Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is your WHY big enough?

If you attend a training or conference event, the mark of whether the time and money spent at the event, is the power of the take away (s).  A take away is a thought, concept, principle, resource, tool that has the power to reshape the way you do ministry.  I recently had a powerful take away moment.

Last Friday Jeff Gary, The Hills of Southlake Church student minister, many of the Hills Children's Ministry staff and I attended the Orange Conference one-day training event in Dallas.  It was a blast listening to Reggie Joiner and his team share the importance of Family and Church partnering  in the spiritual formation of our students (there was A LOT of Orange at this event). If you have not already done so, check out Orange at  http://www.whatisorange.org.


I attended a Executive and Senior Leadership class taught by Carey Nieuwhof.  I was really impressed with Carey and enjoyed our short conversation after the session (thanks John Turner for the introduction). Let me share Carey's bio from the Orange website:

Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, a multi-campus church north of Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Community Church. Before starting Connexus in 2007, Carey served for 12 years within a mainline denomination, transitioning three small rural congregations into a new congregation that experienced significant growth.  He speaks to church leaders across North America about change, leadership, parenting and the strategy behind Orange.  Carey co-authored Parenting Beyond Your Capacity with Reggie Joiner.  He and his wife, Toni, live near Barrie, Ontario, and have two teenage sons, Jordan and Sam.  In his spare time, you can find him cycling his heart out on a back road somewhere.
Blog: www.careynieuwhof.com
Twitter: twitter.com/cnieuwhof


Carey's class brought to light the difficulties senior leaders face when trying to implement change in the church system.  He made one of the most accurate and concise statements on the tipping point moment in which a church decides to go through the difficult process of change I have ever heard.  Here it is: Change will happen "when the pain of the status quo becomes greater than the pain of change."  Shortly after (here comes the take away moment) he addressed the fact that most church leaders spend their time on the "what" and "how" of ministry but need to spend more of their time on the "why."  The "why" of ministry is that which unifies and focuses a church--especially during times of change.  Great, thought provoking, practical content followed his comments. However, I stayed focused on the "why" comments.

Is our WHY big enough?  I could not get this question out of my head.  I believe most can agree with the following list of "why" statements.  WHY do we do what and how that we do in student ministry (I know, difficult play on words--it is on purpose):
  • To lift up Christ
  • To bring others to Christ
  • To build each other up in Christ
Carey is right!  It is hard to be upset at any change when the "why" is clearly focused on Christ.  As a leader, that is one of our major roles, especially in times of change, to be sure the "why" remains on Christ. I am certain Paul had this in mind when he said of himself that he resolved to know nothing while [with the Corinthians] except Jesus Christ and him crucified (I Corinthians 2:2).  So, as a student minister, is your WHY big enough?

To be honest, as I look back through my 20 plus years in student ministry, their have been times when the Why for the how and what I did in student ministry was not very big. By the way, these times were often accompanied by disgruntled volunteers, parents, students...and church leaders. Can you identify with at least one of the underdeveloped why's in the list below? Why do we do what and how that we do in student ministry:
  • To lift up my cool student ministry
  • To bring more students to my student ministry
  • To build up my reputation in student ministry
Let's face it, we have all struggled with these small why temptations in student ministry (if you haven't you will--Jesus faced them in the desert).  The solution?  Whatever it takes, stay focused on the bigger WHY.

Question:  As a student minister, what do you do to stay focused on the bigger WHY?

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