Archive for category Church Leadership
This excerpt from Tozer made my heart burn as I read it today. Lord, may MainStreet become a church that makes disciples such as these! -JB
“Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” —Acts 21:13
The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men, bold men….We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances; their only compulsion will come from within—or from above.
This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.
A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men, 11-13.
“What must our Lord think of us if His work and His witness depend upon the convenience of His people? The truth is that every advance that we make for God and for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it! If we have been able to reduce spirituality to a smooth pattern and it costs us nothing—no disturbance, no bother and no element of sacrifice in it—we are not getting anywhere with God. We have stopped and pitched our unworthy tent halfway between the swamp and the peak. We are mediocre Christians!”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work, rather teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Church planting is like trying to build a ship while you’re already at sea.” -Unknown
*From a recently published article
MainStreet Covenant Church will soon open a new center in the Stonegate Plaza in Mound. Hometown Pastor Jeremy Berg is quick to make clear, “This is not a church building; it’s a community gathering place — a cafe, live music venue, book club hub, public meeting space, after school youth hangout — where we happen to have church on Sundays.” MainStreet, as it’s name implies, is rethinking church for the 21st century and seeking creative and compelling ways to bring the hope and message of Christ beyond the sanctuary walls and onto “Main Street” — or, as the Bible says, “in the marketplace daily with all who happen to be there” (Acts 17:17).
MainStreet’s new place is an example of what author Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place” in his influential book The Great Good Place (1989). According to Oldenburg, one’s “first place” is the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.
All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is how intentional people are in seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. “Its time churches pick up on this societal trend,” says Berg. “Why should restaurants and coffeeshops be the only places people go to meet with friends and discuss the latest ideas?”
Oldenburg lists the following hallmarks of a true “third place”:
- Free or inexpensive
- Food and drink, while not essential, are important
- Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance)
- Involve regulars — those who habitually congregate there
- Welcoming and comfortable
- Both new friends and old should be found there.
In a day when churches are often seen by the general public as private clubs mainly serving their own members, Pastor Berg likes to quote Bishop William Temple who once said, “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” MainStreet wants this new community gathering place to say to the broader public: “We’re here to serve the Westonka community, and we hope this new facility will benefit everyone.” Read the rest of this entry »
The article below by Lindy Lowly called The Church’s Sleeping Giant aptly captures the missional philosophy driving the vision and approach of MainStreet. This is why we exist – short and simple. Most church-goers simply don’t understand how our approach is different than the standard “come to us” model of church. I hope this article drives home the absolute necessity for more new churches to shift their models to reach those who will not come to church-as-usual. Or, as we say repeatedly at MainStreet, “In a culture where most will not COME to church, the church needs to GO to them.” Enjoy and share with others! -JB
Across America, growing numbers of national church leaders are starting to voice what they describe as a “holy discontent.” The idea of growing their church larger and larger is no longer appealing, they say, especially as they face the truth that no matter how large their church gets, they’ll still miss an estimated 60 percent of people in the U.S. (187 million) who won’t set foot in a church.
A Missionary Problem
Today’s church has a strategic problem and a missionary problem, say Dave Ferguson and Alan Hirsch, authors of On the Verge: A Journey Into the Future of the Apostolic Church.
“Most churches are built on a model of people coming to our churches and us offering a positive church experience,” Ferguson says. “The good news is that about 40 to 50 percent of the population still wants that. The bad news is that the other 60 percent are not looking for that at all.”
Until recently, the church retained a significant cultural connection with the society around it. Most people were within the cultural orbit of the church and open to being influenced by the ideas that energized the church. Most church leaders know that’s not the case anymore. The prevailing, contemporary church-growth approach will have significant appeal to only about an estimated 40 percent of the American population.
“Because we’ve been stuck in this model for so long, we’ve forgotten that we are meant to be a missionary people, a sending people,” Ferguson says. “We are meant to go outside the walls of the church and be the church. We are designed to go into the world and bring Good News to the 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
In reflecting on the process of making disciples that I’m learning to practice, I’ve realized that it involves a real death to self for the leader at every stage along the way. As Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” This is certainly true in making disciples.
In fact, the success of the discipling process depends largely on the leader’s willingness to die to their own desires, laying down their lives for those they are discipling. The death is slightly different in every stage, but it is a death nonetheless, which perhaps explains why many find it easier to just keep doing ministry as usual. Here are my observations about how a leader dies to self in the first couple stages of the discipling journey.
Death in the First Phase
A discipling relationship starts when a leader decides that they are going call someone else to follow them (typically this is done in small groups, like Jesus did it, but let’s just focus on a leader and a disciple for now). This is when a leader gives a strong, clear vision for others to follow.
The leader dies in this phase by casting clear enough vision for people to say “No thanks.” The temptation is always to sugar-coat the vision in order to rally more people around it, because it feels like you’ll have a better chance of success with more people. Plus it feels like a validation of the awesomeness of your vision! This is what you need to die to. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rev. Steven Larson, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, MN
Phillips Brooks wrote, “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.”
“The hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight.” (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Hopes and fears are types of dreams that we all have. There are things that we hope will happen and things we fear might come true. What we fear can paralyze us in our tracks, while what we hope for can powerfully move us forward. God desires to fill our hearts with big dreams.
A God-sized dream ensures our spiritual growth. When God calls us to something, it can feel like an outfit that is the wrong size; gaping in places and pinching in others. We desire to send it back for a more reasonably-sized dream, one that doesn’t cause so much discomfort. Tell that to Joseph, Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Daniel and the Apostle Paul!
A God-sized dream forces us to invite others into a bigger story. We must talk about it with each other, share it with other Christian churches in our community, and actually tell people in this community what God is calling us to be. This is the way our story will become their story, too. God will use this to inspire others as they see what is possible for an ordinary church with a God-sized dream when we put our trust in him.
A God-sized dream gives glory to God only, not us. God is up to something big when he plants his dreams in our hearts. If we were able to achieve our calling by our own strength, we would also take all the glory. But when we stand at the base of an impossible mountain, shaking in our boots, knowing full well our legs could never carry us to the summit, we are forced to rely on God and praise him for every step he enables us to take.
In the end, our calling will shine the light on an infinitely powerful God, who is enlarging his Kingdom through us day by day. We fully experience God’s dream when we completely trust him, and when we graciously walk with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Seek a God-sized dream for your church!
Ok, not really WITH him. But I spent my week in Florida studying the life and ministry of Billy Graham. I read a biography, part of his autobiography, watched a documentary and the movie Billy: The Early Years that came out a couple years ago.
What – a – life. What – a – legacy.
I was especially draw to the early break-through years for Billy in the late 40s and 50s. Many of us think of the internationally respected Billy of his later years. But there was a time when Billy Graham was a nobody. I’m drawn to the faith and boldness that led him and his entourage to first step out and begin holding evangelistic rallies back in the old days.
Would anyone turn out? Would they invest money and advertising, spend thousands on setting up big tents in Los Angeles and have no one show up? Would his message (more fiery and intense in his earlier days) have any impact on the modern minds skeptical of this traveling preacher?
Before his career as a traveling evangelist, Billy was a young, scared Bible student yet to preach his first sermon. I loved the story of his very first preaching experience in 1937 as a 19 year old. The Dean of his school volunteered him to fill the pulpit of a backwoods little Baptist church in Bostwick Florida. Billy was up in a cold sweat the night before, running over his 4 prepared sermons. Each sermon he suspected could last 25 minutes or so.
His debut was a humiliating disaster. He breezed through his sermon so fast that it only lasted 2 minutes. He went on to the next and the same thing. After he had preached through the notes on all four sermons, only 8 minutes had gone by. He sat down thinking to himself, “I’m never doing that again!”
Well, I read this story sitting by the pool in Florida and wondered where this church was where Billy preached his first sermon. On Friday Keri and I went on a pilgrimage to find it. The church is still there, looks much the same on the outside, and they even put up a historical marker outside last year!
As someone who has also had his share of humiliating preaching experiences but continue to press on in obedience to God’s call, this was a wonderfully inspiring week with Billy Graham.