Category Archives: Leadership

Your past hurts will flavour your present ministry

As Pastors and leaders our past hurts will flavour our reaction to present ministry situations.

If we have been criticised, betrayed, let down and disappointed by people, this will cause us to be insecure, reactionary and untrusting in present ministry situations.

If there has been a battle fought and won in a particular area of ministry, when that discussion comes up again we may very well be overtly defensive about it. The pain inflicted by fighting that battle may still be real and present. So we shore up our defenses. It feels like we are being attacked all over again, even if we are not.

The ability to reframe your perspective to your present situation is crucial. The past battles have been done. Its time to trust, hope and believe again.

What will help our church grow

My church is going through a significant time of growth at the moment. Every week we have people checking us out, coming in and enjoying our times together. We are even seeing people with little or no church background come to our Sunday services. It really is a significant period we are going through.

What I am keenly aware of though is that in order for people to become part of your community, they need to become part of your community. At Inglewood Church we believe we are offering real times of significant spiritual input and opportunities to worship and experience a sense of God’s presence together.

But in our increasingly marginalised and insular society people are still looking for what they have always looked for, friendship and community. Part of being a church is having space and time for relationships to deepen as we journey together on a spiritual journey. Learning, being challenged, serving.

Oscars mistake

If you haven’t seen the news there was a mistake made at this years Oscars when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and the wrong winner was announced for the most prestigious award of the night, best movie.

It reminded me of the many mistakes I have made from the pulpit. At times I have had the congregation in uproarious laughter for all the wrong reasons, and to my embarrassment. Sometimes I have had no idea why they are even laughing!

To laugh at oneself is human just as to make mistakes is human. All too often in Churches we take ourselves far too seriously. I have found self depreciating humour to be the best type to help people be at ease. With themself. With you. And with your church.

If someone finds it hard to laugh at themself it may be indication that they are not feeling that safe or secure. I am sure God loves me. I am equally sure that all my worries and insecurities will ultimately prove in the eternity of time to be perhaps something I shouldn’t have given so much emotional energy to.

Mistakes are part of life. I hope I can laugh at my own, and even laugh along when my church laughs at them!

Generational

One of the values of our church is to be ‘generational’. We are a values driven church, which means our values determine our decisions.

I am convinced that this generation coming up will do greater things than the one which has come before. They are different. Anxious and in many ways not thinking they will have it better than their parents. Technology has in many ways failed to deliver what it promised, yet it is something they embrace and utilise with a far greater degree of comfort than any generation before them.

As a church we are committed to giving young people real responsibility, real authority and real weight to their ministry. I don’t believe in tokenism. There needs to be a sense that they could fail, otherwise what is the point?

And I believe they will rise up. They have a sense of justice and goodness and self awareness that my generation did not have. They believe strongly in authenticity and are not tied in any way to organisational dependency.

The flame will pass on.

Hillsong Perth

I have been so blessed by the ministry of Hillsong Church. I have attended many of their annual conferences. They have been life changing and ministry changing to me. Brian Houston is a once in a generation leader. He has maintained his integrity, his marriage, his passion for Jesus and has continued to seek the next ministry opportunity as the years march on. He believes his own mantra, ‘the best is yet to come’ and lives accordingly.

Last night Facebook and social media lit up with the news that Hillsong will be planting a church in Perth. Having already planted campuses in every major capital city of Australia, except Canberra, it really was only a matter of time.

It is natural that a pastor may feel threatened by the news. Hillsong have an incredible brand and reputation for excellence. Wherever they have planted churches they have thrived, with only a few exceptions. There is no reason to suspect that Perth will be any different. But where will the people come from? Because to plant a church in the Hillsong style, you need Christians. The non churched will be reached. But that wont get them to the 500 or so they will have in the first month. If not more.

Personally I don’t feel threatened, nor do I want to. Another church planting in Perth? Fantastic. We need as many as possible. There are too many churches closing down and dying, The church in Perth needs each other. We need ideas, we need kingdom activity, we need people to come to Christ.

If people do leave your church, perhaps its because they are disenfranchised, marginalised or even consumer christians. Either way, they were on their way out. Perhaps Hillsong will be a fresh start for them, a challenge to them to commit, buy in, follow Jesus.

Welcome Home to Perth Hillsong. May God bless you.

The bigger the church

The bigger the target.

For the Pastor, the church people, the ministry.

It moves me when I see Pastors and churches fail. Moral failure, burnout and conflict can all toxify a church to the point of its demise.

Bad decisions lead to conflict, staff unhappy, people leaving.

Some churches demise is a slow burn, others is an explosion that rips the community apart.

I’ve been part of a church where moral failure led to the thriving and growing church basically disintegrating. The ramifications from that are still felt in the town it is in, 20 years later.

A church is ultimately a community of people. And moral failure, other types of failure, burn out, depression and just plain boredom can destroy something which was good.

There is nothing new about this. But it is Christ’s bride. It is the hope. It is still something which thrills me, challenges me and spurs me on toward personal and corporate growth.

Skinny jeans, tenure, perseverance, millennials and the future of the church

The blogosphere is reacting to a fairly interesting post on Senior Pastors age. It basically states that only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is under the age of 40. (Article) Stephen McAlpine has a typically theological response, decrying the direction of the church here. After a long discussion with a minister from another denomination today I have to say I think Stephen may have a point. The absence of ‘Jesus’ and ‘mission’ in the denomination of my friend (not Stephen) left me feeling depressed and my friend concerned for where his movement is going.

Where Jesus is being preached, the Holy Spirit relied upon, and the people being mobilised for sharing their faith, churches are growing. Where churches rely upon their own human wisdom and disregard Jesus and the Bible, the church is shrinking. Thats reality. (Just one source of many)

I did want to comment on succession and my hope for this coming generation. In my generation of Pastors I have seen so many go. So many fall to the perils of internal church conflict. The pain of expectations of growth and revival shattered. Ministry is not easy. Its like trying to maintain the strings on a guitar. If one of the strings is frayed or broken, the tune does not sound quite right. Having an effective church means understanding that at any point at least 20% of any aspect of your church is probably ineffective. Leading a church takes heavy doses of prayer and intimacy with God, but also takes Godly wisdom and discernment, and human skill.

Some who felt called to ministry are just not suited. They do not have the skills or stubbornness to continue. That is just reality. I do not want to sound arrogant, as though I have it all together. I feel like I am only just starting to grasp at what I need to do.

My hope for the next generation is that they will persevere and pray. That they won’t expect ministry, churches and even opportunities to be handed to them. My fear is that for some of this generation so much has been handed to them that resilience is not something they acquire. For many, knowledge is a click away, music is something to be consumed, and if something does not work it is thrown away. That is not their fault. It is the environment they have inherited.

Church, mission and community does not just get handed to you. The spiritual battle is real. People are unreliable, contentious, have ungodly desire for power and they are sinful. It has always been that way. The expectation of ministry needs to be realistic but not shattering.

My experience of Church is that it has been bruising, wounding, exciting, thrilling, wonderful, terrible, exhilarating, scary and fulfilling all at the same time. I have felt like quitting on Monday more times than I can remember. I have also felt on top of the world on more Sunday nights than I can remember.

The Church has continued for 2000 years and my faith and belief in Jesus and His mandate and presence in this world means I think it will continue until He returns. Young leaders will do more with the next church than what I have ever done or could imagine. They have authenticity, passion and an innate ability to understand culture, peoples emotions and what works far better than the generation that came before. They are innovative and have a sense of what works. They have a strong sense of justice and care for the world and the people they are inheriting.

The best is yet to come.