I was in Atlanta for a meeting on leadership in the church this past week. The speakers were very inspiring and informative. My heart was touched and my mind and faith stretched. I felt the call of God once again to always be advancing for faith and the kingdom. Upon arriving home I indicated to my wife that this was one of the most inspirational conferences I’ve ever attended. I know I am given to fits of hyperbole, but as a person who has put conferences together, I will repeat again this was one of the best I have ever attended!  It was a leadership meeting attended by District Superintendents and lasted a  little over a day.

One of the speakers Heather Semple, is pastor of Red Cedar church, Rice Lake Wisconsin.  This is a large Wesleyan church.   I do not recall ever having heard her speak, or for that matter ever hearing of her at all. She gave a presentations on pastoral leadership.  It was fantastic! She taught on the concept of obedient risk.

She gave truths for pastoral leadership and in essence for all leadership.  Allow me to recap a few of her points.

  • The people not here are more important t than the people who are here: lost people matter to God and they must matter to us.   The temptation is to focus inward and in the process become a club for members only. The gospel tells us lost people matter to God! If they matter to God they must matter to us as well.  Again this is not a call to mistreat church people, but to focus on the harvest.
  • Vision trumps relationships. Sometimes people can become the lid.   The  kingdom and the risk of being obedient is more important than lost relationships.  If you serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel, even people who profess to love the gospel may become uncomfortable.
  • God’s approval trumps the applause of people.  If you are the leader, your pain threshold is a leadership ld in your life.  Many pastors are people pleasers, and will do almost anything to not make anyone upset ever! Yes we are to be shepherds, absolutely! But Paul also instructed to do the work of an evangelist!
  • Being a student of culture trumps being a slave of culture.  It was at this point that Heather really made many bold statements. We absolutely must understand the culture, but not become so enamored that we become slaves of the culture.
  • Yes trumps how we going to do this? If we only do what we keep doing they’ll be no transformation. For many of us are default position is no, as in no we have never done that before, no that’s not the way we do things around here, no we don’t have enough money….  with a prayerful mind and a discerning spirit, we should at least examine the proposal to see if God is speaking through the person or idea.
  • When a new leader comes  to follow me they may have to ask what should I do because the previous leader was afraid to act. When you get out of bed each day you should ask what story do I want to tell today? Our confidence is forged in our dependency. I do not want to tell a story of gloom and pessimism and defeat, rather I want to tell the stories of God’s grace and transformation.

I wanted to share just a few of things I heard this week that are ricocheting in my spirit and I want to always be open to the moving of God!




6 Thoughts to “Obedient Risk”

  1. Some very good material and ideas here! Worth looking at again, and structuring it so our people can also get a peek at what she is saying. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dr. Blake, I love these thoughts. I would like to hear what some of this gal’s “bold” statements were. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Neil b wiseman

    Great idea This old guy especially found a good word from the Lord in idea Our cofidence is forged in our dependence . Blessing and agape to all of you.

    1. Always good to hear from you Dr. Wiseman. You are a blessing and a treasure to a church. Thank you for being my friend

  4. JoAnn Bastien

    I must hear more about Rev Heather Semple! Thanks for sharing!

    1. look her up on the web and you can hear her preach Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake Wisconsin But you are still one of my all time favorites

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