definitionsSome phrases or words or topics are commonly used in the Church:

  • “We need to grow spiritually
  • “We want to make sure everyone is being discipled…”
  • “We need to train people in evangelism
  • Spiritual disciplines are important for every Christian”

But using these phrases often doesn’t mean people actually understand what we’re talking about.  People might be able to use the terms in the right context and in the right ways, but if asked to define these things most would have a hard time doing so.  Well, I’ve realized more than ever we have to make sure these types of things are defined clearly and simply.  If not, all we do is train people in Christianese – a language we use that nobody really understands.

So, I thought I would do is provide the definitions I use in our church.  You might already have your own definitions that are concise and effective.  If that’s you, then maybe mine can just be something you compare/contrast yours with.  If you don’t have these defined concisely, I would recommend doing so immediately.  Leadership requires us to be clear.

The first word or phrase I will define in this series is: spiritual growth.

This phrase is tossed around a lot, but nobody really knows what we mean.  So I have defined it.  It may not be a perfect definitions, but I believe we can say we have grown spiritually

if the time it takes us to read scripture and embrace it is less than it used to be. 

This definition does a number of things other than just providing a definition:

  1.  It leans on Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 that says the goal of our teaching people about him and his ways is obedience.  We cannot feel like we’ve grown spiritually simply because we can regurgitate scripture.  Reading the bible makes us Christian as much as reading People Magazine makes us a celebrity.
  2. Implies that we need to be growing in our understanding of scripture.
  3. It insinuates actions need to be taken after reading.

How do you feel about that definition?  See any holes in it?  Any other benefits you see it having?  If you have defined it for yourself and ministry, please share it so we can all learn.

MTDB1I know when you see this type of topic it’s more about being a great follower of other people like the head Pastor’s vision or leadership in general, which I think is great, but I also believe that at the core of a great leader is a great follower of Christ.  I’m always reminded by the Apostle Paul who followed Christ to his grave that the better I follow Christ, the better I lead.  If you read about Paul’s life you will see that his goal was to follow Christ with everything. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Pursue being a follower of Jesus and the impact of your life and leadership will out last you and carry over into eternity.

So in order for me to lead well I must pursue a greater lifestyle of following Jesus. There are definitely more, but here are a five ways we as leaders continue to allow Christ to lead in us and through us.

  1. I seek GodMatt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. My focus should be on knowing him and not on what I can get from him. The more I know him the better I’m able to follow him. I’m a better leader when I spend time with God.
  2. I allow Christ to search and change my heart - In order to fully follow Christ there must be a continual cleansing and changing of the heart. The bible says in (Jeremiah 17:9) the heart is desperately deceitful and wicked. David knew that and wrote Psalm 139:23-24 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. I hear people say “just follow your heart” or “the heart wants what the heart wants”, but God says it’s deceitful and wicked. Sometimes we make decisions apart from God’s word being led by our hearts and we end up doing harm to ourselves and to those we are suppose to be leading. So allow Christ to search and change your heart so that you’re leading by the word of God and not on the impulses of your heart. Allow God to replace your corrupted heart for one that beats for his guidance. I’m a better leader when I understand the importance of following God’s word above all else, even the heart.
  3. I allow the teachings of Christ to lead me - Psalms 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.  Followers of Christ are called to care deeply about exemplifying the teachings of Christ in their own life first. The more I learn and understand the teachings of Christ the better I’m able to apply them to my life on a daily bases, and also allow what I learn to lead and guide my decision making. I become a better leader when I allow Christ to lead me.
  4. I allow Christ who lives in me to lead through meGalatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The life of a follower of Christ is a person who continually allows Christ to lead. God wants to do amazing things through each of us, but we must allow him to work through us and that will take us dying to our plans and allowing his plans for our lives to live. I become a better leader when I allow Christ to lead through me.
  5. I allow his wisdom to lead meProverbs 3:6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

We become better leaders when we devote our lives to being great followers of Jesus Christ. What would you add to this list?

hope it helps

ac

 

 

 



The Bionic Teenager?

 —  August 1, 2013 — 6 Comments

I sat in a planning meeting today with several caring local professionals. They hope to host a youth summit in our area, and our conversation eventually centered on the desired outcomes of the conference. We began brainstorming  what we want to see happen in the students involved. In other words, “Who will they ultimately be when they leave this event because they were a part of it?”

After several minutes on that line of thinking, I raised my hand and offered an observation:

“It feels like we’re trying to create a bionic teenager. I don’t know if everyone remembers that old TV show the Six Million Dollar Man, but there was this concept in its opening theme that it feels like we’re sharing here – that we have the means to make students better than they were before… ‘better, stronger, faster.’

I think everything we’ve talked about are great values for kids to grow into, but if I were to force this on my own son he’d feel immense pressure because he can’t get there overnight (let alone consistently). Maybe we need to include the values of ‘rest’ and ‘journey’ somehow? Students can take steps this way, but they may need to intentionally pause along the way and take stock of their progress so they don’t crash because they feel they’re not yet perfect.”

My thoughts were met with enthusiasm, not to mention a lot of affirmation. I felt like I’d made a real contribution to the discussion.

Only…

praiseI wondered how often I’ve not had that thought in ministry. Maybe you can identify:

  • “Once kids go on this trip, their hearts will be forever transformed for Jesus.”
  • “If I can only get that student baptized, then he/she will become a role model to the others.”
  • “The more often students are consistent with youth group attendance, the more consistent they’ll be with Jesus.”
  • “They have to start (reading the Bible/praying/fasting/tithing/singing) more if they hope to have a real breakthrough.”

Even just writing those made me realize how absurd they all are.

And yet… don’t thoughts like that creep into your head and planning, too?

The thing about bionics is that something unnatural was added to appear natural.

Hmm. Is that the end?

What do you think is reasonable and unreasonable to expect in these matters?

$5 deal 7-18

Yes, yes, I know. This is way too good to be true… but it is! For today only you can get The Simple Truth Bible for just 5 presidential flash cards.

That’s a mere penny per devotional for the priceless result of helping your students grow closer to Jesus!

Doesn’t get better than that folks. Today is the only day for the $5 Simple Truth Bible deal so be sure to get ‘em while they’re hot! *Order now here*

We love you guys! Keep on keepin on.

- Amber Cassady aka The new girl aka AC



Youth Leaders, inspire your students to be part of something amazing…

This spring, your students can serve people in need at the Big Day of Serving….a nationwide tour of “day of service” events created just for students. Christian teens in local communities unite to serve and transform neighborhoods in need. You’re receiving this email because there’s an event in a town near you.

Bring your students and watch them discover the joy of serving in their own community. They’ll paint, tackle minor home repairs, clean city blocks and parks, landscape, and more. Expect a high-energy, Jesus-centered event where your students discover their actions truly can make a difference in the world.

BDOS 4c Logo

Sign up today for an event near you!

Check out all the Big Day of Serving Locations here.

So much of youth ministry seems to be about what “not” to do. Don’t spill Kool-Aid on the carpet. Don’t play games in the sanctuary. Don’t get on the wrong side of this committee or board. Don’t do this. Don’t do that…

The following post by Josh Griffin (with help from Kurt Johnston) does a good job of focusing on what we should “do” in ministry. The post is from Josh’s blog, More Than Dodgeball, and was originally part of the Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter.

check mark

Youth Minsitry Do’s

More Than Dodgeball and SYM Today are great idea resources for you. I encourage you to check them out as often as you can.

 

 



change-is-the-only-constant

Change is one of the only things that is always present in our work with Group Mission Trips. I’ve had at least 6 job titles in my 11 years working with this ministry. I can’t tell you how many different job descriptions I’ve had during that time. We’ve gone from doing only one kind of mission trip, Workcamps, to 3 different mission trips (Week of Hope & Lifetree Adventures) and a single-day of service youth event (The Big Day of Serving). Things have changed from a single team of people focused exclusively on organizing and supporting mission trips to combining forces with our partners Group Youth Ministry/Simply Youth Ministry to help bring everything we can to support youth workers.

But…

Change is hard. Change isn’t easy. Change can cause pain. For some people change is welcome and they jump on board fast but don’t fully take stock of the potential trouble spots. For others change is difficult and they seemingly fight against it every chance they get. And many people fall in the middle of those two extremes.

It’s not any different in church ministry than in a mission organization. How you manage change is just as important and dreaming and thinking of the change. Here’s three great ideas for managing change in your ministry:

  1. Make sure everyone involved in the change is part of the process. One member of out team is constantly preaching the message of communication to the rest of us. And he’s right! Especially when it comes to change. You cannot communicate enough. Before the change is even finalized. When you announce the change. While the change is being implemented. After the change is now the new normal Communicate And the biggest part of communicating – listening. Listen to what people are saying. And try to hear what they are not saying. Involving everyone will help to give people a chance to make the change theirs.
  2. Help people understand how the change will benefit them. In every change there are good things for everyone. New opportunities. New ideas. New responsibilities. New working relationships. New results to shoot for.  New And new can be very unnerving unless you help people know what is in it for them. Even in ministry, your team will want to know how this change will benefit. Them as an individual. The ministry as a whole. The youth who area  part of your ministry. Giving everyone an understanding of how the change is good will go a long way to navigating the process of implementing the change.
  3. Regardless of how good a change is, someone will be negatively affected – at least in their mind. Seek those people out. If a team is getting a new role in the ministry because of the change, spend time with them as they adjust. If it means there isn’t a spot for someone, give the the space and time to grieve the loss and give them your time to process. If possible, implement change in stages or steps so that those affected the most have time to adjust. If the change you are implementing has a bunch of negatives (even small ones), spacing out the change will allow those most affected to move through the process with grace.

Change isn’t always easy (I know) but it can be incredibly good. Keep these steps in mind the next time your team and ministry go through change.

http://vimeo.com/32275339

A buddy told me about some success he was having in his spiritual life using a new service called goTandem. It isn’t simple to explain, so I put the video above in this post to show you more. Seems like should be some good uses for this in youth ministry. Just throwing it out there – looks interesting!

JG