6 Keys To Turning Leaders Into Disciples

6 Keys To Turning Leaders Into Disciples

In a previous post, I summarized both my experience as a church planter and my doctoral research into the “11 Keys to Building Second-Generation Leadership”.  In that study, I discovered that those eleven  components can help build a vibrant second-generation leadership, BUT they are not sufficient for making disciples.

As your church plant grows, people need to grow.  When shepherds neglect this need, there is an exodus of those early supporters who leave in search of a place that is willing, and able, to feed their soul. If you want to keep your leaders from feeling the need to leave after the first couple years of planting, then the qualities that helped make them good leaders in the founding Core Team, need to be nurtured and developed so each person can become a flourishing disciple of Jesus.

In my research, I found that the following six characteristics were not necessary for people to become good leaders in a church plant, but they are essential if those same people are to become mature disciples.

  1. Teachable in Discipleship: Disciples have a growing desire to live a holy life of service and are willing to take direction and correction as needed.
  2. Humble Service to Church: Disciples recognize the growing needs of their church and are willing to expand their service to the congregation.
  3. Teachable in Scripture: Disciples start with a basic knowledge of Jesus, and continue in a life-long process of submission to the doctrines of the Apostles revealed in the Scripture.
  4. Bible Knowledge & Passion: Disciples have a desire not only to learn, but to demonstrate the truth of God in their daily experience.
  5. Mentoring Others: Disciples know that to grow, they must become disciple-makers.
  6. Small Group Participation: Disciples resist the impersonal inertia of a growing church, so they seek out small groups where they can exercise their gifts and demonstrate Christ’s love.

Church Planters… don’t be satisfied with a great start.  Find ways to build these six qualities into your ministry.  Finish well and bring all your leaders into mature discipleship!

Read more articles like this on my regular Column @ ChurchPlanting.Com
A Christian Genocide In Egypt

A Christian Genocide In Egypt

Today in Egypt, one of the most ancient Christian communities that predates the Islamic faith by hundreds of years is under attack.  Today in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is practicing genocide against anyone who follow Christ.  Women and girls as young as 12 are being raped and “converted” to Islam, young boys and men are routinely killed; yet the media remains silent to their plight.

Coptic Christians comprise up to 10% of Egypt’s 84 million people, and this minority population is being scapegoated to justify Islamic hate.  As reported by the National Review.

While Western media, following the lead of pro-Brotherhood Al Jazeera, continue demonizing the Egyptian military’s attempts to neutralize the Muslim Brotherhood terror bases – where people have been tortured, raped, and killed, all according to Islamist fatwas (yes, including the rape, more on this later) the media portray them as “sit ins” where Islamists are “holding vigil” only to be slaughtered by the military – the Western media has been incredibly silent about the terrors being visited on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the nation’s original inhabitants, by the very same people in the “sit ins.”

For starters, and as CBN’s Gary Lane just put it, “What do Muslim Brotherhood members do when Egyptian Security Forces launch a forewarned operation to clear them from Cairo tent cities? Attack Christians. That’s right. Morsi supporters responded with a monumental attack — unprecedented in modern times — on churches throughout Egypt. The torching and destruction of churches occurred within six hours of the start of the military crackdown.”

To those who are listenging, the agenda of of the Muslim Brotherhood and like-minded terrorists is clear.

Accordingly, among some Islamists, anti-Christian fury has taken on genocidal proportions. Recently a Libyan Muslim named Tamar Rashad called in to a talk show, saying “I want to offer the good news to [the Coptic Pope] Tawadros that, Allah willing, the day is coming when no Copt will ever again tread the ground of Egypt – and no churches. We will no longer allow churches to exist.” When the TV host appeared to protest, Rashad interrupted him saying, “It’s already decided, take your cameras and go to the churches and you’ll see what’s going to happen soon, Allah willing.”

Investors.com has published some of the attacks.

Ishaq Ibrahim from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group has documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country within the past few days. They include Thursday’s torching of the Prince Tadros Church in the province of Fayoum, where three similar attacks occurred on other churches the day before.

Islamists firebombed the Mar Gergiss Church in Sohag, a city with a large community of Coptic Christians, burning it to the ground. Islamists previously raised an al-Qaida flag over the church.

Another two places of worship, the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary, were attacked in El-Menia province, leaving them partially damaged by fire. St. Theresa Church in Assiut in Upper Egypt was also burned.

The National Catholic Reporter has reported more of the violent details.

In a widely published interview with The Associated Press, Franciscan Sr. Manal, principal of a school in Bani Suef, told of a six-hour ordeal in which a mob broke into the school, stole all computers and furniture and set multiple fires. At times, she told AP, she was overcome by fumes from the fire and tear gas from police. She said the mob knocked the cross off the street gate and replaced it with a black banner resembling the al-Qaida flag.

Manal said the school educated about equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, so when a parent who was a police officer had warned her the school was targeted by extremists, she did not pay attention.

After the attack, the extremists paraded Manal and two other nuns through the streets before a Muslim — a former teacher at the school — offered them shelter.

The list of attacks published by the Coptic Catholic church included a Franciscan-run church and school in Suez and three Catholic churches, a monastery and school damaged and burned in Assiut. Four Catholic churches, a convent and school in Minya, as well as a convent of Sisters of St. Mary in Cairo, were also according the website, which blamed “the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Mohammed Morsi, the former Egyptian president.”

Meanwhile, 35 Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches were attacked in various towns and cities, as well as an Anglican church in Suez.

Six Christian sites were burned by crowds in Fayoum and five others in Sohag, said the report, which added that all the incidents had been “verified by representatives of the Christian churches.”

Christian homes, shops and hotels were also looted in Minya, el-Arish, Assiut and Luxor, along with offices of the ecumenical Bible Society in Cairo, Assiut and Fayoum.

Sadly, for many Americans, if the news is not reported on CNN or NBC, they remain blissfully ignorant of, or even deny, the facts. But for anyone willing to listen, there is a genocidal evil occurring in Egypt.  I hope everyone reading will share this news, speak up for the lives of Christians being targeted by radical-Muslims, and do what you can to bring a quick end to this violence.

Praying for peace!

Beyond the Grave: Hope for Today!

Beyond the Grave: Hope for Today!

Year after year after year, politician proclaim, “I am your source of hope!”  “Trust in me and I will make your life better!”

Year after year after year, politicians fail to keep their promises, they blame everyone else for their failures, and still people elect them again and again and again.

I open this post about life beyond the grave with a political observation, because there is a better promise of hope.  We have recorded in the Bible a promise from Jesus that we will be raised to a new life.   This hope for life beyond the grave is far more reliable than ANY political promise and more reliable than ANY politician.  This hope for new life beyond the grave is more practical for today than any healthcare plan or tax cut you can imagine!

Here is what the Apostle Paul says about his hope for life beyond…

1 Corinthians 15:29-34 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

This man was beaten, imprisoned, stoned and whipped because he believed that Jesus raised from the dead.    I doubt any, but a few, reading this blog post can say they have put their convictions through this kind of test.  Paul risked everything for no personal gain.  In this short passage from his letter, we find three ways that hope in a personal resurrection from the dead changed the way Paul lived his life!

First, Resurrection Hope is the Reason For Evangelism (v. 29):

If Jesus died and remained in the tomb, there is no reason to share his message with the world.  There are plenty of teachers, gurus, and shamans in our world, if  Jesus did not raise from the dead, please find one of these other teachers and follow them.  If Jesus did not raise from the dead and if we have no hope of life beyond the grave, don’t waste your time with the Bible…

But, if Jesus did raise from the dead…

Second, Resurrection Hope is the Reason for Self-Sacrifice and Serving Others (v.30-32):

Let’s be real, if there is nothing beyond this life, then don’t try to be nice to others.. there is really no point in it.

  • The reason for serving others is not compassion.
  • The reason for helping people is not because they have needs.
  • The reason for making personal sacrifice is not based on the life of Christ or on a bracelet that asks, “WWJD?”
  • But the reason for serving and caring for others is the resurrection of Jesus that gives us hope for a future resurrection.  And if that resurrection is real, then the works we do today will have eternal value (to us and to others).  So please care for people now, because they have an eternity yet to live!

Third, Resurrection Hope is the Reason for Living Holy (v. 33-34)

If Jesus did not raise from the dead then I encourage you to party all night, live for pleasure, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or feels.  Get everything you can out of this life, because pleasure and looking out for yourself is all you have to gain.

But, if Jesus did raise from the dead…

Top 5 Books for Teams-Based Leadership

Top 5 Books for Teams-Based Leadership

None of us is as smart as all of us. ― Ken Blanchard

This is tough category to pick a “Top 5” for because there are a LOT of good books on team building (sadly, there is a lot of bad books too).  What I am attempting to provide is a good variety from the most recent set of books I have studied and applied to my own leadership.

I should also point out, that while most all of these books are written for the broader business world, each one has invaluable insight and application for both the Christian Non-Profit and Church leader.  If you are looking for more of a biblical foundation for teams, then read my review of “Embracing Shared Ministry” by Dr. Joseph Hellerman.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni

This is the first teams-based book that created a major paradigm shift in how I build teams. I first read this book while on staff at a church with a highly dysfunctional leadership and Lencioni opened my eyes to a better way.

Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great by Ruth Wageman, Debra A. Nunes, James A. Burruss, and J. Richard Hackman

This book lays the foundation for three team-essentials: 1. a real team, 2. a compelling purpose, and 3. the right people. It also outlines the structure for three team-enablers: 1. structure, 2. support, and 3. coaching. This book is targeting organizations with Senior Leadership Teams (SLT), but I find the basic principles valuable to teams at every level

Ordinary Greatness: It’s Where You Least Expect It … Everywhere by Pamela Bilbrey and Brian Jones

This is the book I wish every Christian would read.  So many of our churches are structured around the meg-star mentality, that we are missing out on the real power of ordinary greatness.  This book describes what God made us, the Church, to be and why he gave us a diversity of giftings from the Holy Spirit.

The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel

When one leaders moves on, you have to have a plan of succession, or you will fail. Building for the future is one of the biggest challenges leaders face, and this book will help inspire you to build a leadership pipeline that will keep your business or ministry moving forward.

 Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders by Barbara Kellerman

Another breath of fresh air coming from the business world.  “Followership” departs from the leader-centric approach that dominates both our business and church structures and brings respect to the role of follower. Followers matter, and the trend is accelerating where followers are becoming more important, and leaders less. This book will challenge the conventional thinking on how you build great teams.

I discuss all of these books in my podcast @ Christian Leadership Radio so you can listen to the archives for more insight. If you have your own ideas on what books should be in a top 5 list for building better teams, please be sure to leave a comment and a link. I am always looking for good ideas.

Beyond the Grave: Does it Matter?

Beyond the Grave: Does it Matter?

I have made several posts in my series on life after death.  So far I answered the questions, “Is it Real?” and “Is it believable?”.  In today’s post I wanted to address the question, “Does it Matter?”.

In thinking about the meaning of life beyond the grave, I was struck by the amazing story of James Maki, the nation’s second face transplant recipient. Maki, 59, was disfigured in June 2005, when he fell onto the electrified third rail in a subway station. His face and right arm were badly burned. Maki was left horribly disfigured.  Thanks to medical science, Maki discovered hope.

When Maki saw his new face four days after the April 9 transplant, he told the lead surgeon,“I can’t believe you made me look so close to what I used to look like.” Susan Whitman, the widow of Maki’s donor, said “I am elated that someone else can get a chance. It goes a long way to taking the sting out of my husband’s death.

This story has stuck with me for two reasons.

First, because James Maki, a man mocked, ridiculed and disfigured from this accident, got a second face and a second chance at life.

Medical technology in the West is doing some incredible things.  There was a time when the idea of a face transplant was the stuff of science fiction stories, but now it is a reality.  There was a time when nobody believed such a miracle was possible, but now it is a scientific fact.  There was a time when this man’s life would have been forfeit, yet thanks to modern medicine, Maki now has hope of a second chance.

If our minds can be opened to the possibility of a second-chance through medicine, then our minds should be open to the possibility of a second-chance through the resurrection-life of Jesus 2,000 years ago.    The Apostle Paul gives insight into just such a hope.

1 Cor. 15:12-19 (ESV)
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

For Susan Whitman, the use of her dead husbands face to give Maki a second chance removed the emotional sting of death.  For all Mankind, the resurrection of Christ matters because it removes the sting of Death!

Second, I love this story because Susan Whitman used it to bring purpose to her husband’s death. She was thankful that one man’s death can bring hope to another.

Think for just one minute how marvelous this story is.  A wife faces the death of her husband.  She is grieved and without hope.  Then, through the power of medicine, she discovers that her husbands death can have meaning.  She discovers that her loss, can be gain for someone else.

1 Cor. 15:20-28 (ESV)
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection, it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

For a grieving widow, science gave hope, we must consider the power of the resurrection of Christ matters because it gives us hope that we can have freedom from our sin!

These are just two reasons why the Resurrection of Jesus matters.  In the next post, I will share some thoughts from 1 Cor 15 on how the Resurrection of Jesus changes our perspective on life and gives us new purpose.

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