Category Archives: Ministry

Catalyst 2007 – Rick Warren

“God’s Agenda”

  • If you want God’s blessing on your life, then you have to get with God’s agenda. 1st line of PDL: “It’s not about you.”
    • Stop praying “God, bless me.” Instead: “God, help me to do what you’re doing.”
  • The Kingdom is the single biggest image in the New Testament.
    • Where is it? Wherever Jesus is king… Heaven, earth, within you…
    • What is it? God’s people fulfilling God’s purposes on God’s planet for God’s glory
  • Cf. Matthew 25: If you want Christ to come back just get out and start sharing your faith
    • The disciples always wanted to talk about prophecy and signs; Jesus wanted to talk about evangelism.
  • God’s agenda is the church.
    • What if someone said, “I like you but I just can’t stand your wife (or body)?”
  • God created the entire universe just so He could create a galaxy just so He could create a solar system just so He could create a planet just so He could create an ecosystem… just so He could create a human that would choose to love Him and He could love the human back.
  • Your parents may not have loved/wanted you, but God did, and he made sure you had the ability to love them back, and in turn love Him.
  • God is a creator. You are most like God when you are creating. So stop trying to change culture. Create it.
  • The Moses “Staff to Snake to Staff” story
    • Why is that in the Bible?
    • Hint- When God asks you a question, it’s not for His benefit.
    • Likewise, when God does a miracle, it’s to teach a truth.
    • Moses’ Staff
      • His identification as a shepherd. Who he was
      • Symbol of Moses’ income. What he had
      • Symbol of Moses’ influence (over sheep :P). What he did
      • Take your ID/influence/income and throw it down.
      • God: “And if you surrender it to me I will make it come alive like you’ve never imagined. And every time you pick it up again, it’ll go dead.”
      • From that point forward, Moses’ staff is always referred to as the Rod of God… it pops up in the 10 Commandments, the Red Sea, Pharaoh, simply all over the Pentateuch
      • So: What’s in your wallet hand?

Warren’s Response to the Moses’ Staff Story

  • After writing Purpose Driven Life, an AIDS trip where he accompanied his wife really turned him around.
  • “What’s in my hand?” – Affluence
    • I Corinthians 9 – “It’s ok to get paid for preaching, but I wanna do it for free so no one can doubt my motives.”
    • Not gonna spend the money on myself
    • Not gonna take a salary from the church
    • Gonna give salary back for 25 years
    • Gonna set up AIDS and poverty charities
    • Gonna become reverse tithers (give 90%, live on 10%)
    • “There’s a bumper sticker that says ‘Honk if you love Jesus!’ Well I wanna make one that says ‘Tithe if you love Jesus, any fool can honk!'”
  • “What’s in my hand?” – Influence
    • Psalm 72 – “Solomon’s prayer for more influence. It sounds more selfish than good ol’ Jabez! Solomon was already the wealthiest, wisest man on the planet.”
    • But it’s only selfish until you read the purpose: “So that the king may help the orphaned and marginalized…”
    • “I want to use my power for these people to speak up for those who have no influence.”
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Catalyst 2007 – Andy Stanley, part 2

“Liberating Your Organization: Creating A Leadership-Friendly Culture”

Introduction

  1. There are organizational systems that are conducive to ministry, and there are those that impede ministry.
  2. There are organizational systems that free leaders to lead, and there are those that obstruct leaders.
  3. “System” defined: Your organization’s approach to getting things done.
  • Systems Create Behaviors
    • Preaching doesn’t. Curriculum doesn’t. Talks don’t.
    • Examples:
      • Family vs. Student Ministry
      • Marriage vs. Marriage Sermon Series
      • Western vs. Middle Eastern
    • The systems you inherit, adopt, or create will eventually what staff and volunteers do.
    • Anytime you hear, “Well, our people won’t…” you’re listening to someone who doesn’t understand the influence of systems.
    • Components of a System:
      • Expectations (rules)
      • Rewards (or lack of)
      • Consequences (or lack of)
      • Communication (content and style)
      • Behavior (of those in charge)
    • Systems have a greater impact on organizational behavior than do mission statements.
      • This principle explains why it’s so hard to transition an organization.
      • If a leader casts a vision and never addresses old systems, nothing changes.
      • “What’s happening down the hall trumps what’s hanging on the wall.”
      • People in your organization are only doing what you’ve led and rewarded them to do.
      • Ask, “What are the expectations in our organization? What’s rewarded? (Because that’s what will be repeated.) What brings consequences?
  • The New Testament does not present us with a comprehensive system or model.
    • In the NT we discover what the early church did. The NT does not lay out a comprehensive plan instruction church leaders what to do.
    • Think about it: They had a direct WWJD link, something that we don’t have. They had apostles. We don’t. We have the great opportunity to create the system that carries out the Great Commission.
    • Always differetiate between what is prescriptive and what is descriptive.
      • We can’t be a 1st Century church because we don’t live in the 1st Century!
    • The Old and New Testaments do offer some principles that should be integrated into our systems.
      • Delegation : Acts 6 / Exodus 18
      • Accountability: Acts 15
      • Authority : Romans 13
      • Interdependence : Paul’s discussion of spritual gifts
      • Point Leadership : Modeled in OT and NT
      • Seeking Counsel : Proverbs / Acts 15
    • Something not on the list is Congregational Rule. Some examples of its outcome: Golden Calves, Brothers Thrown into Pits, Following Kings not Prophets
  • System Imperatives
    • Your system should allow you to involve and hire the best person for the job.
    • Your system should provide you with the flexibility to get the right people to the table.
      • i.e. position of Youth Director does not automatically influence decisions regardless of inept person in position.
    • Your system should allow you to make complex decisions within the context of a small group of empowered individuals.
      • Simply cannot communicate complex decisions to large groups of people effectively.
    • Your system should ensure that only one person answers to “They”

Concluding Remarks:

  • “We have different gifts, according to the grave given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently.” Romans 12:6-8
  • You create a system where leaders are free to lead, and guess who will flock… leaders!
  • Congregations led by the “We/They” tend to end up with system dysfunctions.
  • The current system you’re gonna take all your notes back to has the potential to crush everything you’ll bring back. So, learning as leaders to deal with the nuts and bolts is absolutely necessary.
  • Before God created man, He created systems (solar, ecological, etc.)
  • But even in man, the human body is the most sophisticated system in existence.
    • Because the body is a system, it’s a meaningful experience to go to the doctor, a medical systems expert. This is why you don’t just pray when you get sick.
  • If you don’t approach problem solving systematically, you’ll spend the rest of your career blaming, firing, and being critical of people, and never getting anywhere.

Wrapup/Debriefing Questions:

  • List 3 behaviors that you wish characterize your organization (apply on many levels: church, youth ministry, staff).
  • List one thing you’re systematically doing to encourage each of those behaviors.
  • List the things you’re doing (maybe inadvertently) to encourage the opposite behavior.

    Catalyst 2007 – Erwin McManus

    “Solomon was wrong.”

    • It’s not a popular idea to deny the Teacher’s revered sayings, but it just won’t go away.
      • Eccl. 1:9-10 What has been will be again… there is nothing new under the sun.
      • An oft-quoted, a prevailing thought in the leadership frameworks in Christianity
    • We’ve rarely stopped to question what he said here, but we disagree with him in other places
      • Jesus said burden is light, but Solomon said it was heavy
      • Places in Ecclesiastes where we know Solomon was wrong. Not the best to build your worldview around a guy who says it’s all meaningless
      • When you’re having your worst day, don’t write to other people on how to live.
    • Solomon says it’s all a circle. What is coming is simply what has been in the past. Why is it that we’re so quick to embrace this?
      • It’s in our language. Worship band leader: “Let’s make history!” So, it’s ok for us Christians to make history (literally what has past). Or a magazine that says “Let’s change history!” …
      • But what would the typical Christian response be if Erwin says “Let’s change the future!”?
    • We don’t understand what our role in time is. We’re so careful not to infringe on God’s sovereign space, we sit apathetically by waiting to respond to it.
      • But Hitler’s and Stalin’s create history when we wont.
      • Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if only the most evil feel free to create the future, there’s something wrong with our understanding of our role in the future to come.
    • The way we’ve been taught is, “If it was evil, it was us, but if it was good, it was definitely God.”
      • But we weren’t created to live in neutral. If all our actions produce evil, then we should only sit by and react to stuff.
    • Isaiah 43:18-19 “Stop thinking about the past!” (contrast “Do not forget….”) “Now I’m doing a new thing, but will you even be aware of it?”
      • If only God had read Ecclesiastes, He would have got it right.
      • God: “Stop living in the past and get engaged in the future I want you to be a part of.”
    • We have to begin to rethink our relationship to history. We can’t change history, and to make history means that we’re doing something that really matters.
      • But to create the future means that we’re pursuing where God is going into the future.
    • Part of our dilemma is we’ve stopped being honest about the meaning of life.
      • We enter into relationship with Christ, God sets us free. Now we’re free in Jesus to create and do good works in him
    • When we’re only preaching to Christians, are we communicating at the deepest level of humanity?
      • Erwin: “When I sing Christian songs, I have a hard time with some of them, where I want them to be true.”
        • Never been a moment where God was really all I wanted. “God you are all I want, but I could really use a cappuccino.”
        • Exhale if Jesus is all you need … Nice, isn’t it? … Now feel free to inhale when you realize you need oxygen too.
      • Adam had a need for human companionship that he was previously unaware of. Adam’s naming all the animals, then God puts him to sleep to create Eve. Putting Adam through a learning experience. 2 gazelles, 2 gophers, 2 rabbits. “Get the theme here, Adam? No? Just go to sleep, I’ll fix it…”
        • God understood Adam’s need far more than Adam understood his own, and God had joy in meeting those needs.
        • All of creation is a testament to how much pleasure God finds in meeting our needs.
    • A man on TV with healing oil, selling oil that had cured lady’s dog from cancer.
      • What has gone wrong? Somebody has to be sincere. Somewhere. I have to believe that. Maybe the old lady that sent in her welfare check to buy the oil for her dog… maybe the dog is the only sincere one?
      • “Somewhere down the line someone figured out that Christians are incapable of discerning what is authentic and what is inauthentic.”
      • “How is it possible we’ve lost our capacity to connect to what it real?”
      • Every person without God who watches that show has to know that it is not real. But why do we fall for it?
    • At one point the memories I had became less trustworthy than the stories I had been told. I had disconnected myself from reality. My soul was sick. The human spirit cannot live in falsehood. We’re designed to live in truth. Our souls long for the real, the authentic.
    • What is the future of the church?
      • We’re in a great moment now, because for the first time in a long time we’re allowed to tell the truth. We didn’t mean to be disingenuous, but we were. Our Jesus stories don’t have to be dramatic.
      • Say you were 6, you had never robbed a bank. You tried, but you couldn’t drive so you couldn’t get there. You ate your vegetables. You didn’t even go bad there. You met Christ, some of you actually even love your parents. Then you came to faith, and somewhere later you came to a crisis of faith and you pushed away from Christ. And you came back to Jesus but you have to make your past sound dramatic.
        • But do you?
        • God just keeps putting the pieces back together and creating something beautiful.
        • Mosaic is a gathering of pieces that is put together by the hands of an artist. Something that is beautiful when it’s put together, especially when light shines through it.
      • Lot of ways of describing human history: Nations, empires. Art, dance. War, conquest. Anthropology. Sociology. Geopolitical. But through scripture, human history is a conflict between tragedy and beauty
      • God creates us among beauty and we bring tragedy into it. And history is all about God taking it all and creating something beautiful
      • Solomon may have had it most right when he said “time for everything” in chapter 3. God has made everything beautiful in its time he has also set eternity in the hearts of men.
      • There is nothing more powerful we can do as leaders than to call our people into engagement with the honest authentic narrative of God’s activity in our lives.
      • God is making everything beautiful in its time. He is the source of ultimate beauty. Is it possible for the source of all beauty to go unrecognized?
      • “I have trained myself to leave the worst for the best, and I have been nauseated by the overpowering strength of it.”
      • Is it possible for us to have trained ourselves to believe that to live an inhumane life is what it is to be human?
        • Is. 53. – The one who was most beautiful was the one who walked among us and we didn’t get it, he was seen as horrid to us.
        • John 1 – Real life, real humanity was walking among us. He was in the world, but we did not recognize it.
      • EM: “Was at a church that didn’t want me to be their pastor. They wanted me to be their speaker.”
        • “I’ve got enough neurosis, I don’t need the church stuff.”
        • What the world needs from us is not great sermons or brilliant messages. Ned them to take them to a place that they cannot go without us. Because we have been with God, and now we want to take them there.
          • We need less teachers, and more poets. Able to find the beauty in the most painful experiences we go through.
        • “God is making all things beautiful in your life. And if you’ll listen carefully and look with care you’ll see his fingerprint on everything you encounter.”

        An overwhelming but not explicitly stated message in Christianity is that you can’t be human because it will bring the whole movement down. But the movement really started when God stepped down into flesh and was human.

    Catalyst 2007 – Patrick Lencioni

    “The Ministry of Management”

    • Work is under-focused-on in our lives. Not in terms of time spent, but how it’s often thought of as that “other thing we do.”
      • Even in church. There’s not much talk about work. Family, poverty, orphans, etc. All admirable topics, but honestly, what takes up the majority of our time? TV clergy/priests always shown giving a sermon or leading confession, never doing paperwork.
    • Ah, but it’s changing. Shows like “Dirty Jobs.” The people on those shows, the people that have crappy jobs, seem to be pretty much content. And then we look at the CEO’s and high-level managers, and they’re miserable!
      • Maybe we should be focusing on … fulfillment.
    • Nobody’s immune from the “Oh, crap, I gotta go to work tomorrow…” blues.
    • “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” -Samuel Johnson
    • Observed an obviously cheerful young employee at an airport fast-food joint. His colleagues obviously despised him.
      • BUT… Like everyone else, he deserves to love his job. So what does he need from management to help him continue on as he is?
    • We all need just a few simple things, or rather, need the absence of a few simple things:
    • Anonymity
      • We ALL have a need to be known.
      • Why don’t we think we’re supposed to invest in the people we work with? (Especially those with whom we’re trusted to manage!)
        • Lencioni was wined and dined while being recruited for a consulting job out of college. Very same managers actively ignored him from Day 1 on the job.
      • Excuses for allowing anonymity: Too busy, forgot what it’s like to be
      • there, fear of suddenly coming off as disingenuous, lazy, arrogace
    • Irrelevance
      • You have to know that you make a difference in someone else’s life, however large or small that difference might be.
      • Pastors have the “making a difference” market cornered, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need reminding that people appreciate the difference they do make.
    • Immeasurement
      • A Fundamental Wondering: “How am I doing?”
      • We need to be able to know how we measure up, and ideally need to be able to informally measure ourselves
      • Do those you manage have the tools to know how they’re doing? They could be miserable if they don’t..
      • Example of immeasurement: pooled tips.

      Bottom line… Don’t wait to retire so you can go be a missionary, and let that be your grand legacy of influence. Don’t wait to retire to realize the impact you have at the place you’re at right now. The people you manage are more long-term impacted than anyone you’ll short-term serve on a mission trip or other retirement project!

    (RPD comments forthcoming.)

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    Catalyst 2007 – Andy Stanley, part 1

    “The Most Powerful Man in the Room”

    • Power has become a 4-letter word in conversations about leadership.
    • If God has you in leadership, the fact is that you have power. We like the word “influence” but let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s essentially power.
      • Student ministry is a prime example of immense power. Power to build and crush with very little effort.
    • We shy away from power because it’s intimidating. Churches don’t like point leadership (i.e. power concentrated in few people)
      • But really, “Follow We” is no better than “Follow Me” if those We’s aren’t properly stewarding their power…
    • So, when we’re talking about power, the big question is: What do you do when you realize you’re the most powerful person in the room?
      • Side-note: Chances are that in 11,000 people, some of you will be anti-megachurch. But please hear me out because a justifiable bias probably comes from your experience with abused power, which makes you a prime candidate to go forward and leverage God’s power. You know the dangers of it and you care deeply about its wise use.
    • Jesus (didn’t see that coming, did you?) gives us a prime example of how the most powerful man in the room responded: The Upper Room, John 13.
      • “He showed them the full extent of his love.” (v1) Sneak peak of what Jesus did with his power.
      • “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power.” (v3) Clearly, Jesus knew he was the most powerful man in the room.
      • “So…” (v4) As a result of this…
      • took off his outer clothing” (v4) shed his symbols of rabbinical authority
      • “began to washed his disciples’ feet” (v5) used miracle-conducting hands to scrub crusty grime, among a culture obsessed with cleanliness
      • “I have set an example,” (v15) So maybe we should follow suit?
    • Look for ways to leverage your power for the sake of others around you. Because that’s the example Jesus set for us.
    • If you leverage your power for your own sake, you (un)consciously declare that you are greater than your Master (cf. v14)
    • Not to apply this principle is an admission of weakness, not a display of strength.
    • “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” King George III, upon learning of George Washington’s intent to pass on emperorship, and let someone else take the reins.
    • Basically, don’t fear power. Simply learn to leverage it properly.
    • The legacy of your leadership will not be determined by a lifetime of applying principles and insights, but it will be the product of your reactions time after time when you realize you’re the most powerful person in the room.

    (RPD comments forthcoming.)

    Catalyst 2007

    Tomorrow morning, Anina and I will be flying over to Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference. I’m pretty excited to go, for a lot of reasons. (Here’s a preview video…)

    • I can’t wait to see what Guinness World Record we’ll break this year… I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the best kept secrets leading up to the conference!
    • Fun (and free) room and board with Nina’s aunt and uncle, in a beautiful historic 1890’s neighborhood right downtown. Virginia Highlands, FYI.
    • Hanging out with Stacy & Taylor, at their cool new home.
    • Six Flags.
    • Carter Library.
    • Atlanta Zoo.
    • Hole-in-the wall BBQ joints (note: no hyperlink, and that’s the way it should be).
    • …among other things.

    Since we’re traveling to see friends & family, and the pets have been a huge news item recently, I’ve been uploading a lot of video footage of our pets to Google Video so we can show them off wherever we are. Go here to see is Rusty the Doxen rolling around on the floor, as only a weenie could. In the sidebar of that video page, it should show “More From This User”, so you can find all the other super-cute pet videos from there. Enjoy!

    Hell Houses

    Recently I got a letter from a neighboring church, inviting me to send people their way for a special “Outreach” they’re doing. When things get sent to only me, I can ignore them pretty easily. However, this invitation letter was also forwarded to our Children’s Director and our church’s Outreach & Fellowship Committee. Since I have some objections to the program the letter describes, I decided it would be wise to go on record with the committee about my thoughts.

    The committee moderators replied promptly after, echoing agreement with my basic reasons. Well, that was fun, but it was also too easy. So I’m offering my thoughts here at the blog to generate more discussion. Without further ado, the letter: Continue reading