Joshua 11:1-15 (Part 2) – Common Vision & The Next Man Up Mentality in the Church

Posted: June 22, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 11:1-15 (Part 2 of 2)

Israel Defeats the Northern Armies

“As the Lord had commanded His servant, Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua…” This is the essence of leadership. One of the challenges of the new wave of modern, typically non-denominational, churches is that they do not have the structure and hierarchy of their denomination behind them. It’s live and die on their own. Some are only loosely affiliated with a denomination (and those denominational churches often consider the newfangled churches like that cousin that nobody in the family wants to claim – except in the denominational reports on church growth). Some are outright unaffiliated with any traditional denomination. In denominational churches, you can often rely on the denominational hierarchy to support the church when there is a ministerial crisis and a change in leadership is needed. However, the new wave of modern churches out there have shunned the traditions and hierarchies of traditional denominations. The risk is that what if these churches that are often centered around a founding pastor have a ministerial crisis. Will they survive?


There are recent examples of both answers to that question. Mars Hill Church in the Seattle, WA area was one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing churches under the leadership of Mark Driscoll. He became one of the first celebrity preachers to come out of the new church movement. He was a noted author. He gave leadership talks everywhere. But when it came down to it, Mark succumbed to his own celebrity and tried to control every aspect of his organization and ruled with a dictatorial flair. Because the leadership structure was so centered around him and he never allowed his people to develop into true leaders, he got out of control as a leader and ultimately he was forced out as the head pastor of the church that he founded. Because of the vacuum of true leaders within that multi-site, multi-state church, the leaders that did come up after Mark were not prepared for the enterprise of which they had to assume control. Leadership faltered. Each of the satellite campuses were first released to be their own churches because of the strain on short-sighted, ill trained leaders of the central organization could not manage the far flung enterprise. Following that, the wheels started coming off and within one year what was once one of the largest, fastest growing churches in America, no longer existed. Mars Hill Church imploded and no longer a trace of it exists. Lack of a leadership pipeline caused the church to fail and that is truly one of the major risks of the new, non-denominational, preacher-centric churches that have begun dotting the American Christian landscape from coast to coast.


NewSpring Church, headquartered nearby here in its place of founding in Anderson, SC, is one of the top 5 fastest growing churches in America. It has 23 campuses dotting the landscape of Upstate South Carolina. Each campus looks pretty much alike. They have the same formula at each location. It is a modern look and feel. Traditional churches don’t care much for NewSpring as many have lost members to the megachurch. Many claim that NewSpring is a “gospel-lite” church that teaches that Jesus is your friend not your king. That teaches of only God’s love but not His judgement. Some say that NewSpring is a nice church to go to but if you want to grow up, you have to leave. They say NewSpring makes converts not disciples. All of these things may or may not be true. Anything that gets that big that fast will always have critics who don’t think the church is anything but a fad or that the church really hasn’t paid its dues of being a church for a hundred years. And many of its detractors cheered wildly when its founding pastor, Perry Noble, was forced out by the governing board of the multi-site megachurch. Revelations of infidelity and alcoholism were rumored to be the cause. Perry Noble was a bright star in the megachurch movement. He, too, like many of these founding pastors of megachurches was an author and a celebrity of sorts. Speaking engagements around the country and the world were at his feet. He had the adulation of many and he let it all go to his head just like virtually every pastor of these large, quickly growing churches have. And he fell.


However, say what you will about the founding pastor, Perry Noble, of NewSpring Church, his church is surviving and even growing and opening more new campuses without its founding pastor as part of the organization in any way. Perry has nothing to do with NewSpring now but the church is still there. Many felt and some hoped that the church would implode without him just like Mars Hill did without Mark Driscoll. As the soldier say in the movie, Armageddon, after they had attempted to nuke one of the city sized spaceships hovering over what was left of Houston, TX, “the target remains, sir. I repeat. The target remains.” The monolith that is NewSpring remains. Why? Perry Noble did one thing right, for all his evident faults. He surrounded himself with good leaders that could take his place if needed. He groomed his successor to take over as senior pastor. He developed an organization at the “corporate headquarters” in Anderson that could handle the rapid growth of the church. He developed an organization that was ready for 20 sites when it was only 10 sites. It is ready for 40 sites now organizationally speaking when it is only 23 sites. This central core organization knows its mission and replicates it with each campus. They then plant the same leadership structure at each location. They have systems and processes that are replicated with each campus. And each location has a campus pastor that can be a pastor on their own. One thing Perry was never afraid of was hiring the best and the brightest. However, all of this successful organizational intelligence would be meaningless if he had not been all the while grooming Clayton King to take his place as the head of this mammoth organization. Clayton is now the face of the franchise and the church survived the crisis of losing its founding pastor to his own mistakes of self-centeredness. That’s the difference between NewSpring and Mars Hill.


That’s the thing that our church, LifeSong Church, must consider in the next month as our pastor goes on sabbatical and our church enters an intense month of prayer and soul searching. We have all been asked by our founding pastor, Jeff Hickman, to consider what our ministries will look like five years from now. We must consider where we want to be. We must start with where we want to be. Because if we know where we want to be in five years then we can start now working toward that goal. If we just exist with no five year goals or plans we are not going to get anywhere and we will flounder. As the old saying goes, you can’t get to your destination without first figuring out what roads to take and which not to take. One of the things too that we must consider is that there will come a day when Jeff retires at the latest or Jeff gets called to do something else. Will our church survive Jeff not being there? Do we have the leaders in place that can have the leadership wherewithal that Jeff has? Sure we have elders/pastors that could take his place in Mike Blackwood and Tim Lyda. Are they ready? Are they willing? Are they capable of being the new top guy in our organization? Has Jeff been making them ready to take on “the face of the franchise” role that he now holds. Being senior pastor, the face of the church, is something different from being the executive pastor/worship pastor or the pastor of discipleship. If they are ready for this role, have they been grooming up leaders below them to step into their roles once they have stepped up. Developing the “next man up” mentality within our organization, developing lay people into full-time ministers, developing full-time support ministers into being ready for the senior pastor role must be a part of the plan for our next five years. We want to be a target that remains. We want to know where we are going and how to get there and who we are going to have to take us there. Next man up is an important part of getting to where you want your organization to be. We must be able to plug in the next man up and not miss a beat as we head toward our goals of making the greatest kingdom impact that we can within the job that God has assigned to our church.


That is what came to mind this morning as I read through this passage today for a second time. It struck me that one of the subtle emphases of the this passage is that Joshua was the next man up. He was carrying out the plan that Moses had trained him up for. Quietly all those forty years, Moses was training up Joshua to take over the organization that was Israel and Joshua was plugged in and carried out the vision even with Moses no longer in the picture. Let’s read it now together:


11 When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Akshaph, 2 and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; 3 to the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah. 4 They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 5 All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel.


6 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.”


7 So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, 8 and the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel. They defeated them and pursued them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and to the Valley of Mizpah on the east, until no survivors were left. 9 Joshua did to them as the Lord had directed: He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots.


10 At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.) 11 Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed[a] them, not sparing anyone that breathed, and he burned Hazor itself.


12 Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned. 14 The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed. 15 As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.


Here, in this passage, as we read it for today, we see that Joshua followed every detail of God’s commands to Moses. It is usually difficult to complete someone else’s project, but Joshua stepped into Moses’ job and brought it to completion, building upon what Moses had started. A new person taking over for another in a new job will bring his own style and personality to that job, but the church or any other organization cannot work effectively if there is no one to step up and take that person’s place or if every change in personnel means starting over from scratch.


That’s what we at LifeSong must do as part of our 30 day challenge while Jeff is on sabbatical. We must dream the big dreams that God lays on our hearts. If you don’t dream big, you won’t win big. We must seek what the impossible dream God wants us to dream and say why not? We must then develop the road map on how to get there. Start with where you want to finish and then work your way back to the starting line (where we are now). Great running backs in football are already thinking two moves ahead when they are running down the field. We need vision. Without it we flounder and perish. When we have a common vision, everyone knows what that is. Then we can train with the next man up mentality. When we already know what the plan is, we can groom up others to take us there. The mission then becomes the most important thing. Just as Jesus trained up his disciples and gave them a vision, we must do the same. The church survived Jesus’ death because he was the originator of the next man up mentality in church. He invested heavily in his disciples such that the church grew exponentially after He was gone. Common vision. Training new leaders to step up. That’s the secret sauce. We see it in Moses to Joshua. We see it in Jesus to the disciples. We see it in the survival of NewSpring Church. Will that be said of us at LifeSong Church five years from now. Will it be said of your church?


Amen and Amen.

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