community

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

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Leading a Small Group

  • 15 September 2017
  • Keith Reed

Deep thoughtIt's hard to multiply small groups if you don’t have small group leaders. And when churches are flooded with people who want to join a group, the logical solution is to launch new groups—even if there isn't anyone to lead them. This is a "problem" well worth solving because groups carry the potential to be excellent incubators of spiritual growth. But it comes with two obvious challenges: 

1. How to find suitable leaders for new groups (most people don't want to lead small groups)  
2. How to train new leaders before their groups begin 

What should you do?

There are many ways to locate and discern new leaders (here are 10 strategies for recruiting volunteers), so I will focus here on the second challenge: how to train new leaders.

Leadership training is critical to ministry success and an effective way to equip new leaders is by sending them resources that they can access on their own time. Our small groups ministry page is designed with this in mind

However, there might be an occasion when there simply isn't enough time for new leaders to be trained before their first meeting. And even for those who have been adequately trained, the experience of leading a small group will prompt new experiences and questions. After all, no two groups are the same.   

I asked followers of our MinistryLift Facebook page to give their advice to first-time small group leaders. They delivered some wise comments that you can view here (please add to the ongoing conversation).

Here are 5 things I wish I knew before I led a small group for the first time: 

Pastoral Care as Discipleship through Life's Challenges

  • 24 August 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

As I sat in church, I saw her: burden showing on her face with tears gently flowing over her cheeks. I moved quietly from where I was to sit at her side and said, "Can I help?" This woman was not new to the congregation—not a seeker, but a longtime member. The sadness in her eyes matched her sorrowful words as she said, "I don’t think I can tell anyone in church what is really going on in my life." 

A heaviness came over me and lingered with me as I reflected on the depth of what she was saying. This woman feared sharing her burden with believers. How could that be? In the times of life's great challenges, we need to be drawn not just to the house of the Lord, but to the community of believers. Pastoral care—the demonstration of Christ’s compassion—should be found within the community of faith.

Charles Gerkin wrote of the need to rediscover the congregation as the primary agents of care for the members, saying that "in a sense, we who have from generation to generation made up the Christian community have always known that the primary source of Christian nurture and care lies in the gathering together of God's people" [1]. Gerkin asserts that while knowing this, we as a community of believers have given the dominant emphasis of this ministry to the ordained. It is important therefore for each of us as believers to remember that the term pastoral as used in our Judeo-Christian tradition has a communal connotation denoting the care of the community for its members. Ronald Sunderland states, "It derives from the figurative language of Jewish scriptures and, supremely, from the Lord's care of Israel (Psalm 23, 80)" [2]. 

As I sat with the woman who was burdened by life, could I enter her story, hear it for what it was, and demonstrate God as not only present, but active in her life? Could I enter in without the platitudes or the rush for her to claim victory? Could I just be with her in her challenge until she could see her burden in Christ's hands?

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