Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

This past Christmas I went to a huge mall to buy a small gift and stocking stuffers for my wife. The problem was that I had already purchased everything I knew I wanted to get for her and now I was just getting extras. I ended up walking around the mall for a good two hours only to purchase more items than I had planned to and spent more money than I wanted. The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t being thoughtful; I had just fulfilled my earlier vision and hadn’t come around to have a new vision for the stocking stuffers I wanted to buy.

In order to get things do things properly as a leader we need to have vision and understand our mission. While I had a mission at the mall I didn’t have a vision and one without the other is incomplete. When Christian leaders are directing people where God would have them go, they need to understand what God’s vision is and how to articulate this. Jesus gives us an example of how we should interact with mission and vision of the Father. Jesus continually explains to his disciples and others his mission and the vision that he has been given. When Jesus was in Nazareth toward the beginning of his ministry he explained to the members of the synagogue that he had come to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah by reading from Isaiah (Luke 4: 16-21). Jesus not only understood why he came he also understood his role, He knew he had come to preach and share the Gospel (Mark 1:38). By explaining His relationship with the vision God had given the Israelites, Jesus gave himself credibility while also trying helping others to understand their roles in the grand picture. This leads to the understanding of another key skill that Christian leaders should possess. If a leader can take scripture and the revelation of God in their own life and put them together it would inspire greater credibility and confidence in who they are and where they are leading.

  • What ways are you gaining credibility and helping others understand vision and mission?
  • Does your current vision for where you are going include some backing with Scripture?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

Leadership continues to be of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership. Have you ever had to give so much it hurt? Did you give your time, your money, and your left kidney?

My most memorable sacrifice during ministry was to break down the barrier with a kid at camp. We had a student with some mobility issues who just refused to open up. They were angry about their disabilities and would not hear about anything that anyone had to say. Our camp had a huge zip-line that students would love to ride. I noticed that this student with the disabilities really wanted to go on the zip-line. After a long period of “encouraging” the student to actually do it despite their fear, I strapped the student to my back and carried them up a 50 foot tower and then set them up on a zip-line. The sacrifice wasn’t much but by giving up my break and carrying that student’s weight, I was able to help break down their defenses and they went on to engage in a lot of spiritual conversations with their counselor.

I’m sure it won’t take much convincing but Christian leaders need to lead by giving sacrificially. Obviously our greatest example is Christ himself. Two of the greatest examples from Jesus’ life are when we got down on his knees and washed his disciples dirty feet. Then he asked us to follow him when He said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13: 13-17) Clearly, if Christ tells us that if we should follow him by making a simple sacrifice such as humbling ourselves, we need to do so. The second example is the obvious example of his death. While we may never be called to lay down our own lives as leaders, we can expect to have to make sacrifices regularly for the cause we are directing people towards. Jesus makes it clear that we will need to deny ourselves daily. (Luke 9:23)

I think that if someone really wants to be an excellent leader they need to be willing to sacrifice for their cause.

Do you have any great stories of sacrificing for the people you lead?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

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!

In your ministry, you have influence. You can use this influence to shape the way each student views learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. You can create engaged and active learners who are eager to learn more. Instilling the love of learning in those you minister to can be done by engaging your students through their creativity and simply by loving them!

Engaging your students through their creativity

  • Look for ways to be a blessing – Take a stuffed teddy bear to someone who isn’t feeling well, bring a copy of last week’s sermon to someone who missed church, smile when you pass someone by, buy someone a Bible. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple is powerful.
  • Build things together – Houses for the homeless, a set for a ministry video, build a new podium for your senior pastor. When you build things together, you are learning about teamwork and about caring for other’s through skills you may or may not have had before.

If you are not so creative, delegate tasks to the students who are, they would love to put their talents to work! Someone great at designing t-shirts, have them design some for a fund raiser. Someone great with woodwork, have them design a set for a play geared toward teaching other’s about Jesus. Someone great with the camera? Have them take some pictures for a new ministry photo album.  Short on ideas? Ask the creative ones, they will have many ideas on how they can use their talents to serve the ministry.

Simply love them!

  • This means showing grace in what may seem to be the worst situation. Things happen. They are here today, done with tomorrow. Loving others should be our focus. Remain at peace through the storm and let God handle the details.
  • Listen – Sometime we are so busy teaching and talking, we forget to listen. Take some time out to hear what they’ve got to say.
  • Be transparent – Be real with them. You have struggles just like them.
  • Spend time with them with no expectations – Let time spent with them flow whether it be into conversation or into a crazy fun game night!
  • Be involved in what they enjoy – When you enjoy being around someone, you’ll make the time to be involved in what they enjoy. It could be you showing up at their soccer game, going to the mall with a group of students or going to the arcade. Spend time in their world.

When you engage your students through their creativity and simply love them, they are actively learning about Jesus; His love, creation and His expectations of us. They will leave your ministry with the tools needed to equip others with the love of lifelong learning as well. Which is so important because this is how we grow in spirit and in stature, we’ve got to be actively engaged and eager to learn more for all of our lives.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

It’s 2013 and the majority of churches have a website, this is good news. Unfortunately, the mere presence of a website isn’t enough. Just as a pastor must prepare, research for and develop a sermon, churches should prepare for a website, research websites and develop a plan as to why and how they should utilize a website. A 2011 LifeWay research project shows less than half of the congregations that have a website actually use it for interactive purposes. Scott McConnell, the director of LifeWay Research, summed it up by saying, “Many churches are using their website like a Yellow Pages ad characterized by basic information and infrequent updates.”

From 2000 – 2012, internet users grew an outstanding 566% worldwide. Currently, there are over 2.4 billion internet users worldwide. What does that mean? It means a church who utilizes their website has an amazing opportunity to, not only reach local people, but reach those 2.4 billion people who are actively connected to the internet. No longer are websites a simple source of information for local visitors, church websites are now an active and growing source of ministry, sharing the Gospel and making disciples all around the world. In 1534, Martin Luther finished his German translation of the Greek and Hebrew bible. Through media and the technology of the printing press, Luther was able to make the Gospel available to a large number of Germans and put a spark in the protestant reformation. The fact that so many churches have a website is great news, but are those churches using the available media and technology to spread the Gospel and make disciples? Some churches are, but there are a lot of churches that could improve their websites. There are five areas I believe church websites need to improve upon:

1. A website isn’t an online brochure
Out of the five areas church websites need to improve upon, this is the greatest most important area. As it is said in the real estate business, “location, location, location”, the mantra of church website owners should be “Content, content, content”. In the same LifeWay Research survey I talked about earlier, one of the results show 42% of churches only update their site once a month. Most church websites only show the basics, such as location, service times, church staff and an overview of their ministries. The question is, why more? Why should a church add more content, aren’t those the most important things a visitor looks for when trying to find out information about churches?

The answer goes back to my introduction. Church websites should not only focus on providing information to potential guest, they should also be a source of ministry and sharing the Gospel. Yes, absolutely add information for your local audience, but don’t neglect the fact that your website can and will be accessed by people seeking answers to biblical questions. People locally and people on the side of the world will come into contact with your website.

2. A website isn’t it’s own entity
Everyone has heard of Twitter, Facebook and the recent explosion in social media growth. One of the church’s main reasons for having a website should be engagement. To obtain growth in engaging potential members, visitors and those who are curious about the church’s message, church website owners should not constrain themselves within the bounds of their own website. Going back as far as the book Acts, community has played a huge part in the church. Personal and local community is great but digital community should also be a consideration when managing a website. Church websites need to integrate with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media websites to help build a community. Anytime there is an update made to your website or an event going on at your church are you tweeting about it, posting a Facebook status update or adding pictures to Pinterest? Does your church website show an active stream of your church’s Twitter account or show a Facebook updates widget? Is it possible for members and guests to share a blog post on your site to Facebook directly from the blog post page itself? Your church website should be viewed as the hub of your online community. Church websites should allow direct interaction with social media from the website and social media should be directing people back to the churches website.

3. A website isn’t enough, it must look good
I might step on a few toes but a large majority of church websites are…well…not attractive and that’s a problem. A website is the digital face of your church, a representation of how much importance the church places on it’s online presence, the proverbial book cover of your church. We all do it, we all judge books by their cover. Unless we know the content of the book is exactly what we want, the cover is the first thing we notice and analyze. If content is king, design is a knight in shining armor protecting that king. If a church website has a lot of great content but the colors have bad contrast, the text formatting is off or the website breaks on certain browsers than the potential of loosing visitors is pretty great. Why do companies pay tons of money for graphic designers to create beautiful package and marketing designs? Good design builds trust. One of my favorite quotes comes from Steve Jobs:

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”

Did you get that? According to Jobs, design is the expression of the soul of the product or service. Does your church website express the soul (in a manner of speaking) of your church?

4. A website must have a purpose
I see a lot of churches that throw up a website and forget about it. It’s nothing more than a flyer or (see problem #1) an online brochure. When I look at these sites, I see a clear evident lack of identity, focus and purpose. If the only purpose of having a website is display the exact same information that can be found in the yellow pages or by a quick two minute call to the church, what is the point? Does your church website have a purpose? If not, why doesn’t it? If you’re not sure what purpose your church website should serve, I will tell you. It should serve as a means to share the Gospel and make disciples. One way this can be accomplished is through podcasting. When a pastor preaches a sermon, record it and put it up on your website. You can also submit your church sermons to iTunes. This opens up your sermons to millions of potential listeners. Another area which your website can build its purpose is through blogging. Pastors are extremely intelligent people and have a wealth of knowledge. Often times, they are also good writers. If your church website doesn’t have a blog why not? To get started, your pastor could easily sum up his sermon preparation notes into a 500 – 750 word blog post. This would provide a weekly blog post and would most likely be a great source of information for someone. You could also ask the deacons or elders to volunteer writing a blog post once a week or even month. Another area which can be taken advantage of is highlighting events. A church events calendar will give an inside look to visitors at what your church places emphasis on in relation to local community. If a visitor sees that your church has a dedicated group working at a homeless shelter once a week or doing odd jobs such as yard work for the elderly they will realize your church cares for others outside of the church. If a teenager visits your church website and sees pictures or videos from a recent youth group outing the will see church youth groups can actually be fun, exciting and laid back.

5. Intimidation is the greatest barrier
Volunteers are very helpful and a lot of churches rely on volunteers to handle website related issues. The thing is, sometimes volunteers just don’t have time. If your church has a website there should be someone on staff that knows how to add content, fix issues and manage the website. This means learning the backend administration panel, learning basic HTML/CSS and not being afraid of the unknown. I have encountered tons of ministers who say something along the lines of, “Well we want a site but we just don’t know anything about the technology.” That’s a shame because all it takes is a little bit of patience and a little bit of time. A lot of people are intimidated by websites and technology but when you think of your website as a ministry, why would you not spend some time learning how to improve it? If it’s possible to know the record of your favorite sports team for the past ten years, it’s possible to learn a little bit about website management and maintenance.

In the past five to ten years, technology has grown at an outstanding rate. In my opinion, the internet can be one of the church’s greatest tools locally and globally. I find technology absolutely fascinating inside and outside of the church, unfortunately I see technology advancing outside of the church at a far greater pace than inside the church. Having a well designed, user friendly, engaging, socially integrated website is, in my opinion, one of the greatest tools a church can have and use. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Will our churches use this technology to share the Gospel and make disciples or will we overlook a valuable tool.”

Dallas Bass is a professional web developer living and working in Amarillo, Texas. He is also the founder of ChurchPres, a business dedicated to providing a cost effective easy solution for churches who need a website. You can learn more by visiting www.churchpres.com or his personal blog www.dallasbass.com

Learning should not stop the day your ministry begins. Becoming an effective leader requires you to be stretched by shortcomings in order to become the best leader you can possibly be. Lifelong learners become stretched by shortcomings when they become aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves up to correction.

Becoming aware of your shortcomings
It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making the same mistakes over and over again. That happens when you become comfortable with a certain way of living. Whether your shortcoming is that you jokingly make fun of people or that you are always late, you have first got to recognize the shortcoming so you can get on the right track.

Conscience effort
After recognizing your shortcoming you’ve got to put forth a constant conscience effort into making a change. If you are constantly conscience, you are able to catch yourself before falling. You will catch yourself and be back on the right track. Accountability is very helpful as well in staying on track.

Open to correction
All of us can use a little correction now and then. Opening yourself to correction allows you to grow in ways unimaginable. People who are open to correction are teachable; they are the lifelong learners who are stretched by their shortcomings. Put aside your pride, you do not always know what’s best. Be ready to listen the next time someone corrects you.

Though you may fail at a particular task, it is important you get back up and try again. Lifelong learners are aware of their shortcomings, make a conscience effort to learn from them and open themselves to correction. With a desire, you too, can become a lifelong learner stretched by your shortcomings.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

Have you ever tried to lead without a team? How did it go for you?

I am slowly learning over time about team building and team management. I have had two scenarios of leadership that have taught me the hard way a lesson I should have picked up on simply by following the example of Jesus.

My first hard lesson came when I worked at a summer camp in a leadership position. I wasn’t in charge of building a team, rather training them and working alongside the leadership team. My failure came in the form of not training people to do tasks I could do more easily by myself.

The second lesson came while working in my current church. I work in a midsized Canadian church and struggled for a long time with building a team. I procrastinated and it backfired. As a result of my failure to build a team I dealt with a period of decline in attendance and struggles of being overwhelmed with my workload.

I believe that we learn from the example of Jesus when it comes to team management. The first lesson we can learn simply is that we need a team. One of the first things Jesus did during his ministry was to gather his disciples. In the first chapter of Mark we see Jesus beginning his ministry by sharing the Gospel, and while walking along he sees Simon and Andrew and says to them “Come, follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1: 16,17). In addition to these twelve He also called an additional 72 to go and prepare the way for His coming. (Luke 10:1) Not only does Jesus appoint people to a place on His leadership team, He also takes the time to empower them. “And He called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 10:1) A key skill as a leader is to find a team and surround oneself with them. Once a good leader has found a team they will equip and train these new leaders with the skills to carry out the necessary tasks at hand.

How do you build and empower your team?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

TheresaheadshotI’ve never felt more passionate about loving students than I do today. I count it an honor to be a part of Gods team as he transforms the most typical teen into an unbelievably spiritually aware teen.

Typical teens figure out how to survive each day- there may be no victories, no failures, but they’ve mastered the art of getting from one day to the next. Aware teens take notice of the day, recognizing the opportunities the gift of that day brings, even through disappointment. Aware teens look for lessons through hurt, anger, pain, and need. They are students of hope, mercy, forgiveness, and kindness. This kind of awareness only comes through the transformational love of God.

As a youth worker, I’ve made it my mission to serve, and cheer students on as God does his transformative work in their life. I love how God takes ordinary people and changes the world. I also love that he takes the most typical teen, and through his great love, transforms them into agents of his glory.

God transforms the heart and life of a teen. We serve, cheer, coach, and support as…

People of prayer
Several teens in my youth group were struggling with the use of drugs. I was worried. I had meeting after meeting with parents, interventions with students, and in a moment of desperation I decided to pray. I should have started with prayer. I printed out the names of students in my youth ministry and taped them all over my office walls. Every time I entered my office I got on my knees and prayed for each of them by name. I was desperate for God to do his transformative work. One by one these students began facing the issue and seeking help. Prayers were being answered. I will never underestimate the power of prayer in youth ministry.

Servant leaders
To participate fully in the transformation of teens, it requires more than facilitating the logistics of youth ministry. We must serve and invest in every student in our group. The success of a smiling, participating, pleasant youth group was once so rewarding to me. Every well-planned youth service and trip put me on the mountaintop. But then something happened. My youth leaders and I started talking to individual teens. We listed students by name and assigned them to a leader. Their names were not scratched of the list until an adult had invested one on one time with them. We did this over and over again. Many of these engagements turned into mentoring relationships. Once we learned to take the initiative, and began learning the needs of each individual student, we could serve each of them with new meaning and purpose. We discovered that our happy youth group was dealing with depression, abandonment, sexually addiction, and more. We now knew how we could serve. If a family needed a car, we knew about it. If a student needed counseling we knew about it. If a student needed affirmation, we knew about it. We were serving and respond to the hurts and needs of our teens.

The godly influence of a loving adult in the life of a teen has huge impact. The things we model for our students will be the biggest lesson they remember. Teens not only do what we say, they do what we do. They are learning from our example. Are we patient, kind, loving, gracious, giving, and authentic? Or are we tense, hurt, bitter, frustrated, busy, and disingenuous? They may forget all about your theme from summer camp 2012, but they won’t forget you.

How has God’s transformational work in the life of a teen blown your socks off? How have you and your team participated in that transformation? Share with us in the comments.

Theresa Mazza has been serving teens for over a decade both in the church and outside the walls of the church. She is a youth advocate, writer, and speaker residing in Broomfield, Colorado. She can spin a basketball on her finger like only Pistol Pete can, and plays a mean Ukulele! @Theresa_Mazza www.theresamazza.com