The Church Gathered and the Church Scattered

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled[1] [to settle accounts – as in a bank statement] us to Himself through Christ [who paid our debt – the cross is where God’s justice and God’s mercy kiss] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word [logos, or doctrine] of reconciliation.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors [diplomats, emissaries, representatives] for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us [sometimes the best way to “preach” to someone is to listen to them]; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [THAT is the gospel – Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. We don’t live in our own strength – we live IN Him – or His strength].

Did you know that there are currently 38,000 Pro-test-ant[2] denominations?  Catholics have multiple orders (Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, etc.), but have managed to stay under the umbrella of Rome.

I. INTRO

I’d like to speak with you today about the Church GATHERED and the Church SCATTERED.  First, the nerdy Stuff…

  • Ecclesia (Latin) Greek – κκλησί, meaning “congregation” or “church.” The literal translation is “called out ones.”
  • Ecclesiology – Refers to the theological study of the Christian Church.

1. Who is the Church? (Not What…?) It is the body of all believing, or confessing, Christians.  SBF is a unique expression of the larger Body of Christ.

2. What is the authority of the Church?

  • Jesus is the head of the body, the Church (Col 1:18)
  • Jesus is the Senior Pastor. 1 Peter 5:4 identifies Jesus as the “Chief Shepherd.” [A church in transition shouldn’t get a pastor until they don’t really need one.]
  • The Bible is our highest and final authority. Sola Scriptura, not solo Scriptura.

3. What is the relationship between a believer and the Church? As believers we are to submit ourselves to Jesus – the Head and Chief Shepherd of the Church.  There are three overlapping commitments that make up a healthy and vibrant church experience:

  • Celebration (Worship)
  • Congregation (Identity needs met) Acts 2:42-47

42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

  • Cell (Intimacy and accountability needs met)

James 5:16: Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”

4. How should the Church be governed?

8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH,
HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES,
AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”  9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers [also add elders and deacons], 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

5. What does the Church do?  The church exists in two modes:

  • We gather for worship.
  • We scatter for mission.

II. BODY

We will now take a deeper look at what it means to gather for worship and scatter for mission

  • Gather for worship
  • Requires purposeful participation — moving from passive observation to active participation.

(Our identity) Eph 1: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself…”

Even before He made the world God chose you and adopted you, it gave Him great pleasure, God loved, chose, and adopted you.  You are His unique and special possession.

This is what we need to see: Coming is not an event; it is the fulfillment of God’s prehistoric (pre-history) desire.  God created Adam and Eve – it was good.  God wanted to be with people… (Some of you don’t even want to be with people J)

OT – they built a Tabernacle because God wanted to meet with His people.

It’s not our desire – it’s God’s desire – made possible by the blood of Jesus.  Church is not primarily about us – it’s primarily about God.

**We gather to, for, and around Jesus.

Our being here is all about Him – and sometimes competes with our expectations, needs, and desires.

Jesus is the head, the goal, chief shepherd – He’s the Sr. Pastor. He owns and loves the Church. He’s the object our worship, our preaching, and our mission.

The church is all about Him.  It’s not about music or the preaching – although, hopefully they are both focused on worshiping Jesus.

The music and the sermon are BOTH acts of worship (difference between a lecture and a sermon… “if people are taking notes at the end of a sermon it might not BE a sermon…”

If your Christianity is just about going to church then you don’t have Christianity, you have “Churchianity.”

Exalting only Jesus – giving all of our attention to Jesus

Sometimes it’s a sacrifice of praise (Hebs)

Our destination is always Jesus – give ourselves and assume a posture of personal humility, worship, and prayer.

Christ is present and available.

Ps 116:  1 I love the LORD because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
2 Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
3 Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“Please, LORD, save me!”
5 How kind the LORD is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
7 Let my soul be at rest again,
for the LORD has been good to me.
8 He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 And so I walk in the LORD’s presence
as I live here on earth!
10 I believed in you, so I said,
“I am deeply troubled, LORD.”
11 In my anxiety I cried out to you,
“These people are all liars!”
12 What can I offer the LORD
for all he has done for me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and praise the LORD’s name for saving me.
14 I will keep my promises to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.

15 The LORD cares deeply
when his loved ones die.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people—
19 in the house of the LORD
in the heart of Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD!

Scatter for mission

The term “missional church” may be a new term for you.  Here is the main idea:  We serve a missionary God, who crossed the ultimate cultural contexts to become one of us.  Jn 1:14 (MSG) The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.

The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Holy Spirit – and the Holy Spirit sends us.

Attractional model vs. a missional model.  In the end we want both.

What we are seeking to accomplish here at SBF can be defined as a “missional reorientation.”

At a very deep level we are redefining success:  It’s not about the 3 B’s (building, budget, and butts); it’s about how many people are we training and sending to be missionaries in their unique spheres of relationships.

Mat 28:18-20: 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Three things:

  1. All authority has been given to Jesus – and He is with us/you always. Our responsibility is basically twofold: a) stack kindling and b) splash (preach).  (D.L. Moody – At any moment we ought to be willing to preach, pray, or die.)
  2. “Go therefore” (Go ye) is the mission of the church.  Are we a “come ye” church, or a “go ye” church?
  3. Make disciples.  I’d like you to view every single person in your various spheres of relationship as a disciple…

[1] To “change or exchange” – it is God moving from hostility to friendship. Reconciliation is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful humankind because of the sacrificial death of Christ in propitiatory [or appeasing] sacrifice under the judgment due to sin.

[2] The quotation “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III, scene II. The phrase has come to mean that one can “insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what one is saying.”

Developing Leaders Through Building Healthy, Proactive Teams

For a leadership training I’m facilitating tomorrow…

“Apollos and I are working as a team, with the same aim, though each of us will be rewarded for his own hard work.” 1 Corinthians 3:8 (TLB, emphasis added)

Leadership and team development are two sides of the same coin. It is nearly impossible to have one without the other. Additionally, there is a difference between a minister and a leader. Effective ministers build people; effective leaders build groups, or teams, of people. The following exercise will focus on developing our leadership capacity through building healthy and proactive teams.

Simply stated, leadership means influence. Within the church context our aim is to influence people for the (subversive) cause of Christ – to build and grow the kingdom of God. That is always the goal. The fruit, or effect, is that new ministries will be started in the local church context and existing ministries will undergo a constant transformational process through regular renewal and teambuilding. Effective leaders know how to maximize influence opportunities by intentionally equipping and empowering others. Ephesians 4:11-13 clearly calls leaders to equip people so the body of Christ can grow to maturity. (Biblical equipping includes both repairing and preparing people.)

In Developing the Leader Within You, John Maxwell states: “The one who influences others to follow only is a leader with certain limitations. The one who influences others to lead others is a leader without limitations.” Equipping, or empowering, people change ministers into leaders.

While most leaders see the importance of equipping others, many leaders struggle with how to put biblical principles into practice. Following are 10 thoughts on equipping people and developing a healthy and proactive team.

1. Define and communicate responsibilities that challenge. Communicate the big picture and how people fit into it. It is much easier to put a jigsaw puzzle together if we can see the completed picture on the puzzle box. It is important for people to have a clear picture of the goals and objectives and how they fit into the plan.

Next communicate specific responsibilities to the team members. What do you expect from them? Provide a clear ministry description and allow their input. A good ministry description states specific responsibilities, how much authority the team members have, who they are accountable to, what benefits they have, and the length of time they are to serve. I generally employ three overlapping criteria in generating ministry descriptions:

  • Spiritual gifting
  • Holy passions
  • What needs to get done

Help people take ownership of the goals, tasks, and responsibilities. Encourage their input and provide the opportunity for them to set their own goals as part of the total plan. Help people to develop life skills, not just “church” skills.

People who are challenged to become great — and are given the opportunity to do so — usually succeed.

In The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Edward Lawler III and Patricia Renwick list several factors that contribute to people’s excitement and motivation:

  • The chance to do something that makes you feel good about yourself.
  • The chance to accomplish something worthwhile.
  • The chance to learn new things.
  • The opportunity to develop new skills.
  • The amount of freedom you have to accomplish your responsibility.
  • The chance to do the things that you do best.

In the same book psychologist David Berlow speculates that people find meaning and enthusiasm when opportunities provide the following:

  • A chance to be tested, to make it on one’s own.
  • A chance to take part in a social experiment.
  • A chance to do something well.
  • A chance to do something good.
  • A chance to change the way things are.

2. Give authority commensurate to the responsibility. One of the most frequent complaints of team members is that they are given responsibility without corresponding authority. Leaders need to be willing to trust those they ask to do a job by giving them the authority necessary to do the job. How much authority should be given? Enough to get the job done. This authority should be communicated to those with whom the leaders work.

Once we have given the job and the authority, we must not short-circuit the process. Do not permit those relating to a different team member to come directly to you. This will only frustrate team members and set them up to fail.

Increase authority when performance earns it and responsibility requires it. As people increase in skills and effectiveness, increase their authority. This will raise morale and increase the effectiveness of the overall team.

3. Establish standards for excellence. It is most helpful when every team has a set of realistic operating standards. Some specific standards that will increase team effectiveness might include these:

  • We see ourselves, first and foremost, as servant-leaders.
  • We see ourselves as “inviters and includers” at all-church events – creatively serving and recruiting people into ministry opportunities.
  • We honor our commitments.
  • We believe in being people of developmental character and integrity.
  • We are faithful to our responsibilities.
  • We are wise stewards of our time, talents, and resources.
  • We agree that conflict and disagreement are inevitable, but that we can disagree agreeably.
  • We work together as a team (basic stages: forming -> storming -> norming -> performing).
  • We are committed to life-long learning (disciple means learner).
  • We are committed to results, not just performance.
  • We aim to respect the property of other ministries at the church facility and go the extra mile to communicate &/or seek permission – and return the property after use.

As leaders, we set the example (for better or for worse). The standards will become team standards only when others see us maintaining them.

4. Make training and mentoring a priority. Train first-and-foremost in basic life skills as defined in Scripture. We want to equip and train people in spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional, ecological, and physical health practices. Training is the key to an effective team. No team is effective without proactive training and practice (i.e., mentoring/discipleship). An effective leader never does the job alone. Churches that are in decline have leaders who see their jobs as doing the ministry for the people. However, in growing churches, leaders equip and mobilize people for the work of ministry.

Use a variety of methods to make training an ongoing process. Training can be accomplished through several distinct methodologies: intentional mentoring, on-the-job training, in the classroom, online, in team meetings – to name a few. The essence of an effective training process is the same process Jesus employed to train the disciples (sometimes referred to as the “discipleship loop”):

  • I do it.
  • I do it, and you watch.
  • You do it, and I watch.
  • You do it, and I give feedback (commonly referred to as a “debrief”).
  • You do it, and begin training someone else.

5. Provide the skill training and the proactive communication people need to succeed. People need pertinent and timely information about organizational goals, plans, and changes. Workers are motivated when they know what is happening in the organization. It makes them feel respected and valuable, helps them desire to do a better job, and empowers them to do a better job. Without skill training and proactive communication people cannot take responsibility, will not be as creative, and will not be as productive.

6. Provide thoughtful and appropriate feedback (positive + negative). Regularly reinforce positive performance. Compliments, cards, notes, emails, rewards, and additional opportunities and advancement are some ways to reinforce excellent performance. Feedback should be tailored to the person, performance, and situation. Morale and effectiveness increase when people receive regular feedback.

When it is necessary to confront or clarify feedback, keep in mind these guidelines:

  • Confront privately, not publicly.
  • Deal with a “situation” as soon as possible.
  • Address only one issue at a time, and be specific.
  • Ask clarifying questions (help me to understand…).
  • Allow for the person to take responsibility.
  • Discuss only what the person can do something about.
  • Direct your critique to the action, not the person.
  • Avoid sarcasm and anger.
  • Sandwich criticism between compliments.

7. Recognize and reward efforts and achievements. We get what we reward. Make heroes of the people you work with. Public recognition and rewards are essential. Shine the spotlight on accomplishments. Coffee shop gift certificates, awards, speeches, plaques, and recognition in newsletters are just a few ways to show gratitude for accomplishments. It’s been said that everyone has an invisible sign hung around our necks that says, PMMFI (pum-fee) – an acrostic for: Please Make Me Feel Important. Recognition does that and builds a better team. Guidelines for recognizing and rewarding efforts and achievements include:

  • Tailor recognition to the person and the achievement.
  • Make recognition timely.
  • Recognize people, as well as their accomplishments.
  • Recognize them as members of a team, as well as individuals.
  • Make sure the recognition conveys sincere appreciation.

8. Trust your team. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Trust [people], and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great.” Building trusting relationships is essential. A leader can demonstrate trust in many ways:

  • Be sensitive to needs, interests, and concerns.
  • Listen to ideas, dreams, and plans.
  • Delegate, or trust, with significant assignments or responsibilities.
  • Share your dreams, visions, and plans.
  • Allow the team to be a part of the goal-setting and problem-solving process.
  • Be honest and open about your own mistakes and vulnerabilities.

Distinguish between trust in character and trust in ability. Some have strong, mature character but little ability. Others have less mature character by great ability. Trusting people at the highest degree possible helps them develop a higher level of both character and ability.

9. Give permission to fail. View failure as a growing experience – it is the fodder of innovation. True failure is when we don’t learn from the experience. Establish some guidelines for failure: It is OK to make a mistake. It is OK to fail if we are doing our best. When we fail, we can talk about what went wrong, what we can learn, and how to do better. Knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what TO do. J

When team members know they are expected to succeed but that it is OK to fail, they are more creative and willing to risk. This creates a positive environment for a team. When people experiment and take calculated risks in their responsibilities, morale increases and results are greater.

10. Treat others with respect. Treating team members with respect increases motivation. People work best when they feel valued and respected. Demonstrate your commitment and loyalty the same way you expect others to be committed and loyal to you as the leader.

In Diane Tracy’s 10 Steps to Empowerment: A Common-Sense Guide to Managing People, J.C. Staehle lists — in order of importance — primary causes of discontent among workers that leaders can avoid:

  • Failure to give credit for suggestions.
  • Failure to correct grievances.
  • Failure to encourage.
  • Criticism of employees in front of other people.
  • Failure to ask employees their opinions.
  • Failure to inform employees of their progress.
  • Favoritism.

A leader can show respect for team members by asking for their suggestions, keeping them informed, treating them fairly, encouraging them, and acknowledging their accomplishments.

Begin today to put these 10 thoughts into practice, and your team will become a team that is healthy, holy, and powerful to accomplish MPVCC’s full redemptive potential.

Reflection Questions (to be the basis for dialogue at this Saturday’s LT meeting):

  1. What would you strongly affirm or emphasize in this training document?
  2. Is the idea of a difference between a minister and a leader new to you? How do you feel about it?
  3. Of the 10 thoughts, in which are you currently most proficient?
  4. Of the 10 thoughts, in which are you currently not proficient?
  5. What would you add to this training document (what’s missing)?