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What You Win People With Is What You Win Them To (via Jared Wilson)

Invoking the spirit of Monty Python’s Trojan Rabbit, Jared Wilson points out the problem with ‘bait and switch’ forms of evangelistic activity, whether the less mature forms associated with youth ministries or the more sophisticated forms utilised by attractional or seeker focussed churches.
The problem is:

“the gospel of Christ’s finished work became relegated to the end of a service, almost an addendum to the real focal points of the goings-on, and then it frequently became pushed to the end of an entire message series, eventually became saved just for special occasions, and ultimately has been replaced altogether by the shiny legalism of moralistic therapeutic deism.
Eventually the attractional church became all bait, no switch. The approach of today’s attractional church is like the Trojan Rabbit of Monty Python’s Arthurian nincompoops–smuggled inside the castle walls with nobody inside.
As a result so many inside the system, shepherded under this system and joined to it, can’t distinguish between attractive and attractional, practical and pragmatic. When we lose the centrality of the gospel, we lose the ability to think straight.

source

Another sign of this is the preaching in these contexts can be biblical, but largely therapeutic or educational (focused on the needs and actions of the hearer), rather than focussed on what Jesus has done for his people.


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We Are Equally Sinful. We Are Not All Equally Broken or Toxic. (via Brad Hambrick)

Brad Hambrick makes a necessary distinction that is vital if pastoral care and personal support is to be appropriate for people whose problems have different causative conditions:
From the article:

The concern I want to discuss is the tendency to assume that biblical principles like those found in I Corinthians 10:13 mean that all our struggles carry the same weight. The unintended consequence can be that abusive relationships receive the same counsel as garden-variety arguments and instances of low impulse control receive the same guidance as manic episodes.
We’re All the Same
Let me begin with the first sentence of the title: “We are all equally sinful.” Whatever distinctions we make later in this post in no way imply that anyone needs Jesus-on-steroids or a double dose of atonement. There are no varsity and no junior varsity sinners. We are all in the same league (i.e., sinful) and in need of the same Savior (i.e., Jesus) by the same means (i.e., repentance and faith). I fear that, because we want to make sure people understand this paragraph that Christians can neglect to make the kind of assessments discussed below.
There Are Differences
Now let’s move to the second sentence of the title: “We are not all equally broken or toxic.” As I am using these terms, “broken” would refer to things for which we do not bear moral responsibility but create unique challenges for us, and “toxic” would refer to persistent patterns of sin that not only harm others but we punish others if/when they bring them to our attention. From the opening paragraph, the person whose body involuntarily cycles between the extreme highs of energy-grandiosity and lows of depression would be experiencing the “brokenness” of bipolar (not just garden-variety moodiness), and the person who verbally and physically intimidates his-her family and punishes them if it is brought up is exhibiting the “toxicity” of being abusive (not just garden-variety rudeness).

Read the rest of the post here.


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Five Common Ways Leaders Undermine Themselves (via Eric Geiger)

Eric Geiger notes five ways leaders undermine themselves.

1. Changing directions continually
2. Not learning
3. Indecision
4. Overpromising
and, lastly,
5. Not living the values
The biggest way leaders undermine themselves is by not living the vision and values they champion. A leader’s lack of commitment to the values that hang on a wall empty those values of any real culture-shaping authority.

Read the explanations of the first four at the original post.

To these I’d add: Trying to spare people the pains and discomforts that always accompany growth and change.


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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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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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Immeasurable Joy Resides In Small Places (via Stephen Witmer)

Stephen Witmer writes about pastoring in smaller towns.

The upper limit of your joy in ministry will never be the size of the place in which you minister, but the size of your heart for God. God spreads a banquet of delight before you in your small place, always more than enough, and he invites you to feast. The sweet triumphs of ministry — a gospel conversation, a new step of obedience to Jesus, an experience of Christian community — are precious wherever they occur. The angels in heaven celebrate equally over the conversion of city and country souls.
Your town may be small, but there will always be some who have not yet heard or embraced the gospel, and God himself has sent you to speak to them. Your congregation may be tiny, but you will never exhaust the possibilities of knowing them deeply and loving them well. God will provide special joys in your small place. There will be the uniquely soul-enlarging beauties of the countryside and the pleasures of life in a community where you are known. He will also strengthen you in the challenges that are unique to working in small places. Remember, you’re not there by accident. He has placed you there for his glory and your joy.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Seven Rules for Keeping Pastoral Sanity (via Chris Hefner)

All seven of these are helpful.

Here’s a couple:

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ministry is serious business—the gospel, life and death ministry situations, leadership expectations, and all the rest. But the seriousness of our ministry should not lead to become coldly sober or overtly austere. Pastors should be accessible and authentic. Laughing at yourself and even sharing your faults with your congregation gives a healthy dose of reality and even levity to your ministry.
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Don’t think you’re indispensable. Your church existed before you and will exist after you. You are important, but not irreplaceable. Accept your leadership responsibility with humility and prayer. Remember, it’s not about you.

Read the rest at Lifeway | Pastors