2 great things have happened this week…
Firstly, my book ’19’ will be released on the 27th October. This is a book for leaders of all ages but very much to those beginning on their leadership journey. I was 19 when I was given my first introduction to leadership, becoming the leader of the local church youth group.
Now, 28 years later, I am still leading in local church, and I am passing on what I have learned along the way. Things I know any young leader will need to learn so they can still be leading in 25 years time.
Secondly, the website The 19 Project is live. Very much coming from the premise of the book and my desire to help resource and raise the next generation of young leaders, my hope is the site will become a hub of useful articles, free resource and eventually offer access to live Q&A’s, training material, connection with other leaders, and much more.
You can join The 19 Project and help to shape it for the future. It’s free. When you do this, you will be able to download a free chapter of the book, pre-order it at a discounted rate and take a quick survey to provide some initial feedback on the site.
Thanks for the support along the way. Not sure what is going to happen with this site but why not come over to The 19 Project now and stay in touch with all that is happening over there. You can find me on Facebook too. Click on the links below…
Just click below to answer 6 very short and quick questions. It only takes 2 minutes!!
Check out the Bonus question too if you’d like to get early access.
Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace [Matthew 28:29 Message]
There’s a lot of talk about getting out of your comfort zone and I get that. We fill our days with so much stuff which in reality is of no eternal purpose, both individually in our Christian life and corporately as the body of Christ. We are very comfortable in our faith.
A better focus might be to know our comfort zone. To learn the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus wants to walk and work with us in. To find our best fit. To discover our unique calling and to then ride this wave with all of our effort and determination.
Anyone who know me well enough should know that after Jesus, other than my family, there are two main things which have my heart – raising the next generation of leaders and building local church. I am on the journey of discovery still, even after so many years that to be fruitful for God in both of these will no doubt involve the following…
To get into my zone I first have to get out of my comfort.
I have to give the Holy Spirit permission to convict me to move me.
Once I am in the zone, only I am the one responsible for putting the right kind of effort in to it.
To bear the best kind of fruit, the God-given destiny kind of fruit, my life has to be about more than just the fruit of my own labours.
I am not there yet. Let’s be honest, there have been good days and not so good days. I have frustrations. Yet the only person getting in the way of me building anything of eternal significance with my life is me. So best get over myself, repent, remind myself that my preferences are for laying down and just get on doing what it is I feel God is asking me to do.
It could be argued that we live in a world driven by the need to succeed and to do so at any cost (sometimes). The danger comes for us in building church when such a culture begins to influence our attitude towards what we are doing.
We may become more task focused and less people focused.
We may become all about ‘what’ and forget the ‘why’ behind all we are doing.
We may become overly critical of the small stuff losing sight of the bigger picture.
Such behaviours can change the culture from one faith to one of fear, especially one where people become fearful of not attaining to the right level of success and therefore they withdraw from what it is God is calling them to do.
Failure is important when it comes to building church for the following reasons:
We learn what works and what doesn’t work. It’s pretty obvious but it means we can then make any necessary changes.
We are actually trying something new or different. The easiest way to not fail is to not do anything new or different.
Shows us as inclusive not exclusive. If the drive for excellence makes people feel like they can only be part of the church by getting everything right every time, we have by default created a very exclusive culture.
Helps encourage creative thinking. Once we know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ the ‘how’ can be imagined in so many different ways. Especially when we know failing at the idea isn’t the end.
Reminds us how much we need to be asking God for some help. God doesn’t think like us. We may have the plan and the dreams but we have to allow God to ordain the steps. Without failing we often don’t learn.
What is the best thing you have learned when you have failed at something?
We measure the wrong things sometimes. We look at what we have or what we don’t have and use them as the measure. Such a method is not wrong except what we end up with may just be a bunch of numbers which in reality don’t mean very much.
Success in building church can be very subjective but it has to be about more than bums on seats. It’s even got to be more than hands raised in response to a salvation prayer.
We have to look for the right signs health.
Metrics have their place but they should never just be for collection. They can however, prompt the right kind of conversations as a representation of what’s happening physically with people. How many are turning up to things, to Sundays? How often are they coming? How many salvations? How many baptisms? How many in Groups? Or doing the Growth Track, Alpha or any other think we could probably have a count for.
The other stuff can be more problematic and harder to define, yet possibly more important. Instead of recording how many did something, these measures represent spiritual vitality, a persons walk with Jesus and how they live it out.
Some of the following can help us discover what’s really happening inside the person, after all, attendance doesn’t necessarily mean growth. You would hope for some correlation but its not always guaranteed.
Stories of changed lives.
Hearing how people are moving one step further in their walk with God.
Discovering the way people take their Christian faith into the world in which they live.
Helping people discover and use their spiritual gifts.
Seeing disciples making disciples. People are bringing people to help them meet Jesus.
I think these fit better with the definition God would give to success. It is less about achievement and more about who we are as we achieve. Geared more round the growth of our character, becoming more like Jesus and the spiritual leadership we demonstrate every day.
You may have a different view and add other things to this list. I would love to hear what you think.
Why are we here? One of life’s great questions. For the Church the simple answer to the why would be about reaching people, making disciples and honouring our Saviour. All good. Yet each part of has its own unique contribution, something to celebrate and harness, the one thing which makes us distinctive.
As a leadership team we have been talking about this and here’s why it’s important for us to do so.
Simon Sinek in his book ‘Start with Why’ says that ‘people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it’. WHAT can change but WHY is simple. It’s the discipline to never veer from the cause.
It captures the heart. The vision, the cause, is the why. It can grab someone’s imagination as they begin to see what could be possible.
It’s bigger than what we do. Why isn’t what. What we do can almost be irrelevant when we understand why we are doing it. That kind of belief can help build great success.
It keeps us going when it gets tough. What we do can get boring, inconvenient or tiresome. On those cold, rainy days we can opt out of ‘what’. The why reminds about the difference we are making or the reason for what we are doing.
It encourages people to be creative. If the why is clear then people have a freedom to be creative with the what. Leaders shouldn’t have to come up with all the best ideas, instead, the ‘why’ creates an environment where great ideas can sprout from anywhere.
It brings what we do to life. When those within get the why, then people will see what we believe through what we are doing.
I have not always been great at explaining the why. I know that I still get it wrong. I can argue it’s not my role as I’m not the lead man, but that’s a cop out. If I lead people then I have to be concerned about the why. If I am part of the organisation then understanding the why is my responsibility. If it’s not clear, I should ask.
Telling people what to do isn’t difficult. To articulate the why though, requires time, thought and care. That’s a whole lot of effort. It doesn’t always come easy. I have to give more than a ‘just because’, or point to my position.
It has to be important because the why is inspiring, it stirs up passion and people are more willing to give their time, talent and treasure to a really good, strong, clear why.
What is the kind of ‘why’ you would be willing to be part of?
It’s so simple we may actually forget to. Yet with all the very best of programmes, plans, and ideas, without spending time with God we create and build solely on our own strength and imagination. And that is never enough.
Three scriptures come to mind as a reminder of the power and importance of building through prayer, building with the Lord, seeking Him and leaning on His understanding.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. [Psalm 127:1]
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [Philippians 4:6]Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Proverbs 3:5-6]
Prayer acknowledges that earthly wisdom is sufficient only for limited purposes.
Prayer says I am not enough but God is more than enough.
Prayer causes me to lift my eyes heavenward, to look higher and to look to God.
Prayer is to be fulfilled in combination with all diligence on my part towards what I am looking to build.
Prayer is bringing heaven to earth into the building of my own home and into the building of Gods house.
Prayer is me making sure I hear Gods voice on how things should be done.
Prayer is the antidote to my worries.
Prayer is a demonstration of my trust in God and His ability to do what I cannot.
Prayer leads me as I enjoy conversation with my heavenly Father.
Let’s be a people who don’t just build what we would like to fashion but instead be the people who get God’s insight into how things should be. As we play our part in building church, let’s pray. Let’s invite God in. Let’s ask for His kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven. From my own experience, I know it will make all the difference.
What’s your experience with prayer?