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Category Archives: Pastoral Resources

John MacArthur on Biblical Eldership

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A GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH DISTINCTIVE BIBLICALLY, the focal point of all church leadership is the elder. An elder is one of a plurality of biblically qualified men who jointly shepherd and oversee a local body of believers. The word translated “elder” is used nearly twenty times in Acts and the epistles in reference to this unique group of leaders who have responsibility for overseeing the people of God.

 

The Office of Elder

As numerous passages in the New Testament indicate, the words “elder” (presbuteros), “overseer” (episkopos), and “pastor” (poim¯en) all refer to the same office. In other words, overseers and pastors are not distinct from elders; the terms are simply different ways of identifying the same people. The qualifications for an overseer (episkopos) in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and those for an elder (presbuteros) in Titus 1:6-9 are unmistakably parallel. In fact, in Titus 1, Paul uses both terms to refer to the same man (presbuteros in v. 5 and episkopos in v. 7). All three terms are used interchangeably in Acts 20. In verse 17, Paul assembles all the elders (presbuteros) of the church of Ephesus to give them his farewell message. In verse 28 he says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [episkopos], to shepherd [poimaino¯] the church of God.” First Peter 5:1-2 brings all three terms together as well. Peter writes, “Therefore, I exhort the elders [presbuteros] among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd [poimaino¯] the flock of God among you, exercising oversight [episkope¯o] not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God.” The different terms, then, indicate various features of ministry, not varying levels of authority or separate offices, as some churches espouse.

A Plurality of Elders

The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that each local body of believers is shepherded by a plurality of God-ordained elders. Simply stated, this is the only pattern for church leadership given in the New Testament. Nowhere in Scripture does one find a local assembly ruled by majority opinion or by a single pastor.

The Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete and instructed him to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). James instructed his readers to “call for the elders of the church” to pray for those who are sick (James 5:14). When Paul and Barnabas were in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, they “appointed elders for them in every church” (Acts 14:23). In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, the apostle referred to “the elders who rule well” at the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:17; see also Acts 20:17, where Paul addresses “the elders of the church” at Ephesus). The book of Acts indicates that there were “elders” at the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:3015:2421:18).

Again and again, reference is made to a plurality of elders in each of the various churches. In fact, every place in the New Testament where the term presbuteros (“elder”) is used it is plural, except where the apostle John uses it of himself in 2 and 3 John and where Peter uses it of himself in 1 Peter 5:1. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a reference to a one-pastor congregation. It may be that each elder in the city had an individual group in which he had specific oversight. But the church was seen as one church, and decisions were made by a collective process and in reference to the whole, not the individual parts.

…the biblical norm for church leadership is a plurality of God-ordained elders, and only by following this biblical pattern will the church maximize its fruitfulness to the glory of God.

In other passages, reference is made to a plurality of elders even though the word presbuteros itself is not used. In the opening greeting of his epistle to the Philippians, Paul refers to the “overseers [plural of episkopos] and deacons” at the church of Philippi (Phil. 1:2). In Acts 20:28, Paul warned the elders of the church of Ephesus, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which God has made you overseers [plural of episkopos]” (Acts 20:28). The writer of Hebrews called his readers to obey and submit to the “leaders” who kept watch over their souls (Heb. 13:17). Paul exhorted his Thessalonian readers to “appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and

The Distinctives series articulates key bibilical and theological convictions of Grace Community Church. have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thess. 5:12)—a clear reference to the overseers in the Thessalonian assembly.

Much can be said for the benefits of leadership made up of a plurality of godly men. Their combined counsel and wisdom helps assure that decisions are not self-willed or self-serving to a single individual (cf. Prov. 11:14). If there is division among the elders in making decisions, all the elders should study, pray, and seek the will of God together until consensus is achieved. In this way, the unity and harmony that the Lord desires for the church will begin with those individuals he has appointed to shepherd His flock.

The Qualifications of Elders

The character and effectiveness of any church is directly related to the quality of its leadership. That’s why Scripture stresses the importance of qualified church leadership and delineates specific standards for evaluating those who would serve in that sacred position.

The qualifications for elders are found in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-8. According to these passages, an elder must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money, not fond of sordid gain, a good manager of his household, one who has his children under control with dignity, not a new convert, one who has a good reputation outside the church, self-controlled, sensible, able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict, above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, loving what is good, just, and devout. (For an explanation of these qualifications, see pages 215-33 of The Master’s Plan for the Church by John MacArthur.)

The single, overarching qualification of which the rest are supportive is that he is to be “above reproach.” That is, he must be a leader who cannot be accused of anything sinful because he has a sustained reputation for blamelessness. An elder is to be above reproach in his marital life, his social life, his business life, and his spiritual life. In this way, he is to be a model of godliness so he can legitimately call the congregation to follow his example (Phil. 3:17). All the other qualifications, except perhaps teaching and management skills, only amplify that idea.

In addition, the office of elder is limited to men. First Timothy 2:11-12 says, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” In the church, women are to be under the authority of the elders, excluded from teaching men or holding positions of authority over them.

The Functions of Elders

As the apostolic era came to a close, the office of elder emerged as the highest level of local church leadership. Thus, it carried a great amount of responsibility. There was no higher court of appeal and no greater resource to know the mind and heart of God with regard to issues in the church.

The primary responsibility of an elder is to serve as a manager and caretaker of the church (1 Tim. 3:5). That involves a number of specific duties. As spiritual overseers of the flock, elders are to determine church policy (Acts 15:22); oversee the church (Acts 20:28); ordain others (1 Tim. 4:14); rule, teach, and preach (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. 1 Thess. 5:121 Tim. 3:2); exhort and refute (Titus 1:9); and act as shepherds, setting an example for all (1 Pet. 5:1-3). Those responsibilities put elders at the core of the New Testament church’s work.

Because of its heritage of democratic values and its long history of congregational church government, modern American evangelicalism often views the concept of elder rule with suspicion. The clear teaching of Scripture, however, demonstrates that the biblical norm for church leadership is a plurality of God-ordained elders, and only by following this biblical pattern will the church maximize its fruitfulness to the glory of God.

SOURCE: Adapted from John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991). For a fuller treatment of biblical eldership, consult this resource.

 

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Warren Wiersbe on How To Be Victorious Over Fear

Being Victorious Over Fear (Series: Encouragement for Difficult Days)

A lady once approached D. L. Moody and told him she had found a wonderful promise in the Bible that helped her overcome fear. Her verse was Psalm 56:3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Mr. Moody replied, “Why I have a better promise than that!” And he quoted Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.” Mr. Moody did have a greater promise.

These words from Isaiah 12:2 are worth knowing in these days when it is so easy to become frightened. Jesus told us that in the end times men’s hearts will fail them for fear of the things about to happen; and I believe we are seeing some of this take place today. Psychologists are writing books and magazine articles about overcoming fear.

There are some kinds of fear that are good for us. We warn our children not to go near the busy streets, and we put within them a healthy fear of being struck by a car. Eventually, of course, that infantile fear will be replaced by mature common sense; but until that happens, we dare not take any chances. In fact, the fear of punishment is one basis for discipline. It may not be the highest motive for doing good, but at least it helps us to get started.

The Bible often talks about the fear of the Lord. It tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” and that “the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.” This fear, of course, is a proper respect and reverence for God. It is not the cringing fear of a slave before a brutal master, but the proper respect of a son before a loving Father. It is the kind of fear that opens the way to abundant life in Christ. The kind of fear Isaiah 12:2 is talking about is the fear that paralyzes people-the fear that gets into the heart and mind and creates tension and worry, and that keeps a person from enjoying life and doing his best. I meet people every week who are afraid of life, afraid of death, afraid of the past, afraid of the future-in fact, people whose lives are being enslaved by fear.

Jesus Christ never meant for us to be the slaves of fear. It is exciting to read the Bible and discover how many times God says “Fear not” to people. When the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, their first words were, “Fear not.” When Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and asked Jesus to depart from him because Peter felt he was a sinful man, Jesus said, “Fear not, Peter.” When Jairus received the bad news that his daughter had just died, Jesus said to Jairus, “Fear not, only believe….” Jesus Christ wants us to conquer fear; and He is able to help us win the battle. What causes fear in our lives? Sometimes fear is caused by a guilty conscience. When Adam and Eve sinned, they felt guilty and became afraid; and they tried to hide from God. Shakespeare was right when he said, “Conscience doth make cowards of us all.” Whenever we disobey God, we lose our close fellowship with Him, and that spiritual loneliness creates fear. We wonder if anybody knows what we have done. We worry about being found out and hope no tragic consequences come from our sins. The solution to that problem, of course, is to seek God’s forgiveness. God promises to cleanse our sins if we will but confess them and forsake them.

Often fear is caused by ignorance. Children are afraid in the night because the shadows look like giants and bears and ghosts. But even adults can get frightened when they really don’t know what is going on. Anxiety about the future, either for ourselves or for our loved ones, can sometimes create fear. Another cause is our own feeling of weakness. We are so accustomed to managing things ourselves that when an unmanageable crisis comes along, we feel helpless and afraid.

Sometimes fear comes, not before the battle or even in the midst of the battle, but after we have won the victory. Often

there is an emotional letdown, and fear rushes in. Abraham had this experience in Genesis 15 after he had waged war against four powerful kings and won the victory. That night as he lay down to sleep, Abraham wondered if those kings would return and challenge him again, and perhaps bring back superior forces. It was then that God appeared to Abraham and said, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). But when we study all the cases and try to understand the root cause of fear, one truth stands out clearly: the real cause

of fear is unbelief. After stilling a storm that had frightened His disciples out of their wits, Jesus said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Fear and faith can never be friends; and if we are afraid, it is a sign that we have no faith. This is why Isaiah 12:2 says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.”

The secret of victory over fear is faith in God. There is no problem too great for God to solve, no burden too heavy for God to carry, no battle too overwhelming for God to fight and win. God is big enough to conquer the enemies that rob us of our peace and leave paralyzing fears behind. Isaiah 12:2 doesn’t say, “When I am afraid, I will trust“; it says, “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Faith is not simply medicine to kill the disease; faith is spiritual power to keep us from being infected in the first place.

Notice what the prophet puts first: “Behold, God is my salvation.” If you want to overcome fear, get your eyes off yourself and your feelings, and off the problems that have upset you, and get your eyes on God. The Jewish spies in the Old Testament became frightened when they investigated the Promised Land, because they saw giants and high walls and felt like grasshoppers in comparison. The enemy soldiers were big, and the walls were high, but God was far above all of them. Had the spies lifted their eyes just a bit higher and seen God, they would not have been afraid. So the first step in overcoming fear is to look by faith at God. Worship God, get a fresh glimpse of His greatness and glory, and realize that He is still on the throne. The second step is to lay hold of God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. When you read the Bible, you find your faith growing. You discover that God has always been adequate for the needs of His people.

The third step is to pray and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Tell God about your fears-tell Him that your fears are really evidences of unbelief-and like that concerned man in the Gospel story, ask God to help your unbelief. Surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit of God, because the Spirit can work in you to take away fear

and give you peace. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Holy Spirit within you can give you power for your weakness; He can generate love; He can give order and discipline to your mind. The Holy Spirit is God’s psychologist, so turn yourself over to Him.

One of the ministries of the Spirit of God is making Jesus Christ real to us. As you pray and read the Word, the Spirit will give you a spiritual understanding of Jesus Christ, and He will become very real to you. Even in the midst of storms and trials, Jesus Christ comes with peace and courage for you.

There is no reason for you to be afraid. Fear will only rob you and buffet you and paralyze you. Jesus Christ can take away your fear and give you peace. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.”

About the Author:

Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

The article above was adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe’s classic encouraging devotional: The Bumps Are What You Climb On: Encouragement For Difficult Days. Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1996.

 

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JOHN MAXWELL’S ACRONYM FOR H.O.P.E.

HOPE

H.O.P.E. = HOLDING ON, PRAYING EXPECTANTLY

I listened patiently as he poured out his problems. His work was not going well. Some of his children were sowing their wild oats and he was worried about them. The straw that finally broke his back was that his wife decided to leave him. There he sat, all slumped over in despair. It was the last sentence of his story that alarmed me. He said, “I have nothing to live for; I have lost all hope.” I began to share with him that hope was the one thing he could not afford to lose. He could lose his business, his money, and maybe even his family, and rebound on the court of life if he kept his hope alive.

If hope is so important, what is it? Tertullian said, “Hope is patience with the lamp lit.” Hope is holding on when things around you begin to slip away. Hope is praying expectantly when there are seemingly no answers. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a man whose shop had been burned during the disastrous Chicago fire. He arrived at the ruins the next morning carrying a table. He set the table amid the charred debris and above it placed this optimistic sign: “Everything lost except wife, children, and hope. Business will be resumed as usual tomorrow morning.”

Many men become bitter toward life because of the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves. Many quit. Others have taken their own lives. What makes the difference in the outcome? Talent? No! The only difference between those who threw in the towel and quit and those who used their energy to rebuild and keep going, is found in the word hope.

What does hope do for mankind?

Hope shines brightest when the hour is the darkest.

Hope motivates when discouragement comes.

Hope energizes when the body is tired.

Hope sweetness while the bitterness bites.

Hope sings when all melodies are gone.

Hope believes when the evidence is eliminated.

Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.

Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.

Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.

Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.

Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.

Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.

Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.

Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.

There is nothing to do but bury a man when his hopes are gone. Losing hope usually precedes loss of life itself. You don’t need a better environment; you just need more hope. It’s the one thing in your life that you cannot do without!

SOURCE: John C. Maxwell. Think On These Things: A Fresh, New Way To Look At Life. Kansas City: Beacon Hill, 1979, pp. 127-128.

 

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11 Life Lessons From Noah’s Ark

Noahs Ark

Life Lessons I learned from Noah’s Ark…

ONE: Don’t miss the boat.

TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat.

THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re sixty years old, someone may ask you to do something big.

FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on the job that needs to be done.

SIX: Build your future on high ground.

SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.

TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic by professionals.

ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

 

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THE FIVE GOSSIPS YOU WILL MEET – BY TIM CHALLIES AND MATTHEW MITCHELL

RESISTING GOSSIP

Gossip is a serious problem. It is a problem in the home, in the workplace, in the local church and in broader evangelicalism. It is a problem in the blogosphere, in social media, and beyond. In his book Resisting Gossip, Matthew Mitchell defines gossip as “bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart” and shows that when the book of Proverbs uses the word “gossip,” it does so in the noun form, not the verb form. In other words, the Bible is concerned less with the words that are spoken and more with the heart and mouth that generate such destruction. Words matter, but they are simply the overflow of the heart. As always, the heart is the heart of the matter.

 Here, drawn from Mitchell’s book, is a gallery of gossips, five different gossiping people you will meet in life.

GOSSIP #1: THE SPY

The first kind of gossip, and I know you’ve run across this person before, is The Spy. Solomon describes him in Proverbs 11:13: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” The Spy is an informer, a person who gathers secrets so he can use them to his personal advantage. This is the person who is always listening for rumors and who always seems to know everyone else’s business. His ear is always to the ground. The Spy’s main motivation is power. It may be the thrill of knowing something before everyone else, or it may be the power that comes when threatening others by revealing their secrets. He uses information to elevate himself and to destroy others.

GOSSIP #2: THE GRUMBLER

The second gossip is The Grumbler and we find him in Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” The Grumbler complains and criticizes. She criticizes other people and complains about them behind their backs. She spreads all their secrets, describes exactly how she feels about them, and then excuses it all by saying, “I just needed to vent for a while.” Because she is miserable, and because misery loves company, she drags other people into her grumbling. Her motive is often jealously or envy. She wants what another person has and grumbles because she does not have it herself.

GOSSIP #3: THE BACKSTABBER

We all know The Backstabber, don’t we? The Backstabber is a complainer, but he is more than that. He is also angry and malicious and is out destroy others. He may bring full-out lies in order to bring down another person, or he may engage in a smear campaign. He looks for something, anything, everything wrong with his enemies and makes sure everyone knows about those things; if he can’t find them, he makes them up. The Backstabber is often motivated by revenge for some deep offense, some opportunity lost, or some hardship gained. This offense or perceived offense has led to bitterness which has taken root and motivated this desire for revenge. Today, many of these people begin web sites and do their work as loudly and publicly as possible.

 GOSSIP #4: THE CHAMELEON

The Chameleon is the person who uses gossip to fit in with the crowd at work or school or church or even in the family. She is desperate to blend in and to be accepted. Since everyone else gossips, she gossips too, so that she can join in the conversation. Since respect comes through sharing juicy facts about others, she finds and then shares that kind of information. Her motivation is fear—the fear of man. She is afraid of what others will think of her, and especially afraid of being excluded from the crowd. Prov 29:25 describes her well: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

GOSSIP #5: THE BUSYBODY

The final kind of gossip is The Busybody. The Busybody is the person who is idle, and his idleness leads to meddling and gossip. Proverbs 26:17 speaks to him: “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” We meet The Busybody man in both of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians and we meet The Busybody woman in his first letter to Timothy. The Busybody loves the titillation that comes through gossip and loves living vicariously through other people’s stories. The Busybody loves to be online where he can troll celebrity gossip sites in the name of amusement and Christian celebrity gossip sites in the name of discernment.

Most of us have met these people. Most of us have been these people. Each of us is in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and God’s sanctifying grace.

*SOURCE: December 5, 2013 @ http://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-5-gossips-you-will-meet.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK: Matthew G. Mitchell. Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue. CLC, 2013.

 

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COACHING QUESTIONS WITH YOUR DISCIPLE

GOSPEL COACHING WITH A DISCIPLE

Gospel Coach

PERSONAL LIFE

(1) What are some evidences of grace in your life recently?

(2) What can you tell me about your spouse and family?

(3) How do you relax or what do you do for fun?

(4) How is your spouse doing?

(5) How are you doing as a couple?

(6) Are there any new strains on your relationship that surprised you?

(7) Has your spouse complained about your time together recently?

SPIRITUAL LIFE

(1) How is the condition of your soul?

(2) How would you describe your call to follow Jesus Christ?

(3) What are some of the Christian communities you participate in and how do they encourage your walk with Jesus?

(4) What is God doing in your heart right now?

(5) How have you seen the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in your life?

MISSIONAL LIFE

(1) What opportunities for ministry do you see before you?

(2) What is God calling you to be or do?

(3) What skills or abilities has God-given you that help clarify your calling?

QUESTIONS FOR FEEDING YOUR DISCIPLE

PERSONAL LIFE

(1) What is God teaching you about your role as a husband and father/wife and mother?

(2) What obstacles are you experiencing in your personal life?

(3) How is your health? Are you taking any medications?

(4) What would enhance your relationship with your spouse?

SPIRITUAL LIFE

(1) What information or resources would be helpful to your spiritual growth?

(2) Where have you experienced the most growth lately?

(3) What is the biggest threat to your oneness with Christ?

(4) Where are you most vulnerable to sin?

(5) What sins are you battling?

(6) What compels you to worship God?

MISSIONAL LIFE

(1) When have you had a significant impact on another person?

(2) In what ways are you making disciples?

(3) What are some challenges you are facing in your primary ministry responsibility?

(4) What resources do you need to accomplish your ministry goals?

QUESTIONS FOR LEADING YOUR DISCIPLE

PERSONAL LIFE

(1) How are you leading your family?

(2) What is the greatest need in your personal life (Look for idols, agendas, identity struggles, and selfishness)?

SPIRITUAL LIFE

(1) How is the Lord leading you to respond to Him?

(2) What is the greatest need in your spiritual life (Look for idols, agendas, identity struggles, and selfishness)?

MISSIONAL LIFE

(1) What is the Lord leading you to {pick one} know (head), feel (heart), or do (hands) with regard to ministry?

(2) What is the mission of your ministry?

(3) What is the greatest need of your ministry life?

QUESTIONS FOR PROTECTING YOUR DISCIPLE

PERSONAL LIFE

(1) What challenges do you face personally?

(2) What temptations occur in your personal life?

(3) How are you prone to wander personally (health, finances, time, marriage, etc.)?

SPIRITUAL LIFE

(1) What challenges do you face spiritually?

(2) What temptations occur in your spiritual life?

(3) What kind of priority do you give to Bible reading and prayer in your life?

(4) Where are you prone to wander spiritually?

MISSIONAL LIFE

(1) What challenges do you face missionally?

(2) What temptations occur in your ministry life?

(3) Where are you prone to wander in ministry?

*SOURCE: Adapted from Appendix 4 in Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2013.

 

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Establishing a Gospel Coach and Disciple Relationship

INTAKE FORM FOR GOSPEL COACHING WITH A DISCIPLE

Gospel Coach

This form is helpful in establishing a gospel coach and disciple relationship. It facilitates the coach’s getting to know the disciple and establishes a starting point for the journey toward Jesus and his calling in the disciple’s life. Feel free to revise this form to include only questions that will be beneficial for your particular gospel coaching relationship. This list is quite comprehensive and is meant to be selectively utilized.

PERSONAL LIFE

KNOW

(1) Tell me about your family [spouse, children's names and ages, etc.].

(2) When is your birthday? Anniversary?

(3) What makes you excited or feel really alive?

(4) What are some skills and talents that God has blessed you with?

(5) What have been lifelong desires and dreams for you? What is going on with these dreams and desires now?

(6) What are you hoping for in the next six months?

(7) How has God saved you personally? How is he saving you daily?

(8) How would you describe a “perfect day”?

(9) How would you describe a “terrible day”?

(10) How is ministry impacting your family?

(11) How is your family impacting your ministry?

(12) How is your ministry impacting your faith?

(13) How is your faith impacting your ministry?

 (14) How is your personality affecting others?

(15) How are others affecting your personality?

(16) How is your integrity impacting others? What people are you influencing both positively and negatively?

(17) How is your character influencing your culture?

(18) How is your character influencing your church community?

(19) How are you developing character in your leaders?

(20) How is your physical health? What does your exercise look like weekly? What do you do for recreation? What does your eating look like daily? What does your sleep and rest look like? Do you have any health issues that affect your life and ministry? How are you dealing with these?

(21) How is your emotional health? How is ministry affecting your emotions? How are your emotions affecting your ministry? What tone are you setting in your home through your emotions? What tone are you setting in your ministry through your emotions?

FEED

(1) What area of your character in your personal life are you most convicted about by the Holy Spirit? What do you envision this developed area to look like? How would you describe this area now? What things could you do to develop or grow in this area? What commitment do you have to grow in this area? What has made it difficult for you to see growth or change in this area?

(2) What is currently confusing you about the gospel on a heart level?

(3) What books are you currently reading? What are you learning?

(4) How can I encourage, help, and support you?

(5) How are you making space to be refreshed in God’s salvation in a personal, practical way?

LEAD

(1) What is holding you back from personal growth in Jesus?

(2) What are you holding on to that is keeping you from being more like Christ?

(3) What current personal failures are most frustrating to you?

(4) What has God accomplished in your character in the last year?

(5) How has God shown faithfulness to you in the last year?

(6) How are you and God doing?

(7) Where do you think God wants you to go in your personal growth in the next six months? Why?

PROTECT

(1) Who do you need to help you?

(2) To whom will you be accountable?

(3) How can I help you?

(4) Where do we really need God to show up?

(5) Where is your heart hard?

(6) What lies do you believe?

(7) What doubts have crept in?

(8) In what ways have you invited unbelief and deception in your personal life? How can I help close those doors?

(9) How will we pray?

MINISTRY CALL

KNOW

(1) How would you describe your personal call?

(2) What people and circumstances are associated with your call to ministry

(3) How and when has your call to ministry been affirmed in your life?

(4) How have others affirmed your call to ministry?

(5) What opportunities do you have to fulfill this calling?

FEED

(1) What leadership gifts or abilities do you need to develop to fulfill your calling or current assignment?

(2) How would you describe your current abilities in this area?

(3) What options do you have to develop your leadership?

(4) What will you do to develop your leadership?

LEAD

(1) When has your call to leadership been challenged?

(2) Under what circumstances have you doubted your call?

(3) Is there anything in this current experience that is causing you to question your call?

(4) What activities or events do you use to anchor, form up, or strengthen your call?

(5) How should your call be focused or clarified?

(6) What does your call’s success look like?

PROTECT

(1) Who have been mentors in your life?

(2) What mentors and coaches do you need now to fulfill your call?

(3) Who else do you need to help you?

(4) What do you need most from God right now?

SPIRITUAL LIFE

KNOW

(1) What are some of the major milestones in your theological development?

(2) What are you reading in Scripture right now? What are you learning about God?

(3) How do you practice abiding in Jesus?

(4) What increases your affections toward God and others?

(5) What deadens your affections toward God and others?

(6) What is causing your anxiety or fear right now?

FEED

(1) What are some areas with which you wrestle theologically?

(2) What information are you missing?

(3) How hungry are you to know God?

(4) How dependent do you feel on Jesus in your life?

LEAD

(1) What discrepancies may be emerging between what your mind knows and what your heart believes in Scripture?

(2) How is the Holy Spirit leading you to grow in your understanding of Jesus?

(3) What does your prayer life look like?

(4) Who are the people in your life you are praying for?

(5) What are you praying for?

(6) What are your prayers revealing about your faith?

(7) Who is effectively bringing you clarity about who Jesus is and about the truth of Scripture? How are you prioritizing these people in your life?

PROTECT

(1) What are you feeding yourself with to feel satisfied outside of Christ?

(2) What current obstacles hinder your spiritual growth?

(3) Who is pulling you away from your relationship with God? How?

(4) Who is planting doubt and discouragement in your heart about Jesus?

(5) What anti-Christian spiritual teaching are you tempted to believe? Why?

(6) What are you allowing to take priority over your relationship with Jesus? Why?

(7) What obedience has Jesus called you to that you have been ignoring or trying to escape?

MISSIONAL LIFE

KNOW

(1) What opportunities for mission are present in your life?

(2) Who are the lost people God has brought into your life? What does your relationship with these people look like?

(3) What percentage of your time is spent with people who do not know Jesus?

(4) What are your spiritual gitfs?

(5) Describe your current ministry and missional responsibilities? Do these match your calling? Are any of these activities being performed under compulsion?

(6) To what degree do you and your church understand the prevailing culture in your city?

(7) How do you and your church engage the culture?

(8) How do you and your church serve the culture?

(9) How and where do you and your church attract the culture?

(10) How and where do you and your church initiate relationships in the culture?

(11) How is your church perceived by the culture?

(12) How do you and your church receive the culture?

(13) How do your leaders impact the culture?

FEED

(1) Where is ignorance in your mission or ministry killing you?

(2) Are you experiencing any physical or emotional burnout? How easily discouraged are you in your mission? How is your patience quotient? Are you easily angered in your ministry? Are yu disconnecting completely from your mission for Sabbath? How?

(3) Which Christian missiologists have influenced and shaped your mission through their writing or preaching?

(4) How would you like to see your church connect with culture?

(5) What can you personally do to connect with culture?

(6) What is working now in connecting with culture?

(7) What other possibilities do you see for you or your fellowship to connect with culture?

LEAD

(1) What does success in your mission look like?

(2) How will you know when you are accomplishing what God has called you to?

(3) How close are you to that success now?

(4) What roadblocks are you experiencing in accomplishing your mission?

(5) Is the direction you are headed the direction to which you have been called?

(6) Where and how have you and your church been effective in reaching into your culture?

(7) Which of your leaders most impact the culture?

(8) Who are the persons of peace with whom you are connecting?

(9) Where has there been a significant network of evangelistic relationships?

(10) What is stopping you or your church from engaging or impacting culture?

(11) What are one or two things could you and your church do to understand, engage, or receive your culture?

PROTECT

(1) What is draining your energy and sapping life from you in your mission?

(2) Who is attacking your mission — intentionally or unintentionally?

(3) What voices of discouragement are you listening to?

(4) What personal sins are hindering your mission and calling?

(5) Where are you allowing cowardice to hinder your mission and leadership?

(6) Where are you charging ahead of the Holy Spirit in your own strength?

(7) Who has sinned against you, and how is it affecting the mission?

(8) Who have you sinned against, and how have you dealt with it?

(9) What keeps rising up to distract you and your people from the mission?

(10) What risks are you willing to take to demonstrate dependence on God?

(11) What can help you understand your culture?

(12) Where do you most need God’s help?

(13) How are you praying for needs in the culture?

*SOURCE: Adapted from Appendix 2 in Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2013.

 

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SAM STORMS’ REFLECTIONS ON 40 YEARS OF MINISTRY

What I Wish I’d Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry

What follows has been adapted from a brief talk I delivered to the Oklahoma chapter of The Gospel Coalition on October 2. Here are 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started out as a pastor.

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1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.

2. I wish I’d known about the inevitable frustration that comes when you put your trust in what you think are good reasons why people should remain loyal to your ministry and present in your church. I wish I’d been prepared for the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment that came when people in whom I’d personally invested so much love, time, and energy simply walked away, often with the most insubstantial and flimsiest of excuses.

3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.

4. I wish I’d known the life-changing truth of Zephaniah 3:17 long before Dennis Jernigan introduced me to it. I’m honored when people thank me for writing a particular book with comments such as “This was very helpful” or “You enabled me to see this truth in a new light,” or something similar. But of only one book, The Singing God, have people said, “This changed my life.” This isn’t some vain attempt to sell more books, but a reminder that most Christians (including pastors) are convinced God is either angry or disgusted with them, or both. I wish I’d known earlier how much he enjoys singing over them (and over me).

5. I wish I’d known how much people’s response to me would affect my wife. For many years I falsely assumed her skin was as thick as mine. Regardless of a woman’s personality, only rarely will she suffer less than him from criticism directed his way.

6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.

7. I wish I’d known it’s possible to be a thoroughly biblical complementarian and to include women in virtually every area of ministry in the local church. In my early years in ministry, I was largely governed by the fear that to permit women into any form of ministry was to cross an imaginary biblical boundary—even though the Bible never imposes any such restriction on their involvement. I tended to make unwarranted applications by extrapolating from explicit principles something either absent or unneccesary. Aside from senior governmental authority in the local church (the role of elder) and the primary responsibility to expound and apply Scripture, is there anything the Bible clearly says is off-limits to females? Trust me, men, we need them far more than we know.

8. I wish I’d known it was okay to talk about money. Don’t be afraid to talk about money. Just be sure you’re humble and biblical and don’t do it with a view to a salary increase for yourself (unless you genuinely and desperately need one). For far too many years I allowed my disdain for prosperity gospel advocates to silence my voice on the importance of financial stewardship in Christian growth and maturity. I didn’t formulate a strategy for calling people to lifelong financial generosity without sounding self-serving.

9. I wish I’d known about the delusion of so-called confidentiality. Pity the man who puts his confidence in confidentiality. You can and must control the information that comes to you, but you can never control the information that comes from you. Once information is out and in the hands of others, never assume it will remain there, notwithstanding their most vigorous promises of silence. Be cautious and discerning about to whom you promise confidentiality, under which conditions (it’s rarely if ever unconditional), and in regard to what issues and/or individuals. “Sam, you don’t appear to have much trust in human nature, do you?” It’s not that I don’t trust human nature. I’m actually quite terrified of it! What I trust is Scripture’s teaching about human nature.

10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?

• Insecurity makes it difficult to acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of others on staff (or in the congregation). In other words, the personally insecure pastor is often incapable of offering genuine encouragement to others. Their success becomes a threat to him, his authority, and his status in the eyes of the people. Thus if you’re insecure you likely won’t pray for others to flourish.

• Insecurity will lead a pastor to encourage and support and praise another pastor only insofar as the latter serves the former’s agenda and doesn’t detract from his image.

• An insecure pastor will likely resent the praise or affirmation other staff members receive from the people at large.

• For the insecure pastor, constructive criticism is not received well, but is perceived as a threat or outright rejection.

• Because the insecure pastor is incapable of acknowledging personal failure or lack of knowledge, he’s often unteachable. He will resist those who genuinely seek to help him or bring him information or insights he lacks. His spiritual growth is therefore stunted.

• The insecure pastor is typically heavy-handed in his dealings with others.

• The insecure pastor is often controlling and given to micromanagement.

• The insecure pastor rarely empowers or authorizes others to undertake tasks for which they’re especially qualified and gifted. He won’t release others but rather restrict them.

• The insecure pastor is often given to outbursts of anger.

• At its core, insecurity is the fruit of pride.

In summary, and at its core, insecurity results from not believing the gospel. The antidote to feelings of insecurity, then, is the rock-solid realization that one’s value and worth are in the hands of God, not others, and that our identity expresses who we are in Christ. Only as we deepen our grasp of his sacrificial love for us will we find the liberating confidence to affirm and support others without fearing their successes or threats.

Sam Storms is lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

SOURCE: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/01/03/what-i-wish-id-known-reflections-on-nearly-40-years-of-pastoral-ministry/

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Pastoral Resources

 

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40 GREAT LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY QUESTIONS

*By Scott Thomas and Tom Wood

Gospel Coach

The following questions can be used to protect a disciple in his leadership skills and development. Each section can take up to one hour to discuss between a coach and a disciple.

SELF-LEADERSHIP

(1) How are you unique? (calling, gifts, passions, personality, experiences, sin patterns)

(2) How do you stay inspired? How often do you practice this?

(3) How do you apply the gospel to yourself? What is the message in your mind?

(4) What are the rythms of grace in your life? (Scripture, worship, prayer, community, family, time off)

(5) What idols compete for your worship? How do you forsake each idol?

(6) What sinful mental images repeatedly play in your head? How do you take those thoughts captive?

(7) How are you stewarding the gifts you have for the greatest benefit? (time, resources, skills)

INTERPERSONAL LEADERSHIP 

(1) Who understands you best? Other than your family, who are the people with whom you share life together? (2 Timothy 2:2)

(2) Whom do you pray for? What specific petitions are you praying for them?

(3) Who would you like to choose to become one of your influencer friends? What is your plan for making this happen?

(4) How are you telling “truth in love” to the people under your leadership? When do you “spin” something?

(5) How faithful are you in being on time and following through with promises?

(6) Do you say yes and no with clarity so that it builds confidence and trust?

(7) Whom are the people you tend to try to please and why?

(8) How are you discipling each of your children and your spouse (if applicable)?

(9) Who really knows you?

(10) What relationships are broken in your life? What are you doing to bring reconciliation?

ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP

(1) How has God called you to serve him? How are you fulfilling this calling?

(2) What things nudge you away from following your calling?

(3) What is the most pressing leadership issue you are currently facing?

(4) Do people in your leadership area know with clarity what you expect of them?

(5) What are you doing well in your leadership? What needs your attention?

(6) How do you encourage those you are leading to follow the objectives of your organization?

(7) In what ways do you personify your calling?

(8) What opportunities did you decline for the sake of fulfilling your objectives?

(9) What are the stories that define the culture of your leadership area? How do you capture these stories? How are the stories being shared?

TEAM LEADERSHIP

(1) Who is your team? (roles, styles)

(2) Who is going to replace you?

(3) How do you demonstrate your love for each team member?

(4) What dysfunctions in your team are you addressing?

(5) With whom do you sense the most synergy? How can you maximize this?

(6) With whom do you sense the least synergy? Why? How are you minimizing this?

(7) Whom do you struggle to trust? Why? How do you address issues of distrust with them?

(8) What inspires each team member? (Ask each one, “What aspect of your work brings you the most joy, and what stories do you tend to tell most often?)

(9) How do you empower your team members to exercise their greatest gifts and talents on the team?

PASTORAL LEADERSHIP

(1) What does faithfulness in your calling look like for you?

(2) In which young leaders are you investing your life to develop?

(3) How are you making disciples?

(4) How are you equipping others to serve Jesus’ church more effectively?

(5) How are you living in a missional way?

*SOURCE: Scott Thomas and Tom Wood. Gospel Coach. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013, Appendix 3.

 

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9 THINGS PASTORS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DEVELOPING YOUNG LEADERS

Mentoring Matters

By Brian Dodd

“It’s no surprise that Texas is producing athletic innovation.  You’ve seen a similar spirit of innovation in Texas’s business world…It’s a place where thinking differently is valued and produces results.” – Jay Greene, Department of Education Reform, Arkansas University

As pastors and Christian leaders we are constantly focused on raising up the next generation of leaders.  Much like Texas athletics, we need different thinking to produce better results.

Recently I was reading a September 30th Sports Illustrated article on the incredible results being produced by the Texas high school football 7-on-7 tournaments. For example, this past weekend an astonishing 10 NFL starting quarterbacks came from those programs.

While lacking the “spiritual” element, I found the techniques used by Texas coaches to develop quarterbacks extremely applicable to Christian environments hoping to develop young leaders.

The following are 9 Things Pastors Should Know About Developing Young Leaders gleaned from these incredibly productive Texas high school football programs:

  1. Young Leaders Must Be Allowed To Make Mistakes – In addition to allowing quarterbacks time to develop, Texas high school quarterbacks are also given the ability to improvise and make mistakes.

  2. Young Leaders Should Be Given Significant Responsibility – Too often Christian leaders do not recognize the potential of their young people.  We give them volunteer responsibilities which do not stretch or challenge them.  This approach does not prepare them for the challenges adult Christian leaders face.  Detroit Lions qb Matt Stafford said, “We throw (the football) so much (in high school), it’s not a big deal when we get to the next level.”

  3. Young Leaders Will Innovate Out Of Necessity – Baylor head coach Art Briles created his innovative offensive system while coaching football at Stephenville High School.  The teams he faced were bigger, stronger, and faster.  He says, “I was just trying to figure out something each year.  We were having trouble with bigger players, and we started spreading the field to counter that.  We kept developing it from there.”

  4. Young Leaders Should Be Exposed To More Experienced Leaders Early And Often – Churches who develop young Christian leaders are focused on discipleship.  They prioritize getting younger leaders into the orbits and under the influence of successful, more experienced leaders.  Texas high school coaches are constantly bringing in NFL defensive coaches to better prepare their quarterbacks.

  5. Young Leaders Will Thrive In Flexible Environments – Texas high school coaches are flexible and humble.  They adjust their offensive game plans around the skills of their quarterbacks rather than making the quarterbacks adjust.  Church leaders need to recognize the incredible story God wants to tell through the lives of young people and adjust their ministries, programming and systems accordingly.

  6. Young Leaders Are Resilient – Coach Briles says, “What you’re looking for (in a quarterback) is a mentality.  A guy who won’t back down.”

  7. Young Leaders Focus On What They Can Do.  Not What They Can’t – Houston Texans qb Case Keenum says, “A lot of people told me what I couldn’t do.  I was too short, didn’t have this, didn’t have that.  But I always believed in myself.  You cannot let other people tell you what you can do.”

  8. Young Leaders Will Respect More Experienced Leaders – It is flawed thinking to assume young people lack respect.  Some do.  Many do not.  Christian leaders should make honoring a church’s past part of the discipleship process.  Keenum goes on, “One thing all of us have in common, we realize how important it is to play quarterback in Texas.  From a young age, we’re taught to respect the game.”

  9. Young Leaders Need Guidelines Rather Than Rules –  Writer Andrew Perloff deducted that a “competitive spirit and lax regulation provide a fertile ground for creativity and excellence.”

What additional practices are you doing as Christian leaders to develop young leaders?

SOURCE: http://www.briandoddonleadership.com/2013/12/04/9-things-pastors-should-know-about-developing-young-leaders/

 
 

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