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Local church has ‘entrustment’ from Jesus, Hybels tells leaders

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–The local church really is the hope of the world, Bill Hybels told more than 500 church leaders from 30 states at the first annual National Innovative Church Leadership Conference at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center, May 26-29.
“Government does not have the solution to society’s problems,” said the pastor of suburban Chicago’s 16,000-member Willow Creek Community Church. “Education does not have the solution to the sin problem in this world, (nor do) business or the military.”
Hybels said the local church has an “entrustment” from Jesus Christ.
“We have the only message that can transform human life and redirect it. We have community that we can invite people to be a part of. We have the Holy Spirit to bind us together. We have the power of prayer … we have a roadmap, the Bible. We have it all. It has been entrusted to us for this window of time.”
Hybels said he hopes participants will realize what a privilege it is to be a leader in a local church.
The conference was designed to bring together pastors, directors of missions and other church leaders to discuss the innovative church and to share ideas of what is working in this particular kind of congregation.
It was sponsored by the conference center in partnership with the Texas Baptist Leadership Center of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; the California Southern Baptist Convention; Leadership Development Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention; and the pastor-staff leadership department of the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In his presentation, Hybels told participants he does not innovate “for innovation’s sake. We innovate for one reason: To get the attention of believers and non-believers alike.
“Many times church members go on auto pilot. Innovation is for capturing the attention of believers and moving them toward full discipleship.”
Wrapping his message around the advice of a famous sailor who helped a sailing team of which Hybels is a member win a championship, Hybels paralleled the experience with the church.
“The first thing he asked us was what our mission is … what we were trying to do.,” Hybels said, adding a church should not talk about anything else until “that is a done deal and ownership (of the mission) is all over the place.”
He added nine out of 10 pastors he talks with “cannot give me a simple statement of the mission of their church. A lot of churches assume that people know what their mission is, but most of them don’t. Is it to propagate the doctrine of a denomination, or to pay the bills and keep the doors open or to continue to hold services?
“We have to be clear about what it is that we are trying to do. We have to clarify our mission.”
Hybels said every member of Willow Creek Church can tell the purpose of the congregation. “Our mission is to turn unbelieving people into fully developing followers of Christ.”
After the sailing team decided its mission was to win the race, Hybels continued, the renowned sailor asked them to tell him their strategy.
“Want to know why a lot of people don’t want to get clear on their mission? Because the next question is always, ‘How you gonna do it?'”
Churches must build their strategy on their strengths, “what they are good at,” Hybels said, adding a cardinal rule of strategy is that it works. “If it doesn’t work, then change the strategy. At Willow Creek we are always trying to refine our strategy to make it work better.”
After a congregation is “crystal clear on its mission and together on its strategy, the next important thing is that people know their positions … how to work together to get things done,” Hybels said.
People in the church should know their gifts, and work to use those gifts, he said. “The church that gets everyone in their giftedness is a church that cannot be stopped,” he said.
Positions in the church should go to those with the gift for that task, he said, “not to those with the money, or those good at manipulation, but to the person with that gift.”
The next important factor the sailing team was asked was, “Are you willing to pay the price?”
“We have to challenge the people to give their best to God. A church will never reach its potential with halfhearted efforts of quarter-committed Christians,” Hybels claimed.
The pastor told how the famous sailor motivated and inspired the team. “A good leader challenges and inspires his team. When the pastor (leader) builds a culture of inspiration and motivation, the entire membership lifts each other up. That is the kind of place I want to be a member of.” –30– Other stories from the National Innovative Church Leadership Conference are posted in the SBCNet Newsroom under the filenames Internet.txt and Vision.txt. 6/2/98 ANALYSIS God calling? Here’s a handy list of excuses By Erich Bridges
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Missions isn’t just for missionaries. Never has been. But more than ever before, evangelical leaders now agree that biblical missions involves mobilizing every Christian in every church for the unfinished task.
Your assignment — should you choose to accept it — may be career missionary, or short-termer, or volunteer. It may be as a local “mobilizer,” entrusted by God with the challenge of teaching and training others to go.
Your job description definitely includes becoming a prayer warrior. That means staying well informed about specific mission fields, ministries and unreached peoples, so you can storm the gates of gospel resistance on your knees.
Air travel, e-mail and other modern technologies make missions awareness, communication and direct participation easier and faster than anyone dreamed possible a generation ago.
But just because God’s people are finally realizing that his world mission is everyone’s task, you don’t have to get personally involved — or, heaven forbid, watch your children and grandchildren move away to some foreign field!
Here, passed on by Teen Mania Ministries, is a tongue-in-cheek list of practical ways to “avoid the draft” into the Lord’s army:
1. Ignore Jesus’ command in John 4:35 to look at the fields white unto harvest. This could lead to genuine missionary concern.
2. Have a good, socially acceptable target ahead of you, such as promotion, bigger home, better car, etc.
3. Note to youth: Get married as soon as possible so you can devote your life to settling down, raising a family and saving up for old age. That way you won’t have time to give the Lord a year or two of your life overseas as a young adult.
4. Stick to generalities. Never allow the stark needs of specific mission fields to make an impact on you.
5. Never have personal contact with missionaries. The situations they describe are disturbing and contrast with Western materialistic living.
6. Insist that your theology rules out specific, personal direction from God. Alternate strategy: Claim you don’t have “the missionary calling.” Apply this even to local outreach or short-term volunteer mission participation.
7. Stay busy! Always bow to the tyranny of the urgent and avoid the strategic.
8. Rationalize. If 250,000 missionaries around the world now can’t finish the job, what difference would you make?
9. Develop a closed-door mentality. Remember, Albania, Pakistan, Tibet and North Korea all deny visas from time to time.
10. Develop a “national church can do it” attitude. Never investigate the tiny percentage of the population Christians in many countries constitute, or the severe limitations of their resources.
11. Focus all your attention on the evils of your own society. Fair-minded Christians will applaud your concern for the “unsaved right here at home.” Missions begins at home; make sure it ends there, too.
12. Always remember your failures. Expect you will never improve. Besides, you’re not ready to go — maybe you never will be. Ignore the examples of Peter, Moses, etc.
13. Always look at mission workers as super-spiritual people, saintly characters with extraordinary gifts. This will heighten your sense of inadequacy and remove any guilt about failing to be like them.
14. Avoid all books that emphasize the ability of the Holy Spirit to change lives and provide power for service.
If you’re getting a little concerned about missions and God’s heart for all the world, a few more pointers:
15. Go overseas right away without any training at all. That way you’ll come home soon and can say you tried.
16. Insist you must find the mission job exactly tailored to your qualifications (that way you’ll never find an opening).
17. Start worrying about money and the impossibility of surviving in a country with a 100-percent inflation rate (the Lord couldn’t possibly cope with that).
18. Listen to those who feel you are indispensable where you are.
19. Never sing “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

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  • Dan Martin