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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Evangelism Insights

Evangelism is proclaiming and sharing the gospel message with the world.  We do it in numerous ways and by various means, but we are all called to do it.  Evangelism should be at the core of what we do as churches open in the name of Jesus.

We can proclaim the gospel by preaching, witnessing, or even through written material such as Bible tracts.  We can share the gospel by demonstrating our love for Christ and our fellow man through service, addressing the needs of those within our communities, and personal testimony, sharing our own trials and struggles that provides hope to those who live in darkness. We have many open avenues to share the Good News.  We must be sure that our people are exercising their God-given giftedness to glorify God and edify the body of Christ "for the work of the ministry."

If we do not proclaim and share the gospel, we neglect one of the main purposes of the church’s existence as well as one of the greatest commands of the Lord and the least that we could do since being saved by His shed blood.  You ought to see that god is so good that you can't help but talk it up with others.  It should be so good to you that you can't contain yourself.

For more posts on evangelism, please visit Rev. Bruce's Blog.  Also, be sure to visit our Life Path Storefront for S.O.W.S. (Salvation Offered Without Strings) and A Short Course on Evangelism.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Action Steps

"Action expresses priorities."- Gandhi

There is a time for analysis.  You study and survey the current condition, and then you become aware of what is really going on within and around your organization.  That's analysis and it leads to awareness.  From there, you will need to take some form of action.

Taking action doesn't mean just jumping out an doing something.  You have to be sure to do the right thing.  Taking the right action is critical.  When you step out to do whatever, you are guaranteed to get whatever in return.  You want to be precise with which actions are necessary and deliberate in taking those actions. 

Your goal is to identify the right action steps to take in moving forward.  You need a plan.  You need action steps to guide you in accomplishing your plan.  Too many people simply do and end up making due because they are working without a plan.  They are just shooting from the hip and taking on whatever comes their way.  That leads to disaster.

Identify 3 things that you can do about an existing problem this week.  Think like you need to get started today. What's the immediate action? What's the next step? Finally, what will be the follow-up to those action steps? Taking action requires accountability, too.  You have to ensure that the assignment is followed through until the end.  Review what needs to be done, and then keep track of what you do and its impact.  You may need to do more to get to the solution.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep Your Options in Perspective

"Sooner or later, usually sooner, a business requires a decision." - Peter Drucker


All of your options are not equal.  Some are broad and wide open, while others are slim and narrow.  Each option must be evaluated.  Once you know your options and what each entails, then you can decide which option is a best fit for you and your organization.

Take a moment and list all of your options for the decision that you are facing.  Consider the pros and cons.  Weigh each option carefully.  Look down the road and see the potential impact each will have on your organization and those tied to your organization.  You want to evaluate your options to see what you and your organization can live with.  Nothing is final during this stage.  You are simply processing your options and putting them in proper perspective based upon the factors at hand.

If it will keep you up at night and cause you to lose sleep, that may not be your best option if you have other choices.  If it is something that will lead you down a path that will cause damage and destruction for you and your organization, consider exploring other options.  If you need to wait for another option to come about, you must ask yourself if timeliness is factor or not.  Waiting could prove costly if you need an immediate decision.  As you explore your options, maintain your focus.  Keep in mind what you are seeking to do.  You do not want to drift or detour from the main objective while exploring your options to solve the problem and make a sound decision.

Options exist.  You must fully explore and evaluate your options, and then exercise the best option that you have available to you.  There are moral and ethical considerations, especially for people of faith.  You probably have more options available to you than you think.  The goal is to identify what you can and cannot live with as a final decision.  Yet, it is inevitable that you make a decision, sooner or later.

  • Explore your options
  • Evaluate your options
  • Exercise your best option

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cyber Challenges

"The ways in which churches are reaching out to people over the Internet are expanding."- The Barna Group

You have a website.
So what?
Your pastor is podcasting, blogging and streaming videos daily.
So what?
Your ministry team is using social networking and microblogging, tweeting and texting at a fast pace.
So what?

Identify more than what you are doing.  That's just the evidence of some form of effort.  You have to get to the point to where you actually measure the effectiveness of what you are doing.
Think it through.  You do not want to simply do something.  You want to do something that changes the world.  You want to face your cyber challenges with purpose and intent, confirming the call and cause of your mission and taking action to bring it forth.

Take a moment and see what tools exist that can help and support you to have a critical web presence.  Look at Techmission and Tech Soup for articles and solutions on using technology to its full advantage.  Invest some time engaging your team and focus groups into how to use technology to communicate internally and externally as well as broadcast sermons and services offered by your church or organization.  Take the time to turn your cyber challenges into Internet innovations.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Relationships = Resources

Here is a simple equation: Relationships = Resources.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. - John 15:4 (NIV)

Relationships are the basis for new partnerships and clients. Get to know people and you start to see how they can serve as resources in numerous ways.  Think about who you know and how they know others.  If you are a pastor, I dare you to look over the sea of faces that are within your congregation and see how many work for the local government and school system versus those who are part of the private sector.  Each one of those faces staring back at the pulpit represent resources and connections to other resources.  What you do with those relationships makes the differences. Do you only call on them when you need them? Or, do you call on them for prayer or just to check in, too?

Relationships represent resources.  You have to see beyond previous issues and humble yourself to see what the person represents.  Did they agree or disagree with the direction you took the church with the new building project? That's not the issue.  Did you leave room reconciliation? That's the big question.  People disagree all of the time in church.  As a pastor or Christian leader, you need to get used to it and even expect it to a degree.  People are people. 

Gain resources by developing relationships.  You need to be sure to develop and maintain your relationships.

You need to manage your relationships.  Don't let people slip away or become out of sight and out of mind.  Stay in touch with members who move away.  You never know how much you may need help from somebody from out of town. Be a bridge builder in your church and your community.

Develop more relationships by:
  • Expanding circle of influence & support
  • Forming genuine bonds through Christian fellowship
  • Learning not to hold grudges but keep doors open while not burning bridges

 
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I posted a "special message" via my e-newsletter today.
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Check out the Twitter "tweets" from Rev. Bruce @ www.twitter.com/lifepath01/
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Inclusion in the Body

"Only through Him are we one."- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


We need to seek growth in our individual members rather than growth in our membership.

The church's growth can stem from how the church grows each individual.  Part of the responsibility in Christian leadership is to feed His sheep.  We can help individuals grow on two levels: individualistic and inclusive.  As far as individualistic, we have to get personal.  We need to personalize our discipleship.  Use mentors and spiritual coaches or guides.  Look at Titus 2 to see how Paul prescribes the development of the people by the people.  In addition, we need to use strategies that make individuals feel included.  These are called "inclusive strategies." People feel that they are part of the Christian family, part of the larger group.  They feel connected and included in the ministry and work of the church.  We do so through fellowship and discipleship, coming alongside of an individual and surrounding them with care and love.

People need to feel:
  • Invited, not itemized
  • Included, not isolated
  • Involved, not intimidated
Don't let anyone under your care feel like you do not care about them.  Extend yourselves in grace and love with compassion and concern.  Make individuals feel included.  Become unified and live together as one body under Christ.  By doing so, these same members will share with others about the difference that the church has made in their Christian walk and lead others to Christ and possibly to your church.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Discipleship and Development

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

-Ephesians 4:11-16 (NKJV)



We should strive to reach perfection. As we work in ministry, building up and strengthening the believers under our care, we are to lead them with teaching and training that guides them to become a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Our work is cut out for us. We are to work with imperfect people as imperfect people, helping one another to become more like Christ day by day despite our sinful nature. Like the Apostle Paul, an internal war wages within us with two opposing sides- our new nature versus our old nature. At times, we must rely upon the strength of the Lord to continue in striving. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your development as you assist in the discipleship and development of others.

You are called to oversee what happens with the people under your leadership.  You must intercede on their behalf.  You may not always feel up to it.  You may not always feel appreciated.  You are called to serve as a leader. 

Disciple your people.  Teach your people.  Train your people.  Do all so that your people will mature in perfection towards the  perfect man that they are destined to become in His name.  It is part of your calling.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reputation Recovery

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
- Proverbs 22:1 (ASV)

A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one’s birth.
- Ecclesiastes 7:1 (ASV)

If you are in business, whether for-profit or nonprofit, you may have to deal with negative sentiments from customers, vendors, competitors and the media.  There may be bad news abuzz in the community about the services that you offer through your parachurch organization or faith-based nonprofit.  Perhaps you will need to spruce up your public image a bit after a major setback like a highly-publicized lawsuit or the tragic death of a key high-ranking official like the CEO or the senior pastor.  Bad news spreads like wild fire.  No matter how you look at it, you may need to take some action in order to change things about how your organization or business is viewed by the public.

You may need to do something extreme in order to recover from ruinYour actions may need to be deliberate and distinct to get your business out of the dumps.  Resurrect your reputation with dignity and deliberate action.  Rebuild your team from a loser to a winning team.  Recovery starts long before you see any tangible results. Get the process started with prayer and planningUnderstand the market and its current conditions and factors, whether Christian or not.

Look at monitoring online comments about your organization or business.  Spark some good news of your own.   Get social by using Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and industry related social networks like http://www.gather.com/ or http://www.linkedin.com/.   Start an online newsletterGet to bloggingUse customer relationship management software or programs.  Make it known that you are in business and here to stay.

Don't neglect starting small.  Look at sponsoring a local Pop Warner or Little League team.  Get your IT team volunteering to work with the computer labs in your local schools or community centersStart your outreach door to door among your neighbors within your local community.  Write an op-ed articles in local newspapers on the causes that you support or oppose .  Sponsor dinner or offer door prizes at monthly meetings of local PTA or community organizations like the friends of the library or the neighborhood watch.  Just get busy doing good. 

Let others see and sense your presence.  Display your logo where you sponsor and support.  If it costs another $100 to move up to the Golden Giver or Platinum Patron, find it, borrow it or whatever.  Get your visibility up close and personal at charity events and special activities in your local community.  Recover your reputation.


Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;     
A stranger, and not your own lips.
- Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV)

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
-Matthew 6:3-4 (NKJV)

Working towards Perfection

Without prayer, the plans are bound to fail, the preparation will fall short, and the performance will not maximize the resources.  Start with prayer.

Prayer
1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Plan
Proverbs 16:3, 9

Prepare
Luke 14:28-33

Perform
James 1:22

Perfect
Matthew 5:48

Your praying should start before you get started planning.  We are advised to pray without ceasing.  We are to pray about everything, being thankful and watchful.  Our prayer time should lead us to a phase of planning that opens our hearts and minds to all that God wants us to accomplish in His name and for His glory. 

Pray for God to reveal ideas to you.  Pray for Him to confirm what you are endeavoring to do.  Pray for discernment to recognize where not to go.  Pray for the strength to boldly stand on the promises of God in spite of what others may have to say to you or about you.

If you are planning, you ought to be praying.  Planning and preparing should lead to performing.  Once you have performed, you need to perfect.  Let Christ be your goal of perfection.  As you perfect your plans and performance, let the Lord perfect you to be more like Christ.  Become what He has called you to be in His name.

He has a perfect plan.  Let Him reveal it to you and see where you fit into His plan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shepherding is Serving

I had to throw this out there before Sunday came along.  Some will call me all sorts of names for posting this.  Others will probably start some sort of fan club for it.  Truthfully, I put this out there for those who lead the people of God, the body of Christ.  If you know any pastor or Christian leader, please pass this along to them
"Gospel ministers are servants."- C.H. Spurgeon

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
- 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV)

The New Living Translation puts it this way for verse 3: "Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example." I find it ironic that those who are called to lead would seek to lord over the people.  They are called to be examples, not extortionists.  Peter addresses the issue in regards to stewardship, having been entrusted by the Lord to care for His people, the sheep of His pasture.  If you have been entrusted by God to care for His own people, be certain that He will offer us all that we need to minister to His people based upon what they need and what the Lord has called us to do individually.


In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people.- Mark 10:45 (NCV)

If you pastor or lead other Christians, keep all of this in mind.  He can use whoever He desires, but He chose you from among the flock to lead His flock.  You have to keep that in mind as you stand before God's people.  The chief duty of the Christian leader is to support and strengthen the body of Christ-the body of believers- in their faith and service. 

Paul charged his understudies Titus and Timothy to serve as "examples" to the people.  In fact, he went so far as to share with the church at Corinth that he was providing an example for them to follow as He followed the perfect example of Jesus Christ.  Give your people an example to follow that points back to the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Serving should be self-less and sacrificial.  Let God lead just as you let God use You.  As you serve. keep the examples of Jesus and Paul, even Peter as a "fellow elder." Serve the Lord by helping His people grow in spiritual maturity as their spiritual leader.

After all, the minister is called to be a servant.  The Lord Himself was considered the Suffering Servant.  Minister to the people under your care.  Take a proactive approach to serving as a Christian leader, considering how you can be of service to yours and more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seeing the Significance in the Insignificant

The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.- Amos 1:1 (NKJV)

The Book of Amos unveils the burden laid upon Amos, one of the 12 minor prophets of the Old Testament.    Oddly enough, Amos is wedged somewhere between the joyous coming of the Lord, the Messiah, in Joel and the obscurity of Obadiah.  Amos reveals to all of us that God could take any of us and use us to deliver His message or to exemplify His love through social justice. 

This OT prophecy opens with the seemingly insignificant.  Yet, if we know anything from reading opening verses in the Bible, we learn how captivating an opening should be to its reader.  An opening should reveal the significance of what's about to be read.  Unfortunately, Amos didn't get that memo. 

Amos was a sheepbreeder, also known as a herdsman, not a son of some priestly order like many of his predecessors and peers.  Amos was from Tekoa near Bethlehem.  That's not a region known for its production and promotion of prophets.  He may have served during the reigns of two great kings: Uzziah and Jeroboam.   That didn't matter much either.  He even pointed out that this prophecy came about  two years before the earthquake, making it clear that it wasn't due to the earthquake in question.  The opening of the Book of Amos seems to shed light on the insignificant.

Whether you see these events and activities as one big list of insignificance or not, you have to see the significance that it does bring out about Amos and his times.  Consider that the shepherd heard from God concerning Israel  during the reigns of Judah being split from IsraelGod called a herdsman from Tekoa to deliver His message to Israel.  He did so two years prior to a significant event in the region- the earthquake.

That's in the Bible.  What about how you open your messages concerning your business and brand?
  • How about your conversations with people? Do you stir up interest in your business?
  • Do people feel that your company stands out or just blends in?
  • If someone overheard you speaking to a client, could they pick up on your depth of how-to knowledge combined with your genuine concern and compassion for those with whom you serve?
  • Despite outside events like earthquakes and other tragedies, could your business withstand a financial storm or a family storm?
Use what seems insignificant to stress the significance of what you do and how you do it differently from the crowd.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Support Systems

Support Systems*

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2 (KJV)

People recover from addiction due to their systems of supportRehab works on an impatient basis for many people because some of these same people do not have a solid and grounded support system in their families or environment. Therefore, many who try rehab on an outpatient basis find themselves relapsing more than recovering. People make changes where they have genuine systems of support to rely upon.

Don't go out of your way to share how much you do to help the man on the street. Save your breath about the mounds of spare pocket change that you offer the needy that hold cardboard signs that say: Will Work for Food. I do not say so because such things do not matter. I say so because the believer is to do such things no matter what. It is not exceptional to do good works. It is expected of us.

Go further in doing good. Don't just do good. Take it to a higher level. Develop relationships so that those you help are no longer considered that guy or the people who are always over there. Shift your perspective on helping by getting even closer to those who are in need of help. Start seeing things differently by seeing the people whom you help differently.

Look at Saint Francis, the patron saint who serves as the model for Franciscan monks.  He was a rich, talented and unruly young man.  He was so convicted following his own conversion that he renounced his family's wealth and lived in poverty.  He developed new relationships with the poor, the needy, and animals and plants.  He became more in tune with God's creation as a whole as he sacrificed and served like the Lord Himself.


Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.- Matthew 6:2-4 (ESV)

*This blog post was originally intended as an extended post or article.  After some deep and earnest prayer, I have opted to shorten the post into sections and create a series on building systems of support in our personal lives and in our businesses and/ or ministries.