MB Seminary provides leadership development and ministry training through MinistryLift so leaders and churches can increase their capacity to love God more deeply and serve others more effectively. MinistryLift builds capacity through workshops, training videos, and a variety of ministry resources. Learn more about MinistryLift here

4 Signs You Might Be Running Away

  • 30 September 2017
  • Keith Reed

woman sitting on suitcase looking at waterI'm fascinated with the story of Jonah and it has nothing to do with the fish. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against the fish—it plays a critical role in the story. I just find it too challenging to relate to.  

Jonah, on the other hand, is easy to relate to. He's more dramatic that I am, but I see himself in his story nonetheless. Jonah is a runaway and I too have my moments of running away from God. 

I've never boarded a ship destined to Tarshish, but I've developed other ways of turning away from God. I'm guessing you've done this too because most of us are experienced runners. Most of us can spot a runaway without much difficulty, but it's harder to see this in ourselves. Based on Jonah's story, here are a few signs that might help you discover if you've begun to wander. 

You're willing to sacrifice a lot for a questionable purpose  

Jonah flees to Tarshish which is noteworthy for two reasons: it's in the opposite direction from Nineveh and it's clear across the Mediterranean Sea. Jonah's voyage would have been very long and very expensive which signals he's willing to sacrifice a lot to avoid Nineveh (the detail about Jonah paying the fare in Jonah 1:3 helps us understand this point). 

The call to follow Jesus is intertwined with the call to live sacrificially. However, it's possible to sacrifice things that don't move us closer to Jesus. We must ensure that our sacrifices truly have God-honouring purposes before taking action. 

When you make a costly decision, do you invite others into your decision-making process or do you have a habit of doing this on your own? 

You use your feelings to justify your actions 

It's not uncommon for people to experience physiological side effects when something in their life is unhealthy. But the absence of indigestion or sleepless nights shouldn't give us complete confidence that our direction is perfectly aligned with what God is asking us to do.  

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

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