All in Leadership

Sermon prep is difficult work. It’s long, arduous, and tedious. Because of the difficulty inherent to prepping a gospel-centered, culturally-intelligible, Biblically-saturated sermon, many opt for other types of “sermons.” Some preach creativity.

Some preach comedy.

Some preach social observations.

Some preach practical pep-talks.

It’s simply easier to “preach” these other things than it is to open God’s Word each week, find a fresh sermon for God’s people, and put spiritual food on the table.

 

We live in a culture largely void of honor. In short, honor is dead, both in our culture and in our churches.  We use our freedom of speech to dishonor public officials, people in positions of authority, and anyone else we choose without giving it a second thought.

While this should not surprise us culturally, the commonplace nature of dishonor amongst Christians is, frankly, shocking.

 

We started Redemption Bible Church believing that Biblical leadership would be crucial to planting and pastoring a healthy church. We believed both then and now that the health of our church would directly relate to the health of our elders. If you do not know, elders are the senior leaders of the church also called pastors, bishops, and overseers in the New Testament (Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28). The elders are men chosen for their ministry according to the clear biblical qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In addition to these Biblical qualifications, there are three specific traits we look for in potential elders:

At Redemption we are meticulous about keeping track of our numbers. This is NOT because we find our identity in, nor measure our worth by the numbers, but because behind every number is a name.  Every number is a life that has been influenced and impacted by Jesus.

Last week we had a members meeting and Ashely Herr, one of our elders, put together a presentation that served as a celebration of God's grace in and through our church, as well as an incredible blessing to our church family.

Here are some of the things we celebrated in a few areas of focus at Redemption:

 

I was frustrated - which in and of itself is not an abnormal experience for me, unfortunately. I was in the midst of one of the few short walks I take each day, trudging around the neighborhood next to my office, wrestling through one of the many leadership issues every pastor faces on a regular basis. In this particular situation I had tried everything I could think of. I did not know what to do. I was tired of trying to figure it out.

It was into this ever-growing frustration that the Holy Spirit spoke a simple question that stopped me in my tracks.

 

This past Sunday at Redemption was one of the most stressful and most amazing experiences I've had in 12 years of being involved in church planting to various degrees. When we arrived at 7:30am to begin set-up, we noticed another event also being set-up on the football field of the high school we gather for worship at. One hour later the entire parking lot was full...not just crowded full...like not a single spot available full!

The school had booked this event without informing us and just over an hour before our people were to begin arriving there was literally nowhere for them to park.

 

Do you have a vision for something in your life?  You should. In fact you should have a vision for a number of things -  your spiritual life, your marriage and family, your vocation, and your particular area of ministry gifting. My guess is you do have a vision for a all these things, meaning you have some grasp of where things are currently and a hope for where they will be in the future. You see what is and have a picture of what could be.

So, I'm assuming you have some vision for these things, but here's my real question:

 

I've always been oddly interested in the process various pastors use in preparing to preach. Not just the textual work and crafting of the sermon, but specifically their day of preparation. Personally, I've seen over and over how the quality of my preparation directly impacts the quality of my proclamation. My Sunday morning schedule has changed with our facilities, service times, and other factors, but here's my current Sunday morning process for preparing to preach.

 

I recently met with a young seminary student hoping to plant a church and he asked me what I thought the biggest challenges in church planting had been.  I rattled off a few things that came to mind, but after giving it more thought I landed on the five most difficult challenges I've faced over these past three years.

Redemption Bible Church is designed around a straitforward and strategic process meant to move people into what we believe are the essential rhythms of discipleship - Worship. Community. Mission.  For us, this means we have one program assigned to each of these rhythms - Worship Gatherings. Community Groups. Missional Teams. No men's ministry. No women's ministry. No Awana. No singles ministry. No grown men who read comic books living at home into their 40's working at that creepy store in the mall that sells Dungeon and Dragons figurines ministry, either...just in case you were wondering.

While there is no shortage of things, even good things, churches CAN do, there is only a small number of things churches MUST do. We've opted to only do the things we must do. Here are five reasons why.

 

Being a pastor involves a vast number of meetings. Pastoral counseling, church discipline, membership interviews, and meetings with other area pastors all consume a tremendous portion of a pastor's time. In addition to all the meetings already mentioned, the pastoral teams of each local church meet together on a regular basis. Growing up in the Church, I know that not all these meetings are created equal.

At Redemption we celebrate the sacrament of communion nearly every week. We do this because it puts the sacrificial work of Jesus in our place at the very center of every worship gathering. One of the potential dangers for a church that celebrates communion each week is that without great care it can become a religious formality - one of those this we do because "that's what we always do." Regardless of how often we take communion, it ought always to be taken seriously. It's not a game. It is not a sad expression of worship, but a serious one. In 1 Corinthians 11:27 the Apostle Paul warns in writing, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."

So the question is, how can we take this important expression of worship seriously and properly prepare our hearts for it? Here are the four steps I encouraged our church family in yesterday:

 

It had been a frustrating few months. I'd started a new position as a worship pastor at an existing church and thus inherited a group of 15 musicians with little talent and lots of attitude (a wonderful combination - is my sarcasm coming through clearly enough?).

One guy in particular was especially difficult. It was discouraging to lead him and he was demanding in his desire to have things “his way.” After one of many phone calls spent trying to get him heading in a healthy direction, I was particularly frustrated and brought this frustration to God in prayer. It went something like this...

 

At Redemption we work hard to evaluate everything we do. The underlying conviction behind this is the belief that everything can always be better. We can always lead more effectively, execute more efficiently, and create with more quality.

We've created a simple strategy that we filter every aspect of every ministry through and we call it D3 Leadership. Here's how it works.