Leadership Strategies (Leading Where We've Never Been Before) by F.

Joe Ellis When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. Move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. (Josh 3:3-4 NIV)
3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. (Josh 3:3-4 KJV)

Many notable authors have said it in recent years that everything in life rises and falls on leadership. This is true in families, business, sports teams, corporations, governments, and yes even the church. Those who lead them usually determine their ultimate success or failure. From Genesis to Revelation, the word of God is very clear about the importance of leadership. One of the best examples of this in the scripture is revealed in Israel 's failure to enter the promise land shortly after their exodus from Egypt. Ten chosen leaders who had been appointed by Moses allowed their uncertain future to gender fear and rebellion, instead of faith and trust in Gods divine purpose for their life. Their choice to not follow the leadership of Moses as directed by God was a terrible and costly mistake not only for them and their families, but also for the entire nation. Why were they so afraid? Was it the obvious walled cities and giants? Was it their own self-perception as mere grasshoppers? Were they simply rebellious men, who were concerned only for themselves? While all of the above holds a measure of truth, let me simplify the reason in one sentence. God was leading them to a place they had never been before! As cruel as Egypt was, it had been their home for many years. Not even miracles and visible evidence could persuade them when their comfort zone became invaded by the unfamiliar. Trust in God and the man of God that led them there was now tested to the limits. Nothing but total trust and obedience would activate their faith to the level that was needed to attain their promise. Even though it was a new and exciting day filled with promise and great blessing, an entire generation missed their divine purpose and calling because they would not follow God's leadership and trust HIM unconditionally for their future.

Unprecedented Times These are new and unprecedented times for the Apostolic Church of the 21st Century. God is giving clear vision concerning the church's future along with the direction HE wants the church to go. Even though change is usually slow and laborious, one of the most exciting aspects of the journey is the fact that. The church has never been where God is leading her in its 2000-year history. With almost seven billion souls alive on the earth today, it is very clear why God is taking us into uncharted territories of apostolic power and ministry. One thing is certain however; God has been preparing HIS church for this day since the very beginning.

A Fresh Call to Prayer & Evangelism In the kingdom of God there are divine principles that must never be changed or substituted; only understood and correctly applied. Spirit led leadership is the means by which God gives direction to HIS body, the church. It is interesting to note the similarities in Joshua's leadership of Israel (Joshua 3) and the leadership of the apostles in the 1st Century church. Both were leading God's people where they had never been before. Under Joshua's leadership, (Joshua 3:3-4) the people were instructed to follow the ark, keeping the necessary distance so all could see it. Even though they were commanded to build a pillar of stones as a memorial of the miracle God had given them at the Jordan , they weren't allowed to just bask there in their past victories. They had to move out and conquer their promise. Like Israel of old, the New Testament Church also had an unprecedented beginning. The outpouring of the Holy Ghost as recorded in Acts 2 was a new day, and a new beginning for this small group of young disciples. What took place in the streets of Jerusalem on that very first day had never taken place before. However, as time passed, God would not allow them to wrap themselves up in an isolated holy huddle basking in last years blessing. They had a gospel that they were called and commissioned to preach to every creature in every nation. Even though many paid the ultimate price of their own blood, they were willing to put themselves in harms way and go the regions beyond to reach their generation! Everything we do must point us back to that same fervent passion for evangelism. The entire church worldwide is being called to a fresh enlistment for active duty. Rising out of the grass roots of the church is an army of young men and women who are willing to give everything if necessary to allow God to lead them to places they have never been before. There is a fresh call from God to this generation to become an aggressively active, and mobilized church, unified around one central vision and purpose. The field remains the world. And there are no limits. Wherever there are people, the church is called to go there.

Simplify and Excel One of the greatest challenges the church faces today is to correctly know how to transition the original apostolic pattern of the 1st Century into a 21st Century application. Correct spiritual vision (understanding) is necessary for this to happen. But vision alone is not enough. There must be correct structure and function as well. Let me explain. · Vision. The understanding of what is possible. True Vision comes from the only HEAD of the body, JESUS CHRIST. · Function. The ability of the body; what the body (church) is divinely gifted to do.

· Structure. The order or arrangement of the body into individual parts; that which enables the function and forward progress of the body (church).

Eph 4:15-16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. KJV Eph 4:15-16 Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times-speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly --and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. TLB The Bible describes the church as a body; made up of many members all being codependent upon each other. To understand how God ordained the church to function, the apostle Paul used the natural body to describe it. 1 Cor 12:12-14 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. NKJV

1 Cor 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. NKJV Prayerfully consider the following observations. 1. 2. Correct structure enables the body to function as designed. Good health provides strength and life to the body's structure.

3. In the church, God called leadership is the means by which HE directs the body's forward progress. 4. Regardless of how intelligent or gifted a person is, their ability to function is both governed and limited by their structure. The same is true in the church. 5. The health of the body is far more limiting to the body's function than the size of the body. This is why church health is far more important than church growth. A healthy church will always be a growing church! 6. No matter how strong, healthy, or potentially able a body is, it will be greatly limited when any one of following three things are not functioning correctly. § § § 7. 8. 9. Vision. Ability to see correctly Understanding. Ability to think correctly Structure. Ability to function or act correctly Vision is our ability to see and understand what is possible. Understanding is our ability to reason, plan, and make decisions. What we understand as possible, will govern both our actions and our response.

10. No one ever acts or reacts outside of the limits of their understanding and ability.

Examples. · Put a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon and he can do incredible good.

· Put the same scalpel in the hands of someone mentally challenged and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

· Put that same scalpel into the hands of a skilled surgeon who has just become paralyzed from the neck down; no matter how much ability he has, his function (ability to do) is limited by his body structure which is limited. · Put the same scalpel into the hands of skilled surgeon with a healthy body who has lost his sight and what can he do? Summary. · Desire, passion, great planning, vision, as important as they all are, won't be enough if the body structure is disabled. · The function of the body must have the correct structure to achieve its greatest potential. · Therefore, Vision, Function, and Structure all working in perfect harmony are inseparable if the Body / Church is going to accomplish its God given purpose. Personal Testimony. Shortly after my wife and I returned from an extended mission's trip, I began seeking God for better understanding concerning the things that were limiting the church from being as effective as it should be. There are so many cities and nations throughout our world where there is little to no apostolic voice or influence. The following is what I felt God spoke to me in prayer. You will have to judge its validity for your self. God said to me. My church has complicated my gospel and my kingdom. Simplify what you are doing, get back to the basics of fervent prayer and evangelism, and Excel in them.

He went on to say. Prayer and Evangelism must work together in a very aggressive way. The church must strategically plan for prayer and evangelism, just as an army prepares for war. The church in a sincere desire to reach this world is attempting to do too many things that have very little to do with MY Divine Purpose. After a season of continued prayer and thought, I was totally convinced that God had truly spoken to me. From that day to this, it is my firm conviction that what God said is applicable in almost every level of the modern church, both individually and corporately. I also believe it is one of the major reasons we have seen such limited results in comparison to what God promised HE will do. The church is not waiting on God; God is waiting on the church!

As I was back in Ukraine preparing to teach what HE had recently shown me, HE said to me. How many functions does your elbow really have? What? Did I hear you correctly God? Did you say how many functions does my elbow have? Before answering, I looked at my elbow and began to move it back and forth. Well. One primarily. Then light bulbs began flashing!!! How could I have missed something so simple for so long? It is so clear; every part of the body has one primary dominant function that adds very credible value to the overall function of the body. As long as it's not forced to do more than its designed purpose, its ability to excel becomes 2nd nature. But when it's out of place or overworked, it not only is hindered, but also affects the entire body. There are so many things that we would all like to do. Consider however the following questions. What's the one thing you do best that adds the greatest value to the overall purpose of the church? Locally? Collectively? What relevant contribution are you making to the overall mission of the church to reach this generation? What matters most to God? What Matters Most to God? Some of the most recent church growth statistics reveal that the smaller a church is, the more programs / things they attempt to do. Unfortunately, with limited people, finances, and time, frustration more than results are usually the end result. In comparison, statistics also show that larger churches actually do fewer programs / things, but excel in the few things they do. Even though every church has its unique focus and ministry, there are three things that all growing churches do, and allow nothing to take their place. They are. Intercessory Prayer Personal Evangelism Leadership Development How simple. but oh how powerful! God is slowly but surely transitioning the church back to what matters most to HIM! HE is calling the church to Simplify and Excel! Please note the last recorded words Jesus spoke just before HE ascended into heaven. I think they clearly reflect what matters most to HIM. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem , and in all Judea, and in Samaria , and unto the utter most part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 KJV) · You shall receive power. Prayer

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You shall be witnesses unto me. Evangelism Unto the uttermost parts of the earth . Leadership Development

Closing Remarks. In the next several months, Leadership Strategies will be submitting a series of lessons focusing on the following three subjects: Intercessory Prayer. Personal Evangelism. Leadership Development. It is our sincere desire that they will be a great blessing to you personally, as well as to the local church that you serve. As we bring this introductory lesson to a close, let me offer the following action items for your consideration. Begin to clear the clutter from your schedule. Clutter is anything that robs you from doing what matters the most to God. Ask God to help you clearly identify your God given purpose, spiritual gifting, and calling.(Ephesians 4:11) Strive to simplify your life by doing the things that you know you have been gifted to do. This will allow you to raise the bar to excellence in the one or two things you do best. Because Jesus is our God. Excellence should be your Goal. Make a not to do list and identify those things that are keeping you religiously busy but spiritually barren. Start today to do the things that are important to God and strive for excellence in them. For Pastors and leaders. Buy and read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. (This is a secular book but one that I highly recommend as a must read for every pastor and upper level leadership.) It is our sincere conviction that if the 21st Century church is going to reach its full potential, it must remove the non essentials from its schedule, and get back to doing what matters most to God. Are you ready to go? The journey to places we have never been before is about to begin. God help us all to be willing to go!