Attended Yearly Tribal Gathering

Last week I attended my yearly tribal (denominational) gathering.   It culminated Thursday evening with the “reading of assignments” a wonderfully imbedded tradition where pastors and leaders are formally assigned or reassigned to their places of ministry here in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

The gathering was distinctly different from previous years evidenced and confirmed by many of those in attendance. Something of a new wind blowing, almost bordering on a paradigm shift.  The Spirit has been laying the ground work for what I would describe as something of a “missional thrust” among both conference presenters and participants.

Multiple stories were told of congregations initiating and implementing creative ministries relevant to serving their community and neighborhood needs, such graffiti cleanup, decorating neighborhood streets with flower baskets, feeding the homeless, and providing carnival events for children.  One church in Bend, Oregon closes its service for a Sunday to provide service to the city in various cleaning and renovation projects.  The exciting piece this is; the added stories that accompany these service projects.

The congregations involved in these types of ministry hold a strong “go to them” stance as they relate to their individual places of ministry.  In the past too often its been a “come to us” mentality.  This current stance is just one avenue of many, but one that definitely communicates a posture that embodies the Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways relevant to the postmodern culture.

Historically our tribe has held  a strong missional stance, but in recent years it has displayed itself in more dormant nuancs.  This particular season is one of intentional engagement with the culture and I’m encouraged!!!

Another factor that bodes well for the future of our tribe which seemed in jeopardy not long ago, is that a majority of the stories were told by leadership that is relatively young, those in their twenties and thirties.  In the past, these voices were not regarded as legitimate – now they are and we are the richer for it.   Personally I’m looking forward to hearing new stories currently being written.

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Two Points of View on Leadership

“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH UNTIL YOU TRY.”

You know the expression, ‘it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.”

Well it’s true. Good leaders don’t wait for official blessing to try things out. They’re prudent, not reckless.  But they also realize a fact of life in most organizations; if you ask enough people for permission, you’ll inevitably come up against someone who believes his job is to say “no.”  So the moral is, don’t ask.  Less effective middle managers endorsed the sentiment.  “if I haven’t explicitly been told ‘yes,’ I can’t do it,” whereas the good ones believed, “if I haven’t explicitly been
told ‘no’ I can.”

There is a world of difference between these two points of view.

General Colin Powell

It’s Time to Repent

Neil Cole writes;

It is time to repent.  We have rebelled against our King for far too long. We will never see a radical, spontaneous expansion of the kingdom that multiplies to all the nations and the ends of the earth with a top-down hierarchical structure in which the leadership must give a green light to every decision.  If every person on the field has to report back to headquarters rather than to the Head, we will stay stuck in the cycle of feud, rebel, dominate, and retaliate, and nothing of significance will occur.  It may be the way the world operates, but there is no reason for it to be a part of the church.  Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are, p.93.

I Have A Dream

I began reading reading Frank Viola’s most recent book Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity. He closes his introduction with a segment titled; I Have a Dream regarding his dream for the church, which he adapted from Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in Washington D.C, on August 28, 1963.  Here it is:

I have a dream that one day the church of Jesus Christ will rise up to her God-given calling and begin to live out the true meaning of her identity — which is, the very heartthrob of God Almighty — the fiancee of the King of all Kings.

I have a dream that Jesus Christ will one day be Head of His church again.  Not in pious rhetoric, but in reality.

I  have a dream that groups of Christians everywhere will begin to flesh out the New Testament reality that the church is a living organism and not an institutional organization.

I have a dream that the clergy/laity divide will someday be an antique of church history, and the Lord Jesus Himself will replace the moss-laden system of human hierarchy that has usurped His authority among His people.

I have a dream that multitudes of God’s people will not longer tolerate those man-made systems that have put them in religious bondage and under a pile of guilt, duty, condemnation, making them slaves to authoritarian systems and leaders.

I have a dream that the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ will be the focus, the mainstay, and the pursuit of every Christian and every church.  And that God’s dear people will no longer be obsessed with spiritual and religious things to the point of division.  But that their obsession and pursuit would be a person — the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have a dream that countless churches will be transformed from high-powered business organizations into spiritual families — authentic Christ-centered communities — where the members know one another intimately, love one another unconditionally, bleed for one another deeply, and rejoice with one another unfailingly.

I have a dream today………

10 Questions Volunteers/Donors Want to Ask Ministries But Seldom Do

In Chapter 14 of Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life Robert Lupton provides 10 Questions Volunteers/Donors Want to Ask Ministries But Seldom Do.  As one who has volunteered for CityTeam Ministries nearly ten years, these are good questions that are rarely voiced.  Here they are:

  1.  Will my investment make any real difference? How will I know?  How can I be assured that my involvement is having any significant impact on the lives of those I am serving?  Are there are measurable outcomes, any benchmarks for tracking real change?
  2. Am I really helping or is this just to make me feel good? Is this project just make-work to give my church group and me an “urban experience”?  Is this more about an awareness-raising adventure for us or is this mission project really going to make a positive difference in the lives of the poor?
  3. Will this be a personally meaningful experience?  Will this work touch my heart, open my eyes, show me Jesus’ compassion in new ways and change my life? Please tell me that it is about more than just fellowship with my friends.
  4. Does this ministry really get at the root causes? Is it a band-aid approach or is it major surgery?  Serving food at the soup kitchen may keep people from starving but are you doing anything to help people deal with their addictions, their joblessness? Does your organization attempt to get at the underlying issues that cause poverty?
  5. Will you value my time?  Will you have someone there to meet us, give us a concise orientation, give us clear instructions, put us right to work, have the tools and equipment ready?  Will you make efficient use of my time so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day standing around waiting?
  6. Do you just want my money or do you really want me involved? Do you actually need more volunteers to accomplish your mission or is this a public relations tour to sell me on your program?  Are you creating work for me to do as a means of getting my buy-in?  If you had the choice, would you take my money or me?
  7. Is the ministry cost-effective? Do you get good results from the dollars expended and how do you measure those outcomes?  Do you measure activity or impact?  Number of participants or number of successes?  And what is success?  Do you have an annual audit?
  8. Are you open to change if I offer solutions or improvements?  Do you really want my involvement?  Do you want my insights for your work, even if it means changing some of the ways you are doing business?
  9. Will you deal with me responsibly and follow through on your commitments? Can I count on you to return phone calls promptly and send requested information in a timely manner?  Will you keep appointments and be up-front with me about what I can expect from you?
  10. Will I get feedback on how the mission is going? Will you sent me a report on the outcome of our project? Will you send me personal acknowledgements when I make donations?  Will you send me periodic updates on your work?