In watching Bill Hybels interview with Richard Curtis I felt very motivated and inspired to help the poor. Oftentimes we get so caught up in our own ministry and forget about the desperate need of people all over the world who could use some the excess that we have been blessed with here in America. The story of Richard Curtis ought to put many of us Christians to shame because of how much more he is doing for hurting people when we ourselves are sitting on the sidelines. Richard Curtis chooses to bring hope to people in his movies in a world and box office where people would consider that foolish. He also chooses to use his ability of producing great movies to bring awareness to the problems that are evident in Africa and other countries in need. Without having a relationship with Christ he still finds it to be a great enough need and problem that he is willing to use his talents to the best of his abilities to make a change in the world. I think we can all learn from Richard Curtis’ tenacity in helping the poor and providing hope to people. I also think Bill Hybels should be applauded for taking a step out into the world and hosting this leadership summit so that the world can see and meet great leaders like this.
Monday, November 29, 2010
When looking at the list of class project options immediately I chose the small group option because it was something that I had already started from a previous semester so I figured it would be nice to document the life of the small group. The group consisted of a group of gentlemen who lived on my floor last year and they wanted to continue the group again so I agreed to lead it again. Our starting number was five members last semester and it grew to nine by the end of last semester. This year we started off again with even less because a group of guys from our floor moved to a different building. So I was forced to start over with a new group of guys who were new to the school and new to my style of teaching. At the first floor meeting of the semester I announced it to the floor that we would hold bible study every Thursday evening and we kicked off the small group with a six people. As a group we decided we would go through the book of Romans because we could almost do one chapter per week and we would try to have a meal together each week so it wasn’t simply a group to study the bible but a group who hung out together. The next week some of the guys from last year returned to group, which created an interesting atmosphere. The group I was with last year was very familiar with me as I was with them and because of it we were able to be more open and blunt about our understanding of the text and how it applied to our lives. This new group was not ready for this openness and therefore it created tension. Also, because we already had many connections with each other there were jokes and things from last year that they didn’t understand. Therefore, I had to find a middle ground, which would allow the freshmen newcomers to understand what we were talking about while at the same time keeping the old members interested and satisfied. I did this by shifting the way I taught so that fifty percent of the time I would be speaking to a level that the freshmen could understand and the other fifty I would dive deeper theologically in order to please the more mature in the group. This worked out well because both groups came back in the weeks to follow. We continued strong throughout the first few weeks of school because everyone had the ambition that comes with starting a new semester but after a while this dedication wore off and some of the people did not come back to the small group. I understand this is hard to do with a group of college students who are busy with schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, and employment for them to make time to come to small group. Another difficulty that I found was that it was hard to get in contact with everyone and to remind them about small groups. Each week I would send a mass text message to those who would normally come but I wouldn’t pursue them any more than that because I didn’t want them to feel guilty about not being able to come because I know how hard it is when you feel pressured to come to an event when there are a million things going on. On the contrary, I think they may have needed more reminders because they often would tell me that they forgot. Moving on to a lighter note, as a group we were able to battle with the tough questions of our faith and the particulars of certain passages of scripture. For example, when we dealt with the passage in Romans dealing with the Holy Spirit interceding with us some of us in the room had different views on whether or not this passage implied tongues or not. This sparked a long conversation about each of our experiences with tongues and therefore allowed a lot of healing to go on for those who had bad experiences with people misusing the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was things like this, which helped me to continue to lead the small group even when I was tired. One of things I was most proud of was creating an atmosphere where all questions were fair game. The guys in the group found that it was rare that they were in an environment where people allowed questioning of the Holy Bible and therefore jumped at the chance to ask any question. I made sure to tell them that I wasn’t the be all and end all for their questions because I am still young and dumb but I did take some classes and I know where we could find information so we could look for it together. It felt good to have a group of guys that were younger than me who felt close enough to ask me for my opinion on things and knew that I wouldn’t act like I had all the answers. Each week we continued to look in the scriptures we continued to talk and ask questions which often led to tangents but were good for our spiritual health. I realized that it wasn’t the curriculum that was what impacted people’s lives the most it was how we decided to dialogue about it and help each other learn and apply it to our own lives. Maybe learning doesn’t happen best in lecture settings but discussion and application. Regardless I learned that I definitely want to be in a small group for the rest of my life because it really changes people’s lives. Amongst the many victories that we had one of the biggest failures that I realized which I am now trying to correct is how the small group is dependent on me. During certain weeks I was away on Thursdays and could not conduct small group. I urged the group to continue to meet but they did not while I was away. Now that graduation is upon me in two weeks I am trying to get more people to lead the final meetings of our small group in order that they become used to a new leader. Overall, I loved the small group experience and this assignment really opened up my eyes to things I need to do better and things I want to continue to do.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
During this church planting boot camp there has been a large amount of information that we have been doing our best to capture. Among this plethora of information David Kim came and spoke to us about recruiting people to join our launch teams as church planters. He was very insightful as to how to we ought to target our specific people who we would choose for our team. I enjoyed the method that him and Dr. McNaughton tag-team explained about allowing them to join the vision in doing something they are passionate about rather than assigning them a role that you need filled. By allowing them to join the vision they aren’t doing something just because they are asked, instead because of their passion they would do everything in their power to do the job because they love it. Also, I like what David said about hiring people that complement your work structure. By hiring people who have strengths in your greatest area of need it creates an environment for the most productivity. Another interesting tidbit that Dr. McNaughton shared was that when asking people to join that we be specific about the roles we want them to fulfill because they may want to take on more responsibility than they were asked to. Lastly, I found it very helpful that they gave a process to getting people on board with steps like being realistic about what is expected and showing them how they are needed to meet a specific need.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
There is a very efficient way to go about discipling new guests in a church and I think Mrs. Anderson has found out how to do it. In her system, she has a method to make sure those who are new guests in her church have a point of connection. From the point that they walk in the door to two weeks after their first experience at the church. This is all a lot of work but it is possible through her coordination of volunteers which she strategically and precisely organizes. She mentioned that she has about 100 volunteers to help her in her ministry alone which is a decent amount of help. Mrs. Anderson makes sure that there is a person there at the church to make each new person feel welcome and accepted. There is a lot of literature that the church provides for the people and a lot of things for them to fill out which makes me a little anxious because in the hustle and bustle of these days it is hard to get people to sit and fill things out. Regardless, they are doing a good job at Christian Life Assembly of getting people connected there and getting them to serve. I wish I had more time to ask her about what the process for selecting volunteers and screening them is but I imagine they have that process figured out.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I wish every church had the ministry of someone like Deb Bube. Her ministry focuses on organizing volunteers and setting up the creative aspects of the churches services. To be honest when she first mentioned her title I had no idea what she did because I had never heard of that being a part of church ministry before. After she went into detail about what she did I found how necessary her ministry is to a church of that size. I really enjoyed how she presented her coordination of volunteers. Her ministry not only organizes the church but it disciples believers who are looking to use their gifts for the kingdom of God. Her ministry enables them to find outlets for them to use their gifts. This helps the church to use their disciples effectively. I really liked the way she showed us how she plans each year using planning center and mindjet. I had no idea that a church could plan that far ahead but she makes it so easy and effective that I would really like to emulate that in the future. Also, one of the biggest things that impacted me was what she said about how people cant remember 52 different things each year to change their life but they might be able to remember 10 or 12 so if we preach series people can grasp the things that are expressed in the message. And this type of preaching comes with strategic planning. Lastly, I think it was important what she did to make sure that everything ties into what the sermon idea is from the announcements to what is in the church foyer everything plays into what the message is. Deb has a lot of focus and knows how to employ that for the good of the kingdom.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
During my interviews today with the members of Freehold 1st Assembly of God in New Jersey I was able to glean many things from their methods of discipleship. Though at the varying levels of leadership there are different ideas of how discipleship should be done there is still an overall urgency for the need of committed and discipled believers. In the overall leadership when I interviewed the lead pastor I learned that he was looking to make the church the central locus for discipleship by bringing the people into the church and equipping them with the tools necessary for them to be discipled. He provides classes and various ministries where people can get involved in order that they become discipled by being involved in the church ministries. He does not publically advertise small groups but believes that during his sermons he is able to provide the congregation with the necessary tools that they can take home and develop themselves. I think it is interesting to make the church the locus of people’s discipleship experience being that it is where they only spend approximately 3 hours per week. Also, I asked about the size of their congregation and the percentage of people who are attending the classes or involved in the men’s or women’s ministry; and the number wasn’t too high. Thus, there seems to be a gap in the people who are getting discipled on just Sundays and those who are delving deeper into the church community. This opinion changed from the position of lead pastor to that of youth pastor who had a different view. He believes that in the small group setting they are able to break down biblical content amongst groups of friends and peers who would have similar input and struggles. Again, there is no commitment to regular small group meetings but there is at least monthly youth meetings in which the students are broken down into small groups to discuss some material that the whole youth group is discussing. This approach seems better because it allows the youth to break down the hard concepts on their own thus making them less dependent on the church to spoon feed them biblical truth. There is also a 8-week long discipleship class which the youth are able to undergo which would teach them certain biblical principles so that they can process them by themselves. This takes place during the summer time, which often creates a problem because students during the summer time do now want to spend a lot of time in a class learning. Therefore if small groups become an atmosphere where people can enjoy themselves in the presence of other believers who are struggling with the same problems as ourselves then we will not only learn from each other, but we will feel comfortable and grow in relationship with each other. It seems that the struggle with this method and the centralized church group method as mentioned by both pastors is how to get people interested in participating because if it is organized by the church and forced it tends to be less organic and more of an obligation. It seems that the ideas of discipleship that are shared by the lead and youth pastor that discipleship is maturing Christians to walk like Christ are not necessarily captured by the people in the congregation. When I spoke with a regular member of the congregation who has attended for six years they described discipleship as the things that they learn on Sunday morning that make them a better person. When I gave them my input as to how I saw discipleship as helping people know Christ in a more real way so that they can better emulate his characteristics there seemed to be a disconnect because of never getting a true definition of discipleship. Overall, the people of the church are learning how to better themselves and things that are pleasing to God but they aren’t connecting them to Jesus Christ who walked the earth in the flesh nearly 2,000 years ago.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
There are few people who are willing to walk the path that Pastor Dave Barnett has chosen to walk. In a world that likes shallow church community in which people within the church walls barely bump shoulders with one another. Pastor Barnett has made it his mission to be missional small group pastor who goes out and through his small groups have “skin to skin contact” in which people are deeply involved in one another’s lives. In doing this he creates deep relational change in which people are able to disciple one another through iron sharpening iron tactics. The only frightful aspect of this type of ministry is that it strays away from our typical setting in which we picture church occurring. Therefore, certain things like tithing and organized ministry are hard to “patrol” and monitor through an overseeing leadership. As a result, Pastor Barnett may not know where his paycheck is coming week to week because the tithing structure of a church is not done in the same matter. He requires a leaning on the Holy Spirit that all of our Pentecostal brothers ought to learn from. Often times because of our scars left by our bad “Holy Spirit experiences” we are fearful to allow the Holy Spirit to intervene in our ministries but Pastor Dave Barnett has allowed the Holy Spirit to take precedence in his ministry.