July 2007

Inspirational Leadership means motivation comes from within.  It taps people’s need for meaning and for purpose, that which gives their lives a sense of reason for being.  Inspirational Leadership taps into all four needs in people – to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. It is internal rather than external.

Steven Covey

Authority figures

For the past few years the religion department at the Chautauqua Institution near Buffalo has sponsored a program for new clergy and their families. This summer I was invited to meet with the group, especially to talk with them about prophetic and pastoral preaching.It was not hard to remember my early years in ministry and the sense I had then that there was not enough of anything—not enough time, money, encouragement or friendships. I remember feeling overwhelmed, with more things to do than hours of the day, and guilty about not spending more time with my family.


This article is an understatement to the wisdom that Rev.Buchanan shared with us.  I have four pages of wisdom that he shared.  It also illuminated for me how much more I have to learn.

The Failure of the Black Church – Part I
By Heru Ammen

In the commentary entitled “A Solution for Socio-Economic Impotence,” we outlined the problems that our people are facing within our urban communities and the cultural and social dynamics that continue to exacerbate these issues. In short, a combination of capital disinvestment and black flight are two of the primary factors that have caused the degradation and destruction of urban communities. Another important factor that has precipitated the destruction of urban communities is the fact that many of the individuals, groups, and organizations that exist within our communities do not contribute anything to and for the communities that they supposedly serve. Front and center in their neglect and disdain for urban communities is the black church.

The black church is the worst culprit of what I term purveyors of conscious neglect. This institution, which should be standing in the gap for its poor and disenfranchised constituents represents the worst exploiter of the poor and disenfranchised that has ever existed in the African American community. Its raw embrace of individualism and materialism is couched in a feel good message of salvation and prosperity. Unfortunately the message of salvation and prosperity that the black church promotes seems to only apply to a few of its select clergy and members. That’s apparent in the fact that most of its members have yet to achieve anything close to the prosperity that is supposedly free and only requires the initiates unquestioned belief and faith in the Christian God and consistent tithing to their particular house of worship.


When I first read this commentary I was angry.  I immediately began composing a rebuttal comment and then Michelle and I examined his critique.  I do not like the dirty laundry but there needs to be a conversation about when we are going to clean up.  Opulence, prosperity, lavish gifts of gold and Bentley’s have replaced the message that Jesus came and identified with the poor, disinherited, left out, left behind, under paid, overworked urban dwellers of his day.

When pastors do ministry without accountability moral and ethical borders are no longer boundaries. There is no discipline in the church among the members because there is no discipline in the clergy among other clergy.  When moral and ethical boundaries are breeched pastors must embrace the brother or sister and provide a path for reconciliation but also a period of correction that includes humble, repentant reflection.

I am still upset but the reason has shifted. Leaders within the Black Church must stand up and value the ministry of the gospel above pop culture social norms. You do not need a Bentley to preach God’s Word.  You do not need a Lear Jet to disciple men and women into fully mature believers in Jesus Christ.  Bling Bling does not attract people to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Black churches in predominately white denominations should not get comfortable.  We have a lot of work to do to embrace urban ministry and have a major impact.

I do not think this will be one of my more popular articles but ………………

Psalm 105

1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 6 O descendants of Abraham his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. 7 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

How can we truly give thanks in a way that honors God for all that He has done for us? I believe the thanksgiving challenge is the first step to developing a grateful heart for all that God has done for us. Most people miss several opportunities each day just to offer a word of thanks for God’s movement in their lives. When we are able to greet a friend, devote time to prayer, invest time in reading the scriptures, drive from place to place safely, hug our children and grand children, hold hands with our spouse to let them know how much we love them, we should be giving thanks to God.  These events in our lives take place because of God’s grace and mercy not because we are so great and mighty.

 Some people are focused and fixated on the negative and challenging things of life.  Some people have experienced nothing but rough times so it is difficult to imagine that you will instantly change your perspectives on life. I want to challenge the children of God to be focused on God’s goodness, God’s blessings and God’s wonderful acts in our lives. This is the Thanksgiving Challenge.


Set aside one minute each hour that you are awake and say a prayer of thanksgiving. If you are awake for 12 hours you will say 12 one minute prayers.   Journal once a day about everything that you gave thanks for. Continue with this discipline for a week. I believe you will experience several things. 

 Your hourly moment of gratefulness will be short at the beginning of the week but much longer as the week continues.

  1. Your ability to see God moving in your life on a daily basis will increase
  2. Your ability to express your thanksgiving will multiply
  3. You will have a written record of God’s blessing in your life to remind you about God’s goodness especially when you are experiencing difficult times.

 I double dare you to try the Thanksgiving Challenge. August 6 -12th, I am inviting our entire church family to join with me and participate in the Thanksgiving Challenge.  It will change your life.


Martin Luther King Jr.:

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists

Question 4: What are some of the best ways you have found as a leader to invest in yourself and the leaders around you.

A few of the best ways to invest myself in the leaders around me is to:

  1. Have regular prayer time with the leader
  2. Invest in the leaders life beyond the ministry of the church
  3. Have intentional fellowship with the leader and their team
  4. Assist the leader to use their spiritual gifts in areas that have the greatest impact
  5. Assist the leader to build a team that compliments their growing edges and their strengths.

To see a summary of this question and others that help apply wisdom to life, visit SOPHOS

Using Acts 2 to define the core values of Koinonia, what activities does a church in the 21st Century engage in, to effectively realize true Christian community?  Which comes first discipleship or koinonia?

With so many people experiencing shallow spirituality and wearing multiple masks to cover up the pains, trials and challenges of everyday life, should the church re-evaluate how we are the representatives of God to the world?

42 They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. 43 Everyone around was in awe – all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! 44 And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. 45 They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. 46 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, 47 as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
Acts 2

Their lives were committed to the disciples teachings.  Everything they did and said was reflective of what they learned.  How many of our church members take what they like and leave the rest in the sanctuary. How often are we preaching rather than teaching?

The concept that they were all living together is amazing when we live in such an individualistic, self centered, let me get all that I can society.  If we were to commit to true community we would purchase (as a community) large tracts of land  and ensure that everyone had what they needed.  The economically challenged in our communities are often left out because no one wants to admit they do not have enough money to hang with their peers. The poor are totally excluded.  Can we discuss Koinonia and not include a serious discussion and strategy to address the poor in our community?  I believe suburban living numbs our spiritual senses to those who are marginalized in our communities.  One radical idea is that an urban church and suburban church can switch buildings for one Sunday. Driving pass the homeless, interacting teenage mothers, watching the soup kitchen lines form and seeing the hopelessness in the eyes of people being served in an urban emergency room will change your perspective on what you can do to minister to those who are hurting.  Most pastors will not push that envelop because it might threaten their comfortable situation.

People are seeking authentic communities where they can experience significance, and sanctuary.  Can we actually engage in this discussion as 21st century churches who are dependent on worship and married to administrative structures that are counter productive to producing Koinonia?

Pondering, exploring and searching………………

“Over the course of my life, I’ve observed two universal realities: (1) The world changes constantly; and (2) People everywhere still desperately need Jesus Christ. Too obvious? Then let me ask this: How successful has the church been in bridging the gap that exisits between these two realities?”

Ed Young

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Reviewed by the Rev. Tom Berlin

How can churches today be as vital as the early Christian communities described in the Book of Acts? How can we reclaim the fruitful piety of the early Methodists? Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, a new book by United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase, describes five foundational practices to help congregations be fruitful in ministry to their members and in service to the world.

The book’s goal is to help congregational leaders examine their ministries and assess church practices. But it is much more than detached ministry evaluation. Schnase invites readers to consider what life is like to those entering church for the first time – a challenge to those of us who cut our teeth as infants on the back pew of the church. He helps us see the church through the eye of the visitor or new member, pushing us to remember what life was like before we first felt the comfortable embrace of the church.

Analyzing the basic building blocks of congregational life, Schnase goes on to define the key practices of fruitful congregations. These practices include:

  1. Radical hospitality – the active desire to bring people to Christ and his church
  2. Passionate worship – fresh encounters with God that transform lives
  3. Intentional faith development – learning together in community
  4. Risk-taking mission and service – an outward focus that changes the world and invigorates the church
  5. Extravagant generosity – sharing that exceeds all expectations

Click Here to Read the Entire Book Review

I will be adding this to my fall reading list. Have a blessed Day!!!!!!!!!

Recently I have encountered several people who are into “The Secret”. The Secret is a positive mental attitude motivation theory around “the law of attraction” mixed with spirituality (not scriptural Christianity) that  sparked a lot of interest by a book, DVD and an Oprah appearance. I am extremely disappointed in the pastors and believers who have bought into this erroneous teaching. This is new age teaching and incongruent with the scriptures.

I am not against individuals having a positive mental attitude (PMA). In fact we should all work to be positive but as believers the influences that we embrace to shape our lives must be grounded in the scriptures. PMA can not change your circumstances, doesn’t have divine power and can not be maintained without external stimuli. Evangelicals, main line denominations and Pentecostals all agree that we rely on the power of God to shape us not some popular self help book.

Faith on the other hand is the power of God in our lives. When we exercise faith we have the opportunity as believers in the Creator of the Universe to place our situations, issues and concerns in the hand of God who personally cares for us and is moving on our behalf as a fulfillment of His covenant to us. When we live by faith, walk by faith and move by faith we are living counter cultural to popular society. This should be our daily walk with the Lord not an event that is confined to when we have crisis in our lives. When we operate in faith God’s favor “attracts” people to us because of God’s power flowing through us not because we positively thought the attraction of these individuals into our lives.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all of the ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6

This demands that our heart relationship with God be in alignment with God not things that we can figure out. Our life experiences while trusting God will not always be cheerful and fun but it will build your faith in the good times and in the bad times to know that God is there with you no matter what the circumstance is.

When you listen and follow new age spiritualist masquerading as having the answer for your life you dissipate the power of God moving in your life. God wants us to be faithful to Him alone. I am especially frustrated with the number of Christians who are being hoodwinked. They are in adulterous relationship with foreign gods and then they bring these teaching back to the church as if the Bible supports their false teaching. One reason that so many good church people are being sucked in by the dark side of the force is because they suffer from FDD. (Faith Deficiency Dysorder)

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

If people who are reading the Secret were to put it down and invest the same amount of time in studying and applying scriptures their positive mental attitude problems would be solved because they would be increasing their faith and watching God move on their behalf. This would cure FDD. In fact attitudes would change, circumstances will be affected, out look will be different and the daily conversations with God through prayer would take on a greater significance.

Paul gives the greatest and most powerful positive mental attitude speech in the scriptures

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Paul concludes his lesson on attitude motivation

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Nuff Said!

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