Why I Believe – Chip Ingram

Straight Answers to our Questions about God and Christianity

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Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe delivers on its promise to offer straight answers to the honest questions we have about God, the Bible and Christianity.   In his practical and straightforward style Chip deals with these questions with authentic, personal, well researched and transparent answers.  If you are a sceptic,  the chapters in this book will challenge your doubts. If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, the pages in this book will fortify and strengthen your faith that will impact your life.  This book is a useful training manual so you can answer the questions your friends have about the Christian faith.  We believe in this book so much that our Leadership training course at our church is using this book as part of our module one servant leader curriculum.

Bounce by Aaron Früh

Learning to Thrive through Loss, Tragedy, and Heartache

This book came to me at just the right time.  In the last couple of years our family has been impacted by the loss of three family members through death, a significant move, work change and the transitions of our children.  Both my wife and I have responded in different ways to all of these life changes.  Fortunately, our communication is very transparent, and we have had the support of family, friends and our church community.  Most important we have been strengthened by the grace, presence and leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Along with these tangible connections to help us adjust to the new reality, we have received some practical resources.  Grieving, change, stress, loss and tragedy can really upset your physical, spiritual, mental and soul health.  Personally,  I have been impacted in all these areas.  It has been a very interesting journey.  At times my wife and I wondered when the cloud would clear and we would bounce back.  Thankfully the new beginnings have happened,  but we are changed people as a result of those hard things that impacted our lives.

I have read Aaron’s book twice since I received it from Baker Publishers.  It has impacted me both times.  In this book are very helpful chapters outlined in very practical ways with excellent stories to assist the reader in the journey to thrive through the losses and pain we can all experience in this life.  His personal story is compelling and his transparency encourages the reader to engage in their own journey to thrive again.

Whether it is his helpful description of the Four Resilience Blockers to developing your Personal Resilience plan, he lays out meaningful and practical teaching so we can embrace perplexity, hope and cry out for justice in our difficulties before God.

I am very thankful for this book and its impact on my life personally.  Thanks Aaron for being transparent and open to the Lord and his teaching to assist so many who have experienced the perplexities of this life while offering and reminding us about hope and justice which are gifts given to us by the Lord.

 

Program Mindset vs. Ministry Mindset

In Col 4:17 the Apostle Paul says, Tell Archippus, “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”  I read that verse on the beginning of a walk to my office. I began to think about how this verse applies to me personally and my church team.

In a leadership podcast, Andy Stanley was talking about healthy staff team members.  They “Get Things Done, Are in the Right Position, and Work interdependently” as a team.  A staff team needs to understand the difference between a “program mindset and a ministry mindset” to evaluate the ministries of a church.   I wrote down some differences on my list but asked my staff team to contribute to our list.  Here are the results.

Program Mindset

A program mindset says that a program exists for itself.  The program is more important than the impact on people.  We have done this for 150 years, so it is good for people now. A program mindset says that a program never dies.   This kind of thinking assumes that programs exist for the leaders rather than people in the program.  Leaders in a programming mindset have fallen into a rut and even become hysterically historical about what has happened in the past.  They are past-oriented rather than being honest about what is happening in the present.  They say if we keep doing what we are doing it will get better.  The false hope or fantasy that we can continue riding a dead horse or that horses can be resurrected is the fallacy that program people fall into to resist the change that needs to happen.

With no visible results, there is no vision for the future.  Programs with this kind of thinking tend to be competitive with other ministries, ask for money regularly and develop an unhealthy inward focus which centres on a few people to the exclusion of others.  This kind of thinking leads to pride and isolation from other ministries especially those ministries that might be created out of a genuine need to make a difference in people’s lives.

Ministry Mindset

Ministry mindset churches exist for others, not for the leaders of a program or ministry.  They are flexible, fluid, can change as the ministry environment changes.  Those with a ministry mindset cooperate and partner with others.  Evaluation and feedback are welcomed.  They give away resources and are useful in training others in all aspects of discipleship.  This kind of ministry is not born out of competition or the suspicion of others within the church.  Ministry mindset churches create ministry communities that are outward focused.  While program mindsets build protective bubbles or fortresses, those with a ministry mindset break through these barriers or bubbles to have a more significant influence and impact on people. They are not afraid to bring light into dark places or risk new ways of doing the ministry.  Methods or means of doing ministry are flexible.  Our message is absolute.

I am not saying that churches should not have some internally focused programs but all programs or ministries in the church need to have substantial outreach opportunities.  Four questions that can measure the effectiveness of any given ministry area.  Are they winning the lost in this area of ministry?  Is this program building believers?  Are the leaders of this ministry equipping workers?  Lastly, are they popping, training and developing more leaders?  If the answers to these questions are negative, then you will have to make the clear call.  Some programs need to die.

Greater discipleship happens when our departments have regular outreach opportunities.  Churches need to do a few ministries well.  As a church grows, it will need to have fewer ministry focuses.  Less is more with programs that are not competing with other for staff, resources or time.  Ministries need to be active and efficient in their results that hold to the precise goals and ministry benchmarks agreed upon by the mission priorities and leadership of the church.

No ministry is more important than another nor is a ministry more spiritual than another.  For example, one group might say prayer ministry is more important than the preaching of the Word,  Worship or children’s discipleship.  Maybe you have some comments on the differences between a programming mindset and a ministry mindset.  A ministry mindset is always pursuing the mission of Christ because it is focused on people.

The staff team and the church that has a ministry mindset continue the mission priorities of Christ to make disciples of all age groups.  The Lord wants us to complete the work he wants us to do.  This might help us understand the difference between making effective ministry and those just taking up space on our church calendars.

 

Love Thy Body – Dr. Nancy R. Pearcey

Love Thy Body, is Dr Nancey R. Pearcey’s latest book, that does answer the hard questions about Life and Sexuality that everyone seems to be confused about in our society. Each chapter unlocks one of these questions and answers flow from Nancy’s effective research, her clear writing which is undergirded with arguments and truth bombs from secular sources that challenge the progressive or athiestic worldview about the body. This book is a must-read for everyone in the church and community that are dealing with the questions surrounding human identity, euthanasia, abortion, the hook-up culture, and other issues destroying the strong family foundations that have formed and blessed our society. This book is a treasure of Biblical truth to deal with the denial of moral absolutes pervading our society regarding healthy relationships. A Biblical world view is promoted that our body is spiritually redeemable and the temple of the Holy Spirit when we understand the healthy Biblical freedoms and boundaries that God has given us to have a proper identity. This book will assist you in choosing life instead of the death culture that has infiltrated the beginning of life, the end of life and everything in between since we are people made in the image of God; body, soul and spirit.

The Perfect You – Dr Caroline Leaf

Dr Caroline Leaf’s book, The Perfect You is an in-depth blueprint to understand personal identity. When we second guess our status, value or worth as person we misunderstand the worth we have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This book gives excellent resources to understand that each person has been given a clear purpose and identity from the Lord who created us all unique and how the Lord restores and redeems us so we can fully understand our God-given identity in Jesus Christ to fulfil our purpose, calling and mission as children of the Lord. Includes some great exercises and the unique Qualitative (UQ) assessment tool.

Wisdom for Hiring

Here are a few things that I have learned through assisting other organizations and for searches for staff personally.  Hopefully, these can assist you in your search to find the right person for your staff team.

  • Take more time than you think you need. Sometimes it takes longer to find the right person to be a part of the team.  A wise friend said, “Do not hire the first person who sends in their resume; be discerning!”
  • The recommended “Super Star” is not always the best servant leader.
  • Ask about salary and benefit expectations before you reveal your budget for this position. This will tell a lot about the character and motives for the position seeker.
  • Make the position’s responsibilities clear with expectations laid out both verbally and in the job description. Clear lines of who they report to and who they will be working within this position need to clear for the candidate.
  • As the process narrows, have 2-3 interviews with key staff members and the board to determine fit and to gain further input into the discernment process. Be fair and communicate often with candidates. Too many candidates have been lost to organizations because the search team leaves the potential hire “Blowing in the Wind”.
  • Keep getting feedback from the candidate through emails, phone calls and Skype calls to keep the search process going.
  • Ask clear questions to help understand the long view potential with this candidate. How long do you see yourself in this ministry?  What areas of education or training do you see yourself needing to develop this area for the long haul?  What do you need from me on a regular basis as your supervisor or leader for you to be successful in this area of ministry?
  • Have you done enough background checking on this candidate? Go beyond the references given and ask for others.   Check online, get a police check, become their Facebook friend or follow them on Twitter.  Go beyond their previous position and check out their track record with other businesses or ministries.  If married, take time to get to know their partner.  If they are not willing to move or they are hesitant about the position they will influence your potential hire.
  • Finally, what does your gut say? Are there hesitations, red flags or questions that have been avoided or fuzzy?  Talk to some trusted friends or colleagues.  Let them met your spouse and get a response from them on the candidate.  My wife has given me great insight and wisdom regarding a new hire.
  • Take the candidate out to a restaurant and see how they respond to those that serve them.  What is their attitude like in a public situation especially to those that serve them?  Do they show gratitude easily? Is the attitude one of entitlement?
  • If these questions are giving you a green light to hire, hire them.
  • Have a probationary period and give them the authority, responsibility, accountability, resources and most important the healthy relationships needed for them to be a success for the organization that you lead.
  • Provide an outside coach or mentor to assist them in adjusting to the new culture and position in the first year.  The first year experience determines what happens in the years ahead.
  • What do you think?  Is there any other wisdom that might be helpful in this post?

 

Keeping Your New Hire on the Team and Healthy

I have talked to a number of young leaders recently who I have coached over the years and some senior leaders who are also dealing with the area of hiring well and keeping staff healthy.  There are a number of things coming out of those conversations and my own observations working with a staff, I want to share in this post.  It is really a follow-up to last weeks post.

  • Clear Job Description

Having a clear job description brings clarity to what you want this person to do on your team.  It must describe the position with its responsibilities, authority and accountability.  Does it really communicate what I want this person to do? When you give the responsibility of a position to someone give them the authority to get the job done within clear boundaries with clear lines of accountability, who they report to and who if any report to them.  Working relationships need to be clear in the job description. Keep it simple.  Could you get this job done with the time allotted? Is it fair and challenging to the individual who is going to get this position?

  • The Role of Senior Staff and Board

Current leaders (Senior staff and Board) need to become cheerleaders, permission and resource givers rather than withholders who stifle creativity.    In the words of one of my friends,  “we need to allow the continuous tweaking of work areas so that ripples of positive change and growth can happen in the organization”.

I was with a young leader recently where their senior leadership team continues to hold him back and hinder his new ideas to improve the area he has responsibility.  These leaders are committed to status quo solutions and continuing to “ride the dead horse” of past programs or methodologies. This has frustrated this young leader.

So are you cheering your team on?  Are you serving them so they can be successful?  Bless them and Cheer them on even in their mistakes.

I remember one of my young leaders who made a mistake that cost us some money.  My only question after his truthful confession was: “What were the lessons you learned”?  He shared them clearly.  My response “was not do it again”!  My response was “Ok, great, let’s keep going we have a lot of work to do.”

  • New Leaders try New Ways

Let new leaders loose with the freedom to try new things. Too many organizations and leaders have “Baptized their methodologies”. Our message is absolute,  but our methodologies are flexible and fluid to get the job done effectively and efficiently.

Recently I was with a staff person from another organization where the status quo is shutting down the potential of this leader and the ministry they serve.  Let young leaders loose with good feedback and encouragement.  Let them try new ways because new staff members see the blind spots and go beyond the “groupthink” or status quo of the current leaders.  New blood on the team brings a freshness, health, and new ways to alleviate or get old problems solved.

  • Major on the Major  

Give people one major thing to do.  They might be able to take on a minor role because of their leadership capacity but make it clear what is the majority focus you want them to do.  I met a young leader who has had more responsibilities added to their current job.  This has resulted in only 40% their main role being completed. This is not fair to them, he is a great servant leader but his present employer is going to lose them without some correction. Along with this too many leaders in their position are dabbling and being distracted by the trivial or minor issues facing them.  Keep the main thing the main thing. Help your staff to let these time wasters go so they can concentrate on the main thing.

  • Develop Ministry or Work Teams

Staff members who are overseeing an area need to develop a ministry or work team.  They are hired to develop people because the team leader who develops others expands their own capacity.  Each staff member or leader needs to be developing at least 3 other people so that they can give away areas to people who can carry them further.  Who is on your team?  How are you developing this team?  Who is missing from your team? What resources does your team need to get the job done?  These are the questions senior leaders need to be asking.  These questions are necessary to keep your team leaders from trying to do it all.  Be clear on the purpose of this team and the length of time they need to accomplish their work.  They also need deadlines on how long they need to be on the team.  Along with the purpose being clear, they need from you the 3-5 core objectives/goals this team needs to accomplish.

  • Give Away

One of the questions on a weekly basis I often ask myself, what are three things I can give away today or this week to extend my leadership capacity of the organization I serve.  I realized long ago I get more accomplished through leaders who are forming teams. This gets more people involved.  Leaders who try to micromanage or try to do it all themselves will soon burn out and stagnant their leadership and responsibility.  In fact what I have seen as I give something away to a capable staff member is they will do better and more creative work.  Bless them and thank them for this great work.  They have saved you time and taken something off your list.

 

Hope this helps you on this Friday afternoon.