Stetzer, Lost and Found

Ed Stetzer works for Lifeway’s research division and is a missional/church planting version of the Barna Group.  His books and blog are extremely helpful to me.  I totally appreciate his work on a weekly basis.  I think I got this book as a review copy for free – but it was so long ago, I’m not certain any longer.

I began this book last summer in preparation for a teaching I gave with John Breitmeier at our denomination’s regional conference.  We spoke on the transitions in generational leadership – the opportunities and the struggles that the church will be (is) faced with.  I finished the book this year, almost a full year later!  It’s useful, but not meant to be particularly inspirational.  It highlights some relevant statistics and then gives a listing of examples of churches that are effectively reaching the younger unchurched.  So, the book lives up to it’s title, but it’s not meant to be particularly inspirational.

I’d recommend this book to pastors who want to understand current culture and begin to develop ways that may reach the younger unchurched in their area.  Normally I put a few take-aways down, but it’s not really applicable for this book, my take-aways would look like an encyclopedia of baseball…boring!

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Will Willamon on pastoral leadership

If you are a pastor (especially if you are in the holiness/Methodism tribe) you would totally benefit from Will Willamon’s blog.  It’s stock full of wisdom and straight from Alabama!

I wanted to link to his most recent post, on the shifts he is seeing in pastoral ministry.  I’ll summarize here, but if you would like, go ahead and check it out on his blog.

Here’s what he remarks:

Today, the most effective, faithful pastors are making these moves:

Move from caregivers to passionate, transformative leaders
Any church that cares more about itself and its inner life than it cares for the world is a church in decline. .

Move from contented church of monopoly, to church in competitive, missional environment
It’s a time when the church has the opportunity to recover the oddness and the joy of the peculiarity of ministry in the name of Jesus Christ rather than ministry as service to the infatuations of the world.

Move from nonchalance about results to attentiveness to results
God intends for us to bear fruit and promises to give us what we need to bear fruit.

Move from preservation and sustaining to adaptation and supple, flexibility
We have put far too much stress on experience, wisdom, and continuity when we need more stress upon talent, adaptation, flexibility, and innovation.

Move from the pastor as head of an organization to the pastor as spiritual leader and congregational catalyst
Pastors are preachers, those who tell the story which is the gospel, laying that upon the congregation on a regular basis and then pastors get out of the way, leaving Jesus to deal with his people. Pastors are there not to do ministry, no really even to lead ministry, but rather to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”

*that last one is stunningly beautiful

20QL.6 Mission, Values, Vision

Which is most important for your organization – mission, core values or vision?

I don’t particularly like this question, of the 20 questions on leadership I’m doing this one seems to miss.  I think the question wants to reveal something else.  To elaborate, the mission, core values and vision all serve the church in different ways.  The mission drives us, the core values guide us and the vision gives us hope.  What I suspect, is that the question really wants to ask is which of these is most sacred – the least likely to change.

To that end, I think in a church the mission, values and vision are not created, they are discovered through the Scriptures, prayer and Jesus.  So, even if churches have different expressions of the mission, values and vision, when we take away the cultural context (like that’s possible!), it should all be the same.

So I wouldn’t be able to say that one of these is more important than the others, and none is more sacred than the others.  In fact, I’d say none of these are sacred – Jesus is, beyond him, his teaching and his life, there’s lots of wiggle room for churches to express themselves in meaningful ways.

20QL.5 Great Ideas

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

This is a wildly dangerous and revealing question.  There are so many leaders who think they are colaborative in the idea process, but they aren’t.  And their assistants know.  Some leaders need to be tricked into thinking it was their idea before they think it’s a great idea!

In the Grove, a lot of the ideas initially came from me, the planting pastor.  It’s the nature of the beast.  But we have intentionally developed systems and structures whereby great ideas can come from all over.  Sometimes, people have great ideas and things happen and I don’t even know until afterward.  To me, that’s equipping and empowering the saints for ministry!

20QL.4 Spread Creativity

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

For this question, I’m simply going to bullet point some thoughts:

  • model creative thinking
  • encourage scheduled creative thinking times
  • schedule creative thinking sessions with leaders
  • present problems to leaders for creative solution finding
  • resource leaders for creativity
  • encourage health and fitness
  • develop trust among key leaders
  • exposure to new thoughts, new technologies, new patterns, new discoveries
  • listen to music, watch movies, read fiction books
  • read.  like a crazy person.
  • be discerning on casual media input.  don’t waste time on media that doesn’t push culturally or develop relationships
  • draw pictures of ideas.
  • extreme multi-tasking (i.e. opening multiple browsers, watching a movie, listening to music, texting, in a public space)

20QL.3 Inspriation and Institution

As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?

There’s two parts to this one.  First, to be intentionally aware to the institutional signs.  Leaders need to be constantly aware of what people are complaining about.  If they are complaining about institutional things, then you are tending towards the institution.  If the majority of complaints have to do with the inconvenience of growth (i.e. less parking spots available, having to sit in different places, not knowing everyone, schedule changes), then growth will stop being their goal.  The best complaints about these things are connected to, “Isn’t it great!”, then you know that growth will continue to be the goal.  The best complaint I’ve heard recently was from someone who was a bit late for the service at The Grove, he said, “There’s hardly any parking spots out there!  This is awesome!”  It made my morning.

The second part of this is that the leader must remain inspirational and not institutional.  Leaders have got to intentionally choose people on their schedules over programs, policy development and structures.  For me, inspiration is raised through personal time with Jesus, scheduled physical activity (exercise and around-the-house work), scheduled free thinking time and creative inputs like reading, music and other teachers’ lectures.  To do this intentionally, I frequently check my schedule at the end of the week to see how much time was spent with people.  It needs to be high, like 20-40% of  time should be spent with people.

20QL.2 Important Decisions

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

The big decisions I make have to do with vision, direction and mission of the church.  I care for the large issues that happen for the whole of the church, so I maintain a large view, anticipating the future and equipping people to take advantage of opportunities that God presents.

After direction and vision issues, the most important decisions I make are empowering decisions.  Curating responsibilities and authority in individuals is something that I get to pay attention to.  As a church grows past 300 in average worship attendance, the people who are have leadership roles (especially those who use the microphone) have a lot of influence on a lot of people.  So these roles must be taken care of and be filled with people who are full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit.