What would you define as a “competent” Growth Group leader?

Richard Sweatman and I have recorded a series of PodCasts about the elements of a competent Growth Group leader. Together I think these five aspects set a really good foundation for church leaders who appoint Growth Group leaders, as well as for current Growth Group leaders who want to think about how to grow themselves.

This is really all just Richard’s material, that I get him talking about, and throw in my two-cents (when I have any).

The 5 core competencies of GG leading

Competency 1: Character

Competency 2: Knowledge of God

Core Competency 3: Teaching

Core competency 4: Encouragement

Competency 5: Team Leadership

Reblog: Empty bucket theology

Some people have complete ideas in their heads, some people have fuzzy ideas in their heads, and some people have “empty buckets” when it comes to certain ideas.
All of these people have things they need to change… “Complete theological concepts” will always have things that need to be uncovered, undermined and re-understood. “Fuzzy theological concepts” need to be sharpened, and strengthened, and built.
But what do you do with “empty bucket theological concepts”?
The first thing is to pick it when you see it. The type of conversation you have with an empty-bucket is very different to a fuzzy or complete.
But when you do see it, it’s gives you an opportunity for great joy in simply filling a bucket with God’s thoughts. There’s nothing to take out, change, alter; just fill.
The best possible outcome is watching them fill their own empty bucket as they read God’s word. So help them do that.

Another thought on explaining why God only asks men to preach to men

A while back I wrote my response to someone who wants to submit to the bible’s teaching on men only teaching men. It used the metaphor of men protecting women in the event of a machine-gun attack. I thought of another illustration… why I prefer to drive our family car.

There are probably heaps of reasons guys like being the driver while their family is in the car; they’re arrogant, they think they know the way, they’d get scared if others drove them, I don’t know. But here’s my reason… I don’t want my wife to have to deal with guilt and the potential responsibility of killing someone… if I could bear that instead.

See, if something terrible happens… say one of our kids dies in an accident – a real accident – no one’s fault. Whoever was driving that day would have to live with the burden of being behind the wheel while their child died. That would be a horrible burden to carry (and I do hope I’m not offending anyone who’s been in this scenario).

See, getting in the drivers seat is making a decision to bear the responsibility/guilt/pressure for whatever happens from then on. You are holding the life of your passengers in your hand.

That’s why I prefer to drive. It’s not that I’m a better driver than my wife (I’m not sure I am). But if someone’s going to live the rest of their life with the burden of guilt and remorse, I’d rather it be me than her. Even the day we reversed over our cat… I’m so glad I was driving and not my wife. It would have happened exactly the same way… none of us could know the cat wouldn’t move like it did every other time. She would be even more distraught than she was if she was the one behind the wheel.

So, the same is true when you walk up to the podium to teach the bible. You’re taking on the decision to bear the responsibility for the souls of the people in the room. That’s a big responsibility. That’s a responsibility that God’ doesn’t want women to take on for men.

That’s what’s behind 1Cor3:12-17

If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire. Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him;

My response to “Why shouldn’t women preach to men?”

(This would be one of the way’s I’d respond to someone who wanted to accept the bible’s teaching on male and female roles in ministry, but struggled to understand why God put them there.)

If a gunman ran into your church meeting and started spraying the crowd with bullets, in that split second, how would you hope to see the Christians react?

I’d expect to see adults of all ages jumping in front of kids to protect them. And I’d expect to see men jumping in front of their wives and other women to protect them. I’d also expect to see guys rush the gunman to subdue him. They’re both things you’d hope to see guys do, aren’t they?

Now, imagine that same scenario, but instead you see men ducking behind their wives. You see men using their wives as human shields. You see single men jumping behind young women and children for safety… what would you think of those men? Not much eh?

There’s something that tells us that the second scenario is not ok. Guys are meant to protect girls, take the bullet for them, die for them. That’s actually what Jesus does for his wife; the church. Jesus steps into the firing line and takes the punishment to save his loved one. That’s his job, that’s his purpose in coming to earth… to be responsible for his wife. To do what Adam didn’t do; because remember Adam was “with” Eve while she was being tempted, but his great crime was that he “listened to his wife” rather than stepping between Satan and his wife and dealing with the lies and bearing the brunt of the temptation. Adam’s crime was shirking the responsibility he was appointed to.

It all comes back to God and who God holds responsible. Women teaching men is not an issue of skill or talent or cultural perspectives. It’s an issue about who God wills to be held responsible for what. You see God do this in Ezekiel 3:17ff

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me. If I say to the wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him—you don’t speak out to warn him about his wicked way in order to save his life—that wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood. But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”

God chooses who he will hold responsible, and he appoints them to have certain authority to match that. Again, Jesus is a great example. Jesus is responsible to reconcile “all things” to God because he has supremacy over “all things” (Col 1:15ff).

Along with this we are reminded that “not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment” (Jam 3:1). Teaching God’s word is a very very dangerous profession. Teachers will be judged more harshly. Every word spoken will not only affect us, but how others will stand before the throne of God (1Cor 3).

Teaching other people is like going to war on their behalf. It’s putting your hand up and saying, “I will dare… I will take the risk of telling you what God says. I will bear the potential danger of teaching God’s word to you. I will take the bullet.”

So, men, would you dare hide behind a woman if a gunman burst in? No? Then why would you let a woman be held accountable to God for what other men are taught?!? Yes, God will hold women accountable for what they teach children and other women (Titus 2:4). But God does not want to hold women accountable for what they teach men!

You see, the whole idea of “Women not teaching men” is not an attempt to restrict women or keep them in their place… rather its an attempt to protect women from a judgement that God does not want to hold against them. It’s a command filled with mercy and love and protective intent.

The day will come when Jesus returns and all the bible teachers are judged, and men and women will look and say, “Oh my… I now understand why God didn’t want women to teach men… God was looking out for them… God didn’t want to subject them to this level of judgement.” Remember what God said to Ezekiel… the wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.

Try teaching the opposite

How do you get people to wrestle with the Bible, not just nod their head without thinking?

One way is to show them they assume the opposite. Lead them down the path of thinking A only to show them God says B.

For example, if they were a shepherd and they lost one sheep, would they really “leave the 99 in the open field” (vulnerable to lions and bears) to find one sheep… One sheep that’s probably already dead, or will turn up soon on its own anyway!?! People don’t go looking for lost coins!! They don’t celebrate when their fortune-wasting son returns!!!

Once people realise they don’t actually agree with the assumptions in the bible, that’s when REAL thinking and character development take place.

Before you teach your next thing, ask yourself whether you need to show people they don’t actually believe it.