Monday, October 22, 2007

Effective Church Leaders (3/3)

On Thursday I said that the only indicator of future performance is past performance, not training. I said that Only is a strong word, but for now I am not convinced that there is any other indicator of future performance. In fact, past performance is not always an indicator of future performance but the longer the history of performance the more accurate it is as a predictor of the future.

I would go further to say that selecting leaders based on any criteria other than past performance is a gamble, a huge risk.

But . . .

You probably know that, in the business world, huge risk is the best way to get huge returns. It is also the best way to lose your shirt and maybe your pants. Imagine investing $10,000 in the Microsoft initial public offering in 1986. At that time most people thought of computers as big main frames, not essential tools in every home. But, if you took that $10,000 risk in 1986, your investment would have been worth $6,353,172 on the 1st of January 2005 (latest data I could find, it's more now).

As God's tools to reach a lost world, today's church leaders are called to take huge risks, especially in people. Jesus, set the example when he picked a bunch of unlikelies to spread his message when He left this world. Instead of pious church leaders, he selected fishermen, tax collectors and the like. As you know, they didn't all make it. One of them stabbed him in the back.

If you want to see God do great things you will have to take huge risks. Invest in people who have great dreams and a burning passion for Jesus. Give them an opportunity to demonstrate effectiveness. Some of them will stab you in the back like they did to Jesus, but others will accomplish more than you will for the Great Commission. Jesus said that we would do greater things than He did. We should expect the same from those we invest in.

To wrap it up.
  • Great churches should be the breeding place for great church leaders.
  • Great church leadership is "caught not taught."
  • Past effectiveness is the greatest, and maybe the only, predictor of future effectiveness.
  • Take a chance on unlikely people and give them a chance to demonstrate effectiveness.
  • If you are afraid the student may become greater than the teacher you will not raise up great church leaders.

Go ahead and throw the dice!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Effective Church Leaders (2/3)

Yesterday I said that the only indicator of future performance is past performance, not training. Only is a strong word, but for now I am not convinced that there is any other indicator of future performance.

Our plans for Catalyst Europe focus heavily on internships and apprenticeships. And frankly, the best place to find candidates for these programs are from within like minded churches.

Raising up effective church leaders requires key 2 ingredients. First, effective church leadership comes from effective churches. Second, effective church leadership is "caught not taught."

Thoughts on Effective Church Leaders:
  • The best church leaders rarely come from ineffective churches (do the math).
  • The best church leaders rarely come from short training events, even at effective churches.
  • The best church leaders come from spending time in effective churches working with effective leaders in an effective environment.
  • Leaders that come from effective churches know what it looks like and feels like to be effective. You can't train this. It's intangible.

Don't get me wrong, training events and books are useful. In fact they were instrumental in converting me from a very traditional seminary grad type of leadership guy into a bit of a leadership empiricist (big seminary word for focus on experience).

More next time on how to handle those without a record of past performance.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Effective Church Leaders (1/3)

Have you ever noticed that the churches that seem to be doing the best job of reaching the lost and integrating them into a community of faith hire from within? I went to seminary to get trained, credentialed, and employed through the placement center (where churches go to look for staff, right?).

Wrong!

In today's world (call it postmodern if you dare), it's becoming increasingly obvious that the most effective leaders have diverse backgrounds. So diverse that the only indicator of future performance is past performance, not training. I'm not saying that training is not important, I'm just saying that it is not an indicator of future performance.

More tomorrow . . .

The Future of the Church

I haven't been blogging lately because life has been crazy and I am tired. Not tired like depressed or getting old (ok maybe a little is getting old), I have been working a job where I leave the house at about 6:30am and get home around 5pm. Then I play with my 4 kiddos, eat with the family, and help with the bedtime routine. After that, around 9:30pm, I can do anything I want like blog, read blogs, talk to my wife, or sleep. You do the math.

Hopefully, I will get the hang of this new schedule soon so that I can get back to writing and the blogosphere. There is a lot going on right now with Catalyst Europe/France. There are lots of things in the works and we continue to have people contacting us from Europe to see how we can work together. I hope to be able to share more soon. Keep praying for us. I know that God wants to do something in Europe through Catalyst Europe that is much bigger than us.

For now take a look at some thoughts about the future church from Craig Groeschel:

The future church will be made up of believers who:

  • Are sick of living in material comfort while millions starve to death.
  • Make money to give more than to consume.
  • Believe in the power of prayer and fasting.
  • Are willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.
  • Will be engaged in missions both locally and internationally.
  • See it as their role to lead people to Christ.
  • See it as their role to help people in need.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Would he have come to your church?

You have to read this post about a guy who went to church in a bar (with an open bar) and wanted to hire the church to come do a service in his back yard so he could invite all his frineds and surprise them with the church service.

Would he have come to your church?

How about another round for my friends at Forefront Church.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Wife is Smokin!

We left the house early morning to drive an hour and a half to watch Gina run in an all women's race. It was a huge race. A little too much pink for me but we were there to cheer on Gina. This race had lots of prize money and invited runners so there were some really fast times. But Gina was able to get third place overall in the masters division. It is ironic that her times were much faster than most of the younger age divisions. Anyway, Gina won some birthday money for our oldest child's birthday next week.

So far this year Gina has run 4 races and :
Won overall female in her first 5k.
Won overall masters female in the 1 mile (and broke the state USTAF record by 20 secs).
Won second masters female in her second 5k.
Won third masters female today in her third 5k.

We have about 4 more 5ks, an 8k and a half marathon to go this season.

It's really exciting for our family to cheer her on as she continues to compete.

Your still my hero, baby.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Catalyst Conference Notes - Tim Stevens

I hate that I didn't get to attend the Catalyst Conference this year, but Tim Stevens has some great notes on his blog if you are interested. I am usually a conference blogger and Tim gave me a shout out for my notes at Buzz. Glad he is taking notes this time.

Pharisee Bashing

Ok, that title might bring in a few folks who are sick of pharisee bashing.

Once when I was in seminary, I was setting around with a group of students complaining about some of the professors and their attack against contemporary churches. Well, a guy whom I really respected came over to the group while I was ranting and he made a comment about pharisee bashing and left. Ouch! It made me mad at first. Then after some time, I felt convicted. Now I am not so sure.

I know that I can always use more tact. (I've grown some in this area, but my wife has found a part time job elbowing my side, kicking me under the table, and standing behind the person I am talking to giving me the horizontal "finger across the throat sign" indicating that I might want to stop before I dig an even deeper hole.) But, I was reminded a couple of days ago that Jesus was the original pharisee basher. In my "reading through the Bible in year" I found myself in the book of Matthew chapters 21-23 a few days ago. When I finished reading I just said wow!

I few things I underlined:
  • My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves.
  • The parable of the two sons. Jesus points our that he would rather have a changed bad attitude than someone who says what he wants to hear but doesn't live it.
  • The stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this. Most religious leaders want a good reputation, not someone who has been rejected because they went against the status quo.
  • "You hypocrites, why are your trying to trap me?
  • The greatest commandment; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... soul ... mind ... and ... love your neighbor as yourself." Why do we always fail at one of these while trying to fulfill the other?
  • Speaking of the pharisees . . . "don't do what they do, they don't practice what they preach."
  • Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
  • Woe to you teachers of the law and pharisee, you hypocrites.
  • ... hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Ouch! (It really says that).
  • ... hypocrites!
  • you give a tenth ... but you have neglected the more important matters ... justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.
  • ... hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and then the outside will be clean.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

If you are there, get over yourself. If you are not, watch out. If you are pointing it out, you might be a hypocrite. I have a little of all of these. What I am doing and my advice to others is to find someone who is not naive to the problems but always takes the high road, someone who loves God with all of their being and loves and serves people too. Watch them, learn from them, give them permission to speak into your life, and then listen.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Christian Problem

We often think if we could just get people to understand what Jesus is offering us (forgiveness, salvation, get out of hell free card) they would want to become Christians. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case. If you ask people why they don't go to church or aren't a Christian, they will probably point to what they think about the church or Christians they know or know of. You might hear things like they are all hypocrites, church is boring, I still want to have fun.

The bottom line is that lost people have a problem understanding sin and grace, but they also have an image problem. They don't what to become their image of a Christian. Ghandi is even reported to have said "I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians, they are not like your Christ."

Are you helping with the image problem? Do you ever focus on salvation as it relates to today rather than what happens when you die? Do you think that your average non-Christian wants what you got? Sometimes I am not so sure that others want what I've got. But I am continually working on it. I want people to look at me and think that guy is cool. He would give you the shirt off of his back. He doesn't condemn people for not being like him. He enjoys life. I want some of what he's got.

What are you doing today that would make a lost person want what you've got?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fishing for Sharks in Swimming Pools

I am back baby . . . from my blogging (and other stuff like food) fast. It was a great spiritual renewal for me and I feel like God may be leading me in some ways that I was not at all expecting. If I am right, you will hear more on that later.

Vince Antonucci has become my new favorite blogger. I love how this guy thinks. He really thinks like a modern day Great Commission apostle.

Here is a quote from a great post he put up yesterday.

If you wanted to fish for sharks, where should you fish? You can go to the place where fish are, and hope some sharks are in the area. Another option is to hang out in your swimming pool and send postcards to the sharks inviting them to come for a visit. But I’m guessing the most effective place to fish for sharks is where the sharks are. (more)

He also points out that movie theaters are better church planting venues for churches than schools. People are more comfortable going to a place they wouldn't normally go if it is meeting in a place that they would normally go. I agree. That's why our vision for Europe is meeting in theaters and similar cultural venues.