theCORE – essential values for new ministers

Session 1 – Establishing a healthy CORE.
I remember talking to a athletic trainer several years ago and one of the things he said was, “You have to establish your core before you can bulk up.” As young pastors we have grand visions of the future… big ministries… big churches… 1000s of people falling on their faces in repentance! But the reality of it all is there is no way we will ever experience these hopes until we establish a good core.

  • What do you believe are 4 essential CORE values for any young minister?
  • How do you think these 4 CORE values can shape your future ministry?

(C) Called… Not Convinced. When God called you into ministry he didn’t commit you to the funny farm. Although we might think at times, “God what are you doing!?” His call on your life is not a burden. Never treat it as such. What an honor.

Have you heard Gods call for ministry on your life? What was that like? How does a call defer from having to be convinced? Why does this matter?

There is a strong difference being called by God and being convinced. Being convinced is rooted in selfish motives. Whether we are convinced by the glitz and glamour of the rockstar minister or if one of your friend/ family members said you would be a great minister… either way someone convinced you. We need to be confident in His calling upon our lives because without this calling we would never be able to sustain this life long journey.

(O) Open to whatever. Develop a heart of surrender to the Call. Stay humble, stay on your knees. Your heart reflects your actions. Whatever God has is good… Perfect… And no the grass is never greener on the other side of the fence.

When was the last time you honestly heard Gods voice in your life? How have your responded in obedience to Him?

I believe authentic ministry happens when we are prompted by the Lord. When we stand before the Lord in our private lives in complete surrender, what it birthed in those moments lead to authentic ministry. What would happen if we began to worship with surrender? Preached from a heart of surrender? Left room for the Holy Spirit to prompt us and lead us.

To develop an attitude of surrender can only be known and established in time. Our faithfulness in the Word and prayer is where we honestly hear God’s voice. There is power and clarity when we are on our knees.

(R) Relationships are your job. Your life revolves around the people you are shepherding. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way, people are looking for their pastor to care. No matter what your gifts are, relationships matter. We’ll talk more later about how to deal with hurting people. We are in the business of relationships and connecting with people.
Share one good example of how relationships matter in ministry and one bad example.

***There is a trap here that must be addressed. We must be wise in having close friendships with the opposite sex. Have clear boundaries with the opposite sex is a must. Your integrity and character matter way too much for one incident to ruin what you have worked hard to protect. Establish strong, non-offensive boundaries with the women in your ministry/ team.

  • What are some practical boundaries you can set with the opposite sex in your ministry?

(E) Experience the joy of serving in the overflow. When we establish a good rhythm of getting in the Word, The Lord fills our cups. If there ever comes a time in your life when you have lost the time to intentionally read the Word for yourself… Do yourself and the people you shepherd a huge favor and take a vacation. Burn out pastors lead unhealthy churches.

  • Why is it so beneficial in your ministry to serve out of the overflow? How can you stay fresh in ministry?

Creating healthy spiritual rhythms in your life to allow the Spirit to fill. Get up early. Use cancelled appointments to read. Is there are time in your week for intentional Bible study? Not sermon prep… but intentional study. It’s during these times when the Lord reveals His heart for you… not your ministry. When we are satisfied in Him, He is most glorified in us… and the people in our ministries see it. (Quote from John Piper)

  • What are some spiritual rhythms in your life that keep you fresh?

Have you heard the phrase “leaders are readers?” Reading is one of the best things I’ve done in my ministry. The times when I’m in a good book, are the times when my mind is free to dream and allow the Lord to speak. Read books that have nothing to do with ministry. Read books that lead you toward Godliness. Read books that bring new perspectives to ministry. The point is to read. Different authors. Unique titles. Read about a hobby. Find a way in your week to simple sit and read.

  • What’s the latest book you’ve read? What truth or insight did you gain from it?

Over the years, I’ve missed these moments and my ministry has suffered because of it. It’s not fun to lead when your heart is dry. On the other hand, serving out of the overflow leads to fulfillment and joy. Who doesn’t want to experience that!? We all need to do our very best to fill the tank. It takes hard work, planning and discipline to allow the “filling” to happen.

  • Which one of these 4 CORE essentials resonated with you? Why?
  • How have your noticed some of these core values played out in your ministry context?

Action steps: we don’t progress in life until we take action steps. Thinking is one thing, doing is another.

  • spend some time this week seeking The Lord about your call to ministry.
  • look at your week, when can you honestly carve out intention time to get in the Word? Not to prepare a Bible study, but for your own personal health.
  • Find a good book to read. Goal: 4 books this year.
  • Brainstorm a healthy Spiritual rhythm for this year… a good vacation, weekly moments of intentional Bible Study and daily prayer moments.

Steve Spence is the Student Ministry Pastor at New Vision in Tennessee. He has created more than 10 great youth ministry resources and you can find him on Twitter right here!

I have to admit, I am what you would call an affectionate person and if you know me, you have probably have received a solid hug or two or ten. I am sure that many of you have heard of the five love languages, which are Acts of Service, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts, and if you haven’t you should check them out but if you, its eye opening stuff. When the dust settles, I am a Words of Affirmation & Acts of Service type guy and this has implications on ministry and how we engage our students.

Last week one of our students came up to me while my colleague Emily and I were visiting her school and she ran up and gave us both big hugs and said to me “Geoff, I want you to know that I love you, thanks for caring so much about my life.”  I was taken aback by what she said, I mean having someone come up and say that they love you for the first time is a big deal. I was surprised, not by what she said, but why she and many other students before her said it.

This student said it because the finally GOT IT! For years now we have placed a high value on living out the example of 1 Thessalonians 2:8 which is the verse that we base our Ministry around.

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us”

This verse is a core value of our ministry and we remind students often that they are loved. Loved by our leaders, by our church and by my wife and I. We care so deeply about them and try and reflect the Agape love that God shows us to our students.  So hearing a student say that they “I love you” or “I love you too” is not something strange, in fact each time it happens its for us a validation that our students are getting what we are about and that Loving God and Loving our students is more than an attitude, it’s the words that we say and they are sincere. The guys in my small group, the worship team, the rowdy eighth grade small groups they all know that we Love them!

Over the past few years one of the things I have noticed is that there are certain students who can get a little uncomfortable with this, but often times its because they come from families where expressing love is not common or doesn’t happen at all. For these students it’s even more important because for them to be able to understand and embrace the love of the Father, it needs to start with us. Sooner or later most of them warm up to it and start to understand why we do it.

We accept that there are risks of making people uncomfortable or weirded out by having leaders living this out but the pros far out weigh the cons for us and we are committed to fostering a community that reflects Gods love through action and words.

We love our students and for us part of that is telling them that. Is this a value for your group too? How do you show your students that they are loved?

-GS -  Twitter