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Plan to achieve God’s purposes, LifeWay leader tells pastors, staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Pastors and church staff should strive to be intentional leaders rather than crisis managers, a national church leadership expert told participants in an intensive two-day training event.
“Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Church,” Nov. 19-20, was the first of a three-part series of intensive Leadership Challenge seminars at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Led by Michael D. Miller, director of LifeWay Church Leadership, the series is designed for pastors and other church staff, as well as key lay leadership persons.
Detailing a process of kingdom strategies for churches to focus their ministries, Miller said planning enables congregations to “do what you do for God on purpose, not by accident. Then if God gives you something unexpected, celebrate.”
Citing biblical illustrations of the counsel of God, Miller said planning that is not based on God’s counsel leads to frustration and lack of success.
“You can plan or you can be a crisis manager,” he said. “Kingdom strategies seek to carry out the purposes of God. These strategies are the plans we make to carry out the Great Commission, and as a result, see the kingdom of God expanded.”
Using tools such as a “possibility grid” can help churches see the events, programs and ministries representing what the church is doing, what it could do and what it would like to do.
But Miller cautioned leaders that “less is better. What are your priorities? Whatever you do has got to be the best. Churches have equated activity with God’s purposes. These are not always the same thing.”
Analyzing the resources of time, space, people, finances and training are important to achieving a church’s purpose and vision, he said.
Results — growth in attendance and giving and growth in spiritual maturity — are among the changes to be measured against goals.
“Even Jesus called for accountability in his parables,” Miller observed. “What God gives us, he expects us to multiply.”
Michael Gentry, a conference participant who has used kingdom strategies, said his church has achieved numerical and spiritual growth since beginning the process in early 1997.
Gentry, minister of education at First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ala., said the congregation “discovered hope, rediscovered our purpose and we came together in purpose and power. We started to evaluate everything we do in light of our purpose statement.
“The process helped committees think about their purposes in light of the purpose of the church. We have re-done the way we budget, based on priorities, and the process also helped us match people with their giftedness.
“What God is doing in our church now goes back to our planning strategies. Our worship and Sunday school attendance have grown, baptisms have more than doubled and gifts have increased dramatically,” he said.
Miller said some persons have the misconception that planning and following God are incompatible.
“The idea that God is actively working in our world is a biblical truth,” he observed. “He expects his people to plan according to his counsel and his purposes. Kingdom strategies are designed by identifying God’s activity in the world and establishing strategies to join God in his work.”
The “Kingdom Principles Growth Strategies Kit,” one of the resources for the seminar, includes an instruction guide, videos, leader’s guide and ministry gifts inventory and may be ordered at 1-800-458-2772.
Future seminars in the series include “Building Healthy Churches that Achieve Lasting Results,” Feb. 24-25, 1999, and “Becoming a Leader of Influence,” May 25-26, 1999.
“Building Healthy Churches that Achieve Lasting Results” will focus on church health to help leaders produce lasting results rather than short-term results.
“Becoming a Leader of Influence” will focus on the calling, character and competencies of pastors and other church staff ages 35 and younger. Participation for this event is limited to 100 persons. Biblical models for leadership will be contrasted with popular business models, and leaders will examine God’s call and the foundation of the church’s work.
Each course will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the first day and from 8 a.m. to noon the second day. Registration of $295 for each seminar includes four meals, refreshments, a binder of course materials and a variety of published resources. Registration may be made by calling 1-800-254-2022, by fax at (615) 251-3730 or by writing to P. O. Box 24001, Nashville, TN 37203.

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  • Charles Willis