Transitions in Ministry – Risk Taking

November 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Newsletter


Under The Elmtree
In This Issue:
*  Embracing Transitions in Ministry
*  Insights Into The Cultural Setting of Ministry
*  Weep A Lot
*  Sermon Evaluation Criteria
 Partnership – Founders & IUS
*  Leadership Resources – The Conviction to Lead, Al Mohler
*  Leadership Insights from the “fly on the wall” – Who & What is An Evangelical?
*  eStore on The Web
*  In the Next Issue – Leading Organic Transformation
Embracing Transitions in Ministry
On November 17 @ 4AM we will head West to AL. We have lived and served in SC for 19 years. We are relocating as a matter of wise and prudent action. If you live long enough you will need assistance. Our children have honored us through the years. Our second son and family live in Cullman AL and they will embrace the Truth of Lev. 19: 32 . . . ‘show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD’. They will help us as we arrive at that junction that Solomon describes in Eccl. 12; the keepers of the house tremble, strong men stoop, the grinders cease because they are few, etc. Old Age!
On the credenza behind my desk at SEC is a matted and framed advertisement from the Wall Street Journal posted in 1980. It portrays a diminutive little man standing beside a huge open oyster shell. In the middle of that shell is a large pearl. The little man is reaching to retrieve that pearl. The caption reads – “Risk surrounds almost everything worth having.”
This brief but poignant aphorism has shaped my pilgrimage for 43 years. We had two (2) children and I was 27 years old. We launched out on a pilgrimage to honor and follow the LORD’s call to vocational Christian ministry. I was promised employment when we arrived  at Cedarville College (now University). When we arrived – no job. I was laid off five (5) times in my first year of college. Our daughter was born at the end of my first year in college.   We now have three (3) children and 6-7 years of formal educational endeavors ahead of us. Did this require taking some risks? You tell me. When I look back it is more than a little scary. My wonderful faithful wife supported this journey at every turn – – extremely important.
God honored principled risk-taking at every juncture with His incredible faithfulness and provision. He cared for the education of our children. He enabled Peggy & I to purchase our first house as Seminarians. He enabled me to pursue Doctoral Studies. He has taken me to 27 countries where I had the high privilege of meeting and training some of God’s choicest servant-leaders. We have lived in six (6) states in 52 years. He granted me the privilege of serving with some of the finest Christian Leaders in the world.
Without “Risk-Taking” none of these opportunities would have been presented let alone pursued.  Inevitably when we face transitions it involves risk. So, what principles distinguish appropriate risk taking from recklessness and self-centered ego trips?
1.  The Sufficiency of God’s Word. Scripture provides all we need to honor and obey.
2.  The demonstrated faithfulness of the God of the Ages. He cares for His own.
3.  The wisdom of the people that make up the body of Christ. “Listen!”
4.  The capacity and discipline to analyze and learn from past mistakes and bad decisions.
5.  The glorious Truth that we plan our course but God directs our steps to His Glory!
Peter Drucker said of risk taking:
Those leaders who take no risk make about two major mistakes a year.
Those leaders who take risk make about two major mistakes a year.
Leadership that is fruitful demands both transitions and risks. Moses went from shepherding sheep to confronting the ruler of Egypt. Elijah confronted wicked rulers and the prophets of Baal. Daniel defied the kings edict and prayed to His God. Peter said ‘we must obey God rather than man’. Tyndale put the Scriptures in the language of the people. Luther started the Reformation. Carey went to India in spite of fierce opposition from supposed brothers in the faith.
So the lesson is this. Take risks if you expect to know fruitful long term effectiveness in ministry. Embrace transitions as opportunity. Identify that “PEARL” that you need to seize and trust our Great God to make every provision in your pilgrimage. Do so for the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:14).
Insights Into The Cultural Setting of Ministry 
The Changing Face of Evangelicalism – In 1997 Dr. Al Mohler wrote an article that has proven to be virtually prophetic. He addressed the dramatic capitulation of evangelicals to culture and doctrinal  declension. Follow this link to read that article. Then lead in such a manner to reverse this direction. Take some risks!
Weep A Lot


*  Sermon Evaluation Criteria

Much has changed in the church in general and in Preaching in particular in the past 40 years. Many who once held to sound practices in homiletics and precise exegesis have abandoned those principles for “story telling” or other various and sundry models that pass as preaching today.

In an attempt to equip the people I shepherd with the tools to listen to a Sermon for maximum benefit I developed  Sermon Evaluation Criteria. I will send this one page document to anyone who makes a request – –
**I apologize to any who had trouble requesting this document – my “fat fingered error”.
The following is a response I received from one recipient of the Sermon Evaluation Criteria.
Thank you for the document. I recall the sermons I heard as a new believer 30 years ago and         I still remember some of them. They reflected all the criteria listed. They had 3 points that were stated in the beginning, they were repeated throughout, the were summarized, they came exclusively from the scriptural text. There were no anecdotes, stories, special effects, dramatic presentations. But we learned a lot and those sermons brought me to the faith, taught me about God and encouraged me to change and live for him.
Today, I find it hard to recall what I have heard two hours after the sermon. And it frustrates me. It seems like a waste of time. I have to constantly correct my attitude during the sermon. I don’t come with expectancy to hear from God through the sermon as I did so long ago when that expectancy was rewarded with the “bread of life.”
I will take sermon notes for some time now and begin to evaluate according to the outline and perhaps bring it to the attention of the preachers. Thanks for your monthly encouragement.
 Partnership – Founders & IUS
IgniteUS is pleased to announce a ministry partnership with Founders Ministries. Go to our Home Page( and click on the “Partners” page for a brief description of this shared endeavor to see God bring Reformation & Renewal to the church in America.
 Leadership Resources – The Conviction to Lead, Al Mohler
Become an effective leader by learning how to change minds! Using his own experience and examples from history, Dr. Mohler reveals 25 key characteristics that will help you transfer your convictions to others and affect their actions. You’ll learn how to become an example worth following, communicate ideas and beliefs, handle disappointments, prioritize, and more. 260 pages (Available November 1st).
Leadership Insights from the”Fly on the Wall“- Who & What is an Evangelical?


“Who & What is An Evangelical?” – – Edgar Schein states with brevity and clarity – – ‘What you do not define you can not measure’! There are many today who claim to be evangelical. They would trace their heritage to an evangelical source. They present doctrinal statements have historically been acknowledged as evangelical. They would deny affiliation with most or all ‘liberal’ strains of theological persuasion.

Walk back in history to 800 BC. The Northern Tribes would have all claimed to be followers of Jehovah. They ended up as captives in Assyria because they were engaged in the worship of false gods. The Southern Tribes did not learn from the experience of their fellow Israelites. They ended up in Babylon for 70 years. More spiritual declension.

I am not the sole arbiter called by God to answer this question. However, I am called to declare and defend the orthodox unchanging message of the gospel. This includes pointing out the instances where declension exists. I encourage my readers to find the courage to embrace a comprehensive analysis of your fidelity to Truth with precisions. A worthy task.

Send your thoughts to THANKS!

*  eStore on The Web – I am working with our Web Master to create an eStore on our IgniteUS Web Site ( . Over the years God has enabled IUS to develop some very beneficial resources. We will make these available with instruction and the option to get coaching for applying them in ministry. More to come on this topic.

Read my BLOG – – www.thetextsays.blogspot.comAlso on the Home – A Monday Morning BLOG. (Currently – ) New post every Monday morning. Comments welcome!
Home Page – Click on this link to go to our Home Page:  Click on the text line under the Feature Video that says “See what others are saying” for some recent testimonials. 
IUS Update This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site. THANKS!

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