Church & Ministry

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Posted 12/19/14 at 5:41 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Look Beyond a Need . . . And Experience Giving

Today’s guest blog is contributed by Amylynn Warners, a Bethany staff member whose own personal story of crisis has given her a passion to share Bethany with others and a new perspective on giving. To hear Amylynn’s story, shared in her own voice, listen here.

It seems like eons ago­—and sometimes even like it was someone else’s experience—but it is mine and I cannot forget it. I learned so much from that time, especially about giving.

The timing for the “acts of God”—situations and circumstances I could not control—was perfectly queued. Everything seemed to happen at once. The snowball formed, and it traveled a longer path than I would know at the time. Along the way it also collected consequences from my own ignorance and immaturity. It became a seemingly unbearable burden on my sagging shoulders. FULL POST

Posted 12/19/14 at 11:27 AM | Ron Edmondson

7 of the Most Dangerous Leadership Mindsets I’ve Observed

I’ve seen it so many times.

A leader could even be doing everything else right and one flawed mindset can overshadow — jeopardize all the good leadership principles we know.

One constantly repeated action. One trait. One habit. One mindset.

And, sadly, many times it’s not even that the person isn’t a good leader — it’s that one mindset that gets them off track. And, so I believe leaders should constantly be working on bad mindsets that keep them from being as successful as they can be.

Here are 7 of the most dangerous leadership mindsets I’ve observed.

In full disclosure, I’ve been guilty of some of these — sometimes for a season — sometimes until someone helped me discover I had a poor leadership mindset.

Allowing small details to overwhelm a view of the big picture.

There will always be details that have to be handled, but the smaller a leader is forced to think, the less he or she can focus on the larger vision ahead. I can get bogged down in minutia that wastes my energy and drains me. Sometimes it’s a systems problem that requires too much of my time and sometimes its a failure to delegate. Interestingly, I have personally found that when I’m free from the responsibility of handling as many details I’m more likely to notice the smaller things that greatly need my attention. FULL POST

Posted 12/19/14 at 10:47 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

An Odd Skill Pastors Must Learn if They Are to Survive

Photo: Flickr/Electric-Eye - Creative Commons

By Joe McKeever

Pastors must learn to live with loose ends. Unfinished tasks. Dangling threads that need to be tied up.

When they lay their heads on the pillow at night, God’s shepherds can think of 38 things left undone and needing attention tomorrow….

Someone needs a call returned, a member needs a visit, a sermon needs more preparation, a program needs planning, a colleague needs encouragement, an employee needs to be held accountable, the pastor’s child needs some dad-time, his wife has been wanting to talk about several issues, he had hoped to begin his physical fitness program this week, the nursing home has invited him to hold a service, the seminary wants him to speak, the denominational committee needs to meet and hear his report, and he should have prayed more today. The family that buried their father last month needs a follow-up visit. The postponed dental appointment should be rescheduled and his CPA has a question about his taxes. FULL POST

Posted 12/18/14 at 9:00 PM | Bill Blacquiere

Progress and Perspective: Lessons from Africa

Last month I traveled once again to Africa, where I was privileged to not only see encouraging progress but also gain a fresh perspective.

When I visited South Africa last year, an official from the government accompanied me as we toured a neighborhood in one of the poorest townships there. The organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, had begun efforts to rescue orphans and other children who were in abusive homes. Tears streamed down the official’s face as she listened to residents share horror stories of sexual and physical abuse of the children in their neighborhoods, begging us to do something about it.

On this trip I met with the same government official, and her tears turned to smiles. In fact, she was beaming. “When you were here last year, I didn’t know what could be done, but now I have hope.” FULL POST

Posted 12/18/14 at 11:35 AM | Ron Edmondson

One Sign of Great Leadership: Admitting You Aren’t the One

One sign of a great leader — in my opinion — is to be bold enough to say, “I don’t have all the answers”.

Perhaps even harder, “I’m not the one to carry this task forward.”

That takes humility.

I observed the pressure some pastors and leaders place on themselves to have all the answers and to be good at everything they do. And, churches and organizations sometimes hold leaders to this level of excellence and expectation.

The fact is, however, that most of us only do a few things really well. Understanding that and being willing to admit it is an indication one is becoming a mature leader — and will actually help them be better leaders.

I love the story of King David in 1 Chronicles 28. The preceding chapters outline how David had diligently organized the kingdom, but then David humbly handed over reins to his son.

Of course, he did this at the command of God, but his speech to the people is not filled with bitterness and anger, but with encouragement and challenge to keep the vision moving forward. There are several Biblical examples of this type leadership. FULL POST

Posted 12/18/14 at 11:09 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

What Christian Leaders Wish Their People Knew But Are Afraid to Tell Them

Christian leaders must be willing to take off their masks and the Sunday-morning professionalism and share the real needs of the ministry and its leadership. More Christians need to be trained how to support ministry leaders. That’s the reason for the book, “What In Hell…Is Going On?” – it will help your ministry know the truth about what’s going on behind the scenes, even if your leaders are hesitant to talk about the spiritual attacks he or she is experiencing.

Admittedly, this is difficult to do. One leader noted that when he began to open up and let his ministry team know what he was really battling, he was criticized. The naïve members of his ministry didn’t want to hear that they were a burden to him. They effectively said, “We don’t want to know you are human”. (Kids don’t usually like to acknowledge their parents are people too until they have children of their own.) Yet this is absolutely necessary if we are going to bring God’s people to maturity. FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 11:34 PM | Sylvie Simms

The Paperless School

Are you still sending paper permission forms home for parents to sign? Are teachers & staff still filling out paperwork by hand? Are you storing mountains of paper in filing cabinets? If you answered yes to any of these questions, solve your problems by going paperless.

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:47 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

The Kind of Bridge I Want

Photo: Flickr/ Ethan Oringel - Creative Commons

By Joe McKeever

The Huey P. Long Bridge crosses the Mississippi River a few miles downriver from here. It was dedicated in 1935, a time when cars were small and narrow and governments needed to put men to work. That’s why they gave New Orleans its first bridge across the river and named it after this politician of dubious merit. (That’s a pet peeve of mine, but I’ll move right along.)

The problem with that bridge for all the decades since is that its two lanes were too narrow and curving for modern cars and trucks. Each lane was 9 feet wide, with no shoulders alongside. Signs forbade trucks from passing anyone, and motorists caught up on their prayers driving across it. It really could be frightening.

Then, in recent years, the government finally decided it was high time to upgrade that bridge, and shelled out something like a billion dollars to widen it and correct some of its flaws. These days, driving across that huge wide expanse is a pure joy. (The lanes are 11 feet wide, bordered by a 2 feet-wide shoulder to the inside and an 8-foot shoulder to the outside.) FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:19 AM | Phil Cooke

Welcome to the Christian Attack Culture

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

There’s no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it’s also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It’s created a culture of attack.

Rarely does a day go by that Christian news sites, social media streams, and other web platforms feature some Christian “correcting” another Christian – and calling them out by name. It can range from arguments over worship music, to theological squabbles, to disagreements over ministry styles, to charges of outright heresy, and the barrage of criticism has grown exponentially. While there are qualified theologians, pastors, and other leaders we should respect and listen to, there’s also a tsunami of armchair theologians, angry ex-church members, and wannabes who are convinced their criticism du jour needs to be shared. FULL POST

Posted 12/16/14 at 7:31 PM | Mark Ellis

Great Commission milestone reachable by 2020, experts say

By Mark Ellis and Michael Ashcraft

Today, there are 1,600 unreached ethnic groups, the U.S. Center for World Mission estimates. About 300 new people groups are being engaged by missionary workers each year for the first time, according to David Taylor, a leader at the Center.

This means that by the year 2020 all remaining unreached groups will receive an introduction to the gospel, according to their projections.

Such a dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy (that the gospel will be preached to all peoples before the end will come, given in Matt.24 & 28) has been the quest of evangelicalism.

Undertaking the daunting task of reaching 3,000 unreached groups, a task force at the U.S. Center eight years ago began coordinating conferences, efforts and prayers to launch missionaries into the remaining unreached parts of the world. FULL POST

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