Episode 038: A Conversation with Clayton King

For this conversation, we sit down with Clayton King and discuss the leadership structure of Newspring Church and the value of healthy confrontation.

 

 

http://www.essentialchurchconference.com/

 

We have lead pastors, teaching pastors, and campus pastors… each one of our campuses has a campus pastor who handles the day-in and day-out and preaches occasionally…

 

Our lead pastors—there are four: a pastor of culture and vision, a pastor of ministries, a pastor of finances and facilities, and a pastor of campuses—serve together in a lead pastor role…

 

Then we have three teaching pastors who preach and teach and create the series’ we’re going to go through…

 

The team approach is a beautiful thing for us because it forces us to submit our egos to the Holy Spirit; you can’t hide from ego in that kind of space…

 

The system is important, but it’s really the goodness of the people that makes the system work…

 

There’s nothing like personal integrity… it is indispensable… for us, what we’ve learned is that the Holy Spirit wants to bring unity… and while there isn’t a model prescribed in Scripture, there are some bedrock principles…

 

One of the decisions we made after our change was that we were going to quit reporting our numbers… we wanted to be more focused on discipling and shepherding our people… We changed the culture so that our pastors and shepherds were part of the family…

 

We’re also more open to the Holy Spirit… his presence and gifts… we’ve sensed a fresh wind and fire, a revival, where we’re seeing people healed at our gatherings, where we’re praying over and for people and sharing prophetic words…

 

We are not telling people “This is the only way to do church”; we are saying, “This is what the Holy Spirit has told us to do…”

 

Every church has opportunities to make changes… and we should seize those opportunities… but don’t make them quickly or out of panic… don’t get in a hurry… slow down, take your time, and labor before the Lord… and God’s church will prevail…

 

When you embrace healthy confrontation, while it is hard in the beginning, eventually it becomes normal… once an ego has been exposed, bruised, and then recovers, as a team we’re less likely to get hurt or take offense… it’s a maturing process…

 

http://www.claytonking.com/

Episode 037: Courageous Preaching

For this conversation, we discuss how courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly.

 

 

CONFERENCE LINK: http://www.essentialchurchconference.com/. Use promo code ‘CO20’ to receive $20 OFF every registration of three or more.

 

I feel quite honestly that pastors are choosing the charming, winsome, attractional side of preaching at the expense of calling people into the greater good of following Jesus…

 

Every pastor in America is being compared to the four or five most popular preachers… all week long our congregations have instant access to the ten or twelve most popular preachers, and then they gather to listen to us and we’re getting compared to them…

 

The pressure I feel is to be like those other preachers… but that’s not my mission… my mission is to shepherd my congregation in a way that challenges them…

 

Jesus said that it wasn’t the healthy who needed a doctor but the sick… the preacher like the doctor doesn’t have to be boring or mean to be effective but they do have to be truthful… if at the end of the day we’re not diagnosing what’s wrong, we’re not doing our job…

 

If our preaching is void of the medicine that will heal people, we’re giving them appetites for things that will not change their lives…

 

John says that Jesus came full of grace and truth… if we’re preaching the person of Christ, we’re getting grace and truth at the same time…

 

We should be aware of social injustice and social ills… if they are talking about it in the lobby of the church, you should talk about it in the pulpit of the church… if you’re not going to address it, then your congregations will search for answers in other places…

 

Our primary focus, however, is not preaching about social ills… our call is to point people to the person of Christ… our people should walk in with questions about social brokenness, and walk out with a compass that points them to the person of Jesus…

 

When we’re really preaching Jesus, we wind up transcending the petty differences and tribes that are so easy to fall into…

 

I always say to pastors: don’t preach to win fans… the greatest trap we can fall into is preaching in order to win over fans… we’re called to preach to win over disciples…

 

Here’s a practical question for pastors: when was the last time you preached a sermon where you knew ahead of time that it would cost you something? Courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly… 

 

Episode 036: Contending for the Spirit

For this conversation, Pastors Brady Boyd, Andrew Arndt, and Dr. Glenn Packiam talk about the importance of prayer, and how we are called to lead ministries with prayer at their core, at their essence.

 

When was the last time that you were surprised? I ask myself often, “When was the last time I was surprised by God’s breaking forth into my world?”

 

It is possible for us to become church programming experts who can do this without the surprise of the empowering presence of the Spirit…

 

The Creed says that the Spirit is the GIVER of life, not that he GAVE life… there is a sense in which welcoming the Spirit’s work means recognizing that we don’t just need him for startup but for making the whole thing run…

 

I think there have to be moments in every church’s life where you linger together in prayer… we need regular times where we just wait together on the Lord…

 

Practically, for us, we’ve learned that we just need to schedule it… we need to schedule times to pray together and be together and wait on the Lord…

 

Of all the vocations in the world, pastoral work requires prophetic imagination… and the only way that can happen is to be together in those Spirit-led, Spirit-filled environments…

 

Many pastors take up the Moses model of leadership, but in the New Testament the model was people sitting in prayer meetings together in unity… that’s the model of leadership that the church was birthed in and should be brought back to…

 

It’s easy to tell ourselves that prayer is the warmup… from Paul’s letters we see that prayer is not the prelude but the premise…

 

Prayer meetings help me grow feet… they make my activity more focused and purposeful… a lot of times if I don’t pray, I wander around looking for God’s work in my life, but when I pray it seems like it’s right in front of me…

 

When the Spirit is at work within the way he’s made us, sometimes it will make our minds fire and our hearts burn and make our eyes weep and our bodies want to jump and shout… the different between this and emotionalism is when there is fruit: are we serving our neighbors better and loving Jesus better?

 

There’s a difference between a church that prays and a praying church… every church has some kind of prayer happening… [but] we are called to lead churches that have prayer at their core, at their essence…

New Resource: Roman’s Preaching Guide

Hey Essential Church friends—

 

We’re really excited to share with you a resource we’ve developed.

 

Last fall our teaching team at New Life preached through the entire book of Romans. It was a thrilling and incredibly enriching experience that left both our congregation and our teaching team edified.

 

To guide us as a team on our journey, we created the Romans Preacher’s Guide; which we’re now making available to you on Amazon.

 

The guide includes:

  • A short historical and theological overview of the book of Romans
  • Big “preaching themes” to keep in mind
  • Reflections and suggested “preaching pathways” on each chapter
  • A short list of recommended resources

 

The Preacher’s Guide is available in electronic format for $6.99 or in paperback for $7.99. If you’re planning on or even considering preaching through the book of Romans (or even just working through it in an adult education or Sunday school class), go ahead and pick it up. We think it will be a big help to you.

 

And, of course, we’d love any feedback you can give. You can email aarndt@newlifechurch.org.

 

Grace to you,

 

Andrew Arndt

Associate Teaching Pastor

New Life Church

Episode 033: Drawing the Best Out of Your Team

For this conversation, we were joined by Ted Egly from the Center for Creative Leadership to talk about what leaders can do to get the best out of the teams and organizations they lead.

 

The research says that a high-performing team has three things: they celebrate wins early, they slow down in order to power up, and they are willing to change…

 

In my experience, the celebrations that are most powerful are the ones that affirm or encourage those who are actually moving the mission forward…

 

This really means that pastors have to be mindful of what is happening in their ministries… sometimes when the church gets to a certain size, ministry leaders lose a sense of what is going on…

 

We need to give ourselves white space [in our schedules] to slow down in order to be more intentional about what we’re doing…

 

Routines and rituals are all about being intentional about the script that you’re writing for your week, month, and year… you need to set them up so that you’re not just pulled by the emergency of the day…

 

I tell pastors all the time that if they’re preaching every Sunday, it’s a mistake… it’s hard to be creative that often… I use my weeks off to do exactly what we’re talking about: planning, leadership development, etc.…

 

We’re married to the mission, but we date the model… the model is going to change… sometimes we get stuck in a model that used to work…

 

The pain of staying the same has to be greater [for you] than the pain of changing… pastors need to make assess whether the pain that comes from change is worth it… a lot of times for pastors, the perceived pain is greater than the actual pain of the change… usually, it brings relief to the organization…

 

We can prepare people for the changes that are coming by having the conversation early with a core group of influencers and letting them speak into the process…

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Assess yourself: which of Ted’s three elements of a high-performing team do you think you and your team are best at? Why did you give that answer?
  • Which of the three do you need the most improvement at? Why do you think that?
  • What is one thing you can begin to do this week or month that will help your team perform at a higher level?

Episode 032: Prayer, Unity, and the Kingdom. A Conversation with Pete Greig

In this conversation, we were joined by Pete Greig to talk about the role and purpose of prayer in the local church and how we can contend for unity and revival within the Church. We were so encouraged by the stories of bridge-building that are unfolding through the 24-7 prayer movement and we hope that it blesses you.

 

Every transformational movement of the church through history has begun with a movement of prayer…

 

We’re experiencing around the world an unprecedented coming together of the Body of Christ in our lifetimes… we’re facing profound challenges and we need each other and we’re long past thinking that one tradition, approach, or celebrity Christian leader is going to have all the answers…

 

It is in the present that Christians are worst at finding God… if prayer means anything at all, it means that we learn to encounter God in our present circumstance… and until we can find God in the present, we will never find him anywhere else…

 

I am praying for revival more than ever, but I am wary of revivalism… not only does revivalism keep Christians immature, but it is blasphemous insofar as it refuses to worship Jesus Christ as he is manifest in our present reality…

 

Prayer is not so much an activity of the church as it is the very heartbeat of the church… we don’t pray to get people saved, we get people saved so that they can pray…

 

I pray for the church in America with a great deal of gratitude but also pain… the blessing of America to the nations is beyond calculation… but the pain is that I see such division and I am deeply concerned…

 

The church’s prophetic voice must be based in the revelation that God is a reconciling God… and so when I see profound divisions around race and class and wealth and politics, it breaks my heart… my prayer for the church in America is for reconciliation…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • What most stood out to you about Pete’s comments and why?
  • Is prayer the “heartbeat” of your church, or just one of the things that happens? How can you begin to change this?
  • What would it look like for you and your ministry to move towards greater reconciliation and unity within the Body of Christ in your area? How can prayer be a stimulus to that end?

 

RESOURCES

Pete’s books, including Red Moon Rising, God on Mute, and his most recent, Dirty Glory, are all available on Amazon.

Watch a short film about Pete’s Vision

Episode 031: Developing a Discipleship Culture

Before His ascension, Jesus gave a Great Commission: to go and make disciples. In this essential conversation, we talk about how discipleship happens and what it looks like for us to help people become disciples of Jesus. Join in as we discuss what the long journey of discipleship unfolds in the lives of the people around us.

 

To me, discipleship is becoming cruciform, becoming like the One who spread his arms out on a tree… you know you’re becoming a disciple when you’re learning to lay down your life in the journey to be like Jesus…

 

Discipleship happens painfully slowly, it happens over conversations and meals… that’s why you have to pace yourself… it’s a long obedience in the same direction… if you’re trying to get everything fixed in six weeks, you’re going to be disappointed…

 

One of the things we’ve gotten wrong in the American paradigm is that we’ve made this a solo project, discipleship becomes a do-it-yourself kind of thing… and it really just doesn’t happen that way…

 

If you pay attention to what Jesus was doing, he was always telling people to “come and follow me…” it has be relational… for all of us, we need to put ourselves in spots where we can do “come and follow me…”

 

I can’t call everyone into the depths of my life as a pastor, but one of the things I can do, maybe my principle task, is to create the right kinds of conditions where the Spirit can do what the Spirit characteristically does…

 

At some point, all of us as pastors have to think about how we’re multiplying our ministry… and not in the American business sense, but in the sense of investing in people who will become disciple-makers…

 

The corporate worship gatherings are absolutely part of discipleship… it’s never been easier to show up to church and hide… I want to lead my gatherings in a way that makes people bump into each other in ways that make discipleship possible…

 

Is the goal of discipleship for people to look like me, or to look like Jesus? We need to be able to distinguish between what is just personal preference and what is Jesus…

 

In the New Testament, what you see is the Apostles speaking to the whole people of God together… they assume that the living Christ himself is discipling all of them, together, through all the instantiations of the church’s life…

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Think for a minute: how do you and your team describe the “bullseye” of discipleship?
  • What kinds of “seedbeds” or environments have you created to help people grow into the stature of Christ? Are they sufficient to the task? Why or why not?
  • How much of your ministry is devoted to making disciples who will make disciples? What can you do to grow in this?

 

Episode 030: The Life of the Preacher

Have you ever had a week where you feel like you should just pack up your study and give up preaching altogether? It was a week like that for Pastor Daniel Grothe that sparked this conversation about The Life of the Preacher. Listen in as we talk about what we find at the core of the calling to preach the Word of God.

10 Things I’ve Learned As A Preacher by Daniel Grothe_ Essential Church Podcast

 

Preaching is simultaneously the most joyful and maddening work I could ever do… we all have a little Jeremiah in our bones: “Who am I?”…

On paper we would all say, “Well of course the life of a preacher is a life of prayer…” but on a busy week, what people typically do is white-knuckle it trying to crank content out, forgetting that prayer is probably our best play…

There’s a difference between exegeting a text and discerning what the Spirit wants to do in this moment with these people right here, right now… I’m always saying, “Lord, who is this for? What is the pulse of this moment?”

When you preach to your congregation, that should come out of your life with these people… there shouldn’t be a disconnect between your life with them in the coffee shop and your preaching to them…

A story has a way of sneaking behind people’s defense mechanisms, and if Jesus is the consummate storyteller, then it’s okay for us…

There’s a profound element of mystery that not enough preachers appreciate, and so we fill in the mystery with talent, expertise, more stories, content, etc., and it becomes an anxious space…

For me, before I preach, the thing that I must do is quiet the space [of my heart]… I find a quiet place and say, “Come, Holy Spirit…” I need to clear the mechanism so that the Spirit can quiet me… if I go up there with all that anxious energy and I haven’t quieted myself, something’s not right…

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM
1) Which of Daniel’s 10 things resonated most with you and why?
2) What does it look like for you to have your messages grow up out of the soil of a healthy life lived in authentic community?
3) Which of these 10 things was most challenging to you and why? Where do you need to grow?

Episode 029: Doing Ministry in a Secular Age

When Jesus told his followers to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the ends of the earth, he meant that the gospel should be brought to people where they are and in their contexts. So how do we as pastors and leaders bring the gospel to our neighbors in today’s secular age? We talk about it in this week’s essential conversation.

Episode 029 – SHOW NOTES – Doing Ministry in a Secular Age

 

One of my favorite metaphors is to think of the world as like an arena with a retractable roof, where the roof closes and no one really cares… everyone is so consumed with their own life that whether or not there is a God is kind of irrelevant…

 

The new situation makes you learn to say [the gospel] afresh… we’re having to learn how to tell the Story to people who are living in a new situation, but have the same hungers…

 

It’s almost like we’re in an Acts 17 moment… in the collapse of the marriage between Christianity and the culture, there’s a fresh opportunity to stand in the marketplace of ideas and tell people, “God raised Jesus from the dead—what do you think about that?”

 

Today’s climate is such that all belief is contested, and so in one sense we’ve gone to a pre-Christian culture, and in another sense we’ve “evolved” past it… people want the Jesus values without the Jesus claim…

 

We have to get better as pastors and leaders to say to people, “You’re going to serve somebody; you’re going to choose a cross somewhere…and only Jesus says ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light…’”

 

The ministry of hospitality is one of the best gifts the church gives to the world… in a secular age, we need to be ones who open our doors and hearts and we host people and let the kingdom unfold so that people say, “This is where I need to be…”

 

Beauty is a great way of thinking about how the church can be at its best here… a Rembrandt painting doesn’t need to explain itself to you… it has a way of communicating itself to you and drawing you into it… the church needs to think about its own life that way… let people see!

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • How aware are you and your team about the rising tide of secularism in terms of your ministry process (planning, messaging, programming)? Does it figure at all in your ministry? Why or why not?
  • How would you describe your strategy for equipping your flock to live faithfully and hospitably within our secular age?
  • What can you do to help your congregation see the opportunities of living in this moment?

 

RESOURCES

James. K. A. Smith has written a dense but really helpful summary the new “secular” moment we’re living in called How (Not) To Be Secular. Check it out.

Episode 028: Singing Our Hope

What happens when we worship? How do we select songs for congregational worship that instill hope? In this conversation, Dr. Glenn Packiam talks about what he learned as he researched the expression and experience of hope in our worship.

SHOW NOTES – Episode 028 – Singing our Hope

 

The thing that was most surprising to me in my research was how little the songs dealt with the future… we don’t sing about the future (or the past) all that much… it concerned me that songs about hope had no future orientation…

 

It might be that the spirit of the age is one of the reasons why we don’t sing about the future all that much… it’s a luxury to sing about the present tense when the present is pretty good…

 

There’s a challenge here for pastors and worship leaders to help people see their felt needs in terms of the great need of our lives, which is the hope of Christ…

 

The Holy Spirit is the experience of God’s presence, and many would say that the Spirit is God’s future presence in the now… which is why people who experience the Holy Spirit feel hopeful [regardless of the song lyrics]…

 

Only on paper can you distinguish between hope and comfort… when people say “I feel hope,” what they’re saying is “I have a sense of God’s presence with me”… theologically we’re saying, “The Holy Spirit, who is the deposit of the future—you’re having a taste of him now…”

 

The good songs are not just songs that are true this month… I think we address the realities of our day better by singing about something that transcends our day… it’s great to sing about our present pain, but there’s something about the church coming together to sing about something quite a bit better, higher, and stronger…

 

One of the things we’ve challenged worship leaders and writers with is not just thinking of theology as the fence but as the doorway…

 

I hope that what worship leaders and songwriters hear is that what they’re doing is incredibly powerful and the Holy Spirit breathes on it, so let’s allow him to make our craft the very best it can be… when he breathes on that, how much more could it do?

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Look at your worship set lists from the last 8 weeks. How many of the songs speak of the future hope of Christ? What do you think that says?
  • What are you doing to create space for people to experience the presence of the Spirit in your worship services?
  • What can you do to help your congregants fix the concerns of their lives in the future hope of Christ?