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Passing the baton

relay
 
Transition is a demanding and unsettling season in any church or organisation. We in Newfrontiers have just experienced our most significant phase of transition when, as the original founder of the movement, I have handed over the leadership to the next generation.

Sometimes the metaphor of passing the baton is used with its unsettling challenge that races are often won or lost on how well the baton is passed, fumbled or even dropped.

Many models might be considered ranging from business practice when a fresh CEO is brought in to take over a company or a soccer manager switches from club to club with the hope that his particular magic will transform the team's performance and results. Evidently leadership is very relevant throughout scripture, from the raising up of key leaders such as Moses and David to the calling and appointment of the 12 apostles. In times of transition God's guidance is sought and found. God tells Moses to approach Joshua; David confidently tells Solomon that God has chosen him and similarly God tells Elijah to appoint Elisha in his place.

The King is dead; long live the King!

Undoubtedly there should be no confusion as to where the buck stops and who is now leading. Overlap periods can be helpful, but only to ensure that the baton has been safely passed, not so that two centres of gravitational influence are at work in the same room. Where decisions have to be made by the team with its new leader we don't need the former leader in the room with everybody trying to interpret his body language.

What should be retained?


If a movement or local church has enjoyed fruitfulness and blessing, it would be wise to ask why? What values have been undergirding the blessing which it has been enjoying? So the upcoming generation, who may well see need for change or fresh developments, would be wise not to abandon thoughtlessly key principles appreciated by a previous generation. What has been fundamental and what is incidental? What walls are load-bearing? Which would be disastrous to adjust or remove?

Fresh face but consistent values


Paul urged his friends to embrace Timothy as they would have embraced him and argues that Timothy had served with him as a son with a father and that he knew his ways in Christ. He understood key issues and what matters and what is peripheral. How important is continuity to those who follow or belong to the enterprise? How much change will people embrace or will they feel that the number on the bus has so changed that they will jump off at the next stop?


Same flock but new Shepherd


The ultimate model for leadership in the Bible is the Shepherd with his sheep. This constitutes the fundamental leadership metaphor with its ultimate reality, "My sheep know my voice and follow me; another voice they will not follow." Here lies the essence of the challenge of transition. Will they follow another voice? Of course these are the words of the unique Shepherd, the one who stood with unrivalled shepherding skills and who drew unrivalled devotion and loyalty from his flock. The wise leader today will not allow himself to be seen in similar manner or expect the same dedication from his followers.


Teamwork plays a big part in time of transition


Eldership in the new Testament is always seen to function in plurality. Teams of leaders are safeguarded from the challenge of transition from one supreme leader to another because of the strength of plurality, so that one exclusive voice is not replaced by another. In a context of teamwork transition is safer to handle.

In any transition no one should assume that he automatically has the trust of his followers. Trust and security have to be won. Wise leaders proceed with caution, humility and grace, believing that God will gradually realign people to have confidence in their leadership as they begin to display their own character and leadership gifting in the context of values held dear and  purpose pursued albeit with a fresh voice and a fresh face leading the way.
 

Photograph by sum_of_marc


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The Marriage House

the marriage house

The Marriage House


by John Kpikpi


The apostle Paul described his ministry in a rather striking and unusual way, namely 'to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith' (Romans 1:5).
 
As an apostle, he was sent by God to the nations, calling them to obey Him. Surely all peoples should obey the God who created them. If God made the world and everything in it, including us, it's only right that if He sends a messenger in His name, he should be able to call us to obey Him.
 
He could have simply commanded obedience; but Paul was speaking about a particular type of obedience, namely 'the obedience that comes from faith'. This comes not only from reverence and respect but from genuine confidence in God. God loves faith. Indeed without faith, it's impossible to please Him.
 
The Root of the Problem
This takes us back to the root of the human problem. Our forefathers were tempted to eat the fruit that would make them wise, they could be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Satan argued that they didn't need to obey a God who  was obviously holding out on them.
 
If they became wise, they would have independent knowledge, they could judge good and evil without reference to Him. As they yielded to temptation, they expressed lack of trust in God and were disobedient, turning the whole human race into 'children of disobedience' (Ephesians 2:2). So now, true to our nature, we disobey. A culture develops independent of God, forming its own wisdom, its own values and practices.
 
When the gospel comes to us with its amazing message of God's grace and kindness, telling us how Christ died for our sins, forgiving us, redeeming us, reconciling us to Him and even adopting us into His family, our hearts are changed. We understand God is a loving Father, who can be trusted and wants the very best for us.
 
Now, we come to see His instructions are rooted in His love and wisdom. Now, in love and gratitude, we desire to obey Him. This leads to a life of obedience that comes from faith.
 
What Does God Want?
This new redeemed lifestyle then has to invade every part of our lives, Including our marriage and family life. It may be that before we became Christians we embraced all kinds of attitudes to marriage that are not found in God's word. In fact, the attitude of a whole culture to marriage can be far from God's will, and even strongly contradict it. The insights in this book may even shock and surprise you. God's desire is that from a heart of faith and confidence we carefully investigate His word to find His instructions, and then joyfully obey them.
 
If, as a Christian, that is your desire, you are now hugely blessed to have this book in your hands. John and Alexandra have searched the scriptures, and now bring you a book that accurately reflects the values found there. With insight, sensitivity and godly wisdom, they present you with a great summary of biblical truth on the theme of marriage.
 
Let me encourage you not only to read it, but to embrace it wholeheartedly. Where it differs from what you may have previously thought and even practiced, let me urge you to abandon all prejudice and apply the faith that Paul refers to, realising that the God who instituted marriage really does know what is best, and wants things done in His way, for our good and for His glory.
 

You can buy the book here.


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Sermon | 300 Leaders conference: What is the fivefold ministry


In this sermon, Terry looks at the role of  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the Church.

This sermon was preached at the 300 Leaders conference which is hosted by Jubilee Church, Enfield.


Audio
 


Click here to download

 

Interview with Tope Koleoso and Eddy Leo


 


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