When I was sick, you visited me...

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All of us will, at some point, know people who are sick or injured. Many times a personal visit could be a great encouragement or even a turning point in that person's healing journey. Even Jesus modeled this behavior when he visited the sick and infirm to lend a personal touch and presence. 

Visits to hospitals, care facilities, and even homes can seem awkward and difficult to carry out. This resource gives some important suggestions to help us engage in this important ministry of the church. Disclaimer: One important suggestion that isn't mentioned here is to know your own culture. Maybe there are some health professionals in your church community that can help you know and understand the health care culture in your city. 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2007/fall/20.69.html

What if... a Proposal of Art...

I've been to some fantastic farmers markets already this summer and the really good ones always have fresh produce, live music, clear signage, and really good art pieces. This experience got me thinking about how churches have a potential to host artists from the community. Maybe put in a little different terms, I wonder what would happen if we as the church took a major role in supporting and affirming the creative energies and passions of local artists for the building and good of our communities?

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Perhaps this idea could take root by first inviting artists out of your very own congregations to display their art in your buildings, to create art pieces based on your current teaching series, to display art at your next community meal, to invite children to do chalk art on your sidewalks near your church or possibly even to host a community art event in your space. Who knows what the result of this type of investment in our communities could be? I do believe that when we call forth the beauty and God given creativity in the people around us the grace of God is often revealed. 

To get your own creativity going... Here's a link to a guide on organizing an art and craft event:

https://meylah.com/meylah/6-basic-principles-for-organizing-an-art-and-craft-event

Facebook and the Digital Church

I know many of you aren't avid facebookers, but in our digital age we must consider the place of digital media in our lives. While the expanse of the net continues to grow and digital space encroaches all the more into our sacred spaces, what shall our response be? 

Here's an interesting article from relevant magazine about why Facebook can't replace the church. 

https://relevantmagazine.com/article/facebook-cant-replace-church/ 

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Next Generation Leadership Development

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One of the most important aspects of leadership development is that you have to be intentional about it.  Developing leaders (volunteers, paid staff, or community members) will not just happen on it's own, we must take steps to invest in others.  

Here's a blog post from a pastor about how his church intentionally goes about developing the next generation of church leaders. Just a quick note: he talks a good deal about how he does this with his paid staff... I think the principles he mentions can easily be transferred to volunteers, paid staff, and/or community members  in our churches. 

The Link:   

https://www.churchcommunitybuilder.com/blog/developing-the-next-generation-of-church-leaders/

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  1. Empower your leaders to equip others. The only way to multiply ministry impact is for church leaders to continually develop leaders within their specific areas of ministry. This is why it’s so critical to adopt an Ephesians 4 ministry model.
  2. Encourage church members to help you define a mission they can own. If you truly want your church members to become owners of your ministry, then allow them to be part of the process. Allow them to dream with your leaders about the impact you can make as a church.
  3. Equip your leaders to create environments where people within your church can go out and do ministry. Encourage your leaders to actively look for church members who are interested and passionate about ‘owning ministry’. Teach your leaders how to invest in them. Equip them with the resources and accountability structure they need to provide the things church members need to find their groove in ministry.

Summer Youth Mninistry

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Once during university, some friends and I spent a month studying Ecclesiasties. We began and ended each of our times together with a unison chant of "Everything is meaningless", just for fun.  :-)              One of the more memorable lessons from this time together was that there is a season for everything.  Ministry is no different. The changing of seasons means availabilities change, involvements change, commitments change.... change, change, change. The summer season is particularly strange as it seems like people are coming and going in all different directions.  Here's two blog posts that talk about making the most of the summer season in youth ministry. 

 

https://youthspecialties.com/blog/making-best-use-summer/ 

 

https://youthspecialties.com/blog/4-things-can-summer-hit-goals-fall/ 

Don't Give Up on the Church

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Sometimes the easier road would be to forget the madness and mess that is the Church.  

In 2010, I was in the African bush with a team of folks headed to a remote village to visit some of our brothers and sisters in the church there. We drove 2 hrs out of the city, then took a right turn onto a horribly maintained road and drove another 4 hrs until our bodies were shaken to the core and our faces were plastered with the red clay that was churning in our vans. It was the most difficult road I've ever been on for sure. Many times on that road I asked my self questions like "Why are we here?" "How much longer can we go?" "When will some relief come?"  Then we arrived and we laid witness to how the Lord was moving and working in a community in the middle of the African bush. The journey on the difficult road was suddenly worth it.

While it might sometimes be easier to leave the Church....  there are these moments of brilliance when the clearing is reached and the dust settles... I hope this attached article is an encouragement to you and a reminder of why we shouldn't give up on the Church. 

https://relevantmagazine.com/article/5-reasons-to-not-give-up-on-church/ 

 

Excellence Over Perfection

Here's a blog post from Bethel music on striving to do our very best, instead of being caught in the trap of perfectionism.

https://bethelmusic.com/blog/excellence-over-perfection/

I'm reminded by this post that our lives and worship to the Lord are part of something much larger that God is cultivating and knitting together. Sometimes I think we forget the way that God is the ultimate Composer and Creator. Perhaps we also take ourselves a bit to seriously and forget to offer ourselves grace in the everyday, as a gift from the Lord.    

Micah 6:8 (MSG) But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously- take God seriously.

Hebrews 12: 28-29 (MSG) Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

 

Here's a few more resources from Bethel Music:

https://bethelmusic.com/chords-and-lyrics/

https://bethelmusic.com/blog/

 

 

A Free E-Book about Discipleship

Did you enjoy and connect with this year's 3WLN Speaker Greg Wines?  Did you leave hungry and wanting more?  Well here's your chance to get some more...  

https://exponential.org/resource-ebooks/disciplemaking/

In this book that Greg Wines co-authors, they explore Discipleship by helping the reader identify their own disciple making strengths and how they can hone those skills.  Here's the chapter titles in the book:

Becoming a Disciple Maker

Introduction Continuing the Conversation

Chapter 1 Why Should I Want to Becoming a Level 5 Disciple Maker

Chapter 2 Can Any Christian Become a Disciple Maker?

Chapter 3 Why Develop an Assessment Instrument?

Chapter 4 Why Should I Assess My Disciple-Making Ability?

Chapter 5 The Spiritual Family Metaphor

Chapter 6 How Do We Apply the Results to Our Lives?

 

So check out this link for the free E-Book and other disciple making resources:

https://exponential.org/resource-ebooks/disciplemaking/

 

True Fellowship

In an age where so much is virtual and wireless, it seems like we in the church need to be extra intentional about genuine fellowship. In my experience true fellowship is a natural multiplier where grace begets grace. Perhaps one of the best ways to be the light of the world is by modeling grace filled relationships that point people to Jesus.

Here is an article that discusses true fellowship and our need for it:

https://relevantmagazine.com/article/what-fellowship-actually-looks-like/

Community First Youth Ministry

"At the end of the day, I simply believe it’s high time for many of us to stop operating like the best first step to the faith is coming to a church service."  -from the article linked below

As I've looked back on the students who seemed to be impacted the most by the Gospel message of Jesus, I've been particularly surprised at how many of those didn't come to a church service for years.  The below article is a good reminder that perhaps we need to encourage our youth ministries to get outside the walls of the church to BE the church. 

http://youthministry360.com/blog/stop-telling-teenagers-invite-friends-church/

Developing Leaders

I've been thinking a lot recently about how we were meant to journey with others. Specifically, I'm challenged by how important it is for us, as leaders, to be investing in other leaders who will come with and after us. In the article below there are some suggested actions on bringing others along the way and intentionally developing leaders. 

http://contextcoaching.org/7-steps-developing-leaders-church/

Growing Creativity

I believe that we serve a God who is very creative. I also believe that the image of God is in each one of us. Does it not serve us well then to encourage the creativity in ourselves and among our people? I even wonder if cultivating creativity in this way is a way to return worship to God. 

Here's an article that shares 7 ways to encourage creativity in your church.  

http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2016/april-web-exclusives/7-ways-to-foster-creativity-in-your-church.html