Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Foundation of a Healthy Church

As you many of you know, I am the Lead Pastor at a church in Richmond, VA. Dayton Birt of Redemption Ministries contacted me when he knew that I was going to be transitioning. There was a church in the conference that was once very predominant, but over the past several years has declined rapidly.

My wife, Dianna, and I found a group of people who wanted to touch their community with the Gospel. They had raised the white flag. I am not speaking of surrendering to Jesus (which they have done), but rather they had surrendered their past traditions, failures and successes. We feel that there is a great group of core people left to see this church "thrive" in their community.

During this revitalization project we have renamed the church to Thrive Church. We have retooled our Core Values and mission. Right now on Wednesdays we are looking at what a "healthy church" is made up of. Our goal is not to grow as fast as possible, but to become a healthy core that can grow healthy with God's timing. Unhealthy people need a healthy environment to flourish in. They will either want to become healthy, or leave.

Last Wednesday I introduced the core team at Thrive Church to the 10 Commandments of a healthy church. Dr. Sam Chand said this, "What is more important than strategy or vision? Your culture." The culture of an organization must be inspiring and encouraging, yet it must also have accountability. These 10 commandments are just guidelines to help us to remember what creates an inspiring and desirable culture.

The 10 Commandments of a Healthy Church:

          1. Thou Shall Worship God and not a Ministry Style or Tradition (past, present or future).
          2. Thou Shall Not Gossip about Others and Spread your “Opinions” to Other people about them.

          3. Thou Shall _____________________________. (Let this be open) 

          4. Thou Shall not Desire Positions but rather just be People of Production.
          5. Thou Shall not Run People off from the Church by being Mean to Them.

          6. Thou Shall be Willing to be Flexible to Find the Best Way for the Health and Growth of the Church and its People. (Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape)

          7. Thou Shall Embrace Other Races and Cultures. (racism and prejudice are  condemned by God and a mark of an immature disciple or worse, an unbeliever)
          8. Thou Shall not GET OFFENDED or STAY OFFENDED, but will act like mature adults when conflict arises. 

          9. Thou Shall work with others in a team ministry format to see the 8 systems come to pass. (speaking of Nelson Searcy's 8 Systems)
          10. Thou Shall be Generous with Lavishing Love on Others, Serving and Financial Giving.

I know there are HUNDREDS of these we could come up. These are just 10 that go along with a healthy church. You can use these with your leaders or come up with your own for your church, business or even your family.

All these commandments represent are "non-negotiables" that we must attend to.

www.ThriveChurch.ME Chesterfield, VA

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Potential Over Problems

I was recently sharing with our congregation from the Book of Acts Chapter 3. This is a powerful account of Peter and John healing a man who was lame. This man sat by the temple gate everyday begging for money. This man had an apparent problem. The religious people of that day recognized his problem and had figured that he would ALWAYS be like that. Peter and John saw a man, by the power of Jesus, that would be able to walk.

The key is that one group saw potential in this man while another saw problems.

If you are going to start a movement and see God move in the lives of people you have to be able to see potential in people. People will show up with very apparent problems. As a leader you have to see potential in them.

Peter and John saw potential. They also prayed for him. Finally, they helped the man to his feet.

To bring people to potential we have to be reminded of these principles:
1. Look at the potential.
-Don't gossip and talk about what they are, but talk about who they are in Christ and the plans he has for them.
2. Pray for their issues to be healed.
-They recognized and affirmed that he had an issue. Instead of talking about it, they spoke to him directly about it. Many times we dance around people's issues because we have turned the church into a popularity contest. I was once at a church where one of the main deacons would curse his employees out consistently. I don't believe that God sees that as cool to do to people. But, no one has ever sidelined that guy.
Pray for them and speak to their issue to bring wholeness. Learn to speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in love brings them to maturity.
3. Help them get to the place they need to be.
-Finally Peter and John helped the man up by his right hand. They helped him. We cannot just see potential and pray, but we must get involved with them.

This blog is key to me because when I got saved I was delivered from drugs and alcohol. I needed people to walk with me, pray with me and see more in me than I could see. I had a local church that did that. I am here today because of that.www.thrivechurch.me

Monday, July 2, 2012

Leading by Fear of Loss

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin. (2 Kings 10:31 NKJV)
---He set up golden calves so the people would not go to Jerusalem to worship God because he was scared to "lose" those people.---

As I am journaling through the Bible, I continue to find great examples of bad leadership. I researched the passage above to find out, "What was Jeroboam's sin?" I tried to over-spiritualize it at first, but really it came down to competition of keeping the people in his kingdom versus going to his brother's kingdom. So, he set up some golden calves.

I am not sure if I have blogged on this before, but it gripped my heart this morning. Many leaders are so scared that people will leave them that they begin to lead by fear and insecurity. I have seen this first hand. If you are under this tyranny, it can be very hurtful.

In 2004, I felt God leading me to go be the youth pastor at another church. Our church plant merged with another church and they did not have "room" for me. I prayed, fasted and sought God. My wife and I felt God's leading. When I went to visit my pastor, I did not get what I expected. I asked for prayer, counsel and blessing. He brought his prophetess in to give me a "word." They said I was leaving for money and control. That was awesome because I was a college student and the church could not pay me very much. He went on to trash that church and promise me I was making a big mistake leaving him. He also stated that a prophet just spoke at his church and told the congregation that anyone who leaves will be cursed. Long story short: best move I ever made; their church shut the doors and by the grace of God we have a cordial relationship today.

I shared that story for this reason; Don't let fear of people leaving inspire you to heighten your level of insecurity and scare tactics. Don't trash them. Bless them and love them. Create an environment where people can seek God and make their own decisions.

One final thing.... Don't play "God told me to tell you" tricks. Let people follow God and if it's wrong, He is big enough to speak to them. You can disagree with someone and still walk with them through their decision.

Don't walk in the "sin of Jeroboam."