Archive for the ‘Leadership’ category

Tozer on Masterful Psychologists

March 5, 2012

A.W. Tozer:

Much of church activity and fellowship also falls back upon the practice of psychology. Many church leaders are masterful psychologists. They know how to handle people and get the crowds to come. Their operation qualifies as an amazingly “successful” church. Part of the success of that church depends on people with business talents and part of it depends on people with natural gifts as salespersons and politicians.

A Christian congregation can survive and often appear to prosper in the community by the exercise of human talent and without any touch from the Holy Spirit. But it is simply religious activity, and the dear people will not know anything better until the great and terrible day when our self-employed talents are burned with fire and only what was wrought by the Holy Spirit will stand.

 – Tozer, Tragedy in the Church: The Missing Gifts, 22-23

When we assess spiritual leadership, let us not be guilty of evaluating psychologists, salespersons, politicians, and talented businessmen rather than shepherds of the flock, servants of Christ, and stewards of the gospel.

My Song in the Night – New Website of Bobby Gilles

September 20, 2011

Bobby Gilles is one of the most gifted and effective communicators I know.  He is an accomplished songwriter and story teller and heads up the very impressive communications team of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.  I have had the privilege in recent years to get to know Bobby and benefit from his work.  Specifically, I have learned how he has used the Internet to spread the vision and mission of Sojourn church in very practical and intentional ways and sought to implement much of what I’ve gleaned in my own context.

Having said that, I was really encouraged to receive a message from Bobby over the weekend about the announcement of a new website intended to help churches in numerous ways, including:

  • Teach people how to write and share their testimony. I’ve also included Sojourn’s guidelines for writing the salvation testimonies that we share at our baptism services.
  • Show the ways in which I work with Sojourn Pastor Daniel Montgomery and his pulpit team to encourage interaction among our members with our sermon series, vision campaigns, scripture memory challenges and more.
  • How we use social media, the arts and amateur photography at Sojourn to tell the story of our community, as a small part of God’s story.
  • How your church members can use the Psalms as models for telling the story of God at work in their life, and express their longings, questions, and pain.
  • Show the ways in which I work with Sojourn Worship Pastor Mike Cosper to help our people see the full gospel in our weekly worship service liturgy, and their place in the gospel story.
  • Songwriting instruction, from how to write simple scripture memory songs to the poetry mechanics behind hymn-writing, and how I’ve worked as a songwriting workshop coordinator to foster collaboration & community and train songwriters in the Sojourn Music community.

Put it this way. There are blogs I find essential for practical helps in ministry in the local church.  If I want to find the best on productivity and effective administration, I go to Matt Perman’s blog, What’s Best Next?  If I want to learn about practical pastoral helps, I go to Brian Croft’s blog Practical Shepherding.  If I want to learn about all things worship, I go to Bob Kauflin’s blog, Worship Matters.  And now, with Bobby Gilles’ new website, for help in exploring excellence in all forms of communication in the church, I recommend his blog My Song in the Night.

Add him to your RSS feed and check back regularly.  Bobby knows what he is doing, and his gifts are a great asset to the kingdom!

Triperspectival Transitioning (Crafting Culture)

July 19, 2011

I have been thinking in recent weeks about the role of leadership in transitioning and in particular a kind of transitioning that requires a paradigm shift of crafting a new culture. For example, how does a church that has largely been ingrown and maintenance-driven become outward-focused and mission-driven? How do you lead a church that has been static and on “ecclesiological birth control” to experience a movement of reproduction through individuals, gospel communities, and eventually daughter churches?

Those are significant questions been asked by many people today, and I don’t pretend to have the answer. Yet, I would like to hash out something that I am calling triperspectival transitioning for crafting a new culture. Triperspectival transitioning (TT) is a leadership approach built upon the three perspectives/offices of Christ’s mediation, namely prophet, priest and king. These perspectives are intended to serve the purpose of helping church leaders through times of transition. Through the various phases of transitioning, the various perspectives of prophet, priest, and king play a pivotal role in shaping or crafting the new culture leaders are hoping to birth.

I have laid out TT in a seven-phase process where each perspective carries the lead role (at least) twice.  Here is a simple diagram that shows the seven components:

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Honoring a Faithful Shepherd

June 2, 2011

Last night, I had the privilege of joining my church family in honoring Tom Ascol on his 25th anniversary as pastor of Grace Baptist Church.  The evening was spent with members sharing stories and testimonies of how God has impacted their lives through Pastor Tom, and I began it with a few words about the call of a shepherd, explaining how he has led our church through the years.  I provide them below because I know many of my readers know Tom from his blog, articles, books, or role as director of Founders Ministries.  I’m fortunate to know him as a fellow pastor, father in the faith, and personal friend.  

Honoring a Faithful Shepherd:
Reflections on the Ministry of Tom Ascol
on His 25th Anniversary as Pastor of Grace Baptist Church

If you were alive in during biblical times, there is one vocation that every person in the community would be familiar with. That would be the work of a shepherd. It is widely understood that shepherds were in many ways considered to be heroic men, known for their independence, resourcefulness, adaptability in severe circumstances, courage amidst all kinds of opposition, and vigilance to their calling. Their work required of them an intense capacity for attentiveness, self-sacrifice, and compassion. As a result, shepherds were looked upon in Scripture as an icon of leadership, and no doubt one of the reasons why Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd and of whom Peter called the Chief Shepherd.

There are many ways to describe the work of a pastor, but none are more comprehensive and clear than that of a shepherd. When a pastor is faithful to the people he is called to lead, he images forth the shepherding ways of God. Indeed, God Himself said, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 34:15). In the popular Shepherd Psalm, King David begins by saying, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). So in a very significant way, God communicates his heart and ways with His people as a shepherd. That alone should alert us to the significance of the work, given to those who are called to lead by “shepherding the flock of God” whom Jesus purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

But what is it that encompasses the work of a faithful shepherd? Tonight, I want to briefly give you three aspects of a faithful shepherd in light of what this evening is all about. For 25 years, God has given us a pastor who has served this church as a faithful shepherd to the flock entrusted to his care, and tonight, I want to honor the man who has honored Christ and discharged his calling as a dedicated pastor, committed churchman, and stubborn herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of our beloved pastor, Tom Ascol, and though it pains him for us to draw any attention to him, we are going to do it anyway. It is fitting for us to honor and recognize what God has done in and through him.

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Triperspectival Pastoral Priorities and Practices

May 24, 2011

Yesterday, Dustin Neeley (who runs Church Planting for the Rest of Us) drew our attention to an interview he did with Mark Dever in which he asked about balancing time between sermon preparation and shepherding people.  Here’s the video:

I resonate with everything that Dever is saying in this interview.  One of the more profitable studies I’ve done over the past year is to evaluate my pastoral ministry practices and priorities in light of what Scripture reveals descriptively and prescriptively about pastors.  Principally, I focused my attention on Paul’s exhortation to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20, Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3 as well as Titus in Titus 1, Paul’s explanation of church life in Ephesians 4, and finally Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 5.

Without being overly simplistic, I came away with three overarching roles of a pastor/shepherd/overseer. They are to be exemplars in their holiness/gospel-centered living (leadership dynamic), they are to be shepherds of the flock (body dynamic), and they are to be equippers of the saints for the work of ministry, edification of the church, and advance of the gospel (mission dynamic).  Accordingly, I have sought to find practical ways in which my practices as a pastor most align with what I’ve discovered in Scripture to be normative, which is often undermined or rivaled by a corporate, business (professionalized) mindset of church leadership.

As Dever noted regarding sermon time and sheep time, they often overlap and compliment one another. This is one way in which I see the triperspectival model helpful in thinking through pastoral priorities because each perspective sheds light on the particular ways in which ministers are to fulfill their ministry.  Each perspective intends to illuminate the other perspectives in ways that don’t compartmentalize the calling but recognize them as interdependent roles which comprise the calling holistically.

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Biblical Church Leadership

May 17, 2011

From IX Marks.

[vimeo 10645693]

Between Hyper-Calvinism and Pragmatism

April 23, 2010

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working through the book of Nehemiah.  One of the books that has been helpful to me is J.I. Packer’s A Passion for Faithfulness. This week, I have been working through chapter 3, which is quite fascinating.  In his chapter on “Man-management,” Packer explains how some people can “decry organization as a focus of carnal confidence and an intrinsically Spirit-quenching development.”  The argument is generally made to the effect that “the Spirit of God has to do it” or “the root of the problem is spiritual, not structural.”  Therefore, we need to wait for the Spirit to work upon the hearts of people to move them to action.

The upshot to this thinking is that any kind of practical, structural, or organizational change is superfluous or inconsequential.  Strategy, planning, and developing a system or process are inherently un-spiritual.  It is like inefficiency is godly and spiritual and practical usefulness is suspect.  If I could employ the trisperspectival model to leadership (prophets, priests, and kings), the Reformed tradition, of which I belong, is strongly prophetic and priestly.  However, there is an inhibition or reservation about being strong in the kingly role of leadership–by that I mean administration, planning, developmental processes, etc.

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Gospel Workshops – An Idea for Consideration

September 29, 2009

I have argued for several years now that the greatest need for our churches today is the recovery of the gospel.  Some people have concluded that what I mean by that is everyone embracing the doctrines of grace; however, a casual observer of my blog could able to discern that is not the case.  What I mean is understanding the functional centrality of the gospel and its sufficiency in every aspect of the church.

I have become more and more aware of this need when I talk to, for instance, seminary-trained Christian counselors who have never heard or been trained in how to apply the gospel to situations in life involving believers and conflict of any sort or a leadership style that reflects more of corporate one-upmanship rather than the gospel style of decreasing to serve others.  I have grown up in the county-seat First Baptist Church and heard how the gospel of Matthew was a how-to manual to overcome stress, worry, fear, and so on and also been in the seeker-sensitive megachurch where the stories are gripping but the gospel missing.  I have been in the smaller, more rural church where the preacher is excited and earnest as in the tradition of revivalism but the gospel is reduced to a few points and a prayer.  Reflecting and experiencing these realities have served to increase the burden in my heart for the gospel to be preached, lived, and result in truly transformed lives.

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Leadership Retreat Feedback

September 5, 2009

This past week, the pastors of Grace hunkered down for three days for our leadership retreat.  Just a couple of days out of it, the meetings are still fresh on my mind.  I think we all agreed that it was really productive, but I also believe it can always improve and be done better.

I am convinced of the importance of such retreats for personal renewal, team building, ministry assessment, and vision casting (among others).  Conferences are good to aid in some of this, but they are no replacement for a retreat that deals directly and comprehensively on the local church and the men called to serve in a leadership capacity.

Below is the template I created and that we ran with this past week (I stripped it down to remove details).  I am providing it to get your thoughts, suggestions, examples, or any other ideas on this matter.  I want to serve my fellow pastors and church at large by helping us develop the best retreats possible in the future.  Any feedback you’d be willing to provide is great appreciated, and if you would care to share docs, you can email me at timmybrister[at]gmail[dot]com.

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