The Heart of Leadership

Perhaps no Biblical leader faced the questioning of his leadership like Moses.
The Book of Numbers shares that every time Moses turned around, someone was murmuring, grumbling, and questioning his direction and judgement.  It is not easy to lead any group of people, and the family of faith is no different.

Leadership is crucial for a pastor or spiritual leader within the church.  A charismatic Refugee DR Team - Ugandapersonality, natural gifts, and a seminary education are certainly important, but they are not the key to leadership.  In challenging moments, the ability to lead hinges on trust.  Very few will follow someone that they do not trust.

As I talk to church leaders today, I am amazed at their vision, passion, and knowledge.  Most are far more gifted than me, and I am excited about the future of the church.  Yet there is one area that concerns me as I talk with the next generation of leaders.  I am concerned that many do not seem to understand the importance of developing trust as they work with people.  It is my experience, that you cannot lead and influence people for the long haul without trust.  I fear that this is one of the reasons that results in so many short pastorates and church conflicts.

Here are crucial insights that I have learned about developing trust that will strengthen your ability to lead effectively:

  1. Trust must be earned.  Trust cannot be demanded or assumed.  In fact, if you have to demand spiritual authority, then you probably have no authority or influence.
  2. Trust takes time.  A congregation may love you and have even chose you to lead them, but it takes time for them to trust you.  I have found that the ability to lead effectively develops with time and often begins to mature after 4-5 years.  It was after 10 years that I saw my ability to lead move to new heights as I served as pastor in South Central Kentucky.  Longevity increases trust.  Hanging in there with people increases their trust in you.
  3. Trust comes with consistency.  People are always watching us as leaders. If they see consistency in our message, approach, ethics, and our dealings with people, then it will develop trust.
  4. Trust will rise from integrity.  Do you follow through with commitments?  Do you honor your word?  Do you keep promises?  Broken commitments destroy trust.
  5. Trust will grow when we are willing to be transparent.  Trust grows when we let folks see who we are, and admit our shortcomings and mistakes.  People are more likely to follow a sincere leader than a phony pretender.
  6. Trust is more likely, if folks see that we lean on Jesus.  Congregations do not need us to be the savior.  They need pastors who will lead them to know and walk with our Savior Jesus Christ.   People gain confidence in us when they see  that we walk with the Lord, and are seeking His direction.

Without trust, it is difficult to lead.  Trust matters.

” Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
(1 Corinthians 4:1-2)

 

 

 

Meet Our New 2017 Kentucky Missionaries

Spring has officially arrived, which means it is time for our annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and many resources and support available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable.

Eight men and women that have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration on Saturday morning, April 1st, at Central Baptist Church in Corbin.

Those new missionaries are:

  • Damon & Yolonda Armstead, Executive Director and Director of Weekday Ministries at the Baptist Fellowship Center in Louisville.
  • Cory Bledsoe, Executive Director of Louisville Rescue Mission.
  • Joanna Mack, Executive Director of Grace & Mercy in Hopkinsville.
  • Renee Parsons, Director of Hope Central, a ministry of Central Baptist Church in Ashland.
  • Teresa Purichia, Interim Executive Director of Crossroads Life Center, a pregnancy care center in Glasgow.
  • Twyla Sheffield, KBC Northern Region Missions Mobilization Consultant.
  • Kendra Smallwood, Director of “A Chosen Sisterhood” women’s ministry of Rockhouse Baptist Church in Hyden.

This year’s WMU Celebration will also feature an Eastern Kentucky Missions Extravaganza that you will not want to miss.  During the Extravaganza participants will have an opportunity to visit and interact with many of the eastern Kentucky missionaries for a “hands-on” experience of the work they do.

By all means, we would like to extend a special invitation for you to join us for this year’s KY WMU Celebration and commissioning service, and pledge your support to these new missionaries.

The 2017 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be announced.

For more information on the Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration go to http://kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

Hope to see you there.

A Deadly Temptation

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor’ (Proverbs 29:23).

Pride is a frequent topic within the Scriptures, and Proverbs 29:23 reminds us that pride will eventually lead one to fall.  Repeatedly, God warns us of the dangers of pride.  Pride breeds arrogance and self-glorification, and  blinds us to our shortcomings and sin.

Pride is deadly to spiritual leadership.  It is deadly because it deludes us into seeking after ourWest Liberty - 4 own kingdoms rather than seeking to build God’s Kingdom.  Our own little kingdoms built on charisma and our natural gifts will not last.  The Bible reminds us that God opposes the proud, but will give His grace to the humble.

As Spiritual leaders, may we learn from God’s wisdom by seeking to lead with humility as servant leaders.

Servant leaders are:

  1. Humble in Attitude..  Keep Christ first in all things.  A humble leader does not think of
    himself as lower than a worm’s belly, he just always recognizes that only Christ deserves the throne of people’s lives.  Keep the focus on Christ, not ourselves.  Seek after Christ’s way, not our own way.
  2. Humble in Actions.  We are called to serve.  Develop the Godly habit of serving others.  The best way to maintain a humble spirit is by putting others before yourself.  Be an example of Christlike service to others..
  3. Humble in Speech.  Seek to glorify God and not yourself when giving testimony.  Shift the focus to God and others when sharing.  Learn to listen to others.  Focus n praying for others rather than your own self interests.
  4. Humble in Vision.  Keeping our focus on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of Christ keeps our focus on His Kingdom, rather than building our own little sand castles.  Our calling is to make His Name known among all the nations.  It will not matter if they remember our name, but it will matter if He knows our name as one of His faithful servants.

As C S Lewis once shared, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

 

 

 

Implementing Associational Change

In today’s rapidly changing context, associational directors of missions (DoMs) are being forced to choose between leading like a missionary or serving as a curator and preserver of what has been.  Effective DoMs who want to see results will choose to have a missionary mindset.  They stand upon the eternal truths of scripture, but are ready to dump methods and paradigms that no longer give value to the association.  DoMs who function as missionaries are open to change and adapt their ministry to the real need of member churches, not the churches of yesterday.  Like the apostle Paul, they become all things to all people so that they might save some (1 Cor. 9:22).

On the other hand, DoMs with a curator mindset will value the past and resist change.  They believe old methods and paradigms are worth protecting, even if they no longer work. They are afraid of innovation and slow to embrace needed change.

While change may be needed, it almost always leads to failure if there is no appreciation for the past. I’m not suggesting a preservation of the past at the expense of the future, but an acknowledgement of the past and it’s contribution to the association’s current reality is important when leading change.

Associations that are effective and provide benefit to member churches will exercise flexibility, a willingness to try new things and the desire to make needed changes quickly.  Associations today should regularly assess themselves and the need for change.  Not every needed change will work, but don’t be afraid of failure or innovation.

Here are four things to keep in mind as you lead your association through needed change.  Hopefully these suggestions will allow your association to enjoy the benefits of implementing change without losing credibility, if things don’t go exactly as planned.

  1. Use Experimentation Language – words are important, so consider useing “try” instead of “change” or “discussion” instead of “meeting”. Experiments provide you with wiggle room and people expect trial runs to need mid-course corrections. See compromise as a sign of wisdom, not a sign of weakness.
  2. Plan in Pencil – nothing ever goes exactly as planned. A planned change or innovation is only a theory until implemented, and then it becomes a failure or a success. Think flexibility rather than certainty.  Think in terms of this is what we’ll do for now, rather than, this what we will do forever.  They only thing certain is that the future will be different from what you expect. Keep as many options open as long as possible.
  3. Stay Away from Hype – a big splash leaves little room for retreat. If you want long term success, be cautious of using hype to sell it. If we hype and it succeeds, all is well.  But if we hype and it fails, there is a loss in future leadership.  “Buy in” is helpful, but more importantly, we need permission to try something different.  Permission is easier to get than “buy in”, and a lot easier to back away from if things don’t go well.
  4. Avoid Leadership ADHD – ADHD leadership is very similar to innovative leadership. They both try lots of stuff. But non-ADHD leadership tries it in an experimental mode.  Nothing is oversold.  Everything is judged by its impact on the mission. However, ADHD leaders never slow down to experiment.  Everything is always full speed ahead.  When ADHD leadership is in charge, there is a constant stream of new initiatives and failed projects that numb everyone about the importance of the mission at hand.

If an association is going to be effective and valued by churches today, change and innovation are necessary.  There must be the ability and permission to make changes as needed or the association will die.  While change is needed in most of our Baptist associations, change at any cost will kill the association and render her of no value to member churches.  As Larry Osborne has pointed out, “change is a lot like electricity.  Handled well, it brings great blessings. Handled carelessly or without understanding, it can burn the house down.”

God has not forgotten

IMG_4386While recently visiting a European country to explore gospel partnerships and work among refugees, I was reminded about a truth that all need to hear. As our team listened to story after story of refugees who fled their homeland because of personal danger, one theme continued to emerge—God has not forgotten you! Whether from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, or elsewhere, God has not only not forgotten the refugee, He cares deeply for them.

In fact, as one man’s story goes, God uses the hurts and sorrows in their lives to bring about His purposes for them. This Muslim man fled his country because of radical Muslims. When coming to Europe he met a Christian for the first time. As he began to develop a relationship with this Jesus follower, he wondered why no Christians ever came to his country to tell them about Jesus. He eventually answered his own question. In his own words, Christians never came because they are not allowed, so God sent us to them so we could hear about Jesus.

God is using the crisis of refugees to expand the gospel among people’s in the world that have been closed to the gospel for centuries. In fact, the people in the 10/40 window are moving to Europe and North America in ways like never before. Why? Well, according to some who lived in the 10/40 window, God is sending those who need to hear the gospel to places much more accessible to receive the gospel.

The question that Christians must ask is, What part will I play in advancing the gospel among these people? Whether in our own country or a country more accessible to the gospel in Europe, Christians have a part to play.

“God has not forgotten you” is a truth for us all. Refugees hear this message as Christians show the love of Jesus and then share the love of Jesus. God is bringing refugees from the 10/40 window to places in the world where gospel mercy and gospel witness can be demonstrated. What part will you play in God’s unfolding plan to reach the unreached in parts of the world where they are easier to reach? Contact the Missions Mobilization team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention for tangible ways to play your part.

Conflict Settlement

Teenagers hands playing tug-of-war with used ropeReligion has always been a touchy subject.  Discussions about God, faith, and the church can spark lively and refreshing dialogue; it can also unleash anger and bitter disputes.  As long as there is more than one human present in a place, conflict is possible and likely.

The early church was no exception.  In Acts 15, a dispute arose from among the body of faith, on whether or not circumcision was necessary for salvation.  This was a heated dispute with a great deal of passion and debate.

But, it is worth noting that it never got ugly.  We do not read about folks spreading gossip and slander in the community.  No one questioned anyone’s motives.  They did not attack each other personally.  Instead, they chose to honor one another, listen respectfully, engage with dignity, and maintain fellowship.  They demonstrated a Christ-like spirit, as they resolved the issue and settled the conflict within their family of faith.  Above all, they fervently sought the will of God, in this matter.

Yet, they did not seek to appease everyone.  They did not take a majority vote.  It appears that everyone was given a voice, but the most mature among them made the final decision.  They put God’s desire before their own desires and traditions.  In the end, the church stayed together and continued to grow,

As the family of faith, we can learn a great deal about handling conflict from this passage.  Believers met.  They talked.  They listened to one another.  They shared their respective positions.  They deferred to the most wise and mature believers.  They allowed their leaders to lead.  They realized that God’s work was far more important than any of their personal wants.  They made a decision that would enable them to be about the mission that they had received from their Lord.  They stuck together and moved forward.  That is what family does.

Conflicts will arise, but they should never define us.  Christ, Scripture, the Great Commission, and the Great Commandment should always be the hinges upon which the unity of our family of faith rests.

Construction Teams Needed

Construction

There are many ways to be on mission in Kentucky.  Opportunities are available to serve through Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Clubs, block parties, work in food and clothing ministries, prayer walking, sports camps, door-to-door evangelism, serve in free medical and dental clinics, equestrian ministry, prison ministry, racetrack and resort ministry, and outreach with all ages from preschoolers to senior adults, just to name a few.  Appalachian Regional Ministry has a brochure that shows 102+ ways to serve in missions.

One great way to serve is through construction.  Many times a person feels he or she cannot participate in missions because they are not good at teaching, preaching, or sharing their faith.  I recall a story told about a man who came up to a missionary following the missionary’s sharing about ways to serve.  The man had tears in his eyes and said that before that time he did not think he could do missions.  That night he came to realize that he could use his skill of painting in ministry.

Lots of projects are posted on the Kentucky Baptist Convention website and construction teams are needed across the state.  Teams are needed for church repairs and/or renovations, new church construction, home repairs, and work on associational and ministry buildings.  There are opportunities for those with skills in carpentry, painting, electrical, plumbing, laying tile, putting up handicap ramps, and the needs just go on and on.  These “support” type roles are important so that the churches, associations, and ministries can do their job of reaching people with the gospel.

Many of these projects can be done in one or two days and many are in areas near where you live.  Others may be week-long projects or projects that one team can follow another until the work is complete.

If you have skills in construction consider using them in service for our Lord.  Go to the Kentucky Baptist Convention website (http://old.kybaptist.org/mission-opportunities/project-type/construction-maintenance/) to see opportunities available.  The projects have now been updated for 2017 and are just waiting for teams to respond.

For more information contact us at [email protected].  We will be happy to help connect you to a construction opportunity in 2017.

Preparing Ahead is Half the Battle

Ethiopia picLike anything else in life that is done well, preparation for short-term missions is key. Leading a short-term mission team, particularly overseas, is an enormous challenge. There are many factors to consider when short-term teams plan international missions. Those assigned to lead such teams must consider these factors. Wisdom says planning ahead is always best. However, as with any mission effort, flexibility is key. Flexibility does not negate preparation; it demands it. Therefore, when leading short-term missions go with a plan and then go with the flow.

What are some critical factors when leading short-term missions? First, spiritual preparation is essential. Not only must the leader prepare himself/herself well when leading the team, he/she must help the team prepare as well. As mission teams are sent to push back darkness, Satan wants nothing more than to disrupt this assault on darkness. Paul reminds us that the battle we face is spiritual in nature (Eph 6:10-12). Walking closely with the Lord is vital for mission preparation.

Second, team leaders should never underestimate the importance of team strategy. Critical questions to ask are: Why are we doing this mission? How can we best support the work of the missionaries who are on the field? Strategy involves an overall understanding of why and what. In other words, why are we doing this and what exactly are we planning to do? Churches serve the mission field well when they allow the missionaries who are on the field to set the strategy for their team. People who know the language, culture and needs of the area are best suited to determine the strategy of a given place. Contextualizing missions occurs most effectively when those immersed in the culture set the strategy for the field work.

Third, related to the second factor is the importance of servant leadership. Short-term mission team leaders that model servant leadership will breed teams that follow that same pattern. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). While what Jesus did is more than an example; nevertheless, it is still an example for us. His life of servant leadership beacons us to live for the service of others rather than for their service to us. Short-term mission leaders have the responsibility to help their team understand this crucial principle in missions. We go over there to serve; not to be served.

Fourth, short-term mission team leaders lead gospel-centered missions. Sometimes what we assume to be the obvious is not always obvious. While there are several good things that we can do while on mission overseas (build, feed, clothe, etc.), as long as it assists the strategy of those on the field, the gospel must be central in whatever we do. I am not opposed to works of mercy, but mercy without gospel witness is not really mercy. Let us be careful that in whatever our strategy the gospel is central in it. I am not suggesting being artificial or “canned” in our gospel witness. But let us, as my friend Coy Webb reminds us, love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18).

These four factors are essential for leading short-term mission teams. There are other factors to consider. On March 10-11 we are offering a training for leading short-term international mission teams. Please be our guest as we explore ways to most effectively and faithfully lead short-term teams for the sake of the gospel. For more information, visit: www.kybaptist.org/tlt.

Reaching the Nations

Iraq-9It was estimated that last year over 50 million people were displaced from their homes, with around 19.5 million forced to live as refugees.  These people have been driven from their homes by war, violence, persecution, and disasters.

No longer safe to live in the place that they have called home, refugees are often forced to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs.  They have lost their culture, friends, security, sense of community, and often their dignity.

The flight usually brings more trauma.  Many do not survive the journey.  If they survive, they often are not welcomed in the place where they seek refuge.  Life in a refugee camp can be difficult, unstable, and a daily battle to survive.  The vulnerability of depending on total strangers for basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter can be humiliating and defeating.

These are people with names, dreams, and hopes.  These are people just like you and me.  These are people loved by God.  The Bible commands us to treat strangers and sojourners that come our way with love and grace:

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing.  You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ for the displaced?

One significant way is to partner with Refuge Louisville in life-changing ministry.  Refuge works alongside area churches to encourage and equip them to engage the refugees and immigrants in our communities.  They offer avenues through which the church can meet the various needs of our international population as they offer the help, healing, and hope of Christ.

Refuge continues to seek churches, small groups, Sunday school classes, and volunteers, who would serve on welcome teams.  These teams would commit to creating a positive welcoming space for the displaced families upon arrival, and they would be a helpful resource and loving influence for the first three months.  This allows Christians to be the first contacts for a refugee family as they come to America.  This is significant in helping a stranger to experience the real touch of God’s grace and saving Gospel message.

Team Expectations are as follows:

  1. Six to ten adults on a welcome team.
  2. Before arrival, set up the apartment for the incoming family using supporting agency donations.  Usually, this will not include transporting furniture to the apartment.
  3. Before arrival, purchase groceries and a welcome basket for the family.
  4. Before arrival, place a photo of the team in the apartment, so the family will know these are people who have committed to help them.
  5. Welcome the family at the airport and assist them with transportation to their new home.
  6. Provide as much transportation as possible the first few weeks.
  7. Share time with the family at least once a week for the first three months.
  8. At the end of three months, throw a milestone party to celebrate reaching this point.
  9. Teams are encouraged to stay connected with families, after the three months, as friends and continued support.

If your church is interested in making a difference in the life of a refugee family, contact Refuge Louisville to find out more information, to schedule them to share at your church, or to become part of God’s hands in reaching the nations.

Refuge Louisville, Inc
5007 Southside Drive
Louisville, KY 40214

(502) 785-9577

Kentucky Baptists have a missions heritage that has demonstrated itself in going to the airport to travel to distant lands for the sake of the Gospel.  The question facing us today as Kentucky Baptists is:  Will we journey to the airport in obedience to the Great Commission to welcome the nations to our homeland?

You may also contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office at www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (866) 489-3527 for information.

Much to be Done in the New Year

 

2017

Welcome 2017. The year 2016 is now history. This past year ended with lots of church and ministry outreach events. Hot meals were served. Warm blankets, coats, scarfs, and gloves were given out for the upcoming cold winter months. Christmas was made brighter for many children as they received a special toy. Thanks to Appalachian Regional Ministry’s Christmas Backpack Program thousands of children also received a backpack filled with school supplies, hygiene items, clothing, candy, toys, and a Bible. The Gospel message was presented.

As reports come in we are hearing of hundreds that invited Christ into their lives during these events and received the greatest Gift during this season of gift-giving. But, where are they in January 2017?

We must not stop by simply presenting the Gospel message and decisions being made. There is much work to do as we now help them to grow in their new-found relationship with Christ. We must invite them into our churches and walk alongside to disciple and mentor them. We must not leave them as babes in Christ.

This past Sunday a lady and her daughter visited our church as a result of a Christmas outreach event. She wanted to start the new year in church and really seemed to enjoy the service and fellowship. The young daughter was excited to learn of a Sunday School class and Children’s Church that she could be a part of. I too am excited for the mom to join my Sunday School class as each week we learn, grow, and fellowship together.

May 2017 be a year when those lives that we impacted in 2016 come to a saving relationship with Christ, and those who do know Him as Savior draw nearer in their walk with Him and their service to Him. May our Christmas outreach events not be in vain.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!