18 February 2010

Leadership Fridays: Protect the words

Words matter.

Words are the fundamental elements of every idea and the main vehicle for every relationship. A word richly defined and commonly held, adds an efficiency and power to the sentences it inhabits. Conversely, communication loses power and intelligence when definitions lose their meaning. This affects the quality of relationships and the strength of an organization. Therefore, it is imperative that a leader work to build a common, robust vocabulary.

Church leaders should work to develop and preserve rich definitions for words like "gospel", "faith", "love" and "ministry." These words then become weighty contributions to every conversation. The Holy Spirit can break the heart with a phrase as simple as "Repent and believe the gospel" as long as the mind understands the biblical definition of "repent", "believe" and "gospel." With the wrong definitions, this sentence simply blends in with all the other noise and looks like it belongs on a sandwich board.

If you are involved with a Christian church at any level, you have most likely encountered the words membership, leadership and discipleship. They are often used to describe key elements of life together as Christians. But there are almost as many definitions for these terms as there are churches. Consequently, the words carry a vague meanings that are neither distinctive nor compelling.

Membership is different than discipleship. Without that distinction, people might miss the narrow path of following in Christ's footsteps because their "discipleship" box is checked after a weekly meeting. Discipleship is different than leadership. If this isn't clear, many people will sit on the sidelines of the Great Commission because making disciples only happens when a leader is in the room.

Over the next four days, I'll be posting a summary points from Summitview's Leadership Training on February 16th. In that message, I work to define membership, leadership and discipleship and distinguish them from each other. It is an attempt to drive the ball of our new focus to make disciples over building churches further down the field.

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