Saturday, November 1, 2008

You don't get what you EXpect . . .

. . . you get what you INspect.

I used that phrase recently in a conversation. I was asked, "What does that mean?"

It means that you often don't get what you expect out of life or out of any given situation. Rather, you get out of life what you keep your eye on and what you inspect using whatever tools or analytical means you have at your disposal.

However we, in church leadership roles, don't inspect or analyze our methods very often. And we don't often evaluate our progress, successes or failures. But many churches today are taking a closer look at their ministries and leadership to see if there are things that they can do to inspect them and learn from that experience.

What about you and your church? When was the last time you sat down and analyzed or evaluated a particular ministry. Perhaps it is time to do that. Pray and ask God to lead you in conducting a review or inspection of yourself or a key ministry that you are involved in.

Monday, March 3, 2008

You don't have to listen if you don't want to

The following quote from Annie Dillard's book, Teaching a Stone to Talk, struck a chord within me this week. She says,
Experience has taught the [human] race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things -- unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on Him.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.

Alas, that is how we view leadership training and development sometimes. Or any other process or program that sounds too business-like. We view it as a series of habits or do-s and don't-s. We think of it in terms of the things we do, or at least should do, that will make us great or visionary leaders.

I blogged about this topic on my personal blog and here are some thoughts that relate to our personal relationship with God

We think God wants us to go to church. -- God wants us to be in His presence.

We think God wants us to sing hymns vs. contemporary music. -- God wants us to worship Him.

We think God wants us to do good works. -- God want us to love one another as Christ loved us.

We think God wants us to give 10% of everything we earn. -- God wants us to give it all to Him and allow Him to use it to build His Kingdom.

We think Gods wants us to DO a bunch of stuff. -- God wants us to know Him intimately. And that may mean sitting in the dark sometimes.

So, what is the application to church leadership and development? Well, here are my thoughts and observations.

We want to be the pastor that God calls us to be. -- God wants us to be willing to learn and grow and try something new.

We want to be the board member or elder that God calls us to be. -- God wants us to learn to follow before we lead.

We want to do big things for God. -- God wants us to be willing to walk through the doors that He opens for us.

We want to have a vision for the lost and dying in the world. -- God wants us to notice the runny-nosed kids that need someone to sit in Children's Church and help the fidgety to not be so fidgety.

And like the topics relating to our own personal relationship and Holiness that I posted about, we don't have to do any of these things at all if we don't want to. Your denominational police are not going to kick your door down and demand that you sharpen your skills and God-given talents. But if you want move beyond where you are now and you are tired of doing the same thing over and over again, then maybe it is time to seek some help from others in ministry who can walk side by side with you and encourage and coach you along the way.

Pastor, does that make sense to you? Board member, does that make sense to you?

If so, then we have good news for you. We can help you implement the vision that God has given you and bring honor and glory to God through the process.

Check back here in the coming days as we post some thoughts and ideas on identifying leadership skills and characteristics and then developing them in yourselves and your leadership team.

Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where there is no vision, the people perish

Where there is a vision but no plan to make it a reality, the people will be frustrated! I am sorry for the flip-side paraphrase of Proverbs 29:18 but I am trying to make a point here.

Such is the situation many churches find themselves in today. Many pastors and church lay leaders have a definite vision for what God is calling them to be and where He is calling them to go. But there is a lack of definitive movement in the direction that the vision is focusing on. Perhaps a better understanding of what that verse is really saying will help us put into better context regarding church growth and development.

The “vision” mentioned in Proverbs 29:18 was not what we think of today. It was not some ethereal mystical experience. It was not a forward thinking and motivational experience. Instead, the vision mentioned in this passage is all about teaching and instruction. In the days of the prophets, God spoke to His people through the visions of the prophets. Those visions were immediately communicated to the people and used for educational and instructional purposes. In other words, the receipt of the vision from God was not separate from the communication and instruction of what that all meant to the people. The instruction of the vision was equal in significance to receipt of the vision.

Here may be the point where the church of today needs some help. The church leadership needs to hone their skills in communicating the vision, providing instruction on what the vision is, and providing the tactical guidance or tangible demonstration of the vision.

What about your leadership skills?

Are your leadership skills what they need to be to take the vision that God has given you and translate it into specific ministry activities?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Greatest Need of the Evangelical Holiness Church

ISI Consultants are primarily engaged to assist local churches in leadership development, strategic planning, tactical planning, and other similar issues related to church growth and development. But, as I sat at lunch today with my father-in-law, we had an interesting conversation around the topic of the top three needs for the evangelical holiness church today.

There are many needs that come to mind. And ISI Consultants deal with many practical needs of local churches, pastors and lay leaders. But what are the deeper needs that exist?

I think the first need of the church is to recapture the ferver and fire that the presence of the Holy Spirit brings. I wrote about this on my personal blog back in May of last year. I would invite you to check out my thoughts on the need for the presence, power and purity of the Holy Spirit that were on my heart at that time.

But what does that mean to us as church leaders? How do we "translate" what we have experienced into something that is desirable by those who are new Christians or new to our church? Is it best translated in a classroom setting? How about a small group or cell group? Is it best translated from the pulpit? How do we share what has happened in our own lives in such a way that it spreads like fire?

What are your thoughts on this issue? Please reply or comment and create a dialog. We are in this together. Let's work together to see the Holy Spirit alive and active in our midst.