I've been in combat in two combat theaters, but church planting has been the most grinding thing in my life. It's also brought me the most joy. So, if I had to sum it up in five words, I would say church planting is: grinding, joyful, mind-boggling, exuberant, and learning. Here's what that has meant for me.
The most serious injury I ever had playing soccer was momentary, but it still scared me to death. While I never lost consciousness, I lost my vision for about two minutes. Before that, I had approached my health with the cavalier nature of a teenager. Unfortunately, many of us make the same mistake. We think we’re physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy until an event happens that gets our attention—until we get blindsided by a different reality. What can we do to prevent that life-altering event?
“Sweetie,” my husband gently began. “This is an intervention.”
In his most compassionate voice, Craig began describing my life—my job and the amount of travel it required, my responsibilities in raising our teenaged kids, my ministry as a pastor’s wife, my efforts to be a good friend and a good daughter. “This is just not sustainable,” he said. “I’m not upset with you, but something has to change.”
Waves of inadequacy and shame washed over me. I was trying so hard to do it all. People depended on me. How could I stop?
Like the hyperdrive on Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon, there are leaders who propel their churches forward at breakneck rates, helping them journey great distances and achieve impressive results. In the leader’s mind, the idea of being a “visionary” excuses their obsession with results and the tunnel-vision that accompanies their success. When this occurs, a hyper-driven leader creates vision-weary people and may be authoritarian, autonomous, and even downright mean.
Why would otherwise great leaders act in such destructive ways?
One of the best parts of getting a PhD in Leadership was being required to read widely on the subject. From time to time, I get asked what some of my favorite leadership books are. So, I thought I would take the time to answer that question here and accompany my answer with a fairly through review.
If stranded on a desert island and given only one book from which to teach leadership, I would choose a lesser known book called Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership by Lee Bolman and Terrance Deal.
“We need more planters.”
I can remember, only a few years ago, speaking with representatives at some of our national church planting agencies and hearing they were at capacity. At the time, the conversation was centered on increased efficiency in equipping. Processes needed to be streamlined in order to run through more planters. Capacity was the issue back then. Now, it's scarcity.
With both of these sending problems, the answer lies in the way we think—and more importantly act—as sending churches. How do we move past mere rhetoric to actually become sending churches?
Why is this discussion of a leader’s power so important? Recent issues have made this question extremely pressing for us. Power is possibly the greatest asset towards leadership. It provides leaders with the potential to do good or bring harm. Power allows leaders to build trust and thus gain the voluntary and legitimate permission of people to influence them, or power can be used in such a way that it undermines trust and legitimacy. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Nothing is more useful than power, nothing more frightful.”
Since this is true, the way a leader uses power is the truest test of his or her character. God gives power and position for the sake of his people, not for the privilege of the leader.
I just finished the 1st of The Houston Chronicle 3-part series on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. Like other SBC pastors and church members, my response is one of grief and sadness for the victims and frustration for those who were never brought to justice. Yet, I also understand that while calls for a response and a denominational fix have been given for years, the nature of church autonomy—as addressed briefly in the article—puts the SBC in a unique position as compared to other denominations. Nevertheless, denominational polity is not something that will concern most readers of the story. For those who are victims of such abuse, it shouldn't.
If I were to ask the people of your church, “Why do you do what you do?” I’m sure I would get a gospel-related response. But the true litmus test of the Great Commission motivation in a church is less about whether or not we make disciples as a matter of obedience—which is good. Instead, it's more about if we're making disciples out of genuine urgency and concern that a person's life be radically transformed by the grace and mercy of their Savior—which is better. I have been challenged by this idea in recent months, and this experience has helped me firm up my “why” for UBA and our churches.
In 2016, my sister and I decided to take on the responsibility to plan our church's first Vacation Bible School (VBS). We've learned quite a few things along the way and are still learning. Hopefully, these thoughts and tips can be helpful to those of you thinking of planning VBS, no matter how big or small.
En el 2016, yo y mi hermana, tomamos la responsabilidad de hacer una Escuela Bíblica de Verano (EBV) por primera vez. Hemos aprendido varias cosas y espero que estos les ayude a planificar EBV, grande o pequeño.