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Considering the Cost of Biblical Leadership

The cost of Bibilical Leadership calls us, through God, to go deeper and wider with Him… are we willing to surrender our way to the Father? It means a willingness to have our Father intervene, even to the extent of having life plans messed up/crushed/remade with the Master’s Hand. This remolding process can make biblical leaders vulnerable, take what others would consider risks, and even face failure of being misunderstood, sometimes rejected. Understanding stewardship as a precept to biblical leadership includes practicing discipleship and trusting real ministry is lived on the Jericho Road.

I’ve presented various topics here under Ministry Development to CEF staff across the USA. Most of these topics and/or articles can also be found at the Stewardship series. Today, I’d like to present some principles and practices of biblical leadership.

Choosing to walk this road, although easy to change your mind before taking those first steps, the Jericho Road is a front-porch view into the life of the poor, brokenness, stagnation, and loneliness of others. It allows us to see and experience the Father’s Heart. Consider the following Bible passages in understanding the cost to biblical leadership:

  1. Commitment: Luke 9:23, 59, 62 Following Christ, not turning back, learn and discipling others
  2. Collaboration: Luke 10:1-23 Jesus taught/conveyed His plan for real ministry and indigenous leadership
  3. Compassion: Luke 10:30 Good Samaritan teaching on true sacrifice for the hurting and needy
  4. Crying out: Luke 18:35 Jesus healing the blind
  5. Transforming the marketplace: Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus had his heart saved and changed which transformed his city
  6. Faith: Hebrews 11:30 Trust is experienced by doing what God has said: bringing down walls of Jericho
  7. Prayer: Luke 10:5-6 Praying in the manifold presence of Christ with His blessing, peace, and the atmosphere of God’s Kingdom in cities, communities, and homes where you minister.

Practices of Biblical Leaders

  • Has a vision worth following

A leader needs a vision which lasts beyond today. There needs to be an element of faith and risk to motivate followers. The vision needs to take people somewhere they want to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. It needs to be a “bigger” reality than people are experiencing today. (Do I have to make that point for Jesus?)

  • Willing to lead the way

A leader who is easy to follow is willing to go first. They pave the way. (Jesus went first. He suffered first. He challenged the tired, worn out system first. Others could follow, because He led by example.)

  • Remains steadfast with integrity

A leader stays the course and keeps his or her character in tact. Followers know they can depend on the, resolve, strength and fortitude of the leader during the darkest hours. (Jesus remained sinless all the way to the Cross!)

  • Displays grace and patience

A leader extends grace and forgiveness when mistakes are made. They pace the team until the team is ready for greater challenges. They equip the team with the proper training and resources to complete assignments. (Jesus gave His disciples, and everyone He met, much grace.)

  • Challenges followers with high expectations

People want to follow someone who sets the bar for achievement high. There’s no intrinsic value in following easy-to-attain goals. (Jesus pushed the disciples beyond what they thought they could do. Recall Peter walking on water?)

  • Practices consistent humility as a servant

A leader should display humility and be a servant of others, especially those he or she is supposed to be leading. (Jesus washed the disciples feet.)

  • Places energy into others

A leader consistently invest in other people. They give real authority and responsibility as they encourage and develop other leaders. They even replace themselves in key positions. (Jesus sent the disciples out and He’s left His church in our hands.)

Principles of Servant Leadership

If you value people in the city, then you will make intentional decisions to build long-term empowering relationships.  Intentionally doing so will allow you to cross cultural barriers and build community by listening to others, investing stewardship of resources, while also enriching the life/testimony of the surrendered servant.  Knowing (awareness) of people within the city helps cultivate an appreciation of their diversity, which enriches and broadens their own visions, ideas, and ministries.  A servant leader will make deliberate decisions to ensure commitment to growth of indigenous resources as well as the foresight, through prayer, in the utilization of those resources.

Invest in people. Pour yourself into those that God sends your way by taking what He poured into you and reinvest it into others.  It may take fifteen years to develop indigenous urban leadership.  Empathy is absolutely necessary in healing and implementation of effective and sustainable ministry within a community. Trust built through this healing process can provide opportunity for mentoring/discipleship of city kids towards becoming world changers in their community and beyond.

Leaders who pray with their city: A Closing Prayer

Gracious Lord, the Lord that invites us to be honored enough to work alongside others through the help of Jesus Christ, the creative God who created all creatures on earth including the tall pine trees in our state. The creative God who created diversity among humankind on earth, where there are all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, skin colors, and languages.

You sent Your Son to earth, to Galilee, a small marginalized town on the outskirts of a major city, this earth, where He saved us from our sins. Jesus, you were born into a human body among a marginalized and oppressed nation, and from there you started your ministry to those that were on the outskirts – the women, the nonreligious, the people that nobody considered to be important. There are so many which we reach and love called “city kids”, those we are allowed to minister through Child Evangelism Fellowship.

We call and depend on the power of Your resurrection, the entire world and mankind of the changed/unchanged. Thank God you have blessed us to live and be stewards to your creation, allowing us to realize Your Kingdom on earth. Fully realizing, we will be judged not by the amount of power, prestige, and bank accounts, but where we will be judged rightly on how we treat mankind (as children and poor) on this earth by our love.

Footnote Disclaimer: As a result of my brain surgery (Sep.17, 2021) my speech and writing have been affected. During future blogs, I’ll try for others to edit my drafts to provide clarity and understanding for my message. Thank you for your patience. Subscribe: johneblake.blog (button)

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Easter.

In the Bible, as well as from sources outside of the Bible, we see that the use of “palm branches” was often tied to “victory.” The Bible first shows us this in conjunction with the “Feast of Tabernacles.” As a part of this celebration, the Israelites were commanded by God to construct and live in “booths” (for 7 days), which were made from “the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook” (Lev 23:40)(also see: Neh 8:14-18). This was done to commemorate the way the people of Israel lived after God gave them “victory,” and brought them out of Egypt.

     While not recorded in the Bible, history tells us that waving palm branches was also done to celebrate kings and conquerors. We also know that in Greek athletic competitions, victors were often given a palm branch, which they would wave to celebrate their “victory.” Palm branches are a part of Christian worship on Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, as it is sometimes called. This event commemorates Jesus Christ‘s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Zechariah.

Palm Branches on Palm Sunday

  • In the Bible, Jesus ‘ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with the waving of palm branches is found in John 12: 12-15 (see below); Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44.
  • Today Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter, on the first day of Holy Week.
  • The first celebration of Palm Sunday in the Christian church is uncertain. A palm processional was recorded as early as the 4th century in Jerusalem, but the ceremony was not introduced into Western Christianity until the 9th century.

The Bible tells us that people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air as he entered Jerusalem the week before his death. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. They shouted “Hosanna [meaning “save now”], blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Cross made out of palm fronds… see how to make on YouTube

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry in the Bible

All four Gospels include the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem:

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.​” (John 12:12-15)

Palm Branches Today

Today, many Christian churches distribute palm branches to worshipers on Palm Sunday, which is the sixth Sunday of Lent and last Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, people remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise him for the gift of salvation, and look expectantly to his second coming.

Customary Palm Sunday observances include the waving of palm branches in procession, the blessing of palms, and the making of small crosses with palm fronds.

Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn week focusing on the final days of Jesus Christ’s life. Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, the most important holiday in Christianity.

Luck has nothing to do with getting there!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day / Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit (in the Irish language, also called Erse or Gaelic, Irish Gaeilge, a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages, spoken in Ireland) so, if your thinking whether you’ll get LUCKY or reach that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow on this special holiday, Níl aon bhaint ag Ádh mór le dul ann! (in English, Luck has nothing to do with getting there!).

Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius; Irish: Pádraig [ˈpˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ]; Welsh: Padrig) was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. He was also known as the Apostle of Ireland. According to the autobiographical Confessio of Patrick, when he was about sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland. Was This Bad Luck? While a slave, he looked after animals; he lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family. Was this Good Luck? After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland. The dates of Patrick’s life cannot be fixed with certainty, but there is general agreement that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the fifth century.

In later life, he served as a bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th, the supposed date of his death. It is celebrated inside and outside Ireland as a religious and cultural holiday.

Luck had nothing to do with the events in Patrick’s life, nor do they in yours. If you know Christ as Savior, you are redeemed back to God the Father and are a Saint as well, according to the Bible. On Saint Patrick’s Day we observe, celebrate, and remember how a young man dealt with evil and unfortunate life circumstances and became the man God had foreordained. From Scripture, we know of so many others like Patrick: Joseph, Jonah, Daniel, and Paul, to mention a few. As a result of God’s Will for Patrick’s life, many in Ireland and around the world were encouraged to press through adversity as well as to place their faith and hope in Christ Jesus for salvation and daily living.

You may be experiencing things in life that make you question your worth, luck, destiny, or even God Himself. Though we all live in a fallen/sinful world, God is always at work in your life as He was in Patrick’s. It’s not about LUCK or being LUCKY, but The Kingdom of God / Ríocht Dé expressed and experienced in the midst of the struggles, disappointments, and confusion of life. If you minister/work with city kids, then you know that it seems there is never any let up to problems and issues in their lives. Sometimes we wish for somewhere over the rainbow for these kids… Can’t they get a LUCKY break?

Níl aon bhaint ag Ádh mór leis! …again, Luck has nothing to do with it!  Jesus said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom [eochracha na ríochta] of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Take the Keys of the Kingdom to the Gates of Hades, no LUCK needed, and lock up evil, demonic, and satanic mindsets of poverty, hatred, racism, low achievement, and on and on… And then, take those same powerful keys and unlock the Gates of Heaven; the Heart of God the Father; and express His Kingdom to city kids and others.

Speak the Truth that says: You matter! You are a gift to me! You are a delight to know and to be my friend! You make this world better! This world needs you! These are the expressions of the Kingdom, in which everyone needs to hear. This is the power that you possess to change your world and LUCK has nothing to do with getting there.

Matthew 16:18-19 "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ESV

It’s about BECOMING an Expression of the Kingdom

Inclusion and diversity of your staff, board, and/or committees:

  • Becoming vulnerable, a risk-taker, teachable, developing intentional cross-cultural relationships
  • Becoming consistently proximal, thus present to serve, learn, and minister
  • Becoming 35% + more productive fulfilling your mission

Cultural competencies for effective direct ministry:

  • Becoming a leader who embraces cross-racial/ethnic leadership and churches
  • Becoming a connector of indigenous resources within cross-racial/ethnic communities for mutual benefits
Dr. John M. Perkins – see One Blood and his other books with a click

Engaging cross cultural communities with their invitation and favor:

  • Becoming an organization with an asset-based approach to ministry
  • Becoming a collaborator in ministry
  • Becoming an innovator in ministry

Personal reflection and biblical reconciliation where needed:

  • Becoming fully engaged in the process of biblical transformation of lives and communities
  • Becoming an advocate and practitioner of the paradigms and methodology of biblical transformation
  • Becoming a reflector of the social, economic, racial, gender, church denominations, geography, and occupations where you minister regularly

Consider then incorporate these biblical constructs for steps forward:

These paradigms apply whether you’re ministering in a community, city, state or the world (nations). There are many testimonies from around the world, when the practical application of these principles are active, resulted in the Kingdom of God in operation on earth.

  1. We are called to disciple nations, not just individuals. (Matt. 28:18-20)
  2. The Marketplace, which is the heart of the nation, has been redeemed and now needs to be reclaimed. (Luke 19:1-10)
  3. Every Christian is a minister, and labor is worship. (1 Tim. 2:1-8; Acts 20:34-35)
  4. We are called to take the kingdom of God to where the gates of hell are for Jesus to build His Church. (Matt. 16:18)
  5. Nation transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty. (Gal. 2:10)
Ed Silvoso, Transform Our World, Harvest Evangelism

The Methodology is found in Luke 10:5-9

  • Pray and Bless: Speak peace to the people and the systems which influence/impact them (v.5)
  • Fellowship: Engage, listen, from learn from the people (v.7)
  • Minister: Address the felt needs in the Name of the Lord (v.9a)
  • Proclaim: Let it be known that the Kingdom of God is near (v.9b)

What are the possible next steps for you and your ministry?

  • Which paradigms do you readily identify with?  Which principles speak to you most strongly?
  • Which paradigms need the most explanation and/or example of implementation?
  • How would you answer the question, “Tell me about the impact your church is having on your community?
  • What are some natural ways you can begin building bridges into your community?
  • Where do you sense is your first (or next) entry point into your community?
  • What are the internal / external barriers to entering into the life of your community?
  • Which agencies, ministries, or programs would make good “partner ministries” for your church?
  • What are some ways that you can “pray and bless” your city and/or community?
  • Discuss the Ten Paradigm Shifts / 10 Keys of the Kingdom / 5 Pivotal Paradigms of Transformation / 5 Characteristics of Connectors with your staff / board at your next leadership retreat
  1. They are “gift‐centered” people. They see the “full half” in everyone.
  2. They are well connected themselves. They have friendships and are active in their community’s life.
  3. They are trusted and create new trusting relationships. The trust they have grows from the fact that they see the gifts of their neighbors, and they are willing contributors to their neighbors and the neighborhood.
  4. They believe in the people in their community. They are not cynical, doubting observers of local residents. They know that their community is a place rich in resources.
  5. And they are people who get joy from connecting, convening and inviting people to come together. They are not seeking to lead people. They know the power in joining people together.

The Spirit of God is at work.  There is a good chance that the next great movement of God will involve putting the church back into community where it can be the leaven, salt and light God designed the church to be. 


Next: 5 Pivotal Paradigms for biblical transformation – Pray – Bless – Fellowship – Minister – Proclaim

  1. Tear down walls and build bridges towards transformation
  2. Measure your impact by transformed lives rather than attendance
  3. Equipping indigenous residents to serve instead of a cycle of being served
  4. Becoming a learner as well as a teacher
  5. Resist duplicating ministries to collaborating with existing ministries
  6. Moving from fellowship (only) to a functional, thriving, and unified friendship
  7. Stop condemning the city, blaming the church, and pray with them
  8. Becoming a marketplace ministry rather than only to a local congregation
  9. Rejecting speculation about the community and engaging Truth & Vision
  10. See indigenous residents as assets with gifts and talents needed for transformation of their community

Expressing the Kingdom of God within your context!

What could this mean for your ministry BECOMING?

  1. Inclusion and diversity of your staff, board, and/or committees
  2. Cultural competencies for effective direct ministry
  3. Engaging cross cultural communities with their access and favor
  4. Personal reflection and biblical reconciliation where needed

Diversity Training is any program designed to facilitate positive group interaction, to address and reduce biases, prejudice, marginalization, discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively. However, not all such seminars, webinars, workshops, and/or training is the same.

From the broad corporate perspective: Diversity training is defined as raising personal awareness about individual differences in the workplace and how those differences inhibit or enhance the way people work together and get work done. This probably will include the dynamics of inclusion, where everyone is valued, respected, affirmed by having a voice, and feels like they matter. Each of these outcomes should be desired within all workplace and ministry settings.

Values-based diversity and inclusion training programs are designed encourage increased collaboration, enhance interpersonal skills, and empower everyone to become more productive. Studies found that companies and organizations which foster diversity and inclusion are 35% more productive. This certainly is true of a biblical Kingdom Building approach, which propels individuals and organizations towards proper alignment and right relationships with God and individuals.

How will a values-based Kingdom-expressing approach to diversity and inclusion be successful?

  • Develops an understanding of biblical diversity and inclusion with an emphasis on expressing the Kingdom of God on earth
  • All training sessions are tailored to fit the organization’s mission, objectives, and goals
  • There’s an expectation to dig deeper and become open to vulnerability and taking risks to express the Kingdom of God
  • Organization’s commitment to extend training and measurable diversity engagement over increments of time

Identifying your diversity, inclusion, or collaborative needs for successful engagement

Open and honest conversations with your team, chapter, and/or organization is essential for addressing and tackling the complex, under-served, or neglected topics of diversity, inclusion, race, gender, etc. Here are a few common subject matters, which might help your organization identify your needs for successfully engaging diversity.

  • Affirming true value of people
  • Asset-based collaboration
  • Challenges and Goals
  • Cultural Competence
  • Conversations and Discussions
  • Changing Spiritual Atmosphere
  • Education and Discipleship
  • Changing mindsets and attitudes
  • Partnerships with sustained action

Next: Kingdom Formation and Expression What could this mean for your ministry?

Child Evangelism Fellowship® of North Carolina in Durham presented its 2020 Ministry Briefing and COVID-Relief Update on Wed. Dec. 16th via Zoom for CEF supporters and friends. The Board members of the CEF Durham Area Chapter and its Director shared an exciting year-end report and update on how over 7,000 children were reached even during the restrictive COVID pandemic since March 2020.

See January-March 2020 began with strong ministry – April-December everything was adjusted = 7,000+ city kids reached!

Hear the recorded meeting of testimonies and a Christmas Greeting from the board members. The year-end report was given by me, the director. Here is the LINK for the meeting (use this 7k^c4fx$ to view). To read a more detailed report with graphics and pictures click on NEWSLETTERS and look for 2020 Ministry Report. I’ve posted, below, the graphics for my 2020 ministry report.

We have always followed a simple, but profound threefold purpose: evangelism, discipleship, and connecting local churches to unchurched children and families across our area, which is in concert with the mission statement of Child Evangelism Fellowship for 83 years. For 27 years, Child Evangelism Fellowship staff and volunteers have reached city kids in the surrounding Durham area. Through our Good News Clubs, sports camps, and collaborative events with dozens of ministry partners, we’ve been able to share the gospel with children of all ages. Thousands have accepted Christ as their Savior over those 27 years and many lives, families, and communities have been changed. Biblical discipleship and character development are happening weekly in schools and neighborhoods. Prayer Evangelism integrates everything we do.

Prayer Retreat at St. Francis Springs Center in North Carolina

So, after a great start with direct ministry with kids, training volunteers, preaching in the jail, and completing character development classes in schools, everything came to a screeching halt. There were new realities and soon to follow a New Normal. Despite the current situation and changing circumstances across the nation and our state, we simply did what we have been doing, but made some dramatic adjustments and became more innovative and creative. To reach 7,000+ in 2020 here are the adjustments we made and ministries we pushed forward with the help of our volunteers and our CEF Education and Creative departments.

  • Connections, ideas, and access of communication sources we could leverage for all teachers, kids, and families to use in finishing up the already started ministries before summer began.
  • Created, mobilized, and ramped up our prayer networks across the area via prayer walking, PrayDurham and RDU Prays initiatives, engaged in Prayer Walks for Justice & Peace, as well as enrolled in the Ekklesia Excelerator course with other Kingdom-building friends, leaders, and CEF volunteers.
  • Conducted summer camps (reading, 5-Day Club, etiquette, life skills, and character development, but no sports) via Zoom with close to 80% attendance daily for six weeks.
  • Weekly visits in communities, where we minister regularly, with breakfast, care packages, Wonder Why? booklets distributed, singing, and prayer with city kids and their families (per current COVID guidelines)
  • Bike distributions, with a helmet, vest, and bike light for all city kids attending Good News Club in one downtown community (see picture below)
  • COVID-Relief supplies, food, and devotional books were distributed for all city kids and families in another public housing community where we have weekly outreach and clubs. This was accomplished by the community’s CEF ministry team, a financial grant from the Duke-Durham Fund, local churches, food banks, and residents collaboratively meeting the expressed needs of this community throughout the summer and fall. (see picture below)
  • Continued to engage conversations and study with others locally about Race and Justice issues via Christianity Deconstructs Racism and Together We Stand.
  • Team leaders connected Good News Club TV and other learning resources to their students.
  • Drive-thru Back-to-School and Christmas events with our ministry partners as we distributed Christian books, Bibles, and Gospel-centered literature (seen in the video below and see picture below).

Graphics and pictures of ministry adjustments in 2020 and ministry outreach history of the CEF Durham Area Chapter

“The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t put words to paper. The problem was I couldn’t get those words to make sense. That’s because I wasn’t clear on my objective. I was trying to say too much and, as result, I was saying nothing.” writes Brenda Barbosa The One Sentence That Will make You a More Effective Speaker Wow! I can so identify with her statements. I will share a few more of her comments as well as mine to my friends who have so much passion for their mission and truly have something to say.

“This… will make all your speeches clear, concise, and compelling.”

If your audience is often confused and lost:

Here’s a few tips for becoming more effective when you communicate as you speak and write

  • Distill your thoughts into one succinct takeaway for the audience/reader — it’s your big idea
  • Choose a topic out of your big idea and focus on it
    • Without a big idea to light the way, you’ll wander aimlessly through draft after draft of your speech… you’ll become so tired of going in circles you’ll simply want to give up or, worse, you’ll decide to “wing it.” …jotting down some notes, throw together a few slides, slap on a title, and call it a presentation.
  • Determine what inspires you about the topic
    • This is usually your area of expertise or passion
  • Articulate your inspiration (idea) with one sentence
    • Think of the single sentence as a lighthouse guiding you through fog. If you become overwhelmed with an abundance of data or competing themes, the single sentence will help you stay on track.
  • Note: Any piece of data, story, or anecdote that doesn’t jive with your single sentence should be trashed (probably can be used later with another talk and newsletter)

“Anyone who has an idea worth sharing is capable of giving a powerful talk,” Anderson writes in his book, TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking. “The only thing that truly matters in public speaking is not confidence, stage presence, or smooth talking. It’s having something worth saying.”

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