let me pause and brag on some people today.
i’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about transitions in ministry and in leadership, on legacies and longevity. when the primary founder of a particular ministry steps down or relocates to another facet of service, the switch to new leadership can strengthen or divide those who are left to continue serving. over the last several weeks, i’ve witnessed two such ‘success’ stories in this realm.
one the youth pastors i’ve been volunteering under at switch is transitioning to a new role at our church‘s oklahoma city campus, where he and his wife will have the privilege of focusing more on ministering to students’ parents and families. it’s such an exciting season in tim and nicole‘s lives! for the past three years, i’ve been equipped and encouraged as a student ministry leader by tim’s guidance. in his years at the edmond campus, he’s built up a solid and faithful core of volunteers who i know won’t miss a beat over these next several months of transition because of his effective leadership.
i’m extremely close with my former pastor from my home church and his family. i love going to their house and spending weekends with them, and i count their daughter as one of my closest friends. before coming to pastor at my home church in southwest oklahoma, they pioneered a wildly successful ministry in small town that has benefitted hugely from their work. they organized a food pantry and free clinic that continues to operate out of the church in a community of roughly 250. loaves ‘n fishes serves over 600 low-in come families throughout the county, and functions solely through donations, volunteers, and God’s provision. jeff and cara’s founding vision of justice and servanthood to the least of these is thriving, several years after handing over leadership to its volunteers. just look at how full this section of the pantry is!
how were tim and nicole able to release the reigns of their student ministry to others, without it crumbling? how has the food pantry that jeff and cara created prospered tenfold since they’ve released leadership to others in the church? for each couple, building up leaders to take ownership of the ministry they volunteer in was essential. jeff said it best, that ministry for the moment never lasts. leadership with longevity, i believe, is one of the keys to success in any ministry. the ability to step down from a leadership position and see it continue to soar in the hands of those you equipped must be one of the most incredible feelings this side of heaven.
when have you seen this exemplified in your ministry or personal life?
i love watching other people worship. there are so many means with which we can creatively express gratitude and surrender.
but let me be honest, y’all: it irks me when worship leaders say, “raise your hands” to those standing or sitting before them.
i’ve served in a phenomenal youth ministry for almost three years, and have heard this spoken from the stage from various worship leaders to our students several times. i’ve observed this, of course, in other ecumenical settings as well, but it seems as if it bothers me more in an atmosphere of youth than elsewhere. each instance, it’s a fight with my flesh to keep from letting out a heavy sigh or rolling my eyes. i guess i’m just uncomfortable with someone instructing young worshippers to express something that the Spirit may not be provoking each one to do. i know it’s a completely innocent and well-intended utterance that seems to chap me so, but it’s also loaded phrase. without explaining in detail to students what worship is, and what raising one’s hands means, are we not failing to show them what an authentically worshipful life is? it is more than music, it is more than song. and lifting our hands is just one of a thousand ways to praise Him from our hearts.
which leads me to my next thought: how do you personally worship? i’ve always swayed and moved during worship music, and i love to close my eyes and hold my hands close to my chest while i chew on the words. i also move my right leg in a weird way to the beat. :) during prayer, be it coorporate or alone, i often turn my hands up and open them to heaven. and when studying scripture, i sometimes read passages aloud to speak truth into a situation.
what are your favorite ways to express worship to Him?
Filed under switch, worship
i’ve been thinking a ton about the ability to rejoice, regardless of circumstances. it’s a sign of spiritual maturity, it’s an indicator of where one’s trust truly lies. and it’s hard. this past sunday morning at church, it was genuinely difficult to celebrate during worship. i found myself begrudgingly clapping during certain songs, and simply wanting to cry during others. i didn’t feel good about it whatsoever. i began to wonder if this was the moment i was beginning to shift into a state of miserable bitterness based on what stage of the journey i’m currently in. but someone reassured me that it wasn’t false worship, that it would eventually pass. and i know she’s spot-on.
last night at switch, our student pastor gave us an illustration that mirrored what i’ve felt and wondered in these past few days. he instructed us to close one eye, place our index finger over the eye we still had open, and look at him on the stage. “which one looks bigger – me or your finger?” he asked. compared to what was right in front of us, he seemed so small. our circumstances, tragedies, and unexpected speedbumps so often appear to be bigger than the God we abide in, but clarity eventually will show its face.
God is bigger than cancer. He’s bigger than my fears. He’s bigger than the trust i have trouble placing in Him when it comes to my parents’ health. He’s bigger than my bad days.
whatever’s in front of me, i’ll choose to sing hallelujah.
do you have a similar story?
i’ve served in the phenomenal youth ministry at my church since i began college, a little over two years ago. last night, the adult leaders at switch were treated to a special night with just one another at a gorgeous location out in the country. we sang together by candlelight in a barn (more glamorous than it sounds, people), took communion together, and talked about the visions we have for our students this year. continuing with this theme, here are 30 ways to connect with students in your ministry.
- call or text them: this generation has their phones attached at the hip! reach them through the means they use the most.
- post comments on their facebook
- create identity: give your small group a special name, verse from Scripture, ect.
- contact your students’ parents: this step is huge! gain the trust of your students’ parents and demonstrate your committment to their kids.
- create excitement!
- challenge them with the resources you send with them after group time: find time to communicate with them throughout the week about Scriptures and teachings from the experience.
- food: students. love. to eat.
- make your contact information available
- lead by example: sounds simple, right? model for them what you want them to do for others.
- connect outside of church
- discuss relevant topics in small-group time
- send them handwritten birthday cards
- send praise letters for spiritual growth
- serve together: help someone or an organization as a group.
- attend their school functions when invited
- eat lunch at school with your students if possible
- call students by name: students love to hear their own name.
- strike up continual conversations with every member of your group
- find cliques in your group and connect with them: influence the influencers!
- encourage their talents
- care for your students equally
- send flowers or something special during a time of tragedy
- bring gum or candy to share with your students
- acknowledge positive physical change: comment on a student’s new haircut, their cute shoes, ect.
- apologize when you mess up: transparency begins with us.
- discreetly meet a student’s need when you recognize one
- play games together
- don’t feel bound by small-group questions: these are excellent guides, but be sensitive to where students want to take discussion as well.
- educate yourself to answer questions: your students are going to have questions about the bible, faith, and life in general. be biblically literate, and point students to others who can answer questions with which you need help.
- pray together
last night was beautiful.
i admit, after a year and a half of non-stop serving with three different ministries at lifechurch.tv, burnout was creeping in. in the middle of worship at switch last night, however, He so graciously reminded me why i do what i do week after week there – to pray over and share my story with students He has entrusted to me. i ache for the future of our church to claim and fully understand that the same power that conquered the grave lives in them, that the Love which rescued the earth resides also in their core. what mountains could be moved if they believed these truths! they are so powerful and are being prepared for such giant feats, and i wish they realized the victory that they possess.
as the message moved toward the subject of purity and heart-mending in light of past mistakes, i just wasn’t sure i could make it. another leader and i held each other, knowing the moment He wanted us to share our stories with the girls in our small groups and spheres of influence was soon coming. i used to fight that, and at times i still do in fear of the judgment which seems to plague our christian culture so heavily. but with my girls, letting go of secrecy’s comfort didn’t compare with communicating the truth that they own the power to overcome an entangling past and the power to change their future. [and yes, i’m aware that all of this sounds very life coach-esque. :)]
see? this is why i just can’t give up that servin’ stuff. it breaks me, pushes me, and asks me to rearrange my life almost daily – and i fear who i might be if i didn’t let Him take over my pretty little schedule like that. =)
this past year brought me new responsibilities that i never expected to come my way so soon. one of these is a position as the what’s next coordinator for switch at the edmond campus of lifechurch.tv, where i have the opportunity to disciple new believers and follow up with them on their spiritual journey. discipleship is something i am deeply passionate about, especially when it comes to the youth i work with. it is so amazing to be a tiny part in raising up a biblically literate and spiritually mature group of kids! in the last two months at switch, He has allowed me to become close with a group of several high school girls who are all close friends themselves. they approached me together one week after switch to talk about recommitting their lives to following Christ, and He has opened up a great line of communication between us since. each girl has been faithfully attending church on the weekends and wednesday evenings, and their excitement at discovering new verses that are relevant to whatever they’re experiencing at a given time is so delightful to witness! last night at switch, one of the girls expressed an interest in getting more involved at the church and finding a place to serve there. i was able to get her into contact with coordinators from lifekids, and i’m excited to see where this leads her! to me, this is such a demonstration of her growth in the last several months. one of the biggest fruits of faith is service to others in His name, and i cannot tell you how warm and fuzzy it makes me to get to see that emerge from behind the scenes. =)
okay addison, i’m copying some of your creativity today! slipping into another january is always an exciting, unknown moment. and, being my retrospective self, i’d like to pass along a few things that made this year what it was. i have a whole new appreciation for the past twelve months after looking back at this list. =)
- began my second semester of college with a break-up i thought would surely kill me
- took my first class in the honors program at obu
- maintained a 4.0
- initiated my last year as an official teen in february
- experienced further heartbreak from my first love
- attended the memorial service of his precious little cousin on my birthday
- realized i had the most loving and supportive friends and family [once again] as a result of my darkest hour
- spent priceless weekends with family who had been on the west coast for far too long :]
- had a good ole red dirt night at a randy rogers band concert with my best hometown friends
- initiated into the phi eta sigma national honor society
- continued serving with switch at lifechurch.tv and discovered amazing ministry opportunities
- went on a mission trip to eureka springs with my switch kids
- helped construct a kickin’ gravel driveway on said mission trip =)
- drove to phoenix with my sister, niece, and mom, and watched my sweet cousin marry his soulmate under palm trees
- got published in the bison
- played on a few slot machines with my mom and her best friend from college, hehehe
- experienced a medical scare that tested me financially and spiritually
- watched my brother successfully run his second full marathon – complete with hand-painted signs and loud cheers at almost every mile marker =)
- received scholarships that were blissfully unexpected
- watched a dear friend from back home graduate and accomplish great things
- craved an apology which i was sure would fix everything
- served as a team leader for the first time at super summer
- received the apology i had been craving, and remained unsatisfied
- lived in edmond for a summer
- became a member of the lifechurch.tv prayer team
- saw another close friend marry the sweetest girl in all of texas
- worked at a new place may through august and met splendid new people
- began doing on-stage activities at switch
- witnessed the greatest fireworks show of my life on independence day
- served as a sponsor for the first time at falls creek
- went to the mountain view-gotebo free fair and saw many old friends
- started serving at fuse
- began my third semester of college
- caught the domestic bug
- started teaching conversation classes with the international students at obu
- became the switch what’s next coordinator
- began a new job at the wellness center
- went on a retreat with sweet friends and opened up my heart
- participated in my first race for the cure with my family
- spent fall break with my mom on a girls’ trip to branson
- published in the bison again
- voted in my first presidential election
- learned how to play texas-hold-’em
- learned my sister is pregnant again!
- survived my first semester of western civ with an a
- realized i won’t find happiness if i won’t let go
- rekindled an old, dear friendship
- wrote a blues song =)
- learned a few french phrases
- maintained a 4.0 again
- discovered a love for the food network
- played the heck out of hungry hungry hippos with my precious nieces
Filed under church, college life, family, favorite things, love, missions, pals, politics, switch, travel, work