Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

“Making Vision Stick” — a Short Book Review

In Leadership on December 11, 2008 at 11:35 am

At the close of each year through the first few weeks of the following year, I prayerfully seek God’s will and desire for our church. I find myself reading through the Scriptures with an intentionality of understanding what God has for the church in general as well as our church specifically in where we are located.

God brings along books to me as well that are priceless. The latest book is Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley.  Having only read one other book by Stanley (Visioneering) — and that was years ago — I approached this book without much bias or even expectation.

Yet I would highly recommend this short book.  He recommends three ways to help vision stick:

  • Cast vision strategically: defining your vision
  • Celebrate vision systematically: regularly rejoicing in the successes
  • Live your vision continuously: putting your vision into practice in your own life.

He goes on to note how the vision statement for the church must be simple and memorable.  He notes how it is better to have vision statement simple and incomplete rather than complete but too long to remember.  It is up to the leader to help those following him to see the vision the leader has embraced.

Advertisements

The Higher the Expectations, The More Prone To Disappoint

In 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Leadership on December 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Politico has a report regarding the President-elect’s appointments to his cabinet as well as some of his agenda:

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.

“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.

OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”

Even supporters make clear they’re on the lookout for backsliding. “There’s a concern that he keep his basic promises and people are going to watch him,” said Roger Hickey, a co-founder of Campaign for America’s Future.

These small paragraphs give all leaders one good moral maxim to stand by: “The higher the expectations, the more prone to disappoint.” Barack Obama’s campaign was filled with promises for progressive (read: liberal) change, therefore many progressives were rejoicing at his election, feeling that he would implement that change immediately.

I do commend Obama for coming in, evaluating the situation, and realizing that changes do take time. One man cannot implement change all by himself, especially when the often inconvenient system of checks and balances are in place. Plus, the man is not officially president yet!

Nehemiah was a leader who understood the need to discern and evaluate the situation before running hogwild into his mission. He heard the problems (Nehemiah 1:1-3), began praying to the God of heaven for wisdom (4-11), came to the leaders with the problem as well as a solution (2:1-8), then surveyed the situation himself (2:9ff) before coming up with a plan (2:19ff).

So regardless, let your expectations match reality.

Seven Signs of an Introverted Church

In Church Life on October 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm

In preparation for my sermon this coming Sunday, I pulled out C. John Miller’s Outgrowing the Ingrown Church (Zondervan, 1986).

Where do we find the repository of what Christ has commanded us? In the Scriptures. He tells us to go and make disciples. He told his disciples to make disciples. He told them to, under the power of the Spirit, reproduce Christians.

Maybe this is the reason why North American churches are dying—we are reproducing normal American citizens who strive for the normal American life who wish for normal jobs, normal marriages, normal kids, a normal retirement, etc, rather than Kingdom disciples.

In truth, every church reproduces what it holds to and cherishes most dearly. In order for churches to remain normal in the midst of the dying churches that perish all around them, they being looking inwardly in order to maintain. C. John Miller writes about how introverted churches operate:

Tunnel vision: when churches limit potential ministries of the church to those that can be accomplished by the visible, human resources at hand. Any vision that has God moving and working is not seen or ignored.

Shared sense of group superiority: We find one thing we do well or have done well and elevate it, then look at others who do not have this quality. It is done for fear of extinction. Churches who do this refer greatly to their storied history, their founders, former pastors, past times of glory.

Extreme sensitivity to negative human opinion: At the first sign of opposition, we shrivel up. And the more influence the opposition has, the stronger our sensitivity. This critical person with the loud voice and his influence begins to take on the role of Christ, wielding power to make or break programs.

Niceness: for fear of controversy, there is a desire to be nice and safe. No surprises, no problems, just comfort, safety, and security.

Confused leadership roles: Introverted churches do not want church officers or ministers to be pacesetters. It’s a fear of change, a fear of enthusiasm, a fear of breaking the routine. Keep the status quo. In unspoken words, they tell the pastor and ministers, “We will support you and love you, as long as you stay in bounds of our tradition.”

Misplaced vision: We don’t concern ourselves about growth but survival.

What does all this have to do with the Bible? The Bible shows God’s prophets, His apostles, and His Messiah going completely counter to this! The more we study and preach and apply the Scriptures, the less introverted we are personally and churchwide.

I fear we are more concerned about change that we are about Christ’s leadership. I fear too many of us get more fired up when our personal preferences aren’t met rather than we do over personal sin.

Another piece of the vision God has placed in me is that our members would love and study the Word of God and not simply love the Bible in theory but also in practice. Therefore, I must train my leaders by giving them tools to study the Word through observation, interpretation, and application. I must also model it through faithful expositional preaching which goes through the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:28) rather than simply giving life lesson principles to meet temporal needs. We must also offer special leadership training for our staff, deacons, Sunday School leaders, and other key areas of ministry at our church and have Boone’s Creek be a place for young ministers to intern so they may exercise their gifts.

What Kind of Legacy Do I Wish To Leave At My Church?

In Church Life on September 27, 2008 at 3:27 pm

I had the privilege of chatting with Terry Willett today. Terry serves as an IMB missionary in Germany (and I’m still amazed that I can have a real-time conversation with someone in another continent, but that’s another topic for another post). Terry and I served together for about six months at First Baptist Church in Clewiston, Florida where he served as Minister of Education and Family Life and I served as Minister of Music and Youth.

During the course of our conversation, he asked me how long I had served at Boone’s Creek (5 years), followed by, “What kind of legacy would you like to leave?” A thought-provoking question indeed! So, in short order, here is the passion that God has given me for this church.

  1. That our members would love and study the Word of God and not simply love the Bible in theory but also in practice. Therefore, I must train my leaders by giving them tools to study the Word through observation, interpretation, and application.  I must also model it through faithful expositional preaching which goes through the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:28) rather than simply giving life lesson principles to meet temporal needs.
  2. To provide a biblical model of personal and corporate discipleship as we seek to strengthen the people of God in their walk with Christ.
  3. To provide a paradigm to welcome everyone who walks into our church.  Our members have stepped up with a valet service; Welcome Table complete with welcome cards, newsletters, etc.; and ushers to hand out bulletins and seat people who come in.  Through some restructuring, I would like to see a time where we would have coffee and donuts for visitors who come so we can get to know them better.
  4. To continue establishing an Acts 1:8 paradigm through monthly local missions, yearly Samaria missions, and every 2-3 years an overseas missions trip. In this, there would be a continual witnessing training and opportunities given through our missions organizations and our soon-to-be established Team MVP (Missions, Vision, and Prayer).
  5. To offer special leadership training for our staff, deacons, Sunday School leaders, and other key areas of ministry at our church.
  6. To have Boone’s Creek be a place for young ministers to intern so they may exercise their gifts.

There will be more, I’m sure.  But I’m thankful that God grants this vision.  May He continue to mold and make me after His will — and may I be waiting, yielded and still.