Posted 2 years 126 days ago ago by Hugh Ballou 0 Comments
...Is divided into four sections:
Foundations give the leader the clarity to know how to lead the team because the final result is clear; second, build and maintain effective relationship to assist in getting to the vision; next, develop effective systems allowing each team member to excel and to work together efficiently; and finally, create balance in work, in life, and between work in life. This month I interview Dr. Paul Borden, Executive Minister, Growing Healthy Churches in San Ramon, California.
As Executive Minister, he serves more than 215 churches in Northern California and Northern Nevada. As a international consultant, judicatory leader, former large church pastor, and professor of homiletics, Paul knows both what is required to transform congregations and judicatories and how to do it. His book Hit the Bullseye: How Denominations Can Aim Congregations at the Mission Field
has been used by over 50 denominations in leading change. Previously he has served Executive Director of the Teaching Church Network, Director of Church Consulting for the Evangelical Free Church of America, Co-Pastor of Bear Valley Church in Denver, Academic Dean and Professor of Bible and Theology at Western Bible College (now Colorado Christian University), and Pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey. Paul’s degrees include a Ph.D. University of Denver (Higher Education Administration), Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary, and a B.S. Philadelphia College of Bible.
The following interview is summarized below. If you would like to listen to the interview or download it for future listening click here
Ballou: The first area of leadership is around what I call Foundations. What thoughts would you have or wisdom would you have to share with those who lead and plan worship around the area foundations, which includes personal skills and clarity of vision for a leader?
Borden: Well, I really do believe, that vision is crucial. In fact, in a recent book, The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know
, they said one of the key elements that people are looking for in a leader, is that they are looking into the future. They are future oriented. One of the things I have learned is, that not only must I be future oriented, but for people to accept a vision, I must also create this equilibrium, or urgency, about that which is in the present. That when people have a choice between the status quo, which is the present and the future, they will not accept the vision unless they become uncomfortable and become dissatisfied with the status quo. So I really do believe in vision.
In fact, in our region, in 1997 we cast a vision. At that time only about 30% of our congregations were growing in any way, shape or form. And the vision was, that in 5 years, by the end of 2001, we would see 70% of our congregations growing. God did a miracle and met that vision. We actually ended up with 72 percent of our congregations growing, which was quite a phenomenon in terms of what's happening in denominations. It was at that point that we then began to cast a new vision. And that was that since we had about 150 healthy growing congregations, to see if God, in the next 10 years from 2002 to 2012, would let us plant 150 new congregations. We are 8 years into that and God now has allowed us to plant 80 that are actually launched and growing. Many of them starting with over two hundred the first Sunday that they met in worship.
The reason I say that is, I have found that vision is not only important, but vision needs to have some aspect to it, that is accountable. When we were seeing if we could lead transformation in our congregations, we actually were counting the number of congregations. And it was that accountability that said, “who do we need to work with?” It shaped strategy. It shaped behaviors.
The same thing has been true in terms of planting new congregations. We wanted the accountability piece, which, in our case, was an actual number to be big enough that if it happened that God did it yet small enough that it was not in anyway grandiose or something that was so far in the future that no one would say, you know even God can't do it, as it were. But it would be a challenge for us and yet hold us accountable. So, I think vision is crucial, but I think it needs to be shaped in such a way that it produces accountability because that then begins to effect your strategies, it effects your behaviors, it causes you to say certain things we're doing are working or they are not working and therefore we have to change it.
I find vision is the hardest thing for pastors, for leaders, for churches to grasp, to figure out, and to deal with, and yet it is in essence really a crucial element because without vision you know... Even the Bible talks about people being disorganized...
I use the word perishing because I think vision is God's way of producing hope, whether it's hope within a congregation, or hope within an individual ministry, or hope within a region of churches. And faith, love and hope are three of the big ideas of scripture and hope is crucial. So we really do believe in vision. I try to cast vision constantly. Vision leaks and I have to keep working at it but I am a firm believer in vision and without vision I don't think we accomplish much.
Ballou: Amen. The style of leadership that I teach in is Transformational Leadership. And, it's 180 degrees different from Charismatic Leadership. It's a hard thing for a lot of church leaders to understand that they're not in charge. It's not about them, which is Charismatic Leadership. With Transformational Leadership being the other side. It’s about the vision and the church. It's about God's vision, but we, as leaders are champions of that vision.
I remember you saying to Bishop William Willimon, and the churches in the north Alabama Conference of the UMC, that the great commission was not a suggestion. It is a biblical mandate. And churches that were not honoring that are disobedient to scripture. And I remember your conviction of reaching out and making disciples. It is a very powerful dynamic - and your very being.
So, I hear that principle manifesting itself through the vision. Before we go on to the next category… We have lots of different denominations represented in MME readers, but we have a community of balanced music ministries with all kinds of churches and different styles of worship. So, there's not one type of church, or one style of leader in our community.
As we bring people to the church, how does this Biblical mandate manifest itself in what we do, and the centrality of our community in worshipping together for those of us who plan and lead worship?
Borden: Well for me vision cannot be separated from mission, which is your purpose for existence. I really believe the greatest theological issue facing the Church of Jesus Christ is: is the church the custodian of the saints? Or is the church mobilizing saints to do mission?
Because it seems to me that however you land on that question impacts the very behaviors of the church including worship. As I consult with churches, often the question I get is about music - style of music, what decade or century of music do you do? And my response is you do the music that helps you achieve the mission in your context. Now if the church is the custodian of the saints then you're going to do worship or music or music styles that fit what the saints want.
If on the other hand the body sees itself on mission to change a community, to reach a community. Then your going to do the music that helps you do your mission. And when you go to countries that have not been influenced by 300 or 400 years of Christendom and Christianity, then you realize, as you look at these churches, if they haven't been influenced by American missionaries, that these churches recognize that everything they do is related to mission. Whether it's music, whether it's worship, whether it's small groups, whether it's a ministry to women, or children or men, you do it from a missional aspect.
The problem that we have is, that most churches in the United States see themselves as the custodian of the saints, which then puts you into saying, how do we please the saints, how do we help the saints, how do we deal with the tastes of the saints as opposed to doing mission. So, if you're on mission you could be doing music from the fourth century or from the seventeenth century if those are the kind of people you're reaching. On the other hand if you're reaching people who are very unchurched, and people who have no relationship to church you’re going to do a different style of music, because it's not about me, but it's about the mission that we want to achieve. So I think vision and mission really do impact the way we do ministry in very specific ways, Sunday, after Sunday, after Sunday.
Ballou: Perfect. I've often said that ministry is relational. If you have relationships with those you lead, then you're much more effective. Now there can be positive and negative sides to a relationship. So, how do relationships, play into your world in ministry as a leader of church leaders?
Borden: Well, everyone obviously comes to Jesus Christ on the basis of a relationship, and we see that in the way the Lord recruited his disciples. We see that even with Billy Graham, who a year before a crusade would do Operation Andrew, which was a way to develop relationships, and bring people to a crusade. Now, because we work in, primarily, what I call a free-church tradition, where there are no Bishops or there are no District Superintendents, we realize that people are only going to follow us willingly. Whenever you resort to coercion or whatever, you have lost, particularly in a culture that we face in the United States. So you have to get people to follow you willingly. That means that they must trust you, but the “aftertrust,” which is really a character issue, they must see you as credible.
And I find the biggest component to credibility is competency. And it has hit me in the last few months that probably no people other than pastors, worship leaders, youth pastors, no group comes to the role it is given, with less training, in competence than pastors. I mean, even doctors who spend 4 years learning about biology and chemistry. They have to go do residency, where they learn to practice under the eye of a good mentor. The same way with a pilot that does ground school, but then needs all kinds of training in the air. But, when it comes to pastors, we give them Bible and theology, whether it's at a college or a seminary, and then we say, “Go do ministry,” which today is a very complex thing to do well. And they are incompetent.
And, as a result of that incompetency, they lose credibility with the people. And therefore, people don't follow willingly. One of the reasons why I think we have seen God work in our region, in transformation and in reproduction both, is that we literally, spend most of our time helping leaders in established congregations, and leaders in church plants learn how to be competent - how to be competent pastors - how to be competent worship leaders - how to be competent church planters. Because, as their competency grows, they gain credibility with those who are following. And when the trust is there. And the character is there. And the credibility is there. People follow willingly.
Ballou: In the next area of leadership, we take the clarity of vision and mission, we engage in those meaningful relationships in the way you just described powerfully, and then, creating systems, we come together. And worship is sort of a system. But, we have other systems: meetings, planning and, etc. And leaders don't know how to do that. What wisdom, or advice, or thoughts do you for leaders that have a vision but don't have a way to put the team together and make it happen?
Borden: I like to distinguish between systems and structure. You've got to have systems no matter what your structure is. What I find is that in many churches and in many denominations, it's the structure that gets in the way.
I see structure like a skeleton in a body. If your skeleton can be seen you're in trouble. If you don't have a skeleton you're in trouble. But if your skeleton does not grow and develop you're in trouble. And so we want to create a structure that supports the mission. And so really what we work with in churches, and the way we function as a region is that we are very clear that there is a governing body, whether you want to call it council, elders, deacon, or board. Their job is not to manage the ministry involved. Their job is to govern, which is primarily holding a leader accountable for doing the mission. So there's a big difference between management and governance.
We are firm believers that God wants leaders to lead. He has not worked primarily through groups, in fact every time in scripture a large group makes a decision it's always wrong. He really works through leaders, but with leaders you must marry authority, responsibility, and accountability in order that the leader might to be freed up to do the mission. That means that the congregation then, or in our case as a region the pastors in the churches do the ministry. So we're very clear at the denominational level, our job is not the Great Commission; Jesus did not give that to a denomination. Jesus gave the great commission, to a local congregation. That's part of his body. That's part of his church. Our job is to help the congregation, or the congregations fulfill the mission, which is the Great Commission.
So, we really believe in accountability. We really believe in freeing up leaders and allowing them to run, and the result of that is that we have very few meetings, in fact our annual meeting, which is a one-day affair has about eight minutes of business and the rest is in training, in celebrating, and in worship. I go to very few meetings. I have one staff meeting a month where we touch base and the staff members are free to go and work. I just don't go to meetings. And, the best thing about my job in the last 13 to 14 years since I've been with Growing Healthy Churches is we just don't go to meetings. When I walk into a denominational meeting were there's a table and desk set up and clerks are going to be there, I go into the third stage of anesthesia, because I know that, something isn't going to happen. And the reason is, that you can see the skeleton. It controls things. And when you can see the skeleton, you're in trouble.
And people today need to be flexible to move and to change. And so we work a lot in setting up structures that support the mission and vision and making people accountable - not groups but individuals accountable for mission and for vision and for achievement and then if they don't do it, then there is a confrontation and if possible, if it needs to be, they no longer will be in that position. If they achieve it, they are rewarded. I keep my job and my role based on the accomplishment of goals, related to the mission. I don't work on a contract. I don't work on a term. I don't work on 5 years. But every year I am evaluated by my board, in terms of goals, and if we achieved the mission. I you have, then you keep the job. And if you haven't, then we need to look for somebody else.
Ballou: And so, as we have accountability for coming together Sunday after Sunday, creating meaningful worship together, how does that play into how we come together and how we work together? There is structure. There's a system of how we come together. I've been to worship services that just did not reach me. I think, wow we can bring people in, but we just, stop 'em dead in their tracks, because we don't reach them in their worship experience. So, as we are looking at evaluating and creating accountability you just talked about, and that centrality of worship, how does that, play into this?
Borden: Well we do see worship as a system within a church. And we teach our pastors that worship leaders, whether they are doing it directly, or through another individual who is the worship leader, that they are to be responsible for goals each Sunday whether it's goals related to rehearsal, to who's gonna be participating, how the worship will be done… We encourage our pastors and worship leaders to have very rigorous accountability sessions on Monday or Tuesday to evaluate it. To say: this is the purpose of the service. This was the goal. This is what we wanted to achieve. Did we achieve it? Did we not achieve it? And, I find that first of all there isn't that kind of rigorous examination. There isn't accountability for it.
And I also find that some people think that the Holy Spirit only works on Sunday morning. Which gives people freedom to do all kinds of things. We believe the Holy Spirit is as much at work on Monday through Saturday. As you're planning, preparing, rehearsing, and saying what does the Holy Spirit want us to do? We think this includes not just the music part of the worship experience, but it includes the way information is given, the way drama is done, the way sermons are presented… That it's got to be a total package in order to say how does this particular service help us this day to advance the mission? So how are guests treated, how are they recognized? And by the way if the audience is God, do we recognize that if we have believers in the service, how do we handle that? And if we have unchurched, unbelievers in the service, how do we handle that?
The New Testament is very clear that sometimes you do things differently if unbelievers are there. And we have found that the more that you anticipate unbelievers being there, the more they show up. God seems to send them. So we see worship as being a very key issue. In fact, I think most people still come to the church through what happens on Sunday morning. And if we do it only for believers we're not gonna see a lot of people new to the church coming in, because we've only done it for one group. And, we say, look you've got 2 constituencies you're dealing with. How do you deal with that? How do you anticipate it and plan for it?
Ballou: Perfect. We tend to complain sometimes that we don't let new people in, but we haven't opened the paradigm that allows for that to happen. We haven't brought that into our thinking as accommodating those kinds of people that visit church. That's a paradigm shift for me.
In one of the churches where I served as Director of Worship Ministries, which meant that I did everything related to worship including the music, we worked really hard creating three different styles of worship each Sunday. We found that people went back and forth between services because it was about the goals. It was about the theme. It was about the scripture. It was about the message.
We played down in 3 different formats. So we found it wasn't about style at all. It was about, maybe time of day, or just where people like to be, with whatever community. So this, focus on where do you want to be, what is your goal, and how you come together, we were very, rigorous in evaluating as a team, on Monday. So I really resonate with that. And we, we all put our cards on the table. We had five pastors and several musicians. We put all the cards on the table and said, okay, here's my stuff. And it was a very engaging community of self-evaluation and moving forward. So, I really resonate with that accountability piece. We're afraid of it sometimes, but it really helps us bring in the team spirit when we're open and vulnerable as human beings.
Borden: And I think the pastor has to take the lead in that, because if the pastor will not be open to genuine critique from people who are invested in the planning of the service, the others are gonna be hesitant in terms of critique. I find, as a leader, that I've gotta take the role. And, and it takes a while for people to learn that they could really say something to me that, maybe you should have done this, had done this differently, or handled it in another way, but when they realize they can say that with safety it then allows me as the leader to then also say that to them and it's a safe environment.
Ballou: Absolutely. And we haven't talked, but that's one of my pillars of Transformational Leadership - authenticity, high ethical standards. As the leader you model what you want to see in your team, your staff. That's a key point. The last of my categories is about rest. I was going to say "sabbath," but it's about balance. You know, in music we have rests. And they are there for a purpose. They're just not absence of sound - it's a functional piece and a clarifying moment. And it's gaining energy for what’s happening next. In the church I just talked about, the pastor's wife said, you know, the church is a black hole. And we do have to set some boundaries for ourselves as leaders both in personal life and in church life, managing multiple priorities, there's lots of ways to look at that one. So, as a leader and a leader of leaders and a pastor and a church professional, what would you share with the readers about creating balance in their life and in their leadership discipline.
Borden: Well, let me say there's a lot I hear about balance that scares me. There are times when I really don't believe in balance, because I think, when you are passionate, and prophetic, and interested in doing what is right, you shouldn't always have balance. I mean if we are on a mission, and we recognize that mission then I think we've got to be careful to say, how is everything being balanced. So when I come at balance from that perspective, I'm not always in favor of balance. When I come at balance in terms of boundaries, then I think that is very important.
I often go back to the passage where Paul says, if you can, it's best to be single because you've go more time for ministry. And he says there are some times even if you're married, you need to act like you're single, and yet, there's other times you need to act like you're married. So, when it comes to the responsibilities I have, I like to see God in the middle. I don't like to use a hierarchy but I like to see God in the middle and to say, when I'm doing my ministry I need to be really committed to that. When I'm resting, and I need rest, I need to be committed to that, and I need to find what works in my body's rhythms. So, when my children were growing up, I wanted them, at times, to see that God and ministry came before them, because I wanted them to learn that lesson. There were other times, however, I wanted them to see that they came before ministry, not before God, but they came before ministry, and they were important. And, I am leery of people who try to set a hierarchy where it's always the children, or it's always my spouse, or it's always the ministry, or it's whatever.
I think there are seasons in life and seasons in a week and different ways that God has wired us. My wife is an entrepreneur. She's a very passionate person. We find that there are times that we may go for an extended period without a lot of connection. But then we'll take two, three, four days. And when I take off, I take off. We go away. We do whatever. We go to movies. We read. We go to bookstores together. But that works for us. Because it works for us, doesn't mean every other couple should do it that way.
So, I find it's better to say, how I am I wired? What are the seasons of ministry? What are the seasons of my life? What are the seasons in the particular ministry that I'm with? And how do I draw boundaries, and recognize that I don't have to be everything to everybody?
But, when I am committed I want to be committed. And I don't want to be a double minded person saying, “gee I should be with my family at this point.” Or, “I'm with my family. I should be at work at this point.” I think it's a matter of focus, and putting God in the middle, and recognizing, if you will, like a pie, I give different emphasis at different times. When I give that emphasis, I need to be really doing it. But when I move to another piece, as it were, within that pie, I'm not doing the other thing, I'm now focusing on whatever that interests is. So that's what works for me.
Ballou: Oh, that's great. Everybody has a paradigm on balance but it's boundaries. When you're on, you're on and when you're off, you're taking care of yourself. So I love that Paul. It’s great stuff.
Do you have a thought you'd like to close with and share with people?
Borden: Well, I keep coming back to the fact that. If we really believe that faith in Jesus Christ makes an eternal difference in the lives of people, then why do we spend so much time serving those who already have a relationship with Jesus Christ and not focusing on those that don't?
Ballou: I love it. You have several books.
Borden: Yes, there are actually 3 out:
Hit the Bullseye: How Denominations Can Aim Congregations at the Mission Field where I talked about the turn around in the denomination. But I also talk about how do you turn around a local congregation?
Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field which is how do you prepare a church to get ready for systemic change? Not to lead it, but to get it ready.
Assaulting the Gates: Aiming All God's People at the Mission Field
which is the strategy we're now using across denominations, that is, I think, the most effective thing I know of in the country. Because we see consistently as we work with groups of churches, if they'll do the strategy, 50 percent of the churches, on average, that get involved actually make systemic change and begin to turn around.
Ballou: Thank you for sharing with us today. We are blessed. Thank you Paul.
Borden: Well, thank you. And thank you for the invitation Hugh. I appreciate it.
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