The Big Road Block

 

Road-ClosedI’ve heard it said that there are two seasons in Upstate New York: Winter and Construction. We’re feeling it right now in the small suburban town that I live in. Every day several handfuls of construction workers magically appear to repave our roads and rebuild the local bridges.

The bridge construction, in particular, has been quite frustrating. An entire section of road will be shut down for 3 weeks to a couple of months. Ugh. The first local bridge they worked on required a long, convoluted detour. I even discovered that the construction crew went on some sort of strike for a couple of weeks. I don’t know the details, I just remember thinking, “This is really ridiculous! We have a well traveled road that can get me to my destination in great time that is not being fixed and has been road-blocked indefinitely!”

That said, here’s what I discovered: I GOT USED TO IT. It was a mild annoyance, but eventually I adjusted my expectations and plans and just used the detour all the time. I had no idea when the road would reopen so it became pretty irrelevant as I adjusted to the new pathway. A new pathway that was long, tedious, and not very productive.

I’ve discovered that many of us have a road block like this that needs to be overcome before we see any meaningful changes in our ministry and at our church. It’s a road block that we don’t think about very much. We just bypass it, deal with it, live with it, adjust to it, even forget about it. We’ve gotten used to doing ministry the long, tedious, and not so productive way. This road block can be a major key to launching change. You get this particular road opened and you may discover a brand new path to effective and powerful ministry.

The road block is YOU. Think about it. If you are the primary or even secondary influencer in your church or ministry, who is really stopping you from fulfilling the calling of God for your church and on your life? It’s so easy to blame the conditions around you, to describe all the reasons or excuses that stand in the way, to determine that the solution is beyond your control and external. In fact, it’s easy because it means you don’t have to take responsibility. You just convince yourself that there are good reasons why certain things can’t happen, and you just have to live with them.

But what if the real problem was a wrong mindset that you believe? What if the road block is your way of viewing your ministry and situation? Perhaps the bridge is out and you’ve gone on strike…indefinitely. While on strike you’ve adjusted how things work so that the ministry continues – but it’s entirely ineffective. What if your predecessor is the one who created the detoured path you are on because his thinking was on strike and you’re now following the same path?

I’m not saying that there aren’t limitations and natural barriers to the fulfillment of your God-ordained vision. I’m just saying that ONE of those barriers may very well be your perceptions and internal dialog about how you can reach that vision.

I’d like to propose that it IS possible to see God’s purposes and vision fulfilled. After all, if it’s a God-ordained vision, then He’s interested in seeing it fulfilled even more than you are! It’s not your responsibility to MAKE that vision happen, it’s your responsibility to fulfill your part of that vision and let the Holy Spirit breathe life, prosperity, and blessing into it.

Maybe I’m missing all the ingredients, but it seems to me that at least three primary ones would be:

  1. FAITH. You need to believe it’s from God and live and act like it will happen. I think it’s OK to have doubts. We see plenty of that in the Bible. What’s not OK is forgetting that God is the overseer of your ministry, not you.
  2. A PLAN. We would all love it if God would just step in and make it all happen. Alas and alack, he wants us to do the planning part, with His leading, instead. Nehemiah made plans to build a wall. David made plans to conquer a nation. Joseph made plans to overcome a God-revealed famine. The disciples made plans about where they would go, when they would leave, and often what they would do while they were there. And of course, Jesus lived out a God-sized strategic plan for the salvation of the world.
  3. COMMITMENT. That means you are willing to press through the dips, the valleys, the rough times. It means you’re willing to work hard, to read a lot, to ask for help, and to make changes that will require a level of self-sacrifice that will be uncomfortable. It means you’ll take risks and fail sometimes and then get up and try again. It means you won’t give up.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE IN THE WAY? How about starting by asking three questions:

  1. Do I have faith that God can and will lead me to where I believe this ministry is supposed to go?
  2. Do I have a plan to get there?
  3. Am I willing to make sacrifices on the way?

Bill Hybels & Humility in Leadership

It is becoming increasingly clear to me as time goes on how important the attribute of Humility is for leaders in organizations. Not just THE leader, but all of the leaders in your church or ministry. This year at the Willow Leadership Summit, Jim Collins, author of the book, “How The Mighty Fall” and “Good to Great” said:

“The single greatest leadership signature we found in organizations that moved from good to great and who stood the test of time for decades was this: Personal Humility.”

After listening, as well, to one of the greatest leaders in this generation, Bill Hybels, I was reminded again of how true this is. Bill has made a huge, exponential impact on God’s church that may never stop until the Lord’s return. And yet, he stands before hundreds of thousands of people and says, “Sometimes I am just not sure if I’ve got the right stuff to lead.” He then told the story of how critical it is that he leans and rely’s on God.

The man has tremendous humility.

How about you. Do you see yourself as a person with humility before God and man? Or as someone who’s ‘got the stuff’ and entitled to the place you now serve? How about your leadership team?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth

Several years ago we read a book as a team that really started us on the path of strategic planning at Elim Gospel Church. It was called, “Leadership Transitions for Growth” by Michael Fletcher. The book has now been re-released by the title, “Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth“. It’s a short and easy read, and played a big role in helping us to change our mindset as a leadership team for growth.

Among other things, the book discusses how to build a leadership structure for the NEXT stage of growth you are believing God for in your church/ministry. He said it best on page 43:

“To cross over into a new stage, leaders must understand what lies ahead and make the necessary realignments before they expect to move to a new level of growth.”

He explores three questions for small size churches (under 200), medium size churches (200-700), and large churches (over 800):

  1. How do the Elders relate to ministry?
  2. Who does the ministry?
  3. How are decisions made?
If you have been struggling getting your footing in church growth, I would recommend this book as a resource, especially in the area of how your church leadership is currently structured.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Attributes of a Church in Decline

Tony Morgan grabbed my attention again this week in his blog entitled, “5 Attributes of a Church in Decline”. He shared what he and a fellow blogger felt could be five key attributes of a church in decline. What strikes me as so interesting is simply that all five attributes are indicative of a church that isn’t led by someone who thinks strategically for the future. For instance, as I’ll share in a future entry, a clear mission and vision is a very basic and key first step in strategic planning. What do you think?

In case you have a difficult time reading this chart, the five attributes are:

  • Lack of mission and vision clarity.
  • Failure to define a concise strategy to help newcomers become fully-devoted followers of Christ.
  • Complex structure.
  • Inward-focused with little connection to the surrounding community.
  • Weak leadership especially in the senior pastor role.

Lids, Levels, and Leadership

John Maxwell introduced us to the leadership principle, “The Law of the Lid”, in his bestselling book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“. The Law of the Lid says this:

“Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the individual’s ability to lead, the higher the lid on his potential. To give you an example, if your leadership rates an 8, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a 7. If your leadership is only a 4, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a 3. Your leadership ability – for better or for worse – always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization.”

As you learn more about this leadership principle, you’ll also discover that you can’t really lead people below you in leadership abilities beyond your own. If you rate a 7 in leadership, you won’t be able to bring those you mentor to an 8.

All of that said, apply this principle to the chart found at this link. This highlights, yet again, how important it is that you understand what level of leadership each of your key volunteers or staff operate in. For instance, you probably don’t want someone leading a lot of volunteers or a ministry if they only operate at a Level 2 “Contributing Team Member”.

This idea has been very helpful to me when working with my key leaders. Often, I will pull out this chart with each of them and we discuss together what leadership level we feel they operate in, what level we believe they should aspire towards (including possibly staying at their current level), and what challenges we face as a result of them being in that level, in comparison to their current responsibilities.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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