Monday Morning Insights

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    Steering Through Chaos in Church

    Steering Through Chaos in Church

    I've been reading through a new book by Scott Wilson called "Steering Through Chaos".  It's a great read on dealing with conflict and transition in the church.  In fact, I was able to personally identify with many of the situations that Scott mentions in his book because I've seen these things happen over and over in my years involved with ministry.

    Here's a short message from Scott about the book:

    You can download a free chapter of the book here.

    What's the biggest 'chaos' that you've ever had to steer through as a pastor or church staff member?  How did you do it?


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    1. Dee Lauderdale on Thu, March 25, 2010

      hands down the biggest was being hired to help transition a church that didn’t want to be transitioned. It was not a pretty sight, but boy did I learn a lot.

    2. Leonard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      Released a staff person for a variety of reason that could not be made public, lost about half the church and budget in a week.

    3. CS on Thu, March 25, 2010

      There are a number of things in that video that seem just off, starting with the main point:

      “I believe that pastors have visions that God has given to them, to lead the church—their local congregation—to a whole new place in Him.”

      Is this some sort of special revelation?  Are pastors suddenly prophets?  How do we know that God has given them visions?

      He later talks of a pastor who led the building of a new sanctuary, only to have a heart attack later.  Was that a part of the, “vision,” God gave him?


    4. Leonard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      CS… I realize we never fall on differing pages smile 

      Pastors do have a vision from God for the church.  Not because they are prophets but because they are shepherds and leaders.  It does not mean they are better or even closer to God.  It is what happens when they lead.  Good shepherds lead sheep to still waters, green pastures and through dark valleys.  This requires a special vision.

      I see things in the church that no one else sees.  I hear things no one else hears (from people) and I carry responsibility based upon gifting and calling that most others do not.

    5. CS on Thu, March 25, 2010


      “This requires a special vision.”

      How do you get this, “special vision?”  What is the biblical precedence for this unique revelation?  What would differentiate this sort of, “vision,” from the types of visions given to those who authored the Bible?


    6. Leonard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      CS, I think you are reading into the words more meaning than intended.  My “special vision” comes from the following.

      1) Pastors sit in a seat/perch that other do not and see what others do not.  Very often leaders see things that those they lead do not.  Experience, education, position, calling, practice… all go into how a pastor gets vision.

      2)  A biblical basis is analogous in the shepherd/sheep roles.  it is analogous in the equipper/equippee roles. It is modeled in the examples of the apostles, in the charge given to Timothy and Titus.

      3)  A practical reasoning.  I spend 60 plus hours a week focused on a church body.  I bear a responsibility in that body others do not.  I am held to a standard in that body by God and others that is higher.

    7. CS on Thu, March 25, 2010


      You made some sound points.  But, there are other words that more properly describe those concepts: 

      For the first, for when someone has the ability to see something others due not due to their position, is commonly called, “perspective.” 

      For the second, of dutifully fulfilling the position of elder/pastor/bishop is properly called, “shepherding.” 

      For the third, of investing time in such a way that it must honor God through your post in your church, is called, “responsibility.”

      Commonly, when the word, “vision,” is being tossed around in modern Christianity, it implies a special, direct revelation from God.  Such verses including Proverbs 29:18 are invoked as a reason for necessitating vision.  But even that word denotes prophecy, not general leadership or setting a goal or something in mind.

      So when we change the definition of words around, this can go outside the bounds of what the Bible says and cause confusion.  I would recommend that words like, “vision,” “leadership,” and, “purpose,” go back to their original roots a bit more.


    8. Leonard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      CS, I think you are right.  I believe words get convoluted, but we cannot stem the tide of evolution where words are concerned.

      In my church in the 60’s and 70’s when I was a kid Vision meant that God gave you a dream or spoke to you like he did Samuel, or Peter…  we almost always (99.9%0 of the time) rejected these visions since they failed the scripture test. 

      Today, in the churches I am most in contact, vision has to do with direction, a better way of implementing God’s plan in a church, community…  Vision is what we use to show people where we are going.  I like it to saying to sheep (the talking and walking kind) look over there, on that hillside, there is water, food and saftey… lets go there. 

      Here is a real life for instance…

      My church is in a 40+% area where Spanish is spoken.  We are a predominant English speaking group of believers.  I believe if we are to serve this community we need to figure out how to blend, build or reach out to this Spanish Speaking community.  I see this… my special vision.  I have begin to share this with others in our church and now they see it too.  We just published our first community flyer in both English and Spanish.

      Where did this special vision come from?  Prayer, thinking about how to evangelize all people…  Is it divine revelation?  Nope.  It is rather a response to divine revelation… the word and divine leading… God the Holy Spirit.

    9. CS on Thu, March 25, 2010


      “I believe words get convoluted, but we cannot stem the tide of evolution where words are concerned. “

      I disagree, especially when it comes to areas of terminology that are a part of our faith.  When words change, it winds up changing the intent and purpose of what they convey.

      For example, when we use the word, “mistakes,” or, “screw-ups,” instead of the word, “sin,” we underscore the magnitude of that wicked action.  It instead turns rebellion toward God into a boo-boo or common trip-up that, “everyone does.”

      Another problem is the evolution of words in a way to detract from the original meaning.  Consider the words that were used to describe people who unlawfully entered the country.  “Illegal Alien,” became, “Illegal Immigrant,” became, “Undocumented Immigrant,” became, “Undocumented Worker,” became, “Migrant Worker.”  The original words depicted, clearly, someone who was in the country who did not have the lawful means to do so.  Now, it paints the picture of just someone who comes over for work.  Totally changed.

      Specifically, with regard to, “vision,” I have noticed several outcomes of trying to superimpose the concepts of, “direction,” onto that word. 

      First, when someone says they have a, “vision,” it makes challenging that decision for direction unarguable.  After all, if it was something that God said they should do, why should it be reviewed or analyzed?  It becomes a trump card to end any disagreement.

      Second, it leads to bad hermeneutics.  As I referred to before, that verse in Proverbs gets taken WAY out of context and can lead to heresy.  When one word gets changed, the interpretation of every occurrence of that word in the Bible gets altered.

      Third, it crosses the line between pastor and prophet.  Like you said, many people in the 60s and 70s would recognize the word, “vision,” as a, “revelation.”  But, guess what?  People understand it that way today.  Even in the secular world, a, “vision,” denotes a supernatural picture of the future. 

      I’m all for seeking God’s will through prayer, Godly counsel with good Christian brothers and sisters, and then picking and going in a direction.  That’s biblical.  Calling it, “vision,” is not.  Let’s scrap this word unless we’re willing to use it right.


    10. A. Amos Love on Fri, March 26, 2010

      Yes… Words are important.

      Todays �Pastor/Leader,� is this a �Title� or “position” in the scriptures?

      Who, in the Bible, has the “Title” Pastor/Reverend?
      Can you name one congregation, in the Bible, “Led” by a Pastor/Reverend?

      I have seen the dangers of “Titles,”  of being known as �pastor/leader.�
      �Spiritual Abuse� for both the “leader” and those �being led.�

      I’m not not new to “ministering healing” to those who have
      been �abused� by those who “thought they were pastor/leaders.”

      Folks who have been *burnt,** burnt out,** kicked out,*
      and *crawled out* of “the religious system” most call �church.�
      With it’s leaders, submission to spiritual authority, Tithes and offerings,
      and other unbiblical “heavy weights” put on folks shoulders.

      I also spend time with pastors,
      “so called leaders,” who can’t do it anymore, just like the video.
      Trying to run the show and please so many masters.

      Trying to please the denominational leaders,
      please the congregation, the congregations leaders,
      your own family, and of course Jesus.
      Who is often relegated to last place. Hmmm?

      Serving so many masters, that’s tough, Yes?

      Peaching every week… and it better be good, being the CEO,
      the team leader, counciling, marrying, burying, smiley face. etc. etc.

      If “pastors/leaders” (as we see them today) are of God?
      He’s not taking very good care of His Pastors; Is He?

      This is info from a website helping burned out Pastors.

      According to the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership (2007)
      � 77% say they do �not� have a good marriage.
      � 71% have felt burned out or depressed.
      � 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
      � 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
      � 38% are divorced or seriously considering divorce.

      According to the Ministering to Ministers Foundation…
      � Over 1600 pastors in the U.S. are forced out of their positions each month.

      Think we might have a problem with �Pastor/Leader?�

      Read that again. This is not possible.
      77% say they do �not� have a good marriage.
      70% of pastors feel depressed or burnt out.
      70% Don’t have a close friend. Hmmm?

      That’s who is running the show.
      That’s who is �abusing� God’s sheep and being �abused.�

      1600 pastors a month, that’s 19,000 a year, leave or are pushed out. Wow!!!
      That’s a lot of broken hearts, disappointments, feelings of failure, pain, abuse.

      And I’m supposed to believe some “Pastor” who says he has a vision - for me?

      Hmmm? Todays �Pastor/leader,�
      is this a �Title� or “position” in the scriptures?

    11. CS on Fri, March 26, 2010


      To summarize the answer to your post, yes, a, “pastor,” should be a position in today’s church, but is not effectively or biblically applied or maintained much of the time through nonsense going on in the church.  Let’s break it down.

      “Who, in the Bible, has the “Title” Pastor/Reverend?
      Can you name one congregation, in the Bible, “Led” by a Pastor/Reverend?”

      You have to remember that there were different words used in Greek to represent these positions that had almost synonymous functions like episkope (bishop), poimen (pastors), and presbyteros (elders).  We find that people like John and Peter called themselves elders (1 Peter 5:1, 3 John 1:1).  And every church to which Paul wrote had some form of leadership; at the end of some of the Epistles like 2 Timothy and Titus we can find some of this authority.  The qualifications are laid out well in 1 Timothy and Titus.

      “I have seen the dangers of “Titles,”  of being known as �pastor/leader.�  �Spiritual Abuse� for both the “leader” and those �being led.�”

      I have never found the title of, “leader,” used in Scripture to denote an appointed position.  “Teacher,” “evangelist,” “apostle,” “prophet,” “deacon,” and those others mentioned above, yes, but not a ordination of, “leader.”  Perhaps that’s some of the problem?

      “With it’s leaders, submission to spiritual authority, Tithes and offerings, and other unbiblical “heavy weights” put on folks shoulders.”

      You’re not saying that submission and tithing are unbiblical yokes, are you?

      “Peaching every week… and it better be good, being the CEO,
      the team leader, counciling, marrying, burying, smiley face. etc. etc.”

      That’s another big problem in the church right there.  Pastors are not CEOs.  When we apply modern business models to the church, it wrecks things pretty good.

      “If “pastors/leaders” (as we see them today) are of God?
      He’s not taking very good care of His Pastors; Is He?”

      Are you assuming that because someone is a pastor and goes through hardship, that that means God is doing a bad job of something?  (Because I would be very, very careful if this is what you believe.)  Or are you saying that by having the title, “pastor,” things should be a bed of roses?  Because I seem to recall a certain apostle about 2000 years ago who was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, and cold for much of his life.


    12. A. Amos Love on Fri, March 26, 2010


      Thanks for the response.

      I like the way you write and think.
      Enjoyed some of your other comments also.

      You write…
      �yes, a, �pastor,� should be a position in today�s church,�

      BUT, was �Pastor� a �Title� and �Position� in the Bible? Hmmm?
      Isn�t, �in the Bible,� that the only place it really counts? wink

      IMO - you�re correct. Poimen = pastor in the NT.
      Is �Poimen� a �Title� and �Position� in the Bible?
      Poimen is 18 times in the NT. Once as �pastors� plural. Eph 4:11
      17 times, shepherd, Never a �Title� or �Position� except for Jesus.

      And - �Today�s �Church.� AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! ;-(
      Does anyone know what the word �Church� means? Or looks like?

      Doesn�t the Bible warn us about;
      *The commandments of men?
      *The doctrines of men?
      *The philosophies of men?
      *The traditions of men, that make the Word of God of non effect?

      Making the word of God of none effect
      through your tradition…
      Mark 7:13

      Hmmm?  A simple word, �church?�
      What do most people understand the word �church� to mean?

      Building with a steeple on it?
      Is that in the Bible? wink

      Pastor in a pulpit preaching to people in pews?
      Is that in the Bible? wink

      That�s what the world now thinks, isn�t it?
      Have we �Deceived� the world? Oy Vey! :-(

      When I hear the word �Church� I like to think of;

      The redeemed of the Lord.

      The habitation of God.

      The Israel of God.

      The body of Christ.

      Haven�t we told the unbelieving, unsaved, and us,
      that they need to �GO� to a good Bible believing church?
      Is that in the Bible? wink Did anyone �Go� to �Church �in the Bible?�

      How many will know and understand that they can
      become �the ekklesia of God?� The called out one�s of God?

      Jesus is the head of the body, (the ekklesia, the called out one�s)
      The Church.

      �The Church of God� is a body, people, God�s people. Always.
      Never; a building, an institution, an organization,
      a denomination, a business, or a $ Corporation.

      How many will know that �The Church of God� is NOT,
      Full Gospel,
      Theses are all �man� made words.
      Traditions of men - AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! wink

      �The ekklesia, the called out one�s of God� ARE;

      Kings and preist�s unto God.
      The Bride of Christ.
      Servants of Christ.
      Sons of God.
      Disciples of Christ.
      Ambassadors of Christ.

      Thank you Jesus.

      Did Jesus shed �His Blood� for an organization,
      an institution, a denomination, a corporation?

      Should we call a 501 (c) 3, non profit, tax deductible,
      religious corporation �The Church of God?�
      NO… NO….  NO… NEVER…

      Traditions of men - AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! wink

      FIRST… Don�t we have to define the word �Church?�
      Where people �GO� Sunday morn is the $ Corporation.
      $ Corporations have to have leaders, by law.

      The Church of God� has a leader - Jesus.

      Be blessed in your search for truth… Jesus.

    13. JAN on Sat, March 27, 2010

      I think his point is that change is a necessary component to a growing vibrant congregation.  And if we have some people in our church that do not want to change or grow as individuals and want things to stay the same, we as church leaders have a basic problem.  And people of this ilk, even if they are well meaning can cause a lot of chaos. 

      What’s the biggest chaos that we have had to steer through?
      It’s really difficult to pick one!

      We’ve been through the fire in this ministry and to some extent are still going through it.

      When we came here it was to a group of dysfunctional individuals who liked being dysfunctional.  They “wanted the church to grow.”  But they were not willing to do anything connected to making that happen.  They were perfectly willing for us to run around in circles and to watch.  But they had their traditional programs, programs that even superceded worship together as freaky as that sounds.
      So, getting through that minefield and standing up for what had to be done to see anything at all happen for the cause of Christ was 3 years of pure hell on earth.

      We have 3 of those original individuals left.  The others left to go to a church that has their pet program.  And they are still living the same way that they did here and fat and happy.

      We’ve had all sorts of dysfuntional church hopper types come in and out the door and want us to become their particular type of ideal “ministry”.

      And I could tell story after story.

      What I think is particularly sad, is that the most trouble we’ve had in ministry are from those who call themselves believers. 
      I would love to see the day when Christians start standing together and loving each other and serving the Lord on the same team.
      Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of hateful behavior from so called Christians.

      But we’re still plugging away!

    14. Grace on Sat, March 27, 2010

      I feel sick.

      Thank you CS.

    15. CS on Sat, March 27, 2010


      “I feel sick.  Thank you CS.”

      I’m sorry, did you mean that I was making you feel sick, or were these two thoughts totally independent of each other?


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