Archives For February 2015

Leaders want to take everyone with them to the next level. They want to inspire people to go beyond what is now. Since most of us want to be liked, we have a hard time processing resistance. We believe that reasonable people will see the light in the plan we are proposing and enthusiastically support it.

That is hardly ever the case. People are…human. Flawed, imperfect. Just like you! In every organization you will find the supporters, go-getters and on-boarders as well as the downers, dissenters and dissatisfied.

If you spend your time trying to get the last three on board, your train will never leave the station.

Here are three principles to remember when you deal with those three D’s:

  1. Its ok not to take everyone.

Some can’t go. You can’t require gallon size production from pint sized people.

Some won’t go. They have seen the future and they enthusiastically wish to stay where they are.

Some shouldn’t go. If they did, they would only mess it up for the others.

Leaders recognize the three types and deal with them accordingly. Do me a favor. Repeat to yourself at least three times every day: It’s ok not to take everyone.

The pain of losing the three D’s is always less than the pain they will produce if they come with you. What I am trying to tell you is that it will be painful either way.

You choose.

  1. Ask yourself the hard questions.

Your must deal in reality, not make believe. That process starts with asking yourself hard, honest questions. John Maxwell invites leaders to ask themselves the following hard ones:

How much of my energy will I let them take? How much of my time will I let them take? How much of my focus will I let them take? How much of my joy will I let them take? How much of the resources will I let them take? Maxwell, John C. (2014-10-07). Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership

  1. Not your job description.

Don’t you think God has been trying to change those D’s before you even knew them? He hasn’t succeeded yet. What makes you think you can do a better job? When people show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM! If they could have changed, they would have by now. Don’t stop loving them, but understand that maybe it won’t be you leading them.

 

What are your thoughts? What do you do about downers, dissenters and dissatisfied? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

The words Cyber Attack revealed in computer machine code through a magnifying glass  - stock photoHe said. She said. He shared an EGW quote, she doubled it. If you noticed, internet drama is common, even expected. Nothing wrong with expressing your views and convictions online, after all, it’s YOUR wall, but I wanted to take a moment to ask for reflection. Before you engage in another of those internet skirmishes, think of this:

  1. 1. As you look at our present discussion over WO, #Surge, whatever, is the tone of the present discussion more or less likely to attract unbelievers to the church?
  2. Why do you feel the need to get defensive over every point?
  3. After engaging in an internet skirmish, do you feel closer to God? To your brother and sister?
  4. Are there better things you could be doing?
  5. Do you really think the other side will change because you provided a list of quotes?
  6. How much time do you spend praying for people you disagree with? As much time as you spend arguing?
  7. You do know that unbelievers are monitoring the conversation, right?
  8. When young people watch you write are they inspired to grow closer to God or is it just another confirmation in their minds about church people having irrelevant conversations?
  9. How many people have you personally led to Christ in the last 12 months?
  10. Who died and appointed you God?

 

Stick to the main thing and make sure the main thing remains the main thing.

God honors, God honoring risk.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntsville Alabama is a growing, solid, innovative Adventist church from South Central Conference. Recently an article on a local newspaper created quite a stir. (http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2015/02/seventh-day_adventist_sunday.html)

Some loved the idea. Some hated it with a passion. Some are adopting a wait and see attitude. Social media has been buzzing with the news and the story has gone semi-viral.

Since I minister primarily to pastors and leaders, this becomes a great opportunity for a teaching moment. When making a decision that involves risk, it is wise to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Why are we doing this?

Is it a passion to reach unbelievers? The Huntsville First has averaged 3 baptisms per week in the last 2 years. They have regularly done (yearly) evangelism. Traditional reaping meetings have brought over 100 people (in one meeting!) I get the sense that this church is fueled by reaching out, that their purpose is not to mask Adventist identity but to find as many avenues as possible to make our message known.

In every decision, the why precedes and informs everything else. That is determined by scripture, not social media.

  1. Who are we doing this for?

The purpose of the meeting states the intent. It is to be a first point of contact with unbelievers. After reading and interacting with people on social media, there is a concern that we don’t compromise or identity just to reach unbelievers. I feel you. If the past is any indication, Pastor Snell has used his Wednesday night prayer meeting time to connect with the community. Those initial connections on Wednesday, for felt-need type classes have resulted in people accepting the Adventist message and joining the remnant church. It amazing to see the level of vitriol by people that have never even been there or read much about the purpose. The same desire is fueling this.

  1. What are we doing?

It was surprising to me the amount of negative feedback. Growing up in the Inter-American division we always had worship on Sunday night. It was a staple of our week. The interesting thing is that our division is one of the most conservative, traditional and growing, yet they meet every week on Sunday for an evangelistic service. So, meeting on Sunday for worship and sharing our beliefs is been done by thousands of churches. It’s not new. Maybe it’s the time of the day that has people riled up, because having church on Sunday itself has not proven to be a first step to compromise in thousands of churches around the world.

  1. What safeguards are in place?

It’s important, even when venturing on a new endeavor to ask for prayer and counsel. It is my understanding that Pastor Snell did not wake up one Sunday morning and said: “Hey, let’s have church everybody.” While we must all be open to counsel, we also must respect the local church process of months, even years that led here. Here are some quotes to consider:

“For some months we have been planning to hold grove meetings near St. Helena, Calistoga, and other places in the Napa Valley. The first one was held on Sunday, June 7, in the Hot Springs Park, at Calistoga. The conference lent us some folding chairs. The members of the Calistoga church are anxious to carry the truth to those who have not heard it, and they made thoughtful preparation for the meeting. We were confident that open-air meetings would be the means of reaching some who would not attend a service held in a church. And thus they have proved.” – {Ev 405.1}

“The brethren in Melbourne are considering the matter of securing land upon which to build a humble house of worship. The halls which can be obtained are neither convenient nor suitable for the worship of God. We are glad that the number of Sabbath keepers is increasing to such an extent that the halls are not large enough to accommodate those who assemble on the Sabbath for the worship of God. We should have places of meeting so that on Sunday those who are inclined to hear the truth might come out to the services. The Lord has many souls in Melbourne and its suburbs who have not yet heard anything in regard to present truth. They have not heard the warning message of the third angel, but it must be given to the people, and we must do all that lies in our power to proclaim the message.”
-EGW, Manuscript Releases Volume Twenty, page 165, paragraph 4

“Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience.” — Testimonies Vol. 9T 233.

 

God honors God honoring risk. I will pray for First Church. They need my prayers more than my opinions.

Here is Pastor Snell himself in the Podcast, courtesy of PELC Power Tools http://www.pastorsleadership.org/media

 

 

 

Maybe I am naïve. Maybe I have not been living in the real world, but it seems to me that the level of vitriol, accusations and slander INSIDE the church has risen in recent years. I average a conversation a week with a pastor or church leader that is recovering from deep wounds inflicted by another Christian. One pastor shared with me how the level of attacks got so bad his wife stated taking anxiety meds and every time the phone rang she would jump. Where is Jesus in that?

It’s common. It’s painful. It must stop.

When we seek to engage others in a destructive manner, it serves three painful purposes:

  1. Distracting

I call it chasing “the devils rabbits”. Most of the time that is spent arguing and debating personal viewpoints that are secondary issues (and believe me, most are) is time that could be better spent in sharing positive messages, connecting people with Christ, and loving and serving our neighbors. At the end of the day, no one changes their mind and you don’t lose your old opinion, only a friend. I personally commit to spend less time responding and more time doing. Will you join me?

  1. Discouraging

Do you ever wonder what people outside the church think about our petty fights? Do you think that by reading some of our “Adventist” websites and blogs they would see the church they would like to join or divisiveness they would like to avoid? Do you think our present conversation on Women in Ministry for example encourages or discourages unbelievers? Are you taking into consideration that your words against a fellow believer can be read by non-members? Is your tone helpful? Are your words building bridges or walls? At the end of the day, any conversation that keeps people from the kingdom is not productive, no matter how holy the author proposes to be.

  1. Destructive

If there is anything that breaks my heart more is hearing about good leaders that want to stop, quit or leave as a result of internet attacks. Some call it relentless. Some have shared with me that it took them into depression. I had a friend of mine that shared some worship principles in a conference, and when she got home, there were messages in her answering machine from other Christians telling her she was going to hell. All this over a worship style! Her mom heard it before she did and started crying.  Words matter. They hurt real people with real lives.

My call to all of us, is to please stop. Please reconsider posting inflammatory videos. Don’t resort to personal attacks. Let’s be the church where unbelievers are critical of what we believed but amazed about how we loved each other.