Tag Archive | Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game: Leaders

This week I’ve been writing about the concept of “skin in the game” and how it relates to the Kingdom of God.

Today, I want to look at one of the most crucial areas for believers to have skin in the game: leaders.

Leaders are a funny thing in the body of Christ. Some people get angry that I acknowledge that they exist. Others get mad when I say that not everyone who calls themselves a leader is one. The truth comes down to skin in the game.

Yes, leaders exist. But not everyone who calls themselves a leader is one. Neither is everyone who is called a pastor, bishop, elder, or apostle a leader. Leadership is determined not by who has a title, but who is leading. The critical element to understand about leading is that it’s not primarily a title or a position. Leading is a verb.

Leading happens when people do something that others haven’t. Leaders are those who pave the way for others, allowing them to do what they couldn’t on their own. Because of this, only the people who have skin in the game are truly leading. It’s impossible to lead people in teaching the Bible if you have a weak understanding of what the Bible says. Only people with skin in the game can truly lead.

I could give a million examples of this, but let me start with one outside of the body of Christ.

Silicon Valley has been in the forefront of developing the technology that powers our smart phones, tablets, and the rest of our internet-connected world. These changes to society have particularly affected our children. However, when you poll those who are leading these changes to society and ask them whether they allow their children to have access to the technologies they develop, the answer is a resounding “no.” While these leaders profit from people being in front of “screens,” they know the harm that screens have on the development of children, and in a very real sense, they don’t have their “skin in the game.”

The opposite is true of every real leader in the body of Christ. In any way that a leader wants to make progress in the church, he or she must allow that work to be done in him or her prior to leading others. This costly process is the definition of skin in the game.

Christian leadership material abounds with admonitions to leaders that they must model the change they want to see. Leaders who want to see a group of people reach the lost must model the evangelistic heart they want to see others adopt. Pastors who teach submission to the body of Christ, must themselves submit, not just to a bishop or board, but to the body of Christ. Leaders cannot just tell the rest of body to serve. They need to serve and as they do, the body of Christ will respond and follow in their example of service.

Leaders can’t ask the body of Christ to do what they’re not willing to do themselves. Leaders can’t lead through slick speeches. That’s not leadership, it’s dictatorship. It lacks skin in the game. Skin in the game takes time, patience, and faith, and for those reasons, many make the mistake of pursuing other ways to lead. When they do, they step outside of God’s plan for His Kingdom.

Brothers and sisters, I leave this series the same way I started it:

“Have skin in the game.

Partner with others who have skin in the game.

Don’t waste a lot of time and energy on those who don’t.”

Photo Credit: Silhouette of People on Hill by Jehyun Sung

Skin in the Game: Evangelists

This week we’ve been looking at how the concept of skin in the game applies to the church.

Today, I want to look at how evangelists can have skin in the game.

For those of you who only think of loud preachers on television asking for money when you hear the word “evangelist,” let’s start with a definition. Evangelists are people who share the good news of Jesus with others with ease. Every Christian is called to be a witness to the greatness of Jesus. But not every Christian is called to be an evangelist. Evangelists are specially gifted to help people understand the Gospel and help other believers in the body of Christ share the Gospel. Most evangelists never get on camera or in front of a large crowd. Most quietly do their work of sharing the good news about Jesus in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces while helping the churches they are in get better at it as well.

While Evangelists love sharing the Gospel with lost people, they can have a tough time having skin in the game depending on their maturity level. Often evangelists are so at home with lost people that they are uncomfortable within the church. Church politics and religious veneers can frustrate evangelists who rightly understand that our emphasis should be on the good news of Jesus and getting it to the lost. Evangelists also sometimes struggle with discipling those that they lead to Jesus. Short conversations about the Gospel are easy for them. The long slog of helping a newly converted individual learn to follow Jesus over years of time is a lot harder for many evangelists.

So how do evangelists develop skin in the game?

The first thing evangelists should do is recognize that they need to be a meaningful part of the church. Even evangelists with traveling ministries should have long term relationships that function as church for them. The body is designed to need input from others with different gifts from ourselves. Evangelists are no exception.

But there’s another reason evangelists need to be involved with the church. The church needs them. As frustrating as the church can be at times, we need evangelists to pull us back to our call to be witnesses to the greatness of Jesus. This can be a frustrating process, but a mature evangelist knows they have much that benefits the church and will stay engaged in a church, not just for themselves, but for the good of the church. Remember, Paul tells us God gave us “evanglists…to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Lastly, evangelists can have skin in the game by making disciples. One of the critical problems with evangelism is the lack of discipleship that often happens after a person has come to faith. Evangelists, as the people who have won someone to Christ, are natural candidates for discipling the new believers they have led to Christ. Some of these converts will naturally imitate their evangelistic mentors and become evangelists themselves. Others won’t and will struggle, and this is where a good partnership with pastors and teachers will help an evangelist struggling with discipleship. Regardless, it does us no good to lead someone in a prayer to receive Christ but not teach them how to follow Him. Remember, our commission is to make disciples, not converts.

Evangelists need the church. The church needs evangelists. But the greatest truth is that lost humanity needs evangelists with skin in the game.

Photo Credit: Baptismal Pool Prayer by Kaleb Tapp

Don’t Forget:

My new book, “Stick Your Neck Out” was just released. If you’re looking for a short introduction to house churches for yourself or others, this 71 page book will help you or someone you know move from interested to invested in planting churches in the harvest. Get your Kindle or paperback version here.

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Skin in the Game: Church

This week we’ve been focusing on the concept of “Skin in the Game.”

Today I think it’s important to stop and look at an area where every single Christian should have skin in the game: the church.

The Scripture is really clear on this. It is critically important for the Christian life for believers to gather together with other believers (See Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 12:20-25) for encouragement, strengthening, and care.

This shouldn’t be revolutionary, but in today’s society we have plenty of believers who think they are doing just fine without being part of a church. There are “nones” and “dones” who believe they can believe in Jesus but never have to interact with a specific group of believers on a regular basis. This flies in the face of Scripture that calls us to live closely enough to each other (believers in Jesus) that we can practice the “one anothers” with them regularly (see The 59 One Anothers of the Bible).

Now, I am the last person to tell you that you need to show up at 10:00 AM on Sunday morning to a building where songs are sung and a speech is given. I gather in my living room with other believers, sometimes with no real plan for what we’ll do when we gather together. But I know the people who are part of my church. They know me. We have access to each other’s lives and we gather together to strengthen each other.

To be fair, this doesn’t always happen in the lives of people who are part of traditional churches, either. While I know many wonderful people who are part of traditional churches who are meaningfully connected to other believers, I also know many who go to sing and hear someone speak. Their Christian experience is an hour on Sunday, instead of a meaningful connection with real believers.

So, my encouragement to you today is to be a part of a local body of believers. Don’t tune into a church half-way across the nation that doesn’t know you. Don’t sit around and wait for the perfect church (or even the church that isn’t perfect but checks all of your boxes). Go and be a part of some type of gathering where other believers gather and imperfectly attempt to encourage and strengthen each other. If you don’t have one of those near you, you should start one.

Lastly, don’t just go. Be a part of the church. Have skin in the game. You know you’re doing it right when you hurt when the people that are part of your church are hurt. You know you’re doing it right when you consider it your job to make disciples, not just the pastor or the pastoral staff. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you’ve stopped picking and choosing who you want to be your “church” and let God give you a love for the people in your spiritual family. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the health and the vitality of your church is your responsibility, not someone else’s.

When it comes to church, it’s critical you have skin in the game.

Photo Credit: Two Men Hugging on Focus Photo by Erika Giraud

Don’t Forget:

My new book, “Stick Your Neck Out” was just released. If you’re looking for a short introduction to house churches for yourself or others, this 71 page book will help you or someone you know move from interested to invested in planting churches in the harvest. Get your Kindle or paperback version here.

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