Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

My 2¢ on Church Leadership: Entrepreneur and Shepherd Together

Someone told me recently that they were having a hard time figuring out if I should be leading a church or in a think tank group. I’m certain that it was a compliment and a concern at the same time. The statement has stuck with me and I’ve decided that I really like being a part of the ideas for the future, but I want to be a part of bringing those ideas into reality. Does that make me an entrepreneur?

In a recent post, Carey Nieuwhof has built on a dialog with Karl Vaters about the how the church is in need of a shift, particularly in the way we value size and leadership.

Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds | careynieuwhof.com.

Carey has proposed the elevation of the value of “spiritual entrepreneurs” versus the traditional elevation of those who are “shepherds.” As I have dialoged with two friends on this issue, one suggested changing the term shepherd to “chaplain” and the other suggested we needed to see more “entrepreneurial shepherds.” Both of these guys are leaders in the church and so one could assume these two are pushing back on the change by trying to find a midway point while conceding a need for change. Like many situations, I can see multiple sides.

My first thoughts on Carey’s post was “why can’t we do a better job of teaming up entrepreneurs and shepherds?

Typically, we see entrepreneurs as risk taking, convention breaking, action-oriented leaders. While shepherds are seen as care giving, tradition guarding, consensus-oriented leaders. Is there a way to combine those two?

Some might search for combining them into one person. I think that is a lofty, idealistic goal that won’t work. I do think we can work hard to team up a entrepreneur and a shepherd.

When was the last time you tried to dive your car with only the gas pedal? How about the brake only? We know this is foolish! To drive, it requires a healthy use of both the brake and the gas pedal. There is often a coordination between the two of them, and possibly a third (the clutch).

Clutch, Brake, Gas Pedal

I remember learning to drive a standard transmission in Clarksville, TN. There was a particular hill heading into downtown that had a stop light at the top of it. I was paranoid that I would be caught at that light! I was afraid that I would not be able to properly coordinate the clutch, brake, and gas (three pedals, two feet) in order to take off when the light turned green. Eventually, I was faced with the challenge. Fortunately, I had been driving long enough by the time this arose that I was able to move ahead without sliding back into the car behind me.

It is true for too many years, the greater church has been riding the brakes. As shepherds have led through consensus and care, it has gone slower than many (like myself) would prefer. Those of us with a “heavy right foot” have been pining for the chance to open things up and see how far and fast we can go! As the culture shifts around the church, it feels like maybe we should just lay on the gas! I get it.

Yet, what if we need to work in tandem rather than in opposition. If you are wired as a shepherd can you help an entrepreneur? If you are an entrepreneur, can you help a shepherd?

As we read through Ephesians 4, the entrepreneur (the gas pedal) is closer to the apostle and evangelist. The shepherd (the brake) looks more like the pastor and teacher. I maybe wrong, but I think the prophet is the clutch. The point is, Jesus appointed each for his church so that the church would be fully equipped for the mission.

It’s time we stop elevating one over the other. It takes each of us. Today, we need to be innovative and bold about trying new things and reclaiming what hell has stolen from the kingdom. We also need to keep in mind that the church is a community designed to be caring and compassionate for those inside and outside our assemblies and fellowships.

How radical would it be for congregations, denom groups, networks, etc. to be intentional about pairing up entrepreneurs and shepherds. What would the church look like under those circumstances?

Count me in! I want to pair up! Any shepherds up to joining up?

End of a Season: The Closure of Grace Point

 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Image

Sunday, March 23, 2014, is Grace Point’s Finale. After 390 weeks, the experiment is coming to a close.

In early February, I sat and watched this year’s Super Bowl contest as the Seattle Seahawks overpowered the Denver Broncos, I was disappointed. The Broncos season was filled with so many highlights that it almost seemed inevitable that they would win the big game. Yet, as more than 111 million people watched, it became evident that the league’s best offense was struggling to produce any positive momentum. One could argue that it was the efficiency of Seattle’s Defense that stymied Peyton Manning and the high scoring Broncos. It could also be said, they just had a bad game. Either way, the game is over and a new season of football is in the waiting. Yet, it is still tough to go out on a defeat.

Football is one of the most popular things in our culture today. As NFL games continue to draw tens of thousands to stadiums and millions through TV audiences, it makes for an easier illustration. From the flag football games for grade schoolers, to Pop Warner Tackle for those in late elementary and middle school, to the JV and Varsity squads of High School, to the ranks of college, semi-pro, and elite levels of the NFL, football is all around us. Living in Odessa, Texas, home of “Friday Night Lights” it is even more apparent that football is everywhere.

The expectations to win are huge. Every player, coach, management team, and fan wants their team to walk away with the championship. We know these expectations will leave most of us disappointed. After all, not every team will win the championship. Some players won’t finish the season. Coaches will be let go. Teams will dissolve. Players will be traded. Fans will find new teams to rut for. Not every play leads to a touchdown and you don’t win every game or every season.

Needless to say, there is a lot we can learn about life by playing and watching football.

As a pastor and church planter, I struggle with the expectation to win. I feel like I am playing for the greatest reasons – the Kingdom of God. Sometimes my zeal can be a bit over the top, but I love what I do. Yet, just like a football game, not every situation leads to a score or victory and at some point you need a rest or a season to end.

Eight years ago, I experienced the end of a season of leadership in a struggling congregation. As pastor, I had poured myself into the efforts of turn around and seeking for a win. After 42 months, the management team of the congregation felt it was time to go different directions. I was let go. My season was over.

Within six months, I was on board with a new team. This was a start up team. In many ways it was a research and development group or experimental program. I was leading an effort to plant a new congregation.

In the effort to be new, we worked hard to not get caught in the patterns of “the way things had always been done.” We created an atmosphere of acceptance, casualness, and inspiration that attracted a lot of people from our city. We tested the boundaries of what could be done and experienced moments of impact. Over seven and a half years, we sought to be a group that would make a difference.

Today, it is hard to say, but it needs to be said, the season for Grace Point Church has come to an end.  Like the many teams, this is not how we had hoped our season would come to an end. As the founder and pastor, I had hoped we would have a longer and fuller legacy, but I know the time has come to move on.

For just a moment I want to applaud the amazing group of people who were willing to experiment with us. Through the years, on a meager budget of less than $80,000 a year, our team accomplished a number of good things.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Beautifying local school campuses
  • Inspiring other congregations in efforts of community engagement
  • Training worship leaders
  • Engaging children into the life of the church
  • Providing backpacks to school children in need
  • Serving the community through partnerships with local non-profits
  • Empowering international missionaries to translate the scriptures and raise up indigenous leaders
  • Assisting in planting other churches across the United States
  • Supporting orphans through child sponsorships and special projects
  • Providing curriculum to other congregations unable to purchase it for themselves
  • Offering cups of hot chocolate to families out on cold, windy days at the park and stores
  • Equipping people with the necessary skills to manage their finances
  • Allowing people to explore their faith
  • Introducing children and teens to Christian principles
  • Teaching people how to understand the Bible as it relates to how to live
  • Celebrating with one another as babies are born, marriages restored, and victories won
  • Mourning with one another as loved ones passed, marriages failed, and defeats were experienced
  • Baptizing new believers in swimming pools, hot tubs, and water troughs
  • Exposing people to the message of Christ that reminds us he loves less than perfect people
  • Loving one another, regardless of background or life choices

There are a variety of things that led to this decision to disband. Some of the challenges included:

  • An overemphasis of the worship gathering
  • An underemphasis of mentorships
  • An inability to fully create a shared “3rd place”
  • A demanding economic environment which leaves little margin in personal schedules
  • A limited number of core members
  • A sense of “if we preach the right message, God will bring the right people”
  • An assumption that we knew how to disciple
  • A failure to develop deeper friendships beyond the casual Sunday greetings
  • A lack of emphasis on stewardship

There are other things that we might add to the list, but I don’t believe it is necessary to list each of them today. Over time, I hope to explore each of the successes and failures and extrapolate lessons learned from each. For now, it is fair to say we got off the sidelines and did the best with what we knew and what we had.

There are a multitude of people who have made this season of my life possible. I could not list all who were involved without forgetting someone. Let me mention a few. First, Christy, Caitlyn, and Andrew. Their willingness to open up our home, chase after me because I forgot something, and release me to meetings, events, trainings, and more, have been overlooked. They have allowed Grace Point to be a part of our family and it will be hard to not have this a part of us any longer. Second, the Gregg family. This family is now more than one family, but to me, they’ll always be one I treasurer. The Greggs have walked with me throughout this season. The truth is I’ve run so fast at times, I’ve taken for granted that they would catch up. They’ve filled the gaps for me on so many occasions. Third, my Tuesday Lunch Crew. The conversations that I have had with a group of five other pastors in my city have allowed me to sustain and thrive. I can’t express how much they have “normalized” my feelings and fears. Finally, to the countless others who have prayed, supported, encouraged, and fought for and with us! This is where the list gets really long! Thank you to each of you. I know your names, I see your faces. I know this season of life was possible because of you.

Now, some of you maybe wondering what is in store for my next season. Outside of being a husband to Christy, father to Caitlyn, Andrew, and now Breanna, and a faithful follower of Christ who serves the church and loves the people of this world, I don’t know. We are waiting for our next appointment/assignment.

Thank you for taking the time to read this note. Thank you for the investment you’ve made in us. Thank you for this season of life.

“Now, all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Buzz Words and Idols – Jesus is the Subject

Observation: in our attempts to get our corner on the market of the Christian subculture, we lift up phrases like “the gospel” or “the anointing” like they’re what faith is about.

2nd Observation: we seem to be obsessed in Christianity with creating leaders as if that’s what Jesus, the apostles, and Paul focused on.

20140308-070130.jpg

When we pause for a second, it’s easy to see how “the gospel” and “the anointing ” are significant. It’s also important for leaders to be raised up with in the church. Yet, these things are buzz words and focal points for our various subgroups within the church, along with many others. These buzz words can quickly become our idols.

We need to check our language as words have significance and meaning. If we are talking about “the gospel” more than Jesus we are missing the subject of the good news. If we are focused on “the anointing” we can quickly miss the anointed one (Christ). If we assume we are to only raise up leaders, we will quickly miss the one we are called to follow.

It’s a slippery slope to worshipping an idol. Many of us don’t intend to end up a few degrees off course. Sin is like that. Sin is subtle, it’s just a slight deviation from the truth.

So, let’s make Jesus the subject. He is the Christ. May our lives reflect our desires to follow him!

Post Navigation