Vision-Casting: Developing Your Methodology

12.26.12_Celebrate_Success_and_Plan_for_2013So, we’ve dug through scripture to determine our biblical foundation.  We’ve lined that up with the cultural and contextual teachings that drive our ministry.  We’ve laid a foundation and built walls to form our structure….now for the fun stuff! What do we do?  How does our ministry function in the world?

 

Jeremy Pace from Resurgence calls this our furniture.  He puts it like this:

Furniture should complement and enhance the function of a room. Likewise, yourmethods (the how to’s) should be based on your theology and philosophy and should fitwithin the boundaries set by them. Remember, furniture is only functional for so longbefore it wears out and either needs to be replaced or reupholstered. The reality is thathaving a solid foundation and a clearly defined framework allows you to be creative andnot limited to how you go about doing ministry

furniture

To begin “furnishing” your ministry, ask yourself these questions:

•Based on your theology and philosophy, what are the methods that you will use to
see the vision fulfilled?

•Does your current furniture fit in the new rooms? Do you have a toilet in the living
room or a bed in the bathroom?

•How does your philosophy of ministry look organizationally?

•Do you have the right positions in your organization?

•How does each ministry/program fit within the philosophy?

It’s important to remember that the methodology should not drive the ministry.  Your philosophy and your theological foundation drive the ministry.  Don’t become so attached to a “how-to” that you find yourself “remodeling the room because you like the couch.”

Chicago-modern-colorful-sofa-sets

 

 

Vision-Casting: Your Philosophy is Your Filter

12.26.12_Celebrate_Success_and_Plan_for_2013Last week we talked about building the framework, or more aptly, the foundation for your ministry.  We began (or continued) working through the questions that every ministry leader should ask as they begin the process of deciding how their ministry should function in the world.

The theological foundation upon which you build is extremely important to defining your over all goals and mission on the field.  It has been a lengthy and prayerful process for me to work through taking the better part of a month and lots of wise counsel and prayer from my spiritual mentors.  Take time to nail this first part down, before moving on,

Once you’ve determined the scriptural basis for your ministry, it’s time to begin building the grid work which will become the filter through which all opportunities and ideas should pass when making decisions: the philosophy. Jeremy Pace of Resurgence likens these to the walls of a home.

You begin with the load-bearing walls.  These are immovable, unchangeable within the structure (else the structure falls down). They are the primary grid which make up the shape and form of a home.  Ask yourself the question:

•What are the non-negotiable, prescribed truths of Scripture that set the boundaries?

The next step is to begin constructing the interior walls.  These determine what you are and are not about.  Ask yourself these questions:

•What biblical imperatives and indicatives does your church/ministry/organization need to explicitly articulate because they are overlooked?

•What biblical imperatives and indicatives does your church/ministry/organization practice faithfully (almost without thinking)?

•What biblical imperatives and indicatives does the culture and context of your church ignore or fight against? These you will want to make more explicit.

•What biblical imperatives and indicatives are paralleled within your culture and context but need to be connected? (These too you will want to make more explicit.)

These questions will begin to define the type of culture your ministry will subscribe to and thus become the filter for everything that you do.

snail crossing finish lineSo I am on to building these walls.  I said this before, but I think it bears repeating, this has not been a speedy process for me- although I must admit I thought I had already done most of this work.  What I have found is that as I dig, God opens up questions in my heart.  He opens up visions of something more in places and less in others and is awakening me to a renewed sense of purpose through my ministry.  I hope and pray that as you work through these questions with me, he does the same for you as well.

Five Minute Friday- Goodbye

 

On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link backhere and invite others to join in.

3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Today’s prompt is:  Goodbye

Ready? GO!

Today I say, “Goodbye.”

I say goodbye to words spoken out loud, to external processing, to kiddo belly laughs in the living room and begging puppy barks for apples sticky wrapped in peanut butter.  I say goodbye to television and Facebook, and *gasp* my cell phone.  I say goodbye to the neverending noise that I steep my life in.

But only for a little while….I’ll be back soon.

This afternoon, at 3 pm sharp, I will enter into a time of silence with 14 other retreatants.  For three days we will give each other the gift of a community of silence.  Silent, but not alone.

I am excited and I am TERRIFIED.

After all the hustle and bustle of the last two months and the deep community with my church last week, I am already feeling the effects of withdrawal…the sudden margin in my life has left me reeling…a little sad….and jones-ing for another hit of constant togetherness.

But today I say “goodbye” to my earthly community to say “hello” to my God.

I have spent intentional time in silence and prayer before, but never this long.  There are great things moving and swirling around me, and I desperately seek the center of God’s Will.  Will you pray for me this weekend?

STOP!

Downward Mobility

“The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up.    Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.

The way of Jesus is radically different.  It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility.  It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place!  Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing?  Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Choosing last place….

Can I do that?

Can I intentionally set my heart to choose last place? To downward mobility? To servanthood for the simply the sake of being like Christ?

I waver in my belief that I am holy enough to do this….to choose this life for me. And if I’m truly honest, on most days, I don’t choose Christ’s way over the world’s.

But then, God whispers grace and love and peace and an invitation to abide in Christ.  The encouragement that while I am not holy enough, Christ abides in me, through him I can do all things, and being a Princess in His Kingdom is far more valuable to me than being mogul in this world.

So today I choose the last place…the behind the scenes…the Way of Christ.

Will you choose downward mobility today?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”~John 15:4

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:13


Returning to Your First Love: Make a Commitment Booklet

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Photo by Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

Several weeks ago I was preparing to lead a retreat for my home church.  Tasked with filling three hour-long sessions and taking last year’s success to a whole new level, I felt the pressure of perceived expectations.  And, ya’ll “pressure kills everything it touches.” I felt that pressure squish and squeeze every creative idea from God.  Every new thought, every different approach, every visionary idea…shut down in a moment by the riotous spirit of self-doubt echoing through my brain.

I finally hacked out the first two sessions exactly a week to go before the retreat, but the third remained elusive.  Completely blank.  I had nuthin’…

And then, 4:30 am on a Saturday morning, God wakes me from a restful (albeit Nyquil induced) sleep.

READ EPHESIANS, he said, in the quiet of the pre-morning.

I was petulant…sulky….my thoughts went something like this (imagine teen angst, heel kicking into the bed here) But, Goooodddd, it’s 4:30 in the moooorrrnnningg….on a Saaturday!

READ EPHESIANS…

So I rolled out of bed and drug myself to the living room.  Snuggled under my Snuggie, opened my Bible and began to read.

I have to admit that I have never read the book of Ephesians entirely in one sitting, and I strongly recommend it.  A guidebook for Christian life it is, young paduwan…but even still I didn’t understand how it was to be used in the flow of the retreat weekend that was beginning to take shape.  The whole weekend was to be about returning to our first love, and I was just not quite sure how the book of Ephesians fit the theme.

I finished my reading and hopped on the computer to read a couple of my favorite blogs and was delighted to see that one of my favorite writers, AnnVoskamp, had already posted that morning.  Even better, her post was entitled: Returning to Your First Love- Bible Memorization: Make a Commitment Booklet.

That’s what I am talking about God…a clear, undeniable sign!

I began to read this post about scripture memorization and memorizing entire books of the Bible and wisdom in the age of Google.  And then this:

“Communing with the Holy comes in committing the Holy to the heart.”

It was sealed right then and there for me.  This was my third session. We would make these memory commitment booklets and memorize entire books of the Bible together! I was excited…and terrified by the prospect, but somehow, doing this with my girls didn’t seem nearly so scary.

Ann even provided a suggestion and a template to start us off….

Ephesians….

Doesn’t God just blow your mind sometimes?

So that is what we are doing.  Over the course of the next 31 weeks, my IBC Princesses and I have committed together to memorize the book of Ephesians.  But, you can do it too! I have linked to Ann’s original post so you can make your own book if you want…We stretched the original 26 week program to 31 so no one would use the holidays as an excuse. If you would like a copy of my template, leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to share it with you.  I will be posting each week, the new memory work in the Scripture Memory header, so you can follow along that way too if you would like. We’ve already been so blessed by this process, it’s amazing how the Word seeps into your very  being when you dissect it to commit it to memory. .  Do this with us! Hide his word in your heart and no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever it pluck it from you!

Will you join us?

Returning to the First Love: A Little Nouwen

“For three days I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son.  It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to return.  Returning is a lifelong struggle.

It strikes me that the wayward son had rather selfish motivations. He said to himself, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father.”  He didn’t return because of a renewed love for his father. No, he returned simply to survive. He had discovered that the way he ahad chosen was leading him to death. Returning to his father was a necessity for staying alive. He realized that he had sinned, but this realization came about because sin had brought him close to death.

I am moved by the fact that the father didn’t require any higher motivation. His love was so total and unconditional that he simply welcomed his son home.

This is a very encouraging thought.  God does not require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our desires has failed to bring happiness, God will take us back.  Even if we return because being a Christian brings us more peace than being a pagan, God will receive us.  Even if we retune because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we could not make it on our own, God will receive us. God’s love does not require and explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home.”

Henri Nouwen- The Road to Daybreak

I am so thankful for this nugget of truth.  But it jolted me a bit.  I found myself immediately defensive.  Of late, I am traveling this road home, coming back to my first love.  Learning to embrace new disciplines to soak in more of my Father and to spend more time with my Lord.  Learning what it really means to not just sign my letters, but to truly be, in everything, HIS.  Learning to return.

Reading Henri’s words, I have to ask myself , “Why?” What really is my motivation?

But then, in the long run does it matter?  If in the returning, I draw nearer to Him; if in the returning, I surrender to Him; if in the returning, I learn to love again – does it matter why I started the journey home to begin with? These are things I have to mull over along the way.  But, here and now, I am blessed by the words this man said- “God’s love does not require explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home…”

My Intention…I need your help!

So in the spirit of the New Year, I am embracing the flurry of goal setting that generally occurs.  Significantly different this year, however, is the way I am engaging in this activity.

I just read a wonderful blog over at www.susielarson.com. In it she was discussing the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. She wrote a bit about the sins of PRIDE, LAZINESS, and GLUTTONY.  Her words about laziness, struck a chord.  She says:

To be lazy is to be spiritless, lethargic, and apathetic. I want to make a more spiritual application. To be lazy is to let go of the Promised Life. It’s a refusal to go after the God-sized call on our lives because unbelief is easier. Laziness breeds more laziness, which attracts more of its kind. It’s time to wake up, step up, and to actively walk in faith; it’s time to engage our spiritual muscles, vigorously oppose the works of the enemy, and to run the race to win.

Amen, Sista…The last thing that I want to hear when I reach heaven is “I really thought you were on fire for a while, but then you just kind of got lazy.” Not gonna happen! So this year I am setting an intention.  Not a resolution. Not even a goal.  It is my intention, my resolve to deliver a minimum of 12….TWELVE!….Strings Attached Presentations this year!

So this is where you come in….I need your help! I need you guys to help the “Connection Lady” connect.  If you are or know a women’s ministry or women’s group leader who needs a speaker, please think of me…and then, even better than that….contact me! We’ve got to get busy, I have a crazy busy speaking schedule already!  So will you do this for me? Help me to reach this intention for God! Let’s get some Strings Attached!