Archive for September, 2006

Ukraine and “Kreativity” – a Church Planting Movement

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

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David (far left above) grew up in Britain and first came to Ukraine when he was 19. He fell in love with the country and eventually fell in love with Katya who was from Ukraine. Today, they have one child (Timothy), live in Cherkassy, a city of about 350,000 on the Dnieper and serve with CRM catalyzing a movement that I believe will eventually affect the entire nation. This movement has two important foci:

1. They are riding a wave of what could be a significant church planting movement. The latent leadership potential that exists in the team of young Ukrainians gathered around them is impressive. (In the picture above, we are brainstorming late at night with this group in David and Kaya’s kitchen).

They exhibit missional vision, apostolic giftedness, and a growing sense of destiny that God wants to use them to reach thousands of their generation with the good news of Jesus through multiplying churches. David and Katya are committed to developing and mentoring these leaders in this pursuit.

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2. David is a natural entrepreneur. Because he has seen the misuse and abuse of outside money, he has worked hard to generate funding and resources for this budding movement from within Ukraine not only through generous giving, but through the creation of for-profit businesses. He has begun three which we saw firsthand:

- Cafe Kreative: providing a clean, bright environment with great food, drinks and ambience (pictured above);

- E-Kreative: a growing internet design business that is attracting clients from around the world;

- Spohad: a contemporary portrait studio.

Funds generated from these businesses have also been used to send Ukrainians on mission trips to Siberia, Belarus, Tansania, Tajikistan, and South Africa. This is what CRM Enterprise is all about.

More info can be found at www.kreativity.org

Some Miscellaneous Thoughts on Leading

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Leadership

Occasionally when I have the opportunity for reflection and time to journal, my thoughts go to leadership and what I have learned. There is nothing necessarily profound about these musings other than the fact that I have found them to be real in my experience and I have the scars to prove it. Perhaps they may prove beneficial for others:

• Any effective leader should expect relational conflict and realize that sometimes such conflicts are not resolvable. The onus on a leader in such circumstances is to do whatever is within his/her ability to make things right and then leave the results to God.

• Good leaders …those exercising spiritual leadership …hear from God and are open and sensitive to confirmation of that word through others

• Many mistakes can be avoided by the wisdom of a multitude of counselors. Proverbs is right!

• Followers can shrewdly exploit a leader’s weaknesses and blackmail him/her to the point of impotence and indecisiveness.

• One of the true test of leading is the ability to persevere and press ahead regardless of the opposition.

• Doing what is right for another person’s welfare may be more important than the relationship itself.

• God must be the one who ultimately vindicates a leader’s decisions and reputation.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 2

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Chess
How does one choose whom to invest in when it comes to leadership development and training? In my experience, an array of factors influence such selection including:

Faithfulness – I’m not interested in people who are flakes.
Availability – I cannot pursue someone who doesn’t want to be pursued. I’m looking for eager people.
Teachability – It is not my desire to cram a blessing down anyone’s throat.
Giftedness – I cannot make someone into something where God has not provided the raw material.
Chemistry – If I’m going deep with a person, I need to like them and want to spend time with them.
Character – A core commitment to personal integrity is an essential.
Passion – I’m looking for people who burn with zeal for the things of God.

In the final analysis, the choice is not mine. Before he chose the 12, we find Jesus spending a whole night in prayer with the Father. This illustrates not only the critical nature of such decisions, but the ultimate sovereignty of God in dictating the choices.

The Doctrine of Selectivity – Part 1

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Calling Of Matthew
Some of my greatest mistakes in ministry have been when I have failed, for one reason or another, to embrace this principle of leadership selection.

“This principle of selectivity and concentration is engraved in the universe, and will bring results no matter who practices it, whether the church believes it or not. Some might object to this principle when practiced …on the ground that favoritism is shown toward a select group in the church. But be that as it may, it is still the way that Jesus concentrated His life, and it is necessary if any permanent leadership is to be trained.”

– Robert Coleman in The Master Plan of Evangelism, Chapter 1

In cultures such as mine where egalitarianism strongly influences our understanding of fairness, notions of selectivity run against the grain. If “all men (and women) are created equal,” how can we choose, as Jesus so clearly did, without it appearing discriminatory and prejudicial?

The facts are that sanctified selectivity:

1. Enables one to physically manage relationships and not be spread too thin,
2. Makes it possible to go deep with a few so that the life-change is profound,
3. Is an acknowledgment that not everyone has the gifts and calling to be the object of such intense leadership development,
4. Recognizes that God is at work at different paces and stages with each individual,
5. Is always a means to a much greater end,
6. Is an essential for the sustainability of any movement.

– (Painting is “The Calling of Matthew” by Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629) of the Dutch Utrecht school).

The Master Plan

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Crowd

“Jesus concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with people whom the multitudes would follow. People … who would lead … were to be his method of winning the world to God. The world is desperately seeking someone to follow. This is the decisive question of our age. The relevance of all that we do waits on its verdict, and in turn, the destiny of multitudes hangs in the balance.”

Probably next to the Bible, the most influential book in my life has been Robert Coleman’s classic little volume, “The Master Plan of Evangelism.” I know that’s a strong statement, but it is not an exaggeration. This is one of those basal books that I return to time and time again. It lays out in simple, yet compelling language a philosophy of ministry that I believe is worth my all.

When this mortal existence is over and done, I would long for nothing more than a legacy that has emulated the life of Jesus in how he imparted vision and life to a handful of those who were his closets followers. I am convinced beyond all doubt that such an investment in the lives of carefully selected leaders, who can in turn multiply to succeeding generations, will affect the course of history and the fate off nations.


“Master Plan of Evangelism, The,” (Robert Emerson Coleman)

Traditional and Emerging Need One Another

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Compromise-Donkey

“...both the emergent and traditional churches need each other and have much to learn from one another; that in our willingness to struggle together, we will be given an imagination from the Spirit that is bigger than all our assumptions, positions, and strategies; and that if that spirit of working together is compromised, all of us will lose.”

So says Alan Roxburgh in his new book, “The Sky is Falling—a Proposal for Leadership Communities to Take New Risks for the Reign of God.”

It is a important read. He prescribes a much needed synergistic ground between the church that is and the church that is to come during this chaotic era of “discontinuous change” in which we live.


“The Sky Is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition” (Alan J. Roxburgh)

Seven Habits of Ineffective Leaders

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

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In my experience, ineffective spiritual leaders:

1. Have issues with authority. They have never learned to be a follower.
2. Experience little closure. They don’t or can’t complete processes. There is a lack of faithfulness in the small things.
3. Gravitate to extremes. For example: there is a demon behind every bush and life is super-spiritualized or they only understand the human dynamic of ministry and there is little room for the supernatural.
4. Have never thought through a clearly articulated philosophy of ministry.
5. Cannot tell the difference between their ambitions and God’s desires, most often because they have never learned to hear from God. Their “theology of guidance” is warped.
6. Do not listen well and don’t ask questions. They are unteachable. Usually, this stems from an arrogant, know-it all, self-absorbed perspective.
7. Are uniquely susceptible to acts of the flesh because they have not dealt with their emotional “stuff” and are unaccountable.

Goodwin’s Expectation Principle

Friday, September 8th, 2006

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Another principle that Clinton emphasizes in strategic leadership transition is Goodwin’s Expectation Principle which comes from a small booklet on leadership written by Bernie Goodwin, published by InterVarsity Press.

“Emerging leaders tend to rise up to the level of genuine expectations of older leaders whom they respect.”

This powerful social dynamic assumes some important pre-requsites:

1. Emerging leaders and older leaders are in relationships of meaning.
2. Older types understand such a principle and see the value in it. They are willing to invest in such relationships.
3. The old heads have also earned the respect of the newcomers. The grey hairs are models worth emulating.
4. The emerging leaders are teachable and desirous of learning from those who have gone before.
5. The older leaders know how to mentor, coach and communicate expectations with a genuineness, humility and transparency that inspires.

I honestly believe that there have been few motivators more powerful in my life than having someone believe in me. I can name the handful whom God has used in such a profound way. They trusted me. They spoke “faith” into my life. They emphasized my strengths and not my weaknesses. They were conduits of God’s grace, kindness and acceptance. They saw for me beyond what I could see for myslef. They enhanced my relationship with Jesus and urged me on in the pursuit of God. They loved me. I would not be who I am today without them.

May I be as faithful in the lives of selected emerging leaders as those who have gone before have been in mine.

Co-Ministry and Emerging Leaders

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

We'll Work Together
It seems so simple. But Clinton’s principle of co-ministry for the development of emerging leadership is profound:

“Co-ministry with higher-level leaders is a must. Such a ministry raises the status of an emerging leader toward the status of the respected leader he/she co-ministers with, gives exposure to the organization’s people, and provides experiential learning.”

There is no substitute for taking someone along. One of the best means I have of sharing and imparting life with younger leaders is to get them out of their comfort zone, travel with me and be immersed in ministry settings around the world. It’s amazing what can be accomplished through many hours together at 35,000 feet in the air, punctuated by on-the-ground experiences with people in the trenches of real life and ministry in cross-cultural venues.

The principle is another way of stating the obvious when we closely examine the life of Jesus. He trained the 12 in the midst of ministry to the multitude. His process was not some isolated, ivory tower experience. Rather, it was an intensely relational form of mentoring which took place in real life with all of its physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Mentoring and Leadership Transitions

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Bear-Hug
One of Bobby Clinton’s more significant contributions to my own thinking and practice as I move into a new season of ministry responsibility has been regarding “strategic leadership transitions.” Of his ten principles, his comments about mentoring as a primary means are particularly applicable:

“Mentoring (both from within the organization and without) must be intentional and in terms of developmental needs. A whole range of mentoring is needed. There should be short term mentoring as well as long term mentoring. Mentor sponsoring, of course, is the major thrust of the whole strategic leadership transition function. But coaching (of the next needed leadership level skills is a must). Spiritual direction is paramount. Contemporary modeling is a major way younger leaders learn about leadership. Taking younger leaders with you and allowing them to sit in on major problem solving activities and seeing how decisions are made will speed their development as leaders, immensely. Sponsoring is crucial and should be deliberate. This includes linking to important needed resources-including people and finances. Send them to seminars and workshops and conferences and pay for it. Send them to school if that can help, and pay for it.”

Emerging Church and Mission

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Straight-Jacket

What I wrote in yesterday’s post (9- 2-06) is mostly aimed at the church in its traditional, modern setting.

But what about the “emerging” church? How can those within these creative, emerging expressions of the church who have a passion for the world beyond their own communities be effectively stifled? What could be done to straight jacket what God wants to do with them?

1. Believe that the necessity for such workers and such ministry is passe’, doesn’t exit, or is “too modern for us.”
2. Be so enamored with social justice and a holistic gospel that we fail to embrace the clear commands of scripture regarding the evangelistic mandate or reject such categorization out of hand.
3. Have a lack of appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of spiritual gifts and be unable or unwilling to help identify those emerging leaders who may be gifted and called to ministry across social, linguistic or cultural barriers.
4. Convince them that just because they are enjoying life as a missional community in one cultural milieu, they can then duplicate the same forms of community in another.
5. Help them buy into the theological and historically naive concept that structurally the church in its local expression is the same as the church in its cross-cultural missionary form.
6. Encourage them to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the past 500 years of missionary activity and missiological understanding. Write it all off as modern, institutional or non-organic.
7. While astutely helping them apply missiological eyes to their own mono-cultural settings much better than their modern brethren, simultaneously fail in helping them to apply the same understanding to the international and cross-cultural dimensions of the missio dei.
8. Embrace a theological posture that says only “presence” is necessary for kingdom influence.
9. Consider hell a repulsive, outmoded concept for the postmodern mind and work to erase any motivation that could stem from the biblical reality that people without Jesus risk eternity separated from God.
10. Be like many of those committed to the radical discipleship movement or the Anabaptist tradition who have been so concerned for the purity of the church and living counter-culturally that they are rarely able to engage contemporary culture and instead, remain irrelevantly on the fringes.
11. Encourage them to read, think, write and blog about being missional but don’t empower them to do much in practice.
12. Write off mentors from the over 50 crowd as out of touch and irrelevant.
13. Inculcate such an anti-institutional bias and suspicion of authority that they become useless in a neo-monastic or sodalic ministry context which will require discipline, followership and sacrifice.

15 Ways to Handicap a Potential Missionary in Your Local Church

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

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1. Force them to go through a “missions preparation” program which effectively weeds out the entrepreneurs.
2. Don’t consult with anyone who has ever lived with cross-cultural realities when you design your requirements for those who will be sent.
3. Choose people to oversee your mission efforts who have no experience or understanding of cross-cultural realities.
4. Make missions a “program” instead of seeking to make your church missional.
5. Decide to support missionaries 100% of their budget. It creates marvelous dependency.
6. Have standards that Mother Teresa or the Apostle Paul incarnate couldn’t meet.
7. Require seminary.
8. Make sure they have taught 5th grade Sunday School class as a pre-requisite which demonstrates loyalty to the church.
9. Imbue an ecclesiology that believes the sending church is supreme and missionary entities are appendages.
10. Ignore the concept of leverage and only support “front line” workers.
11. Adopt a trendy and unsophisticated view of missions that only supports those going to unreached people groups.
12. Placate the control freaks and don’t let potential missionaries raise money from anyone in the church.
13. Limit whom they can minister with to your own denominational or creedal group. Perish the thought that they would be contaminated by touching those who may be their neighbors in heaven.
14. Encourage “storehouse giving” so that all their money must come through the church.
15. Convince your congregation that short-term, tantalizing overseas experiences are most effective so that there is little money, prayer or commitment left for the few willing to commit their lives to longer term, incarnational, sacrificial service

Get Off the Dead Horse

Friday, September 1st, 2006

Beatdeadhorse

“If the horse you’re riding dies, get off. “

Seems simple enough. When something doesn’t work, find a better way. Unfortunately in the religious world, being ruthlessly pragmatic is not a often embraced value. Instead, we often choose from an array of other alternatives which include:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Trying a new bit or bridle.
3. Switching riders.
4. Moving the horse to a new location.
5. Riding the horse for longer periods of time.
6. Saying things like, “this is the way we’ve always ridden this horse”.
7. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
8. Arranging to visit other sites where they ride dead horses more efficiently.
9. Increasing the standards for riding dead horses.
10. Creating a tests for measuring riding ability.
11. Comparing how we’re riding now with how we did ten or twenty years ago.
12. Complaining about the state of horses these days.
13. Coming up with new styles of riding.
14. Tightening the cinch.
15. Blaming the horse’s parents. The problem is often in the breeding.