key to success in all areas of our H.A.B.I.T system – is also through a commitment to cultivating the other four traits in H.A.B.I.T. First, you have to humbly acknowledge you have room to grow in this space, then authentically connect with your purpose and passion, which will provide energy and inspiration during rough patches — then practice bravery so you can call upon your courage reserves when you want to give up, and, of course, continually set and re-calibrate your intention so that you always have a worthy goal to keep you going.

Overall, remember that habits are formed by practice and repetition — by simply making better choices more often. Not all of the time, but most of the time. With these five H.A.B.I.Ts in mind, every day holds an opportunity to make a better choice than you did yesterday, to show up a little more completely than you did before. Over time, the power of your habits is likely to surprise you as your leadership effectiveness grows and grows.

Leadership In Chaos

October 10, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The story of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:4a affirms two realities of faith: the reality of God and the reality of chaos. This account of creation affirms God’s embrace of chaos as God’s identity defines the reality of chaos. Speaking the days of the week into existence, God creates a future that is different from the past by ordering the creative possibility that is present in chaos.

Transformational Christian leaders affirm their faith in the reality of God by embracing the reality of chaos.  They realize the identity of their leadership can shape and define creative possibility that is present in chaos.

Rather than embracing chaos, most churches try to avoid, control, or conquer it. However, transformational Christian leaders understand the power of this creation story when they encounter chaotic situations. Rather than attempting to control, destroy, or avoid chaos, they affirm their faith in the reality of God by embracing the reality of chaos. Understanding that transformation is the story of creation being told in the present tense, they realize the identity of their leadership can shape and define creative possibility that is present in chaos. Leading a movement of hope into a future that is different from the past, they influence and order future responses to present conditions.

In consulting with churches and non-profit organizations, we find that non-ordered chaos often defines current reality. Rather than leadership defining and ordering chaos, chaos is more often defining and ordering leadership. In these situations, the story of that church or non-profit is not the story of a future that is different from the past. It is usually the story of organizational life being defined by a past that is different from the future. Christian transformational leaders help to order a movement of hope by their identity and by telling the story of creation in the present tense. They tell the story of a future that God has already created as they affirm their faith in the reality of God and the reality of chaos.

How does your church or non-profit respond to chaotic situations? How do you respond to chaotic situations? Your answer may very well be the beginning of a story of transformation.


Current Process of Pastoral Placement

September 29, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The Current Process of Pastoral Placement

 

Churches call their pastors. The typical process currently in place is to form a ‘Pulpit Search Committee’ when the pastorate becomes vacant. This committee will recruit pastors and begin the selection process, usually by obtaining letters and resumes and requesting recorded sermons. They will interview candidates and make a recommendation to the church. The candidate will be introduced to the church, answer questions from the congregation, and preach one or two sermons. Then the church will vote on candidate.

 

Item #1 – People serving on a ‘Pulpit Committee’ are almost always untrained, ill-equipped, and inexperienced. They may be godly people, but, they are asked to complete a task that is vital to the life and ministry of the church that they are not qualified to exercise.

 

Item #2 – The pool of potential candidates is frequently made up of men seeking to escape a bad situation they currently serve in. This is a formula for disaster.

 

Item #3 – The primary competence examined is preaching. This is important. However, Character, Leadership, Relational Skills, Previous Ministry Effectiveness must also be considered. When this is not thoroughly completed the results are short term tenures when deficiencies surface.

 

There is a better way – one that harmonizes with the NT. Contact IgniteUS to consider this process. 800 472 3764 or info@igniteus.net.

 

Qualities of A Godly Pastor

September 13, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Scripture must be our guide when evaluating a young man’s desire for pastoral ministry (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Pet. 5:1–4). This blueprint needs to then be evaluated by the young man’s desire for the work (internal calling), and then by the pastors and congregation of his local church (external calling). Although those Scripture qualities are helpful, they are not exhaustive.

So, here are 10 other characteristics I look for that I believe are very important for pastoral ministry and fall within the framework of the fruit of the spirit in a Christian’s life:

  • A deep love and burden for people and their transformation
  • A clear, personal love for Jesus
  • A warmth in personality that people respond to well
  • A unique ability to understand and explain God’s Word***
  • An ability to emotionally engage people both public and private
  • A clear communicator***
  • An authentic, honest awareness of his heart and personal brokenness***
  • A humble teachable spirit***
  • A clear possession of wisdom and discernment into life and struggles
  • A strong ability to empathize to a hurting person 

 

Pastors, look for these in the future pastors in your church and consider your own character in light of these qualities.

 

The *** are absolutely essential!

Why The Decline?

August 28, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

More than 15 years ago, I led a major research project on the characteristics of the most evangelistic churches in my denomination. My team was able to identify 576 churches that represented the top 5 percent of all churches in conversion growth.
From that point, we were able to identify nine correlated characteristics of churches that were evangelistic versus those that were not.
Some of the correlated factors were surprising; others were not. There was one factor, however, that was a bit surprising to me: the evangelistic churches were more likely to have a traditional outreach program.

The Nature of These Outreach Programs

Even back in 1995, traditional outreach programs were in decline. There were two types that were more popular than others. In one approach, church members would visit someone who visited the prior Sunday. Typically these visits were “cold calls,” in that the church members showed up in the visitors’ homes unannounced and unexpected.
The second, more common approach was a memorized evangelistic visit, sometimes derogatorily called a “canned” evangelism program. Again, the church members would often visit in the home without an invitation. One of the church members would be responsible for delivering a memorized Gospel presentation.

Culture Changed and Outreach Programs Declined

For better or worse, our culture has changed. Most people today really do not want someone showing up in their homes unexpectedly. As fewer families and individuals were willing to receive these unexpected guests, the excitement of the outreach programs declined. They were deemed ineffective, probably rightly so. Eventually most churches abandoned the traditional outreach approach.
For many established churches, that which was considered a vital part of the church’s ministry, an outreach program, no longer existed. And it was in the abandonment of the program that some fascinating trends developed.

That One Factor

As churches abandoned traditional outreach programs, they took one of two paths. A few replaced the traditional approach with a more culturally acceptable approach. They found ways to equip and encourage their members to develop relationships with lost and un-churched persons without invading their space or their homes. These churches tended to continue their patterns of growth.
Unfortunately, most churches abandoned the traditional outreach program and did not replace it with anything. This one factor may explain the beginning of decline in most of our evangelical churches in America. Indeed, just today I delved into the records of a few dozen churches that were growing a decade ago, but have been in decline for the past several years. Almost without exception, the decline started shortly after the traditional outreach program was abandoned, but not replaced with any other intentional outreach ministry.

Understanding Why the Decline Began

Even when the traditional outreach program was not highly effective, Its activity sent a message throughout the church. It reminded the members that the church was not all about the self-serving needs of themselves, but it was about reaching beyond the doors of the church. It was about them as well as us.
But when there was nothing to replace the admittedly ineffective approach, the message changed. The emphasis moved from outreach to inward focus. As a result of the inward obsession in many churches, conflict arose among the members as they now competed for how the church can best meet “my” needs.
For many churches, it was that one simple factor. Traditional outreach ministries were not replaced with any other outward focus.
But in a few of the churches, the outward focus continued unabated. Though they were no longer making unexpected cold calls, they did find ways to connect their members with lost and un-churched persons. Most of these churches continued to grow.
So what did these other churches do to continue growing? There is no single answer or approach.

Is Seminary Necessary??

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Monday, August 13, 2018

Why Go To Seminary?

 

Why go to seminary? Why not just take classes online, or learn what you can from your pastor? Why not just get busy doing the work of ministry and learn as you go? Why take the time, why spend the money, why uproot your life?
These are the same questions (minus the online thing) Timothy Dwight had in mind when he stood to address an assembled crowd at the opening ceremonies of Andover Seminary in Massachusetts. Andover, the first seminary in America, opened its doors in 1808. Until its founding, aspiring ministers desiring theological education usually learned what they could through an apprenticeship with a local pastor. However, Dwight, the president of Yale College and grandson of Jonathan Edwards, believed something more than a liberal arts education and a mentor were needed to prepare future pastors. So before the first seminary class was offered in America, Dwight sought to answer the question, Why go to seminary? His answers may be 204 years old, but they can still help us today.

1. Time to Study

Dwight explained that the new seminary would give future ministers sufficient, undistracted time to learn. Too often, he lamented, men began their ministries “very imperfectly fitted for their profession,” because they didn’t have enough money to “pursue their studies through a sufficient length of time.” Andover sought to address this problem by providing instruction, use of books, and, “at least to a considerable extent,” housing and living expenses.
The times of free seminary tuition, food, and housing are long gone. Many today go into ministry “very imperfectly fitted” because they don’t think they can afford the years or money needed to obtain a seminary education. Of those who do attend, too many are burdened with excessive student loans. Seminaries that can keep tuition low and provide substantial scholarships and grants provide a great service to future pastors and their churches. This kind of investment should be a priority of every denomination and local church. By serving students in this way, churches will also bless themselves with pastors who have taken the time to prepare for ministry.

2. The Library

One of the greatest strengths of Andover Seminary, Dwight argued, was that it would have a library “sufficiently various, and extensive, for the purposes intended.” Full-time students have lots of time to read—-more than they’ll ever have in full-time ministry. Broad and deep reading is one of the main purposes of seminary. Professors are there to teach and mentor, but also to force you to read. As you read, you learn and grow, you learn how to read, and you learn what’s worth reading.
You can’t afford all the books, journals, articles, and dictionaries you’re required to read. That’s why strong seminaries and divinity schools have extensive and growing libraries. A good library gives you access to vast amounts of knowledge and distilled wisdom you cannot find online. If you’re in seminary, take advantage of the library—-you’ll miss it when you’re gone.

3. The Faculty

Mastering any one of the “branches of theological learning” (Bible, apologetics, systematic theology, church history, practical theology) is enough to exhaust “the utmost talents of a single man.” Therefore, Dwight observed, it’s impossible for a single pastor to teach all these disciplines to those he mentors. If there were a pastor “ever so competent,” his other pastoral duties would make it “impossible for him to command sufficient time to communicate the knowledge, which ought to be considered as indispensable.”
The seminary, on the other hand, has professors who devote themselves to a level of study and teaching that isn’t possible for a single pastor. Don’t misunderstand Dwight (or me). There are things your pastor can teach you that no seminary professor can. That’s why local churches must not outsource pastoral training to the seminaries. But there are also things that a good seminary can teach you that most pastors have neither the time nor ability to teach. In most cases, it takes both a good local church pastor and a good seminary faculty to train a good future pastor.

4. The Other Students

“All ministers ought to be friends.” And in order to develop friendships, they have to know each other. However, Dwight explained, when “ministers are educated separately and solitarily, this knowledge, in ordinary cases, cannot exist.” But at a seminary, “being educated together, being of the same age, pupils of the same instructors, tenants of the same buildings, engaged in the same delightful pursuits, and actuated, as we may reasonably hope, by the same spirit, they can hardly fail to be of one accord, and of one mind.”
Good seminaries strengthen the unity between churches by building bonds between ministers. The friendships you build while you’re in seminary will strengthen your ministry for years to come. The guy who sits next to you in 8 a.m. Hebrew class may someday lead his church to support your missionaries. The couple you meet at orientation may pray for you and your family for the rest of your life. The classmate you study with for a final may someday labor beside you for reformation in your denomination. So go to seminary, devote yourself to reading, and learn all you can from your professors. But don’t fail to invest time in relationships while you’re there.

5. The Doctrine

In making his case that such a thing as a seminary was needed, Dwight concluded by assuring his hearers, “The doctrines, which will be taught here, are the doctrines of the Reformation.” He went on to explain how Andover’s teaching would be biblical and orthodox and beneficial for building up the church. The seminary, Dwight assured his listeners, would exist for the benefit of the churches.
In 1808 there was only one seminary in America. Today there are dozens. But the fact remains that a seminary’s most important task is to pass on sound doctrine to the next generation of pastors for the benefit of the churches. Choose a seminary that takes this responsibility seriously, and you will bless both yourself and your future church.

All citations are from Timothy Dwight, A Sermon Preached at the Opening of the Theological Institution in Andover (Boston: Farrand, 1808).

Is Seminary Neecessary?

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Under The Elmtree

In This Edition

 

* Seminary – Competence – Pastorate

* Leading Transformation

* Pastoral Placement – FIT

*Tithe.ly for Ministry Support

* Pod Cast  Thrive – Leadership Is

* This Date in History -

Some men tell me they

 

 

 

labeled

Seminary – Competence – Pastorate

You just suffered a major Myocardial Infarction. It is life threatening. You choose as your physician: a) your neighbor who has a 10th grade education and is unemployed, b) the guy down the street that repairs cars in his back yard, or, c) the very best Cardiologist in your state.

My assumption is you chose c. Why? Because your life depends on his competence and expertise in treating patients suffering heart anomalies.

Your company is facing a complicated legal issue through no fault of your own. It involves millions of dollars. You will secure Legal Service from: a) the UPS Driver that delivers packages to your house, b) the guy that runs the coffee shop where you stop every morning, c) the finest Legal Team in the Mid-West.

My assumption is you chose c. Why? Because the longevity and continued existence of your company depends on the skill, training, and competence of that Law Firm and their team of Attorneys that will represent you.

So, should those who Pastor/Shepherd a congregation in the church be any less competent and highly skilled than the Cardiologist or Attorneys?

The focus of this issue of the News Letter is addressing this question – - ‘Is a Seminary Education required to pastor in today’s culture?’ Well, the answer to that question is ‘Yes’ & ‘No’! Let me explain and PLEASE do not jump to any conclusions or let your prejudiced opinion answer the question. I will close this article with my personal testimony on the impact Seminary has had for44 years on my life and ministry.

There have been several men that had no Seminary Training and enjoyed great success and effectiveness in ministry; Bunyan who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, Charles Haddon Spurgeon who led the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and Martin Lloyd-Jones who served for 50 years at Westminster in London. They are the exception. Such success without the equipping that Seminary provides is extremely rare.

Let me clarify right here. There is a vast difference between a Seminary Education and a Seminary Degree. There are many men with degrees that never accomplished  Seminary Education. They managed to go through the process without embracing the opportunity to immerse themselves in the incredible value and benefit of learning the original languages, church history, homiletics, hermeneutics, etc. The people you serve are the beneficiaries of your competence and diligence in applying what you learned.

Here are several pluses or advantages that a Seminary Education provides for pastoral ministry. You will appreciate these much more AFTER you have been in the battle for a few years. Mark it down, it is a battle, it is spiritual warfare!

1) Confidence Pastoral ministry is literally the care and feeding of God’s chosen people. The text of Scripture provides a clear warning to those who wear the mantle of Pastor/Shepherd.(James 3:1). Every time you mount the sacred desk to declare the unchanging TRUTH of the Gospel you will be exceedingly thankful for the CONFIDENCE that a Seminary education well executed provides for you. With proper humility, you know as you speak that you are accurately with precision in context representing what the text says!

2) Competence There is great joy in knowing that you are executing the care and feeding of God’s people with precision and excellence. Like a skilled surgeon, you apply the tools of exegesis and hermeneutics with precision. You witness the transformation God produces through your ministry in the people you serve. Making disciples is accomplished by the accurate declaration of God’s revealed TRUTH as applied by the Holy Spirit = Transformation.

3) Tenacity Seminaries report that five (5) years after graduation, 50% of the graduates are no longer in ministry. That is a stunning statistic. Possessing the tools that seminary provides and unconditional surrender to Jesus as Lord makes longevity in ministry possible. Peterson framed this as ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.’. I recently served a Pastor who is completing 68 years in the same church! That men is real Tenacity.

My Testimony on Seminary Education

I was 27 years old with two children when I began my undergraduate studies. After 1 year I determined that a Seminary Education was imperative. That was in 1970. Our culture today is far more complex and challenging. The competence that a Seminary Education provides equips a man to face head on those challenges. My education opened a multitude of ministry opportunities to me. God has taken me to 27 countries training pastors and church leaders. I added to my Seminary training Church Consultant Certification which was granted me in large part because of my education and International experience. I currently write Book Reviews for Crossway Publications. My Seminary Education has equipped with the tools to do that. God has granted me the joy of six radio programs a week in which I promote the Reformation and Renewal of the church. Our children and grandchildren have been influenced by my education. Modeling influences as little else can. Our eldest son is an Attorney and serves as Chief Counsel for the Inspector General in the Security Exchange Commission in Wash D.C. He is 53 years old. He is pursuing an M.Div. at Southern Seminary.

God granted me the privilege of having 20 Pastoral Interns over the 49 years of pastoral ministry. Today they serve as Military Chaplains, Missionaries, Pastors, Hospice Chaplains, etc. My Seminary Education in part made this possible and it is a great way to multiply your Kingdom impact.

Some men tell me that ‘I did not have the opportunity to attend Seminary’. Really? Let me close by saying the incredible multitude of options that exist today to get a Seminary Education is simply stunning. Obviously a resident program is best, but, you can accomplish an M.Div. via on line instruction. Knowing the original languages is a strategic advantage in pastoral ministry. You know with accuracy and precision in context what God’s Word declares. The people you serve trust that you are properly representing God’s Truth. Sell everything you have and pursue such an education (Matt. 13:46). You will never regret acquiring the skills and competence such an education provides. Soon enough my pilgrimage will be over and I delight in what God has graciously permitted me to do for the Kingdom and the King! Seminary Education contributed significantly to that endeavor. Pastor, encourage the men under your ministry that God calls into pastoral ministry to get the very best Seminary Education possible. You serve the King & the Kingdom well by doing so. (Consider www.expositors.org). The fee is $200/hour and you get an M.Div. with both languages in 4 years.

ResourceSome Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson. Read Chapter 35, pp. 685-696. The Preacher As Theologian. Rich fare for your soul!

The link takes my readers to an article by Dr. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City MO. He affirms what I have said in this article. Read & Heed!

https://www.challies.com/articles/is-seminary-really-necessary/

 

Leading Transformation

The decline of the American Church is an indisputable reality as this post documents. Many pastors and church leaders are profoundly aware of this decline. The quandary they wrestle with is ‘what must we do to address and correct this persistent impotence?’

When you have a cavity, you go to the Dentist. When you have a foot injury, you go to a Podiatric Surgeon. Such actions are reasonable and lead to a favorable resolution to your problem.

The IgniteUS Transformation Process provides abundant resources that bring exegetically supported correction to the existing dysfunctions in ministry. Each church presents distinct challenges. Our Process is tailored to the church you are leading. We have helped many pastors and churches go from decline to robust effectiveness in making disciples (Call Pastor Louis Venable in Loris, SC – 843 817 7842). Individual people and the church as a body are transformed. The Process begins with an objective Assessment that enables you to know the true condition of the church you serve. This makes it possible to effectively address the causes of decline.

We come alongside of any church that has a high view of Christ and a high view of Scripture. There is. a very modest monthly fee depending on the level of Consultation you desire. Continuous decline is not the only option. Give me a call to investigate this process for implementation where you serve.. I have an article titled Measuring What Matters Most that will facilitate genuine Transformation  I will send this to all who make such a request You will be very glad that you called. (800 472 3764 or info@igniteus.net).

 

Pastoral Placement

Leadership is crucial. When a church is seeking a Lead Pastor there are multiple critical areas that must be considered. Tragically the traditional approach to this process has produced brief pastoral tenures (3 1/2 years is the current average) and less than robust effectiveness. It takes about five (5) years for a pastor to earn trust and the willingness of people to embrace the changes ministry requires. A positive and wise trend is to seek the services of a proven Consultant and Process. IgniteUS provides such a service. Our goal is to guide the church to a man that fits the church and the church fits the man. We provide testimonials from those who have utilized our services. Contact us @ 800 472 3764 or info@igniteus.net.

 

Ministry Support $$

We are asking you to give – $10 a month. These funds enable us to provide  Scholarships to Pastors & Churches. Christ gets the Glory!  On our Home Page (www.igniteus.net) click on the banner labeled Online Giving and follow the prompts.

People do not give to a ministry because you have needs. People give because they believe you meet needs and they want to be a significant part of helping meet those needs.

THANKS to each one who gives! Appreciated!

 

Pod Cast – THRIVE

 

The title of the Pod Cast is THRIVE. That is our desire for every pastor and every local church. We want you to thrive in making disciples, and developing leaders, all of which is to Glorify Jesus Christ. There is a banner on our web site – - www.igniteus.net – - just click on that banner. This Pod Cast has the potential to reach 35,000 listeners. If you listen and find benefit in the content, encourage folks in your sphere of influence to listen as well, then contact us. THANKS. I want to hear from you; info@igniteus.net or 800 472 3764.

The Pod Cast are posted every Tuesday. On July 17 I began a series titled “Leadership Is”. The ministry of IgniteUS is focused on Leadership Development and Intentional Disciple Making in the local church. These posts will inform, encourage, and equip leaders in the local church. Click on the banner on our home page labeled -Thrive.

Ent.
 

 

 

 

 

 

This Date in History

1620 Mayflower sets sail from Southampton, England, with 102 Pilgrims

Read and respond. THANKS!!Read my BLOG – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com.

Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net - A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – “Why Go To Seminary“) New post on the 1st & 15th of each month. Comments welcome!

Home Page - Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/

US Update

This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site – click on Newsletter. THANKS!

Why Go To Seminary?

August 13, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Why Go to Seminary?

Why go to seminary? Why not just take classes online, or learn what you can from your pastor? Why not just get busy doing the work of ministry and learn as you go? Why take the time, why spend the money, why uproot your life?

These are the same questions (minus the online thing) Timothy Dwight had in mind when he stood to address an assembled crowd at the opening ceremonies of Andover Seminary in Massachusetts. Andover, the first seminary in America, opened its doors in 1808. Until its founding, aspiring ministers desiring theological education usually learned what they could through an apprenticeship with a local pastor. However, Dwight, the president of Yale College and grandson of Jonathan Edwards, believed something more than a liberal arts education and a mentor were needed to prepare future pastors. So before the first seminary class was offered in America, Dwight sought to answer the question, Why go to seminary? His answers may be 204 years old, but they can still help us today.

1. Time to Study

Dwight explained that the new seminary would give future ministers sufficient, undistracted time to learn. Too often, he lamented, men began their ministries “very imperfectly fitted for their profession,” because they didn’t have enough money to “pursue their studies through a sufficient length of time.” Andover sought to address this problem by providing instruction, use of books, and, “at least to a considerable extent,” housing and living expenses.

The times of free seminary tuition, food, and housing are long gone. Many today go into ministry “very imperfectly fitted” because they don’t think they can afford the years or money needed to obtain a seminary education. Of those who do attend, too many are burdened with excessive student loans. Seminaries that can keep tuition low and provide substantial scholarships and grants provide a great service to future pastors and their churches. This kind of investment should be a priority of every denomination and local church. By serving students in this way, churches will also bless themselves with pastors who have taken the time to prepare for ministry.

2. The Library

One of the greatest strengths of Andover Seminary, Dwight argued, was that it would have a library “sufficiently various, and extensive, for the purposes intended.” Full-time students have lots of time to read—-more than they’ll ever have in full-time ministry. Broad and deep reading is one of the main purposes of seminary. Professors are there to teach and mentor, but also to force you to read. As you read, you learn and grow, you learn how to read, and you learn what’s worth reading.

You can’t afford all the books, journals, articles, and dictionaries you’re required to read. That’s why strong seminaries and divinity schools have extensive and growing libraries. A good library gives you access to vast amounts of knowledge and distilled wisdom you cannot find online. If you’re in seminary, take advantage of the library—-you’ll miss it when you’re gone.

3. The Faculty

Mastering any one of the “branches of theological learning” (Bible, apologetics, systematic theology, church history, practical theology) is enough to exhaust “the utmost talents of a single man.” Therefore, Dwight observed, it’s impossible for a single pastor to teach all these disciplines to those he mentors. If there were a pastor “ever so competent,” his other pastoral duties would make it “impossible for him to command sufficient time to communicate the knowledge, which ought to be considered as indispensable.”

The seminary, on the other hand, has professors who devote themselves to a level of study and teaching that isn’t possible for a single pastor. Don’t misunderstand Dwight (or me). There are things your pastor can teach you that no seminary professor can. That’s why local churches must not outsource pastoral training to the seminaries. But there are also things that a good seminary can teach you that most pastors have neither the time nor ability to teach. In most cases, it takes both a good local church pastor and a good seminary faculty to train a good future pastor.

4. The Other Students

“All ministers ought to be friends.” And in order to develop friendships, they have to know each other. However, Dwight explained, when “ministers are educated separately and solitarily, this knowledge, in ordinary cases, cannot exist.” But at a seminary, “being educated together, being of the same age, pupils of the same instructors, tenants of the same buildings, engaged in the same delightful pursuits, and actuated, as we may reasonably hope, by the same spirit, they can hardly fail to be of one accord, and of one mind.”

Good seminaries strengthen the unity between churches by building bonds between ministers. The friendships you build while you’re in seminary will strengthen your ministry for years to come. The guy who sits next to you in 8 a.m. Hebrew class may someday lead his church to support your missionaries. The couple you meet at orientation may pray for you and your family for the rest of your life. The classmate you study with for a final may someday labor beside you for reformation in your denomination. So go to seminary, devote yourself to reading, and learn all you can from your professors. But don’t fail to invest time in relationships while you’re there.

5. The Doctrine

In making his case that such a thing as a seminary was needed, Dwight concluded by assuring his hearers, “The doctrines, which will be taught here, are the doctrines of the Reformation.” He went on to explain how Andover’s teaching would be biblical and orthodox and beneficial for building up the church. The seminary, Dwight assured his listeners, would exist for the benefit of the churches.

In 1808 there was only one seminary in America. Today there are dozens. But the fact remains that a seminary’s most important task is to pass on sound doctrine to the next generation of pastors for the benefit of the churches. Choose a seminary that takes this responsibility seriously, and you will bless both yourself and your future church.


All citations are from Timothy Dwight, A Sermon Preached at the Opening of the Theological Institution in Andover (Boston: Farrand, 1808).

Change or DIE!

July 11, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

If you owned 100 McDonald’s Franchise Restaurants and 90 of them were unprofitable, you would most certainly seek correction of the factors producing loss. You would do that immediately upon learning the Truth about the bottom line.

If you had a cattle ranch and you learned that you were losing $200 per head when taking the cattle to market, you would either get out of that business, or, discover ways to make your investment profitable.

The American Church – not so much. There are some 350,000 – 400,000 Protestant churches in the USA. 95% of them are NOT healthy. They limp along with dysfunctions that they refuse to correct. Research says that 95% of professing Christians NEVER share the Gospel with anyone in an entire year. That is flagrant rebellion to the person and command of Jesus who is LORD. Yet, these rebels (Hebrew pasha, to rebel) are regarded as ‘members in good standing’. What?

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Denomination in the USA, has been on an unbroken 65 year decline when using numbers as the metric for effectiveness. This is perhaps the heart  of the problem.

Jesus is not impressed with numbers. Not Attendance. Not Offerings. Not Baptisms. Not Buildings. The New Testament Metric for effectiveness in ministry is Transformation. Redeemed people systematically becoming more like Jesus in character and conduct. Until this false Metric of Numbers for ministry effectiveness is abandoned, nothing will change. If you are not seeing God produce transformation that is objective and documented in the people you serve, you are not a church you are a Social Club.

There is no ‘Quick Fix’ for impotence in the American Church. It takes 48-60 months for a church to go from cultural lethargy to biblical effectiveness. The reason – revitalization requires changing the culture of a given church. Culture controls. Such cultures are made up of long standing traditions that have no basis in the New Testament. Churches perpetuate ‘programs’ that will wear you out with activity but never contribute to the disciple making process.

Conclusion – Change or Die! If you as a leader permit the dysfunctional ministry polity and practices currently producing decline and impotence to continue, you are openly declaring that you endorse such tragic hindrance to genuine ministry. Like Joshua said thousands of years ago – ”Choose this day whom you will serve?” (Josh. 24:15).

Church – Culture – Gospel

June 29, 2018 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

“The calling of the church is to preach the gospel. And whenever that which is central, namely, the gospel,becomes peripheral, then that which is peripheral inevitably becomes central”—Alistair Begg.

The challenge of being in the world but not of it is unrelenting. This article is one perspective on this issue. What the Church MUST do is make certain that the MESSAGE we deliver is the GOSPEL without admixture of error or compromise. (TCF)

Early in my ministry, I found myself suddenly in the middle of a culture war, with no idea where the trenches were. I was a youth pastor, in my hometown, just down the street from an Air Force Base. Like every other evangelical youth minister, I received constant advertisements from curriculum-hawkers telling me how I could be “relevant” to “today’s teenagers,” usually by “connecting” with them through popular culture. I couldn’t do that well, though, so I just fell back on being me, and preached the gospel the best I could.

There were two groups that divided the youth group there in Biloxi. The first group was made up of “churched” kids, those who did what was expected in the Bible Belt and made professions of faith, followed by baptism, as young children.

These kids knew the gospel, from start to last, and could rattle off the right answers at will. The gospel neither surprised nor alarmed them. They knew how to embrace just enough of an almost gospel to stay within the tribe, without embracing so much gospel as to encounter the lordship of Christ.

The “unchurched” kids laughed at the Bible studies based on television shows or songs of the moment.

But as time went on, another group of teenagers started to trickle in to our Wednesday night Bible studies. The second group was mostly fatherless boys and girls, some of them gang members, all of them completely unfamiliar with the culture of the church and with the message of the gospel.

Some of them unwittingly reversed the Protestant Reformation by persistently calling me “Father Moore,” just because the only clergy they’d ever seen were Catholic priests in movies. Prayer request time often proved challenging, with one girl asking for prayer that she wouldn’t get pregnant that weekend since she’d run out of birth control pills and her boyfriend didn’t like to wear a condom. Some of them would show up in a cloud of marijuana. The church was so strange to them that they didn’t know what to hide.

The churched kids, though, learned the dark side of Bible Belt culture — how to know the books of the Bible in order, how to answer all the right questions in small group discussion, and how to get drunk, have sex, and smoke marijuana without their parents ever knowing it. Recognizing that many of the baptized kids in my orbit were, in fact, pagan, I shared the gospel, but I kept hitting wall after wall of invincible intelligence.

The “unchurched” kids laughed at the Bible studies based on television shows or songs of the moment. They weren’t impressed at all by the video clips provided by my denomination’s publisher, or by the knockoff Christian boy bands crooning about the hotness of sexual purity.

What riveted their attention wasn’t what was “relatable” to them, but what wasn’t. They were drawn not to our sameness but to our strangeness.

“So, like, you really believe this dead guy came back to life?” one of the unchurched 15-year-old boys asked me one day. “I do,” I replied. He said, “Wait, for real?” I responded, “Yep. For real.” He blinked and whispered, “Dude, that’s crazy.” But he stayed around, and he listened.

The churched kids, and some of their parents, were outraged. Didn’t I know, they asked, that some of these adolescents were in gangs, that they smoked weed, and had sex? It was beside the point that almost all of these things (save gang membership) were going on among the churched kids, too. The point was they knew how to behave.

I am convinced the next generation of Christian witness will be less like the Bible Belt kids I faced at the start of my ministry.

I explained that “how to behave” could be translated as “how to hide sin” through a cycle of Saturday decadence and Sunday repentance. But that didn’t change their minds. One teenager even quoted to me, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The congregation was healthy so the vast majority of the parents supported me, as did the senior pastor. But I was rattled that we had to have this argument at all.

What I was dealing with was a culture war, in miniature. The churched families saw the lost kids from the outside as “the culture,” the very thing we were supposed to protect our families from. We were to be a little outpost of the Bible Belt, with pizza parties and family values, protecting our kids from teen pregnancy or drug addiction or anything else that might wreck their lives.

They couldn’t see that we were part of the culture, too, and the culture they wanted to war against was right there, upstairs from them in their own children’s bedrooms. The mission didn’t make sense to them, because they had forgotten who they were. They were not the first.

Increasingly, I am convinced that the next generation of Christian witness will be less like the Bible Belt kids I faced at the start of my ministry, with their rehearsed professions of faith and hidden rebellions.

The next generation will confront us more with that second sort of lostness, those for whom the Christian witness — right down to the basics — seems foreign and irrelevant and antiquated and freakish. Jesus didn’t hide the oddity of the culture of the kingdom, and neither should we.

Let’s listen to what our culture is saying, hearing beneath the veneer of cool the fear of a people who know that Judgment day is coming because it’s written in their hearts (Romans 2:15–16). Let’s listen beneath the cynicism to the longings there, expressed in the culture, longings that can only be fulfilled in the reign of a Nazarene carpenter-king. Let’s deconstruct what they — and we — tell ourselves when it’s nonsense.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s run toward, and not away from, the strangeness of an old gospel of a Messiah who was run out of his own hometown, but who, oddly enough, walked out of his own graveyard. For real.

But let’s do more than talk. Let’s live together in churches that call our neighbors to consider the justice and righteousness they see demonstrated among us. Let’s witness (albeit imperfectly and waveringly) to what the whole universe will one day look like.

Let’s confront culture with the gospel, in all its strangeness, both inside and outside the church.

Let’s groan at the wreckage all around us, in this world of divorce courts and abortion clinics and gas chambers, and let’s pray for the day when, as the hymn puts it, “every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.”

Let’s show in the makeup and ministry and witness of our congregations what matters, and who matters, in the long run. Let’s confront culture with the gospel, in all its strangeness, both inside and outside the church. And let’s model what happens to a culture when the kingdom interrupts us on our way to where we would go, if we were mapping this out on our own.

Let’s not merely advocate for causes; let’s embody a kingdom. Let’s not aspire to be a moral majority, but a gospel community, one that doesn’t exist for itself, but for the larger mission of reaching the whole world with the whole gospel.

That sort of kingdom first cultural engagement drives us not inward, but onward.

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