How Should We Move? – Transforming Your Church Part 6

Posted on March 22nd, 2012 by Tonya Nichols

I have been sharing over the past several weeks a series about the steps to transform your church to be more outward focused  If you missed some of the past blogs, I encourage you to explore them:

Today I am sharing some different ways that you can choose to mobilize members to serve.  How you move will produce energy in your church, much like a windmill.  A breath of air from The Holy Spirit goes a long way!

First things first . . . STAFF/LEADERSHIP

Many times churches get so gung-ho on how they will roll out their serving plan to their members, they forget the staff and key leadership.  They are critical is setting the stage for the transformation of your church.  As you transform your leadership it will become contagious to your members.

  • How often does my staff/leadership serve the community together?
  • Does my staff model serving with their families, small groups, classes, etc?
  • Does my staff/leadership know how to use Meet The Need to find and fill needs of the community?

Next . . .MEMBERS/VOLUNTEERS

How will we mobilize; individually, in smaller groups, or collectively with a large event?  Maybe a combination of all, but in what order?

I will give examples of how to mobilize your members in each structure in a future blog called REACH.  For now you are just determining which order would be best to start your mobilization.

  • Individually -  you can give direction on where to go find and adopt needs on your website to your congregation and encourage them to go adopt needs individually or with their family.  Philippians 2:3-4 is a great example of Jesus serving individually.
  • Small Groups – you can give direction on where to go find and adopt needs on your website to small groups of people within your church (example: bible studies).  Mark 9:35 is a great example of Jesus serving in small groups.
  • Large Event – you can plan a bigger project where you go and find needs to adopt through MTN and then have a service day where your entire congregation is encouraged to participate.  Note: an event like this is just a launching pad for you to encourage your members to do things like this on a consistent basis.  Be sure they get info on where to go find and adopt needs on your website.  There should also be a series of follow up reminding them to continue the spirit of service beyond the event.  Mark 8:6-8 is a great example of Jesus serving through a large event.

If you already have a community project on the church calendar then start with a large event.  If all this is new to your members, then start smaller and introduce it to a few small groups.   If your members are already serving the community and just need a list of needs, then roll it out to the masses, individually.

Based on the questions and ideas above, HOW is the best way to mobilize your church to a lifestyle of serving?

Next week will be the last topic in this blog series.  I will share about WHEN is the best time to start this change within your organization to cultivate a lifestyle of serving.  I would love to hear from you – comment!

Part 2 Spiritual Gifts/Talents and knowing when to use them.

Posted on March 9th, 2012 by Maurice Jackson

..To continue on from ” Jack of All Trades”..

We have to understand the principles of understanding a Natural Talent and Spiritual Gifts. When you get so involved with life   and overloading your plate by being a “Jack of All Tades” you get confused in understanding  the difference between a  talent and a spiritual  gift.  One,  first has to know their purpose in life to know how to use your talents and gifts and how to use them for God’s purpose in your life. I have to ask “Do your know your purpose ?” What has God placed you on this earth for? Until you know this can you really be effective in his kingdom and can you truly seek to understand the talents and gifts he has given you?

We often try to separate the two of them using our talents for our purpose and our Spiritual Gifts only for God purposes. Wait..wait.. Think about that… it should actually convict you in understanding that we first must acknowledge that all that we have comes from God. That being said we have to make the connection that their is no separation. You can’t just  say ”I’ll give you just a piece of me God” the rest is mine for my  purpose or I’ll just do this at church or in the ministry and my other talents I’ll use elsewhere.  Once you recognize  what your gifts and talents are you have to then go into a season of preparation and development of those gifts and talents. Just because it has been given to you doesn’t mean that you don’t have to cultivate the gift.

For Example:

God has given you the talent of public speaking of connecting to people. Knowing this you decide to give a public speech in front of 1,000 people about a topic that you haven’t taken the due diligence to research and  understand the facts of the issue and how it relates to the audience.  You decide i’m a good speaker I can relate to people “I got this in the bag”.

You walk up to the podium and it hits you.. “This is  a lot of people”.. “why is the light beaming in my face”… “What do I sound like on these loud speakers”…”I wish the photographer would turn off the flash”… “I didn’t know the news media would be here” ..”I cant concentrate with the woman with the crying baby”… “wait…What’s my opening line’?

Has a similar situation ever happened to you? Have you relied so heavily on the comfort of what you thought you knew that you decided not to prepare you self?  We get so caught up in self pride or gloating that we forget that God rewards preparation. We should always be prepared for the things within our control. Even if something changes a circumstance that we prepared for  we should rest in the reassurance that God will reward our preparation with support to adapt to the change.

Check out this table:

What Can I Do? Part 2

Posted on March 8th, 2012 by JMorgan

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

-Luke 4:18-19

 

I talked in my last post “What can I do?  Part 1” about how we are often moved and stirred in our compassion for those in need, but feel overwhelmed with the complexity of the problem or not equipped to help, so we usually don’t.  I shared last week about taking time to care about the homeless or those in need of help.  This week I would like to talk about those in poverty around the world – and our family’s experience.

About four years ago the Lord spoke to us about sponsoring a child through the Christ-Centered organization “Compassion International”.  Other great Christ-Centered organizations like “World Vision” also have sponsoring programs around the world.  We had heard about Compassion before and knew about sponsorship programs, but never applied that to our family.  God spoke to us that this was a simple, yet far reaching and impactful way we could make a difference in the lives of others.  The great thing about the child sponsoring through Compassion is that, yes you can make a difference in a child’s life, but it will have a huge impact for their whole family.  For less than the cost of eating out once a month our gift can provide medical care, nourishment, opportunities for education, connection to the body of Christ where they live, and encouragement through letters and pictures and most importantly prayer from our family here in America.  It’s do-able!

Since then we have stayed in contact with 13 year old “Ripon” in Bangladesh and it has been a blessing to know our ordinary family has been a part of the solution of poverty in our world.  We have recently felt called to step up ‘to the next level’ and sponsor another child too – so we are also praying for and supporting 5 year old “Elang” in Indonesia.  I can’t help but imagine if even 50% of Christian Families here in the United States sponsored a child there would be a waiting list HERE for a child, not waiting children THERE!  Just a thought!

Click the image above to go to Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Page

We don’t have the excuse that the problem is too big or the situation too complex.  We don’t have to “rack our brains” trying to figure out how we can help.  Some awesome God-led people have gone before us and made it straightforward for us to get involved.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, but we are called to action!  What are you going to do?

-Jason

Needs v.s. Relationships

Posted on March 7th, 2012 by JMorgan

What outcomes would you like to see from your charity?

Think about it. What do you consider important—self-sufficiency, salvation, healthy living, artistic expression, stable parenting—the possibilities are endless. And, I’m guessing the answer is different for each of us.

However, we should know the answer to this question.

The answer to this question will direct our giving.

Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, suggests that we should restructure our giving (time, talent, treasure) to produce the results or outcomes we are hoping for. We should ask this as individuals and perhaps as churches too. What outcomes do we want our giving to produce?

Are we directing our resources in such a way to achieve these results, or are we doing what happens to be most intriguing or popular. Often the journey on the road to our desired outcomes is long…and perhaps rocky. It can’t be accomplished by a quick collection of food or toiletries (although I highly encourage these efforts), but might involve a personal commitment to disciple a single mother for a year. Spending time with her celebrating joys and time weeping in sorrow—giving her so much more than food for her cupboard. Building trust and forming a real relationship. It’s not easy. Well, at least for me it’s not.

I’m thinking about these things. And, it’s challenging me. Am I going deep enough? Am I really willing to look at what I’m investing in and make changes? It’s a tough discussion to have. I hope you’ll join me.

p.s. Lupton shared an illustration of a food co-op rather than a food pantry that was pretty inspiring. Visit the organization’s website (Georgia Avenue Community Ministry) and check them out.

What Can I Do? Part 1

Posted on March 1st, 2012 by JMorgan

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   

-Luke 4:18-19

 

We are often moved by images of famine and suffering, our compassion is stirred when we see a homeless person holding a cardboard sign, we feel a sense of injustice at poverty levels for families in places around the world.  The problem is that we usually don’t do anything about it because we either don’t know what to do or we feel helpless because the issues are so complex.

For example do we give money to the homeless man?  Is he going to use it for alcohol?  How will I know it will meet a real need?

What about poor families and individuals around the world?  The problems are so big because international governments are involved and corrupt, right?  These kids I hear about are half way round the world in India – it’s not possible to ‘get involved’!

Although the problems are often complex and it’s hard to discern the best action to take in helping others we are called to still ‘do’ something.  It’s not always easy, but then again ‘easy’ was never a promise of Jesus!  Jesus’ words are our purpose.  We are his voice of love and compassion to others, our hands are His.  Therefore we should be reaching out to those in need with actions of hope, love and healing in Jesus’ name; and reaching out to those in need with words of hope, love and healing in Jesus’ name!

How do we do this?  What we can do is prayerfully do what we can, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I will talk about the homeless  here in Part 1 and then talk about families in poverty around the world in Part 2 next week and share a little about our family’s experiences.

 

There have been times we have stopped to make time to care. I always ask the person in need their name and I listen to their story.  If I stop and talk to someone in this type of situation I have made a rule to not offer money.  I have offered them my phone to call someone if they want to let them know they’re okay, I have gone back into Walmart and bought them a meal and I have bought a tank of gas to help them get to the next point.  One time in the parking lot of a Walmart a dad approached us and wanted to give his kids something to eat.  We literally had just bought bread, sandwich meat, drinks and snacks – all of which we gave to him.  If there is a genuine need, most likely God has used us to meet it.  If nothing else we have stopped and taken the time to validate this person.  Then we have chosen to pray for them by name afterwards.

There are also ministries and churches in our communities that can help to the next level and it is good to get to know how to refer someone for help.  We are blessed here in the Tampa area to have a great ministry working specifically with the homeless and low income families called “Metropolitan Ministries”. Check out their ministry to learn more about serving poor and homeless families and helping to prevent homelessness.

If the body of Christ won’t respond then who will?

-Jason