1. Incarnational Leadership
We need to rethink ministry and leadership. If you want to be a missional-incarnational then you need to have an appropriate forum. You can’t have a revolution without revolutionaries.
The key take is found in Ephesians 4:1-16.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. . . . And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Vv. 1-6 is on true unity and the upbuilding of the church.
Vv. 7-11 tell us that God gave us apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.
Vv. 12-16 tell us why
You can’t get to vv. 12-16 without vv. 7-11.
We need apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers (APEST). How can we be the kingdom of God if we mess around with the forms? We have deep institutional slumbers. The devil has messed around with vv. 7-11.
Jesus has given us everything we need to get the job done. We need the generative form.
From his website:
APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the “sent ones,” they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.
PROPHETS know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.
EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.
SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.
TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.
I was taught to live the sexy life. My parents suffered so that I wouldn’t have to suffer. Now I do it again with my children. As the book title says, we are A Nation of Wimps. We want something cool, easy, and shallow. We don’t teach our children how to suffer. But God invites leaders to suffer.
Jesus always called his followers to die. Think of the Rich Young Ruler.
It’s not easy or sexy to follow Jesus. There’s nothing “sexy” about leaving money or idols behind, or in being persecuted for our faith.
Being an incarnational leader means dying to our comfort zones. Are we settling for comfortable leadership instead? God called Tom to work with Inter-Varsity in Mongolia in four years, in poverty. Loneliness and tears; parents cut off communication. His mom said to him, “Our lives are in the palm of your hand; please don’t crush us; if you do this I will kill myself.”
The Rich Young Ruler encounter ends with Jesus promises manifold blessing for those who give up everything to follow. Leadership bring suffering that’s so good. After 10 years of unreconciliation with his mother; she called him to her bedside before she died of stage 4 cancer and asked for his forgiveness. God is faithful when we step into suffering for the sake of the gospel.
Over the past thirteen years he has worked to encourage and train Christian ministry and church leaders on campuses across the nation and world to fervently pray and work together to transform college students and the society these students graduate to lead.
The key to leading incarnational-missional movements is not hanging out with unbelievers; it’s hanging out with God.
To incarnate something is the embodiment of idea through action. It’s by leading others through influencing people through what you do, and this requires pray. Kingdom leadership exerts leadership for the gain of the King. Only that brings lasting change. We can’t incarnate the King’s authority without being in constant contact with the King.
We can be like to be like kids who pretend to be ballerinas.
Pray is not our power source or a tool; God is the power source. It is actively seeking God’s presence in our life—measured by both quantity and quality. We are to pray frequently. Jesus discouraged meaningless words in prayer, but he didn’t discourage time in prayer.
Jesus was incarnationally leading others in missional lifestyle, but he was often pulling back to be alone with the Father. His solution for rest is prayer.
Prayer movements today worldwide are emphasizing large quantities to prayer. Do you want transformation in the Western world, then we should pray in large quantities like the Ugandans are doing.
This is not legalism. We should have not only the form of godliness but also its power.
Persistence means praying over and over again; press into the authority God has given for you. If you want to be an incarnational ministry, spend more hours in prayer and fasting each week. Busyness is overcome by intentional prioritizing and accountability. (Jeremy Story is the fastest talker of the conference thus far!)
Tara is the CEO & Founder of Create Common Good, a social + entrepreneurial venture serving the marginalized. Tara has worked internationally for Fortune 500 companies and NGOs. Her work spans process engineering at General Motors in Shanghai, technical sales and marketing at Intel, and product development at Nike.
She also co-founded NightLight International, an organization serving women at-risk in Bangkok, Thailand.
Refugees aren’t choosing to leave; they are fleeing, looking for food and water. 16 million refugees around the world; 45 million displaced. Her organization helps refugees find and retain their first jobs. Food can be a natural vehicle to change lives.
Keller says that leadership is the cultivation and stewardship of resources.
Our kids make us stuff to hang on the fridge, but at the end of the day we just want to hug our kids and be with them. Likewise, we must care for our own souls first before our heavenly father. God used land and food in the garden for our good. Isaiah 61:3, we are to be “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” God is the father and the farmer who loves us.
Only God can imagine and speak something and it happens.
At Dallas Seminary, there was a constant flow of chapel speakers who talked about the important thing we all should be doing. That’s the tension we face at conferences. How do we take these things and incarnate them.
We need to remember: God is sovereign, omniscient—and I’m not. That gives us freedom. The gospel changes people, and people changes world. We don’t see more transformation because we haven’t been more transformed by the gospel. We need to cultivate our hearts to love and follow God above all else.
Three rules: (1) love God with everything you have; (2) love your neighbor as yourself; (3) do whatever you want to do. The restriction is in the first two.
The apologetic of our day is authenticity.
We want to unleash healthy people to do ministry where life exists.
The church is a family, not an orphanage. When we talk about incarnational leadership, we must have the same passion for the church as we have for our kids. The church is not like a family—it is a family. U
How many of you have prayed, “God, let me change the world for you.” God will answer that prayer, but maybe in ways unexpected. Maybe it’s not through your strengths or gifts or personality, but through your suffering and pain and weaknesses.
Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
If you keep talking about your weaknesses, you’re going to be cycled out into some 12-step program.
Are some of the strategies we’re developing part of the “flesh and blood” approach?
The most important thing we can do is to lead in power by the Holy Spirit.
The most important thing this generation needs is not another form, but an encounter with God.
How are you depending on the Holy Spirit? We have to create space during our work week to listen to God—not just when we’re alone but when we’re with people.
I know how to strategize and program stuff and am an introvert—how do we deal with unusual manifestations of the Holy Spirit in healing?
(FYI: better transcribers than I could take down the various stories being told, but I can’t do them justice.)
We believe the Holy Spirit is real, but we don’t go to meet him every day? When you woke up did you go to the “flesh and blood” stuff, or were you pumped that you could encounter the Spirit of Christ? You can’t make it through ministry in the flesh. Who are you depending on? The next quick-fix at a conference with ten action steps? The Spirit himself will give you action steps.
I crave being in God’s presence; I can’t live without it.
Immersion. We need to immerse ourselves in the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t make time for this. A real sign of your dependance on the Holy Spirit is your prayer life—not just at an individual level but at a corporate level.
Customizaton. We should look not just at “strengths and weaknesses” but also pain, weaknesses, addictions. A lot of us stop at “confess your sins.” Do that too much and you’re an addict, not at the center of the church. What if we “embrace” our humanity (Romans 7). We want to project like we’re Superman. Maybe the best indicator of a person’s destiny is bound up with their pain—which can become their gift.
Collaboration. Have you ever thought about the giftings in a church are to be lived out regionally? Pulpit exchanges? Choirs? We must be willing to risk losing our people, but we should do what’s best for them. What if we’re think to think globally?
We have a power within us by the Spirit; we are to live supernaturally; our pain is a gift.
A multiplication movement can’t be fully seen until the fourth generation.
2 Timothy 2:2: “what  you have heard from  me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to  faithful men who will be able to teach  others also.
It’s not ultimately about having a dynamic leader.
If the gospel doesn’t motivate your people, you’re never going to see a movement. We need people so in love with Jesus that they can’t keep quiet and can’t keep still. Love is the best motive. Love requires a choice. Too many parents have the goal of their kids not being criminals, so they develop a parenting option. If you don’t have bad options, you don’t have love. There’s a difference between moral and godly children.
I don’t want to be motivated by anything other than the gospel and by love. It’s the energy behind any movement. We cannot energize anybody with anything less. You can trust him to lead and love your people better than you. With that kind of love, no one and nothing can stop us.
Discipleship is central not only to the Great Commission but to the worldwide mission of God.
I was born and raised in a small town in Northern India. My mother came to the Lord as an 8-year-old. She discipled me from birth.
Discipleship takes intentional mentoring. Luke 2:19—Mary cherished all these things in her heart, which is what she used to mentor Jesus.
You do not begin to disciple someone only when you become a mature Christian. Any disciple should reproduce him/herself at any stage in life. You just need to be able to impart the meaning of obedience to others.
What is discipleship? Hard to explain, but a mother tiger is a very effective discipler. She feeds her cub, then teaches them how to hunt in various stages. At one point she half-kills the animal for them to finish killing. She doesn’t do this forever.
Discipleship is very conditional. If you do not take up your cross, if you do not bear fruit . . .
What is a fruit of mango? A mango tree.
The fruit of a disciple is a disciple-maker.
When you hear the word “liberate,” what comes into our minds?
Jesus freed us to obey his commands any time and anywhere.
All God’s promises are yes in Christ. We need to free people from the “no zone” that paralyzes the body of Christ (no’s are first learning Bible doctrines, ordination, denominational funding, etc.)
What is a second track?
Our cell groups are not multiplying via evangelism. We should leave behind any bylaws that aren’t in the NT—any rules that keep us from obeying Jesus. We need to take the church to the people. Our churches bylaws can keep us from obeying Jesus. We should work with people who are not receptive to attending an institutional church. Many churches have started a second track. We need to tell our denominational leaders that we’ll obey Christ above all else.
Advice for talking to your strong church leaders: be calm; don’t be anti-institutional church; talk about Jesus’s basic commands; pray, pray, pray about how you can be obedient to Christ’s commands.
How do we find receptive people? Keep asking God; look for the new members; go on prayer walks and find the strong man in the community; look for bad folk, who make for good soil.
All around the world people are doing what Jesus said: healing the sick and setting them free.
What do we do with the kids? Jesus used children; include them!
Even the most institutional church can start a second, simpler track: requiring only what the NT requires to serve Christ.
What if our generation is the generation that gets to see the return of Jesus? It’s good for our souls, every so often—like a thousands times a day—to dream that Christ’s return might not be a thousand years away.
Our message doesn’t change. And God’s method of discipleship doesn’t change either.
As a follower of Jesus, I’m a lot of things, but primarily his son and a disciple.
Jesus’s plan is to rescue every one of his children from every tribe, and tongue, and nation, and he will do it through discipleship.
Jesus’s plan for the world-evangelization project is to spend time with a few to reach the many. Why do we spend time with the many to reach the few?
Jesus is not just wise about the message but also about the method.
If you’re a parent, you already get this. We enter into their world and love, explain, shepherd, chill, hang, disciple. It happens through dialogue, not just monologues.
Leaders, don’t use people to reach the many. When you look at the people around you (staff, friends, family), how are they treated? Used for ministry, or invested for ministry?
There is no plan B. This is God’s plan for the nations.
1 Cor 4:14-17
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
When Jesus did discipleship, the world changed.
Most of Jesus’s time was spend investing in his disciples.
Paul is giving us an image of what discipleship looks like. It’s the difference between a pedagogue and a parent. Paul is urging the Corinthian church to imitate him, as a father. You can’t be what you can’t see. Timothy is not a perfect example but he’s a living example. They needed someone to imitate.
Jesus’s discipleship approach involved three things: information, imitation, and innovation.
Growing up as a foster child, I didn’t know whose I was and therefore didn’t know who I was.
Will I let people imitate our lives? Do we have a life worth intimidating?
For our kids, we’ll lay down our lives for our kids to succeed. We also need to rise up and be parents to other people, like Jesus and Paul and the disciples did—then we’ll see the world change.
I’m convinced we don’t have a disciple-making problem at all. We have plenty of disciple-makers—the question is what are we making disciples of? Imitation is how the world works. We need not just to ask how but what.
Some just teach them the truths about God (cognitive understanding), which is good. Others focus on spiritual disciples. We’re not against these, but you can practice the disciplines and be far from God.
The point of making disciples is making disciples of Jesus. We need to lead people to ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ and his gospel.
We shouldn’t start with evangelism (defined as the his sufficiency in the gospel) and then move on to work for God. We can’t stop preaching the gospel through the whole process. If you don’t make disciples through the gospel of Jesus Christ we’re making disciples of something else. We don’t want to grow them up into something else.
3. For the Nations
Instead of reading my inadequate summaries, you can watch the stream live here.
Rick Warren is interviewing an Asian church planter whose identity cannot be shared or it will be compromised.
Then Matt Carter and David Platt will speak on God’s heart for the nations.