Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hospitality Ministry - The Welcoming Church

Have you ever thought of starting a Hospitality Ministry in your church? Karen Frisella directed the Hospitality Ministry for the Willow Creek Association for over ten years, and is the Founder of Joy Along the Journey, a Christian Host Home Network.

She recently shared some thoughts on her blog about the value of hospitality and how to be a welcoming church.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pain and Suffering

In a recent Willow Creek Association monthly webcast, 2011 Global Leadership Summit Speaker John Dickson explored the contrasts between the views of pain and suffering between different world faiths and Christianity. We thought it was worth sharing... 

Enjoy and feel free to pass it on! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Truly Powerful Place

In the last couple of weeks I joined a gym.  It’s a good gym, lots of equipment, not too busy and the staff are friendly.  I like going there.  But when I’m working out it hurts.  As I’m trying to lift heavier weights or run faster for longer my body hurts.  As I’m pushing myself and my body I get to a point where I just can’t lift any more or run any longer. 

At the time this doesn’t feel so great.  But it has long term benefits.  See the next time I go to the gym I can lift a little bit more and run a little bit longer.  Being pushed to my limits in the gym, even though at the time sucks, benefits me in the long run.

As I’ve been reflecting on this I’ve realised that this is what being a Christian is like a lot of the time.  This is what being a missionary to your local community is like.  Over the last three or four years I’ve experienced a lot of hard things in life and ministry.  At the time, I haven’t liked it.  I’ve wondered why these things are happening to me.  I’ve whinged and complained and wondered if God was there.  I’ve tried as hard as I can to see things happen or change and I’ve reached the end of my power and ability.

This whole experience has taught me two very important lessons.  Firstly, it shouldn’t surprise us when life as a Christian gets hard.  Jesus said in Luke 9:23 that, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”  We are promised to have full and abundant life, but not easy, stress free, perfect life with Jesus.

Secondly, it is only when we’ve reached the end of our ability that we truly open the door for God to start working through us.  Think about it.  If my life as a Christian is easy; If I find it easy to be a missionary to my community or easy to run my youth ministry or church then I’m unlikely to run to God and rely on Him to work and grow his church.  If I go around thinking I’m awesome, that everything I do turns to gold, then there isn’t space in my heart for God to get the glory he deserves.  We plant and water but it is God who gives the growth (1 Cor 3:6-7).

So I’m now glad for the hard things in my life, just like I’m glad to lift weights that are too heavy for me.  For it’s when we are struggling and realise we cannot do it on our own that we get the most benefit and are in a truly powerful place.

Chris BowditchYouth Minister
Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Monday, September 12, 2011

Statements You Just Can’t Walk By

We are familiar in the gospels with Jesus performing miracles that we marvel at.  Following one of these miracles when Jesus cast out a demon from a boy, his disciples ask him, “Why couldn’t we drive this demon out?” To this question Jesus replies, “Because you have so little faith.  I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

What do we do with a statement like this from Jesus?  Some people of course try to rationalise Jesus’ words here to say that he is using the extremes of a small seed and a large land mass to exaggerate his point around faith.  But there is really nothing ambiguous about Jesus’ statement that “nothing will be impossible for you (with faith)”.  Do we actually believe that through faith we can do anything?

GLS speaker Steven Furtick is a young man of faith.  In his recently published book “Sun Stand Still” he recalls the story of faith when Joshua, who was faced with the armies of the five kings of the Amorities, receives the promise from God that he would have victory over them.  Yet as the day of battle wears on, Joshua realizes that he will not defeat the army in the daylight that is left, so he calls on God to make the sun stand still so that he can complete the battle.  And Scripture records that “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man.” (Joshua 10:13-14.)

Furtick exhorts us to have the faith of Joshua, the faith to be able to say to a mountain, “move from here to there and it will move.”  Now that’s audacious and bold and some people may say it’s over the top and not letting God be God.  But how many great moves of God that have you heard about, have come through a people who are modest in their appeal to God?  “Lord, if you think it’s a good idea, perhaps you could, if it’s not too much trouble, move this little mound of earth from here to there.”  

Now I’m not suggesting in any way that God is at our beck and call to do our bidding, but he calls us to a place of faith, to call on him to do the humanly impossible.  For you that might be seeing a friend or relative who won’t have anything to do with God, come to a place of saving faith in him.  You may be faced with what seems like an impossible situation.  Then take hold of the words of Jesus, “nothing is impossible for him who believes.” 

Come and be inspired by attending the Global Leadership Summit next month.  Let people like Steven Furtick stir you up to be the leader that God is calling you to be.

Andrew McCafferty
CEO, Willow Creek Australia

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Global Leadership Summit – Chicago Review

I have been to a Willow Creek Leadership Conference in Chicago once before, and have attended most of the Global Leadership Summits, via delayed broadcast in Australia, but this is the best I have ever experienced.

To be in Chicago, with a significant group of people from The Salvation Army in Australia was valuable in many ways. This experience built team, gave people the opportunity that they had never experienced before, lifted their sights, and helped the whole team to dream of what might be because of this experience.

Every speaker provided a highlight...

Bill Hybels shared about the challenge levels for leaders. We work best when we are just above the appropriately challenged level, not dangerously challenged or under challenged. We need creative environments that lead to great solutions. He asked us if our leadership bell had been rung lately!

Cory Booker reminded us of a quote from Abraham Lincoln, "You were born an individual, but most die copies". We can change the world. Do something!

None of us with forget Steven Furtick speaking to us about audacious faith and the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 3:9-20. We need to start digging our ditches, whatever they might be, believing that God will fill them.

Tough callings both moved and challenged every one of us. Mama Maggie, Wes Stafford from Compassion, and Bill Hybels speaking about Jeremiah has impacted us forever. Our world is broken. There are hard callings. We are often torn between the calling and the ache for success. What will we do?

Henry Cloud spoke of "necessary endings" and gave very practical ways to deal with different kinds of people in our organisations. We can't deal with every person we lead the same. We need to work out who we are talking to and deal with them appropriately.

John Dickson taught us that humility is common sense, beautiful, generative, persuasive and inspiring. A brief moment of humility from our heroes can inspire us to be just like them!

From Patrick Lencioni we learned about being vulnerable, and the different fears that
keep us from it... rejection, embarrassment and feeling inferior.

And Erwin McManus challenged us to see ourselves as cultivators of human talent. We are a mosaic... broken people brought together by the artist who breaks through in us.

Challenging! Moving! Inspiring!

There is nothing quite like this conference! What a mixture! What an experience!

We have come away inspired, challenged and ready for what God has for us.

Lt. Colonel Miriam Gluyas
Secretary for Program
Australia Eastern Territory
The Salvation Army