Sermon: Time to get Plugged-In/Expository Message Series in the Book of Nehemiah Part 1 of 9

“Being Equipped and Energized for Your New Future!”

 

Expository Message Series in the Book of Nehemiah

Time to Plug –In

Nehemiah 1:1-11

 

Introductory Questions:

What was your life like 10 years ago?

Where would you like your life to be ten years from now?

Was is the one thing you would do if you knew that you

could not fail?

 

A God-Size Vision Will Always Require Change!

Whatever got you to where you are at today will not take you into your new tomorrow

  1. A Good Thing…or a God Thing?

1 Cor 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price (Lutroo to buy Back-Slave Market)[1]. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

  • Since We Belong to God and Not Ourselves, So Do Our Dreams!
  • We no longer have the right to live our own lives. We have been bought with a price.
  • We were created (and recreated) with His purposes in mind.

Eph 2:10

10 For we are God’s handiwork (Poimo’[2] A Piece of Art That has never been Created), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  • In other words, we are the products of God’s Vision.

Background & Theme: for the Book of Nehemiah 

Timeline

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” Nehemiah 4:10

Major Theme

Chapters 1–7 describe Nehemiah’s restoration of the walls of Jerusalem. Chapters 8–13 record Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s reforms. Nehemiah fully trusted in God as he prayed and planned for the rebuilding of the walls. Even facing opposition, his faith did not waver.

Background and Purpose

The book of Nehemiah, which serves as a natural sequel to the book of Ezra, shows how God’s providential hand re-established his people in their homeland after their exile. Without walls Jerusalem could not be thought of as a city at all. So Nehemiah’s first priority was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah constantly reveals his dependence on God in his frequent prayers. The book of Nehemiah fills in the background to the three prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

nehemiah-map Outline of the Book of Nehemiah

Author

The book opens with the words, “The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah” (1:1). The book of Nehemiah is the only Old Testament first-person narrative written by an important Jewish leader.

Date

The fifth century bc, approximately 430 bc, sometime after the 32nd year of Artaterxes, king of Persia.

Christ in Nehemiah

 

  • Nehemiah portrays Jesus in Jesus’ work of restoration.[1]

 

 

  1. A Vision Begins as a Concern

Nehemiah1

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:  In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 

A Passion for A God-Size Vision begins when one’s heart breaks over the things that breaks God’s heart!

He didn’t leave.  He didn’t get distracted.  Instead, he did the hardest thing.    He waited.

III. A Vision Does Not Require Immediate Action

It’s not that God isn’t ready.  It’s not that action isn’t needed.

It’s that WE’RE not ready.

 

Philippians 2:13-14

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

 

The problem: Our reality doesn’t match the vision right away.

 

The solution:  There is a correlation between the preparation time and the magnitude of the task to which God calls us.

 

Waiting on God is a proactive process that requires engagement.  It is not a passive process.

 

Nehemiah 1

Then I said:  “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.

Lessons from Nehemiah about Plugging- In:

  • Plug-In to a daily connection with Christ. (Consecration)
  • Plug-In to relationships. (Community)
  • Plug-In to a place to serve. (Commitment)
  • Plug-In to a place of touching others as God’s Masterpiece (Contagious)

 

Recreates Plan for next 6 months:

  • Develop a Culture of Affirmation, Expectation, and Honor!
  • Reach every kid possible in the community at Recreate!
  • Create a Team Covenant of how we are going to do leadership and Service together.
  • This Christmas be postured to have an incredible services for Christmas Eve.
  • Be Able to embrace God’s genius of the “and” by Reaching Wide-Teaching Deep- Unleashing Compassion!
  1. Ask for God’s Favor….but for the Purpose of Influence

The enemy is real….and very efficient.

He would rather see us not try than to try and fail…makes his job easier.

 

Romans 5:3-4 (Msg)

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.”

God-Size Favor & Breakthrough often happens in the position of greatest risk! “I was the cupbearer of the king.”

If you any feedback or questions to today’s message please email Al Soto at al@recreatechurch.com. You can also read Al’s blog at www.realgreatness.com

______________________________________________________________

Footnotes: 

[1] Mark Water, The Books of the Bible Made Easy, The Made Easy Series (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishing, 2001), 16.

 

[1] Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek: 365 Greek Word Studies for Every Day of the Year to Sharpen Your Understanding of God’s Word (Tulsa, Oaklahoma: Harrison House, January 2007).

[2] Mainz Herbert Braun, “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,” ed. Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968).

 

References:

 

Herbert Braun, Mainz. “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. edited by Gerhard Kittel & Gerhard Friedrich. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 458-84. Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968.

 

Mark Water, The Books of the Bible Made Easy, The Made Easy Series (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishing, 2001)

 

Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems from the Greek: 365 Greek Word Studies for Every Day of the Year to Sharpen Your Understanding of God’s Word.  Tulsa, Oaklahoma: Harrison House, January 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Becoming an Effective Leader – Part 1 of 2

Leadership

 

 

 

 

 

Recently in my teaching assignment as a professor in a Bible College I was asked by a young woman who is a student from China, “Professor what are the important things that one would need to know in order to be successful in ministry?” I presented a few thoughts to this young student but her question challenged me to intentionally spend more time in reflection about this question. Prior to me presenting some of the essentials for effective leadership I must present that I am convinced the foundation for everything that I will present is the absolute need for a leader to love the Church. There is a sacred delight that one lives and moves in when he or she loves the very thing that Jesus Christ who is the “Head” absolutely adores which is evidenced in His elevating this agency of the Kingdom of God to a position of being “His Bride!” If one cannot be totally sold-out to loving the church they will sputter when challenging times comes not being convinced that God does not have a “Plan B.” It is the church that is primary agency of the Kingdom of God to bring reconciliation to all things!”

Therefore, here are the essential qualities a leader must have to serve well:

  1. Be committed to being a better person, not simply developing better programs.

E.M. Bounds once declared that people are always looking for better programs but God is always looking for a better man and woman to partner with Him on His mission. Methods are temporary and depend on the context of a particular situation to whether they will succeed or not succeed. The late Dallas Willard when speaking about leaders stated that may leaders have attempted to substitute results for what they lacked: joy, relationship, character. I have come to discover that God is far less interested in your results than the person you are becoming. A leader will always teach what they know, but reproduce who they are.

 

  1. You do not find your calling, but you are formed for it – learn to hold things loosely.

I have stated how I think I am going to be some place forever and then I feel the prompting to move on to my next assignment. Please do not interpret what I am going to write that I am a strong proponent of a leader constantly moving. My first assignment out of college I stayed for 20 years. In the last ten years I have had the rich experience of serving three different churches. Each experience used the best of what God has done in me to help others as well as use the best in others to further shape me. I have come to understand that one does not find his or her calling and settle but instead the journey of our service is a work of the Spirit constantly forming us in our calling. One of our Pastors in San José, CA, Paul Giacalone, would always say, “People come and God allows us to help them become a “5” and they may go somewhere else to become an “8” but we are always aware that they belong to Jesus.” Many leaders become controlling and forget that we serve in the context of the greater Body of Christ and we always hold people and places loosely so that we may more quickly obey Christ.

  1. Do not find your identity in your job, find it in Christ.

Not getting this right will drive one nuts! One will be torn attempting to please people and at the same time please God. When a leader finds their identity in their job assignment they will constantly compromise conviction in order to accommodate the preferences of people. This is not only exhausting but what leaders will do is they have their endurance whittled away but a subtle-fever of “co-dependency” that robs them of their joy of serving but also exaggerates failure over all the good things that are happening. The safest place in this situation is to have a vibrant and strong resource in your internal sufficiency in Jesus Christ.

 

  1. Be spiritually grounded in things that are outside of your ministry.

I have discovered that in my own spiritual formation intellectual stimulation challenges me to grow. I am refreshed reading great books as well as practicing some spiritual disciplines. Language is a powerful tool that is used to communicate with others. Discover the language of God that speaks to your soul. In the sixth century a Damascus monk when pondering how there is no hierarchy in the “Godhead” used the term “perichoresis” which literally means “circle-dance.” He used this to describe the perfect unity of the “Triune God.” I have discovered that my times of solitude allow me to better “Dance my dance with God.” Meditating on the Word of God shapes my perception of reality that I do not need to be in control of all outcomes!” I have combined times of Lectio Devina with exercise and sleep is always good in bringing renewal.

 

  1. Be committed to writing.

Listen I not talking about writing to publish a journal article or a book. I am simply stating write. If you want to sharpen what you want to say get into the discipline of writing. Leaders must be able to say things with conviction and clarity. The greatest tool of every leader is the clarity and the power of your words. People are desperate to hear goods words that will challenge them to something far greater than themselves.

 

  1. Put an end to the pretend and just be okay with saying, “I don’t know.”stop pretending                                                                                                                                                                                 Often leaders have this compulsion to have to pretend that they read a particular book that comes up in a conversation with colleagues or they simply pretend to know of a topic that they have no clue what the other person is attempting to communicate.

If you want to keep the “guile” out of your life just be able to say “I do not know.” It is freedom! I have a four step plan that I learned years ago listening to Dallas Willard that has helped me in maintaining humility:

 

  1. Never pretend
  2. Never presume
  3. Never push
  4. Never patronize

 

  1. Listen to your critics.

critics

This sounds crazy! The writer of Proverbs states it this way, “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you for it.” Take a deep breath and without being defensive and see what you can learn. John Maxwell years ago stated, “That every confrontation that a leader has in an opportunity for that leader to change.” This is especially important that a leader does this when leading a church or an organization through dynamic change. Do not defend yourself. There is a God is Heaven and He will take you care of you! I always communicate to my teams please do not defend me when people are asking questions but please have them come directly to me. This is healthy and it diffuses triangulation.

 

Here are a few thoughts that I have and I will present more in a future blog but these are ones that are quite meaningful for me to live out (and I wish I would have practiced them sooner), but one’s learning from the mistakes becomes the treasure of wisdom for another generation. I will discuss this in a future blog but it is important for a leader never to lose the sense of awe of what a privilege it is to serve Christ by serving others. It is this sense of awe that keeps me never taking for granted the great joy it is to be in partnership with God on His mission.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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The Big TEN Characteristics of an Effective Team Member! Part 2 of 2

BIG TEN

 

 

 

 

I am continuing in this blog post Part 2 of my Big TEN Characteristics for effective team members. Here are the last five characteristics on my list:

 

Competency – An effective leader is going to know where the most effective place on a team will be for each team member. Nothing frustrates high performing members of a team than a participant that cannot perform their role well. Competency builds a strong team. Competency erases any cause for needless anxiety and is good for our mental health, as well as the health of the team.

Reliability & Follow-Through – Which reduces the anxiety and stress of a team when people on the team keep their word. The most aggravating team member is one who over-promises and under-delivers! I have discovered that it is this “Unreliable Under-performer” who often times becomes critical of other members of the team to cover their own lack of follow-through! Leadership teams that have these types of people usually cannot keep high-performers because it becomes to frustrating to compensate for their follow-through.

Active Problem-Solver – Effective team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solution-oriented manner. They are problem –solvers, not problem-dwellers, problem-blamers, or problem-avoiders. They have the ability to assess the reality of a situation and through open dialog with other members of the team collaborate together in finding solutions and forming action plans, and at the same time giving credit to the team for implementing effective strategies. They the elevate the “WE” and not the “ME” in the process of problem-solving.

Open Communicators – Team players who are active listeners who consider the ideas and thoughts of other people without becoming argumentative are more consistently the players who have the ability to ask constructive questions. An open communicator embraces the understanding that ideas can always be shaped in an environment that allows for clear, honest, debate that shows respect to other members of the team. I am always convinced, “That none of us are as smart as all of us” when it comes to team communication.

Flexibility & Hard work – Good team players learn how to adapt to ever-changing situations. They embrace the notion, “Blessed are those who are flexible for they shall not break!” They don’t complain or get stressed out because a new direction is being set. They also know how to “Roll up their sleeves” and work hard at seeing that the mission gets completed with excellence. They will offer to support other members on the team to get the work done. They respond to requests for help as well as take the initiative to offer help to other members on the team.

 

These last five characteristics complete my “BIG TEN!” Doing team well is hard work but it multiplies the effectiveness of an organization when the work is done through teams. This quote by an unknown author says it all, “”Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.”

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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The Big TEN Characteristics of an Effective Team Member! Part 1 of 2

 

BIG TEN

 

 

I am journeying through the land of the in-between in my assignments leaving a position as a Campus Pastor for an incredible church and discerning where my next assignment in terms of calling will take me. In the two previous leadership teams that I had the privilege to serve with for the past six years there are ten characteristics in my reflection that are important character traits for a person to be an effective team member. I call them my “BIG TEN!” Here are the first five characteristics:

 

John Maxwell quote on Learning from Mistakes

Teachable: It is important that every person on the team including the “Lead Pastor” be a student of personal change. This means that one has the capacity to admit that they still have more to learn and can learn from other members of the team. Arrogance is not a spiritual-gift neither do people perform at high levels when a key member or members on the team are know-it-alls! People tend to be able trust people who admit that they have clay feet and are not “All-Knowing!” John Maxwell when speaking about leaders states, “A man or woman must be big enough to admit his or her mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

 

Positive Attitude: Nothing destroys team dynamics quicker than a wet-blanket who is constantly negative for the sake of being negative about everything. People who have negative attitudes often times take on the mindset of being a victim. I have discovered (By Personal Experience), that negative people want to be paternalistic or maternalistic with other members of the team in such a way that they desire to parent members of the team rather than have a shared adult-to adult peer relationship. People with positive attitudes believe in people enough to allow them to graduate.

Happy about the Successes of Others: One’s own sense of personal identity is the greatest pillar for one being a great team member. Insecurity kills team culture. When there is much emotional energy in attempting to prop up someone on the team who is constantly insecure it can over time discourage other members of the team enough to begin to detach from the mission. I have learned that you do not place an insecure person in a vital role of team leadership. It’s not safe for them to fail forward and grow. Furthermore, it is not safe for members of the team to move ahead on mission. Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:11, is key because it is always easier for some to weep with another than to rejoice with another when they have need to rejoice because of their insecurity.

Sense of humor: It is important in my last two previous assignments to have fun and to enjoy one another. It is good when church leadership teams have a healthy sense of play. Matter-of-fact when teams do not have this they tend to relapse into “regressive type of thinking” which means that team members are no longer exercising the best of their creative imagination to the table.

 Loyalty – It is a non-negotiable that. Team members be loyal to the Senior Leadership of the church as well as loyal to each other. Years ago John Maxwell once stated that one must be loyal to the man or woman that is leading as well as to the mission that they serve. It is my conviction that it is the lack of loyalty that erodes healthy debate. I have learned being a senior leader that people will always be the “Couch Quarterback” and they will want to critique you from a point of arrogance. I love my senior pastor, and when people want to go negative I simply remind them that he is my pastor and before you critique him harshly, you may want to consider that he leads a congregation larger than many cities in America. That usually puts a conversation to rest. Loyalty will always breed a culture of TRUST!

Here is the first five of my big ten and I would like to receive any feedback that you may have concerning this article. Maybe you have some of your own BIG TEN that you would like to add to this list! Before I go any further I want to communicate to the Team that I served with at Trinity Christian Center in Artesia, CA (which is now The Well), and to the team that I served with at the Bayside Lincoln Campus as well as the greater Bayside Church Leadership Team, thank you for being part of the journey in shaping me to be a better leader.

 

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Grandpa Moment: Challenging Exegesis From the Lego Bible!

The Lego Old Testament Bible Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been reading the through the Old Testament with my five year old grandson, Josiah Soto, and we came across an interesting moment tonight. We are reading about the story of Noah and the Lego Bible goes through every detail. For instance, the “Lego Bible” presents how wicked people had become and that  the “Sons of God” came and took the women and had children who became Giants. My grandson asked me, “PAPA, what does that mean?” Tough Question! Then it goes on to to discuss how all the wicked people had to drown. Josiah’s question, “PAPA I thought we are to be kind to people?” Now I am sweating profusely and all my theological training is not helping me at this moment.

lego bible People drowning

 

 

 

 

 

Now the next difficult moment came when Noah and his family are getting off the Ark and there are the skeletons of all the people who died in the flood laying on the ground. Josiah goes on to comment, “PAPA I thought we are suppose to be kind to bad people hoping they will change and with all those dead bodies everywhere it must have smelled bad.” My response, “Look at the rainbow and see what it means!”

lego bible people getting out of the ark

 

We got through the story and I asked Josiah what is the one thing that he learned? He said, “To do what God tells you to do!” Wheeewwww! He did get something out of the story! He then asked, “What do we get to read tomorrow night?” Well we have more mayhem to deal with! Thank you Lego Bible! Where is there a Children’s Pastor when you need one! Seminary never trained me for this scenario!

 

 

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Ten Characteristics of a Mature Leadership Team

coaching Development

 

 

 

Doing ministry as a team requires that the “Primus” Leader including every member of the team do two things: First, one must let go of the things that attempt to control himself or herself because in not confronting these internal issues one will overcompensate by over-performing and not allowing others on the team to contribute the best of who they are as they work together for a common purpose. Second, one must let go of those things that drive you to control because in not confronting this any member of the team will become adversarial with other members when it comes to healthy debate. Not dealing with these dynamics is what makes most teams in churches function more like groups.

referee throwing a flag

 

Thus, in the words of my mentor Dr. Roger Heuser, “a group becomes a team when individual charisms compliment others toward a compelling purpose, a goal, and the means to achieve the goal – and when team members provide support for one another and hold one another accountable.” [1] Many local church pastors become exhausted because in developing more groups than teams it forces that the Lead Pastor or team leader become more like a referee burning most of their energy in mediating conflict.

What has assisted me in developing a healthy team culture is to identify and give clear definition to what constitutes a mature team.

A mature team has:

  1. A clear understanding of its purposes and goals.
  2. A flexibility in selecting its procedures as it works toward its goals.
  3. An ability to initiate and carry on effective decision making.
  4. An appropriate balance between group productivity and the satisfaction of personal needs.
  5. A High degree of communication and understanding among its members
  6. A leader that does not dominate, nor do any of the members; yet a leader’s primary role is servant-leadership.
  7. A high degree of cohesiveness (oneness) but not to the point of stifling individual freedom.
  8. An intelligent use of its deferring abilities and gifting.
  9. A capacity to be objective about reviewing its own process and progress.
  10. A heightened level of spiritual authenticity, humility, and vulnerability.

When the Lead Ministry or Leadership Team of a church or organization does team in this fashion it creates a culture.  In my previous leadership assignment as a Campus Pastor we created a culture that had the following behaviors that flowed out of a relational principle that helped us stay on mission (See Chart Below).

Culture of Affirmation Expectation and Honor

These ten characteristics will emancipate members of your team to perform with a higher degree of personal responsibility as to how their thinking and behavior not only impacts the team that they serve on, but also, they will behave in a way that they are consciously aware of how their thinking and behavior impacts the entire church and organization. The Lead pastor and/or “Primus” leader will no longer function like a referee but more like a coach as conflict is processed at the team level which will further equip people to grow and mature.


Footnotes:

[1] (Shawchuck 2010)


References:

Shawchuck, Roger Heuser and Norman. 2010. Leading The Congregation. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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“Doing Our Dance!” Daily Office: July 9, 2015

 

 

2 Corinthians 5 18 20

For many Protestants the understanding of God being Trinity is an exercise of intellectual assent without really investigating what does it mean to our Mission on planet earth as the Church. There are two tendencies that historically we fall prey to when it comes to thinking and living with a Trinitarian mindset: First, is the failure to maintain equally the oneness and ‘threeness’ of God. Second, our failure to stress equally the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ which gives birth to an unbalanced ecclesiology. In the words of Howard Snyder the results of these two view-points give a distorted understanding of what the church essentially is and what its mission in the world is (Howard Snyder, The Community of the King, p 57). Colin Gunton asserts, “The manifest inadequacy of the theology of the church derives from the fact it has never seriously and consistently been rooted in a conception of the being of God as triune” (Gunton, Promise of a Trnitarian Theology, p 56).

The church as the body of Christ is essentially a community, a koinonia that is sort of a Trinitarian echo. The church is the visible representation of the kingdom of God on earth and as an agency of the Kingdom we are called as part of the God’s cosmic Mission to be a message of reconciliation of the world to Christ. In the sixth century, a Damascus monk called the beauty of the unity of the God-Head the “perichoresis” or the circle-dance. In the God-Head there is no hierarchy but rather perfect overlapping relationship. The Apostle Paul grounded “the being of the church in the purpose of the Father to reconcile all things to himself through the Son and in the Spirit. Thus, it is the fulfillment of the destiny of creation as declared in Colossians 1:20. Reconciliation is the key work of the church as it advances the kingdom of God.

What does this mean for us a individual believers? As we live our lives in light of 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “As one dances with God who is Trinity we have opportunities to be ambassadors of reconciliation.” As others see us dance we can invite them to get on the dance floor with us. It’s not about getting people to hear the words of the songs first but instead it is the invitation of grace for people to experience the music.

Why do people stay off the dance floor? My opinion is they focus to much on the church and not enough on the King who has ushered in the His Kingdom which frees us to dance with Him! The Kingdom of God is both a “Now” and a “Not Yet” In other words, there will come a time that the King will come a fully establish the full manifestation of His rule and reign. In this in-between time we live in the power of His Might and “We get to Dance with Him!” This dance is all about God who is Trinity desiring others to be brought close to Him so that they can dance the dance of reconciliation.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Testimonial From Pastor, Jason Schmidt- Bayside Galt Church

jasonschmidt

 

 

 

 

 

 

To all those who should consider Al Soto Coming to help your Church and Leadership Team:

“Al Soto helped our church staff evaluate where we were at and outlined how we can can get to our next chapter as a united team!” “Al is an effective and hilarious communicator that conveys the message of Jesus Christ in an incredible way.” “Al was able to relate well with our church body sharing his own experiences, trials, and struggles.”

Jason Schmidt

Associate Pastor

Bayside Church Galt

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Daily Office: “Getting Free From Preferences and Politics”- June 29, 2015

Galatians 6

 

 

 

 

 

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” Bob Goff


 

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that one of the signs of the Spirit-Filled life is the capacity for one to serve others and using the Apostles words, “especially those who belong in the family of believers.” The context of these verses speak of a person who is committed to the restoration but the challenge we have in doing this mandate is twofold: Preferences and Politics! Preferences are not evil around music styles, church sizes, pot lucks (I had to throw in there), but when we self anoint our personal preferences as being the right way in fulfilling the mission of Christ it becomes flesh. When we use our preferences to critically judge other churches or people on the basis of our preferences it is sowing to the flesh. Paul is not speaking of a Spirit Filled life that is simply about the “Benefit of an individual person,” but instead he is focusing on its “Benefit for the entire community.” How can we be a force of restoration for others if we can’t do it for members in our own Universal family.


Second, is Politics and I define this is in in light of the context of the Book of Galatians when dealing with the Judaizers. Paul is writing to people who being bullied by people some of whom who were in positions of influence who were calling people back to the practices of the Law. Some were returning back to this because quite frankly, in not doing this could cost them their job and have terrible repercussions. Paul’s ultimate thesis is “The Spirit Filled Life is one that is consciously aware of the presence of Christ in his or her life that they choose to fear and honor God in the choices they make.” Have their been people in your life you have wanted to please even when their actions were not God-Honoring? In the words of my grandmother Matilda Soto sowing to the flesh can make one be “Stuck on Stupid!”


My Senior Pastor, Ray Johnston, inspires me with the Church being a message of Hope to people. What hope can I give to others if I am not being that HOPE to those in my greater family.


The sky is not falling and the same Jesus who died and rose from the grave is empowered us to do good to each other especially those who are in our greater family.
Jesus I repent for the way that I have placed my preferences on the same level of inspiration as your WORD!

My Prayer:
Jesus I desire to Honor you first rather than please people.
Jesus allow me to be in sync with your Spirit so I do not grow weary,
Jesus help me to be out for the success of all those who are you Church and when the opportunity arises to serve them with a grateful heart! Amen!

Time for my coffee!

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Daily Office: “Real Maturity Serves Others!” June 28, 2015

Galatians 5 13

 

 

 

Biblical Maturity is never defined in the Bible as an Arrogant “Know it All” Mindset. Matter of fact, the Apostle Paul functionally defines it not as the amount of knowledge one has attained but rather how one lives out what they know in humility- loving others! Maybe for the Apostle Paul who was a former Pharisee if he was present today would state that the question is never for one to ask himself or herself ‘Am I A Pharisee?’ In light of Galatians 5:1 the question possibly should be “How much of a Pharisee is left in me?” Freedom in Christ is freedom to courageously discern that which still must die without condemnation!

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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