Letters to Pastor Bob

Hi Pastor Bob,

It’s me again. Glad to see that you are giving us something to pray about as you disseminate your points on prayer. It is good to see such an example set, Jesus always seemed to be praying and somewhere mentioned that His house is (that’s present tense, so still is) a house of prayer. I understand that prayer must precede anything that we do and we should do it fervently as we bring our petitions and supplications before God.

I haven’t seen you in the prayer group of late though, I hope you are not to tired or worn out. Prayer is a good place to gain strength, vision, wisdom and understanding from God. In fact it’s almost a place of rest, being in the presence of God. It has also been a long time since we saw any offering of things to pray for. It is hard to pray when you are not sure what to pray for. We can always pray rather generically, which we do. I’m sure God wants us to ask for specific things that coincide with His will and purposes so that we can see His works being achieved in our lives and the lives of others and the salvation of the lost.

Prayer is such a powerful tool, with which we can tear down strongholds, we can over come enemies, we can see God act, it’s all quite glorious really, I’m not sure why we are not more into it, it makes no sense, any way I continue to pray at home.

Its been a long time now and I have not seen you in the prayer group or received instruction on what to pray for. I know in a busy schedule it is hard to include others, prayer though should not be neglected from the corporate body of Christ. I hope your own personal prayer life is not being reflected in the lack of your appearance in the corporate prayer life of the church.

Prayer seeems to empower and strengthen our faith such that we might not stumble or fall away. It also seems to be the place where we receive all sorts of things from God, such as, insight, wisdom, vision, discernment and understand, all of which are good and valid things.

In prayer though, my relationship with Christ seems to improve and I seem to draw nearer to God, which is quite important I understand. I feel more at peace than when I don’t pray and feel much more comforted about the difficulties this life. I have seen some amazing answers to prayer and had amazing times in the presence of God. All these things continue to draw me back to my knees that I may seek the God of heaven and earth.

I hope that your prayer life is similar and that you are not neglecting it to much. We can do so little without prayer that I continue to wonder why we don’t pray more, something to consider perhaps.

anyway, as always, always seeking Him.

Church, stuck in a moment

Moses was up the mountain for forty days. Meanwhile back in the camp, Aaron was creating a golden calf, an idol to worship, because the congregation did not know what had happened to the man Moses. Paul inspired the church in Galatia and in a short time had to reprimand them to not wonder from the gospel of Jesus Christ that he had taught them.
We have been waiting two thousand years for the return of Jesus Christ and we have, it would appear, grown tired of waiting for the kingdom to come. We have become “smarter” in this generation and rather than creating a physical idol, we have created systems that we have overlayed onto the true gospel of Jesus Christ and worshipped them more than God. Because we have grown tired of waiting, we have begun to use the word of God for our own ends, as we call ourselves prophets and apostles. Then we expect our followers to bow down and give us our due respect. Consequently, Gods kingdom is being made in our own image and attached to it is some weak anaemic version of the God of the bible that we pull out of a hat or rub the lamp thereof, whenever we need our wants met or our ways promoted. The truth of God’s word has been taken lightly and ignored or even perverted in some cases and we have declared that we are gods with our own divinity residing within us. The accolades of men have driven us to create our own purposes in life, whilst we build up our own kingdoms and steal (as in what a thief does) the glory and praise due to the Lord of lords and King of kings.
We have become rebellious prima donnas unable to even receive the word of instruction and guidance. Like Israel, we have cast aside the God of Glory and His ways, laws, statutes and commands, we have gone our own way and testified that it is good. Then we justify our success by numbers and increase in finance, much like the pharisees of Jesus’ day. We have sown the seed of this rebellion and reaped the whirlwind of Gods wrath and wondered why we have ended up in the slough of dispond or the dungeons of the giant despair.
God did not spare Israel, His chosen people who were to proclaim His glory to the world. When they sinned, they were warned. They were called to humble themselves, to confession and repentance, to return to the Lord their God. Eventually their sins caused God to abandon them to their enemies and to exile they went. If we think that The Church is any different we would be sadly mistaken and would need to badly misinterpret the scripture that says God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The bible tells us that we are to contend for the faith and to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. Jesus’ says if we love Him we would obey His commandments. Else where He tells us that to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind is the First command and the second is like it, to love your neighbour as yourself. You could also jump to Micah 6:8 and see that it says,
“…what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God”.
God is a merciful and gracious God, extending His loving kindness unto a thousand generations and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Unfortunately, our rebellious nature prevents us from receiving this grace and mercy, rather it attracts wrath and judgement. This stems from the fact that basic doctrines are being ignored by our churches (regardless of denomination). We have focused on preaching a weak anaemic version of the gospel, so people will not be upset. However, eternity in hell will be eternally upsetting for some.
Doctrines such as the gospel of Jesus Christ and the consequences of ignoring it are not taught, in direct disobedience to Matthew 28. Portraying God as only a loving merciful God is a lopsided message that fails to explore the consequences of His wrath and judgment, presently and at the second coming of Christ. Ask yourselves, when did you last heard a message about entering by the wicket gate and maintaining the narrow way everlasting and the consequences of not entering in to the Kingdom of God? When did you last hear a message about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross and the blood proclaimed and the consequences of ignoring it? How often do you hear a sermon on obedience and the resulting blessing for it and the consequential curse for disobedience?
God is a merciful and gracious God wanting all to come to repentance that leads to salvation. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation and is probably why we are to teach the gospel message above all else. When we enter into the kingdom, we come into right relationship with God (assuming we are allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into Christlikeness). Out of this right relationship with God, our relationships with others will be abounding with grace, mercy and love. Until we truly submit to God and His ways and focus on our relationship with God, through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, our churches, again regardless of denominations, will remain at the present impasse.
The impasse lies at the cross roads, where we should be looking and asking for the ancient path or where the good way is, so we can walk in them and find rest for our souls. We can continue to do what we are doing or we can humbly return to our God and confess our sins that He might return to us.
Surely God is concerned about what has and is being done in The Church and will He find faith on earth when He comes? For how can it be known that we have found favour His sight? Is it not by Gods presence going with us that we are distinguished from the other people who are upon the face of the earth?
Although I hold no theological degree, I do try to read the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, such that I might understand the word and let it shine a light on the behaviour and attitudes of men (including myself). I have, however, qualified as a life coach, but more than that God has placed the desire on my heart to see The Church become the beautiful bride of Christ, rather than an orphan dressed in filthy rags, living in abject spiritual, physical and financial poverty.
As a coach then, the objective is to lead people back into the presence of God. To remind ourselves of the goodness of God and to encourage us to persevere with prayer, remind us to worship in spirit and truth and being obedient to walking in the way everlasting and to the very word of God. Sometimes we forget our behaviour matters and so coaching directs us back to a more Christlike demeanour, attitudes and behaviours. We seemed to have done so much preaching and so many sermons that we have nothing left and have moved onto social action and politics (within and outside of church). Yet the bible tells us to proclaim the gospel, something not much heard of today in all of its depth, like justification, sanctification, obedience, mission, discipleship and the like. Coaching then guides us back to our fundamental doctrines and beliefs and encourages and supports those that are in this kind of ministry (or any ministry really) to continually review our walk with Christ and the fruit it is or isn’t bearing, (you can tell the tree by its fruit). If our churches are emptyish, then our fruit is obviously missing. Thus, another part of coaching is to discern, graciously and lovingly the causes that have resulted in a church diminishing. Then, to establish a way back to the heart of God (usually involving confession and repentance), that allows us to be transformed into a more Christlike person with Christlike attitudes and behaviours such that we are a distinguishable people from all other people. Coaching is a tool and not a be all end all to following the Lord our God in our own relationship with Him. Only God can transform the heart of man, if the heart of man wants to be transformed. My calling is to help those that do, nothing more, nothing less.

Letters to Pastor Bob

Hi Pastor Bob,

I saw you talking to many people after the service and they seem to engage in the conversation quite heartily and with great mirth and humour. It is a good thing that people engage with you like that, it must be quite a heady experience.

There are however a whole group of people that are somewhat concerned about the present state of the church, which I note are those who are mature in Christ and have been here a long time. This group seem to be trying to bring a message to the church which is constantly being shut down and ignored. Personally I can’t think of a better way to annoy the congregation but perhaps there is madness in the method.

In the reading of my bible I see that God (in His amazing grace( hey you could write a song with that line in)) was continually sending prophets and judges to Israel to bring them back on course. Now I’m no theologian so maybe we do or we don’t have prophets these days. Regardless of the fact if everyone is bringing the same message, it might well be worth paying attention to, maybe God is trying to say something to us, God does speak to us in many ways.

We are all trying to work for the Kingdom here (well I assume we are, however I’m sure you know what ASSUME stands for) and that Kingdom is the Kingdom of the God of Heaven and earth, creator of the universe, you know the one we meet in Genesis one, that has existed eternally and stands outside of His creation, yet by His power(and mercy and grace to be sure) maintains it all.

If God is trying to tell us something it might be because we have confused ourselves between kingdoms. Quite often over time we get confused whose kingdom we are working for and in fact begin to create our own little empire. The next step from here of course is idolatry of ourselves and what we’ve done(which is really God’s doing anyway, so you may as well give Him the glory), then we begin to micro manage everything and become a bit of a control freak and wear ourselves out, pretty dam quick to (see my previous letter).

Of course this is no good for ourselves, our family or the church(maybe I should have put that first) and we need to pay heed to what or whom God is sending our way.

 

God as you know(well I hope you do) is gracious and merciful and really desires you to do well, yet if you continue to ignore Him, I cant imagine a good result at the end of the day.

I would suggest a quick review of who your working for, your purpose and calling and see what the good old book(you know the bible) has to say about submitting to God and humbling yourself(always painful I know) and what taking up your cross really means.

Anyway as always, Always Seeking Him.

Your humble servant

Letters to Pastor Bob

Hi Pastor Bob,

Good to see that your energy is flowing and that your running around doing lots of things. Always good to see the pastor has a bucket load of energy and trying to achieve all sorts of things.

I have been around for a bit now and have seen many pastors of your ilk. They work hard, do stuff and try their very very best. Eventually many seem to wear out, get tired, become impatient with their congregation or loose heart and leave the ministry and take up secular work. This last point is a real shame, ministry is such a high calling and should be regarded as such.

In my view the main reason these things happen is that you are far to busy doing things and trying to achieve stuff that has no kingdom bearing or relevance. The bible is quite specific in this area, it says, “…be still and know that I AM God…”. I feel that the over emphasis of God saying He is the I AM and God in the one breathe is of great importance. If we are constantly running around doing stuff we cut God out of the loop, we have no time for Him, classic 101 mistake. We need to spend time with God, not just sermon prep time or daily reading time, we need to spend time in His presence reflecting on His majesty and glory, reminding ourselves of who and what the God of creation is to us and who we are to Him. We need, especially as a leader, to spend copious time in prayer to discern His will, purpose for us and a multitude of other things. When we do this, God speaks to us in many different ways, through His word, the input of other people, His creation etc etc, I’m sure you know this though. When we discern Gods voice and are obedient to it, then only one thing is of great concern, doing Gods will well, with love and joy. Of course there will be inevitable struggles, without which, we would not grow or learn to trust God at all. Doing Gods will means we are working for God building His kingdom His way and all other things and stuff will pale into insignificance.

I feel that you need to remind yourself of these things and to take a breather, be still and seek God so that He may show you how to seek first His kingdom (always a bit challenging as we get His and our kingdoms mixed up quite often). When we do, you will find that just doing Gods will keep you busy enough and a lot less busy than you have been. There will be lots of God’s stuff to do that will be a lot easier than the stuff you’ve been doing. When we do Gods stuff there is far more life and success than the miserable failures that occur when we do our stuff.

God is so merciful and we should thank Him that He continually draws us back to Himself and keeps us on the straight and narrow path that leads to everlasting life, if we let Him. I would suggest at this point you take the time to rest in Gods presence, see what the Holy Spirit leads you to and how to Glorify Jesus in the work you are given to do. You will find it far more satisfying than just doing stuff.

As always, always seeking Him.

Your humble servant in His service.

Leadership in The Church, Particularly.

 

Regardless of what you think, assert or believe, everything under your leadership is a direct reflection of the following points.

  • Your relationship with Christ
  • Your ability to reflect the image of Christ
  • The ability to use the gifts God has given you and the congregation
  • The ability to engage with your community (church and local) in a proactive way
  • How you nurture and grow people in your church
  • How you work with and grow individuals and the teams
  • Your true character

A good leader will seek creative input from all people around them, and ask, how decisions being made are affecting the church and the congregation. In essence, this is feedback from across the board of the church and outside observers. A good leader will always receive and give feedback and adjust their leadership accordingly, that change and growth may occur.

The key to receiving feedback is to

  • Give permission for others to help you understand yourself and who you are
  • Listen and hence learn (they can’t all be wrong)
  • Be open to the difficult comments, you need to hear the hard things to remove them
  • Gives you a range of opinions (they can’t all be wrong)
Leadership Scale

Laisses faire———————————–Autocratic

Couldn’t care less====================My way or the highway

 

 

The Transformational Leader.

A church with a good transformational leadership will more than likely be a place that has an effective missional, discipleship and community focused culture. And will be defined by some, or, all of the following points.

  • Promote innovation (using people’s skills and ideas)
  • Reward activity (Testimonials)
  • Develop and grow individuals (discipleship)
  • Be open to change (ready to move with the Spirit)
  • Concentrate on multiple possibilities (Gifts, skills, anointing’s and various callings)
  • Allow for differences and use it for change (Hear when you’re going wrong)
  • Know what people are thinking (Involved in people’s lives)

Jesus was and is a transformational leader. A transformational leader does not focus on themselves, rather they have a focus on a higher purpose. Everything they do and say is a function of that higher purpose and its objectives, hence the importance of vision and purpose to remain focused. Within The Church, this vision must follow God’s purpose and connect with God’s laws, commands and precepts. It is not a vision for one church alone, but a vision that serves the higher purpose of revealing Jesus as Saviour, what the kingdom of God is and how it works, to mention a few things. It must be a vision that builds into the overarching principals of the word of God and His kingdom.

A vision that is deemed for “our brand” fails in this department as this creates competition and breeds disunity and is unlikely to be God given. Where there is competition, the leadership can only consider other churches as the competition. This means there can be no support or encouragement for or from other churches and subsequently creates division and disunity. This church becomes self-focused and selfish and must rely on its own abilities and thus separates itself from the kingdom as a whole (Reminder of Cain and Able here).

A transformational leader is one who “see’s” something within a person. When Jesus picked His disciples, the bible say’s “He saw…..”, so, what did Jesus see when He saw His disciples?

Something within the person must standout, an ability, a passion, some kind of characteristic. The transformational leader will identify this and knows that they can develop it into a leadership or developmental role. The aim of the leader is to draw the follower(s), (which is discipleship, a biblical principal, law and command) into a common and greater than either of them purpose, (let’s call it God and the Kingdom) that they will pursue. In the pursuance of the objective, the leader will develop the follower by increasing their self-awareness, self-confidence and increasing their expectations of themselves.

The objective of a transformational leader, is to “see” that followers can be raised up to be leaders such that the transformational leader is replaced or the follower goes onto bigger and better things and the leader starts again with new disciples.

The transformational leader “sees” people as intelligent and able with the ability to grow through the cultivation of their intelligence and skill set. This development is partially created through the exploration of why mistakes occurred and discovering options, as well as identifying opportunities to use abilities, (It is inevitable that mistakes will occur, just be aware rather than anxious or fearful and be ready to resolve as required). Direction and focus are continually challenged (ready to follow the Spirits leading) and the decisions that are made are done through consultation, discussion and debate with and supported by all involved.

Overall the transformational leader creates an environment that allows people to bring their best ideas and thinking and allows them to operate at their best by stretching them and  creating growth. As growth and success occur, the transformational leader ensures that those doing the work are duly rewarded and or recognised (encouraged, supported and protected from ego)

Jesus picked disciples that were the least likely suspects to be picked. Little or possibly no  theological background, working in one of the least respected jobs and having very little social standing. Yet he “saw” them and what they had inside could be transformed into Gods purposeful use. It may be that the most beneficial people in a church congregation could be the least recognised or noticed individuals, you just need to “see” them.

Jesus spent time with His disciples. He would have learnt and understood their hopes and dreams, their desires and used this to harness their energies to focus on developing them and growing them in kingdom principals and realities. As He discovered what their natural abilities were, Jesus would have directed them to move in this area, (He didn’t call fishermen to be fishers of men for no reason) Jesus would have “opened doors” of opportunity for their skills. The disciples had all come from various backgrounds, yet they worked as a team and complimented one another in their skills and spread the load. One person could not do all the things required and nor can one person come up with all the possibilities or options for a given problem or issue, hence the need for discussion and debate and frequently realising a follower’s direction, guidance, or idea is just as appropriate as your own (remember a leader is trying to grow a follower to be a leader as well as growing themselves).

As a transformational leader, Jesus would have realised that people love to contribute to things that are greater than themselves. Once their abilities have been determined all the leader needs to do is to open a door for that person to use their skill. This skill maybe that thing the person does subconsciously, without even realising that they a) are doing it or b) doing it really well, they just do and it requires no extra effort or reward. Once a transformational leader see’s this skill, they should then look for opportunities for that person to use that skill, without, of course, abusing the privilege. Of course, there may be things that inhibit the use of the skill and the transformational leader should look for these and ways to remove them, even if it’s the leader themselves. The transformational leader will find and connect the developing disciple with opportunities that use their highest level of ability and perhaps just beyond.

Often this skill might be in an area that the leader does not perform very well. Which is perfect for the transformational leader. It develops others, allows load sharing and allows the leader to focus on the important task, such as studying the word of God, determining what God is saying to the church. Focus on God in this way, prevents random assumptions, or just going with your gut and hoping God is in it. You rest in the presence of God and commune with Him and come away(eventually) knowing exactly what God requires of you.

At the end of the day both John and Jesus knew that someone else was going to carry on their work and set the example, explain, train and leave them to it. A leader then must be humble and self-aware enough to realise it is not about them. Rather it is for the greater cause, the overarching reason and then be prepared to be teach themselves out of a job, or, continue teaching others to that point. This then is a humbling position to be in and is a suitable place for a good leader to be, a place of sacrifice and cross bearing humility. A place of change, growth and development of others and of self.

These are the sort of thing that Jesus would have seen in the Apostles when He chose them, as well as a depth of character, abilities and skills that could be developed, humility, compassion and care. The ability to learn and grow and pass things on to others. A people who wouldn’t hold onto what they were given, but who would freely give it away for the greater cause. People who would learn by experience and pass it on, people who were courageous as they were bold, people who would speak out and proclaim the Gospel truth.

This is what a leader should be looking for and doing, particularly in the church, it’s called discipleship, it is based on the foundation of prayer, it is a command and if done correctly and well, will create immense growth in any church

The essence of church, leadership.

A church should be led by a leader who sits and rests in the presence of God. One who discerns the vision and calling of God for that church. A leader that is attuned to God in such a way that they are secure of their salvation, have knowledge of their inheritance and walk closely with their God. 

This leader is one who is courageous and bold, who is ready to cross the Jordan and walk through the Red Sea, who lives in the power, strength and fire of the Spirit of God. The cross is this leaders focus and joy and all is done to glorify, honour and praise the risen Lord.

This leader knows that mistakes will be made as the church pursues God and fears not, because they understand the greatness of God and that all things work together for good for those that love God. 

Due to the leader resting in the presence of God, they understand the need to develop leadership in individuals and teams, because they know they can’t do it all and nor should they try. They realise one man does not have the ability or strength to carry such a burden (just ask Moses). What this allows is the leader to lead out of their strengths and allow others to lead out of their strengths, which is a sharing of the burden. Time for the leader is now released to spend in the presence of God focusing on their calling and the direction God is calling the church to go in.

When teams and individuals are formed as leaders, the church leader no longer needs to be involved in every little thing (no more micro manging) and because they are secure in their position with God, they no longer feel the need to control everything and everyone (removing the idolatry of self worship).

This leader has an overview all things, but is not necessarily involved in all things, allowing them to keep the whole church moving in the direction that God calls the church to go in. 

Instinctively people are drawn to this leader because they can see the anointing of wisdom upon them. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of this leadership and people will see this and be drawn to it as they see that the pursuit of this leaders heart is for God and His kingdom.

The essence of church, the congregation.

Instinctively people are drawn to a leader when they can see the anointing of wisdom(amongst other things I’m sure)upon them. The leadership is judged (rightly or wrongly) by the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit and this is what people will be drawn to, as they see the pursuit of this leaders heart is for God and His kingdom.

In turn members will volunteer their abilities (usually with encouragement, support, guidance and leadership). 

When people see a need that they can fulfil and offer to do so, they should most certainly be encouraged to get involved. Where leadership sees a need and can match it to a persons abilities (which means they should be looking at needs and abilities) they should connect the dots for them (bearing in mind it may not always come to pass).

When people volunteer their skills or even just offer a desire to help, the beginning of a community occurs. Community is where each supports the other, loves the other, shares and helps the other, where grace, forgiveness and mercy is shown (because Jesus showed grace mercy and forgiveness and helps us in our weakness). It is a commitment to help one another to grow, as Christ is committed to help us grow (to grow into His image and become Holy because He is Holy, ie sanctification).

With age, should come wisdom from experience and often does, yet age also comes a bit disconnected from youth. However wisdom must be passed onto youth(not just youth in age but youth in our walk with Christ) in humility, such that youth can understand the concept of biblical principles. Youth should then be allowed to apply such learnings into their own context and in such a way that applies to their people. This is now exciting, because both ends of the ages are connected, youth is learning biblical stuff and age is learning and understanding youth, thus both are in harmony. When this is applied and functions well and is done in love, with encouragement and support, community within the church is created, this creates a certain amount of unity and thus peace, which allows love to flourish.

What happens next is that people start living their lives in front of the community in which the church is located. The local community start to see the unity and love and this gets even more exciting. What happens now is people begin to see all this going on, it starts to draw them into the church community (not necessarily the church building) and they begin to see the love of Christ shed abroad. This stirs, challenges and convicts them, causing questions to be asked and as the Spirit leads answers are given and salvation occurs, because this is church being The Church.

The fire and the passion.

I feel that mans relationship with fire is a rather strange one. On the one hand we see fire as a necessity and on the other we fear its destructive potential. Through out history it has a revered place in mythology and appears in countless metaphors. It can be seen as a  moment of romance and we often use it descriptively to tell of the passion within us. It can be used as a purifier, as in the case of silver and gold, which must pass through the fire a number of times before it is considered pure. What happens in the case of purifying is that all the rubbish material is burnt off and only that which is actually silver or gold remains. Apparently the silver is considered pure when the silver smith can see their reflection in the metal.

When we have a passion within us, it usually starts with an idea or concept. Often the concept needs to pass through the fire to refine it, and to bring it fully into focus. When it is then we can tell people about it and begin to express our hearts desires. More than likely this will be met with people telling you to get a grip on yourself and that can’t you see all the problems ahead. Here, though, you must be filled with determination, because this is where you will pass through the fire of purification. This may be painful and hard, just hang in there knowing that your dream or calling will fill your life much more than just doing or not doing stuff.

When you are fully focused on your dream you can lean into your dream and begin to tell people how it will work out and what it will look like, you will be able to clearly express yourself and you will be filled with determination and passion. The fire within you will start to burn and drive you to dizzying heights of success. (Beware the destructive power that comes from pride, for no man achieves success without the help of others.)

If you have a dream, don’t let it go, light a fire of passion in it, that it may burn away the rubbish and give you clarity, focus and direction, let it consume you that you and your dream maybe pure. Speak out the picture of your dream, write it down and read it regularly. Think about it, dream it, be it and then start it, when you do then you truly will be you.

If your not sure what your dream is, or how to start your dream, don’t, what ever you do, abandon it. Your dream is the real you calling you to be the best you, you can be. Talk to friends, family, or get an independent view point, get a coach. What ever you do, grab a hold of your dream, run with it and become the best version of you, because that’s what God made you to be.