Lessons from South Sudan

Recently, John Ewart traveled with Danny Akin and Scot Hildreth, director of the Center for Great Commission Studies, to the Uganda-Sudan border to meet with pastors and their wives from the South Sudan Baptist Convention. In the excerpt of his post below, John details the reasons for the meeting and the lessons learned from these persevering brothers and sisters.

As I write this post, I am sitting in front of a desk fan about the size of a grapefruit in the mid day heat of Uganda not far from the borders of both the Congo and South Sudan. I am here with our president, Danny Akin and Scott Hildreth, director of our Center for Great Commission Studies. We are leading a conference for pastors and their wives from the South Sudan Baptist Convention. It is difficult to describe what all these brothers and sisters in Christ have endured over the last years and especially the last few months.

 

Sudan and South Sudan have experienced civil wars that first pitted Muslims against Christians and more recently tribe against tribe. The most recent conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2014 and saw two tribes with competing political aspirations fighting one another. This is an extremely simplistic summary of a very complex situation.

 

One very unfortunate result of this conflict has been the division of the church along tribal lines as well. We are here at the request of the South Sudan Baptist Convention and the IMB team to minister to and equip these leaders to go back into the church of South Sudan and bring unity and healing. It is obviously a great privilege for us. We are meeting in northern Uganda instead of South Sudan due to security issues because the tension between tribes is so intense and might spill over into our meeting.

Read the full post at the CGCS blog, here.

 

The Phases of Church Leadership: Implementation

In this final posting of my series on five phases through which a church must move in order to experience and maintain strong health, I want to share the fifth and final phase. As a reminder, please read back through the first four. I have shared about Assessment, Identification, Vision Development and Adjustment. Now, the capstone to the process: Implementation.

Once the church assesses the past, the present, and the possibilities of the future, it can create a new profile of identity for both itself and the surrounding community. Then leaders are better equipped to develop the contextual vision plan by which the church will fulfill God’s mission. Before that plan can kick in specific adjustments must be made based upon this research and planning. These adjustments can be made with much more intelligence and biblical support because of the good work done in this process. Then it is time to implement the adjusted plan.

Leadership training and education will be a must in this phase. As the new vision is put into action, everyone needs to be on the same page and using the same vocabulary. The discipline of not only asking why some aspect of the vision is present but knowing the answers to the why will be significant. People in the church will need examples as well as exposition as they watch leaders moving forward in new ways with confidence and conviction. Lay people will also need additional equipping as the message and method of the new plan are enacted. They will also need excitement and enthusiasm as they are inspired by the leadership.

Also, be prepared to deal with any significant opposition to the new vision. It is one thing to discuss adjustment and its impact and quite another when the reality of it begins to sink in. Leaders may have to decide whether moving forward in a right and biblical way is worth losing some who may refuse to get on board. This is why it is so important that each phase of the process is explained and communicated well. The way implementation takes place should not be a surprise to the church if the foundational work has been carried out effectively.

As the train begins to move down the track in synergy remember it takes a while for that train to reach full speed. Reinforcement of the vision with clear messages full of relevant and redundant language will prove helpful. Explain, explain, and explain again.

And almost immediately the phase loop must be formed. As soon as implementation occurs, it is time to reintroduce assessment again and begin to weave through the phases as tweaking constantly takes place. If regular assessment and adjustment take place along the way there should hopefully not need to be radical change again for a while.

Remember the church is more than an institution. It is a living organism. Life is intended to be dynamic not static. Keep moving forward. Keep working this loop. God blesses intentionality. Let’s grow intentional churches.

When We Say, “I Can’t” & God Says, “You Won’t”

In his weekly installment, J. D. Greear discusses the small areas of disbelief in our hearts that lead to large areas of disaster in our lives. Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s a question we should all ask ourselves: What small area of disbelief is lurking in my heart? Where am I saying, “I can’t” but God says, “No, you won’t”? You see, every one of us has unconquered “lands of Canaan” in our heart. Lurking in every crevice of our lives are little pockets of unbelief and sin. And left alone, they will do more damage than the iron-clad Canaanites ever did.

Read the full post here.