Latest From The Blog
Friends and partners in the Gospel,
Welcome to the new blog!
As you would expect, we are very excited and TONS of hard work has gone into this big day. Major, major thanks and props to William Brannon who is responsible for so much of what you see AND Emily Burrow for some great artwork across the board.
The blog is pretty self-explanatory but let me point out a couple of key additions:
1. The new store for our new resources.
The first of which is an e-book we are super proud of called “Losing Your People without Losing Your Mind.” God willing, it will be the first of many. Here’s the blurb.
Dealing with turnover in your church can be tough. In this, short, powerful, practical book, pastor and author Dustin Neeley gives Gospel-Centered and field-tested counsel to help you deal with this difficult inevitability. Click HERE to purchase.
It’s available in all of the popular formats for your iPad, e-book reader or Kindle. It’s also available both here on the blog and Kindle store.
2. Our coaching ministry.
By God’s grace, this ministry has continued to grow and expand and it is a wonderful joy to help pastors and planters around the globe in this way. If you need coaching, or even wonder what it is about, click the tab above.
Thanks for your support of Church Planting for the Rest of Us over the years and thanks for RT this post to help get the word out.
Nearly any time I ask for suggested blog topics, I’m almost always asked to write about gospel-centered leadership. There are many reasons that this is the case, however the most obvious is that we all need help in this area!
Because this is true, it is my hope that this will be a theme that I ping in on from time to time to give us any nuggets I have discovered in my own leadership journey.
In today’s installment, I want to share the following principle:
Lead the team. Coach and care for the players.
By ”lead the team,” I mean that, as the senior leader, you and I should provide vision, direction, and appropriate feedback to help move our teams in the direction that God has called us to go. Surely, we are not the only individuals capable of doing so, but under God’s leadership, I believe this ultimate responsibility for leadership (at least on the human end of things) falls to us.
As leaders, we should be the lead encouragers, hill-chargers, and spark plugs for the mission. When we are leading well, we listen to Jesus and chart a clear course, the team follows suit, and good things happen. Generally speaking, of course
By ”coach and care for the players,” I mean that we avoid the temptation to simply think of our teams as a faceless and nameless flock, but that we give special and careful attention to each as an individual sheep. In a best case scenario, we, or someone in a supervisory role (depending on the size of the ministry) sits down with each individual on our team to help them clarify his role and unique contribution she makes in helping us accomplish the mission God has called our church to accomplish.
This would include:
Having a clearly delineated “org chart”
Clearly defined job description for everyone on the team
Confidence that player understands his role.
Regular feedback loops and evaluation system for each member of the team and his ministry
Once these things are established, we coach, encourage, and provide feedback and accountability to see that those goals are being met. If you don’t have those few items in place for your team, I would encourage you to develop those as soon as possible.
Those are the kinds of things we can help you with in coaching.
But the fact is, many churches already have those things and problems remain. In my experience, the problem often comes through the lack of care leaders often exhibit toward those who serve under their authority. Too often, we are far too concerned with “getting the task done” that we run over the people in the process. I have been far too guilty of this in my leadership history.
In addition to the suggestions I already listed (clear mission, clear org chart, clear understanding of how their position fits into the big picture, job description, feedback and accountability), here are three simple ways that can help you better care for the people on your team.
1. Say you appreciate them publicly.
I’m not talking about personal grandstanding to try to make yourself appear as a caring leader. I’m talking about understanding that you can’t do what you need to do without someone else doing what she is doing. And you say that in a public context where that person is there to hear it. It helps the team member know that his work matters to the larger body and helps create a culture of encouragement which you want it every level of your ministry.
2. Say you appreciate them personally.
In addition to the public venue, I try to find ways of communicating my thanks and encouragement one-on-one. In some cases, I take a key leader to lunch and tell them why are there. I try to care for them as an individual and seek to encourage them in their ministry both in and beyond the church. In other cases, I make phone calls, send emails, or even write a thank you note. Sometimes we even buy gifts. The point is the same we want to appreciate each individual’s contribution in a personal way.
3. Say you appreciate them often.
As leaders, we love progress and, sadly, we tend to not be too thoughtful about these kinds of things. If you’re like me, you probably need to schedule this kind of coaching and care out to ensure that it happens. We do that in our member meetings and also on my personal calendar. It bears good fruit. Your schedule and needs may be different, but as the ministry grows, we have to become even more intentional about doing these kinds of things. No matter what method you choose, just make sure you communicate your appreciation as often as possible.
As leaders, one of our most important responsibilities is leading that team and coaching and caring for its players.
What changes might you need to make in this area?
Need coaching? We can help. Click HERE.
Sisters, Are You Helping (or Hurting) Your Brothers with that Outfit?
Yesterday, I mentioned I had the opportunity to preach from Luke 17:1-10. In this short and powerful passage, Jesus gives us gives us some profound teaching on temptation and not leading others into sin. In yesterday’s post, I shared the counsel I offered to the men. In today’s post, I expand the circle for what I presented to the women to help them obey the striking words that Jesus directed toward his disciples:
“Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
Though I believe there is plenty to be said about this passage, (you can watch my entire sermon HERE), in a nutshell, I believe Jesus is saying something like this:
“In a fallen world, temptation is inevitable. But God’s people don’t need to be the ones extending the invitation to sin.”
There are a thousand issues on which we can bring this truth to bear, but I just want to speak to one for the ladies – the “hot topic” of modesty.
First Things First
Before we dive in, I want to make a few preliminary statements that I hope will help guide us.
First, I’m not here to judge you or beat you up on this issue, ladies.
Sometimes that’s how these kinds of posts come off (assuming a man ever musters up the nerve to write one in the first place : ) Please know that is the opposite of my intention here. I want to help both women and men grow in their desire and ability to obey Jesus. That is the goal of this post.
Second, women do need to know that men are “wired for sight.”
I think this fact is readily acknowledged by most of us, yet, in my experience as a pastor, I believe many women can underestimate the weight and far-reaching nature of this truth. In today’s culture, men are already fighting for air in a flood of immodest fashion trends, sensual advertising, and pornography. A woman’s wardrobe choices can be either a buoy or an anchor for a brother who is trying to keep himself afloat. Ladies, as a pastor of a church full of young men who are struggling, please trust that I am telling you the truth on this even if you don’t “get it.”
Third, each man is absolutely, ultimately responsible for the way he looks at a woman, regardless of what she wears or does.
No brakes. No qualifications. No excuses. Every man is responsible for the choices he makes once images of any kind enter his mind. However, in light of the truths from Jesus we started with today, I do believe it is worth pointing out that women can wear (or do) certain things that can help (or hurt) their brothers in this particular area of struggle.
But, before you resolve to burn all of your yoga pants or drag the measuring tape with you whenever you shop for clothes, I want to speak to the internal fundamentals of the human heart. Otherwise, we’ll end up just like the Pharisees: washing the outside of the cup while leaving the inside full of filth.
Consider these practical steps to get started in the right direction.
Truth in Motion
1. Check your heart when you check your closet.
Jesus taught us “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). This reveals a clear connection between our hearts and our behavior. Thus, there is often a similar connection between our hearts and the clothing choices we make. We wear what we wear for a reason. To look successful. To attract attention. To look “hot.” We are foolish to ignore the propensity of our depravity to spill over onto our jeans.
Perhaps questions like these could be helpful in checking our hearts: What is my motive in choosing to wear this? Is this the right choice for this setting? Are these clothes going to help the men around me to obey Jesus, or make it harder for them to do so? As my daughters grow older, these are the questions my wife and I will be teaching them to ask.
2. Make this a community project.
Though these questions should prove helpful, let’s face it. “Our hearts are deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9). Sometimes our mirrors aren’t much more helpful. All of us can be blind to the reality of what is truly going on with our attire. A helpful way to counter this is to get some solid input from those around you whose perspective you trust on this issue.
If you’re a single girl, have your roommate or another girl on your hall take a look before you hit the sidewalk for the day. Ask questions. Be honest. Help each other out. Everyone will be better for it.
If you’re married, perhaps your husband can serve you in this area. I love the wisdom my wife shows in this area. When something new comes into the house, she will put it on and ask, “What do you think?” I can then give my ‘guy’ opinion. Granted, I think she looks beautiful in anything, but you get the point : )
You know, Jesus was right.
In a fallen world, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” For sisters in Christ, dressing modestly can go a long way in helping men avoid the temptation to sin.
May all of us, men and women alike, look for ways to be conduits of grace instead of temptation for those around us today.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach from Luke 17:1-10, where Jesus gives us some profound statements on temptation and not leading others into sin. I focused my application toward both men and women, and in today’s blog I want to share the counsel I offered to the men. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll expand the circle for what I presented to the women.
In this short passage, Luke shares some striking words that Jesus directed toward his disciples: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
In a nutshell, I believe Jesus is saying something like this:
“In a fallen world, temptation is inevitable. But God’s people don’t need to be the ones extending the invitation to sin.”
There are a thousand different ways we could “put feet on this,” but for the sake of space and brevity, I will only offer one here and trust that the Holy Spirit and your small group can help you bring this truth to bear in other situations.
For this case study, let’s think about personal finances.
This can be an especially touchy subject in today’s economy, and if your wife already leans toward anxiety, particularly in this area, your words can either ease or add to her burden.
Think about it like this:
If we constantly rattle on about how much everything costs or how we don’t have the money to make ends meet, are we helping our wives trust Jesus to provide or are we making it harder to do so?
If we consistently model pessimism and worry when it comes to personal finances, are we truly leading her well in the spirit of Ephesians 5?
I think we know the answer.
The Bible is filled with counsel and examples of the truth that words have power. May we, by the Spirit of God for the glory of God, think carefully about what we say and when and how we say it and this and other areas.
A Culture of Repentance, Grace and Faith
As a way forward, let me offer two suggestions.
1. If you have dropped the ball (haven’t we all?), make it right.
On the vertical side of the equation, go to God now, confess your sin, find Him gracious, and pray for power and wisdom to grow in this area. He stands ready to forgive and empower.
With your wife, go to her and share you heart. “Sweetheart, I need you to forgive me for the way I speak about money times. Yes, things are tight and we need to be careful, but I want you to know we are on the same team. God is our Ultimate Provider, and by his grace, I want to be wiser in how I speak about these matters. Will you forgive me? Will you help me do that?”
I imagine that she will be more than willing to do so.
2. Create a culture in your home that makes it easy for the people who live there to trust and obey Jesus.
Whether the subject is finances or frustrations with work or school, we should set the pace in repentance, grace and faith. We should work hard to communicate with an underlying faith in the provision of God which our wives and children can take to heart as well.
May we all remember what Jesus taught us. “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”
By the grace of God and for the glory of God, let’s be men who love and lead in such a way that inspires faith and obedience in those around us instead of sin and despair.