Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #6 - Leadership Development"

We continue with Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Last week, we talked about GOD-HONOURING STEWARDSHIP. This week, it is about LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #6 - LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

"Leadership development must involve leader-development capacity, a culture of leadership development, and a leadership development pipeline. Growth is more than a hobby; it is a habit. The person who chooses to be a leader developer must work at integrating the nine qualities below into their life.
  1. A leader developer appreciates others.
  2. A leader developer believes in the propensity of others to do their best.
  3. A leader developer praises people for what they have done.
  4. A leader developer empowers others.
  5. A leader developer listens and asks questions.
  6. A leader developer encourages and cares for others.
  7. A leader developer values clear thinking and strategic action.
  8. A leader developer  continually learns and places a high value on personal growth.
  9. A leader developer accepts personal responsibility to develop others." 
(adapter from McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p97-100)

Tips: A church that develops leaders would:
  • Have identified those gifted and called to leadership;
  • Actively recruit and assess qualified people for various roles;
  • Welcome new leaders within the congregation;
  • Formally evaluate all leaders annually;
  • Recognize and Honour people for their effective leadership;
  • Trust leaders and follow them;
  • Hold leaders accountable for clearly defined expectations.
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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #5 - God-Honouring Stewardship"

We continue with Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Last week, we talked about PERSONAL MINISTRY. This week, it is about GOD-HONOURING STEWARDSHIP.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #5 - GOD-HONOURING STEWARDSHIP

"How people and churches handle money declares the kingdom to which they belong. Jesus laid out two options. We can either store up treasures for ourselves on earth or store up treasures for ourselves in heaven (see Matt 6:19-20). He also said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

It seems as though Jesus was always asking, "What do you value most?" He was always contrasting two perspectives - for example, two kingdoms, two masters, or two values. So what do fit churches value most? Simply put, they value investing in heavenly wealth. The key question for fit church is, "Where is our treasure?"" (McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p83)

"First, fit churches work from a well-defined budget.
..
Second, fit churches develop a ratio of expenditures to various operations and adjust it year to year.
..
Third, fit churches place a priority on staff, ministry, and facilities - in that order. While each church allocates budget expenditures differently, wise leaders make staffing a priority. In many ways, the quality of the staff determines the future of the church. Fit churches typically spend between 40 and 50 percent of their budgets on staff salaries, benefits, and reimbursements. While some churches proudly declare they give 50 percent of every dollar to missions, there is usually an unseen problem - the staff members are not generously paid. In other words, to give half of its income to missions, a church usually does so to the neglect of its own staff, which is certainly unbiblical. Fit churches follow the lead of Scripture, which declares, "The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches (Gal 6:6)."
..
Fourth, fit churches plan for funding God's work.
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Fifth, fit churches train their people to give.
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Sixth, fit churches prepare a resource development strategy.

" (87-90)

Tips: A church that has God-Honouring Stewardship would practise:
  • Regular teaching on biblical stewardship of time, treasure, and talent;
  • Systematic giving;
  • Wise handling of Church resources;
  • Alignment of budgets with vision and mission;
  • Faith in budgeting;
  • Open discussion of expectations in giving;
  • Requiring Church leaders to give regularly in their service.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #4 - Personal Ministry"

We continue with Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Last week, we talked about COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. This week, it is PERSONAL MINISTRY.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #4 - PERSONAL MINISTRY

"Becoming a fit church is directly proportional to the degree the people of God are active in ministry. This principle has significant implications for a local church. Among other things, it means the heartbeat for a local church is the training of its people. Fit churches do the following things.

First, fit churches train people to know their spiritual gifts. People's identities as gifted servants of God are important impetuses for involvement in ministry. Classes and small group leaders systematically teach that God calls his people to serve. As each person grows to understand their identity in Christ and his body, they catch the vision for personal ministry. Each one identifies their remarkable spiritual gifts, unique talents, and special skills. They discover their passion for ministry while committing to serving with the rest of the church body.

Second, fit churches equip people to use their gifts, abilities, and skills in ministry.
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Third, fit churches place people into ministry - quickly.
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Fourth, fit churches provide coaching for people in ministry.
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Fifth, fit churches evaluate people in ministry.
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Sixth, fit churches build new ministry around their people's gifts and passions.
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Seventh, fit churches express thanks to those in ministry." (McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p73-76)

Tips: A church that equips people for personal ministry would have:
  • Teaching and preaching about spiritual gifts;
  • Spent time helping people discover their unique purpose in ministry;
  • Equipped people to use their unique talents and gifts for ministry;
  • Placed people in ministry according to their passions;
  • Provided encouragement and coaching;
  • Offered ongoing training for people to improve their ministry skillsets;
  • Expressed appreciation for those serving or had served in ministry. 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #3 - Community Engagement"

We continue with Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Last week, we talked about EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM. This week, it is COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #3 - COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

"Community engagement forces the church to interact with a world unlike itself. The first-century church was in a very unwelcoming culture. Yet the church thrived. What the church today must not do is allow the culture to dumb down its message. And the church must still move into society. The church must infiltrate culture as yeast does dough. This is the kingdom of God. . . . (Lue 13:20-21). Through community engagement the church becomes like yeast. When the church embeds itself into the community in which it is located, transformation begins. When the church inserts itself in culture as Christ's representatives, things begin to change.

Churches must move into the culture in which they reside. The culture is exemplified by the community in which a church body finds itself. In the four spheres of evangelism mentioned earlier, this would be Judea. Judea is the geographical area stretching from a one-fourth to a five-mile radius around a church's meeting location. A fit church will engage the community in this geographic area.

Community engagement involves three basic approaches: attractional, missional, or connectional. These three approaches can be summed up in the following phrases: come and see (attractional); go and be (missional); go and bring (connectional). " (McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p53-54)

Tips: A church that engages community would have:
  • Defined where our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world are;
  • Regular meetings with community leaders to find out how we can be of help to them;
  • Encourage church members to be involved in community activities like coaching youth sports, joining service clubs, being active in forums, etc;
  • Studied the needs of the community;
  • Their pastors serving a day a week outside the church;
  • Engaged in service evangelism;
  • Community recognizing our church for our contributions. 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #2 - Effective Evangelism"

We continue with Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Last week, we talked about OUTREACH. This week, it is EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #2 - EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM

"Evangelism is one of the primary characteristics that help churches become fit. Evangelism provides oxygen to the body of Christ. New birth, growing believers, and an inflow of newly connected followers of Christ breathe life into faith communities.

Churches must be involved in evangelistic endeavors. Churches that do not make the effort to intentionally determine methods to share the gospel will erode in their fitness levels. Churchs that do not involve themselves in an evangelistic emphasis will find themselves aging with no kids or grandkids to carry on their legacy." (McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p37-38)

Tips: A church that effectively evangelizes would have:
  • Regular training and mobilizing of members to share their faith;
  • Conversions as their primary source of numerical growth;
  • Specialized opportunities for members to invite friends;
  • Budgets set aside for church planting work;
  • Regular baptisms;
  • Constantly identifying and targeting unreached people in our communities;
  • Give guests a chance to accept Christ at worship services.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "Fitness Sign #1-Outreach"

Starting this week and for the next 12 weeks, we will be looking at Gary McIntosh and Phil Stevenson's book "Building the Body" which is about the 12 characteristics of a fit Church. Each Wednesday, I will share one characteristic that we can use for ourselves personally and corporately. For this week, it is OUTREACH.

SIGNS OF FITNESS #1 - OUTREACH

"An outward focus is the beginning point for outreach. Churches that are inwardly focused neither sense their communities' needs nor are motivated to evangelize or engage their communities. Outward-focused churches, however, are aware of the culture in which their ministries take place. They recognize a need for fitness to effectively evangelize and engage with their communities.

Church leaders often believe their churches are outward-focused when they actually are not. Many church people perceive themselves to be kingdom-minded, concerned for reaching the lost, and connected to people in their communities. Gary remembers consulting with a church in the Midwest. The results of a church-wide survey revealed several areas of strengths and a few dominant weaknesses. One of the church's areas of strength was community outreach. Conversations in five focus groups revealed people believed their church was effective in reaching the community for Christ. Closer examination found otherwise. Five hundred dollars was budgeted for outreach but had not been spent in the past year. A full 99 per cent of the church's identifiable programming was directed to the present congregation. The only identifiable program listed for outreach was VBS. The church was not outward-focused at all. How could a church be so wrong in its assessment of its strengths?" (McIntosh and Stevenson, "Building the Body", Baker Books, 2018, p23-24)

Tips: A fit and outward-focused church would have:
  • At least 20% of budget for outreach activities;
  • Events held in locations other than our church property;
  • Knowledge of what businesses are in our neighbourhood;
  • Our members attend and participate in community events;
  • Board meetings discuss how we can reach our communities;
  • More discussion on fulfilling the Great Commission rather than maintaining our programs and buildings;
  • New people from our community attending our worship services;


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Monday, June 04, 2018

BookPastor >> "The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology" (Mark J. Boda)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on July 27th, 2017.

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TITLE: The Heartbeat of Old Testament Theology: Three Creedal Expressions (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)
AUTHOR: Mark J. Boda
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017, (240 pages).

It has always been challenging to tackle the Old Testament. Not only is it of an ancient culture, the language can seem quite primitive when compared to contemporary times. Even if the language barrier can be overcome, there is the challenge of size and contexts. That is why the Old Testament are preached and taught relatively less than the New Testament counterpart. Various approaches have been used to study the 39 books of the first testament. A popular method is the genre approach, which subdivides the books into Law; History; Poetry; the Major and Minor Prophets. Some would use the Christ-centered interpretation, which sees every Old Testament book from the perspective of Christ. More recently, there are books about using the New Testament as a lens to view the Old Testament. There is also the seminary approaches of biblical and systematic theology, albeit used for different purposes. All of them have their merits and weaknesses. Enters the "Three Creedal Expressions" approach by Mark Boda. Before going into his heartbeat framework, he reviews four major approaches to the OT:

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