Conference Notice: The Gospel Comes to Life

We at Between the Times would like to make you aware of a conference being held on SEBTS’ campus on February 6-7. The Gospel Comes to Life: Why Everything You Do Matters to God is a conference intended primarily for college students, but also open to seminary students, lay people, and advanced high school students. If you are interested in registering for the conference, please click here.

The thrust of the conference is the belief that the gospel is powerful and it is relevant for absolutely everything we think or do. Its relevance is not limited to the four walls of a church building, but extends to every square inch of the fabric of human existence, to every dimension of human culture, and to every intellectual and social endeavor of mankind. It is relevant not only to our private devotions, but to our college classes and our future vocations. It matters not only during Sunday morning worship, but also during coffee shop conversations, movie viewings, and discussions about public issues. Come and see how everything we do and think matters to God and how, when we discover this, the gospel really comes to life.

The plenary sessions will be led by Danny Akin, Mark Driscoll, C. J. Mahaney, and William Brown. The conference schedule is as follows:

Main Sessions

Session 1: Mark Driscoll
Session 2: CJ Mahaney
Session 3: Mark Driscoll
Session 4: Bill Brown
Session 5: Daniel Akin

Breakout Sessions: General Interest

How to Read the Bible: A Christ-Centered and Gospel-Centered Reading of the Grand Biblical Narrative (Steve McKinion)

The Bible Comes to Life: How Scripture Memory Transforms One’s Life (Andy Davis)

Christianity & Public Life: Bringing the Gospel to Bear on all Facets of Society & Culture (Bruce Ashford)

Theology & Culture: Toward a Theory of Cultural Interpretation (David Nelson)

Christianity & Human Intellect: How the Life of the Mind Matters to God (Bruce Little)

Christianity & Other Religions: Jesus among other gods (George Robinson)

Breakout Sessions: Christianity & Public Life

Music (Joshua Waggener)

Cinema (Ed Gravely)

Literature (Micah Mattix)

Creation & Evolution (Ken Keathley)

Science & Faith (Harry Poe)

Psychology (Sam Williams)

The Public Square (Jeremy Evans)

Education (Gary Bredfeldt)

Breakout Sessions: Christianity & Callings:

Your Calling in the Family (Dave Owen)

Your Calling as a Citizen (J. D. Greear)

Your Calling in the Church (John Hammett)

Christianity & Morality

Sex, Money & Power (Heath Thomas)

Life & Death (Mark Liederbach)

War (Daniel Heimbach)

The Environment (Dave Jones)games mobi

Pastoral Leadership, Part 2: Integrity

I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.

Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.

With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 2: Integrity

The second principle that is vital to being an effective leader in transition is integrity. During a recent leadership intensive with Dr. Ken Coley, he took the seminar participants on a journey to Psalm 15, reminding them that the most important characteristic beyond one’s salvation is, without question, integrity. He reminded the participants that the English word “integrity” comes from the Latin work, “integrates,” which means, “sound, wholeness, completeness.” He stated in his presentation, “that which connects your character with your core, who you are in Christ, is your integrity, and it will determine your success in the long list of integrity traits found in Psalm 15:3-5.”

The principle of integrity is particularly challenging in light of what secular leadership writers have discovered. James Kouzes and Gary Posner have written an extensive work entitled, The Leadership Challenge. They write: “The most important personal quality people look for and admire in a leader is personal credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. If people don’t believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message” (32). How a church handles transition from one leader to the next will be greatly impacted by the integrity of leadership they have experienced. In The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel spends an entire chapter addressing the credibility that arises in doing what you say you are going to do. He notes that the integrity that flows through the new leader does much to shape the environment of the staff and the congregation. He writes: “Christian leaders should act differently than those in the secular world. They should treat their workers differently, they should view their mission in a different light, and they should be driven by different motivations. The values and beliefs the leader holds usually become the assumptions of the followers” (149).

Establishing credibility early for the new leader will take shape in several ways. First, it is important to set goals and strategies that are truly achievable. Setting a standard or goal that may sound impressive to the multitudes, yet is truly beyond that which is reasonable, can be a dangerous venture. Secondly, it is critical to follow through on promises and commitments made along the way. This again is a reminder to be careful not to overstate the plans for change, when in reality, some changes will be more difficult to accomplish than others. A third truth in connection with shaping this credibility will require a commitment of hard work and a willingness to keep one’s eyes focused on fulfilling the tasks.

We determined to start a new more contemporary service while maintaining a traditional service. We also decided going to two Bible Study hours was necessary as well. The leadership, particularly among the children’s ministry, felt overwhelmed. But over the months that would ensue, people would step up to roles of teaching and leading, working with our children’s leaders as well as other areas in the ministry of the church. With a fresh vision cast, it was critical to the credibility and integrity of the new leader, as well as the trust of the congregation, that the plans move forward to execution. There will be points along the journey of all pastors moving into a new work, where the credibility, the integrity of the leader, will be tested. It is critical in those moments to truly do what you say you are going to do.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 1: Godliness

I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.

Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.

With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 1: Godliness

Transitions in pastoral leadership can be one of the most critical periods in the life of a church. It will certainly be a challenge. Wallace Erickson, in his essay, Transition in Leadership, writes: “The events of history and observations in my lifetime reveal that transition in leadership can easily be the most traumatic event in any organization’s history. Succession in leadership makes a tremendous impact on any ministry” (George Barna, Leaders on Leadership, 298).

Over the years many have observed the departure of one leader and the arrival of a new leader with a sense of uncertainty. Sometimes the transition ends in disaster. As much as lay leaders pray, plan, and prepare, there is always an anxiety about whether or not the new leader will truly be God’s man to carry out the vision and mission of the church, as well as meet the pastoral needs of the congregation. Every week, in churches across our nation, leaders step down and new leaders assume their positions. As I have walked through this journey of leadership transition, seven principles have become my guide. They are principles that are needed in every leader who seeks to make an effective transition. Those seven principles are: godliness, integrity, courage, passion, compassion, competence, and communication.

The first principle that is vital to be an effective leader in transition is godliness. This is a principle that stands out in the life of every biblical leader. Nehemiah demonstrates godliness in his prayer life as he seeks vision and guidance from the Lord. It is seen in Jesus Himself, praying in Luke 6:12 and Mark 3:13-15, just to name two. The issue of godliness is most often described as part of the core issue of the leader’s character. Gary Bredfeldt, in Great Leader, Great Teacher, writes, “It’s a virtuous and godly character that provides the evidence that the content of one’s teaching is indeed true and that it can be lived with authenticity” (89).

In addition Jack Hayford notes, “A leader’s character will never rise beyond the flow of his obedience to the Holy Spirit dealing with his heart.” Seeking the face of God is paramount for any believer who desires to grow in the richness of his relationship with Christ. The leader must set his priorities to provide time for prayer, genuinely seeking God’s heart and God’s vision. Without the priority of prayer and the effort to seek God, this inner quality of godliness will suffer and go undeveloped. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership says, “Leadership is influence. It is the ability of one person to influence others to follow his or her lead” (Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 27). It is only through a consistent, godly lifestyle that a trust and a willingness to follow new pastoral leadership can be developed within a congregation. It is here that many transitions in leadership struggle. Oftentimes it is not the lack of godliness or lack of character on the part of the new leader that causes the struggle, but rather that the congregation has simply not had enough time with the leader to recognize that he is godly and consequently to place enough trust in him to follow his lead. Let me provide some specific examples.

One must be cautious in the reorganization of the staff. Planning a second service, more contemporary in style, must be implemented with care. A wise step before making formal presentations is to pull together a “focus-group” of a cross-section of the church. The purpose is to be transparent, to place the vision out there, and sincerely seek feedback. In hindsight, the selection of my particular focus group may have been limited by my short-term exposure. Not all the people of influence were being heard in this mix. This is crucial as you seek to lead in a godly manner that builds trust and followship.

For any present staff you inherit, the whole idea of change after many years of doing things in a certain way will probably be a huge adjustment at best. Again, it is important for these individuals involved in major change to sense the godliness of the leader who would be completely open and reassuring of how their gifts will be used. The transition of leadership demands godliness. The core character will truly take time to become evident to people around the new leader.in java