4 Keys That Allow Your Ministries to Work Together

sharing_the_load_of_the_puzzle_800_clr_7511When individual ministries work together, the entire Church benefits.

This is something that’s been an ideal thought in ministry for years, but rarely becomes a reality.  Think about it.  How often do you find a Youth Pastor and Kids Pastor working together for the benefit of all students?  Or when have you noticed the Worship Pastor taking time out of their busy day to help the college ministry improve their services?

I am blessed to have a team that really does operate as a family.  As a network of family ministries, we share a common goal.  We don’t have everyone off doing their own thing…hoping for a great outcome in individuals lives.

Here’s what it looks like for us.

Everyone owns the vision:  Again, we share one common goal.  For us, we call it a ‘common thread.’  This is what connects one ministry to another.  It’s what helps a child to transition well from Kids Church to Student ministry…and from Students to our College ministry.  We have hopes for the hand-off.

Communicate well:  Our team leaders are constantly asking each other what they need from one another.  They talk about what should be learned and experienced by a student by the time they transition to the next ministry area.  If our Kids Pastor teaches what she wants without regard for what the Student Pastor will be teaching incoming middle school students, those students will have a difficult transition spiritually.

Do ministry together:  Some examples of supporting each other in ministry are setting up tables and chairs for an event that doesn’t involve us, or spending time with another staff member problem-solving an issue in their ministry.  It’s sacrificing some of your time to lend a hand to a co-worker.  If they have a big event coming up, or you see them frantically making copies, punching holes, and stapling packets…..ask if they could use some help.  Maybe you are having a busy day too.  But by even offering 5-10 minutes of your time will tell them that you see their work as valuable.  Sometime the offer becomes more support than the actual help.

Do life together:  Ok, hear this loud and clear. This RARELY involves ministry work.  99.99999% of the time this needs to be talking about our Spiritual journey with Jesus, our kids and spouses, sharing our emotional highs and lows.  Go to a ball game together.  Hang out at a favorite coffee shop (not discussing work).  Get together often, have fun, and pray for each other.  This involves humility and authenticity.

Now, these things don’t just happen over night.  It takes time and intentionality.  Place each other on your Google calendar and regard that appointment as you would with anyone else in the church.  Just because something else may come up and they are a co-worker, don’t view it as not a big deal to reschedule.  They are a big deal.  Keep that appointment.

A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken

A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken (Eccl. 4:9-12)

When the church staff do life and ministry together as a real family, the church body will always benefit from it.

Where have you seen this in action?  What would you add to the five components listed above?

Please your comments below. 

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Lady, You’re Holding Up The Line!

long line for coffee

You’re a coffee snob, and it’s affecting your attitude.

Standing in line to order my coffee at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble, the following conversation takes place right in front of me:

Barista:  May I help you?

Customer:  Yes…um…what drink did that person order?

Barista:  I don’t know.  Hey (to the other barista), what drink did you make that customer?

Other Barista:  Oh, I think it was a vanilla frapp with whip.

Customer:  Yes, I’ll have that! 

Done in 60 seconds, but I found myself becoming quite impatient with this woman’s apparent lack of espresso knowledge & inability to know her order before she steps up to the counter.  As growing thoughts of (almost) rage quickly permeated my being, I had a startling realization.  “I’ve officially become a coffee snob!”  

2 Corinthians 6:6 then hit be between the eyes…  ‘We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.’  I want to be proven faithful to God by my patience…especially in small moments like these.  My character was not discounted by any outward display of rude behavior, but my heart was. 

Deal with it:

1. Recognize and address the emotions that are going through your mind.

2. Empathize with the person annoying you.  Put yourself in their situation.

3. Redirect your ‘reactions’ into doing something helpful in the moment.

What situations challenge your character?  Comment below.

Photo credit: susanotcenas.blogspot.com 

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Stepping Into God…1, 2, 3

When God is calling you to something HUGE, what do you do?  

Since day one of moving from Washington State to Columbus, GA over four years ago people simply assumed I was in the military.  I guess I can understand their reasoning.  I mean I have the Army haircut, and why else would someone move his family 2,600 miles across the country?

Come to think of it, the majority of twenty-three years of marriage for my wife and I have been anything but stable.  Don’t get me wrong; we are blessed with an incredible relationship.  That’s not what I mean when I say we have not been  ‘stable.’  We’ve actually never lived at the same address for more than three years.  Many of those residential moves have been related to ministry work.  In fact, we recently left the home we had hoped to purchase and settle down in and moved just across the river for the sole purpose of living in the town we are launching a new church campus in.  We are so excited for this new chapter of life the Lord is writing with us.

What about you?

What is God calling you into today that is new, different, or maybe even challenging?

I’ve learned something about God in my 27 years as a Christian.  This is huge…you might want to write it down or even Tweet it.

Ready?

Saying ‘yes’ to God at the moment of our salvation only begins a life of ‘yes’ moments with Him. 

You see, God doesn’t just want you and I to say ‘yes’ to His grace, forgiveness, and salvation and then to be done with it.  That intimate moment with Him is amazing.  But…to experience kingdom living on a grand scale we (you and I) are going to be constantly called, challenged, pushed, encouraged to step into something bigger than ourselves.  Something out of our comfort zone.  Something inconvenient.  Something we would even prefer not to do.

I’d like to offer you 3 clear steps to consider as you approach stepping into something new with God.

1)   Be open:  God is not going to force us against our will.  Now, He might make avoiding His call incredibly painful at times.  But He desires a trusting and open heart that will respond to Him.

2)   Pray:  Seriously.  Devote some real time to praying about whatever it is.  Journal your prayer life through it.  This will help to bring your head and spirit together on the issue.

3)   Tell another mature believer:  This really is where the rubber meets the road, folks.  The first two steps are completely on us.  But this one…this one takes it to a new level.  Telling someone creates accountability and defines the genuineness of our intentions with God.  Take this step seriously.

May our Lord and Heavenly Father bless and reassure you as you begin stepping even further into Him today.

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What keeps the Church from witnessing to unbelievers

photo from: manvsdebt.com

photo from: manvsdebt.com

What if the salvation experience of every new believer in the world was completely contingent upon the actions and behavior of church people?  Wow…we would really be in trouble.  But the Church’s relational conduct does have a tremendous impact on the world looking in.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) reads…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Now, at first glance we can read this passage strictly from a generic view.  I think we would all agree that these are valuable attributes for all people to live by.  At closer examination, however, we see that Paul is writing to the church in the city of Colosse.  To the Church!  He’s reminding church people…you and I…to be kind, gentle, and patient with each other.  To live out genuine love and peace….in the Church! 

Why was he specifically talking to believers here?  And more important, why do Paul’s words continue to speak to you and I today?  I would suggest two points for us to focus on regarding these few verses.

  1. Paul knew that Christ’s Church would go through seasons of contention and division.  Look at his words as a daily multi-vitamin.  It is preventive maintenance.
  2. Paul also knew that any sort of ‘dysfunction’ in the church could negatively affect the witness of Christians to the unbelieving world looking in.  We see this even today.  There are masses of people in the U.S. who will not enter a church because they know someone who has experienced hurts there.

Read the above passage one more time.  How might our Christian witness change if the world saw in our churches what Paul wrote above?  What does this mean for those of us who serve in church leadership, and what should our approach be with our congregations?

Join the conversation.  What are your experiences?

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Words…Intake vs. Output

photo by iStock

photo by iStock

How’s your intake…and how does it compare to your output?  Every day all of us intake (receive) words spoken into us.  We also output (speak words into those around us).  The negative criticism and judgements that we hear tend to be the nutrients that feeds what we speak into others.  This can be our spouse, kids, ministry team, or even the innocent grocery store checker.  I’ve been guilty of this many times!  Check out this quote:

“The folks you help won’t remember it and the folks you hurt won’t ever forget it.”  – Bill Clayton

I would guess that all of us, at one time or another, have been on both sides of this statement.  And it’s so true!  When you help or encourage someone, don’t you want them to remember it?  Don’t you wish your efforts would be a lasting blessing?

Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.   Ephesians 4:29

May we all strive to have our words spoken from our hearts…and not our hurts.  Remember, your words to a total stranger today just might be the only uplifting words they will hear!

Has someone recently spoken words of encouragement to you?  How did it impact you and your day?

Comments are always appreciated.

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Your self-image will become your reality

photo by: butchbellah.com

photo by: butchbellah.com

When was the last time you literally said to yourself, “I can’t?”  Last week?  Yesterday?  This morning?  Just admit it.  All of us say those words to something in our lifetime.

I’ve known people who didn’t want to have kids because they were worried they wouldn’t be a good enough parent.  I have sobering news for you.  None of us will ever be a flawless parent.

Unfortunately, this will be the case for pretty much everything in our lives.  We will occasionally screw things up in our marriage, finances, careers, personal health, etc, etc, etc.

And to some extent, deep down we really do know this.  But we still manage to place impossible  levels of excellence on ourselves when considering doing something new.  If there isn’t nearly a 100%  possibility that we will excel at it, we won’t even attempt it.  Any of these sound familiar?

Lose 50 pounds

Save for a new car

Change my lifestyle

Quit smoking

Improve my walk with God

Run a Marathon 

Tell my testimony

Recently, I’ve been on a personal journey of self-leadership improvement.  Most of my efforts have been entirely centered on physical, spiritual, professional, and relational growth.  You might be saying, “That sounds like a lot!”  It can be, but I’ve learned to not let it be.  You see, I have a list…..a plan…..to go after certain things all through the year.  I made a list of three things I want to accomplish this year and broke each one down in small, bite-sized steps.

I’ve been doing really well at most all of them.  But then there’s that ONE.  It seems like there is always ONE thing that we have the most difficulty with.  Do you find this to be true as well?

It boils down to self-image!

One of the books I’ve been spending time reading each morning is ‘The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth’ by John Maxwell.  In chapter 3, he states that “People are never able to outperform their self-image.”  I believe this to be true of all of us.  So, somehow…some way…we must develop a healthier self-image in order to tackle these  other areas in life.

Back to the ONE thing I am struggling with improving.  Earlier this year my wife encouraged me in this area.  She did this by speaking words of affirmation and encouragement into me.  She spoke things into me that I didn’t believe about myself.  Next, she slapped a very creative, yet God-sized, challenge on me.  She freaked me out and built me up all at the same time.

After spending much time praying about this CHALLENGE of hers, I’ve decided to give it my best shot.  I realize I might fail or even not complete it.  But I am also fully aware that if I don’t even try…I’ve already failed!

What is your ONE THING?  What aspect of your own self-image needs the most work?  Comment below.  I’d love to encourage you.

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3 Ways to Not Hate Your Work

smileIf you hate your job or position in life today, you’re not alone.  A recent Gallop poll found that only 30% of Americans are engaged and inspired with their work.  But this can change for you.
Three things that motivate my work in ministry.
1.  Obedience – This part is so important.  If I’m not doing what God wants me to do, I’m not in his will.  Its as simple as that.  When we have received the gift of salvation through his grace and mercy we should want to do the work he has for us.  Not only that, I’ve come to realize that we can never really be fulfilled and happy with our lives until we’re fully in line with what he has called us to do….at home, work, and with everyone around us.
2.  Love for Jesus – That’s right.  When our motives are good and we are focused on pleasing the right person, it changes everything about how we view our jobs and responsibilities.  Any time I’ve ever found parts of my job unpleasant, I start thinking about the fact that I really am doing this work to please him…not my boss or co-workers.  Just him!
3.  Love for others – For me, this includes church people and non-believers.  For you, this might be a spouse, employer, customers, co-workers, etc.  When we become focused on others we are better able to lose sight of the things we personally find troublesome or lousy in our own lives.  Our attention is now being directed outward instead of inward.
So, let’s recap.  Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?  Is what you’re doing putting a smile on Jesus’ face?  And are you keeping in mind the benefit of others while you do your thing?
What have you done to stay motivated in what you do?

Please leave me a comment below.

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Filed under Accountability, Complaining, Devotional thought, Integrity