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Entries by Dave Kraft (1027)

Monday
Mar202017

MY PRAYER JOURNEY

I have been a Jesus-follower for 57 years. It has been an amazing and exciting journey; surprises, sudden turns, potholes, some detours and, at times, (many times) open roads with wide lanes. One of the aspects of my journey with Jesus is prayer.  

I believe one of the qualities of a maturing Christian and a fruitful and effective leader is a growing and deepening prayer life…not measured primarily by the number of minutes or hours spent in prayer but by a consistent attitude of dependency, expectancy and gratitude.

Many years ago I took a walk for several miles with my then mentor, Warren Myers. As we began walking he suggested we pray. I think I might have prayed for a grand total of 5  minutes and during that time prayed for everything and everyone I could possibly think of. I observed Warren as he prayed. He was quite oblivious to the time in a way that sent a clear signal that he loved to pray, loved Jesus and loved people. It was a walk in the school of prayer. Living with Warren in a home at that time with a few other young men for training, and observing his prayer life, deepened my desire to grow in prayer.

Since those experiences with Warren, I have learned a lot about a growing intimacy with Jesus through prayer.

When I first began to follow Jesus most of what I prayed about was for Him to do things FOR ME.  Lord, I need this and I need that. I’m struggling here and hurting there and want you to make life easier for me. It was mostly about me; my needs, my pain and my issues.

Then I was led by the Holy Spirit to begin focusing on things I wanted to see Him accomplish IN ME. Now it was about my character, my attitudes and my spiritual maturity; but still mostly about me.

Then I moved into a 3rd stage of praying about what I wanted to see Him do THROUGH ME.  Now the main focus was on others, not me. I am reminded of an old song we use to sing, “Channels Only.”

The refrain is:

“Channels only, blessed Master, but with all your wondrous power              

Flowing through us, you can use us every day and every hour.”

I am a channel, not a depository for God. I want his power and grace to flow through me not just to me.

Now I am not saying that you move from For to In to Through and then when you get to “through me” you are no longer interested in “for” and “to”; but more along the lines that as I grow in my prayer journey, it is less about what I want to receive and more about what He wants to build into my life and do through my life.

The first verse of  “Channels Only” continues:

“How I praise you precious savior that your love laid hold of me

You have saved and cleansed and filled me that I might your channel be.”

The bottom line is that the Christian life is not all about me, but all about Him and what He wants to accomplish in this world using me in the process.

Prayer is not a matter of bringing Jesus around to my way of thinking, but coming around to His way of thinking. I still have a lot to learn on this, but with His help I'm making progress!

 

Saturday
Mar182017

A priceless quality every leader needs to possess to lead well.

Brad Lomenick shares a priceless quality that leaders want to see in an employee or volunteer who is in a key role.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

I love leaders who execute. Leaders who get it done.

Leaders who can take a project across the finish line.

Leaders who know how to finish. And are motivated towards completion. 

When it comes to hiring new employees, no other characteristic is more important than someone who can finish. It is the #1 trait related to work ethic that I look for in a new hire.

Anyone can come up with a new idea, a new concept, a new pithy word, a new organization, or a new perspective. "Ideators" and idea people are fairly easy to locate and include in your organizational process. What ultimately matters is whether you can take an idea from concept to completion. And to do that, you have to have finishers on your team.

The folks who are intrinsically wired to make things happen, and bulldog their way to the finish line. Those who find joy in checking things off the list. But not just a task machine. What matters is whether you can carry the ball all the way down the field and cross the finish line.

Take a moment and think about who that is on your team. If you don't have someone in this role, go find them immediately. This is incredibly important if you are the leader- you have to have someone on your team in whom you have ultimate confidence that if you hand them a project, they will get it done... and without your constant management of them. The answer can't constantly be "we're still working on it....". You're either moving forward or backwards.

Ultimately, my recommendation is that everyone on the team plays the finisher role. Now some have to more than others, but no one can or should only be the "idea" person. Everyone is required to execute and own projects from start to finish. It's a non-negotiable. As a team, take incredible pride in being able to take a concept and turn it into a finished project. Make it a distinctive part of your culture. Make it part of your DNA. 

 

Friday
Mar172017

My first thought was that it was pretty much over: my speaking, coaching and writing would come to a screeching halt!

My wife Susan and I were in Seattle (February 24-27, 2017) on a ministry trip. It happened Saturday afternoon while I was getting some time with one of the leaders at Downtown Cornerstone, the church that had invited me to invest in some of their leaders and  to preach on Sunday. Little did I know at the moment that the rest of Saturday and Sunday was going to look very different than we had planned.

As this leader and I were wrapping up our time, I was going to pray for him and suddenly realized I couldn’t remember his name. I was clearly foggy in my brain. As we parted and I made my way to the elevator with my room keycard in hand, I didn’t remember what floor we were on or the room number. Clearly something was not right in my head. I went to the desk, showed my ID and they told me what room it was.

Upon entering our hotel room, I shared with Susan that something was wrong. Friends came to the hotel and drove us to the ER at Virginia Mason. The questions came. Do you know what year this is? NO. Do you know what week or day of the week this is? NO. Do you know your phone number or address? NO. What the heck is happening to me?  My mind was just blank. Did I just have a stroke or a blood clot in my brain? Was this the end of the line for me?

They ran all kinds of tests and took more blood than I wished to give them. They did an MRI and a CT scan. Everything came back normal. Then came the diagnosis. You have what is called “Transient Global Amnesia (TGA)” (I’m very glad it’s not “Permanent Global Amnesia!)

I thought to myself: never heard of it. Maybe they just made that up to make me feel a bit better. More information: It usually lasts 12-48 hours, then returns to normal. I had my own questions. What causes TGA? Can I get it again? “We are not sure what causes it, and the chances of it happening again are not likely. I remained in the hospital that night. While I was supposed to be sleeping  (lots of luck with that!) I was googling TGA and didn’t learn much other than that there is more the doctors don’t know than that they do know about it. Thankfully, it resolved overnight.

I had ten hours or so of the TGA experience--scary to say the least. But I’m back and telling people that God shut down my “computer” and rebooted it with new software and a new Intel Chip, or else I would not be able to write as I am at this moment. My mind, believe it or not, seems to me to be better than it was before!

There are a lot of thoughts and ideas that I have been processing, but let me share just two of them.

1. Gratitude to God

I’m sure we’ve heard it said that you don’t appreciate something until you loose it or it’s taken away from you. While in the middle of my ten hours of TGA I began to understand how much I relied on and needed my brain and mind to work well. How could I possibly continue to coach, write, conduct seminars, consult and make a contribution as an elder at my church if I can’t even remember how old I am or what day of the week it is? I am profoundly grateful for the mind the Lord has given me and grateful that what I experienced was transient. But I also realize that at some point I could have permanent amnesia as some do; or get hit with something else which takes me out of the game. After all none of us is going to live forever. It’s not a matter of if, but when, which leads me to my second point.

2.  Sovereignty of God

A few years ago Pastor Mike Coppersmith (with whom I worked at Our Savior’s Community Church in Palm Springs for ten years) gave me Job 23:13, 14 in The Message: “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him? He does what he wants, when he wants. He will complete in detail what he’s decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do.”

He is in complete control of all the details of my life; TGA and anything else he allows to come my way. I can honestly say that while lying in the hospital bed, I was ready for whatever was going to happen. He has been my shepherd these 57 years as a Christian and has never failed or disappointed me. I was prepared to call it over and live with what I had for the rest of my life without kicking, screaming and arguing with God. In his grace it was “transient,” but who knows what next week or next month will bring. Jesus, Jesus I am resting in the joy of who you are. Amen…and Amen!

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar152017

7 Questions every church needs to answer!

Many churches in the USA are plateaued, declining and dying. There are a variety of reasons for this, some of which can be addressed by asking some essential questions. Brian Howard (on the executive team of Acts 29) gives us seven questions every church needs to answer. Fasten your seatbelt as you read this, asking God for courage to make some changes for church health going forward.

Originally posted by Brian Howard

7 Questions Every Church Needs to Answer

Many churches are little more than social clubs. As a  result, they are completely ineffective in reaching their communities.

No new church starts with the goal of being irrelevant, but over time, churches often lose track of their very reason for existence.

But this irrelevance and ineffectiveness can be reversed when a church invests the time and energy to answer a few key questions, and then creates a vision plan to act on the answers. (Stay with me, Theologues. This exercise is helpful for us also)

Over the past 15 years, I have coached hundreds of pastors and churches through a vision planning process that when properly implemented has the potential to move your ministry into uncharted territories of fruitfulness. Instead of settling for mediocrity, commit to answering these seven questions to move your church forward:

Seriously. Take a day, sit down, and work through these questions.

Question 1: Why Do We Exist?

Why exactly does your church exist? The answer to this question might seem obvious, but few churches have invested the time to answer it. Fewer yet live out their reason for existence.

Jim Collins says Successful, enduring organizations understand the fundamental reason they were founded and why they exist, and they stay true to that reason.”

Successful, enduring organizations understand the fundamental reason they were founded and why they exist, and they stay true to that reason.

What is the fundamental reason your church was founded and exists? Answering this question will keep a church from losing its way and doing all kinds of random things.

Here are a few questions to guide you through this first step:

  • What is the reason that we exist? (The more idealistic, the better)
  • How does the Scripture answer this question?
  • Why do we exist in this particular place and at this particular time?
  • If we didn’t exist, the world would be worse off how?
  • How do we contribute to a better world?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • How do we make our particular community a better place?

Question 2: Who Do We Serve?

Every church should clearly identify and clarify the people it is looking to reach. I have written about this extensively elsewhere. The following two posts will teach you how to determine exactly who your church is committing to serve.

Question 3: What Do We Prioritize?

You know why your church exists. You have identified your target audience. But what are your Core Values? This is not a business question but a theological question.

Core Values are the non-negotiable convictions upon which your church is built. Core values are unchangeable, already exist, and rooted in Scripture.

Here is an example of a Core Value:

Authentic Biblical Community as the commitment and experience of every follower of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you believed this, it would dramatically affect the way you go about ministry in your church.

Guidelines for Identifying your Core Values

  • Core Values should be rooted in Scripture
  • Limit your Core Values to no more than 5.
  • ExtraEvery leader in your church needs to be committed to living out each of your Core Values. No staff person or leader should be in place who does not completely buy into and live out each Core Value.

Also Read: Three Things Every Lead Pastor Must Do

Question 4: How Will We Know if We Are Successful?

How will we evaluate fruitfulness? What will we measure? I am not asserting that you are in control of conversions or spiritual growth, but will you measure anything in order to know if your ministry is bearing any fruit? Most churches measure attendance and giving, but are these the most important things to measure? I recommend measuring things like:

  • Percentage of Attenders that are Members
  • Percentage of Members in Community Groups
  • Percentage of Members Serving somewhere
  • Number of People Baptized Annually
  • Number of people who have completed discipleship or missional living training.
  • Number of New Leaders Trained and Plugged in

When you define what you will measure, you will by necessity set goals and take strides toward growing in those areas.

Question 5: What Will Our Future Look Like?

What will your Church look like as you live out your Core Values? Describe the future that you see as God works in your church. Create bullet-point statements as you work through your Core Values. Make sure to write each statement in the present tense as though it were already true.  I suggest 15-25 statements that describe your future. Here are some examples:

  • We are known as the most loving and caring people in our city.
  • We partner in global mission aggressively showing mercy to the poor and needy and carrying out the great commission globally.

Question 6: What are our Top 3-5 Goals in the Next 12-18 Months?

Steps 1-5 are all about what you are called to be. Step 6 answers the question, “What are we going to do in order to be?”

To identify your top 3-5 goals, read back through steps 1-5.Why do we exist? Who do we serve? What do we prioritize? What will we measure? Then ask: Where are we failing? What must we begin to work on?

What are you going to do to move these areas forward in the next 12-18 months?

Notes:

  • Goals need to be written down, specific and measurable.
  • Don’t aim too high or too low. If a goal is 100% achievable, then you have not aimed high enough. If a goal is only 40% achievable, then you have aimed too high.

Question 7: What Is Most Important Right Now?

Of your 3-5 goals for the next 12-18 months, what is most important right now – in the next 3-6 months?

Patrick Lencioni calls this a thematic goal. One clear thematic goal that an entire leadership team rallies around right now will help to guide against ministry silos.

Not sure what your top goal should be? Answer the following question:

If we accomplish only one thing in the next _____ months what would that be?

  1. Why Do We Exist?
  2. Who Do We Serve?
  3. What Do We Prioritize?
  4. How Will We Know if We Are Successful?
  5. What Will Our Future Look Like?
  6. What are our Top 3-5 Goals in the Next 12-18 Months?
  7. What Is Most Important Right Now?

Answering these seven questions is important for every church.

Ready to move forward? Get a day on the calendar and get to work!

 

 

Tuesday
Mar142017

Four ways to become a much better leader

I’m going to assume that any leader worth his salt wants to become a better leader by growing in his/her walk with Jesus and, flowing out of that, be the best leader he/she can be. I know I do!

 I am sure that the number of things you could do with those you lead to become a better leader are endless, but here are four with which to start right now!

1.  Inform them

The people you lead will respect your leadership and do excellently if you inform them of the Purpose/Values/Vision and key initiatives your team, group or organization is currently operating from. This gets everyone on the same page and keeps alignment strong and healthy.

Additionally, it has been my experience that people function (and serve) much better when they are clear on what you are asking them to do (a written ministry or job description) and are also clear on your expectations for the role. Spell it out for them in as much detail as necessary and make sure there is adequate understanding. A clear job description and a clear articulation of expectations can also be the basis for future evaluations.

2.  Empower them

Set your people free to do what you have asked them to do. Don’t look over their shoulders or micromanage them. Give them freedom and turn them loose.  The more freedom you give people to do their jobs the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work. Most leaders are supposed to be a little smarter than other people and, in most respects, they probably are. But if leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations, if everything has to be done THEIR way, what’s left for the people who work for them to be proud of?

How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job that is completely programmed, where your muscles or brain are used to perform repetitive operations already planned and dictated by someone else?

Turn people loose, get out of their way and watch what happens!

3.  Encourage them

I have never met a person who felt that they were encouraged too much and couldn’t handle any more. Build the habit of frequently (and publically, as much as possible) expressing appreciation and gratitude for what they are doing and how they are behaving in their responsibilities. Be specific. “You’re doing great” won’t cut it.  Mention something specific that they have recently done and tell them  how it has benefited the organization or team. Send along that encouragement as soon as you can after you notice something to be commended. For it to be effective, encouragement needs to be specific, enthusiastic and timely. Recently I was impressed with Acts 20:2 in The Message: “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he (Paul) gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.”

That became a memory verse for me that I take very much to heart!

4.  Confront them

Just as people need to be encouraged when they are doing well, they also need to be confronted when they are doing poorly. This should also be very specific so that they know what they need to give attention to. And, as opposed to publically, this confrontation needs to be private. Point out where they need to improve or change and walk with them in the process. Make resources, people and tools available to help them grow and change. Be honest and frank, but considerate, when confronting. Reassure them that you believe in them and are confident that they can address the issue(s) that are holding them back.

As a leader, if you inform, empower, encourage and confront with the help of the Holy Spirit and in such a way that honors the Lord Jesus, you will be a better leader and the people you are privileged to lead will fare much better as valued team members.