Effective Spirit-led administration is one of the keys to helping churches in their commission to fulfil the Great Commission. This annual conference, organised and hosted by New Life Church in Milton Keynes, has spread its wings this year by inviting an international speaker from Bethel Church, Redding, USA. I do not know Paul personally but have heard much about him and am pleased to pass on the brochure details.
An incredibly gifted administrator Paul has a passion for seeing the gift of administration released in the church today. He first trained and worked as a psychiatric nurse, and then transferred to the prison service where he became a prison governor with a vision to see lives transformed and restored.
A call into full-time Christian ministry led him from the United Kingdom to Bethel Church, Redding where he serves as the Senior Administrator. He runs a week-long School of Kingdom Administration that has blessed many people from around the world, helping both individuals and churches to value the gift of administration and those who have it. To find out more about Paul please visit www.paulmanwaring.com
Who should attend?
This training day will be valuable to everyone working in administrative roles, whether in a church or a secular organisation. Paul has extensive experience in both spheres, and will encourage you to hone your skills, and your ability to partner with the Holy Spirit whatever your workplace.
If administration is a key part of your job, discover how to introduce Kingdom values into your workplace.
Format of the day
The proposed programme is:
10am – Registration
10:15 am – Welcome and worship
10:45 am – Session 1
11:55 am – Session 2
1:00pm – Lunch
2:00pm – Session 3
3:15pm – Q&A
4:00pm – Finish
I recently read an excellent article on the Towinsome website. I felt it was so good and thought provoking I would like to point people to it, especially leaders. Although it is written primarily for non-’Western’ cultures it raises some very interesting and challenging points about assumptions it is easy to make. Thanks Andy for writing this.
“The things that go without being said are some of the most important parts of culture.” – E. Randolph Richards
I am not anti-American. Neither am I anti-leadership.
But I am going to list 10 reasons not to read American books on leadership, especially regarding church leadership.
These kind of books seem especially laden with tacit values that may have been contextually true in the place of writing, but are definitely not true in many other places.
1. Requirement of being a Linear-active planner, therefore eliminating most people in the world from ever being comfortable wearing this type of leadership.
According to the Richard Lewis model of culture, most Multi-actives could not be successful leaders because they will not be strategic, logical, planned or on task, and most Reactives could not be successful leaders because they do not initiate, create or drive. The problem is, I know many godly, faithful and yes, successful leaders who break all of Maxwell’s laws and don’t cultivate any of Covey’s habits.
2. Homogenization of leadership personality type (the “Extrovert Ideal”)
Susan Cain in her popular book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking is good on this. Her book was extremely successful, but it hasn’t changed the ingrained American leadership culture. I can remember wishing I was a Myers Briggs ESTJ (because all the leaders I admired were ESTJs), even though I am INTP, an introvert. “Introversion – along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness – is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.” – Susan Cain, Quiet
To read on click here…
I am seeking to answer questions sent to me. If you have any feel free to write to me with ‘Question’ in the subject line.
This one is about delegation
As an administrator I am caught between the 2 worlds of the ‘doing the thing yourself’ world & the ‘delegate it to others and keep myself free’ world. Right now I am in the 1st world and how should I get out of it. Because at the end it finally stops with me and so I might as well do it because if others don’t do it properly then I have to do it anyway.
This is a familiar challenge to the efficient and gifted administrator (and maybe others!). I think there are three things to recognise and consider.
On my business card I have ‘Pursuing Excellence’. I am a great believer in doing things well. I believe this is God’s heart (at creation he repeatedly looked on what he had created and said it was good Gen 1:4, 10 etc). I long for the day when the world comes to the church to find out how to do things well. This is the philosophy behind the Ministry Health Checks I carry out to help churches with their ministries with the poor ie how to evaluate a ministry and improve it, with an action plan to help them.
But beware perfectionism. That can be a rotten ‘master’ and lead to unnecessary attention to detail. Only God is perfect. To aim high is good. To strive to be perfect will only lead to frustration and disappointment, even burnout.
We need each other; it is no accident that we are called the body of Christ. In I Cor 12 and elsewhere Paul uses the analogy of the body to show that we are not all the same; to try to ‘do it all’ yourself will lead to failure as this is not God’s plan. ‘If the foot should say, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body’ (I Cor 12:15). It is not easy to feed yourself with your feet nor to walk on your hands! Each needs the other.
So, as an administrator who is used to getting things done try to be disciplined in being willing to get others involved. Not only will it save you from burnout but, if approached appropriately, people like to be asked and so you are blessing them! At first it may take a bit longer but as people develop you will be the winner with more time available to you for other purposes.
3. Developing others
As a corollary to the above try to delegate strategically so that the other person’s skills are being developed. I acknowledge that someone may not do it as well as you at first but we all have to learn. To give a responsibility or task to someone and show them how to do it is a great opportunity to teach them and develop their skills. So to keep a task to yourself can even be seen as selfish!
Jesus himself delegated. When feeding the 5000 he handed the rolls and fish to his disciples to distribute. I don’t believe this was only about getting the food distributed more quickly. It also developed their faith. Can you imagine their surprise when they say the bread multiplying in their hands?! And this was despite the fact that they had just returned from a ministry trip when they saw the miraculous happen (see Mark 6).
Delegation can and should be strategic. Next time you are tempted to get on and do something yourself, stop! Consider if there is someone else you can bless by inviting them to do it with or for you.
Recently I offered to answer questions related to church administration. While responding direct to the enquirer I felt that some answers might be of wider interest.
It is increasingly difficult to motivate people to join a team and to stay on in that particular team; most people leave the team or lose interest in serving within 4 weeks. Is that down to poor leadership, poor recruitment or is there a deeper issue with the attitude of serving?
Clearly there is something seriously wrong here. Lets look at it together and see if we can diagnose the problem.
Do people in the church understand what serving is about? It is not just about getting a job done but about vision and a desire to be like Jesus. To fulfil vision, or accomplish a goal, an ‘army’ is needed and we are all called to be ‘soldiers’.
It takes humility to serve. I am aware in your culture (this enquiry came from outside the UK) labour is cheap and people employ others to do the menial jobs. Do people understand that in the church we are different? We are all called to serve and this starts with the leaders setting the example. Jesus himself was prepared to put a towel around his waist and wash the disciples’ feet (Jn 13:4-5). If he can do it so can we.
When seeking volunteers I like to approach people direct rather than asking for people to respond in a more public way. This tells people I care for them; it is not just about getting a task done. I have noticed that they have something to contribute out of their gifting to serving in this way.
4. Job descriptions
Are people clear what it is they are being asked to do? However simple the serving opportunity it is good to have discussed with people what needs doing and hear from them any ideas they may have about how to do it. This gives ownership to the task.
Do you support people in their serving? Ask them if they are enjoying it. How could you make it more fulfilling and satisfying? Do you have intentional team-building times – meals together with the team etc? Do you provide training?
Is serving taught by the leaders? This needs to be both in word, from the Bible, and by example.
Serving is a wonderful vehicle for discipleship. People need to be reliable, faithful, diligent etc. If people prove faithful in the small things God will open up bigger ones (Matt 25:21-23).
These are some of the aspects of serving you need to consider. There is much more on this topic in a 9-part series I wrote in my blog, which you may wish to explore. Remember that a serving church is a happy church!
It was so stimulating to gather with over 250 passionate and like-minded people for the annual Jubilee+ conference! The opportunity to learn about how to be more effective in ministry with those who are poor and disadvantaged, to receive fresh vision, to network with others and to pray together, was an event I was determined not to miss. And my expectations were not disappointed.
Jubilee+ is an initiative that began within the Newfrontiers family of churches several years ago with a vision ‘To increase social inclusion and the relief of poverty through churches engaging with social action, social justice and social enterprise’. This is achieved through ‘equipping churches of all denominations to engage more effectively with our communities and, particularly, to help them increase their capacity to serve the poor’ by
- training leaders
- providing resources
- bringing encouragement
- establishing networks
- doing research
- developing relationships with partner organisations
- running conferences
Understanding the times
The Conference was held in the excellent facility of the Jubilee Community Church, East Grinstead in the UK (the venue moves to different parts of the country every year – next year Darlington, October 29th). The leader of the
initiative, Martin Charlesworth, opened the conference by taking us through scripture – the tax collector’s ‘poverty’ of exclusion and the man with the withered hand – to help us have an understanding of the times we live in, an era of severe cutbacks where those who are poor and disadvantaged are the first to suffer. He showed how the vision of Jubilee+ in this context is ‘to see the church in the UK be the champion of the poor and a means to healthy communities across the nation’.
He suggested that the economy is unlikely ever to return to its former stability, with welfare at previous levels. So now is the time for the church to take her place in being salt and light in practical ways.
Testimony is always powerful and Martin shared some wonderful stories of people, now in his church, who found hope in the gospel and have been helped to rebuild their lives.
The session ended with a time of one-to-one prayer for those who wanted an impartation of more grace to serve. Such times of prayer are a valuable and important part of this conference.
There were 5×2 seminars, nine of which were recorded and will be on the Jubilee+ website in due course:
- A robust theology for social action
- Empowering the poor
- Influencing decision makers (not recorded)
- Local church – doing business for social benefit
- Research – demonstrating the impact we are making
- Foodbank… what next?
- Leading a church growing in social action
- Shrinking State, growing challenge
- The myth of the undeserving poor
- Volunteers – mobilising, managing and maintaining
I attended ‘Empowering the poor’. The speaker, Angela Kemm, has huge credibility having worked for many years as a white woman in the townships in South Africa (watch this video made several years ago). She made herself very vulnerable as she honestly shared some of the successes and mistakes she made, always bringing us back to the centrality of Christ and the gospel as being the only true empowering way. She demonstrated how God has prepared good works for us to walk in (Eph 2:10) and has equipped us with the gifts of the Spirit to minister to others. She taught us from her own experience how vital it is to follow the leading of the Spirit in every situation, some, in her case, being very dangerous. But she was confident in the power of God to protect her – and He did!
Once again the session ended with one-to-one prayer. How I love these opportunities to be refreshed and receive impartation!
Chris, the CEO of The Trussell Trust, which franchises over 400 Foodbanks in the UK, spoke twice, once in a plenary session and then in a seminar ‘Shrinking State, growing church’.
Chris has a good awareness of the current social situation in the UK and pulled no punches about the serious plight of those who are at the ‘bottom’. The rapid growth in the number of Foodbanks in seven years from 29 to nearly 450 demonstrates how stretched the statutory services are. As further austerity kicks in, this is likely to become much worse.
Chris lives with a prophecy received about six years ago that there would be a diminution of public services (we are certainly seeing that!) and that there would be a return to former levels of poverty and a lower level of living. So convinced was he of this that, with the Trussell Trust, he started some homes in Bulgaria (you will need to click on ‘translate on the home page) to help minister to people in dire need, particularly those from the Romany communities who are 1/6 of the population. This was partly so that he could learn lessons of what such conditions might be like in days of greater austerity.
Chris’ final appeal was for us to consider our own lifestyles, a challenge that was endorsed by Martin. Are there steps we need to take to learn to live in simpler circumstances and to rely on God’s provision?
Churches that Change Communities was a fitting title to the conference. God has designed the church to be the change agent in society. As churches we must not be inward looking but recognise that we exist for the ‘outsider’. Are we prepared to consider the changes that are needed to bring this about? I know that I find myself greatly challenged by such considerations.
Since starting this blog I have sought to help equip the church in various ways, particularly in Administration and Ministry with the Poor. I have produced a series of booklets ‘Administration in the Church’ which may be of interest.
These are available for £2 each or £5 for the set plus postage from email@example.com. Please put ‘Book order’ in topic line.
Pause for reflection and Q/A
Speaking recently to Sidney Nevis, a long-standing friend and church leader in Mumbai, India, he suggested that some would welcome the opportunity to pause for reflection and ask questions about their specific situations. I am happy to be available to help in this way. So if you feel there are issues related to church administration (I may take questions on the Poor later) on which you would like advice please contact me on feeding5000isnopicnic
Depending on the questions I receive I shall either answer them on a one-to-one basis or through the blog if they seem to have wider application.
So get asking!
I find that many families carry significant burdens in their lives. Often we are ignorant of these as they appear OK when we see them among the church on Sundays. But dig a bit and you will find major issues. My wife and I faced this 23 years ago. One day I received a phone call in my office telling me that our son had been involved in a serious road accident. In that moment I thought ‘I think that life has just totally changed and we had no warning’. That proved to be true.
Andrew and Rachel Wilson carry a particular life-changing situation in their home with two young children who have regressive autism. Andrew, an elder of Kings Church, Eastbourne, is well known across the Newfrontiers family for his teaching and theological acumen. He is also an author of several books, the latest, written with his wife, Rachel, being The life you never expected. This is a courageous book as it exposes the reality of their day-to-day lives without giving all the answers. Although written to help others who have children with special needs it has application to others who face major issues.
The hard questions
In The life you never expected Andrew and Rachel address many of the questions which we all ask – ‘Why did this happen?’ ‘Is God answering our prayers?’ ‘What about healing?’ etc. In doing so they have the refreshing courage to say on occasion ‘we don’t know’, important when they face the daily challenges of two very demanding children. At such times it is not helpful to receive a somewhat super-spiritual answer but better to acknowledge our limited understanding – though I am not implying that they don’t focus on God! They do so in a very impressive and tenacious way.
Interestingly written in five cycles, each with five chapters – Weeping, Worshipping, Waiting, Witnessing, And Breathe – they openly admit this is a work in progress and that they do not pretend to have all the answers. For them there are many challenging years ahead and they realise their views may change with time and experience. But this book is earthed in reality including, for instance, guidance for friends and family on how to interact with a family immersed in demanding situations.
This book is not a ‘good read’ in terms of being enjoyable light reading – but it is certainly captivating. I commend it to you whether you face life-changing issues yourself or you have friends who do. It will give you insights which are not theoretical. Let it shape your love for and care of those who live in a highly demanding 24/7 environment of challenge and unpredictability.
How we became involved with India
I first visited India with the International Leprosy Mission in January 1981. Terry Virgo had just begun to gather a team of men who, in due course, became the leaders of Newfrontiers, a family of churches around the world. When the team first met in September 1980 we had contact with a few churches in south east England – and one in Bombay in India! Little did I know on what first visit that God had in mind. He used the visit to put a hook in my heart and since then I have visited India on many occasions.
Initially there were some issues that needed resolving in the church in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Henry and Dorothy Tyler lived there for four months helping bring clarity. Subsequently other churches became part of the Indian ‘family’ and friendships were formed and churches planted in other cities. I used to visit wearing my ‘admin’ hat where specific projects were being initiated, such as the building of a training centre in Goa and a Management Centre in Bangalore, both of which provided accommodation for the local church.
In due course centres developed in the state of Maharashtra (including Mumbai and Nassik), Goa, Bangalore, Kerala and even into north east India in Meghalaya. (Orissa is also mentioned in the video below).
In 2002 some further issues arose among the churches and Guy Miller and a team he was leading focussed significant attention on helping these issues to be resolved. Personally I found myself visiting every 3-6 months, building on the friendships I had developed over the decades and helping bring clarity to the ministries with the poor, my heart’s passion.
In 2011 it became necessary to redefine the family of Newfrontiers worldwide in order to accommodate growth and also acknowledge the handing over of the leadership by Terry to others with apostolic ministry. Newfrontiers thus changed from being a family of churches to becoming a family of apostolic spheres each of which included its own family of churches. At that point the churches in India became part of two spheres. Most looked to Guy Miller who was leading the emerging Commission sphere while others reached out to Steve Oliver, leader of Regions Beyond.
Personally I have not visited India since 2011 so I welcomed the opportunity to meet up recently with some of these old friends when they came to Guy’s Bible Weekend. Join me as I talk with Vinu Paul who is now leading the ‘Commission’ team in India. It is an exciting update!
Click on photo:
We live in an age where sustained reading is becoming less common, where people expect sound bites and a high level of graphics. Reaching people with the Bible in written form is becoming more and more challenging. With this in mind I was excited to learn of a project being carried out by a member of the City Church in Bristol (pen name Simon Amadeus Pillario) who is taking significant portions of the Bible and reproducing them word for word with comic illustrations of the highest quality.
Comics are one of the most rapidly rising areas of popular communication, not, as might be expected, only among children, but among those in the 15-40 age groups. So this initiative is very timely, providing a resource to reach out to a section of the community which has a high percentage of unchurched people.
Attention to accuracy
Simon is paying great attention to detail. ‘The material is Historically accurate, unabridged and an untamed graphic novel of the Bible with a high view of scripture. The word-for-word comic presentation of the Bible is like a commentary or an illustrated encyclopaedia; its commitment to present the scriptures as authentically as possible determines its dedication to the historical and geographical accuracy and the importance of every word of the Holy Scripture’.
The first instalment is the Book of Judges; here is an extract from the story of Samson (nb poor graphic quality is due to my blog not the original material).
The following video gives some insight into the project, which also includes an opportunity for people to become involved through crowd funding.
A recent press release reads: “His passion is to get God’s Word, in full, into the hands of believers and comic lovers aged 15-40, in the hope they will come to really know God.
With so many young people leaving the church in their late teens this work aims to bridge the gulf between kids’ Bible stories and the actual text of the Bible. In addition, it will be in-depth enough to act as a visual Study Bible for mature Christians and exciting enough to reach comic readers who would never enter a church.”
I encourage you to support this project, as does Terry Virgo:
“The Word for Word Bible Comic is immediately arresting and I cannot help being impressed by the thorough going commitment to research and the Biblical text in order to make it as accurate as possible”.
In 1979 the first Downs Bible Week was launched at Plumpton Racecourse in Sussex, UK. There were 2900 who camped there on that occasion. Over the next ten years this grew to 8,500 until, in 1988, God told us to close the Bible Week and ‘take the Downs to the nation’. This resulted in the Enjoying God’s Grace tour (fondly called the EGG tour!) with a weekend conference in 16 cities. Meanwhile, for two years a youth event was held at Plumpton, More than Conquerors, the forerunner of Newday.
In 1991 the Stoneleigh Bible Week was launched in the heart of the UK, near Coventry. Starting with 8,500 this grew to 28,000 over eleven years. Then God told us to ‘Go!’, a commission that has taken us from 250 churches in about 40 nations to nearly 1000 churches in at least 70 nations.
Last weekend I visited Westpoint, the Bible Weekend organised by Guy Miller and his team from the Newfrontiers sphere known as Commission. Just over 3000 attended. As I walked around the site seeing people enjoying fellowship outside their tents and joined the enthusiastic worship in the main venue, followed by outstanding preaching, I reflected on what God had done in the past 3+ decades. Much was similar to Downs – a field of campers, marquees for the children to meet in, straw bails as seats in front of a second stage on which bands performed – and the inevitable sign warning people of boggy conditions underfoot! And yet this was a gathering of people from only one of fifteen similar spheres around the world. Indeed, two other Bible Weekends were taking place at the same time in other parts of the UK, and others had happened earlier in the year. Meanwhile I was hearing good reports of the huge blessings from Newday attended by 7000 people, of the Together on a Mission leaders conference that had just been held in Kenya with Peter Brooks from Australia as one of the speakers, and I had spoken recently with Terry Virgo who had just returned from speaking at Celebration North East in the USA, one region of John Lanferman’s sphere. Just a few examples of multiplied occasions for people to gather to worship, receive teaching, and be refreshed and reminded of the worldwide vision we have been given to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
My main reason for visiting Westpoint was to renew fellowship with leaders from India whom I have come to know and love over many years. They were an example of what God has been doing worldwide and continues to do through Newfrontiers churches, talking about significant church growth (several churches now hold multiple meetings to accommodate the numbers attending), church planting, ministry with the poor and so on. God is on the move and the kingdom is advancing.
If God can take the family of Newfrontiers churches from one to fifteen spheres in about 35 years, influencing hundreds of thousands of people in more than one third of the world’s nations, just think what can happen over the next 35 years! We serve an awesome God. Let’s acknowledge and thank him for what he is doing and what he has allowed us to be part of in our generation.
One of Mark Altrogge’s worship songs comes to mind: ‘I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation’. Let’s keep running!
Finally, listen and be blessed!
At the recent Newday God gave Stef Liston a remarkable poem giving a sweep of scripture. I have listened twice and will do so again. It touched me deeply and drew me out in worship of our wonderful Saviour. I urge you to download it and bask in the truth contained. Jesus – who was, and is, and is to come