Archives For leadership

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It’s 9:00 pm Saturday night and Bill is frantically searching his email for the lesson that was emailed to him earlier in the week. When he finally finds it and prints it off, it’s 10:00 pm. He glances at it (not really to read it but just to make sure it all printed), and then shoves it in his Bible so he’ll have it when he leads his small group on Sunday morning.

Is this how your volunteers prepare to lead a small group? In the busyness of your life and theirs, how can you help them prepare to lead their small group well?

To help our small group leaders, I included a page in our training manual called “How to Prepare for Sunday Morning in 15 Minutes or Less.” The idea was to give them a practical way to be well prepared for Sunday by spending a little bit of time with the lesson each day. Here is what we included:

I adapted this schedule from an example found in Wholly Kids from Lifeway:Kids. This is an amazing resource on how kids learn, how to design engaging environments, and how to lead volunteers.

 HOW TO PREPARE FOR SUNDAY MORNING (in 15 minutes or less!)

Monday

  • Read the Fifty6 Team Email and print a copy of this week’s lesson
  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible

Time: 5 minutes

Tuesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Large Group teaching time

Time: 10-15 minutes

Wednesday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Read the Small Group portion of the lesson—Think, Discuss, & React

Time: 15 minutes

Thursday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down your responses/answers to the Small Group discussion questions

Time: 15 minutes

Friday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Pray for the students in your group by name

Time: 10 minutes

Saturday

  • Read the Scripture passage for this week’s lesson from your Bible
  • Write down some fun or engaging questions to use during Huddle Time
  • Review the lesson and rest!

Time: 10 minutes

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On a day that honors him, I wanted to comment on this letter from Martin Luther King, Jr. I decided that my comments would only cheapen it. So, here is an excerpt from the Letter from Birmingham Jail and a link to the full document. It is a great example of leadership and grace in the face of opposition.

April 16, 1963

MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:

While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns: and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom far beyond my own hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

books that helped in ministry

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

Strategy. I was handed this book when I was just a part-time intern during college, but I have kept at least two copies in my office ever since. I’m always passing 7 Practices of Effective Ministry on to other ministry leaders! This book is all about strategy—why we do what we do. It has helped me to be intentional in ministry and keep focused on the end goal.

Holy Discontent

Passion. I don’t remember where I picked up this book, but I’ll never forget reading it. Holy Discontent gives some great examples of how God ignites a passion in our hearts that will not go away. It is that issue or cause that keeps you awake at night and calls you into the fight. Hybels labels it our “holy discontent.” The insights of this book have helped me discern God’s call on my life and challenged me to pursue that passion with everything.

Next Generation Leader/Making Vision Stick

Leadership. These two books are made to be read together. Next Generation Leader gives a great blueprint for strong leadership. The tips given in this book are designed to develop a long-lasting leader. Reading this book on leadership with Making Vision Stick really has helped me to survive in ministry and navigate through tough changes.

Let the Nations Be Glad

Perspective. I love John Piper and his zeal for Christ. Let the Nations Be Glad provides a great perspective for any Christian, but especially those in vocational ministry. The book can be summed up from Piper’s quote of the Westminster Confession of Faith: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Even when ministry gets hard and distracting, it is great to know and understand that God created me to glorify and enjoy Him!

This image is a “To Do List” from one of my all-time favorite musicians (and an Arkansan) Johnny Cash. The list was sold at auction in 2010 for $6,400. I really wanted this list, but not just because I’m a huge Cash fan. I wanted the list because it gave a simple, yet life-changing example of priorities.

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Item #2 and #9 really stood out to me.

2. Kiss June

9. Go see Mama

These lines show that Johnny Cash valued relationships. He valued them so much that he was willing to carve time out of his schedule for them. He made sure that his to-do list included investments in those relationships.

My “To Do List” had a lot of tasks, but not too many relationships.

It’s easy to say that I invested in relationships even though they’re not on my list, but that’s not the truth. As I looked at past lists, I can remember weeks that were so busy that I actually damaged relationships rather than building them up. Something had to change.

After seeing the list from the Man in Black, I started intentionally placing relationships on my to-do list. I now have a Task column and a Relationship column.

I try to make sure that the Relationship column is equal or greater than my tasks each week. It may be a phone call to say thank you or a lunch meeting with a volunteer to share how God is moving, but I want to put forth some type of effort to invest in relationships.

I’ve entered into one of the busiest “task” times of my life. I have to admit that the tasks are wearing on me. But for every new item in the Task column, there is also a new Relationship that I get to invest in. For a relational guy like me, this has sustained me and energized me more than ever.

How can you use your “To Do List” to value relationships?