Follow by Email

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Part II: I'm a local church leader: What the heck am I doing?!

I'm continuing a three-part post re-capping our very first Introducing Leadership Night that took place last week. (This is for those who couldn't attend but are interested in what's going on behind the scenes at Sunrise):

Part II: I'm a local church leader: What the heck am I doing?!

When it comes to leadership, the Apostle Paul’s Principle is fairly simple: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

This verse comes as a conclusion to a discussion on the issue of freedom/liberty. Should we be allowed to eat meat sold in the Meat Market even though it may have been offered in sacrifice to an idol? YES. But if a young believer invites you over and they say “Hey, did you know has been offered in sacrifice to an idol?!” Say NO to eating the meat so as not to cause the other person (especially a young believer) to stumble.

In one way, this is a weird passage from which the major leadership principle comes.

In another way, it’s perfect. When it comes to making decisions and carrying them out as well as giving counsel to others, most of the time we’re dealing with grey area matters. That’s why you come to a leader: If the answer was clear, you wouldn’t need to run it by someone. But because it’s not clear…and you’re looking for wisdom, experience, knowledge, & guidance.

Thus, the core principle of leadership to which I adhere: Leading by Following. Leading by following Jesus while in the midst of others.

Jesus always sought the good of others – to benefit them, even if it mean sacrifice to himself. Paul is saying, when it comes to eating, I do the same. Being a good church leader starts by being a good sheep. This idea of leading by following is repeated elsewhere by Paul in Philippians 4: 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

“The follow me” component has caused me to alter the way I ‘do’ discipleship. Perhaps in the past, you experienced discipleship by reading a book of the Bible or some other book with another questions. You asked questions about the book, learned together, & prayed together. These kinds of studies have been beneficial in my life. A few years ago I heard a pastor named Francis Chan talk about this and he admitted he read 1 Cor. 11:1 and his perspective changed. There was something missing and that was a hands-on component to discipleship. Come follow my example as I seek to follow Jesus' example.

What does that look like? (a) Taking along someone to a coffee shop with you, read through your book, but look for opportunities to share the gospel with others there; (b) having someone serve alongside you in Children’s Ministry or on the Hospitality Team; (c) Parents having young couples (that may or may not have children) be around your family. Let 'em just hang around and watch -- perhaps even let them, over time, do some babysitting (a lot of young couples have no other model for healthy parenting...or healthy marriages for that matter); (d) For me, I enjoy helping to teach people to teach, showing them what I do, and then empowering them to do it. (e) Might come in the context of Small Group leading/Discipleship – spend 6 months getting into God’s Word together, then pull in one or two more persons and let your ‘trainee’ lead.

No matter what we do, as leaders we are called first to be good sheep, trust that others will take notice, and then be intentional about inviting them along for the ride. Yes, this can happen in ye ole local church.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recap of Introducing Leadership - Part I - Why leadership?

This past Tuesday Night was our church's very first Introducing Leadership Event, where we introduced the concept of local church leadership and what that looks like at Sunrise to any who wished to attend. It was a good way not only to become more educated on the subject but to show to those interested in leadership and those just interested what is going on behind-the-scenes at Sunrise.

This is the first of three blog entries that will re-cap what was covered:

Part I - Why does a Church Need Leadership?

A. Used to think...

I used to think: Why can't we all just use our gifts & talents to serve the church?! We'll gather round in a circle, hold hands, sing kumbayah, and Jesus will be the center. So we won't need a leader or leaders if this works.

But it became clear to me, thanks to my friend simply pointing to the New Testament, that there were leaders in the church -- the New Testament spoke at length about these dudes called 'elders.' Paul, Peter, and John were often calling themselves 'fellow elders.'

The next thought I had was that God gave us leaders because the 'system' was broken. We are all one body, each of us using our gifts as members of that body, and Jesus is our leader. But because we are sinners and live in a fallen world, God uses leaders to get us in line. And while there is some truth in that...

B. I've grown to believe that leadership in a church serves a grander purpose

Just like Spiritual Gifts. Last Sunday we examined Ephesians 4: 7-16 in asking the question: What's it all for? Specifically, using our gifts as a unified body of believers -- what's it all for. My plea was: To get & give a taste of Saving Grace & Future Glory.

Using gifts as a church gives others a taste of Saving Grace. Grace is God's love made active through an unconditional, undeserved gift. The supreme pinnacle of grace is Jesus Christ & his saving work on the cross. So while not every example of God's love made active (grace) is saving grace (see even Eph. 4:7a -- here 'grace' is a spiritual gift) -- every example of grace is based on and stems from saving grace (see 4: 7b-10). So every time we use spiritual gifts, we are giving and getting a taste of saving grace. Why? Because when someone sacrifices time & energy to use their gift(s) is such a way as to bless someone unconditionally (without asking anything in return), we're reminded of...well, another unconditional sacrifice.

Using gifts as a church gives others a taste of Future Glory. Three pairs of words are repeated in Ephesians 4: 7-16 - Build, grow, fill. Verses 12-13 show how in using my gift to minister to you, you are built up to then turn around and use your gift to build me up (and the cycle of goodness continues). As we build one another the body grows upward into Christ (v.15) until we, as the church, get to be Christ's visible representation on earth of filling all things (v.10). Build, grow, fill and we almost get there on earth -- but will only see that vision of the church when we're reunited with Jesus in eternal life. BUT we do almost get there by using our gifts to serve one another, and that gives people a taste of future glory (see 1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 for how gifts hint at future perfection).

And so using spiritual gifts to benefit the body serves a greater purpose than just a functioning church.

Just like marriage. In Ephesians 5: 23-34, Paul shows how the marriage relationship serves a grander purpose than simply the relationship between a man and woman. Hence: "But I am talking about Christ and the church" (v.32). The sacrificial, "I'm giving myself up to serve your interests" leadership of a husband and the responsive respect & submission of a wife serves a grander purpose of being the most gospel-magnifying human relationship one can have. There is no other relationship on earth that can better and more vividly demonstrate Christ's love for his church and the church's love for him than marriage.

Just like leadership. Leadership in the local church is ultimately meant to give us a taste of, to illustrate the mystery of the Godhead, the Trinity and, specifically, the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (HS).

The Father, Son, & HS are all mentioned in God's Word as being divine. They are of the same substance. Yet, they are three different persons and have different functions. While they are all equal in divinity, in God-ness, they are not equal in function or roles.

Jesus says that the HS defers to Him, to His authority, and only speaks His words: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare what is yet to come (John 16: 13-14). The HS, while equal to Jesus in stature, is not equal in role/function. So he defers to Jesus.

Jesus also says the he defers to God the Father, to His authority, and only seems to imitate what He sees His Father doing. Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise (John 5:19). The Son recognizes all authority belongs with His Father. While He is equal to the Father in nature, in stature, he is not equal in role/function. So he defers to the Father.

C. Why is this important?

Without leadership, would we be missing organization and direction? Yes. But more importantly, we'd be missing out on an opportunity to give others a taste of the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Wow! What an opportunity!! We get to be Bob Barker and show what's right behind the curtain so people can jump for joy.

When we grow weary of leadership, get annoyed by or question certain leaders, how we respond doesn't just reflect upon our church, it reflects upon how people see the Trinity. So even when we need to respond by asking questions or disagreeing, how we ask those questions or how we disagree (I would suggest: Go directly to the person without anger and without discussing the matter with others) again affects how people will see the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.

Part II - I'm a Local Church Leader: What the heck am I doing?! (stay tuned)..

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Follow up on Spiritual Gifts Q & A

This Sunday we looked at Ephesians 4: 7-13 and talked specifically about the Holy Spirit. My main point, in nutshell, was: The Church Body won't grow because you are unique -- you must use your uniqueness to serve.

Most people spend their lives going back and forth between wanting to set themselves apart and wanting to belong to something greater than themselves. The tension seems never ending. And many organizations, religions, even nations cater to this (see United States and former motto until 1956: E Pluribus Unum - 'out of many, one').

But among organizations and institutions only one is able to sustain both a radical sense of togetherness and a freedom of individuality -- the church. God gives these gifts to each believer that are divinely-powered so that he/she can make a unique contribution in serving the body to which you belong. The set of spiritual gifts set us apart and make our contribution unique; we all benefit and increase unity because we serve and are served by these gifts. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!

Now I wanted to post a couple of resources for learning more about spiritual gifts, since ours was a quick overview followed by 7 minutes of Q & A:

#1 - A very rich series of online articles under the heading: Who's Afraid of the Holy Spirit? Included among the authors are J.I. Packer and one of my favorite seminary professors, Richard Averbeck.

#2 - On spiritual gifts specifically, I would like to start something myself as its an area in which I've had a good deal of experience and done a good deal of training. But I've neither the time or energy, so for now I refer you to this resource from Pastor Mark Roberts (Boerne, Texas). He did a very helpful blog series on Spiritual Gifts in the Body of Christ: Part I (Contains 5 articles) & Part II (Contains 9 articles).
I don't fully agree with his definition of Spiritual gifts, but pretty close & his treatment of the use of the gifts is excellent.

#3 - Please pray for Sunrise Community Church. One, that our new, biblically-sound leadership structure would get in place by the end of April. With the foundation of a team of elders, we can then move toward the creation of new ministries (where you can use their gifts) and a membership class of sorts (where you can identify, pray about, & learn how to begin using gifts). So, two, pray for God's timing and patience as we get down the 'fundamentals' of doing church before rushing ahead to the other, more 'exciting' stuff.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Resources for Right Beliefs

2.2.10 - Resources for Right Beliefs

The past couple of Sundays during our worship time together we've taken a hard look at how, over time, our beliefs determine what we value/prioritize, which determine what we do & say in our lives. Beliefs --> Values --> Behavior. We saw this in Acts 20. And we also saw it as Paul encouraged his young disciple Timothy to "watch his life and doctrine closely, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16).

A number of you had some great responses to the teaching of God's Word about this. So I've decided to post a few resources that might help you examine and shape right belief (what smart Bible people call "orthodox belief'), according to God's Word:

Here we go.

1. The first six days of a little booklet called "My First 30 Quiet Times" which look at some of the basics of Christianity. It's geared toward a new Christian. Includes some lively explanation as well as some verses to read and a prayer for each day. I've scanned these and uploaded them as PDF files. You'll need to go to our church website, under BLOG, to view:
Day 1 - What is a Christian?
Day 2 - How can I be sure I'm a Christian?
Day 3 - What happened? Gospel, Grace, Repentance, Justification, Atonement
Day 4 - Your New Resident
Day 5 - What really is Sin?
Day 6 - Forgiveness.

2. A Simple explantion of the Basics of Christianity from (Click here)

3. A test on what you know about Christian beliefs. Disclaimer for jaded Christians:
You won't feel all dirty as if you just endured Bible Trivia with your Youth Group (Click here)

4. A wider selection of various areas of Christian Beliefs (Click here)