Reflect and Renew

The Blog of Pastor Alan Cassady of Navarre United Methodsit Church

Archive for the category “Leadership”

“THE CHURCH IS ACTING TOO MUCH LIKE A BUSINESS.”

That is a phrase that I hear often in church circles. As I have listened to people who make the statement I usually hear a few different concerns.

The first concern usually happens when accountability is inserted into the culture of the church. When someone expects the church to hold people and groups accountable for their actions or in-actions, some do not like it and want to say the church is not a business.

A second time when this statement is heard is when the church gets so serious about its mission that it deliberately plans for growth. Some believe that ideas like leadership, strategic planning or goal setting belong in the boardroom and not in the church.

Another time when this accusation gets bandied about is when the church institutes processes or policies that people are not used to. For example policies about room use or procedures for scheduling meetings.

Another situation that could prompt someone to make a statement like the above is when church leaders begin to learn best practices from others and try to adapt the principles in their own church.

All of these complaints could be boiled down to two primary ideas: the business card is usually played when a church tries to use it resources to best of its ability or when the church gets purposeful about its mission.

People everywhere have come to expect efficiency and great customer service in every area of their lives.  When they go to a department store, they expect to be treated with courtesy and get a fair price on the articles they purchase. Of course, that would not be possible if the store did not expect its employees to be courteous and knowledgeable of the items they stock. If the store did not take care to plan and create a strategy for providing its wares, the customers would nit find the items they had become accustomed to and they would shop somewhere else. If the store did not make efforts to learn from other retailers and nurture its suppliers, its customers would wind up paying much more for their items.

Retailers (and other businesses) work tirelessly to create efficient, well-managed and pleasant environments in which people could buy their stuff. Imagine that! All that work and effort to make money and provide things that will decay and fall apart.

Shouldn’t the church put at least as much effort into making sure the world sees, hears and experiences the greatest news every before heard? Of course we should! Secular businesses spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars just to make money. Church should invest all it can to ensure that people have the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and grow in their relationship with God.

I don’t think I could say
it any better that Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. One of Hybels’ senior staff members once presented a case study to the Harvard Business School. As part of the defense of the case study, Bill was invited to come answer questions from the students. During the question and answer session a student made the remark that he didn’t think pastors should blend business practices with spiritual things. Bill took a deep breath, uttered a silent prayer and said:

“You know, I find it very interesting that you’re here in one of the best schools in the history of education, learning the very latest and greatest leadership and management disciplines so that you can graduate from here and join a secular company to help them set records manufacturing and selling widgets, soap, or software. There’s nothing wrong with that. People can benefit from using all that stuff so you might as well do your best to get it into their hands. But still, it’s only stuff. It isn’t going to transform anybody’s life in a deeply significant way. It isn’t going to change the world or determine anybody’s eternal destiny.

“What you have to understand is that some of us church leaders believe to the core of our beings that the local church is the hope of the world. We really believe that. We believe that the church is the only God-anointed agency in society that stewards the transforming message of the love of Christ. We  believe that the church addresses every human being’s deepest need. We believe that the church can lead people into a whole new way of living and loving and serving, and can thereby transform society.

“You also need to realize that some of us church leaders live daily with the realization that the eternal destinies of people in our communities hang in the balance. That’s why we are so determined to get our visions right and live out our values and come up with effective strategies. We truly believe that it matters that we attain our goals . It matters that we align our staffs and leverage our resources. We believe that the success or failure of our churches directly affects people’s lives here today and for eternity. We believe this to our depths. We’d take bullets for it.”

I continued, “That’s why we make no apology for learning and applying best practice principles as God leads us in our churches. How could we do otherwise? The church is the hope of the world.”   Courageous Leadership (p. 69-70)

Indeed! The church ought to learn all it can about the best practices of the best organizations on the planet and then deploy them for God’s use. Even Israel plundered the Egyptiansas they left for the promised land (Ex 12:36).

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Entitlement

I have recently been thing about the whole concept of entitlement because of some reading I have been doing about the millennial generation. Having an entitlement mentality is believing that I should have certain privileges or options just because of who I am, or sometimes just because I exist in this place or time. Often times in our American culture the “privileges” become “rights.”

As much research has shown Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2004) a very entitled generation. They grew up in the era where everyone got a trophy just for showing up. But one of the things I have notices is that all of us have some level of entitlement.

People have entitlements based on a number of things:

  • Status in life
  • Income
  • Age (young or old)
  • Longevity in an organization
  • Amount given to an organization

This happens at many levels in church life. I have heard in 29 years of church life and they all revolve around the statement, “You should follow my advice and do things my way because I:

  • Have been a faithful member for X years.
  • Give a great deal of money to the church.
  • Am a charter member.
  • Sit on the board.
  • Am a member.
  • Am elderly
  • Am a future leader of the church
  • Am a business owner, military officer
  • Have an advanced degree

I could go on and on.

The problem with all of these statements is that they go completely counter to the spirit of Jesus who,

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
– Philippians 2:6–8 (NLT)

The focus of an entitlement attitude is what I want to happen rather than the mission God has sent us to accomplish. That kind of entitlement is found in us all.

As an individual, I have certain preferences myself. But those preferences must be subservient to the mission of the church and the methods it will take to accomplish that mission in our current cultural context. It is a sad idea but often the perceived privilege of membership trumps the mission every time.

But what if, as leaders, we could cultivate that opposite attitude. What if we were to say, “Whatever it takes for the mission”?

Honestly, there would be a lot of negative consequences, but a lot of positive ones as well. I think the world has not seen this kind of attitude in the church in a long time. But, what if it began with you and m

Deep Change

original"Deep change… is a spiritual process". that is a quote not from a popular Christian author or preacher, but a business consultant. Robert Quinn is a professor in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. I don’t know anything about his religious life, but he has hit on a core life truth here. Change at the fundamental level of our lives (and our organizations) is indeed a spiritual process. Real change involves a fundamental realignment of our core values and outlook (worldview).

Many of us struggle with breaking bad habits such as over eating or over spending or addictions, because we try changing surface behaviors without changing the underlying emotional and psychological realities of our lives. The same is true of our walk with Christ. Often we come to Christ and have a sincere desire to change and become more like Jesus, but we never allow the Gospel in all its fullness to penetrate the deep places of our hearts. We become content with superficial or ornamental changes and always wonder why we keep falling into the same sins or poor choices.

For change to take place, we must allow the message of Christ to sink so deeply in our lives that our basic and fundamental assumptions about ourselves, the world and others is radically transformed, but that takes time and effort. It takes time to soak in the Word of God, build relationships with other Christians and reflect on the implications of Gospel for our lives. but, as we do everything about us will begin the change, slowly but steadily. That is the kind of change I want.

Fear and Pride–Lead like Jesus

I have been simply amazed at how appropriate The Lead Like Jesus Devotional have been for me the last few Months. Here is another one I wanted to share with you.

DAY 119 | April 29, 2011

Fear and pride distort our ability to see the world from God’s perspective. When our own interests loom larger than God, our thinking becomes too narrow; focusing solely on other people can lead to worry. We need God’s Spirit and His truth to bring clarity to our vision and perspective to our thinking if we are to see as He sees and lead like Jesus. What difference will seeking God’s perspective make in your life today?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path…. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:105, 130

Prayer

Lord, I confess that fear and pride cloud my vision. Thank You that Your words bring light and understanding when I look at the world from Your perspective. Help me to see beyond myself and see others as You see them. Most of all, help me see You in every situation, so that I can lead like Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.

A Leadership Devotional

This devotional thought comes from Ken Blanchard’s “Lead Like Jesus” email devotional. It was worth sharing with you all!

Click the image below to go to the website and sign up for these devotions and other information.

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DAY 105 | April 15, 2011


What does God expect of you as a leader? He doesn’t keep it a secret. First and foremost, He asks for your wholehearted devotion, a devotion that flows out in a life of obedience, love and service. He looks for men and women who fear Him alone, who do what He tells them to do, and who serve Him wholeheartedly. As God seeks someone for His next leadership assignment, will He find someone who meets His requirements when He looks at you?


And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13


Prayer

Lord, I want to be a leader You can use, like Moses, like Jesus. Shape my heart and my soul to meet your standards. Help me keep first things first today, fearing, loving and serving You, walking in Your ways and observing Your commands. Thank You for remaking me in Jesus’ image. In Jesus; Name, Amen.

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