Graham

The following is a reading critique of Myra and Shelley’s “The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham.”

What is the author’s main purpose in writing this book?
The author’s main purpose in writing this book is to define the leadership development and strategies of Billy Graham. Their study includes interviews with his dearest friends, writings focused on his life and teachings, additional leadership resources, and Graham’s favorite Scriptural references and church historical works (Myra and Shelley, 15). Each individual will be held accountable for what they did with what they had. The authors suggests, “Whatever the challenges and hurdles, whatever the limitations, he steadily led by full commitment to his biblical values. His lifetime of vigorous leadership invites us to engage with the same spirit, to consider his examples, and to reach as he did, into the rich resources of leadership literature that resonates with scriptural principles” (16). His life reminds me of what David described as he proclaimed, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you” (1 Chronicles 29:17, ESV).

What insight from the material will be the most helpful to you in ministry? Why?
The author’s description of a leader who dares to dream was the most helpful information to apply to a ministry context. Harry Truman once said, “Make no little plans. Make the biggest plan you can think of” (207). One can learn so much from observing how Billy Graham started new ministry ventures. First, he paid attention to those who he wished to reach or work alongside. Second, he processed through all of the information and ideas (209). Third, he was one of the key implementers. Fourth, he raised the funds that were required. Fifth, he developed a team that was self-sufficient but accountable for their results. Sixth, he communicated the strategies and systems with his board. Finally, he continually commemorated, encouraged, and complimented the contributions of those who carried out the mission (212).

The authors suggest, “Leaders positioned to birth dreams know they can’t become managers but must hand off those roles. [They] work under lots of pressure, handle demands and opportunities and address new challenges. But [they] cast a continuous eye on events and at pivotal moments have focused on a pressing need” (218). Likewise, they must also recognize when their dreams are dying – whether it be due to the team, the timing, or the training. Leaders cannot be afraid to say enough is enough and accept the short-term failure. Otherwise, they place the mission, the organization, or themselves in great jeopardy of complete destruction. Such decisions are rarely easy and never without anguish. Above all else, leaders should heed the advice of Billy Graham who counsels, “Prayer is not just asking. It is listening for God’s orders” (219).

What idea(s) in the material do you struggle with? Why?
One of the more difficult concepts for a leader to apply is Billy Graham’s unwavering integrity as it relates to financial dealings. He warns, “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost any other area of his life” (107). So many pastors – like any leader, celebrity, communicator, or artist – become distracted by their own popularity or power that they fail to carefully consider their monetary practices (111). The more a person hears their own voice, the more they begin to thoroughly enjoy it. Likewise, the more a person receives an honorarium, the more they begin to expect it. There is little more dangerous than entitlement that derails a leader’s love of God and an organization’s commitment to the mission. The authors propose, “Greed in any organization can devastate it. In contrast, if the bottom line trumps other values, it can also devastate. Some organizations scrimp and cut every possible cost; others spend to build momentum and create new realities” (117).

The church is currently in the midst of unparalleled consumption and continually morphing financial climates. To exemplify economic integrity is a lifelong process and takes wisdom and devotion (119). Such an approach takes a team with diverse gifts and insights. Myra and Shelley recommend, “Generating funds, administrating them, strategizing their use – all are vital components. Strong, able players must be put into the best-fitting harnesses and given clear mandates” (119). Each leader and association must confront exceptional and multifaceted economic hardships. They ought to deal with these challenges with answerability, honesty, and responsibility (121).

What results do you believe would occur following the implementation of this philosophy in the typical Pentecostal/charismatic church? Why?
One quotation from the book that was particularly important was when Fred Smith Sr. states, “Leadership consists in getting people to work with, not for, you – particular when they are under no obligation to do so” (123). Pentecostal leaders must design creative and clear processes in which disciples are equipped and entrusted with the mission. Mentoring and mobilizing occurs only as one is immersed in the process, prayed with, instructed to, communicated with, and supported and defended (126). The authors speak of Graham as having a cascading trust. They define this attribute as by the following, “When you have a great leader . . . and his character and worldview cascade through the enterprise, the enterprise can accomplish great things! [Graham] surrounded himself with people who cared for him, told him the truth, and got results” (128).

Entrusting others calls for one to give comprehensible direction, allow for creative liberties, ensure and embody unwavering faithfulness, and offer ready support (130). There is a delicate balance between motivation and management (132). Richard Farson counsels, “Effective leaders do not regard control as the main concerns . . . [but] approach situations sometimes as learners, sometimes as teachers, sometimes as both . . . Their strength is not in control alone but in other qualities – passion, sensitivity, tenacity, patience, courage, firmness, enthusiasm, wonder” (133). However, in reality, people often attempt to do all of the essential tasks on their own. They must strive to keep their influence in its proper light. Leaders have to constantly resist the enticement to think that they can do everything better than everyone else or forget that they too have been entrusted with such leadership responsibility themselves.

Graham

Music

The following is an open letter of sorts to all current and aspiring music pastors and worship leaders that have devoted themselves to the mission of God and the ministry of the local church. Thank you for who you are and all you do. Thank you for using your talent and time in order to lead others in the praise and proclamation of Jesus Christ. I am jealous of you. I love how you can take an instrument and make sweet sounds with it. I have no idea how you can take just a few verses and bring about so much emotion from so many people all in unison. You shoulder so much. No matter your attitude or approach, there is really no way that you can possibly make everyone happy . . . whether it be your lead pastor, the seniors, or the youth of your church. Either the music was not tight enough or not quiet enough or not progressive enough. How can something like music be so often used to bring disagreement and division within a congregation?

So by no means do I wish to add to your stress or discouragement. By no means do I wish to act as an expert in your field. I have little to no musical talent. I do not lead a church. I have only been in vocational ministry for eight years. The last thing I want to appear to have is a critical heart. Far from the case. But I do want to be a leader with a critical eye. I want to see pastors work with each other. I want to see churches who worship in spirit and truth. I hope to, somehow and someway, bring a challenge to each and every one of you. To ask you to all to raise your game. To take some risks. To enjoy what you do – and in all things to bring glory and honor to the Name above all names. Someday and someway I hope to pastor a church in some capacity. Here is what I hope my music pastor or worship leader does . . .

Be intentional.
Ask your lead pastor or teaching pastor what he or she plans to communicate and come alongside that topic as best you can. Stay with the theme – the main point – the call to action. Don’t be afraid to plan your set well in advance to best align with the series. I would even ask that you consider writing your own music to go along with that subject.

Be authentic.
Don’t always try to sound like the hottest act or the latest worship CD. Be yourself. Know your strengths. Come to terms with your limitations or situations. Take into account your appearance or attitude but do not drown in the midst of those things.

Be creative.
Write your own music. Write. Write some more. Work with others if you cannot do it all by yourself. Team is a gift – use it. God says to sing a new song. Why are you singing last year’s music all of the time? Create. Sing your hearts out. Recreate . . . rediscover and redeem that which our culture has twisted and tainted.

Be Scriptural.
I understand that there are times to create an atmosphere of excitement. I am all for joy and loud and sweat, and lights . . . but may that never replace an authentic encounter with the One True God and nothing says that this means we have to scratch the surface or settle for the shallow. I am concerned that much of the worship that comes out of the Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal church says little to nothing about our great God. Our music must do what liturgy originally aimed to do. Teach our people who God is and what he does. I am not asking for a rekindling of ritual – just revelation.

Write music based on the Psalms. Find songs hidden within the epistles. For example, why not rewrite what the Apostle Paul is saying when he penned, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. What about Ephesians 3? Half of the Romans? Why not go back to the creeds themselves? Maybe an artist would consider making an entire album based on a portion of Scripture? The Lord’s Prayer? A book of the bible? A theological theme?

Be respectful.
Honor the past. Sing hymns. Rewrite hymns. Tie the ancient choruses in with modern worship. But do not stop there. Insist on being true to those authors by writing music for today. Let the older generations that you respect what God has done in their lives through those songs – but that you hope and pray that emerging generations will have similar moments . . . even and especially when those moments will sound different and look different and even feel different.

Again, thank you for who you are and all you do. I look forward to hearing from you. Praying and worshiping to your music. I even hope to work with many of you over the course of the coming years . . . whether that be a church, a conference, or simple gathering of believers. Let’s worship.

Music

Collins

The following is a reading critique of Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”:

What is the author’s main purpose in writing this book?
The author’s main purpose in writing this book is to suggest that several average organizations could in fact transition into incredible organizations if they would only follow certain concepts and strategies that were discovered through a thorough and insightful study. Collins proposes, “Good is the enemy of great” (Collins, 1). The research proposes that a organization begin with disciplined people, continue with disciplined thought, and conclude with disciplined action (12). The study concluded:
• Charisma is no substitute for character and courage.
• Leaders must honestly evaluate the present while simultaneously having confidence in the future.
• Keep who you are and what you do as simple as possible.
• Chain of command, administration, and restraint must be replaced with disciplined freedom.
• Technology is not the sole way to transition but a cautiously chosen resource (13).
• Transition is not a grand moment as much as gradual momentum.
• A legendary organization is developed on purpose rather than on product (14).

What insight from the material will be the most helpful to you in ministry? Why?
The author’s characteristics of a meek leader were extraordinarily helpful information for a ministry context. He claims, “Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. [Though] they are incredibly ambitious – [their] ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves” (21). Such leadership is unpresumptuous and deliberate, unassuming and bold (22). Peter describes the meekness of Christ by writing, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23, ESV).

Collins suggests, “One of the most damaging trends in recent history is the tendency (especially of boards of directors) to select dazzling, celebrity leaders and to de select potential Level 5 leaders” (39). Great leaders prepare their organizations up for continued success by setting up their successor for success by passing the torch during health or better yet by hand-selecting a strong leader to succeed them altogether (26). A leadership pipeline is just one more way that a leader looks beyond personality and regard and rather focuses on purpose and results. In a similar way, a Level 5 leader always looks to praise someone else for significant accomplishments while taking full responsibility for public failures (35). Pastors and churches must be intentional in preparing for and carrying out leadership transitions. So much time and effort are lost during interim periods because either the church is taken by surprise by a sudden transition or they are set on staffing their weakness rather than building upon strengths.

What idea(s) in the material do you struggle with? Why?
One of the more difficult concepts to come to terms with in this particular study was the chapter devoted to the flywheel and the doom loop theory. The author proposes, “Good-to-great transformation often look like dramatic, revolutionary events to those observing from the outside, but they feel like organic, cumulative processes to people on the inside. The confusion of end outcomes (dramatic results) with process (organic and cumulative) skews our perception of what really works over the long haul” (168). Regardless of how spectacular the outcome, change did not happen in a single moment. No organization could credit one decision, agenda, advancement, or phenomenal fortune (186). Rather, “sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough . . . persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time” (186).

The correct circumstances seemed to solve the issues “of commitment, alignment, motivation . . . they largely seem to take care of themselves” (176). Transformation took consistency and coherence. The author claims, “Each piece of the system reinforces the other parts of the system to form an integrated whole that is much more powerful than the sum of the parts. It is only through consistency over time, through multiple generations, that you get maximum results” (182). To be honest, this chapter seemed to be a bit contradictory. So many resources of the past few years, such as George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky’s The Power of Alignment and Patrick Lencioni’s Silos and Turf Wars, challenge leaders to protect the vision and keep focus. It seems that good organizations have to have short-term wins before they can have long-term commitment.

What results do you believe would occur following the implementation of this philosophy in the typical Pentecostal/charismatic church? Why?
One quotation from the book that was particularly important was when the author states, “There is nothing wrong with pursuing a vision for greatness. After all, the good-to-great companies also set out to create greatness. But, unlike the comparison companies, the good-to-great companies continually refined the path to greatness with the brutal facts of reality” (71). Such leadership will demand the following:
• A leader does not have to pretend to have all of the answers but be willing to ask the hard questions (74).
• A leader must not be afraid to connect through discussion and dispute but avoid all forms of intimidation (75).
• A leader has to constantly evaluate different aspects of the organization without having to embarrass the directors. The result will be a climate of agreement and education (78).
• A leader does not ignore or explain away troublesome information (81).

Collins defines the Stockdale Paradox as “Retaining faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties and at the same time confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be” (86). Often leaders will error in one extreme or the other. Some pastors choose to ignore disconcerting evidence such as declining attendance, dwindling finances, rising dissension, nonexistent water baptisms, and next to no visitors while claiming that the Spirit of God brings in the harvest. Others seem to be content to always pointing out the negative – such as blaming the people in the congregation – but never have any plans for change or hope in the future.

Collins

Buller


I saw my Grandpa Buller die. I have never seen someone pass away before. I have been in the room when someone was close or soon after the fact. But never at that very moment. I did not belong there. That moment was between his wife and six children. I was asked to come in “to give a word as he passed.” How surreal. I prayed the only thing that I knew how to pray. I asked that he would go quickly and quietly (he was in a lot of pain). I asked that somehow and someway that he had the opportunity to respond to the gospel and was at peace with Christ. I prayed that the family would stand united during this difficult time. I thanked God for my grandfather’s life and what that life meant to all of us as individuals and as a family.

I had such mixed emotions after the fact. My brother and I had driven down to Oregon City to be with family. To say our goodbyes. To be his grandchildren. And yet, due to the events that were so beyond our control, I was called on to pastor – to reflect Christ in bringing peace, comfort, and love. Maybe that is what it means to be a disciple – to trust Jesus enough to do whatever he asks – to often be who you cannot be if it was not for the empowerment of his very Spirit? I wanted to grieve right there at that very moment. But I knew that I could not. I had to help. I had to work. That was how I was to honor my grandfather at that moment. My uncles and aunts – and especially my grandmother – needed to mourn. I was truly honored to be asked to officiate the memorial . . . but I also understood that it would mean not being able to grieve the way I wanted and when I wanted. I experienced something similar when my stepfather passed a year and a half ago. It took me nearly six months to cry . Doesn’t that sound bad? But I had to do the job at hand. This is a similar situation. And yet, I know I did all I could when I could to help our family. I love my grandfather and I am grateful for what I have learned this past week – but even more so – what I learned from his life and leadership.

To be honest, I hesitated with the idea of writing about this. I know that this is one of those life moments where I am going to put some things down and then a year from now look back and realize that I had only scratched the service. Or worse yet just spent an entire post in randomness. That my thoughts and reflections were premature and largely incomplete. And yet, I fear that if I do not write them down I will not be able to get them out. I will never forget the way that Grandpa Buller died. His family was at his side. He fought years for years after he lost his legs when doctors only gave him a five percent chance of survival. But even more than that – I will remember how he lived. He cared for his family. He loved to learn. He put smiles on people’s face. I want to be that guy. I want to continue his legacy. I want to expand it and strengthen it. I often pray for my children, my boys especially, that they do far more good on behalf of Christ than I ever will. I know this is only possibly as I pass on to them a healthy and whole foundation. Now, after seeing my Grandfather pass, I know that this is what I really want more than anything else. I am grateful for my family. For Grandpa, my wife, my uncles, my in-laws, mentors, friends, and especially my father. Help me to be worthy of what I have been given, to rediscover what I have lost, and to recapture what I was taken from me.

I realize, in times such as these, that every life stage brings challenges. I am thirty-one. I only have one grandparent left. Funerals and memorials will only increase. Death is a part of life. Solomon once reflected, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, a right time to plant and another to reap, a right time to kill and another to heal, a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain, a right time to embrace and another to part, a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up, a right time to love and another to hate, a right time to wage war and another to make peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, The Message).

I don’t say these things to sound morbid. Death happens. But so does birth. And rebirth. Life is so much bigger than my one life. What will I leave my children? What will the Farley name be when I am done with it? Will I pass on an undying love for God and others? Will my children devote themselves to seeking and saving the lost? To making things right in our world? To looking forward to heaven but not wasting their time on earth? My grandfather was not perfect. But he was a great man. I pray that I live up to his heritage. That we can not only do some of the things that he did . . . but far greater. I pray that somehow and someway that Christ is glorified through his grandchildren and great grandchildren. That every generation grows closer and closer to Christ and his church. I don’t want to waste a moment. I don’t want to look back on my life and have any regrets. I want to enjoy every relationship to the fullest. I want to be a family. Love you, Grandpa.

Buller

Powell


I would highly recommend Brad Powell’s “Change Your Church For Good.” I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special pre-release directly from Thomas Nelson for review purposes. You can purchase a copy for under $14 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=change+your+church+for+good+&x=0&y=0) or directly from the publisher at http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1418543667&title=Change_Your_Church_For_Good,_Revised&author=Brad_Powell.

My favorite chapter was titled “Give Them A Reason” and was devoted to the topic of exposing the necessity for people to change so that they will in turn join you in implementing that very change. Powell suggests, “Most churches today are playing defense by talking more about how to keep people than how to reach people. This is a failure of values” (Powell, 166). How many of us are guilty of playing offense rather than defense? How many of us tend to hold tighter to our traditions of the past rather the truth of the Scriptures? How many of us have neglected doing what is right (reaching out to our community with compassion and creativity) in place of what is wrong (doing what we have always done because that is exactly how we like it done)?

I kept on thinking about the words of the bible which read, ” Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John,s because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means `rock’) and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hells will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permits on earth will be permitted in heaven'” (Matthew 16:17-19, NLT). This book angered me for all the right reasons. I wanted to write this book. Brad Powell beat me to it. He has already been there and done that. He took a church that was shrinking in influence and attendance and slowly but strategically revived that body of believers to be ones who created change without compromising truth. One of my dreams is to one day transition a busy, programmatic, and attractional church to become one that is simple, intentional, and missional. My hope is to see people devoting their lives to connecting others to the love of Christ, the life of the church, and the need of the world.

Official Book Description: Every week, more and more people walk away from the church—not because they don’t believe, but because church has become irrelevant to their lives. Not God, but church. In 1990, Brad Powell joined NorthRidge Church as Senior Pastor—a lukewarm congregation struggling to be relevant for Christ. Now considered one of the Midwest’s “Fastest Growing Churches” and “One of the Top 50 Most Influential Churches,” Pastor Powell restored the church into a thriving community by infusing it with love, outreach, cultural relevance, and a renewed relationship with God. Repackaged and edited for a more effective learning experience, Change Your Church for Good supplies pastors and other church leaders—through personal trials and anecdotes—with the essential tools for restoring life and joy to a church that is dying. If you are a leader seeking a blueprint for change—or a member praying for a miracle—this living example can serve as a springboard for your church.

Powell