Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church – 2018 Church Involvement Conference January 19 & 20

Month: August 2016

Your Main Purpose as a Leader

What is YourLeader Purpose as a Leader?

Paul told the Hebrew and Thessalonian Christians to submit to their leaders.  The question for you (as a leader) is this, “Are you as a leader worthy of such submission?”

Tons of books have been written about leadership with definitions, leadership styles and suggestions on how to be an effective leader.   Leadership is found in families, churches, businesses, communities and a hundred other places.

But what about your leadership in the church?   I think you have two main responsibilities as a leader:   (1)   to provide vision [direction] and (2) development.

Whether you are an elder, deacon, pulpit minister, ministry leader, Bible class teacher or some other type of leader in the church, you are to cast some sort of vision.   The vision may be specifically about your ministry, your preaching, your nurturing of the church, your plans for numerical church growth or something relevant with what you do as a leader.   Most leaders in the church have no goals for themselves much less the membership with which they work.   People thus do not know where they are going and what to expect.    What you have, without vision, is a totally ‘maintenance’ church and folks don’t get excited about maintenance and the church does not grow no matter how good you maintain things.

The second thing you should be doing is developing the people around you.  You should be developing future leaders, you should be developing the gifts of your members, you should be developing your ministry, you should be developing yourself, etc.  Such development assists in fulfilling the vision you have cast. Once again, we are not known for developing anything.   We wonder why we don’t have any folks to replace us (and others) when we resign or die.  We haven’t developed any one.   We wonder why we don’t move to higher levels of service in the church; we have not developed ourselves or others to have a higher more effective level of living and serving.

Many church leaders view their main purpose as maintaining what has been entrusted to them.  There are two problems with such reasoning:  (1)   it is NOT biblical and (2) the church does not grow spiritually or numerically with such thinking.

May I assist you learning how to create vision for your church and how to develop the folks around you?   Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

Enabling or Empowering? Which Are You Doing?

(it may appear this article is about drug addiction, but it is not)empowerment1

Anyone who has ministered to addicts knows the term “enabling.”   To enable an addict is to help (enable) him/her continue in his/her addictive behavior.   How?  By making excuses for his/her addiction, taking on his/her responsibilities, hiding his/her addiction, or denying that there is a problem.  Enabling prevents an addict from experiencing the full consequences of his/her addictive behavior.   One who enables (an enabler) contributes to the delinquency and inappropriate behavior of an addict.   However, an enabler may also contribute to, allow and even promote inappropriate behavior in others such as children, employees, spouses, friends, relatives—and, listen to this one:  brethren in the church.   Hold that thought; I will return to it.

On the other hand, those who work with addicts can also empower them so they can overcome their addictions.   What does this require?   First of all, it requires that an addict admit his/her addiction as a detrimental thing.   He/she must also admit that they have a problem over which they have no power; he/she cannot change things without some outside support (in Celebrate Recovery, this is Jesus Christ, in Alcoholics Anonymous, this would be a higher power).   An addict cannot be helped until these two admissions are made.   It is only then, that an addict can be empowered to deal with his/her problem.  He/she then turns to the One (Christ) who can transform him/her and thus empower him/her to new purposeful whole living (John 10:10).

What’s the point?   What does this have to do with church involvement?    Let’s get really honest for a moment.   Speaking from experience, at times I’ve seen enabling behavior in the church.   Yes, it is sometimes seen when we allow sin to go unchecked in the church.   However, there is another kind of enabling that I’ve seen:  instead of discipling members of the church (making them disciples), we’ve enabled them to sit in their pews and do little more.   Now, that’s not true of all members of the church or all churches.   However, it’s a rather large number that we’ve allowed by our silence and our lack of equipping them for service.    We’ve enabled them to remain inactive.

There is an alternative: empowerment.    When God designed His church, He designed her with empowerment in mind.    The Lord has gifted (empowered) us with spiritual gifts and other blessings that empower us (when recognized and exercised) to serve Him in great ways.   We are His workmanship (handiwork, creation) to do good works (Eph.2:10).

When we were delivered from the addiction of sin, He re-created us to do good works; He empowered us.   Who are we to stand in the way of God’s design (and purpose) [empowerment] by replacing it with enabling brethren to be something less?

As individual members of the bride of Christ, we can either be enabled or empowered. As church leaders, we can either enable the brethren to be much less than the Lord designed them to be or we can empower them by following what we sometimes call the Christian disciplines, one of which is ministry.    Ephesians 4:11 says that different ones in church leadership exist in the church to ‘equip’ the saints for ministry (among other things).  Equipping, in my mind, is (at least) a means of empowering church members.   Equipping is more than assembling for worship and sitting in a Bible class.   Much more.

Church leaders, are you enabling your members or are you empowering them?   My ministry exists to assist church leaders in learning how to empower those under their care for service.    I would love the opportunity to work with you in such an endeavor.

Following are examples of empowerment:

  1.  Assisting members in discovering, developing (training/equipping) and deploying (exercising) their gifts.
  2.  Giving permission to serve.  In the truest sense, none of us needs permission.   Some of us want permission and when we have it, we then proceed to serve with greater confidence.   In other cases, members need permission for ministry by those in leadership because of the special nature of a ministry.
  3.  Provide resources:  this could be money, it could be equipment, this could be other people to assist, this could be facilities, etc.
  4.  Words of affirmation and belief
  5.  Prayer!
  6.  Encouraging creativity.  Some churches discourage creativity and it shows.  When Christians are not allowed to exercise their gifts and passions fully, then God’s designed and purpose for that person is thwarted and I believe, the local church is adversely affected in some manner.
  7.  Words of appreciation
  8.  Biblical submission (cf. Eph.5:21); a recognition and appreciation of others’ gifts and an attitude of total cooperation with them in making the local church what the Lord wants her to be.
  9.  In some cases, ‘position’ such as an elder, deacon, etc.  Such positions grant to folks the authority (empowerment) to get things done.   However, every Christian holds the position of servant which empowers him/her to serve the Lord.   What greater position is there?
  10.   What would you suggest as means to empower someone in the church?

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

423 920 3060

travisirwin@att.net

 

Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

MS5Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

Over the past fifty years we have learned the importance of mission and vision statements for businesses, factories, schools and other organizations.   ebay, Coke, Disney, Starback, Apple and other big name companies all have mission statements.  It’s not unusual to see an organization’s mission statement on its produce or an ad.   Such folks want the public to know just how serious they are about their product or service.  Hospitals and doctors proudly display their mission statements.

The Lord’s church is about 50 years behind in doing this even though I am seeing more and more churches have mission statements.  Individual Christians rarely if ever consider such a thing.   To most of us it sounds unscriptural or too corporate or totally useless.   However, I want to challenge such thinking.

There is an old adage that still applies to the church and individual Christians:

Aim at nothing and you will hit it with amazing accuracy.   If we don’t have any life goals or goals as a congregation, we will probably accomplish something by sheer accident.   If we have goals, we will accomplish much more of what the Lord wants us to accomplish for His glory.

If not, we may fail in accomplishing God’s will for our individual lives.

Why Do I Need to Do This?

Because Jesus had personal mission statements such as Luke 19:10; John 10:10 and Matthew 20:28.   Jesus lived a hectic life but He never forgot why He was here.   By the way, He accomplished every goal He came to fulfill.

Apostles had mission statements. Paul knew that he was sent to the Gentiles and Peter knew he was sent to the Jews to preach the gospel.   Paul also said, “for me to live is Christ” and Peter said, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”

The Church has been given a mission statement – We have been told to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).   The church is the means by which the world will come to know of God’s redeeming grace and wisdom (Ephesians 3:9-11). By the way, most of the time it appears that the church has forgotten these mission statements.   Why is that, I wonder.

A personal mission statement will keep you focused.   We are pulled into dozens of different directions every day.   Our lives are full of distractions.   A personal mission statement, when written and heeded will keep us focused on God’s purpose for our lives.

A personal mission statement will give you a strong personal purpose for living. Most Christians have no clue about God’s specific purpose for their lives. They don’t know anything about their spiritual gifts, passions and other blessings with which God has endowed them.   Most people, including most Christians, just go through life with no particular goals in mind.   We are all here for His purpose.

A personal mission statement will help you re-evaluate from time to time.   A mission statement is like a North Star for serious life travelers.   For us unorganized folks it helps us get back to where we need to be in life.

You are more likely to accomplish what the Lord wants you to accomplish. I am one of the few naïve people that believes that every Christian has a general purpose for living (to glorify the Lord) and to serve Him (and mankind) in some specific way (based upon how God has designed him/her specifically).   Life is fuller and richer when it is lived in this manner.

How Do I Go About Coming Up with a Personal Mission Statement?

You will need to discover your spiritual gifts, your passions, your personality trait, your life skills, education and life experiences and possibly some other helpful things about yourself.   This priceless information will help you form your personal mission statement.   Below is an example of how this is done:

I, John Doe, wish to honor and glorify my Creator (the general reason I am alive) by feeding (an example of a thing passion: cooking) the homeless (an example of a people passion) in my spare time using my gift of compassion (an example of a spiritual gift). I will befriend them and tell them of the saving grace of Jesus (my specific goals or purpose). My greatest hope is that they will obey the gospel and live a fuller life and have eternal life (my vision).

Travis Irwin

travisirwin@att.net

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