6 Common Myths about Small Groups for Youth and Children

Myth 1 – Children/youth can’t lead their own small groups

The truth is, children and youth can absolutely lead a group of their peers. Often peer lead groups build trust and meaningful discussion faster because the leader clearly understands the world of their peers. Yes, these younger leaders need adult support and encouragement. We had our middle schoolers leading small groups of their peers at youth group and they took a high level of ownership of these groups – praying for them, bringing in a treat for their group, connecting outside of youth group and investing in growing as a leader for their group. We had short training sessions for these young leaders on topics like how to deal with difficult people in your small group, how to encourage everyone to share, how to get your group praying, and how to care for each other in your group. Kids and youth lead small groups all the time at school, in clubs and on sports teams. We’ve got to give them opportunities to lead groups in the church too!

Myth 2 – The small group leader needs all the answers

The truth is, the role of the small group leader is much more as a coach or facilitator, than that of a teacher. The main teaching part can take place in large group time. The small group time is about helping people apply the Bible to their real, everyday lives (more on this later.) Therefore the small group leader doesn’t need all the answer, what the need to be able to do is listen and ask good open ended questions (or be given good questions to ask.) The 80/20 rule applies. The group participants should be doing 80% of the talking and the leader should be doing 20% or less of the talking.

Myth 3 – Small groups should focus on the Bible Story/Scripture

The truth is the Bible Story/Scripture gets presented most often during the large group time (opening/devo/sermon…). Small groups invite people to take the more abstract story and think it through with others who can help them apply it to their real life today. Small groups are about application, in the context of relationships. Kids/Youth grow with a leader they know. Small groups are a place where the leader and participants can take a genuine interest in each other lives. Small groups are the place to ask every time, “Where did you see God at work, this week, in your neighbourhoods (the places where you live, work, study and play)?” This allows kids and youth to get use to recognizing God’s work around them and through them. It helps them see God’s truth is meant to be applied and lived out. Small Groups push us towards application.

Myth 4 – The large group teaching time is more important than the small group time for kids

The truth is both are important, however kids/youth five years from now, or even next week, are more likely to remember the relationships built, support received, and applications discussed during their small group then they’ll remember the fantastic point you made in the teaching time. Small group time shows we value community and that life is not done in isolation.

Myth 5 – Kids/youth lives are easy, so small group time will be simple

The truth is if your small group time is simple, you’re missing getting to really know your kids/youth and the messiness of their lives. Kids and youth lives are complicated. There is no such thing as a trivial problem. If the kid/youth perceives it as a problem, it’s worth talking about together. Small groups for kids/youth are just as messy as adult small groups and can be a place where God teaches us how to show grace, love and support for others. Give time for kids/youth to get to know each other in the small group – share names, likes/dislikes, highs and lows in their life, celebrate joys, lament disappointments, share challenges… They will open up about their lives and struggles. Teach kids/youth to support, encourage and pray for each other in their small groups. These things are much more difficult to do, especially on a relational level, in a large group. Small group environments create space to sort through the messiness of our lives.

Myth 6 – Small Groups can’t change neighbourhoods

The truth is small groups of kids/youth are changing neighbourhoods in Atlantic Canada! They are finding ways to be good news in their schools, joining in welcoming new refugees to Canada, supporting kids affected by HIV/Aids to go to Kamp Tumaini, starting anti-bullying campaigns, partnering with the poor in fight poverty, starting Alpha groups in their schools, building relationships with lonely seniors, welcoming new people that move into the neighbourhood around their church, welcoming stranger to their group and much more. If kids, youth, children’s ministry and youth ministries are going to join God’s mission in our neighbourhoods in Atlantic Canada they’ve got to have groups where they can wrestle with what that means and how to live out the ways of Jesus every day. Furthermore, small groups can be powerful forces when they join their efforts to show and tell the Gospel in the neighbourhoods where they live, work, study and play. God is on mission and we join Him on that mission every day.

-Renée
@r_embree

11 Characteristics We Need in Leaders Today

The church of today looks different than ten years ago – or it should, if it doesn’t you’ll have a really hard time being effective in today’s culture.
The church ten years from now will look different than today.
It’s the message of the church, the movement of God that is sacred, it is not the methods or institutions that are sacred.
We desperately need leaders, with deep character and faithful competence, to help the church go from where it is today to where it needs to be for tomorrow.
In days gone by church leaders could be trained to give a decent sermon, hold a funeral, visit the faithful and they were good to go. As a professor of mine would say, church leaders need to be ready to “pray, preach or die on a moments notice.”

Things look different today.
Those days are long gone.
So much more is needed and required from our leaders today and into the future.
We need leaders who can bridge cultural divides, bring change to congregations, equip people to BE the church and remind the church of its role to join God on His mission in the world every day.

My colleagues, Garth Williams, Kevin Vincent and I, have been discussing the kind of leaders the church needs today. Here’s our list. Let us know what you think.

The leaders the church needs today and into the future are:

1. Highly relational – value people and are great listeners. They know trust is a key commodity and is only built through solid relationships. They build teams that accomplish a lot, but also know, trust and understand each other. They know when to be vulnerable and can be trusted with others vulnerabilities. These leaders can listen to even criticisms and hear the hurt and confusion that is coming out as judgement or anger.

2. Collaborative – invite others into help shape and accomplish the vision. These leaders are influencers rather than dictators. They have a posture of invitation into God’s way and into their leadership. They display an openness to discussion, while also knowing when to push the team from discussion to action. They are willing to give away power and control.

3. Less linear, more fluid – comfortable living in less defined constructs and living in the grey. They are comfortable ending a discussion with a comma and not a period. They are comfortable with uncertainty and leading into the unknown. They are versatile, agile on the method but married to the mission. They recognize the church cannot stay where it is and continue to reach new people and a new generation.

4. Great questioners – They are able to ask questions that are not judgmental but force assumptions to the top. They ask question that invite people into deeper and more thoughtful discussion. Questions also help these leaders be on-going learners. Leaders need to show this willingness to learn from outsiders, insiders and anyone. (More on great leadership questions here: 7 Questions to ask to be a better leader)

5. Visionaries – Leaders with extreme clarity of God’s mission for them. They know their “white hot why” and are able to communicate the cause clearly to others.

6. Strategist – Leaders that not only dream and vision but know how to lead a team and church to become passionate implementers.

7. Experimenters – Leaders that are passionate about experimentation. They have an entrepreneurial attitude and are not afraid to take risks. There is no failure, there are only lessons along the way.

8. Character – Leaders with depth of character and love. Leaders that have the character to withstand challenges with grace and perseverance. They have clear integrity, inside and out. Leaders that love and serve so fanatically that their deep convictions are respected by even those outside the faith. Other could say “I don’t agree with them in that but WOW they live out their faith in Jesus!”

9. Missionaries – know they are called by God to love and serve missionally where they study, live, work and play. They are desperate to understand their context, the questions people are asking today and the needs around them, so that they can equip the church to be missionaries in their context. They are both modelling being on mission everyday with Jesus in their own lives and are calling and equipping others to live on mission with Jesus everyday.

10. Kingdom minded – they are concerned about the Jesus movement going forward. They are not protecting a particular church, a building, a denomination, nor are they seeking to build their own church or kingdom. They are others’ focused.

11. Gritty – they are not afraid of hard work and pain. They are resilient and persevere through challenges. Their strength comes from being close to Jesus and listening to Jesus. They are not afraid of talk about the tough topics or have difficult conversations. They are willing to do whatever it takes for the sake of Jesus’ mission advancing.

We are so encouraged that we see leaders developing in these areas.
We are so encouraged that we see emerging leaders with these skills and passions.
God is absolutely building His Church.

Let us know – what do you think of our list? Leave your comments below.

You might also be interested in reading this blog asking the question “Who will create the new hoverboards and flying cars for the church?” 

Lead on!
-Renée @r_embree

Who will create the new hoverboards and flying cars for the church?

As I’m writing this it is October 21st, 2015, back to the future day. If the 1989 movie Back to the Future II were based on true events, Doc Brown would have landed his time machine amongst hoverboards and flying cars today. I remember the movie well. I always wanted a hoverboard. I haven’t got to try one yet. Lots of predictions can be made about the future, but the only thing we know for sure is it will be different.
When we think about the future of the Church, it will be different.
See, the now is inadequate for the future.
Because the now is tailored to the now (or to 50 years ago in some churches. I wish I was joking.)
Each generation has to figure out how to best live out the Gospel and show and tell the Gospel, in their context, in their culture, in their generation.
The Gospel doesn’t change, the core of doctrine doesn’t change, but the church’s methods, language, approaches, needed services…changes with what works and the neighbourhoods where God has placed you.

back-to-the-future-day

The question is, who is going to lead us into the future?
Who creates the new hoverboards and flying cars for the church?
Who is going to make sure we don’t get stuck in 1989 or 2015?
The young.
To the young, we need you! Lead us!
Our imaginations are getting thin, lead us with your best imaginations into the future.
Our creativity is getting old, lead us with new creativity.
It’s not just any young that will lead us to the hoverboards and flying cars or whatever is needed for the church of the future. It is the young that are willing to risk and do the sorts of things in the list below.

This past weekend I was privileged to be at the Inspire Justice Conference in Halifax, NS (#IJC15). I’ve been chewing on one phrase ever since. “It is the task of youth think beyond your elders and leaders.”-Rick Tobias. When Rick Tobias speaks I listen. He has a heart after God and continues to live his life in partnership with the poor and marginalized in our society. He continues to give his best towards helping break the cycle of multi-generational poverty.

Here’s a piece of what Rick said, that I’m probably misquoting slightly.
“To the young, think past your elders and leaders. It is the task of youth to think past and see beyond your leaders.”
“Youth, move us to justice and inclusion. Dream, innovate and create the new.”
“Youth are saying ‘enough already telling us to care for the poor, tell us how to change stuff.’”
He continued to call the young to “rise up, don’t wait for permission, just do it. Live out your purpose.”

As I chew on this, here’s what keeps coming back to my mind.
WE NEED THIS.
We need you, young, to push us.
We need you, young, to not let us stay where we are.
We need you, young, to do the new.
We need you, young, to lead us into the future.

Church now will not be Church 25 years from now. It shouldn’t be. Now is inadequate for the future.
Young, call us into being the Church we need to be. Young, call us into the Church of the future.

So to those who are young and young at heart. (Feel free to define “young” however you like.)
Please think beyond us. Dream new dreams for the Church, for the Kingdom of God.
Below is what it will take for the Church to actually become different. This is what it’ll take for the young to go beyond current day leaders.
Repeating and building on what Rick said, here is a list to the young who are willing to lead beyond the now.

To the young…
1. Take courage to experiment. As Rick said, there is no blueprint, invent the new, invent the way.
2. Question. We need your questions. Question us, your leaders, the Church, the way “things are always done”. Let your voice be heard. Often the best way to let your voice be heard is to ask really good questions.
3. Listen to the voice of the outsider, those who feel forgotten, left-out, outside of your “camp”. Especially listen to those who oppose you and learn from them.
4. Be fiercely committed to the Gospel, but be very agile in how you live out the Gospel in different neighbourhoods.
5. Be fiercely committed to justice, including and embracing those who have been treat unjustly. Correct whatever allows injustices to continue. To quote Rick again “Compassion responds to need. Justice asks why those needs exist in the first place.” Both are needed.
6. Stay close to Jesus. This path will not be easy.
7. Just do it. Do what needs to be done to follow Jesus and His heart for justice in our world. Do not wait for permission from the older folks. Do not wait for the older folks to figure out. You, just do it. Live out your purpose.

To the older (not old, just older)…
1. Let the young lead.
2. Let the young experiment.
3. Let the young ask questions, even the ones that make you feel uncomfortable.
4. Release the young from unnecessary systems, rules, and traditions that are holding them back from fresh expressions of justice, faith, and showing and telling the Gospel.
5. Serve alongside the young, be the hands and feet of Jesus together. Join their cause.
6. Mentor the young, not as guardians of traditions, but as ignitors of God’s Spirit work. Help them develop a deep, robust faith, rooted in their relationship with Jesus.
7. Be the biggest cheerleader of the young. Support them and their efforts to live out their faith.

Let me say it again, we need our youth to lead us beyond.
Lead us, we pray.

Young, lead us into the Church we need to be – the Church that shows the Gospel, the Church that tells the Good News, the Church that heals brokenness, the Church that corrects faulty systems that keep people down and trapped, the Church that brings peace, that Church that lives Jesus and points to Jesus.
The Church that is Jesus in the neighbourhoods where we live, study, work and play.

-Renée @r_embree

Why leaders should travel

I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to ministry trips. Most of it stems from being frugal and having a hard time justifying the money it takes to travel and wondering if that money could be better spent in other ways to serve God’s Kingdom. I love to travel, but am very hesitant to spend money to go and tend to keep my money in my pockets when I’m there. Yes, sorry friends, this is my way of telling you I didn’t bring back any souvenirs or chocolate.

I’ve just arrived back from a ministry trip where 10 Canadian students joined 15 European students for a course and then we spread out to visit some of the European students’ home ministries. It helped me gain a fresh perspective. So I thought I’d write this blog to remind myself and others the value in exposing ourselves and other leaders in our midst to different ministries, whether they are across our city, across our Nation or across our world.

Four reasons leaders should travel and visit other ministries…

1. Trips expose you to what is possible
When we see someone else doing something, it is easier to say “I could do that”. It forces you to wrestle through what is working in the context you are observing and how it could (or could not) apply in your context. The big thing I saw on this trip was how the European leaders did so much with so little. Often our response to new innovations is that it is going to take money and staff. Yet I saw European leaders who somehow found ways to start new youth ministries, start church plants, start a school etc… without any money or staff upfront. I also saw our Canadian students trying new ministry ideas on the trip that they may not have the courage to try yet back home in front of everyone they know and who knows them. For example they tried dance, new ways of leading communion, new ways of hearing from God, pushed their physical limits and were vulnerable in sharing more of their journey with God. Where are you trying to break through? Who could you visit to show you what is possible?

2. Trips remind you of the community we have all over the world
Even though we spoke different languages, came from varying background and different communities the commonalities in Christ and Christian leadership were staggering. The understanding we had for each other and support of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ was such an encouragement. Furthermore, travelling and living together with a group of others for two weeks teaches you a lot about community! We saw each other at our best and at our worst, it doesn’t matter if you are the “leader”. I had to confess my selfishness to the group more than once (e.g. when I wanted to get to the top of the mountain on our hike) as we figured out how to live, work, play and eat together as a group. You learn so much about yourself and others in this close community. Who can be your encouragers and partners in ministry? Who do you need to go on a trip with?

3. Trips reveal we have the same Gospel, but use different methods
The ministries that were flourishing the most in the places we visited were not the ones who had copied some cookie-cutter North American approach. The flourishing ministries were the ones with thoughtful, indigenous leaders who had found a way to be relevant in their neighbourhood, to the people right around them in their town or city. Sound leadership principals were the same across cultures, but methods were very different. The Gospel is the same, but how we show and tell that Gospel in ways that are relevant to our neighbourhoods are very different. Seeing how different leaders figured out how to best show and tell the Gospel in their context invited me to rethink how I best show and tell the Gospel in my context. What new method do you need to see in action? or do you need to try?

4. Trips can give you a fresh perspective
Taking a step away from your usual ministry and routine can help you get a balcony view of your own ministry. As you see new ministries and come back to your ministry it helps you to see it with fresh eyes. It is so easy to become focused just on our own ministry, church or camp. We have a big God, who is at work all over the places. May our eyes be open to see where God is at work all around us. I found that even Scripture can have a new freshness in new places. Whether I always realize it or not my Bible reading and interpretation is steeped in my culture. Reading passages about the freedom we have in Christ took on a whole new meaning as I read them standing in a city that used to be under occupation and heard the stories of Christians from a different era and culture. I carry that fresh perspective back with me to my life and context. Where can you go to gain a fresh perspective?

These are just a few thoughts on the value of travelling to visit different ministries, if we take the attitude of a learner as we go.
Your travel doesn’t need to be across an ocean or a national board, it can be across your city, to a different town, to a different province or just down the road.
Where can you go to learn? Where can you go to get a fresh perspective? Where can you take your team to build community and get a fresh perspective?

Why are ministry learning trips valuable to you?

May God open our eyes to what He is doing beyond our own ministry. And may God help you apply what He shows you, when you return to your circle.

If you are looking for such an opportunity for students check-out Tidal Impact happening this summer and Kamp Tumaini where we will be taking a team of students in 2017.

-Renée @r_embree

What the gym can teach you about recruiting volunteers  

One of the top questions I often hear is “how do we recruit more volunteers?” One of the top complaints I hear is, “we can’t get enough volunteers.”
I hear you. I’ve struggled with this one too.
In a sense, I’m glad if this is your problem, it means you are stretching to serve your community.
If we weren’t doing anything, we wouldn’t need volunteers.
Our mission is so big and so important, we are only going to accomplish it if as many of us as possible join together in the cause.  Breathe…it doesn’t matter how big or small your ministry is, calling people to join you in the ministry is a constant for all of us.

It is an awesome opportunity we have, to invite people to be a part of what God is doing in our world to right wrongs and invite people to walk with Jesus. Never forget how important and significant this mission is, as you invite people to join in.

Think about your local gym. They somehow get people to sign-up to come in and torture their bodies each day. Surely our recruiting is much easier than that! I know they’ve got guilt and public pressure on their side, but we’ve got the greatest mission in all of history on our side.

Here’s a few things gyms can teach us about recruiting volunteers.

  1. Communicate the WHY – people need to know why volunteering with you is so important and the difference it will make. Everyone has an abundance of pressures on their time and energy, and has to make wise choices about where to spend their time and energy. Show them and them tell why volunteering with you is a worthwhile investment. Think of how many ways gyms communicate to you why getting up at 6 am to torture your body is worth it – they show you pictures of enjoying time with kids, enjoying good food, enjoying good health or a rock-hard physic, they tell you before and after stories of clients – so you see the difference going to their gym cam make. We need to show and tell the difference it will make if people volunteer in our ministries. How will it further the mission? How will it impact lives and a neighbourhood? Tell stories of the significant difference that ministry and volunteers have made in your community. Help them see why it matters that they volunteer with you.
  1. Invest in their development – people stick with gyms that are interested in their individual development and goals. The most successful gyms are not one-size fits all, they have different weights, intensities and have beginner/intermediate/advanced options, knowing we are all starting different places in the journey. Gyms that show us they are interested in helping us getting from where we are, to where we want to be one year from now attract that majority of us. I’ve never lasted long at gyms without any accountability or anyone showing any interest in my progress. However if the gym or a buddy is interested in my goals and progress it keeps me coming back for more. The same is true for volunteers, are you interested in helping them develop in using their gifts and skills? Are you taking a personal interest in volunteers and how God wants to use and stretch them during each season? Are you helping people to start serving where they are and willing to grow with them?
  1. Allow for experimentation – Gyms are great at this, they offer things like the first 30 days free, free class trials, free lessons on each piece of equipment, free trial with a trainer…all with the hopes of getting you hooked on something. For our volunteers, let’s give them freedom to check-out a variety of ministries and opportunities before they commit to one schedule. Let’s give them freedom to serve in one ministry for a while, and then say when it’s time for them to apply their gifts in a new area. Let’s offer volunteers buddies to check-out a ministry for a few weeks and teach them the ropes.
  1. Sense of team – At my gym that regulars have developed a real sense of team and identity. If one of the regulars isn’t there, we’re all asking about them and miss them for that session. As we’ve gotten to know each other we cheer each other on through our workouts and towards our goals and we take an interest in each other’s lives. Kev, our “coach” see it like a family. The gym has grown by word-of-mouth as people share the difference it’s making in our lives. When you become a team, people carry the load together of adding people to the team. I think of the CrossFit movement in particular, CrossFit has become a “team” where those who participate immediately seem to identify with each other because of their shared exercise, goals and understanding of the work they’ve been through. The ministries that I’ve been a part of that were the strongest all had a very keen sense of team, that together the volunteers had a sense of identity that we were the _____ ministry team invested in this together and we needed each person on the team to help us accomplish our mission. Build a sense of identity and team with your volunteers.
  1. Flexible schedules and options – gyms, like everything else these days too it seems, increasingly let me be the one in control of what/when/how I engage with them. I pay one rate and I can go as much or as little as I want, to various class times and days that best fit my schedule. I’m not locked into only one time each day. I’m still accountable for reaching my goal (our goal), but I get to figure out how it best fits into my life and schedule. As we invite people to volunteer with us are their places where we can show more flexibility? Could volunteering be monthly, weekly, two people trading on and off, lead a whole month than off, rotating teams…? Is there some volunteer jobs people could do on our own schedules?

We are recruiting people to join not just our local mission, but God’s mission of lining all things up with His good Kingdom. So glad you are a part of the team and inviting others to join in.

I’d like to hear from you, what other suggestions and ideas do you have for recruiting volunteers? How do you create a great volunteer culture?

-Renée @r_embree

Why every leader needs a mentor

Mentors help us reach higher than we could on our own.

I can have a strong independent streak. I know this about myself. I have to keep checking myself to make sure I’m allowing others to speak into my life, intentionally inviting others to help and engaging my team. One day, during my undergrad days, I was trying to move a large piece of furniture by myself when my roommate Desneige came home. She said “Here, let me help you” and I kept saying “It’s ok, I can do it myself.” Desneige’s answer was brilliant “I know, but God gave us friends to make things easier.” That has stuck with me, I might think I’m able or even be able to do something on my own, but that doesn’t mean I should. God gave us each other to make the load easier, you and I do not have to carry it alone.

Bill Hybels says “Our hearts were not built to handle the hardships and heartaches of ministry alone”

I picture my mentors like that person, when I used to climb trees as a kid, that would create a step by putting their two hands together, and then give me a boost into the tree. They help me reach higher and go further than I could on my own.

A mentor is someone who helps you recognize what God is doing in your life. They help you clarify the things that are in your head and in your heart.

Mentoring needs to be intentional. You need to ask someone to be your mentor. They need to know they are playing this role in your life and what you need their mentoring to look like in this season. Where do you need help growing? Where do you need greater clarity in your life? What questions do you need them to ask you regularly? How often will you meet – where and when?

Leaders, I challenge you to be intentional about setting up a mentor for your life and leadership.

Who could be your mentor? Who asks you the deeper questions? Or could ask you the deeper questions, if you intentionally ask them to play this role in your life? Another way of asking this is, who would you take to the Garden of Gethsemane with you?

Here is why every leader needs a mentor (This list could also help you know what to look for in a mentor):

1. They want God’s best for you. They do not have an ulterior motive. 

A mentor is someone that truly wants what is God’s best for you and your life. They want to see you flourish for God’s Kingdom. That’s why your mentor should be someone outside your family or even outside your immediate leadership context (e.g. your church or camp) as it is difficult for those on the inside to not have other motives for you and when they are in the middle of the same leadership challenges/opportunities their own motives for the situation can come through. A mentor sees your identity and calling beyond any one role.

2. They help you navigate the road more smoothly

A mentor should be someone that is a little further along in the leadership journey than you, or further along in the area where you are seeking growth in your life. They are someone who has “been there, done that”, not that they have it all figured out, or that they faced the exact same challenges, but they are a little further along in the journey than you. Their wisdom and experience makes you sharper. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

3. Offer you a fresh perspective

They are someone you can be completely honest with and you trust them. You don’t have to worry what they will think of the things going through your head and your struggles as a leader, they know you are human. When you are stuck in the middle of your life and decisions, they can help you see the big picture. The key mentor in my life has so often helped me clarify what God is up to in my life by helping me have a fresh perspective on my situation. When we are in the middle of all the challenges and opportunities that come with leadership, it can be harder to see the balcony perspective. Often, with just one question, my mentor has helped me clarify what is really going on and God’s work in the midst of it all.  She asks really good questions like: Where is your loyalty?  Where is God in this? Is that your over sense of responsibility or from God? What is holding you back? What’s your deeper prayer?

4. Push you in the right direction

Pick a mentor the models the characteristics and values you admire, and they can help you move in that direction. If you are trying to grow in a certain discipline, like Sabbath keeping for example, find a mentor who does that well, learn from them and ask them to push you in that direction. Further, when we are considering a step out of the boat for the Lord, our mentor can be the one to cheer us on.

5. You are not the only one

It can be incredibly good in leadership to have someone else say “I’ve struggled with that too”. Someone that normalizes our experiences and helps us see we are not alone. Leaders need someone that can say, I lived through a season like that, you are not crazy, but you can get through it.

So – if you have a mentor, how can you lean into that relationship more?

If you don’t have a mentor, get going! Send someone an email with one of the tough questions you are facing right now and invite their input. Invite someone out for coffee. Go for a walk. Pick up the phone and ask someone if they could be a mentor to you.

If you need a starting place, when I started with my mentor, we started by asking these questions of each other:

  1. One highlight from seeing God at work.
  2. The biggest challenge right now?
  3. The biggest question in my head right now?
  4. Where my heart is with God and what I sense God is saying in this season?
  5. Invitation to challenge me or speak into life.
  6. How am I REALLY doing?
  7. Prayer

Happy mentoring!

Renée @r_embree

Want to develop people as leaders? Throw them out of the boat.

Want to develop students (or anyone) as leaders? Throw them out of the boat.

I had the privilege of being in a church on the weekend where the service was led by children and youth. My heart was overflowing as I was led in worshipping Jesus by those much younger than me. They sang the songs with such gusto, they read Scripture with authority, and put their whole selves into acting and storytelling.

Jesus gave real authority to His followers. When the disciples tried to stop the children from coming to him (Mark 10:14-16), he got mad and in fact said they are an example about how to receive the Kingdom, we need to be more like the children, not less like them.
Children are leading the way to the Kingdom.

Our children, youth and young adults need to be given real authority.

Jesus gave real authority to His followers:
• He sent them out two by two, giving them authority over evil, authority to preach, authority to invite people into the Kingdom, authority to heal the sick, authority to call people to repentance, authority to call more workers for the Kingdom (e.g. Mark 6:6-13, Luke 10:1-9)
• Jesus told them, whoever listens to you, also listens to me, whoever reject you is really rejecting me (e.g. Luke 10:16)
• Jesus told them, what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and what you loose on earth with be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19)
• Jesus stated those who believe in Him will do even greater things than He did when He walked this earth (John 14:12)
• And Jesus gave His followers the authority to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19-20)

Now that’s real authority. Real trust.

And you and I are afraid to let someone make the coffee because they might not make it “right”?
We’re afraid to let someone be in charge of small groups because they might mess it up?
We’re afraid to let someone be in charge of service opportunities for families because they might do it differently than us?
We’re afraid to let someone try something new because they/we might look bad? It might fail?

Give people real authority.
This is how we learn best.

Know how my Dad got us kids swimming? He’d row the boat out to the middle of the river, and say “jump out”.
We often learn the most, when we are thrown in.

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus was a carpenter. I’m guessing he had a few sore thumbs and deep cuts. And I’m guessing only His Mom loved the first chair He made. And His Heavenly Father loved it too, because He was being faithful. He was learning by trial and error, growing in skill and wisdom. Some of you have experienced my errors as I’ve tried new things and learned, sometimes painfully slowly, by trial and error. Let others jump out of the boat and learn by trial and error too.

Watch what happens when you put a middle schooler in charge of a group of their peers in a small group! They learn pretty fast how to get their group talking and praying. They start asking you how to deal with the “squirrels” in the conversation and what to do with the deep questions.

Watch what happens when you say to the high schooler, “You’re in charge of park ministry for the whole summer.”

Watch what happens when you invite them to lead a devotion.

Watch what happens when you put them in charge of an aspect of the mission tour or the whole entire mission tour altogether.

Watch what happens when you say to the young adult, “You’re going to mobilize other young adults to serve our city/town.”

Watch what happens when you trust people with the same authority Jesus gives to them.

Watch what happens when you ask, “What kingdom dream is God putting on your heart?” And then say “Let’s follow that!”

It’ll be messy, but it’ll be worth it!

Now, don’t leave them all alone. Throw them a life jacket and pull them back into the boat regularly, to debrief with them, tune their skills, reflect on what God is teaching them, give them feedback and give them lots of encouragement.

Who do you need to talk to and say “jump out here”?

 

-Renée @r_embree