3/4 OF A YEAR ALREADY?

Every Thursday I post a small taste of the upcoming Sunday sermon.  This week marks  3/4 through the year, so I am spending the time reviewing what we’ve learned so far this year.  Its hard to cram 37 Sunday’s worth of material into a half hour, but here are the high points I”ll try to cover.

1.  Pastor Jamie’s (aka Pastor Greenbean on this sight) new year challenge.  I started the year off by challenging the people in our church to do five things:

  • Feed yourself–take responsibility for your spiritual growth.
  • share your faith–at least invite them to church!
  • Join a small group–it is impossible to grow without a group.
  • Serve somewhere–Jesus came to serve, and told us to do the same.
  • Give financially–where your treasure is, there you heart is too!

2.  PROJECT 68–In February I went through a three week series based on Micah 6:8.  I asked the hearers to engage in a project for each one of the major points.  Do something in the realm of justice, do something in the concept of love kindness (or love-love as we called it after looking at the Hebrew words), and a project to help you walk with the Lord.

3.  We’ve spent a lot of time this year in the book of Acts.  For a large part we examined the different churches in Acts (Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Rome) and we also did biographies from Acts of people like Stephen and Lydia.  This Sunday I want to remind everyone that all of those great people and great churches were following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we are to impact our world like they did theirs.

4.  Most of the Spring (Easter onward) we were in a series called “ALIVE” that carried the Easter message over into other areas that need to be resurrected like families that are dying, churches that are dying, finances in ruin, broken relationships, and dead dreams.  All of these things can come back to life in the hands of Christ!

5.  In our 1st Timothy series we learned about the important role that churches play in defending against heresy, proclaiming the gospel, and developing leadership.  Those are important functions for us still!

6.  Finally, we recently completed the series from Mark as it records Jesus later Galilean ministry (Mark 3-5).  A dominant theme in these sermons was the ongoing call of Christ to faith and the varying responses.  The epitome of this is found in the Parable of the Soils (Mark 4).

 
I am really looking forward to Sunday.  I have found that ‘review’ is a powerful learning tool and I regret that I did not use it more in my earlier pastoral ministry.

LEADERSHIP: GREENBEAN STYLE

On Saturday, September 25 our church held its annual leadership summit.  As always, it was a delightful time with much work done toward building on the future.  Preparing for the event led me to look through my library to think about what I might recommend to our wonderful lay leaders.  Doing so led me to the startling conclusion that I have way too many books on leadership and leaders!  If I never read another book on leadership, I probably would have still more than my quota met. 

I sat and tried to distill everything I believe about leadership and I have come to the decision it boils down to three essential traits.

            1)  A leader must lead out of his or her own convictions.  Focus groups, polls, and discussion sessions may help a leader pathfind out of a difficult place or into a better one, but these tools cannot make a leader succeed.  Only leading from the gut can lead to any kind of success.

            2)  Trial and error is the trademark of great leaders.  A leader who is afraid to fail is a leader who will never quite make the jump to true success.  The caveat to this is that a leader must learn from the failure.  If learning does not lead to learning, then the whole failure was in vain.

            3)  A true leader cannot be afraid to make enemies.  The painful part of leadership in the church is that sometime these enemies will attack on personal grounds and seek to undermine your leadership, authority, or even your livelihood.  Sometimes these enemies are even “friends.”  But the truth remains that if a man or woman is truly leading, enemies will be made. 

Leadership is hard.  It is hard on the nerves and hard on the heart.  No one has ever claimed leadership was easy.  I thought of this as I was watching President Obama on the news this past week.  Regardless of politics, he looks like he has aged 10 years in the 19 months since he took office.  I noticed the same thing happened to Presidents Bush and Clinton.  Now, that is on a bigger scale some would say.  I argue, however, that in church the leadership turmoil is greater—because the work of the church is far more important than politics.