How to be an Above Average Leader

I sometimes wonder what it takes to be a truly great leader, and how many people would I fit into that category. I’ll address leaders in a moment, but when it comes to teachers, Josh Hunt uses the word TIGER to make a point, and he tells us that there are the five steps to doubling a group every two years or less:

Teach a halfway decent lesson each and every week; nothing less will do: You do not have to be Chuck Swindoll to grow a class. However, you must produce reasonably good lessons every single week. The better the teaching, the easier it is to grow a class.

Invite every member and every visitor to every fellowship every month: If we love them, they will come. We invite every member because it is good inreach. We invite every visitor, because it is good outreach. We do it every month because it is effective ministry. If we get them to the party, we will not keep them from class. If we get them to the party, they will come to love us, love our church and love our Lord.

Give Friday nights to Jesus: Give Friday nights to Jesus for an informal time of fellowship, games and Diet Coke. People who are opposed to the gospel are not opposed to ice cream. The Bible commands, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9) If we will simply be obedient to this one command, we can double our classes every two years or less and our churches every five years or less.

Encourage the group toward ministry: We do this by providing specific examples of ministry and personally enlisting people to join the team. I encourage people to pick from the following seven examples of ministry opportunities: Class teacher, Outreach leader, Inreach leader, Fellowship leader, Hospitality leader (gives Friday nights to Jesus), Prayer leader, and Class president.

Reproduce: Doubling a class every two years or less is not about going from 10 to 20. It is about going from one group to two. Reproduction is hard on any level. Still, The future of the church is the reproduction of groups. The key to creating a new group is leadership. The price of creating a new group is saying good-bye. We must be willing to say good-bye in order to be obedient to the great commission. Remember that only the mature can reproduce. Only mature disciples are willing to say good-bye. We must reproduce in order to insure the life of the next generation.

I included all this not just because it is a solid strategy for growing groups, but for the first point, teach a half-way decent lesson! We don’t have to be outstanding in order to teach or lead; can we shoot for above average? I recently discovered three tips to becoming above average:

  1. Do what others won’t: Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh I would never do that?” Often this is a sign that we are on the right track. To live and serve in an above average way means you are willing to do what others won’t. Don’t let this bother or intimidate you! Recognize that every leader faces the same challenge, starting with Jesus. He certainly could have settled for an average lifestyle, but He chose to lay down His life to fulfill His purpose.
  2. Create productive habits: Leaders choose what to do with their time, their health, their desires, their appetites, their words and their thoughts. Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the time.” Our time and energy needs to be fruitful, not frivolous. We all have areas of life that are uncultivated and unfruitful. Often all it takes is for a seed to be planted and we can turn that around.
  3. Refuse to live an average lifestyle: Average leaders don’t stop to examine what they are doing. They live by their emotions and take the path of least resistance. To be above average, you may need to watch less TV, read more books, set goals, take care of your health, eat better, exercise more, forgive, encourage, and take more risks. Of course, this also means you get to see God do more in and through you than the “average” person might.

The reality is average, status-quo, ordinary living doesn’t inspire others to follow Christ more closely. Radical, above-average, extraordinary living does! This can be a challenge. Average seems so comfortable, appealing, safe. Not to mention, it’s what everyone else is doing, so it makes life easier (or so it seems).

Are you ready to be above average? I hope the answer is yes, because that means you will be able to reach more people with the love and encouragement of Christ, and lead them to grow and mature into His image. That is worth the inconvenience of letting go of the status quo.

What Do the Unchurched Want?

George Barna was asked the following question: If you were pastor of a typical church today, what practical things might you do to reach those outside? His response:

1. First, I’d make sure everyone in the body knew that evangelism without discipleship is spiritual abuse. We have so many people who work hard to get people saved, then abandon those individuals the moment they’ve said the magic words.

2. Second, I’d gear our worship services exclusively to those who truly love Christ. If an unchurched person wanders in, that’s fine, but if they did, I’d want them to be blown away by the presence of God, the commitment of the people to that presence, by the robustness of the worship, and by the sincerity of the congregation regarding knowing God ever more deeply. The goal of worship is worship, not evangelism.

3. Third, I’d shift the strategy from training people in the steps we think will lead people to Christ to empowering people to just be real. Nonbelievers are more impressed by a good friend who genuinely loves Jesus and lives accordingly than by a well-intentioned debater who wants to argue everyone into the kingdom.

4. Fourth, as part of that strategy I’d invest heavily in developing the worldview of the believers. Because people find Christ through relationships, not the impartation of information about Christ, it’s important that believers understand how to see the world through a lens of faith and know how to communicate their faith in relation to every life circumstance, without harassing or degrading people. Know what you believe and why, and be able to relate it to every circumstance, which allows you to talk to people about their experiences and hopes without feeling as if you have to persuade them to adopt your point of view. Besides, it’s the Holy Spirit that convicts and converts people, not us.

5. Fifth, I’d focus the majority of our outreach resources on children, not adults. Few adults get converted. The vast majority of people who ever embrace Christ do so when they’re young usually before they hit the teen years. Every adult who’s interested in doing meaningful ministry would be encouraged to find a way to serve the kids in the church and community. And I’d do whatever we could to empower the kids to share their faith with their family and friends.

– From What Do the Unchurched Want? in Rev!, July/August 2006

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Church and Community

People today need a place to belong before they come to believe. The church is the body of Christ gathered for worship, fellowship, discipleship and missions. We grow in Christ together, not separated from one another. Many believers would like to recapture what the early church experienced, but how? It takes being real, and vulnerable, taking off the mask and connecting to another person at a meaningful level. This sounds very risky; are you willing to take the risk?


A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we would call “holy expectancy.” They believed that they would actually hear the voice of God. It was not surprising to them that the building in which they met shook with the power of God. — Richard Foster

Rather than growing bigger churches, we should be concerned with growing bigger Christians. — Rich Mullins

In the essentials-unity; in the non-essentials-freedom; in all things-love. — John Wesley

Top 10 Ways to Build Community:

  1. Use self-disclosure to get real.
  2. Listen more than you talk.
  3. Ask good questions to uncover meaning.
  4. Have fun! Don’t make everything overtly spiritual.
  5. Use your spiritual gifts to encourage others.
  6. Balance activity inward, outward and upward.
  7. Serve those outside your community as a community.
  8. Share the significant issues of your past.
  9. Probe one another’s dreams for the future.
  10. Love one another practically and consistently.

Vision, Planning and Growth

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word vision refers to “imaginative foresight.” This foresight is absolutely necessary for a leader, both for the group they serve as well as for themselves personally. Without vision, we cannot see the end from the beginning; then we need to make incremental steps toward reaching the desired goal. Otherwise, the best-case scenario involves the leader spinning in circles.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. — Proverbs 16:9

Consider the story of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Perez. In August of 1982, only a few days after moving to a new home outside of town, he jumped into his car and headed to the stadium for a game he was scheduled to start. While on the freeway, he began looking for something resembling the downtown skyline. Three hours later, he still didn’t see the stadium! It turned out that Perez didn’t know the correct exit to take off of Interstate 285, a circular bypass around Atlanta. As a result, he literally drove in circles around Atlanta, finally getting to the game during the fifth inning. By then, his reputation had been cemented as “I-285” Perez. He never heard the end of it.

Looking forward is a critical aspect of a successful leader. But in order to accomplish this, a person must be determined to carry out what God has planned. I recently read a good question to ask at this point is, “Would I be willing to do this even if I never got paid for it?” Once that is answered, planning is necessary, both in terms of goals and actions, to help make the vision a reality. And since vision is much bigger than just one person, God has to be involved in the process. As the Bible says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Then as God directs and leads, one can effectively put the vision into action, instead of driving around aimlessly.

By way of reminder, the vision of the discipleship ministry at King’s Grant is to “move people toward higher levels of commitment to Christ and His church.” So, what does that involve?

  1. Movement: We cannot remain in the same place; we desire to move away from the status quo toward obedience to God’s call and command.
  2. People: We work with a group of volunteer believers. The old phrase is correct, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” People have their flaws and their own stubborn wills, but leaders know what growth should look like. But motivating others to desire to attain it is quite a challenge.
  3. Higher levels: This means that we seek to be in the position to hear from God, just like Moses went up to the mountain to receive God’s Word. Sort of like the higher he got, the closer he was to God.
  4. Commitment: This refers to the amount of energy and passion we bring to the table. We become what we are committed to, just like in marriage, friendship, teamwork and even our salvation. If we are committed to our salvation, we will actively seeks ways to live it out and bring others into our spiritual journey.
  5. Christ: It is all in vain if we do not exist for Christ, His kingdom and His mission.
  6. Church: We are more than a social club on Sundays; we have purpose, a mission, and a passion to do that which God calls us to do. The body of Christ is the hope of the world; and the church gathered is the keeper of the Great Commission.

So we need to develop a plan to grow in faith. Since we have a vision of what a disciple of Christ should look like, we can dream of how we can get there. This weekend is the Men at the Cross conference (October 30, 2010). By the end of the conference every man will receive the challenge not only to become a disciple of Christ but to disciple other men. A man’s first discipleship group is his own family; what an awesome responsibility, and privilege. Let’s not drive around in circles forever missing the proper exit. Actually, if we just let Christ sit behind the wheel, maybe we will get to where we need sooner rather than later.

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The Purpose of Small Groups

King’s Grant Baptist Church is about discipleship, helping you become a devoted follower of Jesus. Small groups are the key in this growth process. Here you will find some positive reasons to become involved in a small group.

You will build authentic relationships:

Most people who have been a part of a small group say the greatest benefit is the close relationships and friendships that develop. You’ll also discover that your needs and feelings are not unique – we’re all in the same boat. It helps to know that others are facing the same difficulties, or have lived through them and learned spiritual principles in the process. The Bible instructs us to pray, love, encourage and accept one another. The best way to do this is in a small group! We really do need each other. God never meant for you to go it alone in life. If you’re lonely, the answer is to join a group. In a small group, you can belong before you believe.

The Bible will make more sense in your life:

In a small group setting, you can ask questions, participate in discussion of the text, and hear others share insights and illustrations of the truth your group grasps. The Bible must be applied to your own personal situations and that happens best in small groups.

You will discover the benefits of prayer:

No one is pressured to pray, but as you become comfortable, you will be able to pray sentence prayers and join in. There are many promises in the Bible related to group prayer. In praying with others, we are drawn together and we find answers to the needs in our lives. Prayer draws you into a deeper relationship with God.

You will be able to handle stress and pressure better:

Small groups provide excellent support in times of crisis, change and stress. You will experience a sense of stability and security knowing there are people who really care and support you when you need it the most.

You will have a natural way to share Christ with others:

It may be that some of your friends who don’t have an intimate relationship with God would not be caught dead in church. They have a preconceived idea and just the thought makes them defensive. But these same people may be open to an invitation to a casual Bible discussion in a home. In a small group, your friend can ask questions and express honest doubts without feeling “put on the spot.” When your friend sees the love and warmth and honesty of those in your small group, it will make him or her more receptive to the Good News.

You will develop leadership skills you never knew you had:

The Bible teaches that every believer is given certain talents or “gifts” to benefit others in the family of God. As you share and participate in a relaxed small group setting, you will discover your confidence and self-esteem rising. This will help you at work, at church and in every other relationship.

You will deepen your understanding of worship:

Worship isn’t something that can only happen on Sunday morning. Worship happens anytime we focus on God. Sometimes that happens best in a smaller group praying or singing together. In fact, all five purposes of the church can be experienced within the small group setting.

You will be a New Testament Christian!

The book of Acts is very clear about how God intends for his people to grow and have their needs met in the church. We will never be able to hire enough professional ministerial staff to meet all of the individual needs within our church family. But God never intended for it to work that way! Consider the following verses:

  1. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common. And they continued to meet together; they broke bread in their homes and ate together; and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42, 44, 46-47)
  2. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
  3. “Greet also the church that meets at their house.” (Romans 16:5)
  4. “Aquilla and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord and so does the church that meets in their house.” (1 Corinthians 16:19)
  5. “Give my greetings to Nympha and the church in her house.” (Colossians 4:15)

So, now what?

Small groups offer the eight benefits shared above that no believer can afford to give up. If you are not participating in a small group, why not join one? If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me about where you can get connected.

* Adapted from Rick Warren’s “Eight Reasons to Join Small Groups”

The Growth of Faith

In my Bible study class, this week we began Second Peter, which involves much less suffering, more practical application; dealing with developing faith, denouncing false teachers and God’s design for the future! Here’s a little outline I noticed so far:

  1. The proclamation of the righteousness of God (2 Peter 1:1-2)
  2. The multiplication of the virtues of God (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  3. The additions by the people of God (2 Peter 1:5-9)
  4. The examination of the calling of God (2 Peter 1:10-12)
  5. The revelation to the apostle of God (2 Peter 1:13-15)
  6. The transfiguration of the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-18)
  7. The inspiration of the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21)
  8. The deviation of the enemies of God (2 Peter 2:1-3:4)
  9. The condemnation of the former world of God (2 Peter 3:5-6)
  10. The destruction of the present world of God (2 Peter 3:7-12)
  11. The creation of the future world of God (2 Peter 3:13-18)

The Place of Faith:

  1. What spiritual disciplines have helped you the most in your Christian walk? Some responses were prayer, personal study, worship, solitude, and even fasting.
  2. What are some things that we have received from Christ (2 Peter 1:3, 4)? The point is that God has given us everything we need pertaining to life, and godliness. He does not withhold things from some people to fending for themselves. There are precious promises given to us so that we can become more like Jesus Himself.
  3. We listed all the character traits that God wants us to develop (2 Peter 1:4-7), which are faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The Progression of Faith:

  1. Faith is the foundation upon which everything else is based.
  2. Moral excellence is the first step or confessing sin and getting rid of the things that the world and the flesh want us to do. We are changed people and do not need to behave like those around us. It answers the question, “What are we to do?”
  3. Knowledge is the “Why?” we strive for moral excellence.
  4. Self-control may be the “How?” Since moral excellence can be difficult, once we understand why we are to live differently, self-control allows us to say no to sin, and yes to God every time. Singer/songwriter Mylon LeFever had a song decades ago, “Love God, Hate Sin.” Pretty Good credo to live by.
  5. Perseverance allows us to stand strong while we exercise self-control. Hold on to the end, endure, and be steadfast in your walk with Christ.
  6. Godliness is the goal, to become more like God. We will never become a God (like some religions profess) but we are to be like Him (1 John 3:2, Romans 8:29).
  7. Brotherly kindness is the byproduct of our growing in godliness. When God invades your heart, the Fruit of the Spirit becomes evident (Galatians 5:22-23).
  8. Finally, love is the quality that defines who Christians, are. The world will know that we are His disciples by our love (John 13:35).

The Purpose of Faith

The goal is growth. We must possess these qualities in increasing measure (2 Peter 1:8), so if they are not, make sure that He has really called you, or adopted you into the family (2 Peter 1:10), because this is the way into His eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).


Peter portrayed the nature of the Christian life with its challenge to spiritual growth and maturity. His readers’ spiritual safety lay in their understanding the nature of their new life in Christ and in their spiritual growth and maturity. Appreciating these realities is the best antidote against succumbing to error.

The Believer’s Resources (2 Peter 1:3–4)
To rekindle an appreciation for the resources God had given his readers, Peter reminded them of God’s power and promises. Many Christians have forgotten how much God has forgiven them, or they have appreciated His forgiveness only superficially. This appreciation is the key to growth in the Christian life.

Grace and peace are possible since God has given all Christians everything they need to lead godly lives. These resources are available through knowing Jesus Christ more personally. To make progress in godliness no believer can get along without God’s Spirit and His Word. These become ours as we appropriate His worthy and excellent promises in the Bible that enable us to overcome our temptations.

The Believer’s Needs (2 Peter 1:5–9)
Having established the believer’s basic adequacy through God’s power in him and God’s promises to him, Peter next reminded his readers of their responsibility to cultivate their own Christian growth. This was to correct any idea they may have had that they needed to do nothing more because they possessed adequate resources.

Since believers have resources that are adequate for a godly life, we should use them diligently to grow in grace. Escaping the corruption of lust takes effort (see 1 Timothy 6:11–12; 2 Timothy 2:2). We must apply all diligence, our most basic responsibility for experiencing Christian growth (2 Peter 1:10, 15, 3:14). To their faith, as a foundation, believers need to add seven qualities with God’s help. Each virtue contributes to the total growth of the saint. Peter arranged the virtues in a random order but presented them so each one receives emphasis. Failure to work on these virtues will make us “ineffective” and “unproductive” as demonstrators of His life (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). The absence of these virtues gives evidence of spiritual blindness to the realities connected with relationship with God, in particular, shortsightedness.

The Believer’s Adequacy (2 Peter 1:10–11)
Simply practicing what Peter had just advocated would prepare his readers adequately for the future. They had no need for the added burdens that false teachers sought to impose on them.

Other people could see the divine nature more clearly in the Christians who added the seven virtues named. This would make God’s calling and election of them clearer to everyone. Also, by adding them we can walk worthy of the Lord without stumbling along the way. By pursuing Christian growth, we give evidence that God really did call and choose us. One of the greatest motivations for purposing to grow in grace is that when we go to be with the Lord, He will welcome us warmly.

Real Men Show Up in the Snow

Churches have made the tough call on whether to hold services these past two weekends, due to the unusual snow storms in our area. While far from what the rest of the country may be going through, six inches of snow at the beach is unusual… good thing that the area is pretty flat! Our concern was for our people who could get involved in a car accident or even slip in our parking lot. So, we also made adjustments to our meeting schedule.

But real men can make it through the snow and do what needs to be done! Check out this story of Benaiah, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:20).

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. Once, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it. — 2 Samuel 23:20-21

This was a tough guy. Notice that he not only was a valiant warrior on the battlefield, but he went down into a pit to kill a lion… on a snowy day. Snow does not stop real men from doing what needs to be done.

Isn’t it funny how some people will call in to work and say they can’t come in due to the snow, but it always seems that people can leave work in the snow and make it home?

As men, you understand the need to do whatever it takes to provide for your family (1 Timothy 5:8), but do not neglect the need to feed your spirit, and grow in Christ (Ephesians 4:13, 14, 15). You are not the man that God intends for you to be if you are not leading your family in becoming fully devoted followers of Christ (Matthew 22:36-40). Think about ways you personally lead your family in “knowing Christ and making Him known?”

Speaking of snow and the weather (and perhaps chasing a rabbit), it’s been a crazy winter weather these past two weekends, especially when you hear the global warming alarmists still making the case how the planet is doomed because mankind is causing the earth to heat up. I believe that we are to be good stewards of the planet and its resources, that we should not pollute our water and air, but if we really believe that God is the sustainer of life and the universe (Colossians 1:17), we should not be alarmists with a political agenda. We should simply promote good conservation and environmental awareness. But what is a Christian to do in this age of political activism?

There is a difference between the biblical view of the environment and the political movement known as “environmentalism” (I wrote something on Earth Day a couple of years ago). Understanding this difference will shape our view of global warming. The Bible is clear that the earth and everything in it was given by God to man to rule over and subdue (Genesis 1:28). Because we are created in God’s image, He gave men and women a privileged place among all creatures and commanded them to exercise stewardship over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:6-8). Stewardship implies caretaking, not abusing. We are to intelligently manage the resources God has given us, using all diligent care to preserve and protect them.

In my recent Bible in 90 Days reading, I see this in the Old Testament where God commanded that the fields and vineyards would be sown and harvested for six years, then left fallow for the seventh year in order to replenish the soil’s nutrients, both to rest the land and to ensure continued provision for His people in the future (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7).

But are too many people on the earth causing a problem, resulting in polar ice caps to melt and coastal areas to be wiped out? Perhaps it is more of a management problem. God has placed on this planet everything needed to feed, clothe, and house the billions of people who have lived on it since the Garden of Eden. Most all the resources God has provided for our needs are renewable, and He continues to provide the sun and rain necessary to sustain and replenish those resources.

At the same time, the earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet, nor was it ever intended to be. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever, and we know this is not God’s plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed. The physical, natural earth in its present form, with its entire universe will be consumed and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

Seems to me that rather than trying to preserve the earth for thousands or even millions of years, we should be good stewards of it for as long as it lasts, which will be as long as it serves God’s sovereign plan and purpose.