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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 50

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 50

Chapter 31 – Of Synods and Councils
I. For the better government and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.
II. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers and other fit persons to consult and advise with about matters of religion; so, if magistrates be open enemies of the Church, the ministers of Christ, of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons, upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such assemblies.
III. It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his Word.
IV. All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.
V. Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.



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Four Categories Of Speech That Church Leaders Should Keep In Mind At All Times (via Ray Ortlund)

To nurture a gospel culture in a local church Ray Ortlund writes about four categories of speech church leaders should keep in mind at all times:

1. Wisdom
Saying only Christ-honoring, life-giving things. Always asking oneself, “Do the words I feel like saying rise to the level of wisdom? If not, they have no place in my mouth. Good intentions are not enough; leaders must show good judgment. I will hold myself to a strict standard, because Christ’s honor and people’s safety are at stake.”
All the words of my mouth are righteous. Proverbs 8:8

2. Indiscretion
Well-intentioned, good-hearted, “loving” but unguarded words. A sincere desire to be helpful and consoling, but violating a personal boundary of information ownership. Indiscretion erodes people’s willingness to “walk in the light” with honesty about their problems (1 John 1:7). As a result, indiscretion is a spiritually dampening power.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking; but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19

3. Gossip
This might include factually true information. But still, it should not be shared, for legitimate reasons–for example, it might embarrass someone. Since gossip might not involve actual falsehood, gossips often don’t realize how harmful they really are.
… gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 1 Timothy 5:13

4. Slander
Deliberate falsehood, intended to harm and undermine and diminish someone’s reputation, bearing false witness, cutting someone down to size, abusive transference.
Whoever utters slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18

If a church’s leaders will hold themselves to the high standard of #1, their influence will be conducive to a gospel culture. Not that we leaders will always live up to this standard. But defining it clearly and winsomely will help make a church into a safety zone where sinners can get real with Jesus and one another and start growing.

source


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Ten Signs You’ve Stopped Growing As A Leader (via Chuck Lawless)

Chuck Lawless offers ten signs leaders have stopped growing.
The head points of his list:

  1. You can talk about nothing new about God and His grace.
  2. You’ve read no new books in the last six months.
  3. You are preaching and teaching “re-runs.”
  4. You haven’t recently tackled any “God-sized” challenges.
  5. You haven’t shared the gospel with anyone in months.
  6. All of your stories of God’s work in your life are past tense stories.
  7. You tend to avoid people who differ from you.
  8. You’ve lost your energy and passion for the work.
  9. You no longer seek mentors. Mentors challenge us, stretch us, push us, mold us. And lastly, but most simply…
  10. You just know you’re not growing.

Read his explanations here.


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Overcommitted Churches (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer writes about how churches can find themselves with so many programs and activities that they become ineffective at discipling Christians and sharing the Gospel.

From Rainer’s post:

So how did our churches get in this predicament? The causes are many, but here are seven of them:

  1. Our churches equate activity with value. Thus busy churches are deemed to be churches of value. And busy, exhausted, and frustrated church members are deemed to be Christians of value.
  2. Programs and ministries became ends instead of means. I recently asked a pastor why he continued a ministry that had dwindled from 220 participants to 23 participants. “Because,” he said, “this program is a part of the history and heritage that defines our church.” Warning: If a program defines your church, your church is in trouble.
  3. Failure of churches to have a clear purpose. Even the best of churches can only do so many things well. Once a church has no clear and defining purpose, it has no reason to start or discontinue a program or ministry. That issue then leads to the next two reasons.
  4. Church leaders have failed to say “no.” Some church leaders can’t say “no” to new programs and ministries because they have no clear or defining purpose on what they should do. Others leaders simply lack courage to say “no.”
  5. Fear of eliminating. Once a program, ministry, or activity has begun, it can be exceedingly difficult to let it die. Sometimes leaders lack courage to kill programs. Sometimes they are blinded to the need to kill programs. Sometimes they hesitate to kill a program because they don’t know a better alternative. We need more churches in the program killing business.
  6. Church is often defined as an address. As long as we think “church” means a physical location, we will try to load up that address with all kinds of busyness. Many churches are ineffective at reaching their communities because their members are so busy at the building they call the church. That’s both bad ecclesiology and bad missiology.
  7. Churches often try to compete with culture rather than reach culture. A church in the deep South had a dynamic basketball ministry where they fielded community basketball teams comprised of church members and non-believers. But once the church built its own gym and recreation center, the church members started spending all their time playing at their new facility. In an attempt to have a gym as good as those in the community, the church ironically became less effective reaching those in the community.

Read the whole post at Rainer’s blog, which also promises a follow-up which deals with churches that have de-programmed and become more effective.


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Growth Requires Connection (via Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak)

Dan Rockwell observes that: “Building an environment of growth is one of leadership’s greatest challenges and opportunities.”
From his post:

Community:
Growth requires community. We stagnate and die in isolation. Everyone needs seclusion to refresh and reflect. But growth requires connection.

  1. Who knowingly participates in your growth?
  2. Whose growth are you actively encouraging?
  3. Who knows your growth goals? Whose goals do you know?
  4. How might you establish and nurture growth-connections between team members?

Confrontation:
Growth is a myth in environments that tolerate deceit, backstabbing, malevolence, and hypocrisy. Leaders who tolerate offenses against community – in the name of delivering results – destroy growth and limit results.

  1. Never tolerate a high performer who destroys community.
  2. Eliminate hypocrisy by practicing transparency regarding strengths, weaknesses, and development. Teams can’t pull for each other if they don’t know each other’s growth-goals.
  3. Remove people who work to undermine others.

Source


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Seven Leadership Pitfalls (via Ron Edmondson)

Ron Edmondson looks to his own experience and provides seven warnings for aspiring leaders.
These are all ongoing to leadership life. There’s never a time when they don’t apply.

From Edmondson’s post.

What you “settle for” eventually becomes the culture. And, then it is much more difficult to change. In fact, you’re probably settling because you’re fighting against culture now. Leadership involves challenging people beyond their current comfort level.
Mediocrity isn’t created. It’s accepted. Oh, how I’ve learned this one the hard way. People will be average if you allow them to be. It’s easier. In most jobs, they get paid the same. That’s not even to say it’s what they prefer. Most people prefer excellence, but it often takes leadership – or coaching – to pull out the best in people.
Your actions determine other people’s reactions. During stressful times the leader’s response dictates the level of stress on the team. When it’s time to celebrate, the team will seldom celebrate more than the leader. The leader sets the bar of expectations in how the team reacts to life as a team.
Don’t assume they agree because they haven’t said anything. I actually wrote about a whole chapter about this one in my book The Mythical Leader. But, silence doesn’t equate to agreement.
You’ll never get there just “thinking about it”. And, we do more of that as a team sometimes – it seems – than we do getting work done. Every good idea isn’t even something the team should do. But, if it is, there needs to be a plan. Who’s in charge? When are we doing it? And, how will we know when we are successful?
If you’re the leader, they are likely waiting on you to lead or release the right to lead. People seldom take initiative unless you lead – or unless you create the culture which gives them permission, freedom and encouragement to do so.
What the team values becomes apparent by your actions, more than your words. And, it doesn’t matter how well spoken you might be. People follow what the leader does.

Read the whole post here.


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Build Capital – Spend Capital (via Jamie Brown)

Jamie Brown writes from the perspective of leading musical praise in a local church, but the principle is true for all leaders, including pastors.
There is always a danger of building trust, but never calling on that trust to be expressed; just as expecting trust continually without ever earning it does not build relationships.
Pastors should also be conscious that a reserve of trust should not take the place of faith in God’s power and presence.
Which is to say I think the balance is best kept where the relationship operates from a basis of both parties acting out of trust in God. Don’t try to build up so much capital that trust in God doesn’t seem essential.
From Brown:

Worship leaders must learn the capital equation. Which is: Build capital. Spend capital. Build back capital. Repeat as needed.
When all you do is spend, spend, spend capital, you’re operating out of a deficit. People don’t trust you, they’re worn out, and you’re not going to find them all that adventurous. Too many new songs. Too loud. Too much liturgy. Too many hymns. Too many electric guitars. Whatever it is. You’re spending too much, too soon, too often, and maybe too recklessly. Be smarter.
Likewise, when all you do is build, build, build capital and never take any risks or push people anywhere, then you’re wasting opportunities. Safe choices, same songs, no creativity, no one is upset with you, bored musicians, ho-hum services, and no lost sleep over a risky idea.
Do both. Spend capital! But once you’ve spent it, then ease off the gas and build it back. Feel it out. You’ll almost certainly lean too much in one direction before you realize it and then make a correction.

Read the whole post at Worthily Magnify.