Worthwhile October 11, 2019

What a week it has been! The U.S. political landscape is a minefield of really poor choices, and the NBA unsurprisingly has no backbone that a few billion can’t break. So we are desperately in need of something worthwhile to read and be reminded of. Even Ellen Degeneres can’t be friendly with anyone…

Going further back for good memories, five years ago this week our family minivan burned to a crisp while the shop working on it caught fire. And Stacy and I landed in San Diego to interview and preach at a struggling church called Grace Church North County. Oh the memories…

A few bits to take you mind off of it all this weekend.

Bringing back the Epistle! I came across recommendations for the Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp this week. An early second century exhortation to a leader in the church from another. it is well worth the read (five minutes max).

In a world of tweets and texts I think we have lost the longer form refreshment of the epistle. I am determined to bring it back! (Sorry to you whom received the first of such leaders from me!) Read Ignatius’ here.

Next up, what about hospitality? Darryl Dash has a good post about the requirement that elders be hospitable and he unpacks it in a modern context.

“Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God,” writes Rosaria Butterfield. “It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed.” I can’t think of anything that’s more countercultural. And yet I can’t think of anything that is provides more opportunity for ministry to others and joy to ourselves.

Christians must be hospitable people, especially to the our neighbors and strangers. This is how the kingdom goes forth. Let’s be about it. Get in on Radical Ordinary Hospitality here.

Then finally, keep you mind off of current events by shoring up your training for missional communities. Jonathan Dodson has compiled the training his church and ministry has facilitated and you can find it here.

Three sessions from an Acts 29 meeting that are sure to be worth the watch. Check them out here.

That’s all I have for you today. We are enjoying (tenuously because of fire danger) Santa Ana winds in San Deigo County. May you weekend be filled with friends, reminders of grace and the worship of our Savior!

Worthwhile October 4, 2019

The first week of October not only brought cooler temps to SoCal (do’t worry it warms up tomorrow) but a sense that people are exhausted. We are in need of rest, in need of the enthusing only God can provide.

I am praying that you find that rest and renewal this weekend. Endeavor toward it. Slow down. Sit around a table with friends and laugh. Eat delicious food. And take naps. I will try to do the same!

For your reading we start with darkness and tend brighter with three bits to check in on.

This week the New York Times posted an in-depth report on the prevalence of imagery and exchange of child sexual abuse. Technology has made it easier and the sickness has spread over the last decade. It is gross. If anyone suggests evil does not exists ask them what they would call torturing children for pleasure.

It is a dark reality that our law enforcement needs more resources to attack. We also need spiritual conviction and repentence… revival in our land. As I engage with books lamenting the loss of free play for kids and unsupervised decision making, I get excited to give my kids more freedom, then I read reports like this and I won’t let them out of my sight.

Read it. Pray. Think of how you can act for change.

Next is how we contribute online. At a meeting last night a colleague mentioned that she has a staff member who left Facebook because she was only using it to be angry and stir up strife.

Justin Taylor has shared some tips from Paul D. Miller, a professor at Georgetown University who too k party in a significant study.

We sketch here an initial draft of recommendations to structure future conversations. We do not mean to bind the conscience of any believer and we recognize that most of the issues we address here lie in the realm of wisdom and prudence. We put forward these ideas as the best practices from what we have seen, observed, and heard during this project. These are not rules for righteousness, but practices of discipleship and character formation we think are uniquely suited to the challenges of the age we are living through.

The tips are in line with where we get news, seeking out difference and attending church. See all seven here.

Finally, a really good sermon from Andrew Wilson. He was at The Villiage Church in Dallas and spoke on life in the Spirit. I have had a few conversations about this very thing this week and I thought he gave great clues and encouragement toward yielding to the Spirit for all of life. Give it a watch or listen.

Enjoy the weekend. Run to Jesus. Rejoice. See you soon.

Building a Team For Momentum

I have been spending the last several days thinking through the way we evaluate the team we are assembling as a church for leadership and carrying out a vision for multiplication into the future. It is stirred by prayerfully evaluating an elder candidate and desiring to create a system to prepare men and women for leadership at Reservoir.

I have as of late talked a bunch about laying foundation stones in the church for future health and just like some of the other blocks we build up, the team responsible for leading the church is a vital stone that must be nurtured and shaped along the way so as to prevent unnecessary roadblocks or division down the road.

Of course we have biblical guides for elders and deacons in the church but I want a list of keys to give us concrete metrics in reviewing the team. In this nurture and shaping then I have leaned on some others’ expertise for categories to use in evaluation of health of a team and have come up with 6 C’s (which is silly because everyone has C words as their list). And of all places, I found a Rotary article helpful toward this end.

Here then is my list, character, competency, chemistry, capacity, courage, and calling.

Character – This is our biblically outlined set of attributes of being above reproach respectable, hospitable, uncontentious, not greedy, just, and clinging to what is good (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9).

Are the members of the team people of character? Are they trustworthy and reliable? Have they endeavored to make the priorities of the team their own and are they willing to pursue what is right over self? These are important questions and while character can seem surface level you actually get a better sense of it over time. Things of character are revealed as difficulties arise and decisions are carried out. This is why Paul in his elder qualifications has the man’s reputation in mind. What do those that know him best say of his character?

Hopefully by the time the person joins our team their character has been proven but like anything, we can slip or let sin linger and go off the rails. We must remain watchful over not only doctrine but our lives as well.

Competency – We can never assume that because someone has character they also have the competency to actually lead. Do they have the life refine experience and gifting as well as Spirit-infused ability to accomplish the tasks required? And more than just the ability to do it, does the candidate possess the will to do it. Are they willing to lend their expertise for the greater good and glory of Christ rather than their own name?

This can be taught with training and apprenticeship but we have to be careful where this lacks because it will be a definite drag on momentum of the team and church they are leading.

Chemistry – Often neglected in the church because we are all suppose to get along, chemistry is vital for healthy teams to move forward. This is not about forming a team of lemmings but people that trust each other and have the best interests of the team and church in mind and heart. This is a single-mindedness that defines a group that can be noticed in personalities, process, and productivity.

If we have to keep coming back to the table to discern why things unfold so poorly it might be a chemistry issue. This one requires gracious care because it might be an indicator that the person should not be on the team. just as Paul and Barnabas separated, some times the Lord changes the mix of personalities for healthy chemistry in leadership teams.

Capacity – While this key is related to whether the person is competent it has to do with the availability to serve and the margin to go beyond mere competency in leading with the team. Does this person have the time necessary to lead and do they have the capacity to grow as a leader?

The person that never grows or never seeks opportunities to develop as a leader is indicating they may not have the capacity for it. Without it only stagnation happens and momentum is stifled if not killed.

Courage – This key might also be called creativity in that not only should the leader be courageous enough to tackle difficulty and hardships, they also need to creatively face opportunities to make a difference.

Especially as elders, these are the leaders responsible for protecting the flock against false teaching or harm and if the individual doesn’t have the backbone (confidence in humble reliance on Christ) to stand for truth they don’t have what it takes to lead. For the health of a team this courage has to be spread around and while the vocational leader, or paid pastor, does have an obligation to take the bulk of hard situations, he can’t be left alone in it. All members of the team need the courage to work with each other and those they lead, even when things get hard.

Calling – The last key for me is probably the most important. Is the person, man in the case of elders, called to be in the office or role they are pursuing? Forming a team of leaders just because they have the resumes for leadership will get the church nowhere. They must be called by God for the time and purpose of leading.

More so than an individual call they should be able to recognize and submit to the Lord’s calling for direction of the church, the vision he has place on their hearts.

These are six keys that we can use to evaluate the health of a team or the addition to a team. By reviewing these aspects of life and leadership a team should be more equipped for moving in the direction the Lord determines for the church.

Of course all of this, in the church context, must be thouroughly bathed in prayed as the team trusts the Spirit to empower and lead them.

So what do you think? What are missing elements of healthy teams or leaders and how do we go about evaluating them?

Holy Fear and Revival

We have been talking about the elements of renewal or revival in some corners of the church and one dear saint sensed a calling to pray for a holy fear of God to permeate the church. While our modern first response might be hesitancy (who wants to endorse fear), when we have a biblical context for what it means to have an abiding reverence for God, then the environment shifts and the soil is prepared for revival.

To this end, this Saint shared her thinking on what the fear of the Lord looks like in a climate of revival.

“A Climate for Revival

“Holy Fear Outside the Church:
Understanding one’s position ->Holy Fear (horror, anguish, woe) coupled w/
hope->Redemption and Salvation

“Holy Fear Inside the Church:
Understanding One’s position->Holy Fear
(humility, awe, wonder) coupled with hope->Revival and Further Sanctification”

May we inside the church understand our position, made righteous by Christ, and live in humility, wonder, and awe with a defining hope for more.