12 Witnesses

Let these stones be a witness to what we have done here this day.

4 Ways to Failed Leadership

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This is a true story.

“If the Lord, Jesus Christ, came down out of Heaven to lead these people, it wouldn’t have been good enough,” the Pastor’s wife said to the Student Pastor as he was departing the church a little over a year after his celebrated arrival.

There had been meetings both large and small.  Every time it seemed like things would get worked out.  Communication would be had.  The Pastor guided almost all of them, trying to bridge the gap.  Eventually, he would give up and offer the young minister and his family a lifeline.  He played a little politics, went to the Personnel Committee, and came up with a severance package.

Despite the Pastor’s recognition that some within the Student Ministry simply were not following their leader, he had some frustration with the Student Pastor, too.  He hadn’t always been wise. Sometimes naive. Sometimes temperamental.

But the guy was under so much stress, constantly being undermined and picked apart in ways that no one could withstand.

But then he gave them so much ammunition.

Failed Leadership: A Mixed Bag

Failed leadership is always a mixed bag.  Everyone bears some blame.  Frequently, however, the failure becomes inevitable when some or all of the participants quit listening and refuse to bear any responsibility.

When everyone is still willing to work, to grow, to repent, to try… Well, frankly, leadership success is almost guaranteed, with a slight nod to the unforeseen catastrophe that no one but God could anticipate. If everyone comes to the table with humble and honest hearts, a willingness to work through what is stalling the team, and a passion for the task, how can that team be stopped?

Well a breakdown, of course.  Here are a few things that can derail the team.


These can be found in either the leader or the team.

  1. A limit.  Someone decides they’ve had enough and are no longer willing to work with the other person or persons.  I have to admit that there is a time to stop, but that is when the other person is no longer trying.  You can still lovingly part ways and be gracious.  If, however, you are the one who gives up while everyone else is trying, then the fault is with you.
  2. A catastrophe.  This would include a moral collapse, but not a mistake, or even a sin repented of, such as an unkind or thoughtless word.  Be careful not to assign “moral failure” to someone who is no less righteous than yourself.
  3. Self righteousness.  Speaking of people no less righteous than yourself, there are no people less righteous than you.  We are all sinners.  All rebellious.  All unrighteous.  When we come to the table with a belief that only the other person is to blame, it is only a matter of time before the gears grind to a halt and repair becomes impossible. They will never live up to the moving standard of slippery perfection set in the mind of the self righteous.  No one can.
  4. Silence. It is not polite nor God honoring to be silent unless you can easily forgive and forget the fault of another. Since this frequently does NOT happen, bringing the issue out, in love and grace, is the only other option afforded the believer. Failure to address the issue will only lead to someone reaching their limit (see #1)

Any other ways that you can think of that would break down a team?

Crossing Cultures: Why Missional Identity Matters to a Church

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I watched a video yesterday in which John Piper described “missions” as taking the Gospel across cultural lines.

I’ll accept this definition readily and then reply by saying that the crossing of cultures is mandatory in the every day lives of almost everyone in the entire world.  We do it when we go to work or school.  We do it when we go to the store.  We do it when we visit our neighbors.

The people with which we deal in the course of our routine lives come from various places and they have different cultures.  They have divergent values and they speak in a dissimilar voice.

I admit that the differences are minute in many cases, but they are still there.  In other instances, we find dramatic disparity.

Which is why every Christian should carry the mindset of a missionary with him or her, wherever they go.  It is necessary that we seek to understand those around us:  how they communicate, what they think, what they value.  When we understand these things, we can more effectively share the Gospel with them.

The Missional Church is simply a church in which the members consider themselves missionaries in the context where they already live.  Rather than depending on the staff or a select group of “visitation” volunteers, all the members of the church take on the responsibility of living and communicating the Gospel to the various networks to which they belong.

If the church is made of people who don’t understand the separate cultures around them, the separate values systems… if it is made up of people who expect that the people around them already share their values… the spread of the Gospel is  diminished for two reasons.

  1. The church member does not recognize the need around them, assuming that their friends and acquaintances already share their values – Christian values – and is not motivated to share the Gospel to meet that unseen need.
  2. If the church member does attempt to communicate the Gospel, they will likely not attempt to communicate in a manner intended to be received easily by the hearer, but one that is easier for the teller.  It’s not unlike moving to Africa and then expecting the Kenyan to speak English so that you can communicate.  It might happen, but it’s not likely, and if they do they may not be very good at it.

If a church really expects to fulfill the mission of God to which it is assigned, the people must understand who they are:  Missionaries to their own world.

The Future of Denominationalism Schedule

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denominationalismI mentioned Friday that I was traveling to Jackson, TN for this conference and as you read this, I am on the road.

I mentioned that I would be blogging and twittering from there during the conference.  given that, you might want to check out my twitter feed: twitter.com/artrogers, or the missioscapes twitter feed: twitter.com/missioscapes, or even these guys, who will also be there: twitter.com/martyduren & twitter.com/micahfries.

My plan is to twitter live, either through my own feed or through the MissioScapes feed, or both.  Then I’ll recap thoughts in a blog post later.

Here is a schedule published by Union University that you might consider if you are looking to follow live tweets on particular issues:


Tuesday, October 6
  • 5:00 p.m. Ed Stetzer: Denominationalism: Is There a Future?
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m. Jim Patterson: Reflections on 400 Years of the Baptist Movement: Who We Are. What We Believe.
Wednesday, October 7
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Harry L. Poe: The Gospel and Its Meaning: Implications for Southern Baptists and Evangelicals
  • 10:00 a.m. Timothy George: Baptists and Their Relations with Other Christians (G. M. Savage Chapel)
  • Noon Luncheon Address – Duane Litfin: The Future of American Evangelicalism
  • 2:00 p.m. Ray Van Neste: The Oversight of Souls: Pastoral Ministry in Southern Baptist and Evangelical Life
  • Afternoon and dinner on your own
  • 7:00 p.m. Corporate Worship: Robert Smith, preaching, (G. M. Savage Chapel)
Thursday, October 8
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Mark DeVine: Emergent or Emerging: Questions for Southern Baptists and North American Evangelicals
  • 10:00 a.m. Daniel Akin: The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Noon Luncheon Address – Michael Lindsay: Denominationalism and the Changing Religious Landscape in North America
  • 2:00 p.m. Jerry Tidwell: Missions and Evangelism: Awakenings and Their Influence on Southern Baptists and Evangelicals
  • 6:00 p.m. Banquet
  • 7:00 p.m. David S. Dockery: So Many Denominations: The Rise and Decline of Denominationalism and the Shaping of a Global Evangelicalism
Friday, October 9
  • Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30 a.m. Nathan Finn: Southern Baptists and Evangelicals: Passing on the Faith to the Next Generation
  • 10:00 a.m. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.: Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism (G. M. Savage Chapel)

*There is one caveat.  I am also dealing with a great many things personal and professional while on this trip.  I am not guaranteeing that I will be at every session to tweet/blog.  I fully intend to be at the ones I perceive as most relevant.  This is not to discount any of the speakers or their topics, but to simply let everyone know that other things may take precedence for me.

Among the Roses and the Lilies

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“The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?” [from Martin Luther, as read in Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer]

Completely ripped off from: Joe Kennedy

GCR Task Force Listening Luncheon

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GCR Task ForceIf you had told me 3 years ago that I would be sitting, at Ronnie Floyd’s invitation, in his church listening to him, Johnny Hunt and Al Mohler talk about the SBC as being in decline and the need for us to deconstruct that which is complex and bulky to get to what is efficient in accomplishing God’s Mission – I would have thought you insane.

But there I sat, front and center, listening to them say some of the things I had been thinking for years.  Even taking some hits from some dude channelling the spirit of Roger Moran until interrupted and chastised by both Hunt and Floyd, being further corrected by Mohler.

How did I get here?  Am I dreaming?

Some will complain that these guys are just classic middle adopters, attempting to lead from the middle.  Others will say that they’ve offered nothing new.  I’ve heard others say they are simple politicians, finding the flow of the crowd and getting out in front.

Those things may be.  I can’t tell you, but you see, the thing about a middle adopter is, he’s adopted.

These guys seemed pretty genuine to me.  If not, time will tell.  The telling of their sincerity will be in Orlando and it is something for which they asked.  Judge us by Orlando.

Fair enough!

Before I quit blogging about the SBC, I said that if the statesmen of the SBC stood against the wall while I stood to the mic, then the SBC will fall away into decline and there would be no stopping it.

The big deal about the principles and ideas being put forth by the GCRTF is that those speaking are not on the fringe of power within the SBC, but they are the leaders and statesmen.

About time.  Well done.  Thank God.

121 Forum at Frederick Boulevard

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The Great Commission Resurgence, MissioScapes and Partnering with the Unholy

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Right now, over at MissioScapes, you can read an article from Marty Duren that is the beginning of a series entitled, “If we were the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.” It’s Marty being Marty on the SBC and I know some of you have missed that stuff. My article will be there in a few weeks.  There are a few scheduled to drop between now and then, but all will be worth your while, I think.

Oh, and please remember that the MissioScapes blog is ideological, not political, and not focused on the SBC.  Rather, since the SBC has made the move to further its ability to fulfill the Missio Dei, it seems that we are focused on the same things at the moment.  No, I don’t think we are always focused on the same things as the SBC, if that question crossed your mind.

Not to ignore my postings here at 12 Witnesses, I’ll be dropping an article this week about Christians intentionally partnering with the unholy.

I hope to pique your interest by saying that I think we should do it.  Alot.

Gregory Boyd -The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church

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Interesting what this evangelical pastor has to say about the church’s involvement in the political process.  All three videos = just over 20 mins…

Restructuring the Church for Missional Engagement

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The chair of our Missions Team sent me an email last night asking what we would have to do to get the individuals of our church starting their own engagement opportunities rather than the team creating centralized opportunities that most will not engage.

This was my answer:

The missional mindset within the individual will never come from an institution. It is caught like a virus from close contact with one who already has the “disease.” This is the biggest point of small groups.

Missional interaction as a small group and the group holding the individuals accountable to be missional is the key to allowing the Missional mindset to make its way down to the smallest level – the individual.

The great problem we have is the baggage we all bring by way of expectations of what the church is and how it should work.

We are so used to the centralized institution doing everything, organizing everything and allowing the few to do the work of the whole, that even good Godly men and women with a heart for service think that changing the church is “wrong” because it is not what they always have known.

What we have to understand in this process is that the only reason for the change is that it is more effective at getting individuals to grow as disciples and engage the world with the message.

Missional and Relational via Paul in Athens

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From Acts 17.

1. Paul was sensitive to the spiritual surroundings (vv. 10-17). He did not go there of his own intention, but was directed there by circumstance at the direction of Providence. He could have viewed the situation from a self centered worldview that would have led him to consider himself stranded and in need of support, possibly leading to a timid response to his surroundings. Instead, he responded to the vast number of idols by immediately proclaiming the Gospel.

2. Paul sought to help them understand (vv. 17-31). He did not expect those not exposed to the culture of Early Christianity to understand the Gospel, so he used the connections he had available. He walked the common pathway of Jewish heritage with the Jews in the local synagogue and marketplace. When the Greeks brought him to the Areopagus, he pointed to their acknowledgment of a God they didn’t know and drew upon some of their commonly held beliefs, quoting several local poets/philosophers.

Not mincing words or being timid, he communicated the truth through values they already held in common. For the Jews, the OT Scripture. For the Greeks, the belief they were all children of God.

3. The results were not Paul’s to govern (vv. 32-34). Paul proclaimed, many rejected, some were still open and a handful believed. Whether you believe that faith begins in man’s move towards God or in God’s move toward man, Paul is responsible for neither – only to faithfully offer the opportunity and allow God and man forge the result. Too often we concern ourselves with whether or not someone will respond and allow that to govern how we share or if we dare to offer the message at all. This is not our concern, but is between God and our friends.

We must be faithful to share.

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