how to pray for your church’s leaders

 

Do you have a deliberate, regular plan you work as to how you pray for your church’s shepherds and staff? Or if you’re a church leader, how would you like fellow church members to daily pray for you?

I recently noticed that Thom Rainer relates in his fine book I Am a Church Member (p.51) that he has for many years regularly asked church members to deliberately pray five minutes a day, every day, for their leaders. Imagine every church member praying daily for their church’s leadership. Amen!

But if you were to start praying for shepherds and staff, what would you pray about each day? If you don’t already have a plan, let me suggest a plan I follow whereby I talk to God about seven specific matters regarding our church family’s leaders. To keep it simple and steady, each day of the week has a specific point of focus. Pick up this plan – or let it spark one of your own – and run with it!

  • Sunday – guidance from God’s Spirit and godly influence with people
  • Monday – spiritual development, growth & maturity
  • Tuesday – purity & holiness of life, protection from Satan’s traps, & escape from temptation
  • Wednesday – provision for their physical needs & ways
  • Thursday – discernment, insight, knowledge, tendencies & wisdom
  • Friday – family (marriage, children, extended family & closest friends)
  • Saturday – strength of emotional, mental & physical health

this went thru my mind

 

Anarchy, civility, control, leadership, power, relationships & spiritual warfare: CSC Paper: “It Should Not Be So Among You” (Previously “On Anarchism and Assholes”)

“In 2004 [Dr. Bob] Sutton proposed and wrote up what he called the “No Asshole Rule” as a “Breakthrough Idea” in the annual edition on that topic for The Harvard Business Review. Basically, the “No Asshole Rule” states that a company would do well to attend to and address the behavior of mean, nasty, selfish, egomanical, and rude persons in the workplace. After publishing his idea in the Review Sutton was overwhelmed with feedback from people around the globe telling him stories of the toll assholes exact in the workplace. He also received confirmation that companies who had implemented a version of the “No Asshole Rule” had experienced not only a boost in their corporate culture but to their bottom line as well.”

Anger, frustration, listening & worry: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting [essential reading]

“The way to listen when someone is venting is to ask them the following three questions …”

Change, church, ministry, evangelism, outreach & tradition: * 3 Things Churches Love That Kill Outreach [essential reading]; * Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing

* “1. Too many churches love past culture more than their current context. … 2. Too many churches love their comfort more than their mission. … 3. Too many churches love their traditions more than their children.”

* “”There’s no shortage of studies bemoaning the next generation’s exodus from the Church. Yet while some have written off Millennials’ spiritually, this is a mistake—for the Church and for the Millennials. In the face of this reality, a new opportunity is emerging. … Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worship—what small churches do best—will matter more to them than it did to their parents. But this opportunity comes with one, big condition: Millennials won’t give up quality to gain intimacy. And they shouldn’t have to.”

Culture: Lego Faces are Getting More Pissed Off, Study Says

“The study leaves us with an open question about what sort of impact the growth in conflict-based Lego characters might have on children’s play. The authors also acknowledge that this trend might be necessary for the toy company to maintain its place in the market and meet customer demand. The children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces,” reads the conclusion. It does recommend that toy designers take care in creating expressions and test the effect of the designs on children. What do you think? Are Lego toys becoming too negative?”

Discipleship & politics: 10 Political Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus

“…  this is not a complete list but it’s a pretty good place to start.”

Elders & leadershipThe Problem With Elders (parts 1 & 2)

“I have listened to literally thousands of members, hundreds of elders, and hundreds of ministers in the last ten years and many of them have the same complaints/issues … Perhaps it’s time we talked about elders. The problem is … where to start?”

Grief & healing: * 5 Signs That Your Grief is Healthy; * Megan’s Hands

* “When do we know we are grieving well?  And when do we know our grief is becoming potentially destructive?  Walking through grief is a balancing act between allowing yourself to mourn in healthy ways and not allowing grief to take over your life making you unhealthy in mind, body and spirit.  But the question is “How do you know when your grief is being constructive and healing and not destructive and causing you further trauma?” Here are some suggestions on when you know grief is good and when you know grief might be causing you problems …”

* “… the dam broke and I was close to drowning from the depression, the doubt, and the grief. Fast forward many years to today.”

Love & Islam: Hard Teaching: Amid Fear and Division, What Does it Mean to Love Our Muslim Neighbors? [essential reading]

“I don’t call Amir Arain my brother in the faith, but that doesn’t make him any less my neighbor. According to Jesus, everyone is a neighbor, and there’s no one who’s not my neighbor. Yes, I disagree with Amir on the precise meaning of Jesus’ life. Because of this — not in spite of — I believe that the real test of my disagreement with Amir is in the depth of my commitment to love Amir as Jesus has loved both of us. It’s easy for me to love my brothers and sisters in the faith. Jesus wants to know if I know how to love my neighbors.”

Ministry: * 7 Most Frustrating Things Pastors Experience; * 7 Most Exciting Things a Pastor Experiences

* “What do you think are some of the most frustrating things that pastors experience?”

* “Here are 7 most exciting things pastors experience …”

N.T. Wright: Ask N.T. Wright …(response)

“Wright is the author of over 100 books, including the popular Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian. [He] … is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.”

Singing, songs & corporate worship: Ten Questions to Ask of a Song’s Lyrics

“… here are ten questions to ask about the words of any song that you’re considering including in corporate worship.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church attendance: How to Become a Regular Church Attender by Ron Edmonson

“Recently someone asked a great question, ‘How can I get my family back in the habit of church again?’ Great question. I’m so glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions.”

Church decline: Established Churches & Inward Drift by Thom S. Rainer [required reading]

“All organizations tend to lose their focus and forget their original purposes over time. I call this almost imperceptible movement “inward drift.” The attitude becomes one of protecting the way we’ve always done it rather than looking back to the original purposes and reasons for existence. … The primary dangers with inward drift are twofold. First and foremost, the organization can forget the very reason it was created. Second, the drift is often imperceptible. Many organizations don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late.”

Climate change & global warming: Climate Change: Pictures of a Warming World

“Dawn strikes the mountains rising above St. Mary’s Lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park. When the park was created in 1910, it had 150 glaciers. Now it has 30 glaciers, significantly reduced in size.”

Commuting & devotional time: Don’t Undersell Your Commute by Jonathan Parnell

“These stories are amazing. And a common element in each one is the normalcy in which these experiences occurred. Riding a horse or walking or going about business in New York, this was the stuff of an ordinary day to these men. It was as plain as the four hours I spend alone each week on the road — as plain as that 15–30-minute window so many of us will find ourselves in every day as we travel between work and home, or from one errand to the next.”

Elders: Elders: A Question About Eligibility for Office by Jay Guin

“… is a plurality of elders required? and what about the widower elder?”

Liturgical calendar: Another Look: Church Year Spirituality

“Tomorrow is [that is, Yesterday was] the first Lord’s Day in the Church’s Liturgical Year. On [this past] Sunday, Christians who follow this calendar will begin a new year of living in the Gospel with the commencement of Advent. The diagram on the right gives an overview of the annual Church calendar. … I don’t know why so many Christian groups think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to ‘discipleship programs.’ This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius.”

Offerings: Offerings in Leviticus—What They Were and Why They Mattered by Wayne Stiles

“For most Christians, the book of Leviticus is as untraveled as the wilderness in which Moses wrote it. It’s not hard to understand why. I mean, who cares about sacrifices no longer needed or diet codes no longer in effect? Can they teach us anything today? In a word: plenty.”

St. Nicholas: St. Nicholas: What Can I Say, He was a Beast by Pete Enns

“Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in Asia Minor. He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. … Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine and rescued a kidnapped boy.”

Texas: Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza by Louise Story

“Along with the huge job growth, the state has the third-highest proportion of hourly jobs paying at or below minimum wage. And despite its low level of unemployment, Texas has the 11th-highest poverty rate among states. … To help balance its budget last year, Texas cut public education spending by $5.4 billion — a significant decrease considering that it already ranked 11th from the bottom among all states in per-pupil financing, according to recent data from the Census Bureau.”

this went thru my mind

 

Lots of “required reading” here today …

BurmaObama to Praise Burma’s ‘Progress’ During Historic Visit

“… President Obama will make history Monday by becoming the first U.S. president to visit the long-isolated Southeast Asian nation.”

Elders, leadership, ministers, shepherds,spiritual gifts & teachers: An Alternative Polity: Gifts by Tim Woodroof [required reading]

“Lacking an effective theology of spiritual gifts, Churches of Christ have been vague about the role those gifts play in our congregations—particularly leadership gifts. Does the Spirit still gift people to lead God’s church or are leadership gifts now synonymous with natural competencies, developed skills, and accumulated experiences? Do different kinds of leaders have different kinds of gifts? Or should we expect every leader to have them all?”

Food, food stamps & gluttony: * Thanksgiving on Food Stamps [required reading]; * Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Have We Always Eaten Them? by Denise Winterman

* “For the last few years, I’ve spent the full week before Thanksgiving living on the same budget someone on food stamps would have, which is about $1.25 a meal. You can get a lot of peanut butter, bologna and pasta, but fresh fruits and veggies? Don’t count on it. That’s tough, to be sure, but the hardest part is psychological.”

* “Breakfast as we know it didn’t exist for large parts of history. The Romans didn’t really eat it, usually consuming only one meal a day around noon, says food historian Caroline Yeldham. In fact, breakfast was actively frowned upon. ‘The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day,’ she says. ‘They were obsessed with digestion and eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking impacted on the way people ate for a very long time.’”

Liberation theology, poor & poverty: The Preferential Option for the Poor by Richard Beck

“The basic idea behind the preferential option for the poor is the observation that, within the biblical narrative, God sides with the poor against the rich.”

Militarism: Evangelicals, Militarism, and Romans 13 by Preston Sprinkle [required reading]

“If you miss this point, then you won’t understand what Paul is saying to citizens of God’s kingdom in Romans 13. When Paul says that God executes vengeance through Rome, it was to further prohibit, not encourage, Christians from doing so.”

Relationships: Two Preaching Giants and the ‘Betrayal’ That Tore Them Apart by John Blake [required reading]

“Andy [Stanley] didn’t know his parents’ marriage was in trouble until he was in the 10th grade. Before then, he never saw his father or his mother argue or even disagree. Charles and Anna Stanley seemed to have the perfect relationship.”

Social justice: What’s So Great About ‘The Common Good’? by Andy Crouch

“The common good can help us avoid two modern temptations—one on the left and one on the right.”

Thanksgiving: The First Thanksgiving – A Reason to Complain by Bob Russell

“Could you give thanks if you had prayed for a smooth journey and barely survived? Could you praise God for His goodness if half of your loved ones had died? Could you shout for joy if you were one of fifty people scraping to survive in a terrifying territory with no electricity, no cell phone, no television, no internet, no running water, no health insurance, no police protection and no guarantee you’d live through the next winter? They did.

“That made them so spiritually strong and mentally tough? They considered themselves stepping stones. With our consumer mentality we consider ourselves keystones. We assume we’re the center of the universe. It’s all about us – our needs, our comfort, our desires. But the pilgrims knew it wasn’t about them, it was about God’s will and it was about the welfare of their descendants.”

Women: 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady [required reading]

“For centuries, a patriarchal system of control has kept women in spiritual captivity through distortion of the Scriptures. It’s time to debunk the myths.”

this went thru my mind

 

Age of the earth: * The Questions Update: The Age of the Earth by Deborah Haarsma; * How Do We Know the Earth is Old?

* “Thus, the solar system, including the Earth, is about 4,560,000,000 years old.”

Friendship & ministry: Ministry Inside.84 by Jim Martin

“In some churches, a kind of uneasiness exists between ministers and elders. Or, sometimes the uneasiness exists among the ministry staff or within the elder group. In far too many instances, the relationship between these leaders has been reduced to an awkward superficial coexistence. I am not talking about situations where there is open conflict and quarreling. Rather, I am thinking about congregations where the relational investment by leaders into one another’s lives seems to be at a minimum.”

Healthcare: Christians and Healthcare by K. Rex Butts

“… I would like to make a few suggestions about the way Christians engage in the ongoing conversation, should we choose to do so.”

Justice: Speaking Up When It’s Too Late by Timothy Archer

“What would it take to get us to say ‘No’ to wrongs committed against those without power in our society? Or will we do content ourselves to let future generations lament our mistakes?”

Leadership: Four Secrets to Connecting with Old Leaders by Dan Rockwell

“Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all.”

Learning: 4 Reasons They Don’t Want to Learn … and 5 Suggestions by Ron Edmonson

“You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.”

Ministry: * 67 Year Old Parish Priest Gives Advice Gained From More Than 40 Years Of Pastoral Ministry; * My Interview With a 92 Year Old Pastor by Ron Edmonson, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Ministry & shepherding: Calm Your Storm by Tim Spivey

“The two most important things any pastor can give their church is to stay close to the Lord Jesus and to seek personal emotional health.”

Note-taking: How to Take Notes [infographic]

Same-sex couples: God Bless You vs. God Blessed You – Blessing Same-Sex Couples by Chris Altrock

“While a committed and monogamous relationship is a good step in the right direction (away from sexual relationships with multiple partners). What the church should unleash unreservedly might be called the ‘God Blessed You’ blessing.”

Spiritual abuse: Spiritual Abuse by Roger Olson

“… spiritual abuse is the control of people by manipulation of their religious needs or sensitivities by means of shame.”

Time: Jesus’ Invitation to the Discipline of “Wasting Time?” by John Huckins

“You have to listen. Drop your agendas and allow the stories of the inhabitants of the neighborhood to inform how you engage and participate. Simply be present.”

this went thru my mind

 

Criticism: 5 Ways to Handle Criticism Like a Champ by Mark Altrogge

“… after 31 years as a pastor, though I should be used to feedback, I still squirm when told my opening preaching illustration was lame or my counsel didn’t part the clouds and cause angels to sing.”

Millenials: Young ‘Millennials’ Losing Faith in Record Numbers

“… 1 in 4 young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion. But most within this unaffiliated group — 55% — identified with a religious group when they were younger.”

Mormonism: Go West, Young Religion: Mormonism on Exhibit by Edward RothStein

“For a glimpse of how Mormons see themselves, though, it’s worth visiting the Church History Museum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here [Salt Lake City, UT] … The Church History Museum is at 45 North West Temple Street in Salt Lake City … or lds.org/churchhistory/museum.”

Shepherding: * When Elders Get It Right by Dan Bouchelle; * Staying at Your Post: Reflections on John 10:11-18 by Alyce McKenzie

* “I had just witnessed elders shepherding each other in a real and vulnerable way. I heard mature men bear their souls and tell some of the most painful stories from their past. I saw God’s power made perfect in weakness. I saw men who often expressed feelings of inadequacy as shepherds excelling in that very role. I saw a redemptive community at work.”

* “… Wallace Hartley … left work as a bank teller for a career in music … and he worked some eighty maritime voyages before joining the Titanic as bandmaster.”

this went thru my mind

 

Books: Why Do Old Books Smell? by AbeBooks [2 min. video]

“Walk into a used bookshop and you will encounter the unique aroma of aging books. The smell is loved by some, disliked by others, but where does it come from?”

Benevolence: Early Christian Charity [9 min., 30 sec. video clip of speaker, Dr. John Dickson]

“… an overview from the time of the New Testament up to Constantine.”

Comfort: How Not to Minister to the Hurting by Joe McKeever

“You will not believe what some people say to a bereaved parent or the family member of someone tragically injured.”

Elders meetings: A Noble Task by Tim Woodroof

“We don’t expect much of elders’ meetings anymore. We do not attend with the anticipation that God’s Spirit will show up or lives will be transformed or the gates of hell might quiver and fall because we meet. … To be fair, we come by this lack of imagination honestly. We’ve learned to be modest in our hopes.”

Faith & politics: “Hide It Under a Bushel? Yes!” by Bryan Dyer

“… American Christians should keep faith hidden in the public sphere in order to preserve that identity’s integrity. If Christian identity is just another brand loyalty, then it is pointless.”

Graciousness: Graciousness: Daring to Live a Graceful Life by Jim Martin

“… the final act of grace is graciousness.”

Groups: Six Tips for Keeping New Small Groups Healthy by Brett Eastman

“Here are six tips for keeping new small groups healthy so they can make the impact God wants …”

Ignorance: Amazing Grace: Is Ignorance of God’s Will an Excuse? by Jay Guin

“… all my life, Church of Christ preachers have argued that ignorance of the law is no excuse. I’m a lawyer. And ignorance is not an excuse – in civil court. But when we begin applying American legal principles to Christianity, well, we just might be legalists.”

Internet: Why One in Five U.S. Adults Doesn’t Use the Internet by Amy Gahran

“… one in five U.S. adults still does not use the Internet at all …”

Meetings: A Problem-Free Meeting by Dan Bouchelle

“I think every church should periodically have a problem-free meeting where we simply assess our gifts and strengths and then use the results as a basis to inform our ministry plans. What has God given us? What are we able to do well? How do we steward these strengths well in our context? We would doubtlessly be more effective in our service if we focused on these matter rather than spend all our time trying to shore up our weaknesses. Let’s change the self-talk of our churches by focusing on God’s power in us rather than our weaknesses.”

Poverty: “David Lipscomb and the Poor” (parts 1 & 2)

* “The sealing testimony in behalf of Jesus Christ being the Son of God is his own estimation, as divine to the disciples of John, was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.” The world to-day needs this same sealing testimony, that it may believe that, Jesus is the Son of God. Every preacher that pretendedly, in the name of Jesus Christ, seeks the rich and the learned and the fashionable to preach to, instead of the poor and simple-hearted and unpretending, by that course nullifies the power of the great truth, that Jesus is the anointed one that was to come into the world to save the world. Such a preacher is no co-laborer with God; no true minister of Christ, but a servant of the wicked one in the livery of Heaven.”

* “Do we create spaces, relationships and opportunities where the poor feel welcome? Given our upper middle class buildings and fashionable dress and expensive stuff, it is little wonder that the poor are generally uncomfortable.”

Unchurched Christians: Better Conversations Between Churched and Un-churched Christians by Rachel Held-Evans

“While too many among the ‘churched’ seem unwilling to change, too many among the ‘un-churched’ seem unwilling to compromise.”