Month: January 2013

The Blessings and Challenges of a Young Team

We are really blessed to have a great team of young leaders at New Life, but a young team also brings unique challenges that not all churches are ready to face. In fact, most churches tend to lean toward more mature pastors and leaders because of these potential messes. While I value maturity and believe we should honor those with experience we cannot leave young leaders behind.

So, if you are committed like I am to working alongside a team that reflects every generation, including the college and 20-somethings, take note of the challenges and rewards before you start this journey.

1. Young leaders sometimes have poor work habits.

This is especially true if they have never worked outside the church in the “real world.” Even though the church is a family, there is still work to be done, tasks to be finished, deadlines to be met and communication to be made. To do all this requires time management skills which are difficult for most young leaders who tend to think only about an hour into their future.

2. Young leaders do not know the right questions to ask.

I have heard many mature leaders complain, “I could have helped them if they had only asked.” Most of the time we think young leaders are arrogant, but most of the time, young leaders simply did not know what questions needed to be asked. We should tell them upfront to come to us with questions. More importantly we should make it easy for them to come to us because we have earned their trust and they know we want them to succeed.

3. Young leaders mean more messes to clean up.

Yep! That is true, but some of the greatest discoveries in human history were made in really messy laboratories. If you only want to perpetuate the status quo, work only with people who think and act like yourself. If you want innovation, youth and messes are a part of the deal. Yes, we can do it quicker without any messes, but that does not mean we can do it better.

4. Young leaders need places to practice.

Young leaders need laboratories where they experiment. Classrooms are fine for discussion of data and facts, but at some point they must get their hands in the soil. Right now, young leaders are overseeing many of the 24-hour prayer meetings at New Life and are getting real congregational leadership experience. Are all the meetings being led perfectly?  Probably not. But they are all being led sincerely, which is more important to me. We will coach them and lead them, but better yet, we will also learn from them.

We want young leaders at New Life. That is why we invest staff and resources into the Desperation Leadership Academy and into our New Life School of Worship. Students from around the world are on our campus right now, learning, studying, and making messes. I promise, both of us are better because of it.

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The Praying Church

Most churches pray, but not all are praying churches. Most churches pause during their gatherings to pray, sometimes out of ritual, but certainly out of sincerity. But, how does a church make the leap to become a praying church, where prayer is the engine and fuel behind every spiritual advancement?

1. Prayer is modeled

Prayer is caught more than taught. Praying pastors model a prayerful life and those that are influenced by them tend to lead a prayerful life of their own. We just started 21 days of prayer and fasting with prayer meetings happening 24 hours a day. I am leading many of these meetings because I really do believe it is powerful when two or more gather to pray in unity.

2. Prayer is first

In a praying church, the first response to any difficult situation is to pray. When there is still no solution, the answer is to pray again. Repeat as needed.

3. Prayer is proactive

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told them to first ask for God’s Kingdom to come to the earth. Later in the prayer, he told them to ask for daily bread. It is true that the most attended prayer services are normally after a national or local crisis and that is certainly warranted. However, we should be proactive in our prayers, asking now for the Kingdom to come.

4. Prayer is the assignment

In Eugene Peterson’s classic book, Working the Angles, he writes that many church members make it difficult for pastors to spend unhurried time in prayer.  It is easier to point to new buildings, compelling sermons and increased attendance as signs of their success. Instead, a praying church sees prayer as a primary assignment of their leaders.

5. Prayer is worship and worship is prayer

A praying church prays with a singing voice. Their songs are anthems, prophetic declarations and pronouncements of faith. We sing as we pray and we pray as we sing. A praying church believes in the power of words spoken and words sung. They believe God hears all of it and responds to all of us.

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