3 Reforms Needed in the Church

2944813f856f876da02e15e0a5f5083bIn these tumultuous days in which we live, it seems the importance of having good character is becoming a thing of the past. Character is defined as, “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity.” Integrity adds another nuance to character: “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.” Perhaps the reason character seems to be lacking is because there are fewer people who are whole. It’s pretty obvious that our culture is broken in many ways; families and relationships are broken because people are broken. Brokenness is the result of sin in our lives.

Those of us who are Jesus followers should be the most whole people on the planet. After all, the unblemished, unbroken One lives within us. But even within the Church, many are broken as well. Something is missing. After over 2,000 years of Church history, we aren’t really much different from the rest of the world. There’s too many things to list in this short article that are still rampant in the Church. Sexual immorality, addictions, deception, abuse, divorce, rebellion, depression are just the tip of the iceberg. Why is this? What are we doing wrong? Undoubtedly, books could be written on this topic, but a few things seem obvious.

  1. Wounded leaders produce wounded followers. This is a big one. You reproduce what’s inside you. Too many leaders have unhealed issues and are ministering out of their woundedness. Education and training are not enough to lead God’s people well. Leaders must be committed to wholeness, first in themselves. Then they can minister more effectively to their congregations, leading them into wholeness.
  2. Church structure is unbiblical. Another big one. When one or two people are the main leaders everyone suffers. The leaders burn out; the leaders and people become codependent. Immaturity is fostered in the body. People are not taught, equipped or challenged to grow up apart from a balanced leadership team of five-fold ministers. Leaders should be raised up continually so the body expands, matures, and unifies, to further spread the kingdom, not the Church. This means going out into the culture to reform it according to kingdom principles. Many churches focus on their own needs, their own issues and ministering continually to one another. This is not what Jesus taught or modeled with His disciples.
  3. Incomplete theology. I would venture to say that the majority of teaching in the Church is based on head knowledge, not experiential knowledge. Those who have been taught “about God” rather than led into experiencing Him personally, are easily dissuaded when faced with objections, opposition, or persecution. By contrast, those who have had genuine God encounters will generally stand firm and immovable in their faith when shakings occur. Rather than learning the art and discipline of meditating in the Word, wrestling in prayer, and waiting on God, most believers are spoon fed each week, relying on their pastors to “hear from God.” Instead of persevering in prayer, many give up and decide it must not have been “God’s will,” or that God has abandoned or is angry with them. In our instantaneous gratification society, we often take matters into our own hands rather than waiting for God to move.

There are undoubtedly many other reasons for our current condition. But these three keys, I believe, are vital to reforming the Church so that we can do what Jesus commanded us – to make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19-20) It is time for a new wineskin, a new perspective. The old ways have not and are not working. It is time for the body to become whole; to reflect the true nature and character of Christ. It is time to be the salt and light, transformational elements in our culture. This is what it truly means when we pray, “…on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Characteristics of Great Leaders

12107733Being a leader isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest challenges we face as flawed and frail human beings. Perhaps that is one reason we have lacked good leaders in the recent past. It is all but guaranteed when leaders fail, most everyone knows about it. But true leaders carry an integrity and character about them that they do not fear failing. They are confident in their abilities, for the most part, and willing to take responsibility for their mistakes. They walk in truth and have nothing to hide. They do not seek to blame shift nor discredit those they lead, even when they may have a right to. Great leaders seek to build up those they lead. Through their honesty and integrity, they inspire others to want to be great.

It has been said that great leaders do not create followers, they create leaders. As a leader, you will lead by example, whether that example is good or bad. The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Those that influence you will also influence those you lead. This is the law of reproduction – you will reproduce who you are, not who you say you are. Good leaders don’t fear or become jealous if those they lead excel them, in fact, they encourage them to do so! They want their ceiling to be the floor for those around them. Leaders want to see their people succeed in their calling and destiny. They get excited to see others grow and develop in their gifts and skills, and give them real opportunities to do so.

It is important that leaders create a culture of freedom, where those they lead are free to be themselves, warts and all. They should not try to force conformity to a certain style, behavior, or message. Instead, they seek to draw out the diversity that will encourage authenticity, and the unique giftings each person possesses. They are unafraid to be vulnerable in front of their people. By sharing their own struggles, they give permission for others to do the same. This facilitates a place of safety, love, and nurturing that draws others in and brings healing and freedom.

If you are a leader, it’s important to remember it’s not about you. Jesus, the greatest leader of all time, said He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. He is always our model for all of life. Leaders should be the best servants. They do not ask their people to do what they are unwilling to do themselves. They are the first to do, the first to give, the first to lay down their lives for the ones coming behind them.

Jesus never sought the limelight. He lived a life of humility, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. He never sought a platform. Yet others were drawn to Him and sensed the unprecedented authority He walked in. His authority was rooted in His intimacy with the Father. The same is true for all leaders. We have no authority except that which has been given to us by God. The deeper our intimacy with the Father, the greater our authority will be because He can trust us to use it wisely.

All leaders make mistakes; they are human after all. But there are some characteristics and signs you want to pay attention to that may determine if a leader is worthy of following. Here are just a few to consider:

• Insecure and jealous of those more gifted than them.

• Seek to be served and act as if they are better than those around them.

• Controlling, want to be in charge of everything, and do not give others opportunites to    grow, develop, and use their giftings and skills.

• Refuse to do things they ask their people to do, especially menial tasks.

• Boastful of how God uses them, prideful, or always talking about themselves.

• Never share their own personal struggles or they attempt to maintain a certain  appearance.

• Blame others for their own failures or mistakes and refuse to take responsibility or make  restitution when needed.

• Insist on doing their own thing and do not make an effort to work with others in the  community.

• Refuse to listen and take heed to others’ complaints, suggestions, ideas, and concerns.

These are just a few examples; hopefully, you get the point. It is important to choose our leaders wisely, but even more important to pray for them regularly. Those who lead carry a greater weight of responsibility and accountability before God. They are deserving and in need of our prayers and support.