Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Transition Papers

Helping leaders and churches through transition.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
 A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? 

Simply stated, we have had no matrix / process for the weighty challenge of church leadership transition. Leaving way too much in the realm of nuance and heart, we have found many transitions loaded with unmet expectations, bitter disappointments and seemingly unfair pressure. Love there has been aplenty, but at the end of the day, there has been no true process through which the “founder” [the pastor who has planted / replanted the church;] the “successor” [the pastor who is now going to captain the team] and the community themselves have had opportunities to speak through the anticipated story unfold - especially if the founder stays on in the community, he had been leading.

So, I am asking for your help to design a proforma that we can use in these transitions, as there are many coming our way. We are not looking to redo the more recent transitions. They have run there course. This is finding the correct questions for future conversations. Your thoughts in this regard are most essential.

  1. Suggested Pathway.
    1. Remember we hold dearly to ‘invited not imposed authority’, so the apostolic voice in is by invitation of all involved,
    2. Translocal gift / apostle to meet with the lead / founding couple,
    3. The second conversation is with the possible successor couple asking these essential questions,
    4. The third conversation is with the eldership couples, individually and as a team,
    5. A fourth conversation could then be with the ‘founders’ and the ‘successors’ and process the two sets of answers together,
    6. Then process this with broader leadership team
    7. Then finally with the whole church
  2. Biblical Peep.
    1. The Old Testament examples of transitions,
    2. The New Testament approach to transition,
    3. Lessons learnt from the text.
  3. The ‘Founding Father’
    1. Do you believe that God has spoken clearly for you to handover the leadership of this community?
    2. To this couple? Now?
    3. What do you believe God has called you to do in this new chapter of your life? With whom? How do you believe this the  mind of the Lord for you?
    4. Where will you anchor yourself and your family relationally?
    5. To whom will you be accountable?
    6. What does that look like to you?
    7. How do you see yourself being funded into the future?
    8. Where will your base church be?
    9. What do you believe that should look like ito:
      1. Elders meetings,
      2. Staff meetings,
      3. Leaders meetings,
      4. Sunday gatherings,
      5. Vision casting,
      6. Decision making,
      7. Prayer,
      8. Teams / individuals availability,
      9. Hosting of events,
    10. If you are seeking to lead a movement / network...  what role do you anticipate this community playing in that?
    11. What role do you see your successor and the elders playing in the new chapter?
    12. What administrative support do you hope the staff will make available?
    13. What financial backing are you anticipating for yourself and for your movement [where appropriate]?
    14. You will feel honored when the following happens...?
    15. How do you wish to empower the new leader and the team working with him?
  4. The Successor
    1. Do you believe that God has called you and your spouse to take on the captaincy of this community - how do you know this?
    2. Do you embrace this leadership team or what changes do you anticipate making?
    3. What does “honoring the father of the work’ mean to you?
    4. What role do you and the elders feel the founder will play ongoingly into the church? - what do you see his gifting as being?
    5. Role on eldership team?
    6. Role in vision casting?
    7. Role in eldership selection?
    8. Role in major financial decision making?
    9. Role in staff meetings, selection...?
    10. Role in global conversations - multi-siting, planting...? 
    11. Do you agree with what he believes the next chapter looks like for him?
    12. Can you and the elders back it fully - explain?
    13. How if at all, are you looking to back him financially, health care, travel...? For how long or until what circumstances may change?
    14. Will you be providing public opportunities for feedback, buy in and prayer? Frequency?
    15. What backing / support are you looking to offer his family when he travels? 
    16. Is their a budget that is made available for his translocal ministry, events, hosting...?
  5. The Community
    1. To make this a true community ongoingly, how often should the ‘founder’ be back at home base, for it to be an authentic base?
      1. Sunday gatherings,
      2. Prayer meetings,
      3. Leaders meetings,
      4. Community events,
      5. Other?
    2. How frequently can the congregation expect feedback? How?
    3. How can they feel like they are part of the unfolding story - 
      1. Pray for?
      2. Travel with?
      3. Attend events?
      4. Contribute financially?
    4. How can the community serve him, his family and the journey that is unfolding?
    5. How frequently can the community expect for them to minister / teach back in ?
  6. The Global Story
    1. Is the community fully backing this translocal journey?
    2. Will churches planted be partnering with this translocal ministry?
    3. Will the elders / leaders / congregation be made available for translocal adventures,
    4. How will the partnership work - role of successor in the translocal story?
    5. Other?
  7. Q and A ?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Game Changer 3

Ok, a quick wrap up of these thoughts around Acts 8: 26 - 40...

I love the way in which God the Holy Spirit orchestrates this great moment on the road to Gaza. As we have noted, this is the first time we encounter an evangelist of this form in the bible after Jesus himself. Not just the joy of revival in Samaria but also the lonely road to one in the wilderness.

We have celebrated the arrival of this Jesus grace gift given to Philip. It seems like the wonder of Jerusalem did not need the evangelist. The encounter of Pentecost and all that flowed out of that produced growth and conversion as in revival times.

Now however the pioneering role of the evangelist is needed... to break open new vistas.

But I want to hone in on the text that the Eunuch is reading - from Is 52:13 - 53:12. Amazing isn't it ? This is the suffering servant text - which is exactly what the eunuch was - a suffering servant:

Can you imagine when Philip explained this Jesus to the eunuch. I am sure the eunuch would have jumped with joy saying - "this God gets me... he understands me... he can save me for he did it for someone just like me"

"his appearance was so disfigured" he gets me, I am also disfigured
"so he will sprinkle many nations" he embraces me, even from the uttermost
"He grew up like a tender shoot, like a root out of dry ground" I also felt out of place, vulnerable
"He was despised and rejected by men" That is how other men treated me too
"Surely he carried our infirmities / griefs / weaknesses"Every day I pain with my grief and weaknesses
"As a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" All too often I too had to hold my tongue when I wanted to speak out
"Who can speak of his descendants?" I longed for a child, one of the things I will never have, neither will he!

Wow, no wonder he said 'yes' to Jesus. Our loving task is to help everyone find their place in the story of redemption. They are written into some moment of the great Jesus story. Help them find it and watch salvation takes His course with them.

Romans 10

I love the theological tension that Paul lived in so comfortably. As described to me before, we are like a train that travels on to rails that exist in parallel but never meet except on the horizon [in God in eternity].

The sequence of Romans 7, 8, 9, 10 is simply exquisite. Depending on your theological bias, or bent, that will determine which parts of these chapters you will choose to emphasize. However we cannot simply explain away the difficult verses, so as to endorse our theology.

To those of you who are TULIP protagonists, it is good periodically to approach the text with humility, and embrace the texts which are awkward for this position without feeling the obligation to do exegetical gymnastics. Read and enjoy!

vs 1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them [Israelites] is that they may be saved

vs 2b they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge

vs 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes

vs 9  ...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved

vs 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved

vs 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him

vs 13 For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'.

vs 17 So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.

Aren't those texts empowering? I keep trying to live in the width of the texts and find myself struggling with the constraints set by the  definitions of men