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Ten Principles for Discerning God’s Will Together

  • Posted on: 2 December 2016
  • By: Randy Wollf

Whether it’s with a ministry team at church or with our own family, we regularly find ourselves trying to discern God’s will with others. In this blog, I will outline ten principles for helping us find God’s way together.

Principle #1 – Encourage Spiritual Growth

It’s important that we recognize that what people bring into a decision-making forum will influence the quality of their contributions. Those in a growing relationship with God will be in a better position to hear from Him. As people develop character that aligns more closely with Christ, their decisions will also become more consistent with Christ’s character (see my post called Character – The Defining Characteristic of Authentic Leadership for an explanation). As we build each other up in Christ, we will make wiser, more God-honouring decisions.

Principle #2 – Pray Before, During, and After Decision-Making Meetings

We desperately need to hear from God. Prayer strengthens our communication link with Him. As we ask God for wisdom, He will guide us. Prayer also connects us to the One who will give us the strength and courage to live out His calling (see my post called Living Out God’s Call).

Principle #3 - God Speaks in Many Different Ways

As we pray, discuss, debate, and plan, let’s be open to God’s still small voice breaking through in unexpected ways.

Principle #4 - Build Diversity Before Driving to Consensus

Groups often push for consensus too quickly. Give people time and space to contribute their unique perspectives. Explore many options. Then, prayerfully discern how God is beginning to shape some of the ideas into a cohesive sense of direction.

Principle #5 - Hearing Multiple Perspectives Can Grant Greater Clarity about the Situation and Possible Solutions

We know from Scripture that, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Of course, this passage assumes that we actually hear from the advisers around us. In group decision-making, this means that we need to employ mechanisms that allow people to contribute meaningfully as equal participants in the discernment process. 

A Bus Ride That Took An Unexpected Turn

  • Posted on: 28 November 2016
  • By: Randy Wollf

BusIt was going to be a three-hour bus ride. I sat down by myself and hoped it would stay that way. 

Just as we were about to leave the bus terminal, one more person got on the bus. Sure enough, he sat down right beside me.

Even though I still wanted to be alone, I started feeling guilty about my selfish attitude. I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to speak to this person, get him to say the first words.” 

A few minutes later, the man picked up his book and started reading. I thought, “This is good.” 

Then, it happened. The man put his book down and looked at me. I started getting worried. 

His very first words to me were, “So, what do you think about God?” 

For the next three hours, I had the opportunity to listen to and share the Gospel with my new, unsaved friend—someone who was obviously seeking truth. 

In John 12:42, we see that some of the Jewish leaders believed in Jesus. Yet, they refused to share their faith because they were afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue.

In my experience, fear is one of the main reasons why I sometimes don’t share my faith. I’m afraid of what people might think. I’m afraid of awkwardness and conflict. Of course, sometimes I’m just selfish and don’t really care about the other person. 

Yet, there is one thing that conquers fear and selfishness: love. If I really love someone, I am much more likely to help them. Obviously, I need to help people with their physical needs when I can. Yet, my highest calling is to help them take faith steps towards the One who took our place on the cross—the One who died and rose again so that we might have a deeply satisfying life both now and forever. 

Jesus’ love compels me to love others, even strangers on a bus. 

What are some of the fears that keep you from sharing your faith? How might Christ’s love help you overcome those fears?

Note: For additional help on sharing your faith, check out Six Ways Anyone Can Share Christ and Eight Biblical Reasons for Sharing Christ

Randy Wollf is the Director of MinistryLift and the Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary

Eight Steps to Lead Change in Your Church

  • Posted on: 14 November 2016
  • By: Randy Wollf

Geese flyingIn their book The Heart of Change, John Kotter and Dan Cohen outline eight steps for leading change within an organization. I have adapted their framework for leading change within the church which I will outline in this blog. This entire process is one that must be bathed in prayer as we seek to discern and surrender ourselves to God’s priorities.

1. Increase a Sense of Urgency

People are unlikely to engage in significant change initiatives unless they feel an urgency to do so. Crises can help people realize that change is necessary, but this isn’t the only way to ignite a sense of urgency. You can also do this by communicating a compelling vision and sharing stories that motivate people to take action.

2. Build a Guiding Team

The purpose of this step is to pull together a group of people who have enough capacity and credibility within the congregation to implement the necessary change. One of the key roles of this team is to facilitate widespread participation in the change discussions. The extent to which people engage meaningfully in the process will contribute to their long-term commitment to the plan (and their willingness to make sacrifices to implement it).

3. Get the Right Vision

Discerning the right vision takes time. It’s important to involve as many people as possible in developing a robust vision that captures the heart of the people. As people get their fingerprints on the emerging vision, they will be much more likely to own it and act on it. Instead of pushing for consensus right away, it is helpful to build diversity first by providing venues (e.g. small group discussions or surveys) where people can contribute their diverse ideas. Then, look for themes and important paradigm-challenging ideas as part of the process of building consensus around a shared vision. I explain how to clarify your mission, articulate core values, discern vision, and identify strategic priorities in a previous blog called Priorities for Your Ministry.  

4. Communicate for Buy-in