Tag Archive for: ministry

Have you been reflecting upon life recently? I have. We have come, not only to the end of another year but to the end of a decade.

Wow! Time flies when you are having… I suppose that is another blog. 

I have many more years behind me than I have in front of me. I’ve been reflecting upon the past 4 ½ decades of ministry. I hope you don’t mind giving this “old” man a few minutes to share with you some things I have learned.

This list is neither exhaustive nor in priority order. Here are 10 things I have learned over 45 years of ministry.

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When do you do it?

John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, tells the story of the first time he attended worship in a Christian church. He said he didn’t know what to expect, but what he thought was going to happen did not happen. After attending worship for three Sundays, he became frustrated.

One Sunday, after worship, he approached a man who looked like someone with authority.

Wimber asked, “When do you do it?”
The man, who was an usher that morning, asked, “When do we do what?”
Wimber answered, “You know, the stuff,”
The usher replied, “And what stuff might that be?”
Wimber said, becoming more frustrated by the moment, “The stuff in the Bible.”
Now the usher is frustrated, “I still don’t understand. Help me. What do you mean?”
Wimber said, “You know, multiplying loaves and fish, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving sight to blind people. That stuff.”
The usher replied somewhat apologetically, “Oh, we don’t do that. We talk about it and pray about it, but we don’t actually do it. No one really does it, except maybe those crazy fundamentalists.”

What does the church value?

The values of the church in the above story are revealed through the actions and inactions of the congregation. Anyone of our congregations will reveal who we are to the community through our actions and inactions with the people we encounter.

Often our values are unnamed. When this is the case, it is only when a conflict of values occurs, that we become aware of what we value. As a congregation, when conflicts arise around core values, consider whether you have stated your core values.

But don’t stop there.

Name the behaviors that bring the values to life. When you do, you’ll be better able to encourage people as well as define expectations of within the church culture. people understand the expectations of following Jesus. Afterall The core values point to who we are as Jesus followers.

After all, if our core values are going to help reveal who we are as Jesus followers, they will propel us to action. If this seems like a challenge, remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Scripture reveals the conflict of values that can unfold as we encounter the love of Jesus.

As a leader, consider exploring the core values of your congregation. Then, identify the behaviors that accompany the values. You'll be better able to encourage your congregation to follow Jesus. Find out more on the blog. #values #church #jesus #faith #transformingmission Transforming MissionA Conflict of Values in Scripture

Look at the story in John, chapter 9. It was the Sabbath day. A blind man comes to Jesus for healing. With a little spit, dirt, and a loving touch, Jesus restores the man’s sight. You would think the church would rejoice and celebrate this miracle performed in their very midst. But they are working from a different set of values.

A theological debate breaks out. It goes like this:

Part 1

“Wait a minute, doesn’t this man know that it’s against the law to heal on the Sabbath? The man must be a sinner, or he wouldn’t break the law like that.”
“Yes, but if he’s a sinner, how did he heal the blind man?”
“Well maybe the guy was just pretending to be blind.”
“His whole life he’s been pretending to be blind? I just don’t think he could pull that off. He’s not that smart, you know. He’s never even been to school. What would have been the point? You can’t teach a blind man to read and write.”
“Well, let’s go ask his parents. They ought to know.”

Part 2

So off they go to question the man’s parents.

“Is this your son?”
“Well, yes, he looks like our son, except for the fact that he can see and our son has been blind all his life.”
“Well, how could it be that he’s been blind all his life, but now he can see?”
“I don’t know! You’ll have to ask him.”

So, they question the man again.

Part 3

I can imagine this conversation going like this: “Hey you. Yes, you, the one who was once blind. You! What is going on here? We better get some answers from you, or you’re going to be in serious trouble.”

And the man replies, “Look, I really don’t know how to answer you. All I know for sure is that I was blind until Jesus came along, and now I see. Can’t you just accept that and leave me alone?”
“Oh, we’ll leave you alone, all right. Get out of here, and don’t come back! Find someplace else to go to church!”
Now, why would they do that? The answer is, or at least my answer is, they are operating out of a different set of values. Even though they say they are God’s people, they are revealing a different identity.Your value comes not in what you do or accomplish. Your value comes in following Jesus. As a leader, consider exploring the core values of your congregation. #values #church #jesus #faith #transformingmission Transforming Misssion

Walk As Children of the Light

This story reveals a conflict of values. The one who was born blind learns to walk in the light, while those who were gifted with normal sight choose to remain in darkness.

When we consider our own calling to “walk as children of light,” it’s easy to recognize which character in the story we ought to imitate. Like the man born blind, we too have been restored by our encounter with Jesus. We too have been saved by God’s free grace, and our eyes have been opened to see the world in a new, counter-cultural way.

If God’s grace is a value we’re willing to claim, our response to God’s grace will also come from our values. The challenge is, when aspirational values lead the way, we leave people wondering, “Is this who we are?” “Is this what defines us?” Instead of questioning who we are, let’s help people celebrate who we are as followers of Jesus.

Our core values motivate and sustain our behavior over the long run. Our values guide our behavior as well as our relationships with one another and with the community. Let’s be intentional in developing, sharing, and teaching the core values that focus our ministry and mission. When we do, we’ll be better able to help others encounter Jesus – the One who feeds, heals, and gives us eyes to walk as children of the light.

So let it be.

What’s Your Next Step?

  1. Download the Congregational Core Values Companion Sheets. You’ll be guided through leading local church leadership in identifying the congregation’s core values and the accompanying behaviors the church seeks to encourage.
  2. Listen to LeaderCast Episode 062: Are You Walking Your Talk? A conversation about congregational core values and behaviors
  3. Participate in Following Jesus Every Day: Galatians, Gospel of Gracea daily Bible Study that invites you to read, reflect, and respond to Scripture every day. We’ll deliver an email to your inbox each morning to help you journey through the book of Galatians. Sign up today! We’re starting April 22.

On Friday I celebrated my 64th birthday. As I often do, I took an assessment of my life and ministry. Although I am generally pleased, I decided one thing. If I am to make the difference in the world I believe God created me to make, I must be more clearly focused.

The stories of Holy Week are fresh in my mind. Simon Peter denying that he knew Jesus. Judas betraying Jesus and feeling guilty. Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility of Jesus. The soldiers and the crowd taunting Jesus and crying out for his death.

With these scriptures fresh in my heart and on my mind, I asked myself, “How am I responding to God’s work in my life?

Am I…

  • denying it?
  • trying to work against it?
  • washing my hands of my responsibility with my actions or lack of action?

Is There Enough Evidence To Convict?

My assessment also came after reading the book, “The Orthodox Heretic” by Peter Rollins. Through my reading and reflection, I focused on a question he raised, “If Christianity were illegal would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

I asked myself the following. If I were really to…

  • take the teachings of Jesus seriously
  • live a life that reflected the radical message of love that gives a voice to the voiceless and a place to those who are displaced
  • stand up against the systemic oppression perpetrated by those in power
  • speak into the evil of racism
  • stand for health care for everyone and to call into question the cost of prescription drugs
  • work for gun safety

Would I find myself on the wrong side of the people in power, of many people in the church, and of those who make the laws?

I realized, again, that I have basically kept my faith private. I have a lot of knowledge about Jesus and his radical message of love. But, I express my faith in safe and sterile ways. To put another way, I do a lot of talking but not a lot of walking in regards to being Christian.

To Be Found Guilty

For the remainder of my ministry, I want to live an authentic faith that is expressed. I want to live not only in my acceptance of a belief system but is expressed in dynamic sacrificial and loving action. I no longer want to fool myself into thinking that my private beliefs are somehow more important or reflective of who I am than how I live my life publicly. And when I say publicly – I mean in a relationship with my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, enemies.

I want to be related to the people who are involved in the actions that bring God’s redeeming presence and power into reality. By God’s grace, I want God to work through me to bring about what God intended for this world in which we live.

If I am to be found guilty of being a Christian, I want to have the mind, heart, and attitude of Christ. I don’t want to do anything “out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”  By God’s grace, I want the humility to “value others above” myself. I want to look beyond my own interests to the interests of the others. In a relationship with the people around me, I want to have the heart, mind, and attitude of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to

his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a human man (male),

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross.

-Philippians 2:6-8

Life & Ministry

I have made peace with the fact that I may not see the full result of any ministry I have been graced to participate. But I understand that I honor God by offering myself in living this way.  I don’t want to deny it or work against it.  I don’t want to turn away from the work God has for me to do.

So, I am committing myself to hold back evil – in all the forms it presents itself. I am committing to repair systems and structures – especially the church that has helped make me who I am. And, I commit to being a healing agent for people who are broken and suffering. I am committing myself to be about the business of peacemaking. I will constantly be about the work of disrupting the façade of peace so the authentic peace of Christ can take root and grow.

Please pray with me and for me as I grow into this stage of my life and ministry. Pray that I am who God intends for me to be. I invite you to pray so that I can be who God needs me to be at this point and time in history.  Pray that I can and will make the difference that God has created me to make.

Then, together, you and I will work so God’s love for all people will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Pray that I am found guilty!