One of the comments that I’ve really been thinking about was from Rick Rusaw. He asked the question “How can we be the best church FOR our community?” It’s easy for churches to begin to focus on being “the best church in town” – what can we do/offer that no one else is doing? How can we set ourselves apart from the crowd of churches? But this is the wrong approach that only feeds people’s consumerist nature. This question shifts the focus to being there FOR the community and re-engaging our community – not competing with other churches for people’s attention. Brings to mind something about being “salt and light”…
Bil Cornelius talked about the power of mentoring. As a youth minister, I’ve been privileged to serve as a mentor for some awesome students. I just got off the phone with one of my students who’s heading out next year to do missions work in Spain/Morocco and yesterday talked with one who is a youth minister in IA. It’s so exciting to continue to pray for these guys and watch what God is doing in their lives. One of the things I love the most about youth ministry is being able to see students that I’ve invested in pour themselves into kingdom ventures like this! But as much as I’ve given in mentoring, I also need to be mentored. If you’re a leader, don’t ever think that you’re beyond the influence of others. You are setting yourself up to languish in the status quo if you think you don’t need coaching anymore. And you will take the people you lead down with you. Seek mentorship in relationship with other leaders, conferences, books “from those who’ve done what you want to do”, coaching networks, etc.
I appreciated Pete Wilson’s suggestion that “the greatest crisis in the church is lack of transformation”. We are not just saved from something; we are saved to something. We are rescued from death in order to bring life to humanity.
Jon Tyson offered a great reminder that “the power for our leadership doesn’t come from methods/techniques/strategies… it comes from God.” I have a problem with writing in books. Even highlighting was a problem for me in college. (I know, I have issues… my therapist says it’s getting better though!) One of the very first things I ever underlined or wrote in a Bible was at the National Youth Leaders Convention in 2004 in 2 Cor. 3 “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Tyson’s 9 minutes was a great reminder of this life changing approach to leadership.
I love it when Sr. leader type guys champion next generation ministries. Youth ministers like me can talk all day long about the importance of stretching ourselves to reach the next generation, but we’re often blown off because we’re seen more as big brothers for church kids than as pastors who’ve spent years of our lives studying and training to be missionaries to young people. But when guys like Reggie Joiner talk about the importance of ministry to children and students, it sits differently with other leaders. He talked about how Nehemiah had a vision for the next generation and their perspective of God – and how today’s young generation needs to see God in a new way. When Nehemiah rallied the people, it was to fight for their sons and daughters – outsiders began to see God differently, insiders began to pay attention to God, and His work was celebrated. Hey church… fight for your sons and daughters!
Mark Batterson shared one of his recurring themes: “I’d rather have 1 God idea than 1000 good ideas.” I’m an ideas guy – I love ideas and am always wondering “what if…” Some of my ideas are pretty stupid (like riding my bike straight into a downed log or shooting the lock off a gate with a BB gun from about 6 inches away) and some are actually good. But “you can only get a God idea… from God.” If I’m not spending enough time with Him, my ideas will always fall short of His.
Sam Chand offered some interesting thoughts regarding leadership pain. “You won’t grow beyond your capacity to endure the pain of leading – and the only way to grow your pain threshold is… more pain.” Leaders get hurt. Satan wants to take us down and unfortunately, some the of the people who follow are more that willing to let him use them to take potshots at us. But how we respond to the pain has a lot to do with whether our leadership will grow or stagnate. Stagnant leadership will cripple the growth of any ministry.
Dan Kimball stressed the urgency of God’s mission. Eternity is at stake for the people we know and love – and that is something we should be desperate about. “Tradition should never get in the way of mission. If it does – it is sin.” The problem is traditions are comfortable – it is soothing to know what to expect. So we settle into patterns and become numb to the need for God that abounds. But I don’t think Jesus died to build us into a nice theological recliner where we can all sit back and think about God in predictable ways and annual cycles. He died to build us into a work force for His Father’s mission – may we come to see the local church as a missionary training center.
There was so much else to think about… but I’ll spare you. Check out The Show next Tuesday for details on how to get the videos (I know I will) and watch them for yourself.
One last thought that came from Brian McClaren’s 9: “The gospel is not an evacuation plan – it is a transformation plan.”