Archive for October, 2011

10.0 MINISTRY IS LIKE Mountain Biking – Series and Plan

Series Plan and Explanation

Did you ever stop and think about how mountain biking is very similar to leading a ministry?  Me either.  Until recently. It surprised me to realize how much they have in common, and it’s caused me to reconsider how many of us Christian ministry leaders are thinking about our leadership needs.
The “Ministry is Like Mountain Biking” series is a 10 part explanation of things I’ve learned, as well as what I am learning.  Riding a bike and going mountain biking are two things that sound similar until you experience them. I’ve been able to ride a bike for around 35 years, but recently I went mountain biking for the first time on dedicated trails in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas.
There is a huge, gigantic, unexpectedly difficult difference between pleasure cruising on smoothly paved walking trails, and actual mountain biking. I’ve found that I’m a novice at mountain biking, thoughI’ve been learning a lot. Sometimes the hard way. Along the way, I’ve noticed many similarities to leadership in ministry. I’ve been in some sort of vocational leadership within Christian ministry since 1990, and I’m finding that learning mountain biking has some interesting parallels to my biggest passion in disciple making: Leading leaders.  With anticipation of continuing to learn more mountain biking, I’m introducing this series for others who are also wanting to grow in their ability to lead well, or mountain bike well, or both!

10. 0 –  The Introduction and Series Plan

10. 1 – Trust your driving not your breaks – Avoiding Obstacles

10.2 – Don’t lock your elbows – Change

10.3 – Vison is Everything

10. 4 – Climbing hills – shift gears, prepare, measurable goals

10.5  Safety equipment -boundaries

10.6 Onboard Gear – Air pump, Water  (Drink as you go. Things deflate you. Know what you need for a short term encouragement kick now and then. If it doesn’t work, you probably have a bigger problem. For me, it used to be xbox360.)

10.7 Sabbath

 10.8   Press On – you can probably go farther then you thought if you don’t give up

10.9  Learn from a Veteran Follow Someone the first time down a trail – where do they go, or not, and why?

10.10 Sabbatical   – Change Your Tires when you notice Wear

 

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Lead222 Blog part 3

Building “Authentic Community” into your Ministry

Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Many ministry leaders will model this verse personally, and perhaps even expand it into their church.  But at that point, they stop. As far as they can see, they have authentic community surrounding them, but they fail to see a bigger scope. Meanwhile their ministry as a whole is disconnected from the greater Christian faith community of the city in which they live.

A mature ministry leader will seek to build authentic community beyond their church walls. They realize that barring major theological hurdles, they likely have much in common with other ministries and leaders.   This doesn’t mean leaders all have to be very best friends who sit around and sing “Kumbaya.” Yet, why shouldn’t they be connected, friendly, helpful, and encouraging of each other, particularly if they have the same primary goals of building the kingdom of God?  Eating lunch or having coffee together for one hour, once a month, could help bring about a great deal of authenticity and encouragement within a community of ministry leaders.

Think about this for a second.  Are there 1 or more churches less than 5 or 10 miles from yours, that actively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Their denomination, size of their congregation, style of worship, or other variables might be different than what you are used too.  But they worship the same God.  Meanwhile they shop in the same grocery stores, have teens in the same high-schools, and drive on the same streets as you.   It’s easy to come up with reasons their should be unity within the body, but to practically make it happen is going to take relationships.

Whenever I can, I encourage youth leaders to register a personal profile at http://www.youthworkers.net , and get into a local network of other Christian youth leaders.  If there isn’t one already going nearby, hopefully they can help start one by reaching out to others.  If your ministry is going to be authentic within your community, the body of Christ needs authentic leaders who are willing to see the bigger picture.

 

Lead222 Blog part 2

Building “Authentic Community” into your personal life

Who knows you?  Who REALLY knows you?
There are significantly different answers to these two questions. To have a genuinely deep relationship with anyone, it is first born out of having spent time together, combined with honest conversations that might not always be comfortable.  There is a world of difference between a friend asking about the score of the ball game, or them asking about areas in your life where they know there is a predisposition for you to be tempted towards sin.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons many people experience intense loneliness in life (and particularly as leaders in ministry) is that they aren’t seeking relationships where they get to be exposed just as much as they are doing the exposing.  It is not safe. It embraces a risk of people realizing that you are even less perfect than the public persona they’ve already seen, and you don’t know how they might respond. They might even challenge you to change, which may be needed, but uncomfortable. Remember that  Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

You may have a wise friend or two that you are already in authentic community with. Thank them for being in your life, and make sure your times together stay a priority in your calendars.
If you don’t have a relationship with someone which reflects this value, you have critical decisions to make.  Pray and consider who God might be nudging you to pursue a deeper connection with.  Maybe buy them a cup of coffee and start going deeper by sharing hopes/dreams/fears/weaknesses of your own, and asking about theirs too.  At some some point, you may even directly ask them if would be willing to commit to being part of a more authentic community experience with you.

 

 

 

 

 

For Lead222 Blog

Healthy Families.

 

Formal ministry degrees and a 20+ year youth ministry career have not fully prepared me for fatherhood. That’s a bit disconcerting, because my wife and I have 4 kids!
However, if we are going to be healthy ministers and leaders, we must first be healthy spouses and parents. Sometimes, it’s a messy process.  Though I can often see opportunities to serve and be with my family, I can just as easily seek to escape the drama by hiding out  in “formal ministry mode.”  You may have the same tendency.

It takes our direct focus to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually present with our families.  Yet, it’s necessary in order to love and serve them in a Christlike manner.  Usually this involves intentional time away from our offices and smartphones.  Look at 1 Timothy 3 and consider how you reflect verse 4 in particular with managing your own household well.  I’m not going to dig into all of the implications of this, but one simple conclusion can be: To be “in” your family, you must often be “with” your family. This allows you to be in the mix when things are going smooth, and when things are messy. If you can’t do it at home, your not going to be successful doing it for a ministry.

Speaking of messy, one of my teenage sons recently threw a loud tantrum after being slightly injured during a church sponsored activity.  He acted inappropriately, and it embarrassed me.  I was initially tempted to overreact and punish him harshly.
Yet as his father, I need a higher goal of changing his heart, not just his behavior. This is time consuming, tiring, and once again, messy!  But to achieve it, we need to have times together where I’m fully present.  Thus, I’m praying not only for God to be moving in his heart, but also in mine.  We want a healthy family, but we need to be seeking that for His glory.