CHRIST & A video intro to keeping Him central in your org. plans (LEAD 545 homework)

Here is another of the many videos I record for my students to introduce a sense of the live courses to my online courses.  This video introduces important tactics for keeping Christ central in organizational planning.  While we embrace organizational principles we must always screen them and apply them through a Holy Spirit informed grid.

©️Bob Whitesel used by permission only.

SPIRITUAL FORMATION & 4 Characteristics of Emotionally Healthy Churches #PeteScazerro

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I wrote about Pete Scazzero and the church he leads as one example of an organic congregation in my book “Inside the Organic Church” (Abingdon Press). That is because this church has embraced practices that keep it tightly connected to the Heavenly Father. They have avoided what I call “the busyness trap.” Read here a post by Pete to get an overview to the thinking behind his excellent books.

by Peter Scazzero, 8/15/15.

For years I believed if I could simply identify the right planning and decision-making process, we would make good decisions at New Life, the church I pastor. That, it turned out, was both naïve and misguided. Over a 20-year period, however, the dramatic difference between our standard process and emotionally healthy planning and decision-making became crystal clear.

emotionalhealthThe first is the foundation from which all the others follow — defining success as radically doing God’s will.

1. We see success as radically doing God’s will — not merely growing.

From the time I became a Christian, I believed intellectually that listening for God’s will was vitally important. But it wasn’t until a four-month contemplative sabbatical in 2003-2004 that my approach to planning and decision-making was utterly transformed. As a result, my definition of success so broadened and deepened that my leadership and my approach to discerning God’s will experienced an extreme makeover.

What happened? I slowed down my life so I could spend much more time being with God. Listening for and surrendering to God’s will became the focus of my life — personally and in leadership. I realized that New Life had one objective: to become what God had called us to become — regardless of where that might lead us. That would be the sole marker of our success…

2. We create a space for heart preparation.

In emotionally healthy planning and decision-making, we don’t simply open meetings with prayer and then leap headlong into our agenda. We begin by creating a space for heart preparation. We intentionally step back from the distractions and pressures that surround us so we can discern and follow God’s will. This preparation takes place on two levels — personal heart preparation and team heart preparation.

Personal Heart Preparation: before entering a meeting room, our first priority as leaders is to prepare our heart with God. How much time is needed? That depends on the level of the decision or plans being made and how much internal noise might be cluttering your inner life at the moment. The simple principle we follow at New Life is, the weightier the decision, the more time is required for preparation.

Jesus models this kind of heart preparation for us. Before choosing the Twelve, he stayed up all night (Luke 6:12-13). In order to discern the Father’s priorities in the midst of voices clamoring for him to stay in Capernaum, Jesus rose early in the morning for solitude (Luke 4:42-43). Jesus consistently engaged and then withdrew from people and the demands of ministry in order to pray alone (Luke 5:15). Perhaps most instructive of all is Jesus’ struggle to surrender to the will of his Father in Gethsemane. He struggled to surrender to the will of God, so we can be sure we will…

3. We pray for prudence.

Prudence is one of the most important character qualities or virtues for effective leaders. Without it, it is impossible to make good plans and decisions. Prudent people think ahead, giving careful thought to the long-term implications of their decisions. It’s how they exercise good judgment, which is one of the great themes of the book of Proverbs. Here are a few examples:

  • The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. (Proverbs 14:8a)
  • Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. (Proverbs 14:15)
  • The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. (Proverbs 22:3)

Prudence has been called the “executive virtue,” meaning it enables us to think clearly and not be swept up by our impulses or emotions. Prudence is cautious and careful to provide for the future. Prudence asks, “Feelings aside, what is best in the long run?” It carefully considers all relevant factors, possibilities, difficulties, and outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, prudence refuses to rush — it is willing to wait on God for as long as it takes and to give the decision making process the time it needs…

4. We look for God in our limits.

Our limits may well be the last place we look for God. We want to conquer limits, plan around limits, deny limits, fight limits and break through limits. In standard leadership practice, we might even consider it a mark of courage or stepping out in faith to rebel against limits. But when we fail to look for God in our limits, we bypass God.

New Life, like every church, is constrained by limits. Our small building, our under-resourced neighborhood and our humble people — are just a few. But if I look for God in these limitations, instead of trying to get around them, I see something different. Our very limitations might well be transformed into our greatest means of introducing others to Jesus.

Remember the words of the apostle Paul? God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, not our strengths (2 Corinthians 12:7)…

Read more at …

CHRIST & 6 Steps To Keep Him Central As a Ministry Grows #GrowthByAccidentBook

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 4/20/2004.

Here is a six-step prescription for keeping Christ central in the lives and ministries of both congregants and leaders.

  • Stay rooted in … the Word. Daily and generous doses of Bible reading and reflection are a beginning point for being grounded in servant leadership. God’s word should serve as our strategic guide (Psalm 119:105), because as Proverbs 16:17 reminds us, “the highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.” But, allotting time for study only when preparing for sermons may rob Scripture of this meditative and regenerative power. Thus, make time for the Word in your daily schedule, your informal pursuits, your pastimes…and your plans.
  • Stay rooted in … prayer. Prayer should be as pervasive as study of the Word, i.e. a part of your daily schedule, your informal pursuits, etc.. Eddie Gibbs calls this “respiratory prayer” for it is “the kind of regular, habitual praying that is the spiritual equivalent of breathing to sustain life.”[i]
  • Stay rooted in … ministry. Regular participation in hands-on ministry can help thwart a misalignment of priorities. A leader who is repeatedly involved in addressing people’s most basic needs, and doing so in the uncertain climate of human imperfections and sins, will by necessity need to maintain a close link to his or her power source, God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Stay rooted in … accountability. Some denominations utilize “staff-parish committees,” or “human resource teams” to provide an accountability link between the congregation and the pastor. Other churches have denominational oversight that provides this function. However, often these groups only address skill development, overlooking spiritual development. If they do so, they abdicate half of their responsibility. And, in some situations these groups may have evolved into an committee that cannot, or will not, do this. In all scenarios an accountability group is in order. However, the discomfort of such groups often causes Christians to avoid them. Researchers Dotlich and Cairo point out “discomfort signals that different viewpoints are being aired … that teams are grappling with difficult problems in the most open ways possible.”[ii] Proverbs confirms this, reminding us “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). A final excuse is that participation in an accountability group might damaging a valuable personal relationship. Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Temptations of a CEO, warns that “ironically, this only causes the relationship to deteriorate as team members begin to resent one another for not living up to expectations.”[iii]
  • Stay rooted in … your mortality. Every leader should be preparing for the day he or she passes the baton to one’s successor. Though you bear the baton for a while, God’s picture is bigger, and one day (maybe sooner that you think) you will pass that baton. Researcher Jim Collins calls this “setting up successors for success.”[iv]
  • Stay rooted in your priorities. Following the above steps can help a leader keep his or her priorities aligned correctly: God, family, and ministry.

Excerpted from Growth by Accident – Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation by Bob Whitesel.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004, pp. 153-161.

  • Though not for public distribution –  if you like this chapter consider supporting the publisher and author by purchasing a copy.


[i] Eddie Gibbs, Church Next: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 135.

[ii] Dotlich and Cairo, Unnatural Leadership: Going Against Intuition and Experience to Develop Ten New Leadership Instincts, op. cit., pp. 141-142.

[iii] Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002), p. 213.

[iv] Jim Collins, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, op. cit., pp. 25-27.