August 10, 2012

Theology & Leadership

Leadership Track At Camp In Spain
This summer while I was in Spain I was meeting with a group of young men & women in their late teens & 20's. The potential in that room was undeniable. They have a huge desire to be used by God & to be a part of a fresh movement in the church & through the church. However, they are running into obstacles. Many of them come from churches that don't have a lot in the way resources, but the most troubling obstacle many of them face is connected to the theological grid in many of their churches. When we were talking about the concept of godly leadership in ministry they shared a common sentiment found in their churches:"We don't need leadership, God does miracles."

While I understand that we don't want to exercise leadership in the same way or with the same values that we often see in the business world, we also don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because leadership isn't exercised in some arenas in a way that honors God doesn't mean that God's people should abandon it hoping that God will just magically accomplish His plan while we sit around & sing songs.

So I shared with this group of young potential leaders example after example of God using leaders to accomplish His purposes. I pointed them to people like Noah, Abraham, Gideon, Nehemiah, David, & Jesus' disciples as clear pictures of God using godly men & women to partner with Him in advancing His Kingdom & expanding His glory. Then to answer the whole question of why do we need leadership when God does miracles, I shared with them this important truth about the connection between the power of God & the leadership of God's people:

"The Bible Is Packed With God Using Leaders To Advance His Kingdom.
In Fact, That's Part Of The Miracle"

The miraculous power of God & the leadership skills of His people aren't mutually exclusive concepts. Throughout history God has been reaching out to us seeking to have a relationship with us. It's a relationship that saves us, but it's also a relationship that invites us into a partnership with God. As we follow God, He invites us to advance the Gospel & to expand His Kingdom to the ends of the earth. However, He doesn't just snap His fingers & make it happen. Instead, He empowers His people to be witnesses. He invites us to demonstrate the power of the Gospel through our lives & to share the Gospel with others when we have the opportunity. It's only by the miraculous power of God that such a diverse, dysfunctional group as the church could continue to be a force in the world.

Our theology must have a place for godly leadership. A theological system that leaves no room for God to use us not only isn't founded upon Scripture, it's just lazy.

August 1, 2012


Capitol Building of Catalonia in Barcelona
This summer I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Spain doing ministry. During that time our team worked with small churches in Barcelona, Zaragoza, & Madrid. In most cases, these churches represent the last stand of the church in Spain. While Spain is littered with beautiful old churches & majestic cathedrals, they are mostly empty, & those that aren't are not preaching the Gospel or being the church. The truth is that these small churches are the last line of defense, or maybe more appropriately, the last line of offense against Spain becoming 100% lost in a secular worldview or in the emptiness of religious tradition.

Here's the bad news: While these churches love God & want to be used to impact their cities, they are too often under-resourced & have little if any leadership. It's not their fault; it's just reality. In addition to that, they struggle with many of the same petty issues that plague the church in America, but with no leadership to guide them, the issues fester & could become the churches' undoing.

Now for the good news: There is a generation that is ready to take their neighborhoods, their cities, & yes, their nation for the Kingdom of God. While I was there, I was blown away by the group of young men & women in their 20s. They are sincere in their faith. They are passionate about God's glory & Kingdom. However, they haven't been equipped. As we left, we left with hope as we heard from church leaders reaching & utilizing this generation would become a priority. With proper training, these young disciples will quickly become important leaders in their local congregations. Another positive thing we encountered was the fact that many people we spoke with outside the church were actually very open & receptive to talking about the Gospel. If that hunger for truth can be combined with churches who are strategically reaching their communities, who knows what God might do?

So what were my takeaways from 2 weeks of ministry in Spain? Well, there are more than you or I have time for here, & truthfully, I'm still processing much of it. However, one thing bubbled to the top quickly for me.

"When You Have Greater Resources & Greater Opportunities,
You Also Have A Greater Responsibility To Take Advantage Of It."

The church in America is better resourced than the church in any other part of the world. Tiny churches in the backwoods of nowhere are able to accomplish things that these churches in major world cities can only dream of. Yet too often in our ministries, we squander opportunities & resources & settle for mediocrity. We don't set out to waste time, money, materials, energy, & everything else, but too often we don't set out to take full advantage of everything we have. The result: the same old same old mediocre ministry that reflects mediocre faith & mediocre stewardship of God's blessings on our ministries.
The fact that churches in other parts of the world would die to have our mediocre ministries is no excuse. In fact, it's the point. If our brothers & sisters around the world would love to have what we have (but don't), shouldn't we make sure we fully leverage it for the sake of the Gospel, God's glory, & His Kingdom?