what does a movement look like?

After reading my “be part of a movement!” blog, a friend asked for more details.  He wanted to know more about what the movements looked like… I would love to share that with you.

We define a movement as “God working through a team of like-hearted people who are winning, building and sending.”

 

A movement will include four elements:

  • Connecting lost people to Jesus
  • Life-changing discipleship
  • Multiplying leaders
  • Generation of local resources (vision, people, ideas, funding, systems, etc.)

In both movements, it was clear God was at work.  Personal and group prayer was common – sometimes programmed, often spontaneous – due to a deep sense of dependence on God.  We studied His Word and took steps of faith.  We trusted the Holy Spirit to control us and guide us.  I don’t know that our actions “caused” the movement – that was simply God’s choice, but we were deliberate in opening our hearts so that He could work in us.

Team was another key factor.  One movement team included several full-time staff and student leaders; the other had only one staff woman and a core group of committed adult volunteers.  In each case the team was passionate about reaching their audience for Christ. The team members were also committed to each other – growing in character, communicating, sharing responsibilities, learning and training, enjoying the work and life together.  The teams were not perfect – sometimes there were personality conflicts; sometimes members didn’t do their part; sometimes volunteers decided to get involved in something else… but the team provided strength and encouragement for the task.

In both movements, we were committed to evangelism – connecting people to Jesus. In the campus movement, we intentionally and strategically shared with any student who had come twice to a meeting. We trained our staff and students how to do evangelism and went sharing together often.  The women’s movement was also committed to training and sharing Christ during their book study; they often had opportunities to share one-on-one after a small group meeting.  Both movements also organized numerous special evangelistic events. Basically, evangelism was a priority – in heart and practice.

Incredible transformation happened through life-changing discipleship. In both cases, we saw an increased desire to know God’s Word and apply it to their lives. We taught basic follow-up, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and other Bible studies. Students chose not to lie or bribe professors for better grades. Women chose to forgive their husbands and strengthen their marriages. Dating couples chose to break off relationships instead of continuing in immorality.  Moms chose to reconcile with their children. Students chose to serve God in ministry after graduation.

Leaders multiplied.  In the student movement, we recorded discipleship chains out to four generations. In the women’s movement, we lost track of the generations! It became “normal” for everyone to invite friends to events, or take a few friends through follow-up, or lead a small group, or host a mom’s book club. Students and volunteers led in reaching areas of campus or running parts of the ministry (prayer/socials/followup) or arranging details for an event. Everyone found a place to serve.

There was no lack of resources.  The students quickly offered to bring the snacks. They began to support each other and/or work together to send each other to conferences and mission trips.  There were very few outside subsidies. The women hosted the studies in their homes, shared food for meals, and donated items and money for the evangelistic events so that they were always self-financed and often profitable. Creative ideas surfaced continually. New materials were created. Partnerships were formed. More people were recruited.

God blessed.  It became impossible to measure the impact as creativity flourished and initiative grew. Years later, the student ministry still produces laborers.  Many graduates share Christ at their workplace and lead their marriages and children to follow the Lord. The women’s ministry continues to work on projects that will expand to other cities in all of Mexico.

Connecting lost people to Jesus. Life-changing discipleship. Multiplying leaders. Generating local resources. That is what a movement looks like.

Which element of a movement is most exciting to you?

Which element is most challenging for you?

be part of a movement!

My organization believes strongly in movements, but I rarely meet anyone who has ever actually seen one or been a part of one. I have had the privilege of being a part of two – one as a key player, in the other more of a mentor/coach. Those experiences were exciting, invigorating, fun, messy, fulfilling and a lot of hard work! They were dreams come true… and I’d love to help with many more. As I was doing reading for my MA, I read a chapter on movements in The Courage to Teach, by Parker J. Palmer.  It outlined four stages of movements that I recognized right away. I think understanding them might help us see many more movements in the years ahead.

Stage 1 – No more divided life

Movements start when someone decides, “I can’t take it anymore. I can’t live a life externally that is so different from my heart convictions.” In ministry that means I will follow God’s heart and do whatever,  go wherever, it takes to win ______ (fill in the blank: women, students, professionals, students, athletes…) to Christ… because that is what He has called me to do. However that might look in my circumstance and with my gifting, I won’t let discouragement, fear, busyness, small children, organizational disinterest or criticism by others get in my way. I will not blame anyone else nor the organization for my lack – I will be true to myself! We will never see God build more spiritual movements, if we don’t individually get to this place in our heart.

Stage 2 – Support in community

The next step is to take our mustard seed of faith and conviction and share it with someone else; admit to another that I want to be and do something new. It is too easy for our enthusiasm to die away without encouragement from others. Community could be our family, our team, a few friends – any other like-minded cohorts. Our community gives us mutual reassurance (“No, you’re not crazy.”), a common vocabulary for our vision, and often skills and training necessary to make the dream a reality. Working together in a healthy, dynamic team is one of the most synergistic parts of a movement.

Stage 3 – Go public

A true movement doesn’t hide behind closed doors and manipulate its people in secret. A true movement shares its vision and resources with others, seeking feedback for improvement and partnership for impact. Sometimes it seems it would be easier to stay small and private, but then we would miss the opportunity to challenge and influence others, and we would miss the blessing of working with and learning from others. Receiving  feedback from others helps us to avoid self-righteousness, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency… and helps us become more Kingdom focused.

Stage 4 – There is nothing better

Once we actually begin to experience the fruit of spiritual movement, there is nothing more inspiring! The out-of-control multiplication, the true life transformation in our disciples, the character growth in ourselves – all bring a sense of satisfaction that says, “It is so worth it! There is no price I paid that was too great, no prize you can offer that would be worth more.”  I don’t want to invest in anything less.

Have you been a part of a movement? Please tell me about it! I’d love to learn from you…

are you dangerous?

I first saw this Creed in Judy Douglas’ post: Are You a Dangerous Woman? on her blog:  www.inkindle.wordpress.com              (Thanks, Judy!)

It was written by Lynne Hybels, writer, speaker, and wife of Bill Hybels.  She wrote it as the “Dangerous Women Creed” and it is presented below as it was printed in 2008 Synergy Program.

Although it was written specifically for women, I believe it is powerful for any person!

Dangerous Women Creed:
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow,

and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot

speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us,

and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women. Amen.

I want to be dangerous.  How about you?

anger management 101

Have you ever been so frustrated and angry that you weren’t sure what you might do? Someone didn’t do their share, left you unprotected, criticized you unfairly, took credit that wasn’t theirs… As I was coaching someone through their anger the other day, I realized I was “talking to myself”. I decided I better write down my tips; I might need them myself tomorrow!

1. Ventilate and validate – I’ve learned that it is ok to go ahead and “let it out” with a SAFE person. Anger and frustration are a normal, often very valid, part of life. It is so much better to verbalize the frustration than to drown it in food, drugs or alcohol… or haul off and hit someone. A safe person won’t use my reaction against me, but they might “push back” a bit against my reasoning, or find some bit of humor in my extreme emotions, or guide me to God and spiritual truth in the situation – all good for me and part of the process.

2. Consider my part – Once I’ve calmed down a bit, the next step is a willingness to consider that I might have some responsibility in the problem or, at least, that I might have something to learn through the situation. No matter what others have done, I am  called first to look at myself and what I can change in me… I don’t want to fall into the blame trap or the victim mindset.

3. Find some good – When I am angry, I see only the bad; I am blind to any good or positive element. We are in a spiritual battle and, no one is exempt. History proves that our anger can progress to judgment, stereotypes, and hatred of whole people groups – some pretty nasty stuff. Instead, I can turn to friends or God for help and discipline myself to find something that I can appreciate and be thankful for in the midst of difficult circumstances.

4. Follow through – Sometimes I need to deal with whatever caused the frustration and anger and initiate a difficult conversation, require restitution, or apply consequences… If it falls under my authority or responsibility, I need to follow through with appropriate action with the person – not just let it slide and keep grumbling behind their back. If there is “nothing” I can do, I can always review steps 1-3!

How do you handle your anger?

remembering 9-11

No matter who we are or where we were during the 9-11 attacks, we remember and were affected. I pray that God will continue to redeem that horrendous tragedy for good, showing us once again His power and love in the midst of pain and suffering. I also pray that we learn from that sad day and grow into leaders who reflect His grace, forgiveness, and hope to a hurting world…

Here’s a tribute video – (You may like it more if you are a country music fan!)

how to transition well?

Change happens. We (my husband and I) just finalized a National Team transition. It has been a long process, and we have learned a few things along the way…

Plan the transition.  (I realize this isn’t always possible, especially if the transition is due to a crisis, but when you can…) A good transition is well thought through. We prayed and asked others to pray with us. We organized the process with an educated guess as to how long the steps would take, and stuck to the plan. We announced the coming transition with anticipation. We involved others in the process. All of this made it easier for us to move peacefully towards the future; ensured that the new leader entered his position with less stress, and helped to avoid confusion for others during the transition.

Consider the loss.  Every change – even those for the good – creates loss. Transitions shake stability, change relationships, and adjust structures and job descriptions. Others in the organization wonder how the change will affect them – and don’t like the answer. A good leader will validate this reality, take time to grieve their own losses, and coach his/her people through the process. We communicated early and regularly with everyone we thought of who could be affected by the changes. We met with mentors to process our own thoughts and emotions. We had meetings with those who work with us to ask how they were doing with the changes and what were their concerns. This personal side of the transition is often overlooked, but it is a crucial element of a successful transition.

Pass the baton.  It is important to pass information and relationships to the new leader. In the past, we have entered “blind” into new positions – no information, no alliances, and no training. We were left scrambling to understand, to “catch on”, to figure it out ourselves. We wanted something different this time, so we worked hard to be organized and invested time so that we could train well, pass files, answer questions, and connect new relationships. We clearly defined the timeline for change of authority and responsibility. We invited the new leaders to our home to process their personal concerns and questions. At the office, we talked through the general vision, the people, the finances, and the day-to-day details. We presented the new leaders to our partners. Our plan allows us to personally “coach” during the next months, but the new leaders have successfully begun to lead with clarity and confidence.

Let Go! We experienced pressure to stay longer in the position and pressure to extend our transition timeline because others hadn’t prepared well. Sometimes we were the ones “holding on” when we saw things happening that we didn’t like, and we wanted to maintain control and influence. God told me clearly… “Don’t do it!  This is not all about you.” Others will only grow and take leadership if I move out-of-the-way! We just finished our national conference, and for the first time in many years, we had no responsibilities for the event. You know what? It was a great conference! It is humbling to admit that we are not needed, but it is also an exciting indication of a hopeful future.

End well. Make sure the ending is not an escape from unresolved conflict. Say good-bye well. Express appreciation to those who partnered with you. Take time to evaluate. We worked with some wonderful people. We were part of some great accomplishments. We also experienced a lot of painful criticism and conflict, and we had to leave many of our dreams and plans unfinished. It has been good to process though all of this – forgive others and ourselves – and be able to trust God with the future!

I know I have a lot more to learn about transitions. I would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences. What do you think are the elements of a good transition?

can we overcome our pride?

Over the years I have offended and beaten up others with my nationalistic pride.   I have also taken a beating due to the nationalistic pride of others.

One day I was reading in Genesis 11: 1-9 about the Tower of Babel (emphasis mine).

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words…
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city,
and a tower whose top will reach into heaven,
and let us make for ourselves a name,
otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built…

…”Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language,
so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth;
and they stopped building the city.

Therefore its name was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth;
and from there the LORD scattered them abroad
over the face of the whole earth.

Through these verses, God made it clear to me that nationalistic pride is not something He ever had in mind or initially desired for us as a part of His incredible creativity. He originally had us all speaking the same language. The divisions we have in our world today in language and culture are a result of our sin and God’s protection against further sin. God intended for us to be scattered over the whole earth, not just building our own city and a name for ourselves.

As Christians, I believe our goal should be to overcome the barriers of language and culture in order to demonstrate the power of God’s love in us and bring His Good News to as many people as possible… all over the world. When Christians struggle to communicate love and respect to each other – despite language barriers – we are a picture of how God communicates with us… even though our human limitations get in the way.

When we yield our own prejudice, bias and selfishness
to allow people of  other cultures
to work side by side with – and even lead over – us,
we reflect God’s original design.

As a missionary, I have worked side by side with people of many cultures and languages. I have worked under leaders from many different countries. It can be frustrating and difficult and more time consuming… but also joyful and fulfilling, and I truly believe that I better reflect God’s unity in diversity… and accomplish more for His Kingdom in partnership.  I don’t want to experience more of God’s discipline because of my pride; I want to do all that I can to speak “one language” with all other Christians, demonstrating God’s Kingdom perspective, rather than worldly nationalistic arrogance.

As a receiving nation, we can also reflect God’s design by generously inviting and respectfully accepting those from other countries who are called by God to work together with us in extending His Kingdom.

As leaders, we can be an example… How can we help each other to limit our pride and work better together for His glory?

false temptations “for sale”

for sale by idea go freedigitalphotos.netDo you ever feel like you “need” something? Do you ever feel that Satan knows just what that need is and knows to use it to tempt you?

The message at church this morning was based on Jesus’ time in the wilderness in Matthew 4. We looked at how Satan tempted Jesus. The verse that really moved me was Matthew 4:9…

And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Satan was offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world and their glory, if Jesus would just worship him. The irony in the temptation is that Jesus ALREADY owed all the kingdoms – He created them! Jesus ALREADY was worthy of all the glory! What a foolish temptation… “Just follow me, and I will give you… what you already have” and yet…

I realize that Satan often uses that same kind of temptation on me. He offers me fulfillment for my “need” when God has ALREADY taken care of it.

Satan offers me love – in unhealthy relationships… but God has ALREADY loved me with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3). Satan tempts me with temporal monetary and material security… when God has ALREADY provided all I need (Eph 3:20). Satan tempts me with false promises of recognition and worth, when God has ALREADY proven His value of me by Christ’s death on the cross (Rom 5:8) .

When I feel “needy”, I hope to first consider if God has maybe already met that need for me, and I am just not seeing the provision or not remembering the truth. I don’t want to give in to a false temptation and “sell my soul” for something I already own!

Is there a need that Satan uses to tempt you… that God has already taken care of for you?