LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"Your Leadership and April 16"
by Tom Goodman
November 17, 2005

This week’s Winning Ways was simply titled “April 16.”  In today’s LeaderLines, I want to talk about your leadership in light of “April 16.”

In 2006, April 16 is Easter.  It’s also the day we go to two different services.  After nearly a year of gathering with deacons and other leaders for prayer and discussion, I feel it’s time to launch a second service that is different in style.  Most of you have known about this plan since I discussed it in LeaderLines back in June.

Now I need your help as a leadership-partner.  Few people question whether we need two services with two styles, but lots of folks are asking questions about the logistics.  This is completely normal for people to want to know how an idea’s going to impact them.  I need your help as we work out the logistics together, and I need your help as I shepherd this flock through this change.  Here’s what I need from you as a leader:

First, pray.  If the devil can’t stop a good idea, his next move is to mess around with its implementation.  I’ve seen that happen a lot in churches.  Pray that God’s Spirit will settle over our congregation and protect us from any attack our Enemy wants to wage.  We can get so focused on styles and scheduling and forget the spiritual dimension to this work.  Our Enemy wants to keep us from the kind of worship that changes lives and the kind of evangelism that changes eternity.  Don’t give him the pleasure.  Pray.

Second, understand.  You can’t lead people to embrace a new idea if you haven’t done your homework.  Don’t skip the newsletters and the meetings where we discuss the two services.  Drop me an e-mail or pick up the phone and visit with me until you have all your questions answered.  By all means, don’t let the “grapevine” be your source of information.  It’s bad enough when a church member does this, but a church leader should never take grapevine gossip as a reliable source of news.  So, make sure you stay informed.

Third, listen.  Talk with people.  Find out what they’re thinking.  Figure out what fears or misunderstandings they have.  When someone sends you an e-mail filled with questions or complaints, pick up the phone and visit with the person (e-mail just can’t solve these issues like a good phone call).  Take polls of your class or hold a discussion time.  If you lead older adults, ask younger adults to come into your class so you can talk together about the different needs of our church family.  Likewise, if you lead younger adults, then ask older adults to come to your class for a discussion.  Wouldn’t it be great to see Adult 4 get together with Adult 1 for a combined class or fellowship?  Wouldn’t it be great to see Adult 5 get together with Adult 2?

Fourth, communicate.  As a lay leader, you are in a unique position of standing between your pastor and the rest of the church.  Oh, I consider myself an accessible pastor:  You would not believe how many e-mails I respond to on a daily basis, how many phone calls I field, how many lunch and breakfast appointments I set up, and how many small-group meetings I’ve led.  Despite all those efforts to be accessible, though, I’m going to miss some things.  You have to fill me in about what you’ve learned from listening to people.  Sometimes people are more likely to complain to you instead of coming to their pastor.  Yes, it’s wimpy, but that’s the way it is.  So I need you to communicate to me about what people like and don’t like about ideas that I propose.  You can be an important bridge.

But bridges allow for two-way traffic, right?  So make sure that you are communicating my heart to the people and not just communicating the people’s concerns to me!  That’s real leadership.

Fifth, build hope.  Your words are powerful tools.  Take every opportunity to share your confidence that God is in control, and that he wants to do a great work here!  Build that hope into the people you lead, and great things will happen.

I’m confident that if you join me in the hard work of doing these five things, then on Easter Sunday, April 16, in addition to celebrating the Resurrection, we will be celebrating the new life that the Risen One wants to pour out upon us!


Important Notes

Turkey-N-Testimonies.  Join us for a churchwide Thanksgiving feast on Tuesday, November 22, in our MPC.  Tickets are $5 ($15 maximum per family), to be collected at the door.  Let us know you plan to come by e-mailing my assistant at jami@hbcaustin.org.
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