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Leadership

Living Leadership exists to nurture leaders who are passionate about the glory of God and who find the grace of God compelling and wonderful. We hope you enjoy these leadership resources.

The Leader's Church

Katy Kennedy

Written by Marcus Honeysett

You can download the PDF of this resource here. 

The following is the text of an address given to the All Souls Langham Place School of Evangelists in November 2011. The talks weren't recorded to allow for more personal interaction.

The main audience was evangelists but the talk is equally applicable to other leaders in local churches.

Introduction

In his story of the recent development of Kings Church in Catford, Good to Grow (highly recommended), Steve Tibbert says:

An essential truth is that the church exists to grow. The Great Commission and the record of NT church experience lead me to the deep conviction that normal church life includes gospel breakthroughs. Such knowledge fuels my belief that mission is at the heart of all the church does and is.

I truly believe that mission must take centre stage in the life of a local church, and am convinced that we must build mission-focused communities and avoid any separation between normal church life and our mission agenda. This historical separation has led to an increasingly pastoral church and a growing number of parachurch organisations and agencies that have arisen to fill a gap…Let’s not settle for second best. Let’s build mission-focussed churches so that together we can reach the nations…To build [such] mission focussed communities requires sustained, focussed leadership in the local church…I find that churches have a tendency to drift towards a pastoral mode, taking their agenda from believers rather than the lost

Maybe you relate to that. Here are a couple of diagrams of two different kinds of churches:

The Pastoral model exists to serve the needs of Christians. One leader provides "ministry" which is passively consumed exclusively, or nearly exclusively, by the faithful. This is essentially a service provider-client model of church.

The Missionary model (or biblical model!) understands that every believer is an active gospel minister and that their ministry is aimed primarily outside the church in the work of making more and more disciples of Jesus. This church has one or more leaders set aside not to do all the ministry, but to equip all the believers as gospel ministers.  

Eph. 4 says that God has given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for works of ministry. I.e. this second model. In my experience, however, lots of evangelists operate in ways that are semi-detached such that their ministry is not foundationally rooted in the local church. The negative consequence is that we may have extremely fruitful personal ministries, but we lose the effectiveness of whole congregations being equipped as witnesses. We find it easier to do evangelism that to equip the saints.

Why is that? I think it is because so many churches operate as model 1. The pastoral church that doesn’t have the equipping of all believers for witness and service on its agenda. Just as parachurches arise to fill the gap – often very well and needfully, let me add – so evangelists can get so fed up with lack of progress in this kind of church that we detach ourselves and divorce what we do from the life of the local church.

Is the local church the chief context of your witness and ministry? If not, you are not currently fulfilling the breadth of the promise Ephesians 4 holds out both for your ministry and the overall effectiveness of the wider community of believers.

What is a local church?

A biblical local church is a stunningly supernatural thing.

The father has put all things under the feet of the Son and given him as head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Eph 2:22      

Christ is reigning now in Heaven, exercising his almighty, sovereign power for His church. We are a people called out of darkness into his marvellous light, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for his own possession, in order to proclaim his excellencies to the world. As churches as a whole.

The priesthood of all believers means that we no longer have mediating leaders like Old Testament priests, but it also means that all the people of God have priestly ministry. Did you know that there is priestly ministry in the New Testament? Romans 15:15 Paul says that by God’s grace he is called to priestly service of the gospel of God, bringing to God the offering of the gentiles, made acceptable by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. New Testament priestly ministry is the proclamation of the wonder and excellencies of God to the world that will be used by the Spirit to bring people everywhere under the rule of God. Here is how he continues that passage in 15:18:

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience – by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God – so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ

That is what gospel ministry is, that is what it means to be a kingdom of priests declaring his praises. Churches saying to the world “come and see the wonders God has wrought and turn to him from your rebellion.” And so the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church and authorities in the Heavenly places. And according to Eph 3:11 this was the eternal purpose of God that he has realised in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access through our faith in him. Therefore, concludes the apostle, I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

As I said [in talk 1 - The Leader's Heart] the goal of all gospel ministry is making missional disciples. Go into all the world and make disciples, by preaching repentance for sins and forgiveness in Jesus name according to Luke, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Most simply put, that is the purpose of the church and therefore it is the purpose of leadership ministries to equip and release the church for this end. Including evangelists.

That is the first point. Evangelists should be firmly established in local churches, for the health of the church and it mission. There might advance all kinds of reasons why not but they are not biblical reasons and therefore are inadequate. That is the same as the ridiculous image in 1 Cor. 12 of various body parts saying “I would rather not belong to the body so I’ll be off.” Nonsense. God has joined the body and appointed each part as he wants. There is to be no ministry that is detached. For sure there were evangelistic mission teams in the New Testament but they were sent out and received back by churches to whom they gave account.

The local church is critical for spiritual growth

The second point I want to make is that being rooted in a local church is critical for the spiritual growth of all disciples, and no less evangelists. If we think that our spiritual growth most regularly happens outside of the church, at conferences or on our own, it may be highlighting that the church doesn’t currently have a biblical DNA. Most church problems are DNA problems. They usually come back to ecclesiology in the end. Either it isn’t orthodox, or it is orthodox doctrinally but in the words of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones churches can be both orthodox and dead. That happens when people give attention to the truth of the Lord but not the ways of the Lord, so they can say the right things but aren’t much interested in doing what the church is called to do. Not zealous for good deeds. Ephesians 2:10 says the church is God’s handiwork for good deeds.

At the risk of being controversial I think there are all kinds of organisations that call themselves churches that are nowhere near a biblical, God-centred, gospel-purpose-centred, community-of-disciples understanding of the church. We shouldn’t buy into anything less than a full-blooded, biblical vision of the local church being God’s hope for the world as it reaches the world with the good news.

In Ephesians 4 the ministry of word-oriented leaders is equipping the fellowship so that growth occurs.

V13  so that we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, no longer being infants but speaking the truth in love.

V15     we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The church is the context for exhorting and urging each other. Speaking the truth in love so that we are built up in love. But it isn’t just interpersonal, one disciple to another. Because you could do that with other isolated individuals without being rooted in a local church. V16 says that the whole body grows and builds itself up in love as it is connected to the head, that is Christ. There is supernatural growth happening in the body, in God’s family, that is unique to that context, because of the corporate connection to the Head. Christ is ministering in his churches. He is walking among the lampstands. Christ is causing spiritual growth in maturity for the disciples in biblical churches. We have no right to expect guarantees otherwise.

The growth of the disciples is coming from Christ, but because of that it is also coming from the body that is connected to the Head. V16 The body grows and builds itself up in love. Union with Christ is the ultimate cause of spiritual growth, the immediate cause is the whole Spirit-filled body, with each part functioning properly in the gifts Christ has given by his grace  (- that is verse 7).

That is normal church life according to the New Testament. Normal church life isn’t services, meetings and nice activities for the faithful. Romans 14:17 the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

So when I ask you how goes it with your church, it is an invitation to us to consider first whether the church’s DNA is right, and it is living normal New Testament church life and second whether we are one of those properly functioning parts, not only for the growth of the whole body, but with the conviction that that is the way we grow up into Christ as well?

Delightful or desolate?

It is possible that some of us here are in churches that are desolate rather than delightful. And the temptation is therefore to make church marginal even though we know that won’t ever improve the situation. We should be very careful about leaving churches, though if you are in a church that has settled into what I call a corporate death wish scenario then you probably will eventually. But not before we confess our own sin, like Daniel and Isaiah, appeal urgently to God to remember his mighty acts and revive and try to captivate people again with the glory of God and the wonder of the biblical gospel, the beauty of the cross.

Local church as apologetic  

The third point is that the biblical local church, in itself, is an extremely powerful, God-given apologetic for the gospel. See how these Christians love each other. Why are these disparate people loving each other in this supernatural way that you don’t see anywhere else? Because they are connected to Jesus. How come they seem to exhibit a wisdom that is greater than that in the world. 1 Cor. 14 because they are edifying each other, speaking wisdom from God to each other, so 1 Cor. 14:24 when an unbeliever comes in while everybody is prophesying edifyingly to each other he will be convinced by all he is a sinner, and will be judged and the secrets of his heart laid bare and eh will fall down and worship God because he has experienced God being among us.

And how come these people are filled with delight that is utterly unlike anything else in the world? How come when they are persecuted and go through painful fiery trials they are nevertheless filled with inexpressible and glorious joy? Because they are receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls.

Let me pause on that subject of joy a minute. (I know I go on about it!) If you have no joy in Christ you aren’t a believer. If a church is not thrilled with God in such a way as it ever comes out in rejoicing, in whatever cultural form they do it, it isn’t a biblical church. Joy is not a passive thing. It leads without exception to rejoicing.

When churches are abounding in joy in Jesus, delighting in grace, bowled over by being declared righteous for ever, frankly you don’t have to do much evangelism training. They witness automatically. When the believers were scattered from Jerusalem by the persecution and went talking to Greeks in Antioch, it wasn’t the result of some amazing Greek evangelisation strategy or training course. They were compelled by the love of Christ and the Spirit-empowered message of the cross, and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. On the other hand when people aren’t being propelled and empowered by knowing the Lord, you can do all the evangelism training you like and it won’t make much difference. People will have a go out of guilt, peer pressure or because it is the thing to do, but there is no sustaining power.

In the first of the two pictures I gave at the start, you haven’t got a church that is going to be sustained in witness, because they aren’t empowered by the compelling love of Christ. They may know facts about the cross and resurrection, but they have no sense of the message coming with deep conviction and the demonstration of the Spirit’s power. We have to sort that first if we want any lasting fruit. Otherwise we simply bolt on faux-evangelism as a slightly unwelcome extra for a people who aren’t actually witnessing disciples.

The second of the two pictures is very different. Not everyone in the church is an evangelist, but everyone is a witness. (That is an easy mistake for evangelists – to assume that everyone should have our gifting and to be frustrated when they won’t do what we do. I have a friend who gets massively frustrated that lots of people won’t initiate first contact evangelism with him, but that’s because he assumes that everyone has his spiritual gift. That’s not true, not everyone is a spiritually gifted evangelist. But every Spirit-filled believer has the potential to be a potent witness).

Equipping witnesses

I put it to you that when Eph 4 says that evangelists are one of the ministries given by God to equip the saints, the implication of that is that we are key people for producing whole churches full of well-nurtured and equipped witnesses. The difference between one evangelist doing it on their own, and one evangelist doing the work of an evangelist who along with them is equipping all the believers in the church in their witness, is immense.

And that is the danger for the witness of the local church of the evangelist being semi-detached. We know all the reasons that happens.  Evangelists who are in fact in model 1 churches who can’t see any way to get others involved because they don’t want to be. And you can’t see how to change it to a model 2 church. Evangelists who just have such a sense of the urgency of the task that it seems quicker and more effective for the gospel to simply get on an do it ourselves than to put in the long-term effort of training, nurturing, taking others with us and building a whole culture of it in our churches. Or we simply don’t know how to do it. Or, in fact we are in churches that simply don’t know how to encourage, resource, release and support the evangelists to be evangelists in the local church. And letting us do it at a distance allows them to feel they have a connection to evangelism, but not one that is too uncomfortably close to home.

I had been in evangelistic ministry for 13 years and UCCF team leader for 4 when a dear saint in our church said “I have no idea what you do all round the place but I think it is great whatever it is. Do you think you will be a minister some day when you grow up?” A very benign “ignorance-is-bliss”. And I had a context for doing satisfying and demanding ministry outside of the local church, couldn’t see how to shift that mind-set, so the line of least resistance was just to keep letting it go. Evangelistic ministry over here, unequipped church over here and never the twain shall meet.

If we are going to grow and plant more and more truly missional, disciple-making churches in the UK, then evangelists and their unique ministry of both testifying and equipping the saints have to be firmly rooted in the heart of them. The goal of our evangelistic ministries is not, finally, to make converts, it is to make disciples who in turn make disciples who make disciples.

To conclude

How goes it with your church?

Marcus Honeysett

© Marcus Honeysett

 

The Leader's Heart

Katy Kennedy

Written by Marcus Honeysett

You can download the PDF of this resource here. 

The following is the text of an address given to the All Souls Langham Place School of Evangelists in November 2011. The talks weren't recorded to allow for more personal interaction.

The main audience was evangelists but the talk is equally applicable to other leaders in local churches.

Scene setting

I take it from Eph 4 that the goal of all ministry – including that of evangelists - is to make disciple-making disciples. That, basically, is the whole show.

The culture that we are trying to do that within has, for 2 generations, told everyone to divorce the individual story of our lives from anything wider or more meaningful. That is the evil of relativist postmodernism. To prefer the self over all. We shouldn’t be surprised that it has been extremely successful because enthronement of self is the primary idolatry, the default setting of the unregenerate heart.

The flip side of the rampant individualism we see around us in this I-generation is the dawning realisation among many that we have lost our moorings. I recommend you get hold of Douglas Couplands recent novel “Generation A” if you want a fascinating view on people who are adrift, desperately trying to create new meanings for themselves, new identity, new sense of family. It’s a bleak and insightful read.

This is the world we are speaking to as witnesses, as evangelists and as churches. There is no worse mistake as an evangelist than to get the world wrong. Then we simply answer questions that nobody is asking and our words and witness fail to connect. Indeed for many now almost anything we can say fails to connect because they assume from the ground up that wherever they are going to find satisfying connections and narratives for their lives it isn’t going to be in an evangelical church. Because they perceive evangelical churches don’t answer the questions they are asking. They don’t frame their questions the way they did 20 years ago. The way lostness is expressed and experienced isn’t the same.

Perhaps the loudest heart cry is for authenticity. Which ought to give every church and every leader pause for thought. We have to search ourselves to see whether the churches we have built are places that is to be found. Have we built communities of missional disciples who are full of depth, or organisations providing favourite activities for the faithful that are essentially alien to the outsider. Pastoral communities for believers to get their spiritual needs met, or prophetic communities who embrace the fact that they exist to impact their area with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ?

There is no doubt that people want to see discipleship of integrity – by which I mean full of mission and service – before they will listen to our message. The day of evangelistic events put on on church premises, in which we invite not-yet Christians to step out of their comfort zone and into ours in order to hear are gone. It was never really right anyway.

The three reflections I have for us are really for us as disciples. Who also happen to be evangelists. They aren’t really so much about evangelism as about who we are as evangelists. But the reason I wanted to start with a few words about the environment we are reaching is that our hearts, our homes and our church life are key ingredients in our discipleship and in our living lives that are authentic. Our hearts, homes and church life are key apologetics for the gospel therefore, but only if they match up to the message that we proclaim. Oh, for sure God is able to take true words from flawed people and make them impact, but that is no excuse for not giving attention to our lives. 

Watch your life as well as your doctrine closely, Paul told Timothy, setting an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. We are disciples who make more and more disciples to the glory of God. Therefore it is critical we don’t neglect our own discipleship, lest the true things we say with our mouths are refuted by the poor state of our hearts and lives. What marked out the early believers and got people watching? See how these people love each other. Visible love, authentic community of a different kind, marriages of a different kind, flowing out of being true worshippers of God and followers of his Son.

Leading a team of evangelists in London universities was one of the most thrilling and satisfying experiences of my life. People who were sold out for Jesus. However I also met evangelists in those days who were so driven by activism that they were more in danger than anyone else I have met of neglecting their hearts, and sometimes homes and church life, in order to do more of what they thought was fruitful evangelism. Itinerant ones most of all, who could repeat the same material while living an unexamined and unaccountable life. Who could trot out the stuff from long practice regardless of whether or not their hearts were happy in God. I believe some evangelists like their calling precisely because of the isolation.

My hope for these talks is to prompt and prod us towards patterns of life that are satisfying for our souls and that as a result lead us into fruitful witness that is deep rather than brittle, fathering and nurturing disciple-making disciples. But it is to our souls rather than our skills that I really want to address myself.

How goes it with your heart

So let’s begin with the question of how we are doing in our hearts. The older I get the more I want to ask groups like this how your worship life is going at the moment? Are you gripped and thrilled with the Lord? Are you enjoying opening his book to discover things that amaze and delight you and drive you to your knees in wonder?

This is not just a crucial question for our God-directed spiritual lives, it is also critical for our apologetic. The strength for everything in the Christian life is the joy of theLord, including for evangelism. There is an indelible link between effective ministry for the Lord and enjoying the Lord. Being encouraged in the Lord. No joy, no good witness.

Experiencing the joy of the Lord in our hearts is the starting point and sustaining power of missions. A couple of years ago I went up and down the Psalms seeing how often proclaiming God among the nations and worshipping and delighting in him go together. And it’s a lot.

In some places you sing praise to him and proclaim him among the nations:

Sing praises to the Lord enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done (9:11)

Or ps 96:2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day

Vertical direction first, then horizontal dimension flowing out of it. In other places the work of mission is done and the result is God being worshipped by the nations:

I will permeate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever (45:17)

In other places the proclamation is done by praising him among the nations:

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the Heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies (57:9-10)

There is a very close connection between worshipping, proclamation and the task of evangelism. Evangelism arises out of worshipping hearts that are delighting in the Lord, takes place through us praising the one we delight in to other people all around the world, in order that they will come and be worshipping disciples with us. It starts with worship, ends with worship and is fuelled by worship all the way through. Worship is the motivation, the goal, the means and the power.

The psalm that stood out clearest for me for Psalm 67

Take a few minutes to read it.

Now that adds one more crucial element. One word here makes all the difference to the cause of world missions. “That”, in v2. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, THAT your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. This instantly tells us that mission start with God being gracious to us and blessing us and making his face shine upon us. It tells us that as live transparently as trophies of his grace, recipients of his blessing, that God will be known among all the peoples. The implication is that God is doing it. In Ps 67 I don’t do anything. The only place we appear in the Psalm is as the subjects of the verb – God works! He graces us so that his ways are known.

And what does it look like when God is known? Worship – may the peoples praise you, may the nations be glad and sing for joy. And blessing – the land yields its harvest. And the rule of God – you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. And wider world evangelisation – God will bless us and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Now all this tells us something very critical about our task: it starts with, and is sustained by, what God is doing in our hearts. Worshipless evangelists ought to be a contradiction in terms. We will just wear out. Or we will justify our existence by our works rather than by their relationship with the Lord.

I spoke to one evangelist who is very ably qualified in every way, maybe the most gifted missions leader in the country where she serves, except she didn’t yet have the language. She said to me “I have been knocked down by realising that in a previous ministry I justified my existence by writing to prayer supporters telling all the wonderful things God did through me and how busy I was. Now I can’t do any of that and it’s like there is no reason for my existence. Except now I am tempted to try to value myself by the fact that at least I went somewhere very hard that nobody else wanted to go to.”

And then she burst into tears. Because actually she knows very well that our identity and worth aren’t established by our successes or failures but by walking with the Lord and delighting in the Lord but was so tempted to find her value somewhere else.

So much of me wants visible measures of success. Either conversions or if not that at least the appearance of extreme busyness. And I know it doesn’t work because it reduces the task of evangelism in such a way that I can do it without having a heart that is happy in God. And that is a contradiction in terms. We cannot say to the nations “come and be glad” out of ungladness. We can’t say “praise him you peoples” unless we are a praising people.

We cannot teach evangelism in a way that is disconnected from grace-oriented discipleship. It is possible to get people to say – and technically believe – the right things but without them being captivated by the Lord. Even as a substitute for them being captivated. There is no reason to do anything in the Christian life at all unless you are thrilled by God’s unmerited grace, but it is an easy and spiritually deadly confusion to make.

I was recently reading an article by a guy explaining how he lost his faith. It is a sad and thought-provoking piece. He relates how he had been an enthusiastic member of his university

Christian Union, how he participated in CU outreach, learned cogent answers to difficult questions, the whole nine yards. But when tragedy struck he says he realised that he had been encouraged to make friends simply to win them, and taught learned answers that were far too brief and inadequate for his need at that point. In his words he discovered his faith was brittle, and it snapped. He said that he knew his Christian friends would say this was evidence he was never really a Christian, but that as far as he knew at the time he really was. But he concluded that what had looked good and sounded intellectually reasonable didn’t work when the foundations were removed.

Now that scares me, because it means he thought he had built on the rock, when in fact he had built on sand, and nobody had noticed the difference because it happened in an enthusiastic, conservative, evangelistic environment. He didn’t have discipleship, but a convincing replica of it – enough to convince himself while the sun was shining in his life.

Worshipping hearts

How goes it with your heart? Are you an unashamed worshipper? Do you have a soft heart? That is the only way that the love and grace of God overflow from us to others. The only evangelism that produces real deep faith is that which captivate people with Christ. That presents him not only as the answer to their questions and needs, not only as their rescuer from Hell – as critical and neglected at the moment as that is. But as the beautiful Lord, the bridegroom, the beloved who thrills our hearts and is worthy of our worship forever. Who we hold up as a precious jewel, as magnificent, not merely as the answer to a set of existential needs or intellectual questions.

And that kind of evangelism only comes from hearts that our themselves captivated. We can present Christ as real and the gospel as true without being captivated, but we can’t present him as compelling. What we end up with is not missional disciples who have been swept away by his amazing grace, but people who think they are believers merely because they have given mental assent to a set of facts they find incontrovertible.

I spent a week ministering to a group, many of whom identified that they had never known anything they would describe as the joy of the Lord. They knew their Bibles very well but had turned "worship" into "my dutiful service of the Lord." They knew facts about him but, when it came down to it, they weren't very excited about him. It was no surprise to find this worked its way out for them in quite brittle faith and worship-lite discipleship. And functionally very little Christ-saturated witness. And yet they thought that was the whole story of being a Christian.

Question: How would you set about seeking God for his grace with people who have never really heard the message of grace and can identify little of the joy of the Lord in their lives?

·         Teach salvation and sanctification by grace not works of the Law

·         Pray regularly

·         Rejoice in God with them

·         Major on the hope of the glory of God

·         Rejoice in the work and benefits of Christ; exult and glory in him

·         Take joy in being declared righteous and royal children; ie rejoice in who we are; perfect for ever

·         Rejoice in suffering for him because God is producing character

·         Set your desires on what the Spirit desires; surrender to his desires

Basically set about enjoying God, rejoicing in God and enjoying being saved with them. Grace changes hearts.

Workers for their joy

In Phil 1:25 and 2 Cor 1:24 Paul says that he works with churches for the progress in the faith and their joy in the Lord, so that their joy in Christ will overflow abundantly. That is my definition of discipleship – working with people for their progress and their joy. It’s not a bad definition of evangelism either. If we aren’t telling people to come and delight themselves in the Lord and what he has done for them, then we shouldn’t expect to grow joyous, worshipping disciples. Unless evangelism flows from this centre it is critically flawed. The title of John Piper’s little book “God is the Gospel” gets it right. The heart of the gospel, the aim of all gospel ministry, the brilliant and magnificent centre and totality of everything is having God himself and enjoying him forever.

If we take other things – even other true things – and make them the centre we end up hollowed out. Do you remember the story of Pharisee and tax collector praying at the temple? The Pharisee wasn't a bad man - quite the opposite. He did all kinds of good things and ascribed the credit for them to God. BUt he didn't get justified. Why not? Because he offered up those God-produced things to God for his own righteousness - rather than asking for righteousness that comes from God. He made something other than God the ground of his spiritual life – and it was good things. He had forsaken grace alone and worship and replaced them with good religious acts.

I wonder if there is anyone here who is tempted to do that at the moment. Replace God as your spiritual centre with doing evangelism. It is so easy to connect our identity to our work, isn’t it? What goes in the process is the invisible centre – prayer life, worship life, hiding the scriptures in our hearts, sweeter than honey, more precious than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. That shrivels up. It eradicates our joy which comes out of the invisible, non-public part of our lives. And therefore sooner or later it kills evangelism. Because it has spiritually killed the evangelists. Our work is no longer characterised by delighting ourselves in the Lord.

The joy of the Lord

I want to finish this talk by just nailing what this joy of the Lord is that we are talking about. The Bible says it is our strength, but what is it? We could ask that question of any number of texts, but I will limit myself to three:

1.    The joy of the Lord is the delight that Christians have in being satisfied in the Lordship of Jesus. Phil 3:1; 4:4 “rejoice in the Lord.” Puts the word “lord” in quite deliberately. Rejoice that you have a ruling, wonderful king to whom you belong. I use the word “be satisfied” quite deliberately. We have joy in the things we rejoice in. And we rejoice in the things that bring us satisfaction. The joy of the Lord is the greatest of all joy because he is the person in whom we find the greatest satisfaction for our souls, and therefore the person over whom we do the greatest rejoicing.

2.    The joy of the Lord is a settled character trait that the Holy Spirit produces in us as we rest in Christ. Gal 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy… And that is especially the case as we actively believe. We reckon on our belief and act on it. So Rom 15:13 “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” And it is even more especially the case as we hope – that is we actively believe and act on our hope of heaven. So, Romans 5:2: we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

3.    The joy of the Lord is the fresh appetite we get for God when we accept that we have no righteousness of our own, but accept that Jesus Christ is all our righteousness. And it overwhelms earthly appetites for food or drink or sex or success with desire for the Kingdom. Romans 14:17: the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Delight, Spirit-empowered character, appetite, hunger, desire for God, rejoicing in the righteousness of Christ. When the Psalmist cries “I am consumed with longing for you” and our hearts leap, that’s it. That’s the joy of the Lord we are talking about.

Perhaps I can leave you with a question to ponder: what factors in your life and ministry make this invisible centre get squeezed out?

We want to be disciples and evangelists of firm and secure faith. 2 Corinthians says that emerges from rejoicing in the Lord. And joy in the Lord comes from standing in, and prizing the righteousness of Christ. And standing in and prizing the righteousness of Christ is indelibly connected with being a worshipper. How goes it with your heart?

Marcus Honeysett.

© Marcus Honeysett. 

 

The Leader's Home

Katy Kennedy

Written by Marcus Honeysett

You can download the PDF of this resource here. 

The following is the text of an address given to the All Souls Langham Place School of Evangelists in November 2011. The talks weren't recorded to allow for more personal interaction.

The main audience was evangelists but the talk is equally applicable to other leaders in local churches.

A story:

On one occasion an evangelist’s wife came to me in tears, to ask if I would speak to her husband’s boss to ask him to force her husband to examine his ministry priorities and spend more time with her. I knew her husband and was well aware this wasn’t a selfish request. For a long time he had used doing the Lord’s work as a justification for patterns of life that were dishonouring his wife and eroding his family and marriage.

I went to see his boss to discuss her concerns. His answer was that it wasn’t his responsibility and that the wife, not him, needed to talk to her husband.

Another story:

I began to supervise two women evangelists who regularly worked between 250 and 300 hours a month. They were often unhappy, struggled with low-level illness, had no time for recreation, family or friends, they resented the work they were doing and maybe to some degree resented the Lord.

I suggested that 200 hours a month was much more sustainable only to be told that they couldn’t do their job in that amount of time, along with lots of high sounding claptrap about it being better to burn out than rust out, with Hudson Taylor being wheeled in to defend their choice of life and ministry patterns.

So I tore pages out of their diaries and after a term had cut down their work to around 200 hours a month. They were happier, healthier, enjoying the ministry and the Lord, and had time for recreation, family and friends. Most interestingly they were doing almost exactly the same work. All the rest had been law-of-diminishing-returns, desperately trying to stack up the hours because it felt like that was the only measure by which they could assure themselves and their prayer supporters that they were doing a good job.

Two examples of ministry idolatry – or justification by ministry – driven by wrong expectations or others or by the fact that, unlike most other people, we have very few reliable measures of success for what we do.

Wrong Expectations

In both cases expectation was key and expectations were wrong. These wrong expectations were driven by two factors: internally the felt need to prove our worth and externally the comparison with others, particularly in that situation in team life where it was easy to compete to try to outdo others in gospel effectiveness. The comparisons game in Christian leadership is foolish and spiritually deadly. (There are few things more depressing than comparing yourself to 25 year old, single, male evangelists who want to have a super-ministry and who think the way to get it is to demonstrate to their elders how busy and tired they are in the work, as if that was some guarantee of godly ministry. I hasten to add that not all 25 year olds fall into the trap.)

Maybe you do the thing I do sometimes and construct my idea of the perfect ministry. Someone with the capacity of Hudson Taylor, the preaching skill of Don Carson, the theological rigour of the Apostle Paul, the ability to win thousands for the Lord of a George Verwer and the holiness of Jesus. And then I measure myself against this picture, fail catastrophically in every area and go away thinking that my heavenly report card probably reads “must do better”.

Ministry and Home

Many of us have a much stronger theology of ministry than we do of home. And therefore feel the pressure and incentive of ministry more keenly. And the casualty is frequently home life, family and friends. One observation in my work with Living Leadership is that a common cause of people giving up ministry prematurely is spouses who feel that they have been persistently neglected in favour of ministry, and who haven’t been able to say anything about it without feeling like they are being unfaithful to the Lord.

About 6 years ago I started to make a note whenever a Christian leader told me they were wrestling with discouragement and pressures on family and home life and the gradual undercapitalisation of spouses recur frequently on the list. Rarely enough in a single incident to cause a radical re-evaluation, but enough that leaders’ families often feel they are the least spiritually fed people. Spouses regularly carry the greatest burdens in return for the least input. Let the patterns persist unchallenged for 15 years and you have a recipe for disaster.

The goal of evangelism is Christ being formed in people’s hearts by faith. It is union with Christ. People becoming worshipping, witnessing disciples with us in his body, the Church. What is the clearest picture we have on Earth of Christ and the Church? Marriage.

Let’s turn to Ephesians 5, which we know so well. Read Eph 5:18–32

There is an intimacy here between husbands and wives that is almost as close as it is possible for human beings to get in this world to the intimacy enjoyed between members of the Trinity. I say almost, because there is one experience of intimacy that we experience which is closer even than that, and that is the union between Christ and the church. Marriage itself, even gender – male and female – were created to illustrate that union as profoundly as it is possible to illustrate it this side of Heaven.

Don’t trade off ministry and family

If union with Christ is our goal, and this marriage picture is the clearest illustration then I contend that as soon as we get ourselves into a position where we assume that we have to make tradeoffs between ministry and investing in our families - and for those who are married, our marriages in particular – we have taken a huge false step. All the alarm bells ought to be ringing.

Following the picture of marriage illustrating union with Christ, it should subsequently come as no surprise to hear the church described as God’s family. Families are created to illustrate and make us enjoy God’s family, just as gender is created to make us long for the Great Wedding. Eph. 4 says that leader – including evangelists – are given to the church so that it grows up from spiritual childhood more and more into Christ. So that it is connected in intimate family to Christ and builds itself up in love.

It should come as no surprise to hear in 1 Tim 3 and 2 Timothy 2 and Titus 1 that family is a cradle for faith and that leadership in the family is the clearest indication of suitability for leadership ministries in the wider family. Or to hear leaders referred to as fathers among the flock 1 Cor 4:15 or both parents in 1 Thess 2 – as a mother gently caring for children, a father exhorting children.

There are clearly lots of parallels between being a father at home and having leadership ministries in the family of God. Giving attention to our home life, therefore, is not only a proper and vital thing to do for its own sake – though it is that – and not only is it crucial for us and our families living God-directed lives, it is also critical for biblically functioning churches. It makes sense of the office of elder. It models marriage and family to others. It prevents prayers being hindered and satisfies the soul. And it is a vital apologetic for the gospel because it uniquely displays the mystery of Christ’s love for the church. People are meant to look at our lives, look into our homes, and see the difference union with Christ makes there, right in the nitty gritty and messiness of everyday life.

Respecting and honouring our families is non-negotiable

So let me ask how is your home? I pray that it is well with you. But if, as we ponder this morning, you find the Holy Spirit prodding you, it is critical that you spend time after this conference examining your patterns to see if they are godly. Respecting and honouring our families is not negotiable. It is at the heart of ministry. Perhaps more than anyone evangelists can be prone to compulsive work habits and find it easy to justify a busy-is-best mentality. It might be that the Lord says to you this morning that it is time to ask for some external accountability not for your work but for how you care for and enjoy those closest to you. We are created for intimate relationship that is not satisfied by any amount of ministry achievement. We are called to ministry, but we are created for family.

I have read 30 or 40 books on Christian leadership in the last few years. Do you know how much attention is given to leaders’ home and family life? Almost none at all - which is quite illuminating. (Lots talk about vision because they are written by leaders with strong gifts in that area. Few talk about character and family - draw your own conclusions!) There are a few books on being a minister’s wife which range from helpful to excruciating (there is a very good one out by Ann Benton, Val Archer and others this month from IVP). People who write books for leaders about leadership are more concerned with the task of leading than they are with the life of the leader, whether that is their prayer life, their marriage, family and friends. There are books for non-leaders on all those things, but little to help full time workers.

Two caveats:

is married read that verse and think that their marriage is second best). But secondly, don’t let that tip over into workism that has no home life. Friends are peculiarly important for you. Friends in ministry maybe, but really just friends. It wouldn’t be quite correct to apply Eph. 5 to friendships, but there is plenty in Acts and the pastorals enjoining us to friendships of depth, that constitute home life in your situation.

Peter Brain expresses the pressure of ministry on home life well

A good case can be made that the first church is the family. We are born before we are born again. Creation takes place before regeneration. God is the author of both, os it would be ungodly and therefore unwise to exalt the one and disregard the other. If this is the case, pastors would be wise to keep the balance by maintaining the priority of the family. It is easy to neglect one's biological family in order to invest energies and time in the church family. Sometimes churches can actually promote and applaud the pastor's affair and "adultery" with the church. This is called "spiritualised adultery" by Paddy Ducklow, which he explains as "the daily reality of the church becoming the paramour" which "seems to lead the list in clergy marriage complaints" - when the pastor loves his work more than his home life. When this happens, says Dr Dennis Guernsey, "the pastor's wife is put in a terrible bind when the church becomes The Other Woman - but her husband isn't unrighteous for sleeping with her. No one considers this obsession immoral; he's doing God's work.

It is easy to see how all this happens. It is rarely a case of intentional neglect. It tends to be a gradual process that flows out of a desire to be wholehearted in Christian discipleship, and faithful in the pastoral vocation.

(Going the Distance, p102-103)

Leader’s flourish when home life flourishes

Now, we are called to be workers with others for their progress and joy in the faith, so that they overflow abundantly with joy in Christ. That is the heart of all biblical spiritual leadership. That is what we plan for, work for, exhort witness and disciple for. So that people come to Christ and grow up into Christ and delight in God through Christ. It is extremely common, however, that those like us who are commissioned by the Lord to be workers with others for their joy don’t receive the same encouragement of people doing it for us. And in many cases our close families receive it least of all. George Carey said this:

Churches die when leaders die. Churches die from the top downwards.

I would add to that that ministries die spiritually when families and home life dies spiritually. Ministries die from the inside out. Churches flourish when leaders flourish. And leaders flourish when home life flourishes. Yet most of our churches have no idea who spiritually feeds those who feed them, or even when it is happening at all. They assume it goes on behind the scenes. In very many churches that is an unwarranted assumption. We tell others “Jesus says come to him and take his yoke which is not burdensome and enjoy being connected to him”. We know that is where spiritual energy comes from. We neglect it for ourselves and our families at great peril.

Questions

The question we have to ask ourselves is:

Living in the love of God at home

The Bible parallels building godly home life and building godly church life in a whole host of ways. Don Carson lists, for example:

We could add all kinds of other things: protection, provision, spiritual counsel, witnessing to lost family members, teaching kids to be worshipping disciples, learning to practise hospitality together. We might want to say that all of these come under the heading of living in the love of God at home. Magnifying the blessings of God at home. Finding imaginative and creative ways to delight in the fatherhood of God and the Lordship of Christ and the work of the Spirit at home. Eph. 5 again sets all its exhortations for home life against the backcloth of being continually filled with the Spirit.

Living in the love of God at home. There is one thing that makes it possible above all others – planned time. I plan time for ministry at church, ministry away, for meetings, demands of others and for me. I find it easy to set boundaries in those areas. But much harder to plan time for home. For relaxed relating. And often our families and friends will find it easier to let us get away with that because they would feel guilty about stopping us. It is very hard to say “no” when good evangelistic ministry is calling. And it is what we are called to do so it always feels like the line of least resistance. We assume those closest to us understand and therefore graciously accept our busyness. And therefore find it easy to build in patterns that take home for granted, especially those of us who work from home, where we can tell ourselves that at least we are physically present even though we may be tired out and preoccupied with ministry.

One fundamental mistake goes like this:

The error is that we actually have a whole variety of callings and ministries. We have a ministry to ourselves before the Lord, to delight ourselves in him. We have God-given responsibility to family and friends. If we fail to recognise it we won’t balance living in the love of God out in our public ministries with living in the love of God in our home life. And the disconnect will gradually drain out our spiritual fuel tank and that of our families and lead to regret and in the worst cases the slow disintegration of affection. I was speaking to one evangelist who has stepped out of ministry following an affair. He said that over the period he neglected his marriage, his wife accepted it, over time distance increased between them little bit by little bit until he finally realised he was starved of affection and tragically went looking elsewhere for it.

So, planned home time. Do you do it? How often during your week do you do things with family and friends that simply demonstrate you like being together? Our diary is what demonstrates whether we honour our home life because diary demonstrates intentionality. Lack of intentionality is the big killer. Do you make appointments for home that are as sacrosanct as ones you make for ministry? If you don’t then you don’t think home life is as important. You may be a slave to your ministry expectations, thinking that you have to be all things to all people, responding to every demand. Most of us work over 60 hours a week. Why do we do that? For sure we are engaged in the most important work in the world for which we want to fling our lives away. But most of us, deep down, do it because we have to to get everything done or because we think we haven’t done enough.

I remember at the end of a weeklong conference being asked how many hours we thought we had worked during the week – and therefore how many would have to either make up afterwards if it was on the low side – or give back to our families if it was on the high side. Answers ranged from 20-70 hours from people who had all been at the same things, according to whether they had enjoyed it or not. But the next question came: how many hours would your spouse think you weren’t available for them?

Practical steps

So here are a few things my wife and I have found useful. None of them are rocket science:

Rest is often the result of being genuinely proactive. When we aren’t, other things always seem more pressing than care for home and self and soul. Let’s strive for patterns that honour rather than neglect the God-given gift of home life.

Our family and home life will outlast our ministry. We need to live in the love of God here. If we don’t we surely won’t do so elsewhere. We nurture home for its own sake, for our sake, for the church’s sake and for honouring God. We are wise indeed to attend to our family and home responsibilities carefully. How goes it in your home?

Marcus Honeysett.

© Marcus Honeysett.

 

Discipleship Course: Building on the Rock, From Steve Wilmshurst & Kensington Baptist Church, Bristol

Katy Kennedy

Here is an example of how one church - Kensington Baptist, Bristol - disciples new believers. Course author Steve Wilmshurst writes:

We have run these sessions twice a month, from say late Sept to early July (with obvious gaps for holidays). We launch with a meal where we set out the programme. This helps generate the buzz that generally characterises the sessions. The 16 main sessions then have people sitting in groups round little tables with their group leaders (always the same ones) and we start with drinks and snacks. 

Once we finished with another meal where we gave out certificates. This was good, but it was getting on towards summer hols so the attendance wasn't great. Indeed, regularity of attendance is one of the major issues with a programme like this. We have generally targted (by specific invitation) people on the fringes of the church so lack of commitment is bound to be an issue.

Typically 60% to 80% of the material (depending on topic and presenter) is delivered from the front and the rest is discussion or reflection in the groups.

 The sessions below contain the course handout notes, which are sufficiently comprehensive that they can be used, with some preparation, to deliver a similar course. Steve notes, however, that not all the material in below is uniform in style or presentation, and that in some cases there are gaps in what the Powerpoints cover.

If you would like to know more about the course or find out how it has been used in practice, Steve would be happy for you to contact him at: steve@kenbaptist.org.

Session 1: God, Powerpoint

Session 2: The Bible, Powerpoint

Session 3: Reading the Bible, Powerpoint

Session 4: Human Race, Powerpoint

Session 5:  Salvation, Powerpoint

Session 6: Angels, Satan and Demons, Powerpoint

 Session 7 Prayer and Spiritual Warfare, Powerpoint

Session 8: The Church, Powerpoint

 Session 9:  Being part of a church family, Powerpoint

Session 10: The Last Days, Powerpoint

Session 11: Reading the Bible 2, Powerpoint

Session 12: God's world, Powerpoint

Session 13: Mission and Evangelism

Session 14: Work, money and lifestyle, Powerpoint

Session 15:  Understanding the times, Powerpoint, Statistics

Session 16: Ministry and mentoring, Powerpoint

 

Course Invitation Letter

Programme for Course members

Course overview powerpoint

Introduction to Spiritual Leadership 3

[Your Name Here]

Written by Marcus Honeysett

You can download the PDF of this resource here.  

In part two of this introduction we discovered that right at the heart of biblical spiritual leadership is the task of making missional disciples. God gives leaders who work with disciples so that they make progress and in the faith and have joy in Jesus as they participate in this wonderful task.

In this part we will tease out the basis of being thoroughly God-centred, God-exalting, God-focussed leaders a little more with two further definitions that both build on the first one. The first of these definitions comes in the answer to two extremely important questions:

Group discussion questions:

  • Why did God make creation? What was his goal in doing so? Can you think of Bible verses that answer this question?
  • What is the purpose of the Church? Why did Jesus create it? What does he empower it to accomplish? 

A little while ago I spoke to a group of theology students who were just finishing their studies and about to assume their first positions in church leadership. I was greatly alarmed that they couldn’t give clear answers to these two questions. If they don’t know why God does whatever he does, and what the purpose of the Church is, how on earth were they going to know if they were doing the right job or not? The task of leadership is defined by – and conditional on – what we think the answers to these two questions are. If we don’t know what the Bible has to say, we won’t lead in a biblical way, for biblical goals.

According to the Bible, the reason God made the world and the reason he made us is for “the praise of his glorious grace.” We could sum it up as God being worshipped and crowned as king by all people everywhere, through them seeing, savouring, believing, and enjoying the glorious good news of his grace to us in Jesus Christ.

The book of Ephesians says that we exist for the praise of his glorious grace three times in the first 14 verses. If this is the reason God does all he does, if this is the purpose of our very lives, it must also be the purpose of spiritual leadership. God gives leaders to local churches to make and shape them as grace-filled communities of disciples that accomplish this.

The purpose of the Church, simply put, is to go into all the world, making disciples of Jesus, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt 28). If the making of disciples is the primary purpose of the Church, then equipping churches for the task is the primary purpose of spiritual leadership. As leaders work with people for their progress and their joy it is all meant to be directed to them participating in disciple-making, in one way or another. All disciples should be active participants in the Matthew 28 purpose of the church. Passive, pew-filling disciples should be a contradiction in terms.

Group discussion questions:

  • What percentage of your church activities are actively directed to making or equipping active disciples? Why is it the percentage that it is?
  • If you asked an average church member how they were being equipped to work with Jesus in fulfilling the Great Commission, what would they say? 
  • What happens to churches and leaders if this foundational understanding is missing? 

Churches should be communities of disciples for making mature disciples who follow Jesus more and more closely and participate actively in the Matt 28 purpose of the church. Disciples are people who are growing closer to Jesus, grasping his grace for each day of their lives, experiencing God’s love, loving his word, enjoying his people, being worshippers. And being proclaimers of how amazing he is.

Therefore that is what all our activities should be devoted to. It’s what small groups are for. It’s what our outreach ministries locally and around the world are for. It is what our compassion ministries are for.

And therefore that is what leaders are for. Building disciples, shaping the community of disciples, training and releasing other leaders and all the disciples so that people grow more and more like Jesus and actively participate in the Matt 28 purpose of the church.

I propose that Matt 28 and Phil 1:25 and 2 Cor 1:24 belong together. Paul is making Matt 28 communities and he says what those communities look like is the people of God making progress in God, enjoying God, overflowing with joy in Christ Jesus, full of faith. You don’t have to think very hard to see why God is going to be glorified, why the church is going to go to all the world making disciples if they are full of faith, making progress and exploding with irrepressible joy. It doesn’t take much to see how churches stand up under trials and resist temptation if they are exhibiting inexpressible and glorious joy.

A Fuller Definition

Here is the third definition. We take the previous two points and add a further five:

  • Leadership is based on God’s goal for creation – namely the white hot worship of Father and Son in Heaven. Leaders exercise their role so he is exalted.
  • Leadership is based on the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that churches are a “spiritual house” which is built up through the centrality of the Spirit-given message of the cross of Christ.
  • Leadership is based on how exactly a church grows into this purpose, which is through all the disciples growing to be spiritually mature. Eph 4 says that God has given leaders to prepare God’s people for service so that the body is built up as unto a mature man, attaining to the whole measure of the stature of Christ. 
  • Leadership is based on the character of Christ. The Pastoral Epistles contain extensive instruction about how Jesus-like character is essential to spiritual leaders. This tells us that the personal prayer and worship life of leaders are of primary importance.
  • Leadership is based on a correct understanding that God gives gifts to all believers for ministry. Leaders facilitate ministry, they don’t do all the ministry, leaving everyone else as a passive onlooker. 

To summarise, in this session we have seen that leadership is defined by:

  • The purpose of God as revealed in the Bible
  • The worship of Christ
  • The work of the Spirit
  • The mission of the Church
  • The nature of mature discipleship
  • The character of Christ
  • The corporate nature of the Church

Group discussion questions:

    • What happens to our understanding of leadership if we miss out the first three of these?
    • What about if we miss out some or all of the last four? 

    These seven factors allow us to answer a key foundational question: what does it mean to be a church that glorifies God? We cannot understand what it means to be a leader to the glory of God until we have firmly in our minds what it means to be a church to the glory of God. Everything leaders do is for Christ’s sake. For his glory. So that he is formed in people’s hearts through faith and that they love his glory. Leaders serve churches in order to achieve that.

    Marcus Honeysett

    © Marcus Honeysett

    Introduction to Spiritual Leadership 2

    [Your Name Here]

    Written by Marcus Honeysett. 

    You can download the PDF of this resource here.  

    The Heart of Spiritual Leadership

    In part 1 of this introduction we saw that the goal of biblical, spiritual leadership is growing missional disciples and churches. Believers with mission, community and engagement with their surrounding culture at the heart of their worldview and understanding of living out the gospel.

    Frequently, however, leaders fall into the mistake of substituting disciple-making for church-making, and simply devote themselves to making the organisation of a local church run effectively. The result is often services that are provided by religious professionals and consumed by passive religious consumers. Leaders can easily collude in this – it is nice to be wanted! – and in the process forget that the Bible teaches that they are given to facilitate the ministries of all the believers, as they seek to fulfil The Great Commission (Eph 4:11). Leaders equip everyone for works of service – by which I mean God-exalting living, speaking and acting for Jesus.

    We get our ideas about leadership from many different places:

    • Historical or denominational patterns

    • Parts of the Bible we try to get models from and who our favourite biblical leaders are  
    • Leaders we know and admire (and ones we don’t admire!) 

    The most common place is simply how we see it being done in our local setting. Even among biblical Christians this leads to lots of variety according to whether your church develops leaders from within or gets them from outside; whether they are chose by the congregation, or by existing leaders or by the denomination; whether they are strongly integrated into the community or maintain a degree of professional detachment; whether authority lies with the leader, the congregation or the denomination; whether leadership is perceived to be about vision or about running activities. Some even assume (quite wrongly) that there is no concept of leadership in the New Testament – woe betide the person who tries to lead that group!

    The critical thing to note is that our ideas about leadership are likely to be strongly informed and reinforced by our local church environment and tradition. Maybe as strongly as by the Bible. After all, if we question something as foundational as the way the church is led, it might be that we can’t lead there anymore. It is vital that we get our understanding of leadership from the Bible and not from merely what is acceptable in our church at the moment. That is to confuse our existing structures with orthodoxy.

    Group discussion question:

    Read the following Bible verses: Philippians 1:25-26; 2 Corinthians 1:24 

    • What is the Apostle Paul’s aim as he works with these churches?
    • The 2 Corinthians verse strangely connects growing in the joy of the Lord with developing firm and secure faith. Why does overflowing with joy in Christ lead to firm faith? 

    The energising strength for leadership – as for everything in the Christian life – comes from the joy of the Lord. Hence Paul’s definition of leadership (discipling others) is to be workers with them for their progress in the faith and their joy in God. This puts God, a hunger for God, a delight in the purposes of God and worshipping God squarely at the centre of the task of leading. It is the foundation for growing believers and growing the Kingdom of God.

    When a church is full of joy in God it doesn’t take much to see why it will attract people to Christ. When that godly joy has disappeared to be replaced by religious activities, then that attraction disappears. People may join for nice activities or to have a comforting “spiritual bit” in their lives, but in a very meaningful way it has ceased to be a God-centred biblical church.

    Here are three simple statements that get to the heart of spiritual leadership.

    The heart of spiritual leadership is:

    1. Equipping disciple-making disciples
    2. Who are passionate about bringing God glory in the world
    3. And who are overflowing with joy in Christ  

    Group discussion questions 

    • How novel or radical would this understanding of the purpose of the Church – and therefore the purpose of leadership be to most people in your church? Explain your answer.

    • If you think it would be alien to the majority, what do they think the Church and leadership are for? 

    The task of leadership is much broader than merely putting on a programme, leading a Bible study, preaching a sermon, doing a pastoral visit or running some activity. We are developing people’s souls and their walk with the Lord. We are helping them participate with God in growing the Kingdom. Which means that our investment in them is a much bigger thing than merely training or pastoring. It is discipling them. Or, as Paul put it, working with them for their joy. That is my definition of discipling people: working with them for their progress in the faith and their joy in God.

    Group discussion question:

    How do we actually do leading for people’s progress in the faith and their joy in God? What might that look like in practice?

    Here are a few of my top answers:

    • Help people to delight themselves in the Lord. Help them love God, love the Son of God, love the Holy Spirit, and to give expression to their love. (This means that leaders have to be growing as worshippers themselves. It’s the easiest thing in the world for leaders to eventually replace being a worshipper with being a professional Christian).
    • Help them love the word
    • Help people appreciate the benefits of Christ. Adoption, forgiveness of sins, a home in heaven, entrance into God’s family, freedom from guilt and the curse of the Law, the gift of the Spirit, a new heart, new desires, a Heavenly Father, a great high priest through whom we have redemption. 
    • Helppeople see the glory of God in the gospel of his grace. Romans 5 says we reign in life by receiving his grace and the gift of eternal life. Help them know how to receive and seek God for his grace with them.
    • Love people at all times and do them good, especially those in difficulty and distress. 
    • Have ambitions for where God might take people in their discipleship. Show them some of what is possible in the Lord if they live and act in faith. Take them with you and show them how you are serving God and growing as a disciple. 
    • Help others pray. Pray with them. Show them how you pray. Tell them what you pray for them. 

    Marcus Honeysett

    © Marcus Honeysett 

     

    Introduction to Spiritual Leadership 1

    [Your Name Here]

    Written by Marcus Honeysett

    You can download the PDF of this resource here.  

    Begin this session by considering the following questions

    Group Discussion

    • What ideas does the word “leader” contain for you?
    • Where do you get your ideas from?

    Biblical, spiritual leadership is different to any other kind of leadership in the world. According to the Bible it is a spiritual gift to be exercised in servant-hearted love for building up the body of Christ. This spiritual gift of leadership is given by God to nurture, disciple, equip and release all the believers – and all of their spiritual gifts – in order that the Church of Jesus Christ fulfils the purpose he has given us: to make disciples of Jesus in every nation, proclaiming repentance and forgiveness for sins in his name, baptising them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (The Great Commission).

    We can summarise the goal of biblical leadership very simply: growing missional disciples. That is, growing disciples who make more disciples, who in turn make more disciples. We see this pattern in 2 Timothy 2:2:

    The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others

    As leaders grow disciple-making disciples, the result is churches that have disciple-making and witness as their core values and purpose, as they should. If we grow disciples we get biblical churches, whereas if we simply set about building church structures and activities we frequently don’t get biblical disciples, but rather people who enjoy attending activities and meetings.

    Leaders serve God and others, in love, so that they will follow Jesus more and more closely and participate in God’s purposes in the world, as described in The Great Commission, in every part of their day to day lives: their family, their work environment, their friendships, their leisure pursuits. Every part of the life of a disciple should be oriented to God being famous and receiving glory. One writer puts it like this: the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory (John Piper).

    Group discussion question:

    What should someone exercising the gift of spiritual leadership look like?

    In the world you would normally begin to answer this question by examining the person’s leadership skills and opportunities. Are they a dynamic leader of people? Do they communicate well? Are they visionary and inspirational? These things aren’t unimportant or unrelated to biblical leadership, but they are not the starting point. They qualify a person to lead in the world, but don’t necessarily qualify them to lead in the body of Christ. The ABC of spiritual leadership looks like this:

    A.  They have a deepening relationship with God 

    • They have a heart that is hot for Jesus
    • God and his word are their daily delight and joy
    • They are concerned for God to get glory in their life
    • They have an active prayer and worship life 

    B.      They are growing in Christ-like character

    • They have a humble, loving spirit
    • They are full of thanksgiving and adoration
    • They put aside their own interests and desires in order to help others know Jesus and grow as disciples
    • They are keenly aware of God’s grace abounding to them in sin-covering, transforming power

    C.      They are (at least potentially) able to develop and implement clear vision

    • They are desperate to grow God-centred, missional churches (ie churches full of disciple-making disciples)
    • Their overriding aim is that God is known all over the world and that the fame of his glory is spread far and wide
    • They want (and are able) to lead activities to this end

    Group discussion question:

    How are you and your church currently doing in these things?

    If well, praise God! If he has used this discussion to highlight possible growth areas, praise him for that too! There are no finished articles, no perfect churches and no leaders who don’t still need to carry on growing.

    Pray now that God will equip and use you increasingly to facilitate the growth in discipleship and witness of other people. Thank him for the opportunity of walking with him as a servant leader. Ask for his help in any area of this discussion that has made you feel especially weak, afraid or inadequate.