Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

11 Nov

Teaching Other Leaders

Posted in Uncategorized on 11.11.16 by Merlyn

I have been so blessed throughout my career to have and continue to have many opportunities to train, equip, teach and empower current and future pastors, staff and ministry leaders. From paid staff, to interns, to lay folks and students, I have been blessed as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, associate pastor, senior pastor and professor to be able to do this. It is critical that we multiply ourselves. It is critical that we build current and future leaders, not just for our own churches and organizations, but for other churches and organizations. What a honor and blessing it is to be able to do this!

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26 Oct

Article Worth Reading

Posted in Uncategorized on 26.10.16 by Merlyn

Below is the link to an interesting article worth reading for anyone in any kind of ministry capacity. He speaks of leaders of new churches and churches that are being revitalized, but I think this principle applies to all ministry settings. Its both profound and ridiculously simple all that the same time. While the world gets more complex and ministry has and must change, the core idea of relationships remains the same.

A Non-Negotiable Practice for Ministry Leaders

 

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15 Aug

Why I’m in Ministry

Posted in Uncategorized on 15.08.16 by Merlyn

I am in the habit of being reflective and as of late I have been reflecting on why it is I am in ministry. There was no particular event that caused this reflection, however recent events have made this reflection very helpful. I love people. I am a people person as they say and have a high value on relationships. I find people interesting, enjoyable and a reflection of God. I enjoy working with people, talking with people, interacting with people, being in relationship with people and much more. Thats the way God created me. My wife often reminds me that I was created to do ministry. Even in its difficult moments as well as its frustrating moments, this is clear even if I do not see it at the time. I wholeheartedly love investing in the lives of people. I love seeing people grow, learn and be transformed. Its my personal mission to see that everyone I love, know and encounter experiences transformation in Jesus. That transformation may be small, significant or somewhere in between. I may have no part in that transformation, a small part or maybe a significant part to play. I recognize though that no transformation happens by my own effort or the effort of anyone other than God. That said, I am always thankful to be used by God, to be a part of that and to partner with God in that transformation. I am often asked in some of the more difficult situations that I face, how I do it. I do it because God has created and called me to this. I do it only by and through the power and grace of God. Its only possible because of what the Holy Spirit is doing. I simply show up, trust God and put forth my best effort to align myself with what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing. Its not always easy, its not always fun, but in the end it is always a joy. In the end, there is no greater honor than walking with people in their moments of great joy and celebration as well as their moments of great suffering and pain.

Why am I in ministry?

Because its exactly what I was made by God to do and be.

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12 Jul

Five key tools for leaders: A Focus on Christ and Kingdom

Posted in Uncategorized on 12.07.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders have a focus on Christ and Kingdom. The reality is that any leader can do the first four things. It takes leaders of great faith to take the fish characteristic seriously. There is a tremendous difference between leaders and missional leaders and that difference is found in their focus. Great leaders may be focused on success, but missional leaders are focused on a mission. That mission is laid out by God in their context, but is always consistent with the mission of Christ; brining about the Kingdom of God in the world.

Missional leaders recognize that the focus of their leadership is not their personality, gifts, desires, goals or even the organization they lead. Missional leaders see the bigger picture and recognize that they are a part of something beyond themselves. Rather than setting the mission, they discern there their context fits into God’s mission. Missional leaders follow Christ first. Missional leaders recognize that their ultimate goal is to play their part in building the Kingdom of God on earth. This is not possible by human effort alone, but requires the intervention of the Holy Spirit.  Missional leaders par

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11 Jun

Five key tools for leaders: Authenticity

Posted in Uncategorized on 11.06.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders are authentic. Being authentic is a challenge in our culture, particularly in many faith based settings. Being authentic is different than being genuine, though that is a part of it. It also requires transparency, it is to be fully yourself, fully real. This does not mean that leaders must share all of their thoughts, feelings and every aspect of their lives. It does mean that leaders must be personal and willing to be transparent about many parts of their lives. Authenticity is required to build deep trust. It is also essential in building relationships. In order to fully lead people, they must be able to trust you and have some quality of relationship with you. Authenticity is required if you want people to follow your lead.

Leaders recognize that they cannot ask people to do, share and act in a way that they do not. Leaders also recognize that they are not a leader if they do not have followers and no one will follow someone they do not know and trust. It can be both scary and risky demonstrating the kind of transparency that is required to be truly authentic. It also takes a lot of integrity. Integrity is when your words, actions, beliefs and lifestyle are all consistent. Authenticity both builds and requires deep humility. It is often counter cultural, especially as we look at other leaders in our country and world today, but it is essential to be a healthy and effective leader.

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04 Jun

Five key tools for leaders: Self-Knowledge

Posted in Uncategorized on 04.06.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders have high levels of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is hard and takes constant effort. Perfect self-knowledge is impossible not only because we are ever chaining and growing, but because no one can fully understand another human being or themselves. That said, the pursuit of self-knowledge is essential to be a good leader.  The pursuit and the process may be as important and as meaningful as gaining in self-knowledege. A leader who has strong self-knowledge is wiser, more savvy, more empathetic, authentic and trustworthy amongst other things.

Leaders recognize that they must first be able to lead themselves. We also all tend to lead out of our own instinct, personality and experiences which can be good or it can be very unhealthy. Self-knowledge helps us to see when we are doing this, filter these responses and gives us the ability to think through whether or not our instinctual response is actually the healthy response. Additionally it allows us to learn more about others and ourselves and causes us to be strong, more effective leaders. Every leader has blind spots, weaknesses, personality flaws, temptations and challenges. The more we know about ourselves, the more we can recognize these things. The more we recognize these issues, the more effective we become at leveraging them for good, removing them when they are unhealthy or managing them when they appear to be insignificant.

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14 Mar

Five key tools for leaders: Teachability

Posted in Uncategorized on 14.03.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders are teachable. They never stop learning, are always willing to grow and learn and they are open to feedback. To be teachable simple means that you are willing to listen, learn and grow. As leaders, we must continually learn. Teachability is required in order to lead well. It must be modeled as leaders create future leaders. I have always said, give me someone who is teachable and anything is possible.

Leaders recognize that learning happens in live time. Experiences, successes and failures can be great teachers. Fans and foes are great teachers. Supervisors and those you supervise can be great teachers. No leader is above learning or being teachable from any individual, experience or source. In order to be an effective, missional leader you must be able to move forward as a leader as you lead your organization forward. This is impossible without teachability.

With a teachable spirit, anything is possible.

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13 Feb

Five key tools for leaders: Trust

Posted in Uncategorized on 13.02.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders need to trust God. They need to trust others and they need to earn, build and honor the trust of those they lead. Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. Work relationships, friendships, marriages, family, church and all other relationships function on trust. Trust is not optional, it is essential, especially for leaders. Developing trust takes intentional, hard, authentic work. It takes time, patience and genuine care, communication and transparency. Trust is deeply personal, yet distrust should not always be taken personally. Trust can only be formed in relationship and is impossible without integrity.

Leaders must also to learn how to trust those they lead with and serve. Trust is much deeper than words or lip service, it requires intentional effort and action. We cannot lead well and equip others to lead without trusting them. Trust is most certainly a two way street.

Perhaps most importantly, leaders must trust God. Trusting God is our one great act as Christ followers. God does the rest; God saves, redeems, justifies, sanctifies, transforms, leads etc. In fact, we cannot trust God on our own effort, it requires the initiation and work of the Holy Spirit.

Trust is essential to all leaders, without it one cannot lead well, if at all.

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12 Jan

Five Key Tools for Leaders

Posted in Uncategorized on 12.01.16 by Merlyn

Leadership is tricky. Good leadership can be illusive and there are no set factors that will help someone be a great leader in all circumstances and contexts. As I think about the great leaders I have seen, worked with, read, listened to and learned from as well a handful of moments of good leadership on my part, I have noticed 5 key things all leaders have (and need). After sharing them in this post, I will write about each specifically in future posts.

The five things that I believe all leaders need are:

-Trust

-Teachability

-Self-knowledge

-Authenticity

-A Focus on Christ & Kingdom

Great leaders need to trust God. They need to trust others and they need to earn, build and honor the trust of those they lead. Great leaders also need to be teachable; willing to learn, but even more so having a deep desire to learn. If a leader is teachable, anything is possible. If they are not, there will be limits to their ability to lead effectively.

Great leaders must also posses high levels of self-knowledge. This seems to be the most rare and difficult of these 5 things for leaders to consistently maintain and grow in. While no leader can see all of their blind spots, self-knowledge can be a leaders greatest asset and tool. Authenticity is something that many Christian leaders fail to embrace as an important quality for leaders, yet I have yet to meet a single very effective leader or pastor who was not authentic.

Finally, great Christian leaders must be focused on Christ and the Kingdom. This is not just for Pastors and leaders of churches and Christian organizations. Leaders in a secular setting can be focused on Christ and the Kingdom while honoring their organizations and being even better leaders because of it.

More to come…

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13 Jun

Church Board Meetings

Posted in Uncategorized on 13.06.15 by Merlyn

Nothing can bring joy or fear to church staff than a church board meeting. I have yet to meet many pastors, staff or church leaders who always look forward to these meetings, yet they are important and can be meaningful.  I have been in some that have last 45 minutes and one that was over 6 hours! Leading a healthy meeting is not easy, and while meetings may be necessary, we must be good stewards of our time in meetings. I have served churches where meetings were fun, others where there was a lot of crying after (not the good kind) and yet others that required a stiff drink afterwards just to get to sleep!

One of the greatest challenge in any church leadership meeting is making good use of your time. Don’t vote on anything you do not have to vote on. Spend very little time on reports (ask the members to read them ahead of time so its only a matter of questions and maybe 1-3 highlights of items from the report or something not on the report). Limit the business of the meeting to those things you must do, simply giving out information.

The more time you spend in these meetings on the bigger picture items, the more healthy the meetings, your church leadership, staff and church will be. If half or more of the meeting is spent in prayer, the scripture, devotionals, and big picture discussion and decision making, the better. While every church board has tasks they must complete, move through those quickly and focus on the big picture. Expect your staff, ministry teams and volunteers to handle the day-to-day work and decisions of the church. The more your board meetings are focused on moving forward, the more energy they, your staff, you board and your church will have to do just that-move forward! Board meetings do not have to be bad, long, a drag, suck the life out of you or make you drink. They can be meaningful and life giving with some thoughtful, intentional effort.

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