All of us are called to follow someone’s instructions. Effective leadership is not forging a solo path ahead of others; it’s learning to follow the right instructions from the right leader at the right time. Dysfunctions in Christian leadership were typically dysfunctions in followership long before they became dysfunctions in leadership.Continue reading.
Over the past century, several Reformed scholars and church leaders have presented the threefold office of Christ—the munus triplex of prophet, priest, and king—as a typology for church leadership today. According to this way of thinking, priesthood is connected with caregiving and prophecy is primarily about teaching. Continue reading.
This post on suffering and submission in leadership was written with Michael Wilder and is excerpted from our book The God Who Goes Before You: Pastoral Leadership as Christ-Centered Followership. You can order the book here.
After a meal with his disciples in the upper room, Jesus made his way to a familiar place (John 18:2) on the western face of the Mount of Olives. His intention was to spend time in prayer. Jesus chose to spend his final hours before facing the cross in fellowship with his Father. Jesus was “distressed”—”horrified,” “dismayed,” even “terrified”—as he approached this moment (Mark 14:33). “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death,” he said to his disciples. “Remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 27:38).Continue reading.
Does my personality as a leader land me in the category of prophet, priest, or king? And, if it does, what does that mean for my leadership in the church? I first encountered these questions several years ago while assessing potential church planters. Over the years that have followed, I’ve become convinced that these questions are grounded in a fundamentally flawed understanding of leadership and of the biblical categories of prophet, priest, and king.
“I’m not really preparing to do pastoral care,” one potential church planter informed me when I asked him about his approach to counseling, “I’m more a king than a priest, you know. So someone else will need to do the counseling and visiting when I’m a pastor.” Continue reading.
Today, The God Who Goes Before You is finally available in bookstores! This book on leadership develops a fresh definition of pastoral leadership that is thoroughly grounded in the storyline and canon of Scripture. As the book unfolds, what Michael Wilder and I have developed together is a vision for the leadership of God’s people that focuses not on particular leadership techniques but on the patterns that should characterize a pastor’s pursuit of Christ.
Here’s what a wide-ranging group of pastors and leaders have had to say after reading The God Who Goes Before You:Continue reading.
This post is excerpted from my book The God Who Goes Before You: Pastoral Leadership as Christ-Centered Followership.You can order the book here.
What does kingship in the Old Testament have to do with church leadership today?
Quite a lot, as it turns out—though perhaps not in the way you would assume.Continue reading.
Incompetent Leaders, Omnicompetent God
The opening verses of Exodus invite readers into a story that stretches backward through Abraham to the very beginning of time. Moses wrote that “the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous” (Exodus 1:7). When Moses wrote these words, he was reminding his readers that God never forgot the purposes he had when he created Adam or the promises he made when he called Abraham (compare Genesis 1:28; 9:7; 17:6; 28:3; 35:11; 47:27; 48:4).
The Failure of Israel’s Shepherds
Have you ever faced a situation where someone did such a poor job on a project that you declared, “I’ll just do it myself”?
That’s not too different from what God did in response to the self-centered shepherd leaders of the nation of Judah in the Old Testament.
“I will demand my flock from them and prevent them from shepherding the flock,” the God of Israel declared. “I will tend my flock” (Ezekiel 34:10, 15). Faced with shepherds who had abused and exploited his flock, God declared that he was handing a heavenly pink slip to the leaders of Judah and taking over as the shepherd of his sheep (see also Zechariah 10:3; 11:4-17; 13:7).
This research into the history of age-organized ministries in the church is based on an academic paper that I presented to the practical theology section of the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 16, 2017.
This post is the second in a three-part series.
“At Midday, There Is to Be Catechism”: Weekly Classes for Children in Sixteenth-Century Geneva
John Calvin provided instructions for catechesis in the same section of the ecclesiastical ordinances in which he described the frequency and locations for weekly pastoral proclamations of Scripture. He directed that each Sunday “at midday, there is to be catechism, that is, instruction of little children, in all the three churches.” The individual responsible for this instruction in each congregation was to be the pastor.
These weekly catechetical classes were designed as a distinct and separate gathering for children, and children’s attendance was not optional. Continue reading.
This research into the history of age-organized ministries in the church is based on an academic paper that I presented to the practical theology section of the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 16, 2017. This post is the first in a three-part series.
In recent years, a small but vocal cluster of church leaders has contended that age-organized programs and ministries in the church should be eliminated. These proponents of “family-integrated church” have called for churches to dismantle programs that practice systematic “age-segregated discipleship.” In churches that follow this model, the congregation has no youth ministers, children’s ministers, or nursery. “We do not divide families into component parts,” writes one proponent of family-integrated churches. “We don’t even do it in Bible study.” The support claimed for family-integrated ministry is typically twofold, contending both that age-organized ministries are unwarranted by Scripture and that ministries for children and youth are a recent innovation that represents the imposition of “individualistic philosophies” in the church.
“Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the LORD is among them!” That’s what a band of rebels from the tribes of Reuben and Levi declared when they revolted against Moses and Aaron before going on to demand, “Why then do you exalt yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” (Numbers 16:3). The rebels were consumed by earth and fire the next day, suggesting that God may not have agreed with their assessment of the situation. And yet, we must admit that their question made some sense. God had, after all, designated all of Israel as a royal people and a holy priesthood (Exodus 19:6; 22:31; Leviticus 20:7, 26). If all the people participated together in kingship and priesthood, why were leaders needed?
This question becomes even more acute in the New Testament, particularly in the letter that we know as 1 Peter. Continue reading.
In a grove of trees south of the city of Corinth stood the Asklepion, an ancient temple dedicated to the god of healing (pictured above). Every year, thousands of women and men made pilgrimages to this temple to seek relief for their bodies. Worshipers who believed that they received healing in this place left behind an odd sort of testimony to their experience. Continue reading.
Around twenty-seven thousand people racked up nearly one hundred thousand views of this blog in 2016. If you were one of them, thank you! Since there are no advertisements on my site, I don’t profit from any of the content. And so, if you’ve profited from what I’ve written, please consider purchasing a book (or two or three!) that I’ve written.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what happened on my blog this year:Continue reading.
According to Daniel Montgomery and Jared Kennedy, effective leadership calls for the practice of five principles in the life of the leader:Continue reading.
“To him who … made us a kingdom, be glory and dominion forever,” John declared in the opening paragraphs of the apocalypse he penned on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:5-6). Living in union with Christ the King, God’s new covenant people have been made into “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6).
But what does it mean, in the day-by-day life of a leader in God’s church, to be part of a people who are—because of our participation in Christ—a kingdom of priests?
One much-neglected component of this shared status of kingship is the practice of church discipline.Continue reading.
In 1932, the University of Southern California started stenciling “Property of USC” on athletic t-shirts for the purpose of preventing theft. Their anti-theft strategy backfired when the stenciled attire became more popular than the original unstenciled t-shirts. USC turned this problem into a profit by producing and selling “Property of USC” shirts to students. Today, nearly every university and sports team in the United States stocks and sells some sort of “Property of” sportswear.
The phrases “kingdom of priests” and “holy priesthood” (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5) are like “Property of” t-shirts that God places on everyone he has chosen and purchased as his own. When God referred to Israel as a “kingdom of priests,” he was declaring his people to be “Property of God.” The apostle Peter applied this terminology to the church, identifying new covenant believers as a chosen community devoted to God’s purposes.
I’ve read more books on pastoral ministry and leadership in my life than I care to recall. Looking back over those many books, I find myself wishing I had returned more often to three particular texts. None of these books focuses on any leadership technique or organizational strategy. There is, of course, a time and place for such books—but the focus of these three texts is on the life of the leader in communion with the people of God. Here are the three books where I’ve found wisdom that has outlasted the latest trends:Continue reading.
When asked to provide a step-by-step process for implementing family ministry, Mark DeVries jokingly provided this progression: “Try something. Fail. Try something else. Fail again. Try something else. Stumble on one thing that works. Repeat what works. Try something else … you get the idea.” I appreciate Mark’s honesty and good humor, and there’s certainly an extent to which this progression rightly describes the way ministry happens! At the same time, most of us in family ministry could use a few more specific definitions and processes as we formulate plans for family ministry in our churches.Continue reading.