Building on a legacy

18 Jun

You may be familiar with the term “godfather”.  Here is a definition:  A man who is influential in a movement or organization; by providing support / through playing a leading or innovative part in it.

Last month, I had the privilege in attending a conference for small group pastors from across North America.   One of the highlights was meeting with the “godfather of modern-day small groups – Lyman Coleman.  From the 70’s and beyond he was instrumental in re-introducing churches to intentional community.   I recall going to one of his training days in Waterloo during the 80’s and being amazed at how quickly he could get total strangers to be open and honest with each other (building trust ) so that God could work in their hearts through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.    If you have been part of a church-based small group in your past – Lyman had a part in that!Image

Lyman continues to be active at 84. His heart still burns with passion for God’s people.    It was his story of how he was impacted by the Navigators that struck me.  He shared that he was a young Christian studying at Biola University with other Navigator young men in a small group, when Dawson Trotman, (founder of the Navigators), came to the campus.  At that time, their small group was already serious about following Jesus as they were being transformed through intentionally spending time in God’s Word, being accountable to each other and through prayer.  Dawson challenged each man to be a laborer in God’s harvest – and he asked Lyman to be God’s man in Oklahoma – because that is where Dawson needed someone to work.   Lyman finished his year at Biola and began discipling men in Oklahoma.   From there he was called to help with the Billy Graham Crusades and their follow-up of new believers.   Eventually God called Lyman to equip local churches to make disciples through small groups.  He has had a profound effect, a legacy that began with the influence of The Navigators.

Over the past while I have been meditating on Romans 12:4-5 – For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

What does “belonging” mean to you?  It’s human nature to want to belong to a group/family.    However, this passage speaks of an interdependence that is accountable to others – that assumes others will participate in the mission.  Each member is valued and cared for, but also the expectation is that you and others will speak into another’s life.

Lyman’s understanding of belonging included his willingness to being called out by another in the Body, to participate in the bigger story God has for each of us.   When he did that – it set him on a trajectory that God used to influence and transform an amazing number of people.

That legacy continues.

Through the Small Groups Network (SGN), a ministry of The Navigators – this spring there have been multiple opportunities to equip over 200 small group leaders and ministry point leaders.   More than 35 churches from as far away as Quebec attended one of three conferences we sponsored.   Those leaders represent individuals who are able to speak into and influence over 6000 individuals who are traveling varying spiritual journeys.

Would you pray with me that we influence leaders to have the same vision of “belonging” as God calls us to?

The Measure of Our Success : An Impassioned plea to pastors

8 Mar
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Shawn Lovejoy’s book – Measure of our Success focuses on what really matters, and what needs to be the true measure of success in ministry.

I read most of this book while traveling to a pastors retreat. I would be one of the few non-vocational pastors in our group that week. I had brought along a number of books to read, but somehow this book drew me in. Maybe it was because I had recently been speaking to a pastor friend who was disillusioned with the church.

 

Author Shawn Lovejoy shares his own battle with the “standard measurements” of ministry success. Things like busy-ness and being driven; the need for affirmation from others; the numbers game; the program focus; the three unhealthy Cs of comparing, of copying, and of condemning ministry work.

 

The author then redefines what true success could be about:

  • Spiritual, emotional, relational, intellectual, and physical vitality
  • People are our ministry – Loving them is our tapestry.
  • Teamwork with people of character, care, clarity, conviction, and culture
  • Willingness to pay the price to obey God rather than human preferences
  • Dealing constructively with all kinds of criticisms
  • Preventative measures to avoid burnout and leaving

Lovejoy focuses on what really matters, and what needs to be the true measure of success in ministry. Instead of numerical growth, focus on conversion growth, especially baptism. Leaders need to invest their time with a few and go deep rather than an inch deep with. I also appreciated his thinking that the Church is not the hope for the world. It is Christ alone. At the end of each chapter are some excellent reflection questions.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing n exchange for an honest review.”

Art of Neighboring

4 Jan
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Art of Neighboring  Building genuine relationships right outside your door. New authours Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon have written a book I found to be very helpful to me personally and I know will help you!

If you live in a typical suburban neighborhood like me – you may know one neighbor well enough to have a conversation on a regular basis (once or twice a week), another neighbor you may talk a couple times a month and then others who you may know only their first name. The rest of your neighbors – you may feel well-connected enough to give them a quick wave as they drive by your car as you drive by their’s!  We live in a hectic world  – everyone living very busy lives – who has time for neighbors?

So what happened to Jesus’ command? Maybe Jesus meant neighbors to include – my literal neighbors! Pathak and Runyan presents a renewed vision of loving your neighbour that takes into context our busy urban-based lives. Loving your neighbor the way its presented here in this book is very much a Kingdom action.

As you read through this very inspiring and practical book you will receive simple and what I see as effective tools to encourage your steps to engage with your neighbors in small yet meaningful ways. Each action step is very doable and non-threatening.

It is very telling that the authours have been influenced and mentored by solid missional leaders such as Hugh Halter, Eric Swanson and Randy Frazee. I would highly recommend this book for church leaders looking for ways to help their people move out into the community.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing n exchange for an honest review.”

I AM SECOND

18 Dec
I_am_second

“I am Second” is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you and I. The authentic stories featured in the book and on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed.

 

Each story ends with the person finding the hope, peace, and fulfillment In Jesus. He became First in their life and they Second.

 

This is a wonderful tool to give to anyone struggling in their life. Each story is well written, honest and compelling. While not every story will connect to the reader – there will be stories that will. Who hasn’t dealt with rejection, self-destructive behaviours, hard times and the need to control? I was drawn to certain stories and then went to their website for additional testimonies of God’s grace.

 

Also liked the simple black/ white style of the book and videos. Very understated which allows the story and the evident power of God in that person’s life to shine through.

 

“Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Thomas Nelson n exchange for an honest review.”

Grace – More than we deserve, greater than we imagine

30 Nov

Grace

Max Lucado’s new book on an oft discussed topic says this about grace: “Here’s my hunch: we’ve settled for wimpy grace. It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. … Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.”
                       
I have a sense as I read through Grace is that Max feels western Christians have for the most part not really been fully impacted by God’s grace in such a manner that its affected huge changes in their everyday lives. This is evident as we often see judgementalism, legalism and works-oriented living seep into our lives as individuals and churches. 

Max writes a book that tries to illustrate the life-transforming power of God’s grace to affect every aspect of our day and life. One of the better chapters in the book is on confession. Max relates how he had to confess to a sin that he tried to keep private. It was through confessing that sin to God and others- that he experienced God’s grace and healing.

If you are familiar with Lucado’s writing style – Grace will not disappoint. Easy to read and understand. Full of illustrations from real life and the bible. My only critique would be the wish that Lucado would have leaned to stronger and bolder language to illustration his main points.
I really appreciated the readers guide at the back of the book.  It can used for a group study or for individual reflection.  There is also a DVD curriculum based on the book.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Thomas Nelson n exchange for an honest review.”

DISCIPLE! Conference

12 Sep

Disciple

Is there any greater joy than to see “Christ formed” in a new believer in Christ? I wa s  reminded of this phrase Paul wrote to the Galatian Church, “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is for med in you!” (Galatians 3:19). Of course I have never personally given birth physically, but it has been my unsurpassed privilege and delight to see individuals come to faith in Jesus and to co-labour with God’s Spirit to see Jesus “formed” in these brothers and sisters. 2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks to the potential and reality of spiritual transformation:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

I am involved with my Navigator colleagues in planning a series of three Discipleship/Disciplemaking conferences for the this fall through early spring of next year. The first is titled, “The Adventure of Discipling Others in Your Faith Community & Relational Networks” on November 3 in Kitchener. There will be a variety of workshops offered including one lead by Nuke Shim on “Spiritual Parenting: Helping Christians Grow” in Chinese and English. More information and registration details are on our website: navigators.ca/disciple.

We request your prayers for a life-changing day in inspiring and equipping those in attendance to more effectively disciple those God entrusts to us all; for our presenters to be examples of all we teach and for the Holy Spirit to help us in our preparation and presentations.

If you are in southern Ontario please consider joining us for the day and inviting others to do the same.

 

A Place at the Table

16 Jul

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it is easy to ignore the poor around us. We get caught up in acquiring, buying, eating. Our society and overall culture is based on consuming. Yet the more stuff we consume, it seems the more our lives become less satisfying.

A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor invites you on a journey of self-reflection, discipline, and renewed focus on Jesus that can change your life. Author Chris Seay is giving you a challenge: eat and drink like the poor for 40 days and donate the money you save on groceries to a charity or project that serves the poor in concrete ways.

According to Chris Seay “The primary reason why we struggle so deeply to be transformed into the character of Christ is likely because so often, instead of living with humility and vulnerability, we are busy chasing power and prestige.”

After some introductory chapters on sharing, gratitude, fasting and feasting, the book provides daily readings with meditations for 40 “fast” days interspersed with 7 “feast” days. Each of the 40 fast days also includes a brief description of a person living in poverty, usually associated with a Compassion project or a Living Water International project. Many of the daily readings are from Exodus, giving the reader plenty of opportunity to consider the Israelites’ reliance on God for their daily food.

The author is open and honest about his weaknesses and failures with his readers, who will likely face their own weaknesses and failures during their 40-day fast. He ends each reading with a prayer and a brief, touching story of a child or an adult in need from some of the poorest places on earth, along with suggestions for ways to pray for the person. You will likely be inspired, convicted and encouraged as you experience these daily excercises.  You will also re-consider your daily choices in the light of God’s  concern for the poor and our role in caring for them.

“This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”