Friday, July 25, 2008

Eight Ways To Help With A Smooth Transition

I have been on staff at six churches. That six moves, six homes, six moving trucks, six new addresses, six new telephone numbers, get the idea. I think the most uneasy transitions are those WITHIN the church. We claim to be "change-agents" and are even lead by the Great Commission to "go into the entire world" and allow others to see Jesus in us so that they know, CHANGE. Going through and helping lead changes and transitions in churches I would say I am fair to good at it (those who don't like the changes I have made would probably disagree with that). One of my favorite hobbies is ready and studding how to be more effective in ministry, specifically student ministry. I have found eight ways to help have a smoother transition for making changes in the ministry you lead. Remember, these are not original and they are not guaranteed. They are simply ways that have helped me in the past and will continue to change and develop over time.

1. Promote the vision, Promote the vision, Promote the Vision.
When people know and catch the vision, it’s like a bad cause of the flu; it is hard to get rid of and yes, at times will make you sick. If you are excited about the vision, others will soon follow in your excitement.
2. Get excited.
Romans 12:11 reminds us to serve the Lord enthusiastically! If I cannot find joy in what God has put in front of me then I am in the wrong area and need to reevaluate either my ministry or my agendas.
3. Lead the Leaders.
Every ministry has volunteer leaders that people respect and are willing to follow and trust because of their longevity or influence. These are critical people to have on board with the vision. Influential leaders can make or break transitions.
4. Pray for the pain.
Every transition causes some pain, there are no exceptions. Comfort and the familiar are the biggest obstacle to overcome in order to create change. Be there and pray for those people who will struggle through the pain and hurt. Care for them and encourage them to ask for God to guide and direct them so they might work with the transition or find a new area to minister in (sometimes causing another transition).
5. Honor the past.
No matter how you feel personally about the past, it has allowed you to be at the present moment that is allowing a transition. Look for the good, don’t focus on the negative. Speak well of those who came before you, remember, this isn’t a popularity contest.
6. Seek wisdom.
Look to those who have gone through transitions and ask them to help you be proactive and not reactive in potential pitfalls. Do your homework and pray without ceasing! Surround yourself with those people who will encourage, pray for and support you during the difficult times.
7. Share the stories.
Share the stories of life change that are a result of other transitions within your ministry and church. Ask people to listen for similar stories so they begin to notice the many ways God is working.
8. See it through.
There will be opposition and failures. Don’t stop, keep moving forward and see the transition through. Those leaders who have made changes and gone through difficult transitions have not allowed setbacks or opposition to discourage them to the point of quitting.

Praying all your transitions are smooth!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Growing up I played baseball for many years.  I played for some great teams, some good teams, and some teams that were at least "giving good effort" according to our coach.  Over the years I learned a great deal about the game and found out that each coach had a different style and manner in how they taught.  The guys I played with also approached the game (and practice) differently.  Some were very intense and wanted to win at all cost while others were simply content to wear the team jersey.  I learned quickly that coaches treated players very differently and the good coaches adjusted their teaching to the players.  However, there seemed to be one resounding phrase that every coach, player and even the fans used during a game..."keep your eye on the ball."  Keeping your eye on the ball met that a player had a greater chance of making contact while at bat or make a play on the ball in the field when it was hit in their general direction.  Over time "keep your eye on the ball" translated into one word for me, focus.  Focus allows a player to cut out all the chaos and distractions around them to see the ball and game as it is.  I believe as Christians we are constantly reminded to focus, to cut out the chaos and distractions and live life as God intended it.  We are reminded in Hebrews 12 to run with perseverance and to fix our eyes on Jesus.  I want to focus!  Focus on my first love, Jesus.  Focus on my wife and children.  Focus on my ministry.  God has not called me to music ministry, children's ministry, senior/ lead ministry, or any other ministry that seems to "need" me or beg of me.  God has called me to the greatest ministry within the church, youth ministry.  My prayer is that I keep my eye on the ball!
Living for Jesus & Loving it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another Satisfied Costumer

Another Sunday, another satisfied costumer??  For more than 16 years I have been in full time student ministry and wondered what a real "successful" Sunday would really look like.  I have had some of the most incredible spiritual highs; praying with students who wanted to make that first time personal commitment to Jesus, seeing students and adults raising hands through praise and worship in music and message (yes, message), seeing mission teams come home and stories reflect heart and life style change, feeling like I shared from the heart and God blessed that beyond anything I could have planned (go figure), and many, MANY more.  Most of us have wonderful, amazing, unbelievable stories we could share that would lead many, including ourselves, to believe that Church was good and successful.  Really though, what makes church good?  I'm not a deep thinker and I wouldn't consider myself a scholar, I just can't help but think of how we direct generations of students.  I think I have been guilty of treating students and families like costumers, wanting them to leave satisfied and to be happy with the "product" that I was trying to market.  Over time and through much time alone with God I have come to the conclusion that I am not to "market" Jesus.  That I can not look for the next way to "sell" HIM to another vulnerable student who is hurting and needing a friend, not a sales pitch or one liner that "cures all" with a money back guarantee.  I am trying to let God lead me but I continue to find myself out front trying to lead the charge.  I no longer want to sell but to be sold out!  I no longer want to guarantee a cure, I want to live a changed life letting others see that I have found THE CURE.  I don't want another satisfied costumer, I want to BE the satisfied costumer.
Living for Jesus & Loving it!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Today I spent much of the day in a house with more than forty people that was designed for...well, less than that.  I am a people watcher when ever I am in a public place so often I find myself watching those I am around in personal settings as well.  I watched as those who came in looked to be welcomed and those hosting were trying their hardest to accommodate everyone while not breaking off conversations in a "rude" manner.  After gather in some of the rooms of the home, many immediately began to engage in conversations while some stood along the parimiter waiting for someone to notice them and strike up a conversation.  I always find it interesting that some people are naturals at conversations while most struggle to have a creative question or even the ability to formulate an "on-the-spot" answer when presented with a question.  The more I watched the more I began to think about my ministry and simply, ministry in general.  We want to Walk Across The Room or Get Out of the Boat (both great books) as well as encourage those around us to be "good host" and welcome those who attend our ministry programs and services in hopes that they will return and eventually see and discover that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  HOWEVER, today I learned a valuable lesson that I have preached and believed for many years, serve in the areas you are gifted in.  I know, I almost feel stupid for admitting this but for the first time, I SAW IT.  I saw people using their gifts, not to promote the Kingdom, but to make people feel welcome and not alone.  I can't force students to feel comfortable welcoming other students anymore than I can force them to have a good voice.  I pray that I look for those who have and want to use their gifts for Kingdom building purposes and encourage them to more in the right direction, and if they don't want to...I will probably forget this post and force them.  Let's hope not!  
Living for Jesus & Loving it!