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Dimensions of Christian Leadership

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Giza pyramids

I love building capacity in seasoned and emerging Christian leaders. As I do this, I find it helpful to focus my energies on seven key dimensions of leadership (see the Christian Leadership Pyramid below). I often ask myself how I'm personally growing in each of these areas and how I can help others grow in these dimensions as well. Here is how each dimension builds upon the other:  

Biblical Truth   

Biblical truth must guide every aspect of our leadership. It is imperative that we increasingly live and lead in keeping with a thoroughly biblical worldview. This comes as we grow in our ability to meditate on God's Word continuously[1], to handle it accurately[2], and to be a courageous practitioner of the Word[3].

A Growing Relationship with God

The desired foundation of Christian leadership is a growing relationship with God. The Christian leader must continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in him[4]. As we abide in Christ, he will bear fruit through us[5]. I find that the practice of spiritual disciplines, when done in a meaningful way, rallies me to God and His plans for my life. One of the most useful tools I have found for establishing and growing these disciplines is the Rule of Life. A Rule of Life is an intentional plan to deepen one's relationship with God and to position oneself to love and serve others more effectively. Similar to what Peter Scazzero says in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality [6], I am learning that one's Rule of Life should encompass all of life. This would include practicing traditional spiritual disciplines such as prayer and listening to God through His Word, but also cultivating healthy relationships, fostering emotional health, and taking care of my body (among others).

Character

Character is the second layer of the leadership pyramid. As we increasingly submit ourselves to Christ's Lordship and experience an ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to imitate God and follow Jesus' example of love[7]. Scripture describes many admirable character qualities such as the fruit of the Spirit[8], being wise[9], holy[10], just[11], humble[12], and courageous[13]. Growth in these kinds of qualities greatly enhances our ability to reflect Christ and lead in God-honouring ways. I believe we will acquire these traits in increasing measure as we surrender ourselves to God, deal with sin in our lives, associate with godly people, leverage Scripture to bring about necessary change, allow trials to shape our character, and expose ourselves to opportunities that foster growth in desired areas.

Calling

4 Ways to Strengthen Your Small Group

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

small group
Have you ever wondered why some small groups thrive while others spin their wheels? Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to take move your group into a healthier position?

Jim Egli and Dwight Marable have discovered that groups that see people accept Christ, increase in size, and multiply into additional groups have four things in common. Their book called Small Groups - Big Impact: Connecting People to God and One Another in Thriving Groups outlines these commonalities. Let's take a look at each factor:  

Prayer

The study found that 83% of groups that had a leader who modelled and facilitated prayer saw someone come to Christ in the past nine months (versus 19% of groups that did not have a praying leader). Praying leaders spend time with God. They actively pray for group members and group meetings. They pray for unsaved people in their lives and in the lives of others within the group. As the leader and others in the group engage in a lifestyle of prayer, people sense God’s presence in the group. Life change happens. People get saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of group?

Outreach

When group leaders and their groups have an outreach focus, they are much more likely to see people come to Christ. The study found that 90% of groups with this kind of focus saw someone come to Christ in the last six months (versus 11% of groups without this outreach emphasis). In the book, Egli and Marable talk about the five I’s of reaching out: 

    • Investment - Members spend time with friends in order to share Christ
    • Invitation – Leaders encourage members to invite others
    • Intention - Outreach is a stated purpose of the group
    • Intercession – Group members pray during their meetings for unsaved friend 
    • Imitation - Leaders model relational outreach

If we want to grow our small groups, outreach needs to be an important part of group life.

Care

The Power of Disciple-Making Action

  • 26 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

The Celtic Way was a form of Christian faith that flourished among the people of Ireland during the Middle Ages. The Celtic Church saw much of Ireland converted to Christianity in a very short period and then they sent missionaries throughout Europe.

The Celtic Way has given us a model on how to disciple people from even before they start to believe. These unbelievers were invited into their community to belong (to see, experience, participate), which helped them later to believe. I think it would be fair to say that they saw and experienced the Christian life being lived out before they heard it explained to them.  

I think we have mistakenly put too much emphasis on making disciples primarily through cognitive methods. From my experience, most people think making disciples and a Bible study are synonymous. 

If we continue to make disciples by predominantly teaching a system of beliefs through lectures or Bible studies, we will only perpetuate the problem that we have in our churches today—many religious people who adhere to a set of beliefs, instead of disciples who truly follow Jesus as a lifestyle and are transformed in the process.

Moving people from understanding a set of beliefs to practicing them is a huge hurdle for us today. The method we use to teach beliefs needs to be re-examined.

Jesus taught with words but he also showed them by living it so they could see it and not only hear it.

Paul got that. Here are a few of his words that show how he was intentional to use his life, not just his words, to teach people.

1 Thess 1:5 - "You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord."  

Notice how effective this was. They became like Jesus. If it were one of us writing this today, we would perhaps more honestly have to say: "You know how we taught among you for your sake. You listened to us and followed our doctrine.”

Phil 4:9 - "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me (words are our standard method of discipleship), or seen in me (imitation or example is another pattern of discipleship), put into practice." 

Phil 3:17 - "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." 

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