Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some leadership perspective

Since Greg Demme made the elders' revised staff presentation in the meeting after church last Sunday, people at Trinity have had a variety of reactions. 

  • Some are excited and ready to go.  They understand that finding the right people for the specific ministry needs Trinity is currently facing is extremely difficult (e.g. out of nearly 100 applicants our search committee has considered, only three seriously considered relocating to Minot).  They also understand that we are trying to hire not just for the present needs of the church but for the future needs we will have more and more as the church grows and as we seek to launch multiple sites in Minot and plant churches in our region.  
  • Some are excited about the possibilities, but hesitant about the financial cost.  They understand rightly that bringing on two additional staff pastors (and eventually other support staff) plus needed facility upgrades if we retain our current building will stretch us and require more giving.  They understand that this will take us out of our comfort zone into the realm of sacrifice and mission-oriented faith.  
  • Some are confused or frustrated, thinking the elders have changed their plans AGAIN, directing the church to yet another vision.  It is true that a different staff proposal from the Executive Pastor position voted on by the congregation in April has been offered, but that does not equal a different vision for the church or even for what the elders have envisioned all along for ou r staff needs.  As some of you will remember from our April meeting, I mentioned that in February when the elders were discussing which kind of staff position we most needed next (operations or pastoral) their conclusion was, "We need both now."  In April we put together a search committee looking for a superman-XP who would do both operations and oversee the congregation's pastoral needs.  What we've realized is that such a position is both difficult to fill and unhealthy as it would stretch one pastor too much.  Therefore, we have concluded that our conclusion in February proved true: "We need both now."  So, that is our proposal.  This recent proposal is also in harmony with our overall vision we communicated in April.  We believe very strongly that the best way to reach and thoroughly disciple Minot's unbelievers is to concentrate first on single-site health (a more healthy staff configuration, changing the focus of the congregation to looking outward rather than inward and establishing a facility which is able to support our long-term vision), then branch outward with multiple sites to target specific neighborhoods and finally planting churches in the growing, unreached towns within driving distance of Minot.  This retooled staff proposal would help us dramatically move forward the entire vision we cast in April.  Nothing in our vision has changed.  If anything, this double staff hire would better position us to make that vision a reality.  It may help to remember that vision is all about an agreed upon destination and the general means to reach that destination.  The destination is exposing more and more people in and near Minot to the glory of the gospel in all of life and enfolding them into gospel-centered churches.  We invite you to join us in getting really EXCITED about that vision.  That's what we should be working, praying, teaching, evangelizing and giving toward.  The leaders of the church who the members have entrusted to lead us have decided that the best way to arrive at that destination is through the three-fold vision (increased single-site health, multi-site local growth and regional church planting).  Now, the details of putting that vision into place is like taking a road trip.  At the beginning we may chart a course in general and head that direction, but invariably mid-course corrections and decisions which slightly shift the course are going to be made along the way: road construction leads us to choose a different road for the next 100 miles, on one day we're hungry for Chinese instead of Mexican, so we travel to a different part of a city than we were originally planning, etc.  Mid-course decisions and corrections are not changing the destination at all, just adjusting according to how our Sovereign God leads us as we proceed.  We have just made a mid-course correction: changing from the proposal for an Executive Pastor to our present two staff proposal.  So the journey goes.  We believe this decision will get us to our desired destination even better, just as a quicker road discovered does the same on a road trip.  So, we encourage you to stay focused on the destination, not the many mid-course corrections which will invariably be made along the way.
  • Some people, in light of the various decisions and directions being vision-casted by our leaders, are feeling afresh the pain they've felt in the past for decisions made by church leaders.  Change always brings discomfort and at times the specific changes proposed hit our comfort or threaten our ministry loves (or what we want the church to look like) the most.  That's painful.  Sometimes church leaders sin in various ways in the midst of leading a church through change as well.  I know I've done that at times and hurt people deeply.  I think I've tried to communicate and repent to all I've sinned against through leadership gone wrong in the past.  The danger for those in this category is equating change or bold, visionary leadership with pain or something negative.  All growth (of the church and us through sanctification) requires change.  Change for mere change sake is unhelpful, but those who are simply change-averse will find themselves eventually warring with God Himself and that's a very dangerous place to be.  If you or someone you know is having a difficult time with Trinity's changes and vision because you still have unresolved hurt or unforgiveness from the past, I plead with you to trust God and talk with the person(s) with whom you have an issue.  If you allow it to fester and spread, it will both eat at you and infect others with an ungodly cancer of dissension.  God cares more about the unity of His people than he does about our opinions about ministry direction pro or con.   
  • Some people just want to be comfortable and are willing to sacrifice the glory of God on the altar of their comfort rather than sacrificing for the greater fame of Christ in our city.  I have heard of folks at Trinity in the past few days who have asked, "Why do we need to grow as a church?  We like it just like it is."  Let's think about such sentiment for a moment.  On the one hand, they are expressing something good about Trinity - they feel welcomed; they feel like they've found a true family; they've found a safe place to grow spiritually, etc.  Those are good things.  At the same time, they must realize that if the church had had that 'no grow' attitude six months prior to their arrival, they likely would not have been welcomed into fellowship like they were.  If the person who told them about Christ had a 'Why does Christ's church need to grow?' attitude, they likely would not have heard the gospel.  What if Billy Graham had had that attitude - or DL Moody - or the Apostle Paul who wrote in 2 Corinthians  6:11, "We spoke freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open."  We need to ask ourselves, members of Trinity Church, is our collective heart wide open to the masses pouring into Minot?  Are we captivated with the excitement of not just hundreds but thousands and tens of thousands of men, women and children trusting, worshiping and being changed by the grace of Jesus?  Are we dissatisfied by the fact that the hotels and restaurants and apartment buildings are multiplying rapidly in our city but churches are not?  Are we willing to take some holy, dangerous risks for the sake of Christ's Kingdom knowing that for eternity we'll have no regrets?  True, we don't have to set our sights on growing as a church.  We don't have to grow if we're willing to forego and ignore the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18ff).  We don't have to grow if we don't care about Christ becoming more glorious and the hope of the unbelievers we know, let alone the Hope of the nations (Psalm 67).  We don't have to grow if we are o.k. with the sinful immorality which is laced through our city and its families and institutions.  If we are fine with setting aside the authority of Scripture and instead ordering the church and her priorities according to what feels most comfortable to us, then we don't have to think about looking ahead and beyond ourselves toward the growth of Christ's Kingdom.  We don't have to pray, teach, volunteer, work, evangelize and dream toward the expansion of the church.  But we know that would equal defection from Christianity itself.  As your leaders we're ready to say loud and clear, "It's time to dream boldly and march obediently and with joyful sacrifice into a greater expression of Christ's church for greater glory to Christ."  If this means death to our comfort and fears, then so be it.  

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