Browsing articles in "Leadership"
Mar 2, 2012

Your church needs more than strong leadership

As leaders we not only look to Christ but we look to Christ to become like him as his Spirit works that transformation in us.

So what is it about Christ that you long to see formed in you and manifested in your leadership? His wisdom, his compassion, his boldness, his gentleness? All necessary character traits of any leader made in the image of Christ. But where I wonder does his humility feature?

Humility holds a church together according to Paul. He urges the Philippians (2:3-4) to ‘do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look out not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of other.’

And where does that mindset come from? Chapter 2:5 ‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’

What then does humble leadership look like?

Ron Edmondson has posted really helpfully offering 10 attributes of a humble leader. Work these into your pattern and example of leadership and Christ will not only be seen in you but your church.


Feb 24, 2012

Are you a leader people want to follow? 7 things to look for

Looking to be a leader? Ron Edmonson’s 7 Qualities of a Followable Leader is well worth a read…

Feb 15, 2012

Marriage or singleness and Christian ministry? How do we decide – part 1

An interesting post by Chris Wiles on being a single Christian on Valentine’s day prompted me to offer up some material on marriage, singleness and Christian ministry. A second post will follow on some of the practical outworkings on the issues faced by married’s and single’s in ministry situations.

1. Biblical models of marriage and singleness in the Bible

a. Marriage

  • The Apostles – 1 Cor. 9:5
  • Priscilla & Aquilla – Romans 16:3
  • Typical situation of a church elder – 1 Tim. 3. 2-5

b. Single

  • Jesus, Paul

2. Does the New Testament offer any advice on whether marriage or singleness is better for Christian ministry?

a.  Genesis 2, Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Tim.3:2-5

Marriage is a gift from God to be enjoyed. Companionship, procreation.

Christians, through marriage, have opportunity to model to the world God’s ultimate purpose of the heavenly marriage between Christ and the church.  Given that the majority of people in a local church congregation will be married a church minister has opportunity to model to the church, and to a watching world, Christian marriage and through marriage point people to Christ.

Marriage is a privilege, blessing and gospel opportunity!

b. 1 Corinthians 7 – a brief overview

1 Cor. 7:1 should follow the ESV translation

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good  for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’

Some at Corinth seem to have been following the Greek practice of celibacy and considering themselves more spiritual for doing so. They were possibly also using Paul’s celibacy to justify their own attitude to sex and marriage.

In Chapter 7 Paul wants to defend the value of singleness without defending their rationale for it.

The theme of Chapter Seven can be summed up as ‘remain in the situation in which God called you’ v.8, 17,20,24,26,40. i.e. Be content with who you are in Christ.

Were you married when you became a Christian? Then stay married, even if your spouse is an unbeliever.  This is command of the Lord v.10-11

Were you a widow(er) or unmarried?  Then Paul’s advice is that it is best to stay unmarried, as he himself is. v.8.

Please notice that to those who are married Paul issues a command from the Lord but to the singles Paul does not use commands but rather offers guidance.  He chooses not to speak with the full force of his apostolic authority but with words of advice.

Gordon Fee in his commentary on 1 Corinthians writes:

‘Paul’s argument takes on a character of its own, quite unlike anything else in his extant letters.  He begins with a caution, that what is about to be said, even though he thinks it trustworthy, is less than a command of the Lord; it is his ‘opinion’ (v.25). The argument is then laced with ‘I think’ (36), ‘I am sparing you’ (28), ‘I wish’ (32), ‘I say this for your own good’ (35), ‘let him do as he wishes’ (36), ‘he shall do well’ (37).  Whatever else this is not your standard Paul.’


c. Why does Paul seem to prefer singleness?

i) Eschatological perspective – Christ is coming soon vv.26-29

This is almost certainly what Paul is referring to in vv.26-29 as the present crisis v.26 and again in v.29 when he comments that the appointed time is very short. If Christ is coming soon then there is an urgency about the Lord’s work and we must be free from the grip of the world’s values e.g. Pursuing the things the world chases after – spouse, 2.4 kids, nice house, car and dog!

ii) Those who are married inevitably have divided interests. v.28, 32-24.

Family life is hard work and requires time and effort to sustain.  Being single enables an undivided service of Christ.

d. Is it less spiritual for Christians to seek to be married?

No. Twice Paul affirms that if you marry you are not sinning v.28, 36

Paul also recognizes that God gifts people differently. He gives a marriage partner to some and not to others. v.7.  If you are married, thank God for your partner. If you are single thank God for that too! Both are gifts from God.

Paul is concerned that we seek the Kingdom of God first, c.f. Matt.6:31-33, and not get hung up on marriage.  However if a suitable marriage partner comes along and we wish to marry then we are free to do so.

e. Conclusion.

‘Ultimately, however, it is our freedom to marry or not which Paul emphasizes time and again. .. As such, we  should regard singleness (whether short or long term) as an available option and, since we all start out single, we should approach life form the point of view of seeking the Kingdom of God, not the end of our singleness, as our priority.’

John Richardson in God, Sex and Marriage




f. Application

  • First things first. Seek to serve Christ where you are!
  • Don’t idolize either marriage or singleness.
  • Don’t consider yourself superior because of your status e.g. ‘smug married’s or ‘single for the gospel’.
  • If looking for a potential marriage partner ask:

‘Will this person I am thinking of going out with / marrying help or hinder me in the work of the gospel?’  ‘Will I help them?’

  • If you are thinking about starting a relationship look to go out with someone more godly than you.
  • Consider life goals i.e. how, where and when you might serve in say 10 years time when thinking about marriage.


g. Can I know today which gift I have been given by God?

Not necessarily.   John Stott helpfully comments in an interview with Al Hsu at the end of his book Singleness

In spite of rumours to the contrary, I have never taken a solemn vow or heroic decision to remain single! On the contrary, during my twenties and thirties, like most people, I was expecting to marry one day. In fact, during this period I twice began to develop a relationship with a lady who I thought might be God’s choice of life partner for me. But when the time came to make a decision, I can best explain it by saying that I lacked an assurance from God that he meant me to go forward. So I drew back. And when that happened twice, I naturally began to believe that God meant me to remain single. I’m now seventy-six and well and truly ‘on the shelf’! Looking back, with the benefits of hindsight, I think I know why. I could never have travelled or written as extensively as I have done if I had had the responsibilities of a wife and family.

It should also be noted that some people long to be married and yet for various reasons never do. This must be seen as God’s sovereign gift for them.


Some good books to read on the broader issues of marriage, singleness and the gospel:

Ash, Christopher, Marriage: Sex in the Service of God, Leicester: IVP, 2003

Ash, Christopher, Married for God, Leicester: IVP, 2007

Farmer, Andrew, The Rich Single Life, Sovereign Grace Ministries, 1998

Hsu, Al. The Single Issue, Leicester: IVP, 1997

McCulley, Carolyn, ‘Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?’ Sovereign Grace Ministries, 2004

Richardson, John. God, Sex and Marriage – Guidance from 1 Corinthians 7, MPA Books, 1995

Good commentaries on 1 Corinthians!



Jan 25, 2012

Are you a leader and an introvert? What do you need to look out for?

Ron Edmondson has highlighted some of the weaknesses, apparent and perceived, in leadership for an introvert. Well worth a read. It’s also a great reminder of  how crucial it is to be self-aware in leadership and why although we may want to simply play to strengths we do need to compensate for our weaknesses if we are to lead well.

Jan 23, 2012

If you are a leader why are you investing all your time in the wrong people?

Dave Kraft in his excellent book Leaders who last says

A leaders greatest assets are the people he influences, one of the real challenges in leadership is to figure out what kinds of people one should be involved with and what amount of time should be invested.

The big mistake Leaders make is to fail to be intentional as to who gets their time. We react to the demands of others rather than pro-actively seeking to develop others.

Kraft argues that there are 5 types of people we interact with in our role as leaders

1. Resourceful people (people who motivate you, inspire you, equip you as a leader)

2. Important people (people who have important roles in the church because they are fellow leaders, occupy positions of responsibility etc. So fellow church officers; Elders, Deacons, Treasurer, ministry area leaders, staff, etc.)

3. Trainable people (men and women who demonstrate potential. Godly, gifted and available people who could lead in the future)

4. Nice people (people who’s company we simply enjoy. They might be encouragers or people with similar personalities with whom we ‘click’.)

5. Draining people (people with needs, often long term, who look to us to help sustain them over a long-term)


I’m not quite sure what the category titles mean (I’ve had a go at filling out the detail next to each title but they are my interpretation rather than his).

The point that Kraft is making is that we need to be deliberate and strategic in who gets our time.

Here are his ‘Seven habits of Highly ineffective Leaders’

1. They spend too much time managing and not enough time leading

2. They spend too much time counseling the hurting people and not enought time developing the people with potential

3. They spend too much time putting out fires and not enough time lighting fires.

4. They spend too much time doing and not enough time planning

5. They spend too much time teaching the crowd and not enough time triaming the core

6. They spend too much time doing it themselves and not enough time doing it through others

7. They make too many decisions based on organisational politics and too few decisions based on biblical principles.

His conclusion

Why is so little time invested in the right kinds of people? The draining and nice people get all the prime time. The resourceful and the trainable get the leftovers.

I strongly suggest that you arrange your life, time, and weekly schedule to be able to invest in trainable people; growing hungry, teachable disciples; and potential leaders.

Dec 12, 2011

What is the role of a Christian leader?

John Piper makes the case for reminding the people you are leading of your vision. There is a need for renewing, restating and rejoicing in your vision as a church.








‘It is the job of the leader to articulate the vision over and over again’ – Piper.

Will Mancini in Church Unique suggests the following opportunities for restating vision ranging from the formal through to the informal

1. In regular patterns for church at large eg. a preaching series, business meetings, church weekends, vision nights

2. Every time leaders meet

3. When making changes such as multiplying a small group

4. Every time people are considering membership

5. Every time you (as leaders) introduce change

6. Every time you recruit volunteers

Mancini writes:

‘For the skilled leader, every day brings “insertion points” for vision. They might be when a church member talks to a neighbor — a vision casting moment. It might be a teaching, transitioning toward application — another vision casting moment. It might be the children’s director inviting someone to be on the team….’

Dec 1, 2011

12 reasons why working through teams is essential to growing a church

Let me tell you why I work wherever possible through teams in church ministry.

The heart of it is this – through teams we learn to lead through others.

1. Teams recognise gifting.  People are full of surprises and gifts are waiting to be nurtured. Inviting someone to be on a leadership team gives them limited opportunity and responsibility from which you can both assess gifting and aptitude in a relatively safe environment.

2. Teams facilitate a culture of ‘every member ministry’.  At our church we want everyone to be exercising gifts and serving in some way. It helps integrate people into church and it helps model how the gospel works out in practice. A church with passengers [a very different category from visitors] is a dangerous place to be.

3. Teams help cement commitment from individuals in the church.  It’s easy to opt in and out of church until responsibility compels you to commit. It’s really healthy for Christians to have to say ‘no’ to something else because a church commitment calls.

4. Teams develop leaders. When I form a team I’m looking for someone to take on that team and to lead it 6 months to 2 years down the line. Teams help identify leaders and provide a great way to train them.

5. Teams are a safe way to test character and ability.  Is this person reliable, dependable, trustworthy, etc. Team-life reveals a lot.

6. Teams help you avoid burn out. Most ministers are doing too much. Some responsibilities can be delegated to teams saving you time and helping you focus your priorities.

7. Teams build community through stronger and more diverse relationships within the church. Teams bring people together to work on projects who perhaps don’t know each other well or wouldn’t naturally relate. Deliberately building diverse teams facilitates community too.

8. Teams create synergies.  Allsorts of ideas, creative solutions and problem-solving comes from good teams working together, sparking off each other.

9. Teams model biblical practises. Jesus worked in a team. Enough said.

10. Teams foster accountability. They train people to learn to be disciplined and dependable.

11. Teams prevent a church from pursuing an ungodly professionalism.  Church members are tempted to pay staff to do the work and staff are tempted to justify their place by doing the work.

12. Teams teach you to relate better to the church. Teams prevent you from making mistakes in the life of the church generated from one or two people deciding everything often without a wide enough understanding of the impact on church life.

RESULT?  Through teams we build a church and through teams we model ministry as a church and through teams we achieve more for a church.


Nov 4, 2011

Why you could be the reason your church isn’t growing

Rick Warren on why Ministers can be biggest obstacle to change in a church:’You’ve decided we’re going to grow and you’ve set goals for growth but now;

The role of the pastor must change.

The role must change from minister to leader. Mentally you must (if the church is going to grow) be willing to pay the price for growth. You must be willing to have people that you are not the pastor of,that you don’t personally minister to. That’s a big decision. If you have to personally minister to everyperson in your church then the church cannot grow beyond your own energy level. That is a barrier. You become a bottle neck. The church must outgrow your personal ministry.This is called the ‘Shepherd Rancher Conflict’. As the pastor of a little church you know everybody, doall the praying, all the baptizing, all the teaching, know every family, every kid, every dog and cat and you shepherd everybody personally. But there’s a limit to how many people you can personally shepherd.As the church grows you must change roles from Shepherd to Rancher. The Rancher helps oversee under Shepherds. Everybody on my staff practically, does more weddings than I do and counseling andthings like this. You must be willing to let other people share the ministry. You don’t give it all up ifyou’ve got a pastor’s heart; you’ve got a pastor’s heart! But you’ve got to give up most of it becauseotherwise the church cannot outgrow you. You’re the bottle neck. The Shepherd must become theRancher. Ask yourself, Would I be happy being a Rancher? If you wouldn’t be I suggest you take on a goal that your church will sponsor new churches. Most of us God made with a Shepherd’s heart. God loves people with a Shepherd’s heart because most of the pastors in America have a Shepherd’s heart.

Can a Shepherd become a Rancher?

Yes, he can. If you’re willing to do three things:

1. Stay put and outlast the critics. You will have criticism in growth.

2. Give up part of the ministry and let other people minister and not have to be able to do it all yourself.

3. Learn additional skills.

The conflict that’s going to occur is the fact that if you go into an existing church realize this up front: They’re not hiring you to be the leader; they’re hiring you to be the minister. Actually they don’t want a leader, they want a chaplain. They want a chaplain who will marry and bury and preach and serve the Lord’s supper and do all of the holy things and let the people just handle the church. They’ll make the decisions and administrate. You just be the chaplain. When all of a sudden you start saying, “I don’t want to just be the chaplain, I want to lead this church to growth,” they say, “Wait!” They’re not saying itconsciously but inside they’re saying, “Wait a minute!” Most churches think that the congregation is the leader and the pastor is the hired chaplain. He does all the holy things and yet for the church to grow itneeds to be the exact opposite. The ministry needs to be in the hands of lay people. The pastor must be willing to let the people be the ministers and the people must be willing to let the pastor be the leader for there to be growth to take place.’

Nov 3, 2011

Why we shouldn’t all be church planting

The latest IX marks e-jounal focuses on the why and how of church revitalization. At a time when church-planting is all the rage here is a reason to stop and think about the place and opportunity of renewing a church.

Including an interesting article by Mike McKinley on the relative merits of church-planting vs. church-revitalization. The article could have been even more interesting if he had discussed the third option of church-replant. What is replanting and how is it different from church-revitalization?

Oct 14, 2011

All great leaders are innovators – advice from CH Spurgeon

Larry J. Michael’s book Spurgeon on Leadership takes us through the life, ministry and preaching of CH Spurgeon drawing out principles for leaders.

Here is Spurgeon on the need for innovation

Our faith makes us abundant in good works. May I say to you, if you are doing all you possibly can for Christ, endeavour to do yet more? I believe a Christian man is generally right when he is doing more than he can; and when he goes still further beyond that point, he will be even more nearly right. There are scarcely any bounds to the possibilities of our service.

Many a man, who now is doing little, might, with the same exertion, do twice as much by wise arrangement and courageous enterprise. . . We need, like the apostles, to launch out into the deep, or our nets will never enclose a great multitude of fishes. If we had but the pluck to come out of our hiding-places, and face the foe, we should soon achieve immense success. We need far more faith in the Holy Ghost. He will bless us if we cast ourselves entirely upon Him.

Preaching on the 100th anniversary of William Carey’s birth Spurgeon challenged his hearers in the following words;

When a man once had a good thought, he should not be afraid of it because nobody else had thought of it. He should do it and dare it, defying custom if it thwarted him, tearing it to pieces if it stood in the way of right. All God’s true servants were innovators. Those that turned the world upside down were the very descendants of the Lord Jesus Christ.


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