January 21, 2009

Accountability-That Dirty Little Word

Recently I've had to deal with some situations in my ministry that required me to hold some people accountable for their actions & for their continued growth in their faith. Needless to say, it's never fun to have to do this. Even those of us who love confrontation probably cringe at actually having to do this. The more often I have to deal with these kinds of situations, the more I'm convinced that the discomfort comes from the fact that true, biblical accountability is a lost art in most ministries.

The reason I'm beginning to believe this is because I can't ever remember seeing biblical accountability handled correctly. When it became evident that someone had slipped the common action was either to ignore the person (also known as shunning them right out of the church) or to blast them by telling the story to as many people as would listen. As a result accountability & judgment became synonymous. While these two concepts are very similar, it seems there's one big difference. Accountability implies a sense of mutual submission between believers to Christ & to one another. However, judgment implies a sense of superiority & of course self righteousness. The problem is that most people can't tell the difference anymore, no matter how appropriately they are approaced.

The answer? First, people need to be taught the difference. People need to understand that sometimes the most loving thing to do is to judge(Andy Stanley quote). As long as the judgment that we are making is handled in a biblical way (and there is one), we can approach a fellow believer not to hurt them or belittle them but to help them restore their walk with Christ to its proper place in their life. When restoration is the goal, accountability/judgment is not only a good thing, it's a necessary thing. The second thing we need to do is to hold one another accountable. We can't hide from our responsibility to one another as followers of Jesus. It's true, that we are not perfect, but that doesn't absolve us from our responsibility to lovingly correct & encourage one another in our faith. We can't avoid accountability because it's uncomfortable or at times messy; we have been called by God to pursue a life of holiness & that takes place both as an individual & in the context of a community, the church. The worst thing we can do is ignore our brothers or sisters who are struggling.

How have you seen accountability fleshed out in your own experience? Have you seen it done right? Have you ever done it wrong? If the church doesn't begin to shift more & more toward holding one another accountable, she will be crippled in her mission to bring God glory & to extend His Kingdom to every corner of the earth.

January 7, 2009

Momentum Conference This Weekend

I'm really pumped about a conference I get to be a part of this weekend. I'll be at the Momentum 3 Conference sponsored by Global Youth Ministry. For those of you who aren't really that familiar with Global, they are a ministry that has a vision to reach the world by reaching the world's teenagers. They're all about developing youth ministry leaders & student leaders to reach other students for Christ. They do all the stuff like a lot of ministries, like weekend conferences & camps during the summer, but here's where they are different. They also take students overseas to do mission work. While those students are there they will take on leadership roles in leading a camp similar to the one they may have attended through Global in the past. They also get to work, in some cases, with a "Global Mentor" who has gone to live on the ground to develop youth ministry leaders in places where youth ministry either doesn't exist or it's in its infancy. They have a global vision that they're inviting local churches to get involved with.

This weekend I get to head up to their mountain top retreat center to spend some time with Roger Glidewell & a bunch of other youth ministry leaders. During the weekend we'll not only be taught & challenged by Roger & other conference staff, but we'll spend some time really talking about what we are doing as youth leaders all over the country. It's unlike anything I've been apart of. Usually it's about going & hearing "somebody" teach you about youth ministry & leadership, & that's great, but this looks like it's going to go to another level. I'm really pumped about what I'm going to hear, not only from Roger, but from all the other leaders who will be there sharing what God is doing in & through their ministries in their churches.

If you don't know much about Global, check them out at http://www.globalyouthministry.com/ . I would encourage any youth ministry leader to investigate them & get involved in what God is doing through Global Youth Ministry.

January 6, 2009

Moving My Blog Back Here

After trying out the blog features of the new pastors.com website, I've decided to move my blog back to the blogger.com site. First, the traffic & user friendly nature of pastors.com has seriously declined. It's just not the network that it once was. The updates they made to the site to me is good example of how change isn't always the best thing for an organization. Secondly, I wanted my blog to be in a place where it might be stumbled upon by just about anybody, & that wasn't going to happen at pastors.com.

However there are some really good posts (of course I am a little biased) on the pastors.com blog so I want to give you a link to those blog posts: http://pastors.com/blogs/bowman/default.aspx
I would really encourage you to go by there & read through some of those posts.