Too many good things…

Anne Lindbergh’s words reminded me this morning of the proclivity so many of us have forliving crowded, cluttered, and consequently, anxious lives.  We have said yes to far too many projects and lunch appointments and soccer games and meetings and birthday parties. Our souls weigh heavy with an anxiety that is particular to men and women whose lives are piled with too many “good” things. We are overwhelmed, fatigued, and maybe even a bit afraid. We have failed to focus.

The picture Lindbergh paints in her classic book Gift from the Sea (1955) spoke into my life. Continue reading

A Few Good Practices

It is a good practice to glean what you can from those who know how to practice well.  Last week VP3 hosted a webinar called, “Best Practices in Local Church Leadership Development.”  Three panelists joined our time to share what they have learned over the years regarding an investment in the formation of those within their local communities.

Pam, Kent and Beth are seasoned at knowing how to notice the particulars of those whom they walk alongside.  All three know how to “call out” what they see dormant in peoples’ lives.  They are careful, yet direct in making appropriate and tailored prescriptions, helping people move toward a better place of maturity and a truer place of service.  Quite frankly, I was impressed with the practices they keep in this sometimes misunderstood deal of leadership development.  Their practice grows from a conviction that leadership development from a Christian perspective is first and always tethered to helping people tend to their followership to Jesus Christ.  You will benefit from listening in on what they said.  Here are some highlights… Continue reading

A lesson that has been lingering…

During the month of March my wife and I led a mission team down to southern Brazil to serve at a ministry called Chain of Love. For two-and-a-half weeks we immersed ourselves in this community that provides, loving, secure, and caring homes for abandoned and abused street children in Brazil. If ever I encountered a “visual aid” for God’s kingdom work in the world today, it was there.

Chain of Love and the 100+ kids and staff became my teacher in so many ways. A central lesson that has been lingering with me is the importance in God’s economy of simply being with people.

The first day we arrived at Chain of Love Chris Kidd, a NAB missionary and administrator at Chain of Love briefed us on our 2 weeks. His initial words that night centered upon the importance of developing relationships with the children by spending time with the kids. He warned that this might be a bit harder than we might think for us task-oriented North Americans. Continue reading

A Gathering of Saints

Last week twenty-seven of us gathered together in Sioux Falls for a retreat.  By the end of our two days together we realized we were no ordinary group of twenty-seven people.  We became a remarkable community of brothers and sisters in need of some space, perspective, words, silence and friendship.  The theme for our gathering was “A Sacred Heart.”  The hope for the gathering can be heard in David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).

There are no shortage of things that get us entangled and snared along the way of this deal we call ministry.  This unusual gathering of saints had plenty of tangles and snares to share, but more so plenty of presence, experience and from time to time a word or two to offer. Continue reading

Potential Next Steps…

This is the time of year that many of The Emerging Journey groups are beginning to see that the end is in sight, and some in your groups may be wondering, “OK, what’s next?”  If that’s the case, let me suggest some “next steps” for your participants and possibly your church in the bigger picture of the VP3 process. Continue reading

Discipleship: The Critical Need in Leadership Development Today

Today BrianSteenhoek and I facilitated a webinar called, “Discipleship:  The Critical Need in Leadership Development Today.”  It seemed to scratch an itch from the responses of those who attended.  We thought we would offer you a condensed version of some of our notes here.   Continue reading

Invitations To Die

To be honest, a theme I’ve noticed in my own walk lately has been dying.  Now, although it sounds silly, I must confess that even letting you in on this will make me wonder if I’ve just entered my final days…a peculiar sort of superstition.  But I have heard stories of people who said, “I’m ready to die!”  And then two days later actually die.  So, to set the record straight, although I love Jesus and look forward to meeting him I sure hope I don’t die two days from now.

What I have been wondering about is what it means for aspects of my life to die in order to bear more and better fruit.  Jesus did say, and even with a verily, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain;  but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).  Lately, three “deaths” have caused me to wonder what sort of fruit I am being invited to bear… Continue reading

Moving Faithfully into 2012

2012.  A new year.  Resolutions.  Decisions.  Choices to be made.

It helps to have a plan.  And equally important, it helps to have guiding statements that inform that plan.

Whether you are making resolutions, new decisions, or reexamining your ministry, a clear understanding of who you are, who God is, and what God desires to do through you, is fundamental to making the kinds of decisions and plans that match your temperament, passion and values in service to God. Continue reading

A Gift

We recently had a VP3 staff team day, complete with Christmas party.  One of the things we did was share stories about the people we have encountered this past year through the ministry of VP3…people who have been gifts to us.  They have given to us the gift of knowing a little more of their story of change toward becoming the person God has intended them to be…a person with new hope to live more incarnationally…becoming a gift to others in Jesus’ name.

Sometimes we sit back in amazement at how the Lord has used what seems like our “two-fish-and-five-loaves” to help deepen and empower so many good people in various communities across North America. Continue reading

The boardwalk & Advent…

I loved going to the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk as a kid. The stores and amusement rides, the pizza places and popcorn shops, the balloons and cotton candy were all wonderful.

Sundays on the boardwalk, however, were something less than wonderful. When I was growing up there were the Blue laws in Ocean City. These New Jersey laws restricted a number of economic activities from taking place on Sundays. These laws meant one thing to me—all the shops on the boardwalk were closed every Sunday. And because of it, going to the boardwalk on Sundays was not so enchanting to me. It meant walking by one closed shop or ride after another.I can recall on a number of occasions taking long walks with my family on ‘the boards’, exercising off the flounder and shrimp and crab and fries we had for Sunday dinner.

(Sunday on the boards was actually my dad’s favorite day to ‘go shopping’ since one began and ended the excursion with the same amount of money in one’s pocket. On more than one occasion he stood up from Sunday dinner and teased with a smile, “Anyone want to go shopping on the boards? ” The older I got the funnier this little scene became. But as a young kid I did not find it so funny.) Continue reading