More Changes Leaders Need to Consider

We are looking at key leadership skills needed in the changing times in which we live and when considering what the Lord is calling His Church to become and to do. As the Lord moves His true disciples away from man’s church and builds His Church we need a brand of leader who is ready and able to move God’s people in the right way and in the right direction. This leadership is apostolic and not pastoral.

One of the new skills needed by apostolic leadership is to build identity into the local church. Effective leaders embed a common strand of DNA into the life of the local assembly. This embedding can happen in several ways – preaching, teaching, prophetic revelation, and Bible studies. The important thing is that the leader identity the church’s flavor and then communicate it well to the people – sharing the vision for the church in such a way that the people can buy into it and thus own it. This means all the other leaders as well as the people will share a common understanding of the plans and purpose of God for the local assembly and all share a common identity.

Effective leaders also know that most of the time spend in various committee meetings is a total waste of time. Instead, they move the church to a team-based model and away from functioning, long-term committees. The following points show the basic differences in these two approaches – pastoral and apostolic…
Pastoral – Committee elected
Apostolic – Individuals called
Pastoral – Committee members nominated
Apostolic – Leader invites individuals according to the grace and calling on their lives
Pastoral – Standing group that never ends
Apostolic – Is self-ending when their one task is complete
Pastoral – Maybe has a mission
Apostolic – Has a clear mission and purpose as well as stated boundaries
Pastoral – Someone outside the committee controls final decision
Apostolic – Is autonomous within boundaries
Pastoral – Needs permission to act
Apostolic – Acts on their own within the stated mission
Pastoral – Not responsible for final outcome
Apostolic – Responsible for all resulting outcomes
Pastoral – Not connected to each other
Apostolic- Connected to each other through a common DNA

So, developing team ministry that leads a church and creating a church that has a common identity and DNA and ownership of who they are and what God has called them to be is the way of the future. And leaders today need to change and learn the skills to function in and even lead in this new environment.

Every Member a Minister

Ralph Howe Ministries recognizes that every member is a minister and all disciples of the Lord have a call upon their lives to bring the power of the Gospel to others. We also recognize that in ministry there are three types of people… Those who watch it happen, those who make it happen and those who wonder what happened. Read more

Disciples = Soul Winners

Jesus said that we, as His disciples, are to follow Him and He would make us into soul winners. Jesus said that His disciples, as soul winners, are to go into all the world and reproduce – make more disciples. In fact, His command is to go into every nation (really ethnic and language group) for the purpose of planting the Gospel of the Kingdom so that He can build His Church. This is not an option but is literally the only reason the Church as an community of faith exists. This is our mandate as the true Church that Jesus is building.

The Church’s focus is shifting from just “gathering” to “gathering and scattering.” ‘Gathering’ to be trained and equipped and then ‘scattering’ or moving out into our neighborhoods and even the world reaching others for Jesus – making disciples as He commanded each of us to do.

Our focus is to encourage you to grow in your relationship with the Lord and become strong disciples reaching out to touch the lives of others with God’s love as found only in Jesus. Then, as people respond, to see them become born again and then discipled (by you) into strong followers and fishers of men. Disciples!

Changes Leaders Need to be Making

In the Church that Jesus is building we are going to see some amazing differences from the church that we are use to and have lived with since becoming believers. We have been looking briefly at a number of these massive and very significant changes in the last few days in these daily blogs.

One of the changes will be that leaders and people need to stop the regular routine of church activity and step off into this new world. Instead of trying to promote programs, coordinate volunteers, find people to carry out the church programs, or even develop the key leaders of the church – effective senior leaders will put systems in place that develop leaders at every level of the congregation.

Effective leaders create equipping cultures where all believers are actively involved in equipping and encouraging each other in this mission with God. They create development experiences at multiple levels. For example, they have places for guest to become involved, new Christians to begin to minister, as well as various places for all levels of more mature believers to learn how to minister while ministering – receiving hands-on experience and mentoring. As well, these leaders will enable every believer to move from the church into the marketplace which is the real mission field for disciples of the Lord. This will take believers from less to more maturity and from less to more responsibility as part of the priesthood of all believers.

As well, another change will see effective leaders no longer coordinating from the center and on behalf of the institution. Instead leaders will allow people to lead from the fringes of the congregation. The key is to decentralize authority and power and release people to find their place within the Body rather than trying to coordinate that and tell people how and where to serve in and through the church.

For decentralization to happen effectively, three things must happen:
1> The leader must be willing to give up ministry and be willing to mentor
2> The congregation (elders) must give up micromanaging the day-to-day decisions
3> The congregation must be clear on its identity (who they are as a church) and their mission (what they are called to do) so ministry is always in line with the direction God has set for the church

Then you no longer need to seek approval for every little thing and can actually begin to minister in the area the Lord has laid on your heart without having to first go through a lot of red tape.

More major adjustments tomorrow…

Changes in the Way We Do Church

There are new skills that leaders of churches will need to learn if they are to be a part of the church that Jesus is building today. Let me comment on two today… (see the list on September 27th blog)

The day of oral tradition is back. In the days of Moses and Jesus the stories of God’s interaction with His people were told orally and often were not written down for many generations. People were able to listen and to remember. Story telling was a vital part of their daily life as the elders shared the history of events that had formed them as a people.

E-mail has brought us back to that place once again – where oral tradition or storytelling is making a comeback. Today, people learn more through well-told stories than through the old fact-and-lecture method. Personal stories are often the best at getting a point across. Many churches are reverting to using personal testimonies from their people as part of the worship message – having the person tell their story right within the context of the message or sermon being delivered.

This, of course, flies in the face of what most Bible school or seminary graduates were taught as well as what most popular children’s curriculum is based on today. So, we are going to see a major change but it will come slowly as those now leaders learn new skills or set aside to allow other younger leaders to lead and teach.

Another major change today will be the use of the leader’s time. In the past he would be seen teaching the confirmation class as they prepared to make a commitment to the Lord or the baptism class where he would prepare people for this awesome act of obedience. This an visiting members would occupy most of his working day. This will no longer be the case.

The most important thing that leaders today do is to gather and coach a core team of adult leaders. The effective pastor will spend the vast majority of their time in the selection, training, and mentoring of this group of leaders.

Effective and authentic leaders realize that the church is not based on democratic principles and the the fewer people the leader works with the stronger the local church will be over time. The key is to take a core team deep and then have structures in place for that core to replicate itself throughout every level of the local church.

Just two major changes in the way that we “do church” today…

Changes Needed in the Church

As we enter an exciting time in this season that the Lord has us in – we will be witnessing a large number of changes in the Church as Jesus brings it into line with His blueprint for the Church He is building. For the main leader (pastors in most cases) the changes will be immense and, at times, threatening. For the disciples they will be noticeable and somewhat exciting. For those who simply attend when they feel like it – hardly visible or noticed at all.

Yesterday`s blog talked briefly about one new aspect – apostolic faith. The older more traditional approach to the life of the Church could be called “European Theology.” We are moving away from the compromise of the European expression of the Christian faith – the Reformation and Vatican II – and moving into a much more biblical model of the faith based on the apostolic faith as found in the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament.

In my research for a book that I am writing I have discovered a number of new skills leaders will need to learn and that the Church will see… Let me list them today and talk about a select few of them starting tomorrow.

European theology BECOMES Apostolic Faith
Expository preaching BECOMES Motivational Storytelling
Confirmation Class teaching BECOMES Core Leadership Coaching
Congregational programming BECOMES Culture of Equipping
Institutional administration BECOMES Decentralized Administration
Strategic planning BECOMES Ministry Mapping
Hierarchical accountability BECOMES Congregational Identity Building
Committee development BECOMES Mission Team Development
Sacramental uniformity BECOMES Discernment of Spirit in Culture
Ability to use 16th Century technology BECOMES Ability to Constantly Use Updateable Technology
One-to-one ministry BECOMES Multiplication of Ministry
Large group management BECOMES Multiplication of Groups
Teaching BECOMES Mentoring
Property Management BECOMES Community Development
Ecumenical Cooperation BECOMES City-Reaching Movements
Professional development BECOMES Faith Models
Evangelism programs BECOMES Lifestyle Evangelism
Membership Assimilation BECOMES Gift Discernment

Many changes are coming upon the Church and the way we work and minister together. Exciting times of change are ahead. The Lord is shaking everything that can be shaken and is preparing the foundation for the Church that He is building. I will work at unwrapping a few of these that need some explanation in the coming days. Your interaction is always appreciated.

Packing up…

I have finished my official ministry schedule here in Russian until November when I will, once again, return. It has been a tremendous two weeks and THE best trip I have ever taken to minister in this great nation. Siberia is wonderful. Late yesterday I flew from Nyagan to Moscow and spent the night in this city of 20 million. And, of course, held a meeting with some of those I will be ministering to in November to finalize details for that time.

Today I am in several other meetings before heading to the airport, one final meeting at the airport, and then resume my trip home – Moscow – Frankfurt – Toronto – Regina. I am, as always, looking forward to being home. I would appreciate your prayers for the travel – that all flights are safe and that they arrive and depart on time so that all connections (some of them are tight) can be made.

As this is the last daily report for this apostolic trip I want to thank you for your interest in and concern for this ministry and what it is accomplishing in many nations of the world. Without your prayers and financial support our work would not be possible. Everywhere we have gone this time (4 cities) we have heard praise reports of lives changed as a result of having received ministry through us during previous visits to one nation or another. Many have traveled a long way to be ministered to in the past and now that I have been here and in their homes I realize how far they really did travel and how hungry they were to do that type of journey to hear God’s Word taught and maybe receive a prophetic word.

I am looking forward to a few days of rest as the last part of this trip involved a few 3:00a mornings driving back from remote cities in Siberia to where we were living and so I am tired…

Thanks for standing in faith with us. It is greatly appreciated.

Apostolic Faith

The further we go into the twenty-first century, the more important it will be for Christians and leaders in the Church to know how to interact with non-Christians who are in an environment that is unfriendly toward Christianity or agnostic.

One of the ways to move forward into this new reality is to look back to a previous reality – way back. One of the best places to learn how to live out the faith in such times as we now face is found in the writing of the Apostolic Fathers or the original Church Fathers as they are sometimes known as.

Two realities make the writings of the Apostolic Fathers crucial to effective ministry today. First, the twenty-first century will be more like the first century than any other century in history. Secondly, Christendom has been severely altered, compromised, and changed that it has lost its way and needs to regain the focus and momentum of the first church as seen in the first three hundred years.

Over the years I have read a great deal about the Reformation when salvation by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers was rediscovered and added back to the faith. I have kept in touch with the changes that resulted from the world-wide meeting of Vatican II which happened when I was still in seminary many decades ago. But, neither of these went far enough to radically embrace the faith of the first three centuries.

And that is the key – we will need in our time to radically embrace the faith. We need to know what we believe and stand for; we need to know how to explain it to the people around us; we need to embrace new ways to present the message; we need to know and understand the opposition to this message of hope we have; and we need to be strategic and militant in the way we go about spreading the faith. Nothing less will do. It cannot be business as usual. We must return to our roots and examine both their beliefs and their lifestyle and adopt the same approach and vigilance that they possessed in our new world reality today.

This will mean we have a number of new skills that we will need to learn … More on this tomorrow.

Note: You can find the writings of the Apostolic Fathers on-line simply by entering that as a topic in your favorite search engine. It can be tough reading but always beneficial.

A Look At The Past Week

Our last day of corporate ministry is half over and it has been a phenomenal week here in Siberia as we obey the Lord and “go into all the world.” I never thought that I would be ministering is such a remote yet beautiful place as Siberia, Russia. The people are wonderful, warm, accepting, and seriously hungry for the Lord and all that He has for them to do. They love Him and obey Him even at great cost as they are persecuted and suffer hardship in this area because they are believers.

The fellowship has been really blessed, sweet, and powerful. It is often during the fellowship time that the Lord ministers to me personally and touches my life in fresh and new ways. Every trip this ministry goes on always results in God touching and changing my life and this ministry through the love and the prayers of the people that we came to minister to. That is often God’s way – you come to minister and get ministered to.

It is going to be difficult to leave this northern area and the people here. It has been a terrific week of the Lord’s presence and power. Lives have been transformed and, as always, our hearts have become fondly attached to the people we have met and the churches we have ministered in. Please pray for all believers in Siberia, Russia and their witness in the midst of a difficult situation.

We appreciate your prayers – especially as we wind down the major part of the ministry (a few planning meetings left here and in Moscow) and prepare to begin to travel. Pray for safety and that everyone’s connections will be made and everyone on the team will arrive in their respective cities and countries safe and sound. Thanks.

I Wonder

I wonder what God could do with an entire generation who loves Him but won’t settle for stale church anymore. What could God do with an army of Kingdom peasants who have no interest in safety, religion, or money, but want to help people experience the presence of His Kingdom in the here and now? While many denominations struggle to survive, what might God do with relational networks of Kingdom people and Kingdom leaders who long to see something new happen in this generation and whose focus would be lives transformed?

I have found a number of young men who share my thoughts and are wondering as well! Together we are talking about and thinking and praying through what it would be like to be this generation. Some of these young men work with me in a local church in the city where I live. Several are helping to form a team to lead a new church called “Church Without Religion” also in this city. Some talk and pray with me by Skype, text messaging and emails as they live in South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States. Several travel with me on the various teams we form to travel and do apostolic ministry. One is even planning to join me, move here to live in Canada, and work with me after he finishes his university degree and is free to move here from his nation.

I wonder what will come from this investment of time and resources. I wonder where all this talking and thinking and praying will eventually take us. I sometimes wonder what the Lord is up to – but know He will reveal it to us in time. I know that the journey is part of the fun and so working with these young men in these initial stages must be enjoyed for itself and seen as part of the plan. We are building good relationships as we talk and discuss and soon will see these individuals come together to form an initial community.

I wonder what it will all look like when this generation catches fire and sells out to the plans and purpose of God for their age group. But right now I am content to have a role to play in bringing these young men together and planting seeds to help them begin to grow and mature in the Lord and in His purposes for them as leaders of this new expression of the faith that will impact an entire generation.