Friday, August 24, 2012

Camps Are The New Mountains

There is a noticeable trend throughout the life of Jesus when it comes to mountains. Whenever he goes up one, something very significant happens. Something that changed his life and ours. Here are a just a few:

Matthew 4 - Testing by Satan.
Satan takes Jesus up a mountain to tempt Him. Jesus withstands the temptation and confirms his allegiance to God.

Matthew 5 - Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus saw the crowds and went up a mountain to teach. Arguably the most influential Sermon in history.

Matthew 17 - Transfiguration.
Peter, James and John go up a mountain with Jesus where he is transfigured to have a face shining like the Sun. Experiencing God's affirmation on his life.

Matthew 27 - Crucifixion.
Jesus goes up Calvary to be crucified for all mankind. He pays the cosmic debt that only he could pay and becomes the Saviour of the world. 

While there are still mountains today, most of us don't experience them like Jesus did. That's because, in our culture, Camps are the New Mountains. Camps have become the places where God seems to do significant and life changing work in our lives. While Jesus calls us to follow Him daily as he transforms us, camps create an intentional and conducive environment for the Spirit of God to really move within people. 

I believe God loves it when leaders take a group of people go away with the united purpose of experiencing God's love and grace in a way that will not only transform them individually but also as a community. I continually hear stories of leaders who set aside a week or a weekend for God to move, and He turns up in mighty ways. I have experienced this and I am sure that you have too. Whether it's been 20 years or 2 months since you last went on a camp, a lot of us can recall defining moments in our faith that occurred on Camps. 

In 2000, when I was in Grade 9, I went on a youth camp, the whole week the preacher was boring and I actually fell asleep sometimes. On the last night however, God gave me a shove and I realised just how broken I was and how much I needed God’s grace to change my life. In 2008, I was on another youth camp only this time as the preacher, and again I experienced God's grace like never before as he showed me that he was changing lives through me.

I am convinced that camps (as old as the concept is) are very powerful and practical tools for leaders to use as they develop people into passionate Jesus followers who actually want to change the world.  

Luke Williams
Youth & Young Adults Pastor
Wollongong Church of Christ

Friday, August 10, 2012

Biblical Leadership Characteristics

Some of the best leadership principles are discerned through strategic Bible study.  Recently in reading two scripture verses from Hebrews I became aware that the writer really understood leadership.  Here are the verses and what I gleaned from them.

Hebrews 13: 7 and 17, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith… Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as people who must give an account.  Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

The following leadership principles stood out for me:
  1. Leaders need the prayers of their people – remember them. Leadership can be very lonely at times, extremely demanding and quite risky. Many leaders have intercessors who pray for them regularly.
  2. They speak God’s word because they are steeped in it. My practice is to read about four chapters of the bible each day and to write in a journal what I perceive God is saying to me. Consequently when I speak and preach I can bring fresh bread to hungry people.
  3. They have fruitful outcomes. They get results, bearing the fruit that indicates excellent time management and shows that they are disciples of Jesus. (John 15: 8)
  4. They are teachers and mentors worth emulating and their faith is an example to follow.
  5. They carry authority in their very being through living a life of integrity, excellent character and high competency. Hence they deserve willing “obedience.” Serving such a leader is satisfying because they have the passion and skill to grow your leadership and your capacity.
  6. They carry great responsibility; they keep watch and consider the big picture. They study trends and they monitor progress. They consider the whole of the organisation and how each part relates to the whole. They also, together with others in the organisation, decide what is to be done and what is to be left undone.
  7. They are accountable. Perhaps more than others in the organisation they have to report on progress and account for their leadership and the health and productivity of the organisation.
  8. Wise and fruitful leaders gain success through the people they mentor, release and empower in leadership. They surround themselves with people who complement their own strengths, and in other areas are smarter than they are. Hence they have inner security in Christ, excellent self-acceptance and deep humility.
  9. They experience much joy in their leadership, because they are at the helm of a very effective organisation and, particularly through empowering others, they also have excellent life balance which creates a healthy culture throughout the organisation.
Good leaders read widely on leadership. Great Christian leaders also wisely read the Bible, for in it is a wealth of wisdom that enhances leadership excellence.
Rev Dr Dean Brookes

Friday, August 3, 2012

Leading In The Small Organisation

Eighteen months ago I left a leadership position in a large parachurch organisation, following a call from God to come to lead the Willow Creek Association in Australia.  From a leaders perspective it may seem like an odd move and almost a “step back” in leadership. But what I have discovered about leadership and the size of the organisation has been quite surprising.  Let me share some of my experiences and insights.

Larger enterprises don’t necessarily demand better leadership.  In fact in some ways smaller enterprises demand more of a leader than larger ones.  Let me elaborate.  Larger enterprises generally have more “elasticity”.  They can spring back from errors of judgment with less impact.  In a team of 60, a few poor performers are felt less than in a team of 6.  A minor poor financial decision in a budget of millions is very different to one in a budget of less than a million.  The point is this, the value of preciseness in leadership in a small enterprise can be a matter of life or death.  In a larger enterprise, while preciseness is important, the consequence of some “slack” may not mean shutting the doors tomorrow.  

Each decision a leader makes is an important one, and it may seem as though the larger organisations require better decision makers.  But in the context of risk, there may be far greater risks for the decision maker in the small organisation than the large one.  The wrong staff or volunteer appointment, the wrong financial call may lead to a quick demise of the organisation or church.  The perception may be that the pressure on decision makers in larger organisations is greater, but this is not necessarily so.  In a small tight knit group the decision that Greg a lovely guy who has poured his life into music ministry, is not actually particularly gifted in this area and needs to be moved aside, ripples through the small church in a way that would not be the case in a larger one.  And the leader who makes this decision knows that s/he is risking many relationships amongst other things.  

Larger organisations have the capacity to engage specialists, whereas smaller organisations tend to demand a broader range of skills from fewer people.  The youth pastor may also be the part time receptionist and graphic designer for church publications.  And when s/he resigns you can’t just cover the gap by pulling a staff member from a less critical area, because everyone is engaged in a critical area.  

So I want to hail the leader of the small enterprise who faces challenges and pressures in ways that leaders of larger organisations don’t.  Sometimes we feel at Willow Creek that there is a perception that we exist for leaders from larger churches and organisations.  Not true!  God has called each of us to lead where we are, the phrase you will find firmly attached to our Global Leadership Summit. 

Andrew McCafferty
CEO, Willow Creek Australia