Build Church: Look for the Right Signs of Health

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.

Leaders Serve

Leadership isn’t about power or control or hierarchy, but is it about serving.

Whenever I take the lead, whenever I place myself in that position of authority, the key isn’t what I get to do, how important I can become or feel. Instead it’s about how willing I am to serve those around me. Leaders serve others.

Am I willing to help someone?

Am I willing to care for someone?

Am i willing to bend the knee for someone?

Jesus is my ultimate role model. All the power in His hands. All the authority in His hands. All the title in His hands. Yet, He stooped down, picked up a towel and washed His disciples feet.

We might respond and say ‘well that was Jesus, he was making a point, I couldn’t do that.’ We might justify our position, speak of rights and remind about title. If we do then I think we miss the point. I have all of these but they really count for nothing if I am not willing to lay them to one side, to humble myself, to ignore the inconvenience of it all, and serve.

God gives grace to the humble. He resists the proud.

To measure my leadership by a different yardstick isn’t always comfortable but that doesn’t make it any less important. As I lead, Lord, help me to serve.

3 Things That Help Me as an Executive Pastor

Reflecting on my life as an Exec Pastor and thinking about the things that have helped me, it can be difficult to articulate them as the role can be so full and varied but here’s 3 things to start with….

1. Permission

Contrary to some opinions, I am not a pushy person. I am naturally a quieter personality, an introvert, someone who doesn’t mind systems and process, as long as they are not strangling the life out of the people involved in making church happen.

I like to have permission to act, to speak, to give opinion, to ask the awkward questions. As in all things though, even with permission, I still get it wrong occasionally.

It took a while for me and my Lead Pastor to get there, and we are tweaking it all the time, but a good, clear understanding of the role required, what you are being asked to do, being given permission to do it, and then others being informed of that, really helped. It’s not about title but that moment when it was explained why I was here and what I would be doing was extremely important for me. How?

I was able to relax into the role. I was no longer speaking just for myself but on behalf of the Lead Pastor. Knowing I had the full support of my oversight was a big deal for me.

It made us stronger as a lead team. My desire has always been that you couldn’t get a piece of paper between us. Playing us off against one another won’t work.

People knew why I was talking to them and asking the questions I was. As mentioned in the previous post, when you know what you are actually supposed to be doing, it can help you to help others to flourish in what they are supposed to be doing, which ultimately sees the vision fulfilled.

2. A simple idea of the role

Exec Pastor, it’s a grand title that most people don’t understand or don’t want to understand. You are a Pastor in that everything is about people and helping them to grow in their journey with Jesus, yet it’s different too. It’s a strategic role, one that means being mindful of the big picture, knowing the vision and how everything that we do as a church fits in with this.

If people ask me about my role I have simple one line. I don’t know if it’s right but it works for me, ‘I have oversight of those who have oversight.’ It’s probably too simplistic but it’s a starting point.

A different answer but equally clear is that my role is about helping take what’s in my Lead Pastors head, the vision and the future of the Church, and then, alongside a whole bunch of other great people, help to make it a reality.

3. Regular time with the Lead Pastor

You cannot get to the place of being on the same page and understanding each other if you never catch up. I value the time I have with my Lead Pastor. It is essential. When it can’t happen, that’s when things can become confused, unclear and that then affects productivity.

Time to talk things through is when I get to know what’s on his heart, what is exciting him about church and the future or alternatively, what’s causing him concern. It’s an honest exchange of thoughts and opinion at times but thats alright, it certainly helps me to know where mine and the teams focus should be.

It also helps that we actually like one another. Plus, after 5 years or so years in the role and 22 years of church life together, I know his heart and I’m fairly certain that he knows mine. I’m not after his seat but I will do all thats needed to protect him, support him and gather others to do the same.

Ultimately I am just playing my part in helping to grow God’s kingdom. I may have a fancy title but I still need to be about the same things as everyone else. I do not get a free pass. I still need to be about loving God and loving people, and in that sense I know I have a lot to learn from everyone else.

If you are in a similar role to mine, what would you add? What has help you to find you feet in this privileged role?

5 Growth Questions

Over the last couple weeks I have had the privilege of asking 5 simple questions to a bunch of young leaders. Thought I would share them with you.

Leadership is about more than the task you have been given responsibility for. It’s about who you are becoming, the person you are while you are doing what you do.

We are leaders. More than that, we are spiritual leaders so the questions reflect this…

What have you been learning?
What is challenging you at the moment/where is the stretch?
Where do you still need to improve?
What is God saying to you?
Who do you have in your world who will pray with you?

Leadership is a balance of getting things done and knowing what it is that God wants you to do. Sometimes we focus too much on the former and not enough on the latter. When that happens we are in danger of getting out of focus, which can become leading for the sake of doing and that can be overwhelming.

Read back on my previous posts and you will discover that as much as I talk about the good characteristics of a leader I advocate more the growth of spiritual leadership.

Hope that helps. What questions do you ask of yourself to help you reflect on your leadership?