(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called “Blog”)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
Over the last two weeks we have done a series entitled “Doors”. This series is designed to update people on where we are at as a Church, give people a sense of direction as to where we are headed, help people understand how to pray more effectively for the church and help them get on board if they still have not “boarded the train.” As an elders’ team we have been working on clarifying direction for Bethel. We have had two mini-retreats, met with leadership, invited the congregation to a Congregational Meeting to discuss this topic and had several one-on-one conversations. What I am presenting is the culmination of those conversations, and the growing conviction of the leadership team on how God is shaping and leading us.
On Sunday we talked about our second set doors. As a group take time to talk about these doors.
Door #1 Leaders that “say so!”
Door #2 Leaders that listen, learn and create a learning culture.
Text: 1 Peter 2:9, 1Corinthians 12:27, Eccl. 4:12
All healthy leadership scenarios involves responsibility and authority. I believe that part of that responsibility is to use authority to engage with those who are following. All leadership have a choice. Do I use my authority to “say so” or do I use my authority to listen and create a culture of learning and dialogue?
At Bethel the door we choose to walk through is door #2. This does not mean that we become part of the “soft limp-noodle age” Ephesians 2:19,20 speaks of the Truth that the Church is founded on.
“... you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”So what does a learning culture look like? I have come up with some contrasting statements that might help you or your group think this issue through.
A learning culture is anxious to listen and engage.
A LTSS (“Leaders That ‘Say So!’”) culture insists on dominating the discussion.
A learning culture is usually characterized by secure leaders, who are willing to engage with the generations, who are not easily threatened and who walk in a posture of humility.
A LTSS culture is often fraught with people who want power, resist change at all costs, only allow a very few to have any say, and bottleneck everything because all decisions must go through them.
A learning culture takes the time to truly understand where the other person is coming from.
A LTSS culture only thinks of where they are coming from.
A learning culture is imaginative and creative.
A LTSS culture is predictable, often locked-in to calcified ways.
A learning culture is not afraid to enter into dialogue because relationships are strong and authentic
A LTSS culture usually has a few loud voices and intimidating people that cause others to cower and relationships to suffer. Often leadership is too weak to reign in these kinds of loud voices.
A learning culture is a safe place to openly express one’s opinions.
A LTSS culture attacks, and personalizes the argument (they start to attack the person not just the idea).
A learning culture has anchored truth (i.e. vision, values, purpose, Biblical truth) that helps evaluate all interactions.
A LTSS culture has anchored truth at times, but it’s the power of the personality that more often dominates than the truth of God’s Word.
On Sunday, I interviewed Steve Dickey (chair of the elders’ team). Respond to the questions I asked him:
What is it like to work in an environment (workplace) where the leader does not use their authority to create a learning culture but where authority is used to bully or dominate in an unhealthy way? What has that done to you personally?
How have you seen it in the church? (You might want to be selective on how you answer this question)
Do you have an example in your life as a leader where you made a much better decision because you listened?
What do you find the biggest challenge as a leader, in using authority to listen and create a learning culture?
Door #1 The Church is like a university
Door #2 The church is like a university and hospital
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
(these verses contain both the teaching and transformation elements)
Some background- As an elders’ team we have discussed how Bethel is like a university. Historically it has been a place of learning and teaching. This is consistent with our earlier text, Ephesians 2:19, 20. This will always be one of our priorities, to teach God’s truth in different ways, to different generations. As we talked about this and the reality of our 0.5 mile radius, we also talked about how the Church is like a hospital. It is a place of mending broken bones, restoration, healing, transformation etc. This would seem to line up fairly well with what Jesus the Head of the Church said in Mark 2:17:
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Note Jesus likens himself to a doctor and sickness with being a sinner. We are all sick with this definition of sickness and we are all in need of a doctor.In all the biblical metaphors of the church (to list a few - temple, body, family, building, flock) these two components of teaching and healing/transformation are involved.
On Sunday I interviewed Rhonda on the healing component of the Church. Reflect on some of the questions we discussed:
How important is feeling safe in the healing process?
What might be two or three characteristics of healthy community where we could disclose our “postcards” (“postcards” was used to refer to our brokenness) and grow in Christ likeness?
What is your understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to greater maturity in Christ? A great text that I love on this subject is Paul’s incredible prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-20. Note the role of the Holy Spirit (in August we are going to be doing a 4-part series on the role of the Holy Spirit)
“The main sin in the Old Testament was the rejection of God the Father while the main sin in the New Testament was the rejection of Christ the Son. Is it possible that the main sin of the contemporary Church is the rejection of the Third Person, the Holy Spirit?” (Jamie O. Davis, Gutenberg to Google, page 88,89)
Door #1 Island
Door #2 Partnerships
Church must Biblically respond in an age of increasingly complex issues and globalization. Partnerships allow us to access networks that provide more than a one-off sermon response. Partnerships make resources accessible to the Church that allow us to respond holistically to various issues. As we advance in our vision, key partnerships will be essential.
On Sunday I highlighted some of our key partnerships. I talked about how partnerships allow us to extend our reach, i.e. through a missions organization that helps us get funds to an area of need. However, partnerships also provide us with materials and networks that we can access in order to form a well-thought-out Biblical answer to complex issues.
As a group, talk about some of the complex issues the church needs help in addressing. What organizations might make good partners?
On Sunday we finished by corporately reading this statement below. Read it as a group!
Lord make us a Church where we love You passionately and serve others significantly.
Empower us by Your Spirit to be a people of integrity and authenticity, a place where Your Spirit is alive and invigorating, a church where we grow in intimacy with God, grow in intimacy with others and grow in acts of service.
May Your unchanging authoritative Word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Deliver us from anything that hinders our ministry, either here in the downtown core, or in our areas of residence and work.
Spare us from pettiness, Church politics, bitter roots and dysfunctional expressions of Church life.
Walk among us as you did with the seven Churches and affirm us, rebuke us and purify us.
May we be to each other as “iron sharpening iron”, that through our relationships and partnerships, we gain deeper and clearer insight into what it means to be the Body of Christ in the 21st century.
Might Your Name be announced as Great, and Your deeds be proclaimed among the nations as a result of our life together.
From 1874 (our founding date) to this present day we praise You for Your leadership, we acknowledge Your Headship, and humbly come under Your authority. Amen!
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org