The Blogference Day 1 Posts!

Welcome to The Blogference Day 1!

Here is the list of today’s posts:

Moms: The Unsung Heroes–By Stephanie Raquel, in Leadership

Would You Mind Me Telling You What I do With My Computer?–By Miheret Tilahun, in Social Media

What Form Will Your Leadership Take?–By Gary Run, in Leadership

The Future is Spanglish–By Destino Eric, in Evangelism

Click on the title of each post to read it. To leave a comment, you will need to be logged into Facebook. When you post the comment you can choose whether or not to share your comment on your Facebook profile.

Moms: The Unsung Heroes

“One if by land.  Two if by sea…”

Words made famous by Paul Revere’s Midnight ride.  On the eve of the American Revolution in 1775, two lanterns hung in Boston’s Christ Church.  After getting word from Revere, the twin lights alerted the colonial militia what the occupying British soldiers were planning.   Recently on a family vacation to New England, I encountered some unsung heroes of Revere’s ride – two anonymous friends who played a critical role in changing the world.

Truth is, I knew Revere wasn’t the only rider that April evening.   There were others.

But … I knew nothing of his row boat friends.  The “unsung heroes” whose actions spurred greatness.  Sitting in Minuteman National Park, I couldn’t help but think  how often we as moms feel like unsung heroes, as well. 

Before his horse’s first gallop, Paul Revere had two friends who quietly, stealthfully, rowed him across the Charles River.  At night.   Around a ginormous English war ship, with only the moon to guide them.   After reaching the other side, Revere hopped on a borrowed horse and rode through the countryside alerting Minutemen that the Redcoats were coming!  The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was fired the next day.

What fascinates me is just how vital these “row boat friends” were.  For all his talents as a silversmith, nobody speaks of Revere’s sailing skills!  Whether they knew it or not, those friends were critical to the mission.  And yet how often do we as moms think the “little things” we do go unnoticed by the rest of the world?

As a full-time mom of three kids born in less than five years, I know that feeling well. But like the row boat friends … how do we know if we might just be contributing to a world-changing event??  Granted, most days my personal row boat takes the form of a mini-van and I’m chauffeuring “greatness” to soccer practice or AWANA.

And yet the last I checked, the Great Commission  (with its 1st person, imperative command) doesn’t have an exception clause.  It doesn’t say, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations … except if you’re a mom.”  Or, “… except if you’ve got three loads of laundry to do, groceries to buy, a turtle to find and four places to be in the next half-hour.”

The reality is, God’s word gives us a clear directive as believers, including mothers – young and old.  Parenting By THE BOOK author John Rosemund explains that effective parenting is truly effective leadership.  Women’s ministry author Sharon Jaynes notes that “What a person does with her family is what she will do with her church.  Family is a testing ground for effective leadership.”

Of course in different seasons of life, who and where we lead may change.  But Who we follow does not.  If you’ve got a three-week-old nursing newborn, God won’t ask you to spearhead any ministry other than your child.  Nonetheless, we are each commanded to disciple those around us.  We are influencing, and therefore leading, the next generation!  We lead by example in our families – as well as other spheres of influence like neighborhoods, schools and churches.

So how do we keep leading after becoming moms?  Here are a few ideas – I would love to hear yours!

  • Keep in touch.  (Proverbs 27:10 & Eccl. 4:12)  Jesus had his faves, and so should we.  Stay in regular contact with a select few women who can encourage you, pray with you, and call you on your junk.   For some of us, dear friends live very near.  But for many of us, our most trusted confidantes aren’t just down the street.  Thank God for Skype, iChat, Facetime and unlimited long-distance calling plans!  If these kinds of friendships are lacking in your life, earnestly seek the Lord to provide them and ask your husband to pray as well.

  • Stay connected to the vine.   (John 15:6-7)   Spend regular time in God’s word, and plug into your local church.  For decades, couples went back to church after they began a family.  For Millennial moms, that is less and less the case.  True, it’s never easy to get children out-the-door … but we’ve got to maintain a counter-cultural mindset (Romans 12:2) and remember isolation is a tool of the enemy.   If we are to pour into the lives of our husbands, children, neighbors, colleagues and extended families, we simply cannot pour from an empty vessel.  As a bible-believing, evangelism trained discipler, you are more than equipped to serve as an integral part of your local body.  My friend Karen True of womensministry.net notes that the majority of pastor’s wives don’t have a close friend.  Knowing this, how can you reach out to key leaders and staff wives in your church?

 

  •  Read, Read, Read!  John Maxwell frequently says “Leaders are readers” and that what helps us grow is our life experience and the books we read.  I am nicknamed the “book lady” at church because I am constantly recommending great books.  My routine is just a few minutes at the end of the day.  Yet do you realize 10 minutes a day equals 60 hours a year?  That’s a book a month!

 

  • Keep an eternal perspective.   (James 1:2-4)  When I was on a Cru Summer Project in Hampton Beach, N.H. many years ago, staff member Greg Ganssle really challenged us to live above mediocrity as believers.   He taught us to think of ages 0 to 40 as Preparation for our life’s work.  40 to 60 as Contribution.  And ages 60+ as Coaching – the contributors.   During rough seasons of life, especially if you’re under 40, remember you are still in training for your life’s work!

 

What about you?  What barriers keep you from staying active in ministry, while maintaining balance in your family, and how have you overcome them?  How do you find ways to lead as a mom?

 

~ ~ ~

Stephanie Raquel is passionate about leading women who lead women.  She has been connected to Cru for more than two decades, since her days at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She and her husband, Steve, have three spunky daughters and have served with Cru’s Metro Chicago development team as well as their local FamilyLife Leadership Team.  Stephanie currently serves as the director of women’s ministry at The Compass Church in Naperville, Ill.  You can find her at www.stephanieraquel.com or Tweeting @Stephraquel.

Would You Mind Me Telling You What I do With My Computer?

“Do you have a Facebook account?”

I am doing driving license practice. My teacher is a decent young man. On one of my practice day, the rain poured down highly and we were not able to continue our practice. So we took our car to parking….Just right there I heard a voice inside of me that I need to tell (the driving instructor) Mickias about JESUS. But I was not sure where to start. I was looking for some connection point to change the conversation into evangelism.

I just said to him, “Do you have a Facebook account?”, he said “Yes” and we continued to talking about it. Then I took out my Mac book pro laptop and I asked him, “Would you mind me telling you what I do with this Computer?” He became excited…Long history short… I said to him “I share God’s love via this Computer to many people. I am not sure if my wireless internet connection will be working but let me tell you about the 4 spiritual laws in Amharic.” Surprisingly, my wireless connection was activated just a few hours before this conversation … I was able to load www.4laws.com in Amharic. We went through all the pages and Mickias prayed to receive JESUS Christ right in the car. When we left the driving school we were the last one to leave.

The Holy Spirit controlled all things that I was able to go through all the 4laws. Praise God about this…AMEN I am so excited about it.

The message of Jesus Christ still change life, and we have to know how to approach this dynamic and online generation. The message is not changed but the means we share our faith to youth like Mickias shall be attractive enough for them to hear the Gospel.

Do you ask yourself what I am going to do with my computer or your smart phone in sharing the good news? I encourage you to be an Online Missionary in EveryStudent.com or Global Media Outreach. And use your computer well for kingdom work. Or install God Tools Apps on your smart phone or iPad and use it to share your faith to others anytime.

How you can get the God Tools app
  • If you have an iPhone or iPad, go to the Apple App store and search forGod Tools. Look for the icon.
  • If you have an Android-based phone, go to the Android Market and search for God Tools. Look for the icon.
Miheret serves on staff with Cru overseas. Click here to follow him on Twitter. Click here to read his blog.

What Form Will Your Leadership Take?

Rivalry and Conceit.

I have been thinking lately about the things that trip leaders up-those attitudes or approaches that cause leaders to stumble or to lead poorly. There are a couple of attributes in Scripture that have caught my attention. They are found in Philippians 2:3. These two attributes are rivalry and conceit. They are juxtaposed with humility. Philippians 2:3 states, “Do nothing from rivalry and conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Make no mistake-this is not a leadership verse. Paul is not writing exclusively to leaders in this part of his letter. Yet, Paul does clearly address this letter to “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”

Paul not only includes those who are spiritual leaders within this body of believers, but even singles them out as special addressees. I think the reason he does so is that he knows that whatever can possibly entangle a congregant can more readily entangle a leader. Leaders have influence, and therefore have leverage. That leverage can either be for good or for bad. A leader’s blessings are always multiplied-and so are their sins. And leaders are always susceptible to the clamoring of the crowd.

Think about rivalry and conceit for a moment. Rivalry is about winning. Think of the best college football rivalries and you readily think about bragging rights for the year. When you have the attitude of rivalry you are bent on winning-often at any cost. The unstated attitude is, “I am going to beat you!” This is often born out of a feeling of resentment based on jealousy. In some translations this term is labeled “selfish ambition.” Conceit is subtly different. Rivalry says, “I will show you that I am better than you.” Conceit is the notion that you already are better than someone else. It has the connotation of cheap pride-largely because it is all in your mind.

I think where this shows up in leadership is when we compare ourselves to other leaders or other organizations. Comparison is always a dangerous activity. It can end up sounding like this: “I/we are better than you and I/we are going to show you that we are better than you.” As you can surmise, rivalry and conceit are cousins of the sin of pride. It is so easy to slip into these sins as leaders. We want to be fruitful and we want to be effective-one of the easiest ways to feel good about ourselves is by feeling better than they guy next door. It is in our flesh to feel superior as a leader. But this can come at a high cost. God tells us in 1 Peter that He opposes the proud. No spiritual leader ultimately wants to be in opposition to Almighty God.

What does Paul offer up as a solution to this leadership disease?

In the second half of the verse Paul tells us “in humility count others as more significant than ourselves.” “In humility” is a loaded phrase. Humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves. It actually is not thinking of ourselves at all. Paul gives us a beautiful application of the definition. We are to choose to count others as “more significant.” That automatically rules out rivalry and conceit. To indulge in rivalry and conceit is to think of ourselves as more significant than other leaders or other organizations. Those twin attributes are antithetical to humility. To desire superiority is to not live “in humility.” But Paul goes on to offer up a better and greater “form” of humility. In the ESV we find this word “form” three times in the passage-in v. 6, 7 and 8. The word “form” originally meant the very nature or character of something and the idea was both an internal and external transformation.

Notice what Paul says as he refers to Jesus as our example. In v.6-8 Paul states,

“(Jesus) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Don’t miss the progression. Jesus already existed in the form of God, but took on the form of a servant, and in doing so took on human form-which took him all the way to the cross. Jesus, who is God, truly became a servant, a human being, and a sacrifice. That is the idea of “form”-to morph or change from one shape or posture to another. It is not playing to the crowd. It is staying fundamentally true to the character of Christ while being willing to count others as more significant. There is a similar progression outlined for us in Matthew 20:20-28. Jesus was addressing the twelve in regards to James’ and John’s request for the right and left hands of power in the coming kingdom. Jesus lays out a form or path of leadership-that of a servant, slave and ransom. For Jesus this is a descent into greatness. Philippians 2:9 tells us that the consequence of this “forming” for Jesus was ultimately exaltation. And Paul tells us that we are to have the same mind of humility formation in ourselves.

I would suggest that this applies even more readily to spiritual leadership. The world sees a leadership form that resembles an upward ladder leading towards visible status and outward personal success.

God sees a leadership form that includes successive cellar steps towards character and servanthood that bring glory and honor to Him and empowers others.

Will your leadership reflect rivalry and conceit? Or will it create various and creative ways for others to succeed? What form you take makes all the difference.

I’d love to hear your thoughts related to the following questions:

Where are rivalry and conceit showing up in your life and ministry? How does it manifest itself?

What “form” is your leadership taking?

As a leader, how can the gospel and the exalted Jesus aid you in your journey towards counting others as more significant than yourself?

Gary Runn has served on staff with Cru for over thirty years, and holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Click here to follow Gary on Twitter. Click here to read his blog.

The Future is Spanglish

Tremendous cultural shifts are taking place in America. Areas with historical demographic identities are changing before our very eyes:

As churches and ministries we can no longer afford to ignore the changes happening, no matter the region of the country in which we live. The question now is not whether we will reach Latinos, but how?

latino college studentOver the past three and a half years my wife and I, along with our team, have been working with the Destino Movement at a large state school in Texas. We’ve seen God do fantastic things on campus and in the families of our students. Along the way we’ve grown, made mistakes, and learned valuable lessons in reaching Latinos.

What is Working

Evangelism. As I have shared elsewhere in the Destino Statistic Challenge we’ve seen response to the gospel among Latinos be off the charts. Across the Cru U.S. campus ministry Hispanic students are almost 4 times more likely to make a decision for Christ than a majority culture student when presented with the opportunity. Seeing that the field is ripe for the harvest gives us a responsibility to make sure evangelism is at the center of our movement.

While we are always working to contextualize our ministry even more, our approach to evangelism has been simple. We train our students to use the Knowing God Personally booklet. We encourage them to “share early and share often”. They do a great job of sharing with new freshmen as well as their friends. Due to the familia aspect of Latino culture, many of our students have seen family members become believers in Jesus.

What is Not Working

Tale of Two Doors. Because we focus so much on evangelism the “front door” to our movement is wide open. People are constantly joining in. The problem we face is that our “back door” is open just as wide, if not wider. It has been very difficult for us to keep students all the way to graduation. Some stop walking with the Lord, some fail out of school, and others have to take out one or two jobs to pay their parents’ rent. As a result we are making our discipleship much more holistic than focusing only on their spiritual lives because if we don’t we realize we’ll never be able to maintain a movement.

White Ministry with a Brown Face. When we started working with Destino we knew we would need to contextualize the ministry. For the most part, though, we just copied ministry philosophy and strategy directly from Anglo college ministries we had been a part of in the past. Our context has required that as we’ve grown and made mistakes we’ve had to make a shift away from that.

30% of Latino students in Texas come from socioeconomic backgrounds that are below the poverty line. As a result we focus much more on lowering the costs of our venues (like a $20 fall retreat). Theologically our students are usually either Catholic or Pentecostal, with few in between. We’ve had to learn to teach students how to be a movement with diverse theological beliefs and not just promote a narrow subset of Evangelical Christianity. How we believe has become as important as what we believe.

What Are You Waiting For?

Latinos are some of the most warm, friendly people you will ever meet. They’ve forgiven me over and over for cultural mistakes I’ve committed as I step towards them with a loving posture. I’d love to ask you to consider what might God be calling you to do in light of how He is working among Latinos.

Eric serves on staff with Cru. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

The Blogference Starts Monday! Change the World From Your Coffee Shop!

The posts from this year’s The Blogference authors have begun to arrive, and I could not be more excited! If you have participated in any of the previous online conferences–THANK YOU!

sightglass coffee

If you have not then please consider reading, commenting, and sharing at least once this year! The Blogference brings together ministry leaders from around the world to discuss relevant ministry issues. By leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts you create a diverse and energizing experience for leaders seeking to have an influence for Christ around the world!

The Topics This Year:

  • Virtual Evangelism–A Personal Story
  • Virtual Ministry–A Challenge
  • Evangelism and Latinos
  • Leading as  a Mom
  • How Social Media is Influencing Culture and Changing the Church
  • Thriving at College
  • Missional Campus Ministry
  • Spiritual Leadership
  • Leading Strategically
  • 50 Year Olds and 20 Year Olds–One of Campus Crusade’s Biggest Internal Challenges

To Participate the Blogference:

  • Find a post that interests you
  • Leave a comment, Tweet the post out to your friends, “Like” the post, or add either the author or commenters as a friend
  • Wash, rinse, and repeat at your leisure!

Follow The Blogference on Twitter to stay connected during The Blogference 

 

Ministry Resources Must Be Shared Globally!

share resourcesI do not believe you should wait 15 years to gather enough ministry resources to feel equipped and empowered to do your job well. The Blogference seeks to share resources from around the world.

Many of the authors have published resources (books, ebooks, articles) that can be of tremendous value to you. In previous years there have been resource drives where the attendees send in resources to be shared with the entire conference.

My hope is that by interacting with the posts, leaving comments, and connecting with other ministry leaders online, collaboration will increase across many boundaries and become more a part of the ministry culture.

Ministry is Impossible Without Effectively Using Social Media

iphone 4 usageFive years ago when The Blogference started many doubted whether social media was going to be a part of daily communication. There is no doubt today with over 750 million people on Facebook and the explosion of smartphones and tablets that allow instant connection to social media anywhere.

The Blogference posts on social media will inspire you to try new tools and new methods for communicating with your audience and those inside your ministry.

Leadership: Faith-Filled, Future-Oriented, Strategic, Intentional

arrowThe biggest shift I experienced in leading a ministry happened when I stopped reacting to the present, putting out fires, and scrambling from one thing to another and started strategically planning the future and trusting God to work significantly.

The posts for The Blogference on leadership seek to cultivate this philosophy and encourage you to take people where they are not yet ready to go!