MEN- 4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men

 

    In nearly 20 years of ministry and marriage, I have observed a lot of different forms of spiritual leadership among Christian men. At some point in the journey, even the most spiritual of men will embody each of these forms. Truth be told, I will embody each of these forms at various times every week! However, it should be our goal to strive toward greater leadership at the Lord equips and trains us for the calling He has set before us as men.
4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men
1. The Abdicated Leader- “I don’t want to lead.”
The word abdicate literally means “to renounces one’s throne.”  The throne carries honor, but it also carries responsibility.  Sadly, there are many men who abdicate their role as a leader because they do not want to carry the burden of leadership for their marriage and family.
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Vacuum:  Wherever there is a vacuum, something will eventually fill the void.  The reality for many families is that where the man has abdicated his role, many women have had to step up as spiritual leaders in the home.  Even more devastating is how media, negative peer influences, other men, and even gangs can fill the void that a man who has abdicated his leadership leaves behind.
2. The Impotent Leader- “I don’t feel I can lead.”
This man wants to lead, but feels powerless to do so.  Perhaps a negative self-image, a lack of a role model, or a more domineering member of the family has made this man feel unable to fulfill his role as a spiritual leader.  
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Doormat:  The impotent leader will quickly become the house doormat if he is not able to assume his leadership role.  This will ultimately cause him to disengage from the family and resign to let someone else lead.
3. The Ill-Equipped Leader“I don’t know how to lead.” 
This man wants to lead and feels empowered, but has not been equipped with the tools to lead his family spiritually and emotionally.  In this form, either the man or his marriage and family will be frustrated and may even run into conflict due to the inability to navigate the leadership dynamics skillfully.
Picture of the Solution- A Leadership GPS:  Men need the tools and equipping to be spiritual leaders.  Thankfully, God has given us the Scriptures, the church, and the perfect example in Jesus Christ.  One of the wisest things that a man can do as a spiritual leader is to enlist a mentor who can help guide him in his leadership journey.
4. The Spiritual Leader“I am ready, willing and able to lead.
The Spiritual leader is the man who is God-directed, Christ-empowered and Bible equipped in his leadership.  He is by no means perfect, but he leads from a heart of service, humility, confidence and courage.  The spiritual leader guides his family to grow closer to Christ, by first modeling it and second, charting a course to lead his family in the ways of the Lord.
    There is no perfect spiritual leader other than Jesus Christ.  All we can do is trust in the Lord and depend upon Him to motivate, empower and equip us for every step of the leadership journey.


Lost Arts: What to do with the “How are you doing?” Question

 

3 Ways We Respond to the Question- “How are you doing?”

“Life right now… sucks.”  Ever felt that way?  Of course you have, because you are human.  We all find ourselves in those kind of seasons of life where we are so discouraged, beaten down or unhappy with the state of our lives that it is hard to know what to do.  Then, you go to church (unsure what good it might do) and someone asks you a seemingly innocuous question- “How are you doing?”  How do you respond?  I have found that there are…
3 Common Ways We Respond To The “How are you doing?” Question:
1.  Deflect and Pretend:  This is clearly the easiest, and therefore the most common.  Most of us when dealing with struggle will not open up about that struggle with others, finding it easier to put on a mask and pretend like everything is OK.  When we do this, we isolate ourselves from those around us and we convince ourselves that no one else understands or cares what we are going through.  This can lead to dark bouts with discouragement, doubt and even depression.  It can also unwittingly make us hypocrites, pretending to be one thing, while in actuality being something else.
2.  Dump and Puke:  This response is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  There are some that are so consumed with their problems and struggles that whenever someone asks them how they are doing, they tend to “dump” their depression and “puke” their problems on others.  As the descriptive imagery indicates, this is not a pretty picture.  While it is important that we feel able to share our struggles with others, we should be careful to not be so consumed with unloading all of our baggage on others that we become insensitive to the fact that they are carrying a load of their own.  
3.  Discuss and Pray:  This is the healthiest and holiest way to respond to the question- “How are you doing?”  When you discuss your struggles and problems with others, you give people an opportunity to listen and share.  The dialogue produces mutual understanding and deeper relationship as the “weakness” of vulnerability is the catalyst for the strength of the friendship.  Even more importantly, when those issues have been discussed and a shared understanding has been accomplished, there is no better place to take those burdens then to the foot of the cross in prayer.  When you pray together, you remind yourselves of this gospel truth- “I am not ‘OK’.”  Only in Jesus can we find healing, only in Jesus can we find forgiveness, only in Jesus can we find rest for our souls.  When we pray like this together with our brothers and sisters in Christ we find the we can be mutually strengthened, encouraged and inspired.
     At Essential, it is my prayer, that every Sunday, and all throughout the week, we will see our church family taking time to discuss and pray together.  When I look across the room after a service, it is my hope that I will see more and more organic groups of people sharing life together and coming together in prayer.  As I talk with our members and leaders, it is my prayer that more and more I will hear of our people getting together over coffee, or coming together in living rooms to share and pray together as the body of Christ.


Fearless Peace: Jim and Elisabeth Elliot

 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:27

             One of the great blessings of a life devoted to obeying God’s Word is the peace of God.  God’s peace is a gift which impacts us at a heart level, so that our hearts are not troubled, nor filled with fear.  The peace of God is a direct result of peace with God.  If we are living in disobedience to God’s Word, we should not expect to experience His peace.  However, if we live our lives in continual obedience to His Word, we are one with Christ and we have access to this amazing peace.
            God’s peace is a fearless peace. God’s peace is not the absence risk or an insistence on comfort and safety, but a conviction that because God’s Word is true and trustworthy, whatever He leads us to do and wherever He leads us to go will be His best for us.
            Many have heard of the missionary Jim Elliot who along with 4 other young men was mercilessly killed while trying to reach a lost tribe of natives in Ecuador.  Jim demonstrated his fearless peace in his oft repeated quote- “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
 
 
            Perhaps, however, you may not remember that his young wife Elisabeth demonstrated a fearless peace which was perhaps even greater than Jim’s.  Elisabeth describes in her own words,
“A year after I went to Ecuador, Jim Elliot, whom I had met at Wheaton, also entered tribal areas with the Quichua Indians. In 1953 we were married in the city of Quito and continued our work together. Jim had always hoped to have the opportunity to enter the territory of an unreached tribe. The Aucas were in that category—a fierce group whom no one had succeeded in meeting without being killed. After the discovery of their whereabouts, Jim and four other missionaries entered Auca territory. After a friendly contact with three of the tribe, they were speared to death.   Our daughter Valerie was 10 months old when Jim was killed. I continued working with the Quichua Indians when, through a remarkable providence, I met two Auca women who lived with me for one year. They were the key to my going in to live with the tribe that had killed the five missionaries. I remained there for two years. After having worked for two years with the Aucas, I returned to the Quichua work and remained there until 1963 when Valerie and I returned to the U.S.”  This is a FEARLESS PEACE!
            As Elisabeth, Valerie and others consistently loved and shared the Gospel with this fierce tribe, the power of God interceded and began a spiritual work within the Auca tribe.  The group which was once known for its evil and violent ways, now became known for their peaceful love for Christ.  This is a FEARLESS PEACE!
            How does someone ever get to this kind of faith and peace?  Elisabeth explains her attitude in the midst of these horrible and amazing events that unfolded in her life.
This is a FEARLESS PEACE!
            May we, men and women of God, endowed with the same Holy Spirit as Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, embody this fearless peace in our lives… whatever He asks us to do, wherever He asks us to go, whoever He asks us to love.


Why we offer a Discover Essential Class

 

Why we offer a Discover Essential Class

    For years, the standard way of joining a local church was to walk up the aisle at the end of a church service, speak to the pastor for about 30 seconds to indicate your desire to become a member and then fill out a small card, sitting on the front pew while the final hymn concluded.  At the end of the hymn, the Pastor would bring the person and his family in front of the church and introduce them as the newest members of the church.
    In the days when people generally attended churches and often times grew up in the same church (or at least same kind of church) as their parents, this method worked more often than not.  However, as people and churches have become more diverse in their methods, philosophies, understandings and expectations of church, the need for an opportunity to learn and make an informed decision about the church has become increasingly clear.  It is important for people to know what the church believes, the vision and values of the church, the leadership structure and the expectations of the church before joining.  This is why we offer our Discover Essential Class.  
    Once every 2-3 months, we take a Sunday afternoon to meet with those who are interested in learning more about Essential Church.  After the service, we eat a lunch together and then meet in a separate area from 1-3pm to cover a variety of aspects about Essential.  This is a wonderful opportunity for people to hear the history and vision, the beliefs and values, the expectations and benefits of being a part of the local church family at Essential.  People have an opportunity to ask questions, get to know other potential members and thoughtfully consider whether Essential should be their church home. 
    I invite you to come and participate in our next Discover Essential Class.  Child care is provided upon request and the lunch is included as well.  While you certainly are not required to join the church if you attend the class, you are required to attend the class if you would like to join the church.  This way, we make sure that everyone has an opportunity to make an informed decision about their church membership.  
To find out more, please contact- admin@essentialchurch.cc


Lost Arts- A Deeper Joy Requires Digging Deeper

 

LOST ARTS:  A Deeper Joy Requires Digging Deeper– by Warren Mainard

The Lost Arts: Reclaiming the Practices of a Disciple

            Several years ago, deep in the heart of West Texas, oil drillers found oil after drilling 6,000 feet into the dry southern soil.  After a few years, the oil ran dry and the drillers decided to drill again and at 20,000 feet they struck oil again.  Several years later, that oil ran dry and they decided once more to drill again, this time going 30,000 feet into the ground.  When they did, they discovered the largest supply of oil that the world has ever known!
            Jesus once met a Samaritan woman at a well.  Not an oil well, but a water well.  “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14
            Jesus describes a spring of eternal life, one flowing with endless peace, joy, hope, purpose and meaning.  How deep are you willing to dig in order to find this kind of a Spring?  Everything in our world wants to keep us at superficial level.  How often do we miss this deep abiding reservoir of life because we are content to settle for a fleeting spike in happiness?  How often do we miss this deep joy because we are unwilling to keep digging into our walk with Christ?  This principle is true- “The deeper you drill, the greater the reward.”  The deeper the joy, the more lasting it is.
            Will you dig deeper in your walk with Christ than ever before?  Will you spend immerse yourself in the Spiritual Practices of a Disciple?  Let’s dig deep into Christ and together we will find the spring of eternal life as we abide in Christ together.


From Iran with Love: Secret Church Testimony 2017

 

Secret Church Testimony- Warren Mainard

Secret Church 2017

One of the great joys of Christian ministry is experiencing God’s sovereignty in the most surprising ways.  This year at Secret Church, the theme was “The Authority of Scripture” and the prayer focus was on the persecuted church in Iran.  After the first session of Bible study, we watched a video where we learned about the movement of God among the people of Iran.  In the midst of horrific persecution, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading and the church is multiplying in Iran! 
            After the second session, we were instructed to split up the group of 15 meeting in a living room into smaller groups of 4 to pray together for God’s work and His people in Iran.  One of the people in my group was a guest I did not know; her name is Somayeh.  After we were instructed to pray, Somayeh asked if she could pray in her heart language- Farsi (the national language of Iran).  She said,  “I am from Iran, and I was a Muslim who came to know Christ while I was still living in Iran.” Then, she prayed in Farsi for her brothers and sisters in Christ still in her homeland.  It was so incredible to hear these prayers and know that our God hears and receives the prayers of all His people! After the prayer time was over, I thought to myself, “I need to get to know this woman and her story.”  I looked over and immediately noticed her backpack… I thought, “I know that backpack, I have one just like it!”  She had a Send North America backpack, which is given to those who are working directly with the North American Mission Board to plant churches in key metropolitan cities.  She shared with me that she and her husband Jamal are church planters to Iranians living in the Federal Way area of Seattle.  What an honor it was for me to think that God would allow me to know, serve and co-labor with such amazing followers of Jesus like Somayeh and Jamal.
            Additionally, as I mentioned, the theme of Secret Church was on the authority of Scripture.  As David Platt talked about the tremendous need and calling to take the Bible to those who have never heard it before, it struck me again that in our midst, God had placed a young man named Alex who is preparing to go with Wycliffe to Peru to translate the Bible into a language that does not yet have the Scriptures!  What a joy to know such a brave and faithful young man who would be willing to surrender everything in order to go and take the Word of God to a people who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus!
              Jesus is alive… God’s Word is alive… and we are the beneficiaries of this wonderful news! May we never take for granted the marvels of God’s sovereignty and the way He blesses us by putting His people in our lives to remind us of the grandeur of His grace!


Why Spiritual Practice are Essential

 

Why Spiritual Practices are Essential  
by Warren Mainard
       Jesus once said to His disciples,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5  In this one sentence, we see the secret to a fruitful life… abiding in Christ.  In this passage of John 15, we discover that the disciple who abides in a relationship with Christ will experience eternal spiritual fruit, a freedom of forgiveness, answers to prayers, a God-glorifying life, and a true sense of God’s love flowing in and out of him.  For the disciple who abides in a relationship with Christ, she has the power to obey Christ’s commands.  Yet, for the person who does not abide in Christ, that person can do nothing of eternal value.  In light of eternity, their lives will be meaningless and devoid of power or purpose.  The startling conclusion is that there is nothing more important in the life of a Christian than “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)
       So how does one, “abide in Christ?”  How do we “know Christ and the power of His resurrection in our lives”? (Philippians 3:10).  The answer is found in reclaiming the Spiritual Practices of a Disciple.  I call these “the Lost Arts,” because in the busyness and business of life, cultivating the practices that promote intimacy with Christ is often much more of an art than it is a science.  A great artist takes many years practicing his craft.  Similarly, Paul instructs his younger friend Timothy to  
“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” 
1 Timothy 4:15
       What are “these things” that we are to practice?  They are the Lost Arts: The Spiritual Practices of a Disciple.  Over the next 10 weeks, we will be rediscovering and reclaiming these spiritual practices.  Practices such as cultivating a private and communal prayer life.  Fasting for spiritual break through.  Knowing and obeying the Word of God.  Experiencing the provision of God through tithing and radical generosity.  Finding closeness with Christ through Biblical community. And, finally, I will teach how and why every one of us should incorporate spiritual retreats and sabbaticals into the rhythms of our faith journey.
          I hope you will join me for this expedition into the depths of discovering God’s presence in our lives.  During this series, I will share some timeless AND innovative ways to practice the presence of God in your life.  I hope you will join me for The Lost Arts: Reclaiming the Spiritual Practices of a Disciple.

 


Easter Egg Hunt & Easter Service Testimony 2017

 

Easter Egg Hunt & Easter Service Testimony 2017

Nearly 4,500 beautifully diverse people attended our 2017 Easter Egg Hunt.

    On Saturday, March 9th, 2017 God defied the Seattle forecast of certain rain,
parting the clouds and opening the doors to allow nearly 4,500 beautifully diverse
people to participate in our community Easter Egg Hunt and experience the love of God’s people with no strings attached. Each family received information about our church, our Easter service and the upcoming community events we will offer this summer. In addition, we gave away a few dozen Bibles to those who did not have one. Days like this are always full of excitement and a source of praise… especially for a church plant!
     When my family and I moved out to Bellevue, WA to plant Essential Church, we had no idea of the challenges and blessings that we would have in store for us. Planting a church has been by far the most difficult thing we have ever done… and yet, we have seen the power of the Lord at work in these past four years in ways that are incomparable to the rest of our years in ministry.
     One difficult aspect of special events such as the Easter Egg Hunt is anticipating what response we will see from our investment and if the massive number of people might translate into any spiritual fruit. As leaders, we remind ourselves and our church that these types of outreaches require patience and that fruit is often slow coming.
     With a day like Easter, you never really know what to expect. As the service began, it looked like a typical Sunday at Essential. Then, the families began to pour in. One after another, we had about 10 families enter the service that were obviously walking into a church service for the first time. It was a little chaotic! People were talking, kids were running around in the back of the room, babies were crying… it was hard to stay focused as I gave our Easter welcome! The worship was great and after the third song, I came up to preach. When it came time to dismiss our pre-K and elementary school age children to “E-Kids,” it was clear these first-time guests had no idea what was going on! After attempting to explain to our guests that their children would have a separate Easter lesson in a different room, we saw all of the kids make their way out with our E-Kids leaders. However, what ended up happening was half of the parents went with their children into the E-Kids area and participated in the lesson!
     Thankfully, Bryan was leading the E-Kids lesson and discerned the unique opportunity that the Lord had entrusted to him. He responded by carefully explaining the Gospel, sharing the story of Christ’s death and Resurrection. As he shared, he would pause and address the parents in the room, many of whom were recording his lesson on their phones! One Indian mother told my wife Leah, “we want to come back, my daughter and I really enjoyed learning about Jesus today!”

Parents and Children attended our E-Kids class to learn about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus

    Meanwhile, in the main worship service, I preached a message on the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I shared my testimony and the Gospel and invited guests to consider the message and ask Jesus to reveal Himself through the Bible. The worship continued and Jesus was clearly exalted. After the service, many families stayed and interacted with others at Essential! In all, we probably had close to 100 people in attendance and approximately 40 first time guests at Essential for Easter!
     Will you join me in praying for these precious friends and neighbors to continue to seek the truth of Christ at Essential, or another Bible believing church. Pray for Essential Church, that God may provide the people and resources we need to carry on this work that God has clearly entrusted to us in the Bellevue community. We cannot do this alone or in our own strength. Only as we fully depend upon Christ and seek first His Kingdom and righteousness will we be able to carry this work forward. We believe that God is able and we cherish your ongoing prayers and support as we never waver from our mission… to Magnify Christ and Multiply His Kingdom.

Pastor Warren Mainard



A Biblical Portrait of Church Planting (Part 1- Incarnational Ministry)

Biblical Portrait of Church PlantingA Biblical Portrait of Church Planting (part 1)
Acts 20:17-38
     What does a Biblical church plant look like?  In this 8 part blog based on Paul’s summary of his church planting experience in Ephesus, found in Acts 20:17-38, we will see a Biblical portrait of church planting.

1.  Incarnational Ministry:  “I lived among you the whole time from the first day I set foot in Asia.” (18)

Paul clearly understood that living among the people he was called to reach was of utmost importance for properly engaging unbelievers with the Gospel, making disciples and raising up leaders.  This incarnational approach shaped his preaching and teaching, evangelism and approach to church structure and leadership.  Church planters should strive to live among the people to whom they have been called for these same reasons.  Those that might argue that Paul would be setting up video venue campuses if had the same technology as we do today clearly do not esteem the importance that Paul placed on incarnational ministry.

“We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.  For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8-12

Notice how in this passage that Paul relates himself to the church as being like a nursing mother, a disciplined father and a hard working brother.  Each of these relationships are only effective when one is living among the people.  Like a mother, Paul not only shared the Gospel, but he gently and affectionately shared life with and cared for the community God had called him to.  Like a brother, Paul not only proclaimed the Gospel from the pulpit, but he proclaimed if through his daily work as a tent maker.  He reminds them that they had the opportunity to witness his lifestyle and conduct up close. Like a father, he exhorted, encouraged and charged “each one” of the people on a personal and relational basis.  Paul was the polar opposite of the untouchable and unattainable superstar pastor on the big screen in the way that he approached the churches that he planted.  Clearly, Paul would have utilized technology in a variety of ways, but we should not assume that he would have compromised his entire philosophy of incarnational ministry in the process.

The picture that we must paint in our minds is one of a pastor who lives among the people and a church (the people of God) who live among the people.  Incarnational ministry is the very bedrock of true Gospel centered church planting.

* The next post will explore the impact of “Leading by Serving” in a church plant.