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TAKE A DAY TO SEEK THE SPIRIT FOR A WAY TO CELEBRATE THE “NEW NORMAL”
Your time is your most precious asset. And unlike a retirement account which grows with each passing year, you time is a fixed asset. So I know the advice in this month’s enews is not trivial. I’m asking you to rearrange your schedule to give up not one, but two days of your valuable time. It’s a big request, but one that can pay tremendous dividends.
One Day to Plan a Celebration
There is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. It’s getting brighter and more hopeful. But with so many unknowns, planning for the future continues to be challenging for church and ministry leaders. And yet, more and more signs point to the likelihood of living and interacting in relatively “normal” ways by the start of school. For most churches and many ministries, September 1, not January 1, is the real start of the year. Why not kick off the “new year” with a special celebration that sets the tone for what is to come? That's the message of this article: set aside one day now to plan for one special day in the fall. It takes time and creativity to plan a celebration, so choose one day this spring for your staff or leadership team to do this work. It may not even feel like “work.” After so many months of negative planning (e.g., How many people can fit in our sanctuary with social distancing? What do we do about the person who refuses to wear a mask?), this can be a forward-looking, hope-infused activity. So how should you do it? Pick a Sunday that coincides with the start of school in your area - perhaps August 29 or September 12 - and dream about what that day will look like. Assume that people will be able to gather indoors for corporate worship and smaller groups with minimal restrictions. Then discuss questions such as:
• What will we do to make that day special?
• What will make people glad they came and want to come back?
• What fall programming will we be launching? (This question looks beyond the specific day. It also implicitly determines programs that will not restart.)
• How will we include people who aren’t comfortable or able to participate? (While this may be a small percentage of people, they are still an important part of the body. Your answer should include elements of both technology and pastoral care.)
As you plan for that celebratory day, think beyond it as well. How can we best catalyze spiritual growth this fall? How can we best care for the needs of our people? Those needs are likely to include a range of issues such as ongoing fear of covid exposure, post-pandemic trauma, marital struggles, and more. I hope you have a great time this spring planning for a great day in the fall. I’d love to hear about it!
Wise leadership knows we need to reimagine!
One of the things you've already hit on, but it's really key to what you're trying to do in this new book, is to focus not just on the individual pastor or the individual leader—those are often the things that make the news, obviously—but you really want to broaden the conversation to focus also on the team surrounding that person—the team within the church. Can you unpack that a little bit? Why do you feel like that's something that we have been so prone to maybe ignore or downplay?
Paul David Tripp Let me start by giving you what I think is the summary thesis of the book. It's this: The key to ministry fruitfulness is longevity. Fruit doesn't happen overnight. The key to longevity is spiritual health. If you're not spiritually healthy, the push and pull and struggle and suffering and criticism and hardship of ministry will burn you out and you'll leave. So, the key to fruitfulness is longevity. The key to longevity is spiritual health. Now here's the kicker of the book: The key to spiritual health is gospel community. There's no evidence in the New Testament for this individualized, self-sufficient, Jesus-and-me Christianity that has become way too much the norm in evangelicalism. You could not read the New Testament without concluding that our faith is deeply relational. First, a dependent relationship with God; and secondly, an interdependent relationship with one another. Secondly, there's no indication anywhere in the New Testament that it's safe for a pastor to live up above or outside of that gospel community. So I would propose that our fundamental model of leadership is, in many places, defective because we're looking for sort of an independently capable, self-starting, strong personality leader. I would argue that's a recipe for disaster. Think about this—the inertia of grace is not from dependence to independence. The inertia of grace is from independence to dependence. The more mature you are, the more godly you are, the more holiness is your goal, the more dependent you are because that's what you're created for. So what we've actually ended up producing then are arrogant, self-focused bullies. How many more experiences are we going to have to hear of people who feel bullied by Christian leaders? That itself is a scandal. We've got to look back and say, What is the missing ingredient in this definition? I would argue it's humble, Christ-centered, grace-driven, redemptive community. And I want to know, if we're seeking to call a pastor to a church, whether or not he's a man who is humbly committed to be part of that kind of community. I want to say one other thing. We've tended to look for leaders who are good planners, strategizers, and vision casters. I would not say that those things are unimportant, but if you look at the qualifications for elder—this is radical—other than the ability to teach, they're all character qualities. Now, it appears that God is saying leadership capability—leadership fruitfulness—is all character-driven. So we've tended to weight things toward giftedness and not toward character.
Complete interview (text and audio)>>>
Pandemic Exposes Church Identity Crisis
by Phil Miglioratti
Excerpted with permission of the author from Chapter Six of The Coach Model for Christian Leaders by Keith E. Webb.
As leaders, we often view ourselves as knowledge providers. So we teach, tell, or advise and, in this way, pass on our knowledge to someone else. The instruction process requires the other person to listen as we share our knowledge. The assumption is that what we have to say will be the key to solving the other person’s problem, or will help them achieve their goal.
This is sometimes helpful, but knowledge, even the knowledge that worked for us in the past, isn’t as powerful as generating insight in the other person. We own what we discover.
Don’t get me wrong, I love studying what’s already been said and done on a topic. That information is invaluable. However, it is only one type of learning. I believe there is deeper learning that goes beyond existing knowledge and how others have applied it. Deeper learning actually creates new ideas, applications and actions that neither the coach nor the coachee were aware of before.
Creating something new requires engaged and reflective thinking. This is where powerful questions come in. Asking the right questions promotes reflection more effectively than merely providing knowledge. Coaches use questions as a primary tool in working with others. Questions help stimulate thinking, broaden perspective, and generate new options for actions.
Knowledge is past; Questions are future.
Knowledge is static; Questions are dynamic.
Knowledge is rigid; Questions are flexible.
Knowledge limits options; Questions create possibilities.
Knowledge requires adaptation; Questions call for innovation.
Knowledge is a location; Questions are a journey.
Knowledge can be superior; Questions require humility.
Knowledge knows; Questions learn.
Note from Bob: So what do you want to be when you grow up: a Know-It-All Leader or an Always Asking Leader?
Copyright © 2020 Leading With Questions, All rights reserved.
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