Tuesday, March 25, 2014

12 ways a leader can kill his church

This post is a little bit a reaction. In no way do I think I have it all together and know that I have much to learn and these are purely my personal thoughts. I read an article today titled "Church Members, Here Are 10 Ways to KILL Your Church". Some of which may or may not be true. But it's my experience as a church leader that it is much more likely that "leaders" will cause the greatest damage to a church. So here are 12 ways a leader can harm or kill his church! (or at least encourage people to find another one)

  1. Don't practice what you preach
    Tell your church to do something you aren't prepared to do yourself. Tell them to tithe when a check on your bank account would see you somewhat lacking. Integrity must be found in leadership otherwise people will vote with their feet.
  2. Don't use the offerings for what you asked it for
    If you ask for a "Vision" offering. Make sure that you use the money for the specified actual vision. Every penny! If the price changes. Tell people. If you choose to go a different route. Tell people and offer them their money back. Be transparent!
  3. Surround yourself with yes men / women
    Healthy conflict is good. Leaders need people that make them think. The temptation is to surround yourself with people that thinks the sun shines out of your bum. It may make life easier in the short term but its a sure fire way to help you make bad decisions. Look for people that are Godly, madly in love with the church and big enough to ask a question.
  4. Have no real local accountability
    Local churches should have local leaders. There is a fad which is seeing leaders appoint fellow leaders from other churches in another part of the country or even another country as trustees or directors of the charity. This is not accountability it is trying to avoid accountability. It is also a sign of a weak leader. Rather than having to do some heavy lifting and actually talk, debate and convince people who know and love the church, they get their mate to tick the box.
  5. Assume that volunteers who don't show up can't be bothered.
    Not asking the question to find out what is going on in their life. What difficulties are they facing. Assuming the worst about people is a sure fire way to have them walk down the road to a church that appreciates them.
  6. Never release others into real leadership
    Call people leaders but constantly micro manage them. Criticise rather than coach when they make a mistake. Control them by ensuring they have to come back to you for almost every decision. Not allowing them to experiment and do things their way and insisting its your way or the highway.
  7. Beat up your congregation instead of building them up
    People already feel bad enough about themselves they don't need you to pile the pressure on. Inspire don't injure.
  8. Not making the local church God has placed you in your focus.
    You will always be the hero as a visiting speaker at another church so your ego will be fed. Jump off the band waggon of i will preach and your church and you speak at mine (with reciprocating monetary gifts). God has given you a flock and a city or town that he thinks needs you, give them and him your all.
  9. Thinking the congregation are there to serve you rather that you serving the congregation.
    As shepherds of God's people our example is the good shepherd. We are forever wedded to the bowl and towel of our master. No matter how many leadership books we devour with new techniques we are drawn back and confronted with a serving saviour. If we want people to serve us it maybe time to step out of leadership.
  10. Never personally tell another person about Jesus.
    Even worse shout at your congregation for their lack of evangelistic zeal when you can't actually remember the last person you invited to church, let alone they actually accepted and came and sat along side you.
  11. Keep hopping on and off the latest trend in church growth ideas.
    By enlarge your congregation don't care about, purpose driven, G12, attractonal v missional. (nothing wrong with any of them) They want a place where they are known, accepted as they are and inspired to change don't rob them of that with the latest fad.
  12. Forcing your vision through efficiently instead of winning people effectively.
    Not taking the time to win people is a sure fire way to empty the church. There will always be a few who won't go with you but the vast majority just want a compelling enough reason to change. God may have captured your heart now take the time to help others jump on board. Take time - people matter.

    The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people—God’s people they are—to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. - Acts 20:28 (Message)

Seeing only Jesus

Dwelling in a secret place
Overshadowed by His grace
Looking up into his face.
Seeing only Jesus.

Dwelling there, how truly blest!
Leaving all, how sweet to rest
Head upon my Saviour’s breast
Seeing only Jesus.

Resting there, no more to roam,
Drawing near to heaven and home.
Waiting there until he comes.
Seeing only Jesus.

- Grace Clement

(via Colin Hurt)

Monday, March 24, 2014


Loved this short video from Matt Chandler on sanctification:

Filling Life with Joy in Jesus from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Overloaded fuses of love

This illustration from Martin Lloyd-Jones in his book Joy Unspeakable to describe the difference between common Christian living and what happens when the Holy Spirit "clothes" a person with power blew my mind!

"It is like a child walking along holding his father's hand. All is well. The child is happy. He feels secure. His father loves him. He believes that his father loves him but there is no unusual urge to talk about this or sing about it. It is true and it is pleasant."

"Then suddenly the father startles the child by reaching down and sweeping him up into his arms and hugging him tightly and kissing him on the neck and whispering, "I love you so much!" And then holding the stunned child back so that he can look into his face and saying with all his heart, "I am so glad you are mine." Then hugging him once more with unspeakable warmth and affection. Then he puts the child down and they continue their walk."

"A pleasant and happy walk with God is swept up into an unspeakable new level of joy and love and assurance and reality that leaves the Christian so utterly certain of the immediate reality of Jesus that he is overflowing in praise and more free and bold in witness than he ever imagined he could be."

"The child is simply stunned. He doesn't know whether to cry or shout or fall down or run, he is so happy. The fuses of love are so overloaded they almost blow out. The subconscious doubts—that he wasn't thinking about at the time, but that pop up every now and then—are gone! And in their place is utter and indestructible assurance, so that you know that you know that you know that God is real and that Jesus lives and that you are loved, and that to be saved is the greatest thing in the world."

"And as you walk on down the street you can scarcely contain yourself, and you want to cry out, "My father loves me! My father loves me! O, what a great father I have! What a father! What a father!"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mission means radical risk

“You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in.....there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. - Acts 20:17-24

The message of radical risk and sacrifice seems to be some what missing in the UK church. We are obsessed with success rather than sacrifice, power over servanthood. If things are not going well for you then somehow you are doing something wrong, out of God’s will or a failure.

Paul had previously spent time in Ephesus and while there wrote to the church at Corinth describing his time:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. -2 Cor 1:8-10

I'm 51 now. I left Bible College 30 years ago starry eyed and ready to take the world for Jesus. I set off to plant a church sent out from MKCC and failed miserably. In the 30 years since what I do know is that I've learned far more in the defeats and difficult times than I have in the easy and successful times.

Radical risk forces us to rely on God and that’s a good place to be. It's easy to serve god when everything is rosy, when the crowd is growing, people are being saved, baptisms are abounding & offerings are up, but its also easy to trust in yourself during that time.

Radical risk with radical sacrifice can often put us in a place where everything can be lost even life its self. At that point we have no other option but to rely on God but that is always the best option we have.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Debtor to mercy alone

A debtor to mercy alone,
of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,
my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
with me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began,
the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo,
or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands
eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
 in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

- Au­gus­tus M. Top­la­dy 1771

Now that is a hymn full of truth that lifts my heart in love and sheer joy towards my God. Thank you Michael Tait for reminding me of it last night!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Entering Area 51

So its my 51st Birthday. So here are 51 words or people that have in some way shaped my life, taken it in a new direction or just brings a smile to my face for no particular reason:

  1. Belger (aka Cairnbulg)
  2. Cotton (aka Inverallochy)
  3. Albert
  4. Elsie
  5. Brother
  6. Twins
  7. Mizpah
  8. North Sea
  9. Quiet Waters
  10. Sonny Brae
  11. Mrs Alexander
  12. Kinnaird
  13. Didie Bill
  14. Granny Mary
  15. The Rack (Shore line)
  16. The Fitba Perk ( Home to much more than football, cricket, tennis)
  17. Aberdeen FC
  18. Fergie
  19. Uncle Billy
  20. Roger Blackmore
  21. Walstead School
  22. The Mission
  23. Andrew Smith
  24. Cairnbulg AOG
  25. Mattersey Hall
  26. The Ice Box
  27. William Dillon
  28. Keith Green
  29. Gothenberg
  30. George Ridley
  31. Milton Keynes
  32. Nicola Ritchie (outside of no 51 the most important)
  33. John Ecclestone
  34. Aston Villa
  35. Key Consultants
  36. Newport Pagnell
  37. Abbie
  38. Liam
  39. Mark Sherratt
  40. Philip Yancey
  41. Grace
  42. MKCC
  43. Florida
  44. St Jean De Monts
  45. Coffee Shop
  46. WiFi
  47. Apple
  48. Books
  49. Friends
  50. The Bible
  51. Jesus
Not a complete list, put together in a few short moments. If I sat and thought about it i'd probably change it. But at 51 my memory is going!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

What is God's point?

"One of the biggest questions we've ever asked is: What God's point is? I asked myself that as a little boy, still asking it in may ways. Although I think I've come to a conclusion.

It is I believe that we are born to be loved. Everyone is trying to love God, they don't know that he loves them. So being born to be loved is the key to everything else, because God's point is a love affair.

And so when we actually try to achieve something we are going to have to do it together. So if we are ever going to get what God wants, which is his inheritance. We are flat out going to have to love each other, work together, which means we are going to have to grow up. We are going to stop being boys and start being men. We have got to stop being girls and start being women. We have got to get out of the bleachers into the arena. We have got to get out of the wilderness, where it looks nice, you live in all these lovely blessings, but you actually end up disinherited.

God is looking for his family that will get a full inheritance. Which means that we have got to become who he is, we've got to become God with skin on.

And you have got to go pioneer something, build something, then smash hell to pieces and take back what's been lost. That's his inheritance!

Is there a generation actually out there that's capable of becoming something like Christ?"

- Andrew Shearman

Check out the G42 Leadership Academy

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Different Countries - Partners in the Gospel

Today we welcome Mark & Laura Waltz to MKCC. At Granger Community Church, Mark oversees adult relational connections, including groups, guest services and volunteer strategies. He is going to be training many of our staff and volunteers over the next few day. Including a workshop on Saturday, Lasting Impressions, you can still book in here.

Here is post that Mark put together. It is very interesting to me what he has gleaned through a couple of short conversations and reviewing MKCC's various guises on the internet. Web, facebook, twitter etc. If this is what MKCC is communicating through media and face to face it makes me very happy.

Last year the good people of Milton Keynes Christian Center, just outside London, invited me to join them for a few days of training, including an all-day workshop with their teams and area churches.

My wife, Laura, and I have anticipated this partnership (as well, as the rare opportunity to take in the history and beauty of their region) for months now. It's here! We leave this week to join lead pastor, Mark Sherratt, associate pastor, Billy Ritchie, and their amazing team.

Before we even get there, here's what I love about MKCC: 

Their values are clear and courageous:

  • We're passionate about people 
  • We're committed to community 
  • We're moving towards maturity 
  • We're saved to serve 
  • We're forgiven to forgive 
  • We're given to generosity 
  • We're bringing our best 
They love their community

  • They have opened their campus for business and city to maximize their efforts 
  • They are creatively and constantly initiating ways to give to their city 
  • They are wiling to "go the distance" to embrace their people 
They believe in equipping, empowering and praying
  • They frequently invest in their staff and volunteer leaders 
  • Training is normal and expected 
  • Prayer covers their new and existing leaders 
  • They trust and celebrate their leaders 
MKCC is already a partner - with me and Laura - and Granger Community Church. We share many of the same values. Our mission is the same. Our belief that people matter shows up in how we go about ministry. We're so excited to spend the next week learning, equipping and sharing life with this impressive staff and amazing church!

If you are in the area in the UK, it's not too late to join us for a day of guest services training this Saturday, 8 March 2014. You can learn more and register here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Relational Leadership

You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia - Acts 20:18

Over the nearly 3 years in Ephesus, Paul had an eventful stay. He struggled against opposition, was imprisoned at least once, feared for his life, and wrote letters to other churches including Corinth where he wrote this:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. -2 Cor 1:8-10

Paul seems to talk about we often. And writing this letter from Ephesus it would seem that the we at this time are the people he is surrounded by, the believers in Ephesus.

The guys he was teaching, in public and in their homes. The people he did life with. Paul is often portrayed as a harsh individual where relationships are secondary. But this passage gives short consideration of that caricature.

We read of tears many times. The fact that the leaders of this church were happy to make the 68 mile journey, in an age when walking was the mode of travel, to spend a short time with Paul speaks volumes. This was no leader locked in an ivory tower who kept himself to him self. This was brother on brother, flesh on flesh, friendship and deep love.

Relationships were clearly vital to this great missionary and leader. Today too many leaders are lonely for no good reason. Paul never seemed to do life alone he always seemed to have travelling companions in the cause of Christ.

Lets not do life or leadership alone!