Yesterday, I preached at Christ Fellowship in Miami (and several other locations via video). My focus was on growing as a disciple in 2013, but we talked about how the end of the year causes us to look back as we look forward. If you are a pastor or church leader, Brad Lomenick's questions will help you review your last year.
I posted this last year, but wanted to go back to it as a very practical resource/application for the end of the year. It's important we take time as leaders to reflect and look back over the last 12 months, as well as looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond.
Year End Review Questions:
1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2012 for me?
2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2012?
3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2012: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.
4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2013 and beyond?
5. As I move into 2013, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?
6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?
7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year?
8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?
Dave Kraft has an important post on keeping a clean conscience.
Years ago I heard a message that changed the way I view most of my relationships. I was being trained to be a counselor in a Billy Graham crusade and listened as Lorne Sanny, then president of the Navigators, was teaching. He made this comment: "Why does God use Billy Graham the way he does? I believe it is because Billy, more than any other leader I know of, consistently practices Acts 24:16."
Immediately you heard the rustling of Bible pages (in the era before the smartphone) and turning to that verse, which says, "So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man." It left a deep and lasting impression on me and affects me to this day. Good leadership is about maintaining healthy relationships in all directions. Here are a few examples of my own experience with people who have been offended.
Once someone is offended and it is not quickly and appropriately dealt with, lots of things can go south, and probably will.
A church I know of is experiencing some difficulties with a former member. He is on the warpath. Talking with current members, writing accusatory emails to the leadership, and the beat goes on. At a meeting the idea surfaced that he was offended months ago and it has never been resolved. Plans are in progress to sit down with this "offended brother" to make amends and ask for forgiveness where it is called for. I have seen one person destroy a church or organization due to an offense that was ignored or not sufficiently resolved. Others take up one person's offense and the rift continues to grow.
Elapsed time causes more problems than it resolves.
Tony Morgan points back to one of his old posts and I think it is worth considering as we talk about inviting people to church. It does not end there.
Church used to be all about the invite. Everyone went to church whether they wanted to or not. It was a cultural expectation. All you had to do was invite someone, and there was a very good chance if your church had the right denominational sign on the building that whoever you invited would show up and get connected to the church. The invite worked...and then it didn't.
Church used to be all about invest and invite. Going to church was no longer a cultural expectation. We still had relationships from our workplace, neighborhood, social circles and families though. We learned that outreach was highly relational. We were challenged to invest and invite. If we invested in a relationship, eventually there would be enough trust established to invite our friend to church. At that point, the church would take over. All we had to do was get them to church where our friends would hear the Gospel message, get plugged into a small group and start serving. The invest and invite strategy worked...and then it didn't.
The problem with the invest and invite strategy is that we expect "the church" to be responsible for discipleship. We, of course, forget that we are the church. And, I think we forget that when Jesus said "go and make disciples of all the nations," this wasn't direction for an institution -- this was intended to be the mission for every Christ-follower. That's you and me.
For too long, we've abdicated our responsibility for discipleship. We've assumed that's something the church is supposed to do. Unfortunately, when that happens, it creates several challenges.