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Being a shepherd March 2, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Leadership.
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Shepherds are willing to bear the pain and endure the brunt of the sheep, for the sheep.  True elders do not command the consciences of their brethren but appeal to their brethren to faithfully follow God’s Word.  Out of love, true elders suffer and bear the brunt of difficult people and problems so that the lambs are not bruised.  The elders bear the misunderstandings and sins of other people so that the assembly may live in peace.  They lose sleep so that others may rest.  They make great personal sacrifices of time and energy for the welfare of others.  They see themselves as men under authority.  They depend on God for wisdom and help, not on their own power and cleverness.  They face the false teachers’ fierce attacks.  They guard the community’s liberty and freedom in Christ so that the saints are encouraged to develop their gifts, to mature, and to serve one another. Alexander Strauch

I’ve been in ministry since 1998.  But for the first time in my life, I’ve begun to feel the weight of the responsibility.  In my 20’s, more often than not, I was task oriented rather than people oriented.  Not that I didn’t care about the people I served with, but shepherding wasn’t at the forefront.  I’m grateful to God for those people who were patient with me and put up with my hair-brained schemes 🙂

During those days, God blessed me with older, wiser men in leadership who often times shouldered the brunt of my stupidity or turned me away from poor decisions.  At the time, I didn’t realize the support and shelter I had.

That safety net is no longer there.  When I make decisions now, there isn’t a buffer.  The things I decide directly affect the health of the church.  It is a humbling realization.  I’m beginning to see why the role of pastor should only be accepted with “fear and trembling”.  The following verse sobers me.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Hebrews 13:17

God be gracious.

My President said this once January 3, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in Leadership.
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“Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.  Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause.  So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity.  Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Barak Obama – “Call to Renewal Keynote Address” Washington D.C. June 28, 2006

Mentors February 20, 2009

Posted by clintcarter in Friends, Leadership, Life.
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On Wednesday of this week I got to spend time with 2 of my mentors from high school.  These are guys that have been in the local church for years and have ministered with integrity and focus on what’s most important.  In fact, chances are that apart from their interest and investment in my life, I probably wouldn’t be in ministry.

I was challenged and inspired due to my time with them this week.  They were excited to hear our story of God’s call and provision in regards to church planting.  They strongly encouraged me in our endeavor and asked me to keep them informed.

These are 2 very busy guys, and the fact that they took time to see me on short notice spoke volumes.  People matter most – not projects, plans and schedules.  I hope to model my life after theirs and keep the main thing the main thing.  Their continued investment in my life challenges me to continue to invest myself in others.

That’s Better December 19, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Leadership, Music.
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In light of my last post, I thought I’d present some people who are putting  cheer back in Christmas.  These guys are enjoying themselves and they’re good.

Moral of the story – content is vital but presentation is nearly as important.  Case in point:

  • Previous post – a song with a life-changing message, however the way the ladies present it makes it difficult to stay tuned in.
  • This post – song with no life changing message, but you want to watch it anyway because of the presentation.

Presentation.  Think about it the next time you need to share something important.

Being Leaders October 3, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Leadership.
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Just finished “Being Leaders” by Aubrey Malphurs.  Hands down the best leadership read I’ve had.  Biblically saturated, incredibly practical, and very interactive.  This will definitely get a second reading in a couple of years.  Christian leadership is something I am passionate about.  From my limited perspective, I would say that the church in America is in its present state due to leaders who lacked integrity, lacked vision, and were unwilling to raise up and empower future leaders.  There are exceptions – I’m the product of some of those men – but looking across the board, the ball was dropped.

Malphurs raises the bar for church leaders naming it their responsibility to make sure the church pursues its mission and doesn’t get side-tracked.  I really appreciated his insights on followership – what is a follower, what can be expected of them, and what makes a good follower.

Malphurs thoughts on Situational Leadership was dynamite.  I wish I’d read this 2 years ago.  He brings to light that ministry context is critical because it affects the amount of influence a leader is able to exercise and will ultimately determine a leader’s effectiveness.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev. September 9, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Books, Church, Church Planting, Leadership.
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Carey and I just finished reading through “Confessions” by Mark Driscoll.  I love reading books with my wife, both for the shared experience and because it sparks conversations we normally might not have.

I actually enjoyed this book more than “Radical Reformission” (which was good).  “Confessions” revolves around the story of Mars Hill through their various stages of growth.  For someone called to church planting, it is invaluable to have an honest, transparent look at the not so glamorous side that comes with a new church.

I don’t know Mark personally, although I’ve sat 10 feet from him at a Acts 29 Boot Camp as I listened to him teach.  The thing that impresses me most is his willingness to evaluate and change.  Whether it was a message he was prepared to give and God led Him another way (like in Raleigh last fall) or making hard decisions to change Mars Hill constantly so that they would remain gospel-centered and on mission.  That’s the same characteristic I admire in Bill Hybels.  I know there aren’t a lot of Hybelites out there in the reformed crowd, but Hybels is a man who isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and then make changes accordingly.  For both of these men it’s living in the balance of risk and grace.  Risk to lay it all on the line for the kingdom.  Grace to admit missteps and change their approach.

This book is full of valuable insights regarding church leadership and structure.  Not that every church should operate like Mars Hill, but there are principles that transcend the culture they are reaching.  I highly reccomend this book for church planters or those interested in church planting.  I’d also suggest this book for pastors of established churches to consider what it takes to anticipate and enable growth through the various sizes of a congregation.

Expo 08 g August 21, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, Leadership.
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3 thoughts from Steve Andrews for your church.  No – Go – No Ego

No – A crystal clear vision gives you permission to say no.  No to ideas and no to people who want to redirect the direction of your church.

Go – Don’t plan to keep people in your church.  They are not yours.  They are God’s aroma in the world.  Engage, equip, empower and then send them out; release them to where God needs them.

No Ego – Pray and work for God to raise up better teachers and leaders than yourself.  You will change the world by enabling others to surpass you in ability and impact.

3 very hard but important things that need to be done for the sake of the gospel.

Exponential 08 e June 18, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, Leadership.
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More from Alan Hirsch’s session.  Good thoughts on what it would take to start a church planting movement.

1) “Mobilize the whole people of God.  The revolution begins when the people get it”  Alan shared a phrase from the underground Chinese church.  “Every believer a church planter; every church a church planting church.”  The brunt of the task must be understood and carried forth by regular, everyday people whose lives have been changed by the gospel.  The individual believers in your church, in mine, must realize that this is their God-given task and calling.

2) “We must be reproducing and reproducible.”  If we have any hope of reproducing churches the way we go about things must be able to be reproduced practically.  Not in a cookie cutter way, but there needs to be a simplicity and a common focus that we build around.

3) “Structurally networked to avoid centralization of power and function.”  This one is hard to pull off.  There’s a real drive in us to remain in control and be able to direct the workings of others, especially when they are an extension of us.  3 words.  Catch and release.  As the gospel brings people to join us we must train and empower them to lead.  And at the appropriate time, release them for greater works.  If there is a centralization of power and function, we’ll experience a bottle neck jam which limits the effectiveness of the kingdom.

4) “Employ missional leadership.  We must lose the professional clergy approach, but still utilize giftedness.”  This point harkens back to the first one.  Each person in the body is capable of learning from the Word and sharing that with others – Jesus made sure all of us would be equipped by sending the Holy Spirit to teach and counsel.  The professionalization of clergy has been to the detriment of the church at large.  Many in a congregation feel that the ministry is the clergy’s responsibility and that the clergy are providing a service – that’s why we pay them.  If a movement is ever to materialize, it’s going to be in places where the people understand their personal call and responsibility to the gospel.

 

Don’t say it if you’re not doing it June 16, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Leadership, Life.
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I spent an hour on hold this morning with a company that shall remain nameless.  I understand that sometimes call volume dictates the operators ability to get to all of the calls.  However, while on hold I heard their advertising loop over and over and over and over.  The thing that irked me was that they kept saying “Here at _________ our #1 goal is quick, efficient, and caring customer service.”  I didn’t experience any of that this morning.

I’ve noticed that churches fall into this trap as well.  “Here at __________ we want you to feel welcome” or “Here at  ___________ our mission is to see people come to Christ”.  And quite often, the church not only isn’t accomplishing it’s goal, they aren’t even making changes to see that it happens.

I think there is a principle that applies found in Matthew 21:28-31.

28“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.  30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  31“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

You don’t get props for saying that you’ll do something if you don’t end up doing it.

Exponential 08 d June 3, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, Leadership.
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Alan Hirsch spoke at the 3rd Main Session.  This was my first introduction to AH.  He was a little hard to understand with the Australian accent, but he shared some dynamite stuff.  Here it is in quotes – followed by my thoughts.

“If you’re going to deal with Jesus, you have to deal with religion.  Jesus was gentle with the sinner; He reserved His harshest criticism for religion.”  We have this backward.  The conventional evangelical church in America is “gentle” in our approach to our members.  We spend far too much time catering to our wants and building our programming around the religious.  Yet we reserve our harshest criticism for the sinner and their lifestyle.  Anyone else see a problem with this?

“Look at any church and ask ‘Where is Jesus?’  In Revelation 3:20 Jesus is standing outside the door of the church and knocking to be let back in.  How did He get outside in the first place?  Christianity minus Christ equals religion.  The antidote to religion is to add Jesus back.”  Powerful and scary words.  I challenge you this Sunday to look around your church and distinguish what stuff is about Jesus and what stuff is about us.  I’m kind of afraid to see what I’ll discover this weekend.

“Romantic love does not serve.  It’s dangerous to promote that type of love for God.”  Alan is right about this.  Romantic love is based on what the other person does for you – knowingly or unknowingly.  Alan mentioned in passing the need to examine all of the ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ type songs.  There seems to be a heavy dosage of that stuff being produced right now, but when you look at the praise offered God in Scripture that’s not what the majority of it looks like.

More AH later.