What puts the cool in Sunday School?

I enjoy reading a variety of resources from people who I find to be honest voices in the world of church leadership and faith life.  I don’t always agree with the people I read, and I wouldn’t always express things the way some do, but I find working through a variety of perspectives to be challenging and insightful.  Today I want to highlight a few points from an article which is an example of one where author and I see the world differently on the subject of Sunday School.  To be fair, the author of this article is highly successful and has worked at several churches that I greatly respect.  Also, I have always enjoyed reading his thoughts and found them to be very good.  We come from different places in our approach to spiritual formation and discipleship in church life, as I am an advocate of Sunday School and he has served in churches that have moved away from having a Sunday School as a part of their small group philosophy.  Certainly, there are a variety of ways for churches to have deep spiritual formation programs.  Churches in Southern California or South Sudan might not have what we think of as a traditional Sunday School model, and be growing deep disciples very effectively.  In our context here at PSBC however, Sunday School is part of the church’s DNA and I believe is a very effective way to accomplish discipleship.  For what it’s worth, I think the author of this article would agree, and not advocate churches everywhere abandoning Sunday School in favor of some other form of discipleship strategy.  The key is the level of excellence with which you do something in your context that makes it effective in most cases.

We talk on a regular basis about qualities which, if present, assure that Sunday School W.O.R.K.S.  Certainly there are churches in community contexts where Sunday School should be effective, but is not, because it’s done poorly.  It may be those Sunday School experiences that have led some to want to move away from it. That seems to be the case with the author of this article, though I don’t know what his denominational background is.  It’s the reasons why Sunday School does work, and makes a huge difference in people’s lives that drive me to be committed to it.  In this article, the author highlights a few core values that are lost when churches abandon Sunday School.  I would add to his list, but I thought that it would be interesting for you to see what he highlights:

Basic Bible knowledge

From Kindergarten on we had the basic Bible stories drilled into us.  As much as I hated Sunday School, by the time I graduated I had a pretty good understanding of the basic scope and sequence of the Bible.

Connection with peers

My best friends growing up were the kids I went to Sunday School with. Part of it was affinity, part of it was age proximity and part of it was surviving an hour every Sunday together. Even though I hated Sunday School I actually liked going because my friends were there. I felt accepted and connected.

Relationship with an adult who (ideally) loves kids

Once in a while we would have a Sunday School teacher who taught because she really loved kids. I remember one teacher who hosted an Easter Egg hunt just for our class at a park near her house. That made a big impact on me. I also had another teacher who would come faithfully every week to our midweek class (our version of Boy Scouts) even though I was often the only one who showed up. (I was the pastor’s kid, I had no choice). He wasn’t a talented teacher or leader, but he cared about me. I didn’t have the maturity to recognize it at the time, but [he] taught me how to love like Jesus.

Spiritual heritage

My Sunday School class is where I learned my spiritual heritage. We talked about the heroes of our tribe; missionaries who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Gospel. We learned the tenets of our faith and the nuances of doctrine the set us apart. Much of it was legalistic and some downright whacky, but I understood who we were and what we believed. The core that I learned in those classes is still what I cling to today. It is a basic part of who I am.

A church needs a primary vehicle for small group fellowship, organization that makes service easier, consistent small group Bible study, keeping up with one another, and connecting new people in a personal way.  Without it, many crucial things that make the church what it should be are lost.  Churches with different models than ours have sought to replace these qualities with other strategies.  Some have been more successful than others, but we must focus on OUR responsibility to build fully developed followers of Christ.

It is unwise for us to measure our church health by the success, or lack there-of, in other churches.  What matters to us is how effective we are at doing God’s work in our context.

I believe that our strategy is good and biblical approach.  I see evidence everywhere that it is effective, and that lives are being changed through what we do.  Sunday School is a rich part of our church’s discipleship heritage. Generations before us were faithful, and our task is to keep up the good work.

It’s also important that we pray for, and pull for other churches to be successful as well, even if they do it differently than we do.

The article I’ve referenced ends with this statement:

So am I suggesting we bring Sunday School back? Heaven forbid! I just think we need incredible intentionality around the elements we’ve lost. My fear is that we are raising a generation of children who love the entertainment we provide on Sunday, but have little understanding of the Bible, no close church friends, little connection to Christian adults (other than their parents) and a lack of knowledge about their spiritual heritage. In other words we have unchurched children growing up in the church.

Such a reality is a danger for churches who don’t have Sunday School, and for churches that do Sunday School poorly.  Let’s keep working hard to make our discipleship strategy accomplish God’s work in a powerful way!  In the end, its the personal care and hard work of the people who lead Sunday School that make it fun, memorable, cool for young people, and essential for grown ups.  May God continue to bless the church with His presence through our service.

Categories: Keeps People Connected, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Studies God's Word Together, Sunday School, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

What makes our work significant?

It’s always important to understand the bottom line.

It’s always important to know what matters the most.

It’s always important to be clear about the simple things that make the complex things worth doing.

I recently read a great article on leadership in Forbes online that referenced something important.  Here is one of the thoughts that caught my attention:

“I’ve often said, managing expectations is gamesmanship, but aligning them is leadership. The best leaders inspire a one company, one agenda mindset. They don’t create internal competitors, but rather they focus on creating an ethos of internal collaboration. The best leaders are those who operationalize values, vision, mission and strategy – this only happens through an understanding of alignment of a shared purpose. No purpose = no passion = no leadership.”

This leads me back to something we touched on last week in the article about being the most excited person in the room.

“It is so important to realize that all of our groups serve a vision that is greater than any single Sunday School group by itself, and one that unites us all.  Worshiping God, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives.  When we realize that the unifying vision of our church is rooted in The Great Commission and The Great Commandments, it gives us security and courage to move forward boldly.  Jesus’ vision for the whole church is the vision for each small group.  Interestingly, the whole church can’t accomplish it unless each small group embraces it.”

Our church’s vision is to build a community of disciples who both individually, and corporately, do three things very well.

Worship God, Strengthen Families, Change Lives.

I want to clearly align our mission, vision, and values in a series of simple statements.

The church is a body of individual families who come together as one big spiritual family.

One of our core purposes is to strengthen families.  This means strengthening individual families and connecting them to the larger church family.

This “connecting” happens most effectively through Sunday School small groups. (But worship and service are equally essential.)

Our mission is not to build a large Sunday School.  It is to build deep disciples.

Each of our Sunday School small groups have the same purpose: the spiritual formation of people.

We also share the same strategy as to how we go about accomplishing that purpose.  When these values are present, Sunday School W.O.R.K.S.

Wants to grow, Organized to Serve, Reaches new people, Keeps people connected, Studies God’s Word together.

We believe that healthy things grow.  When our Sunday School small groups are living out these values, we will accomplish our shared vision and will grow in a healthy way.  It’s happening all around us.

With this in mind, we set a number goal for our Better Together Weekend.  Not because that’s the measure of our success, but because it is an expression of what is possible when we work together.

The measures of success for our Better Together Weekend are things like:

*how many of our small groups actually do service projects.

*how many of the people in our small groups participate in those projects.

*how many people can we bless in the name of Jesus through our service.

*how many meaningful contacts can we make with the people on our rolls who have become disconnected.

*how many of those contacts lead to people coming to church.

*how many people can we move from disconnected, to connected.   (not something that can be measured in one weekend)

*how many new people can we connect to our small groups through this special event.

A lot of churches do a good job of keeping score.  Not all churches keep score of the things that really matter.

Who wants to work hard and fill up a scorecard that isn’t biblically significant?  Why bend over backwards trying to convince a group of people to get excited about winning at the wrong contest?

If we do the things in this article we will all be working together in one accord, and we’ll be filling up a scorecard that really matters.

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You should be the most excited person in the room.

I rarely post entire articles that other people have written for you to read.  But Heather Zempel has written a great article about The Excitement Variable in small groups, and I wanted to share it with you.  I think that you will find it very meaningful.  Each of us who have accepted responsibility to shepherd a group should always be the most excited person in the room about where the group is headed.  I feel that way about the church and the Sunday School.  I bet you feel that way about your group.  But that is a bold and occasionally lonely place to be.  Read this article and be encouraged.

In general, no one will be as excited about your group as you are. It’s just a simple leadership principle. You carry the weight of the burden, the thrill of the vision, the task of implementation. No one was as excited about Goliath as David. No one was as excited about the wall around Jerusalem as Nehemiah. No one was as excited about the church in Philippi as Paul. A leader will be more excited than anyone else on the team. They must be more excited. But that carries a burden of its own.

I think this ties in with the idea that sometimes leadership is lonely. I love to lead in teams, but sometimes there are places that only I can go. Think about Jesus going into the garden to pray. Or Elijah hiding out in the cave. Or Moses going before Pharaoh. There are some seasons and situations where leadership is lonely.

When I become aware of my loneliness…and when I realize that I’m way more excited than anyone else…these are some things I try to keep in mind.

  • Embrace the Territory. This is what leadership is all about. Having the guts and the insanity to jump out ahead and take people where they haven’t been before. Leaders have to be a little crazier than everyone else. It comes with the territory.
  • Gut Check. I check my vision, my heart, and my methods. Sometimes, when I get leadership loneliness or start thinking that I’m the only one who really cares, I run the risk of getting martyr syndrome. Each of us is wired differently, so we all respond to that in different ways. For me, I tend to get more domineering, self-assured, and unilaterally decisive. Sometimes, those are attitudes a leader must employ. But I’ve got to check whether I’m leading from humility or leading out of self-defense.
  • Remember Your Motivation. It’s not ultimately about what people think. And it’s not about you. It’s about God and bringing him glory and honor.
  • Remove the Plank. When we sense that those we lead aren’t as excited as they could or should be about wherever we are taking them, it’s easy to be quick to judge. That’s when I have to stop and remove that rather large log poking out of my eye.
  • Serve Another Vision. I think one of the best ways to train to be a great leader is to faithfully serve the vision of another. We can’t expect people to get excited about our vision until we have gotten excited about the vision of another. Sometimes, I have to step out of my narrow world and find someone who I can support, serve, and be excited about.

On that final point I would only add that it is so important to realize that all of our groups serve a vision that is greater than any single Sunday School group, and one that unites us all.  Worshiping God, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives.  When we realize that the unifying vision of our church is rooted in The Great Commission and The Great Commandments, it gives us security and courage to move forward boldly.  Jesus’ vision for the whole church is the vision for each small group.  Interestingly, the whole church can’t accomplish it unless each small group embraces it.

No one will be as excited about your group as you are. And if they are, it’s time for them to start leading. In the meantime, use your excitement to lead well, encourage often, and stir your group to love and good works.


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Trunk or Treat Inspiration

Below is a collage of some very creative Trunk or Treat decorations.  As of today we need about 40 more families to sign up to bring cars to the trunk or treat.  Last year a bunch of people signed up the week before and we ended up with a great line up of trunks.  Our goal this year is 60 vehicles and I believe we can make it. We believe that around 2000 people from our church and community participated last year, and we expect this year to be a bigger success because people had a great experience last year.   But we need to have people go ahead and sign up to bring cars so we can know what to expect (and be able to sleep peacefully at night without worrying about this part!).  Please share these images with your groups either during class, or ask them to look at the pics online so we can hopefully get some folks excited about signing up.  Also, hopefully these images will spark some creativity.  This week we will have posters available to place around the community, and will be putting up yard signs and banners.  Remember that you can share the Trunk or Treat Video posted below on Facebook to help promote as well.  Social media played a huge role in last years success.  The more you like and share, the better! Thanks for all of your work in making this event a great success!!



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Information Guide for New Sunday Evening Schedule

Poplar Springs Baptist Church is improving its Sunday evening schedule!  Our church leadership is committed to providing a Sunday evening schedule that is spiritually rich, and family friendly.  We have been evaluating and praying for some time over potential changes that would streamline and improve the Sunday evening experience at Poplar Springs.  Below are some of the highlights, and answers to  important questions.  The new schedule begins October 20.

What is changing about Sunday evening church service?  The Sunday evening worship service will now begin at 6:00 instead of 7:00.  All adults will finish up their Discipleship University course at 5:45 and be able to walk straight into the sanctuary at 6:00 for worship.  The service will include worship, prayer time, and a great message from God’s Word as it always has.  The main difference will be that everything on campus will end at 6:45, so that people will be able to get home earlier.  This will be a blessing to families with children, as well as seniors who don’t like to drive home at night any later than necessary.

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What’s changing about discipleship training?  Discipleship training will now be known as Discipleship University.  We will still be offering short term courses that range in topic from parenting, evangelism, apologetics, or Bible doctrines and more.  The change is not only in name, but start time as well.  Parents, no more dropping your children off at 5:00 for choir and having to come back, or wait until 6:00 for discipleship training.  Discipleship University will begin at 5:00 just like the children’s activities.

What will change for my child?  Nothing at all. Children’s Choir will still meet at 5:00, with a healthy snack provided before they move into KidConnect at 6:00 to study God’s Word. Children who are not in choir will have an activity planned for them at 5:00. The main benefit for children is that when they finish KidConnect at 6:45, parents will be out of the evening worship experience and everyone will be done for the night.  Sunday night is a school night, and we want to make sure that our Sunday night schedule is a blessing for families who need to start their week off right with plenty of rest.

What about my preschool age child?  Preschool Choir/Discipleship Training will meet at 5:00.  We are adding an activity time for preschoolers at 6:00.  Parents wishing to volunteer to help with the 6:00 activity are welcome.  Preschool children can be dropped off at Preschool Choir at 5:00 and go to their chosen Discipleship University course.  The activity leaders will gather the children from Preschool Choir 6:00, so parents can go straight from their classroom into the sanctuary for worship at 6:00.

What about my teenager?  Discipleship University for students will meet at 5:00.  This time of in depth study for the teens will end at 5:45 so they can join their parents for the worship service at 6:00

What about Special Events?  On nights when there are special events such as Children’s Choir performances or when we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, regularly scheduled children and preschool activities will be canceled so that all families can be together in the worship service at 6:00.  Discipleship University will meet on its regular schedule at 5:00.  This will be the case on October 20 as we celebrate The Lord’s Supper. The new Discipleship University courses will begin at 5:00, but there will be no KidConnect activity or Preschool Choir at 6:00 so we can all be together in the sanctuary for The Lord’s Supper.

What about meetings that have traditionally been held at 5:00?  Meetings such as support groups and committees will still occur at 5:00.  These meetings happen infrequently and involve small groups of people.  Of course, groups are free to meet earlier but infrequent meetings can happen at 5:00 without any problem.

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Better Together Weekend

I am excited to announce that we have selected a theme and a weekend for our high attendance effort this fall.  November 9th and 10th will be celebrated at Poplar Springs Baptist Church as “Better Together Weekend.”

What can you expect?

On November 9th,  we will be celebrating God’s design for the church to be Better Together by organizing service projects all over our community.  We will be asking each Sunday School class to plan and carry out some kind of service project that morning.  The Children’s Sunday School Department will provide a pancake breakfast that morning before the projects begin, and the Preschool Sunday School Department will provide morning babysitting at the church so that the adults can serve with their classes.  Service projects can be simple or elaborate.  Classes are welcome to do yard work for the elderly, have a free car wash, or any other creative idea you come up with as a class.  The church will provide “Better Together Weekend @ Poplar Springs Baptist Church” yard signs to put out as you serve.

better together weekend

On November 10th, we will come together to celebrate being Better Together in Worship and Sunday School.  We are setting an attendance goal on that day of 725 in Sunday School small groups.  The vision for this day has two parts.  First, we are challenging our classes to contact every single person on their roles with a personal invitation to participate in the weekend. We have 961 people on our church Sunday School roles.   Invite them to come serve with you on November 9th, and then to come sit with you on November 10th.  Many people who have fallen out of fellowship at church don’t come back because they feel they have lost their place at the table.  Serving together bonds groups, and provides an opportunity for people to feel they belong before they come.  (Plus we can do some really good things to bless people!)  Second, invite your friends and neighbors.  I really believe that Poplar Springs Baptist Church is Better Together.  It’s the way God created us to thrive, in community.  This will be a weekend to invite all of your friends and neighbors so they can experience the greatness of what God is doing in us…together.

Next week’s teacher training will be a very special meeting.  More details will be coming about this special weekend.  Please make every effort to attend, or at least have a representative from each class present.


Categories: Keeps People Connected, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Studies God's Word Together, Sunday School, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

One trait every teacher should have.

In every resource I have read lately about what it takes to be a great Sunday School leader, I have noticed one theme that keeps showing up.  Authenticity.  One might argue that this quality is essential for any leader, but especially for the man or woman who seeks to shepherd souls and teach God’s word.  But what does it mean to be authentic?  Bill Donahue shared some thoughts recently about what authenticity is not.


Authenticity: Yes, authenticity is an overworked word… but it remains an underutilized practice. I believe this is because it is often misunderstood. Sometimes it is interpreted as putting all your cards on the table all the time, totally revealing everything about yourself.

Not healthy. We have reality TV to thank for that perspective. Unbridled and unwise communication and action is not authenticity – it is simply overexposure. And, like too much sun without sunblock, it does more damage than most relationships can tolerate.

Or, people fake authenticity with trite phases and clichés. “I totally understand what you mean!” “Wow thanks for putting yourself out there, Susan. It felt so real.” Or what a women said in a group I was in “I hate my husband, he’s a creep!” That was certainly real…but was it wise to share in the second meeting of a small group just learning to become a community and trying to take basic risks?

Rather, true biblical authenticity is revealed as a leader’s heart is moved by the compassion, confidence, and grace of Jesus.  The compassion that comes as one’s heart is moved by the love of Christ towards others inspires us to make real contact with them.  It draws us away from our safe zones and compels us to have sincere interactions with the people we care about.  Confidence in Christ inspires confidence to be vulnerable without the fear that people will discover you for a fraud or as someone who is less than they thought you should be.  In Christ we are all broken and humble and yet healed and bold.  Because Christ is strong in is, we can be vulnerable in Him.  When we understand the profound implications of grace we neither fear judgement or rush to deal it out.

We must be committed to authenticity.  People were drawn to the New Testament church, not because they were perfect and had a flawless plan, but because their weaknesses were publicly out shined by the power of Christ in them.  Like Paul, we must rejoice in our weaknesses and allow Christ to be shown all the stronger to our community as He shapes us into the church He desires.

Wouldn’t you rather learn from someone who was being authentic with you?


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Gospel Centered Leadership Part 2

What does it mean to be a Gospel Centered Leader?


Greg Breazeale has written a wonderful article about the effects of the gospel on a leader’s heart.  The gospel should have a profound effect on leaders and the way they understand who they are in Christ, as well as what they have been called to in Christ.  As each of us grow in our faith and spiritual disciplines, these are some wonderful marks that should characterize our lives.

Here are the final three characteristics:

They Have No “Game Face”

The Gospel doesn’t give us a game face to lead. The Gospel gives us a new heart filled with love and affection. It is not one more weapon in our leadership utility belt. The Gospel enables us to weep when it is time to weep and rejoice when it is time to rejoice. GCL’s don’t have to worry if they are performing correctly in a particular situation since their heart is buried in the Gospel. They are free to take the blame in situations and give praise in others. Their ultimate worth and value does not hinge on results or failure because, to be honest, they are not that concerned with themselves. They are free to be honest about a particular decision or result, admit failures and mistakes, and boldly trust in the God who took on flesh and died for them to carry them forward. GCL’s can afford to look bad in front of the team. They don’t have to take themselves too seriously. They can take a risk as quickly as they can admit a mistake.

Wisest Fool In The Room

The Gospel reveals to us that we are not wise. We must become fools in order to embrace wisdom. We become fools by embracing the foolishness of the Gospel. When leaders realize that it took Christ dying and rising again to save them, they never walk into a meeting with a swagger. They walk in confidently to be sure, but their only confidence is in the Gospel. They know that walking in their own wisdom only leads to pain and frustration. Proverbs is clear that being wise in one’s own sight is worse than a fool. Therefore a GCL is always learning and growing both in the Gospel and in leadership.

Takes Blame and Gives Credit

The Gospel is about an exchange, Christ takes our sin and we get His righteousness. He gets the blame for what we’ve done and we get the credit for what He has accomplished. Leaders are at their best when they are taking the blame and giving the credit to others. When things go wrong they are the first to take responsibility. When things go well they are the first to give the credit to those who work, prayed, planned, and performed.

And a final comment from the author.

Becoming A More Gospel-Centered Leader

How does one become a more Gospel-centered leader? Many ideas come to mind, but let me leave you with one: Exult in the Gospel. Only the Gospel can make you more Gospel-centered. Books on the Gospel, songs about the Gospel, and the culture built around Gospel-centeredness are gifts from God. But they are only echoes and scents (to borrow from CS Lewis) of the Gospel, not the Gospel itself. It is possible to love the idea of Gospel-centered leadership but not love the Gospel. So dwell in the Gospel. Exult in it. Learn about it. Meditate over it. Be open to radical changes God wants to make in you. Let it shape how you serve and lead those entrusted to you.

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The Gospel Centered Leader

What does it mean to be a Gospel Centered Leader?


Greg Breazeale has written a wonderful article about the effects of the gospel on a leader’s heart.  The gospel should have a profound effect on leaders and the way they understand who they are in Christ, as well as what they have been called to in Christ.  As each of us grow in our faith and spiritual disciplines, these are some wonderful marks that should characterize our lives.

One other important point, in a culture of gospel centered leadership, we should all give and receive the permission to lovingly hold one another accountable.  None of us are always at the top of our spiritual game, I am certainly not.  But I want you all to know that you have my permission to graciously call me to task if I do not reflect these characteristics in my life.  In other words, I commit to you that I will do my best not to be defensive or immature.  Pastors and all gospel centered leaders should be clear with the people they serve that it is safe to talk with them about concerns and disagreements.

Authenticity and accessibility are crucial marks of a gospel centered leader.

I will share 4 of the characteristics of  gospel centered leaders this week, and 3 next week.  Feel free to comment here or on Facebook to share your thoughts.

They Love The Gospel

GCL’s love the Gospel. They love to talk about it, sing about it, and tell it to others. The death and resurrection of Jesus, and their union with Him moves their heart like nothing else. They never tire of hearing the Gospel or preaching it to themselves. The Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16) dwells deeply and richly in them. They define themselves as people loved by God in and through the Person and Work of their Lord Jesus Christ. Their identity, value, worth, and significance—their life is found in Him. Everything must begin here. If you miss this, you will end up using the Gospel to make a name for yourself rather than using the Gospel to spread the fame of Jesus.

They Invite Critique

GCL’s know that it took God in the flesh dying and rising again to save them. Therefore they know they are not beyond critique and error. They find ways to receive feedback and critique from their friends, spouse, staff, or co-workers. If their identity rests only Christ and if they are convinced that God is for them, as the Gospel clearly reminds them (Romans 8:32), then no amount of negative or positive feedback can shake their foundation. GCL’s work into their life and schedule other eyes and ears to help them lead as effectively as possible.

They Are Bold and Humble

The Gospel has shattered the pride of GCL’s, and yet empowered them to boldly trust in the grace and goodness of God when it comes to how they lead. They can make hard decisions without fearing the opinions of others but also admit their mistakes and seek restitution. They don’t slump their shoulders or puff out their chests. They are humble and strong, bold and gentle, confident and self-deprecating. Only by trusting the Gospel can one become this kind of leader.

They Bear More Affliction Than They Give Out

The great mystery of the Gospel is that the one who owed us nothing gave us everything. The one who knew no sin was made to be sin to make us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). The one who was rich became poor to make us rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). The blessed one became the Curse to lift the Curse from us (Galatians 3:18). Therefore the GCL will look and listen for ways to absorb affliction when he has every right to dish it out. Every leader has to bring affliction. They have to discipline, fire, layoff, cutback, reprimand, etc. But the Gospel shines brightly when leaders winsomely bear the bulk of the pain and blame, especially when they don’t have to. I am not suggesting that performance standards in the workplace or the church be lowered because of the Gospel. I am suggesting however that the Gospel calls us to, at times, shower underserved grace (and all grace is undeserved) on those we lead.

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10 things that can make or break you as a leader.

Here is a great reminder from Chuck Lawless regarding leaders and the way they use words in their interactions with others.  Whether we always consciously think of it or not, Sunday School small group volunteers are leaders.  The minute you do anything other than show up, sit down, listen, and leave, you have taken on a leadership role.  Often, I find the truth to be that leadership in church is mostly about your approach to your place in the Kingdom, rather than whether or not you have an official role or title.  If you come to Sunday School or worship intentionally looking to be a blessing, you are a leader.

Similarly, we have LOTS of men at PSBC who are functioning as deacons.  Our constitution and by-laws prescribe that only a limited number hold an official capacity on an annual basis, but one doesn’t need a title to do the work of an office, nor does one need a set of by-laws to validate his role in the Kingdom of God.

As leaders in Sunday school, consider the following 10 reminders from Chuck Lawless about how important your verbal interactions with people are.  The small, seemingly inconsequential interactions you have with people can make or break you as a leader.


 I’m convinced that if you want to learn about leaders, you should listen to their words.
Do they greet others? The best leaders I know say, “Good morning” and ask, “How are you?” They understand that relationships facilitate achieving a vision, but that’s not why they speak to others. They’re just kind people who know that others matter. They recognize the affirming power of a few words, for a few moments, to a few people. A leader who walks past others without greeting them is simply too self-absorbed.
Do they speak more about themselves or about others? The focus of a leader’s words reveals the leaning of the leader’s heart. In the course of a day, do you hear about the their activities, exploits, knowledge, renown more than you hear about others? Good leaders point to others, knowing that their responsibility is to build an organization bigger than themselves. Their very words honor the teams that makes their effectiveness possible.
Do they speak more about yesterday or about today and tomorrow? Leaders who consistently speak of the “way things were” may be stuck in the security of yesterday, perhaps even in a previous organization. Their passion for today and vision for tomorrow are likely weak, if not non-existent. They may well be leading on fumes while gasping for yesterday’s oxygen. Indeed, the backwards-only looking leader is not leading at all.
Do they compliment as well as correct? You may know these leaders. They talk with others only when a problem occurs. Others dread seeing them approaching because they know the leaders have little good to say. Lunches are only for discipline, not for friendship and encouragement. Their compliments are few and fleeting, regardless of how hard others work. Often, their team feels underappreciated—and perhaps even used.
Do they speak of faith and prayer? I realize that expressing faith and prayer in some work settings is not easy, but leaders with a genuine faith will allow that faith to influence their words. They will not hesitate to speak about their God and their family of faith. They may not always pray aloud but will offer genuine prayer support for their team. On the other hand, leaders who speak little of faith and prayer may well be operating in their own strength.
Do they criticize or ridicule people in front of others? Some leaders get frustrated with people and then express disapproval to anyone in hearing distance. Others never miss an opportunity to ridicule people who aren’t as “smart” as they are. Here’s the danger with this kind of leader: if they talk about others in front of you, they may well talk about you in front of others. These leaders should not be trusted.
Do they honor their spouse and family with their words? The best leaders lead first at home and adore their family—so much that they talks about them positively. Every word about their spouse is honorable. They almost cannot help but brag about their kids. Leaders who ridicule or shame their family publicly are neither godly family members nor good leaders.
Do they use ungodly speech? The Bible calls it “coarse and foolish talking or crude joking,” and it is improper (Eph. 5:4). Some leaders fall into this trap to “fit in” with others, but such talk does not strengthen leadership. In fact, consider how many leaders have lost their position because of words they could not explain away once spoken. The wisest leaders speak only those words that build up others (Eph. 4:29).
Do they lie? To state the obvious, leaders are not trustworthy if their words are not trusted. Nevertheless, some leaders exaggerate statistics, overstate accomplishments, and embellish stories. In the ministry world, we even have an accepted phrase for it: “ministerially speaking.” We inflate the data and then joke about it—as if the truthfulness of our words really doesn’t matter.
Do they laugh in their conversations? Good leaders enjoy what they’re doing. They have fun, but not via ungodliness. They make the workplace a place of enjoyment without compromising the vision or neglecting the task. They look forward to coming to work, as do their team members. These leaders have learned to laugh at themselves, with their team, and in the face of challenge. A leader who never laughs is likely a leader without true joy.


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