Building Leadership with Thought-Provoking Questions

Today I read an article from Leadership That Creates the Future and want to share it with those of you who are engaging in Community Engagement, Revitalization or Restoration.  The environment you create as a leader is more important than the persona you want to project.  True leadership is about others, not yourself.  Enjoy reading:

 

Building Leadership with Thought-Provoking Questions

Posted on March 16, 2015

Leadership – there are likely few topics in the world about which more has been written. With so many resources and sometimes contradictory theories to consider (think “Servant Leadership” and “Machiavellian”), finding a personal leadership style that feels authentically “you” can sometimes seem like an unending quest. Establishing the leadership culture in an organization can be an equally challenging and continuously evolving process.

Leadership That Creates the Future reached out to experts in Creating the Future’s Facebook group for consultants to community benefit organizations and asked them –What compelling questions about leadership do you like to explore? Their questions provide a framework for discovering personal insights, values, and beliefs that can help anyone on a journey toward reaching their highest potential as a leader.

Consider the following:

• How do you approach conflict and confrontation?

• How do you identify what motivates your team – not just imposing what motivates you onto them – and how do you use that to inspire greatness?

• How do you identify and develop natural leaders in your community – those with no formal power but to whom people listen?

• How do you help develop everyone’s leadership abilities?

• How do you create an environment where others feel safe to fail?

• How do great system or network leaders differ, if at all, from great organizational leaders?

• How do we help our followers become great followers?

• What would be possible if we stopped talking about leaders and, instead, focused on leadership?

• What do we hope that leadership makes possible and how can everyone benefit as a result of it?

• How do we move away from “hero” leadership (focused on individual traits) to transformational leadership (focused on positive social change)?

• How do we make leadership more inclusive?

Through a thoughtful exploration of questions such as these, leaders, potential leaders, and followers can better identify the conditions through which leadership can make a positive difference in our organizations, communities, and the world.

What are some additional questions that are helping you to identify the principles and practices that shape you and your organization’s approach to leadership?

 

Thank you to Freya Bradford, Kimberly Diggs Lauth, Jane Garthson, Andrea John-Smith, Joyce Lee-Ibarra, Rhonda Lorch, Justin Pollock, and Kelly Trusty for contributing questions for this blog post.

Links:

Leadership That Creates the Future: http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org

Freya Bradford: LinkedIn

Kimberly Diggs Lauth: Kim Lauth Consulting

Jane Garthson: Garthson Leadership Centre

Andrea John-Smith: LinkedIn

Joyce Lee-Ibarra: JLI Consulting

Rhonda Lorch: Lorch and Associates

Justin Pollock: OrgForward

Kelly Trusty: LinkedIn

Get to know my mentor and inspiration Bishop Arthur M. Brazier

Today I honor one of my mentors who was a advocate for justice, a man of integrity and a spiritual leader who epitomizes community transformation through individual self-determination.  Bishop Brazier has gone on to be with The Lord; but his impact across the United States continues to be felt even today.  Those that knew Bishop Brazier will tell you that he was a very humble man whose life’s work was for the advancement of community, not for personal recognition and awards.  He believed for individuals to change their situations their mentality had to shift from victims to victors.
He was honored by Presidents, from Kennedy to Obama, worked tirelessly in Washington for the betterment of others and held local politicians accountable by measuring their actions through the lens of scripture.
Because he worked behind the scenes, most people don’t know his role in advocacy, about his fight to end school segregation, illegal housing practices and his role in bringing Dr. King to Chicago.  And that was just the beginning… Here is a look back at the early days of Bishop Arthur M. Brazier – The Activist.
Today the struggle has been redefined, but the fundamental issues of perceived privilege and injustice remain the same.  If we are training young people to understand their DESTINY, we can’t approach it from a victim mentality; teach them to be overcomes.  Scripture says – They can do all things through Christ which strengthens them.

Helping Young People To Boldly Proclaim Their Faith

 

 

I had an incredible session on Saturday with a group of young people from all over Illinois and Indiana.  These young people were from multiple denominations and multiple geographical areas(Rural, suburban and Urban).  One of the subjects they discussed that stood out to me was the challenge of being bold in their faith in school, home and in their community.  They felt that while youth workers in their various youth groups are great at leading them to Christ; they aren’t as effectively in equipping them to boldly proclaim their faith in school faced with the immense peer pressure to conform to the world.

After the session I began to wonder how many other young people are in this same boat?   My question to youth workers around the country is – what are your methods of internationally in teaching young people to walk broadly in their faith outside Youth Group?  What are they describing to you as the push back they get from friends or others in their school or community?

What are your young people saying, please have them complete the 3 question What Challenges You?  survey — http://www.cvent.com/d/jcq4wl , so you can compare their answers to those of the rest of the country.  The results are free and available under the Survey Results tab.  The Results are updated every Saturday.

One of the students shared the following website discussion on this topic from christianforum.com  and wanted to share it with you.  Below is a highlight of that Christianforum.com website conversation between 3 people:

 

New Believer

Does anyone else get convicted of this? Before I became a Christian, I would have never been seen telling others about God. I would have never been seen worshiping, praying, or reading the Bible. The day I got saved, I wanted to tell others about Christ. It’s a struggle that I have because I’m always worried that I’ll say the wrong thing. But I get convicted about it if I get the need to share Christ with others, and I don’t. When I do, I start to worry about what others think. Do people think I’m a hypocrite? Do other Christians think I’m weird? Should I be sharing this with others or keep it to myself? These thoughts continue to shut me down. 

I’m sometimes afraid to proclaim my faith because it’s so looked down on these days. Even some Christians aren’t doing it. It’s like they say they know Christ but they blend in with the rest of the world. It’s hard for me to do this because I don’t want to. 

All of my life, I’ve been a very closed and reserved person. Lately I’ve been wanting to open up to others. God has been telling me that I must come out of my shell. But I wonder why God would want me to do this because I have so much self-doubt. I feel like a person who has nothing to offer to others. It’s like I have this nagging doubt that’s telling me to shut up and give up; God would never have a purpose for me.  

I need advice from someone. Is it normal to want to boldly talk about God? Do you ever think people who always talk about God are fakes? Also did you ever get confused about what God wanted you to do? It seems like God wants me to try to learn to talk to others more, but I have this nagging doubt that is discouraging me.

I’m at the point where I’m generally comfortable with talking about God, it’s not all that different from talking about other things where I have a strong belief. If you’re a Christian, then God’s inside of you. You are not only legally aligned with Christ, but Christian beliefs are a major part of who you are. 

 

Sketcher

A trick I guess, to getting comfortable with it is to read the Bible every day, spending good time in thought and prayer about what you’ve read, and what God would have you do. If you immerse yourself in something, it will come out of your mouth. This isn’t to say that you don’t pray for boldness and depend on God for boldness, but you do consume his word on a regular basis so that you can hear him all the clearer. When you’re doing that, it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit can use you in ways that you would never expect.

Note that this isn’t speaking up out of guilt. I think this is a very common mistake among Christians. You probably know the drill by now – the Holy Spirit prompts you to speak to someone, you keep your mouth shut, and out of guilt you try to overcompensate. I believe we really need to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and move on rather than to try and force open windows which have long since closed. No, for those people, you should be moved to prayer – and maybe, God will open up another window. But you need to forgive yourself and move on, being ready but having no guilt. If that window doesn’t happen again in the next week, then God knows what he’s doing. He’s allowing you to grow before the next time with that person, if there is one – and growing always takes a while.

 

Emily

Dear New_Believer. In Matthew, chapter 22, verses 35-40, Jesus tells a Lawyer: ” The first and great Commandment is: Love thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. The second is like it: Love thy neighbour as thyself.” Then Jesus states this fact: ” On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” It is Love what God wants from us, selfless and beneficial. Instead of telling people about your faith, let them see your Love for God and for your neighbour, and only when you are being asked why, or told you are very kind, let your Love for God and for your neighbour become a talking-point. God will give you opportunities, and then your deeds speak for themselves. You will find in time, that being helpful and kind, and never use angry or hurtful words, will testify to your faith much more than ever words can do. When the Bible tells us to Repent, it is telling us to change from being selfish and unloving, to being loving and caring, to be a representative of our loving God. God is our Heavenly Father, and Jesus died that we might live, show your love to God and to your neighbour, ( all you know and all you meet) with following the two most important Commandments. God will see your efforts, and God will approve and bless you, New_Believer. You might stumble often, but get up and ask God`s forgiveness, and God will forgive you as you will forgive all who sin/transgress against you. You will find too, that by reading out of the Bible and asking Jesus to help and guide you, words will come quite easy to you. I say this with love and assurance. Greetings from Emmy, your sister in Christ.

 

 

How are you equipping young people to boldly proclaim their faith in your youth groups?  Share your methods with us by joining the conversation; you will be a blessing to the other readers.

Is The Right To Vote A Racial Entitlement? Oh How Far Have We Moved From God

Scripture teaches us we are to view  government through the lens of scripture, attempting to persuade them to make laws consistent with biblical standards of morality.   I know I have readers who are Republican and who are Democrats and I don’t want to alienate any of you.  Preaching on politics is just too divisive.  But I like Paul will challenge you, as Christians, to faithfully discharge your responsibilities before God on issues of  justice.

 

             “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for i did not shrink       

                                     from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27)

 

Scripture  point to believers who spoke out on behalf of government doing what was right.  Jesus taught, in Matthew 22:21, about the distinction between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that are God’s.  Daniel, in Daniel 4:27 called out Nebuchadnezzar to hear his council and break off his sin by practicing righteousness.  Verse 49 says he was regularly at the king’s court.  Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 29:7 told the Jewish exiles in Babylon to seek the welfare of the city because in it they would find their welfare, the laws and policies consistent with the Word of God.  Joseph oversaw Pharaoh’s great wealth.  Moses demanded freedom for the people of Israel – “let my people go” (Exodus 8:1).   Nehemiah orchestrated the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  Queen Esther had influence on the king in changing the “policy” that were created.  Several of the prophets witnessed to the moral standards and requirements of treatment of people and how to conduct themselves.  John the Baptist rebuked Herod for the things he had done (Luke 3:19).  In Acts 24:25 Paul spoke to Felix about “righteousness and self control and the coming judgment”.

 

 

Today I am honored to bring to you a man who has been in the fight for justice for a long time.  A man who has stood on the front lines, the soup line, the unemployment lines and the prayer lines in an effort to bring justice to every man. I thank him for inviting me to be a guest on his TV program this Saturday night and for  joining the conversation today.

 

 

 

GUEST POST: REVEREND  JESSE JACKSON SR.

Weekly Commentary | Chicago Sun-Times

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act, Justice Antonin Scalia slandered the act as a “racial entitlement,” arguing, “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.” So, the right-wing justice intimated, the conservative “Gang of Five” on the Supreme Court had every right to step in and overrule the 98 senators who voted unanimously to reauthorize the act (including the senators of every state and jurisdiction required to seek pre-clearance of any changes in their voting laws).

The justice proved once more that he is not a neutral arbiter of the Constitution but a right-wing activist with an agenda to enforce. Deference to the popularly elected Congress and president is, apparently, only when they do what Scalia considers to be proper. When they choose to reauthorize a Voting Rights Act that has protected the rights of millions and transformed America’s democracy since its passage in 1965, Justice Scalia thinks the court should negate their act, since he somehow considers protection of the right to vote a “racial entitlement.”

Scalia’s racial taunt has received the scorn it deserves. It makes more sense to apply his reasoning to the real “racial entitlements” that still scar our nation.

For example, a recent study by Brandeis University revealed a stunning increase in the wealth gap between whites and blacks in America. The gap tripled between 1984 and 2009. In 2009, the median wealth (the difference between what you own and what you owe) of a white household was $113,149. The median wealth of a black household was $5,677.

Why the difference? The study found five contributing factors.

First, whites were more likely to be homeowners than blacks, often because their families are more able to help with down payments. Black families who worked for 200 years in slavery and 100 years in segregation had less ability to accumulate wealth.

Second, whites made more income than blacks, even for comparable work.

Third, blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites, and, with less of a family cushion to rely on, more likely to deplete their savings when unemployed.

Fourth, whites are five times more likely to inherit money, and their inheritance averages 10 times as much. Again, this surely is in part a legacy of our scarred history.

Finally, whites are more likely to have a college education than blacks. Blacks are more likely to find advanced training difficult to finance. They are more likely to graduate with debt, and their average debt on graduation is greater.

The wealth gap is, in Scalia’s words, a “racial entitlement.” Only this entitlement favors whites, not blacks. As Scalia wrote, “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.” That’s why it took a Civil War to end slavery, and to amend the Constitution to guarantee equal protection of the laws. It took the sacrifice of lives and limbs in a civil rights movement to end segregation, and to pass the Voting Rights Act to provide minorities with an equal right to vote. On economic inequality, the promise of 40 acres and a mule for freed slaves was broken. Dr. King marched on Washington to redeem a “canceled check” marked “insufficient funds.”

If Scalia is right, “the normal political processes” won’t solve this racial entitlement. Nor, for that matter, will the right-wing Gang of Five on the Supreme Court.


Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.

Spiritual Formation for Motley Crews by Gabriel Salguero

Last week on our consciousness cruise, we metaphorically stopped on the corner of Praise & Judgment to refuel.  As we left that station headed for the ramp to get back on the highway; through a series of detours and events, I was blessed to meet Pastor Gabriel Salguero.  Gabriel is the Senior Pastor of The Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene, a multi-ethnic church in New York.  I had an opportunity to speak with him to discuss what God is doing in his neck of the woods.  He has given me permission to share with you his view on Spiritual Formation for Motley Crews.  He discussed his belief that urban churches are presented with unique opportunities to model the rich diversity of the kingdom of God as seen in Isaiah 11 and Rev 7:9.  I am honored to share his words today with all of you.

This continues our mission of continuing to broaden your understanding and consciousness of  The New Urban.  Bringing you this view from multiple perspectives from around the country.  Enjoy and please comment below.

 

 

 

GUEST POST: PASTOR GABRIEL SALGUERO 

These days “discipleship” and “Spiritual Formation” are ubiquitous terms. Blogs, books, conferences, and conversations all strive to respond to the question, “How do we nurture Christ-like disciples in our generation?” While I know well that there is some great writing and teaching being done in this area my hope is that my musings as a “young” (I’m 39 and not sure what young is anymore) urban pastor of a multi-ethnic church restart can in some way contribute to this important conversation. I am of the conviction that spiritual formation and diversity are deeply interrelated.

The Lamb’s in New York is the congregation my wife and I lead. The Lamb’s had its most recent restart in 2007 when we relocated from Times Square to the intersection of SoHo, Chinatown, Loisaida (a Spanish term given to this part of the Lower East Side). The average age of the new members is around 28, and we have some older Chinese and Hispanic immigrants whose average age is between 55-60. In addition, we have graduate students worshipping with folks who barely have any formal schooling. The Lamb’s has two worship services; one in English-Mandarin and the other in English-Spanish. In short, it’s a real motley crew. Honestly, we are probably violating the majority of rules and expectations for church-planters and church-restarters. I am often tempted to pursue the homogenous unit principle (HUP) as I see many of my dear friends growing in numbers at much faster rates. Still we are, at least for the present, pursuing a road less traveled. One main reason for pursuing this course is discipleship.

Many of the NY church-planting successes used as models across the country are paradigms of young urban professionals (Yuppies) that worship together. Indubitably, there is much to celebrate in reaching young urbanites. Still, a challenge remains. While some number of these congregations has some spattering racial-ethnic diversity they often lack economic and class diversity; not to mention leadership diversity. I do NOT believe all congregations have to be multi-ethnic and multi-class. However, I do believe that urban churches are presented with unique opportunities to model the rich diversity of the kingdom of God as seen in Isaiah 11 and Rev 7:9. Beyond modeling the ecclesiology of Pentecost, and the early church experiment of creating a new Christ-centered community of Jews and Gentiles, diversity is essential for spiritual formation in our generation. As this new community learned to work through difference and disagreement for the sake of the cross, they were becoming disciples who learned grace in action.

How does diversity inform spiritual formation? Simply put, Christians are broadened and deepened as they worship, study, do ministry, and share life-together in community. It is across difference where the most important of Christian virtues, love, is tested. Now this has to be beyond window-dressing of doing drive-by ministry “to” and “among” the urban poor, immigrants, and the rich, racially-ethnic diversity of the global church present in urban centers. When all these demographics form a vital part of our worship community and leadership, spiritual formation takes on a richer texture. As we listen to one another across differences, our own assumptions, prejudices, and limitations are challenged by other followers of Christ. This is precisely what Christian ecclesiology is; “unity in Christ with diversity.”

In the main stream, many congregations push for assimilation and homogenization in the name of “urban missiology” and is usually said as, “Whatever it takes to reach people.” However, Christian missiology has a distinctive. Our mission is not absent from ecclesiology. What makes our mission so distinctive is that Christ calls us to embrace the other. In Scripture, this radical hospitality is “xenophilia”–not just tolerance of the stranger but love and celebration of the other. It is not telling the other, “You must be just like me for us to be in community.” The cultural and class-homogenizing impulse while often facile is not the way of the cross. Our congregations ought not to be cultural or class silos that only gather us with people who make us comfortable. Much of culture is going in the direction of echo chambers. Google+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts will be custom-made so that we only have advertisements, friends, and links that reflect our own image. Church ought not to be simply a reflection of me, my class assumptions, my favorite songs, or cultural values. No! Spiritual formation requires that the church reflect Christ not in my image, but Christ as he is in the world.

Now if we seek diversity just for diversity’s sake we’ve missed the point. The motley crew congregation is not something we pursue to be “hip” or “trendy.” We do it because it has always been at the heart of the foundation of Christ’s church. The diversity of Christ’s body teaches us to exhibit and receive grace, to be slow to speak and quick to listen, and to value every member of Christ’s body. A motley crew church helps protect us from reducing the Gospel, to our hermeneutic, our preaching, our culture, our class, or political party. Yes, for in this kaleidoscope of people we can see the multiform grace of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This is not easy; we’ll trip all over ourselves. But we don’t do things because they’re easy. We do them because they’re right. Grace abounds.

 

 

 

Follow Pastor on twitter @salgueros

 

The Church Website is www.lambschurch.org

 

 

If you are in or near New York, Pastor invites you to join The Lamb’s this Wednesday, February 13, as they welcome the season of lent.  You can join them in the following ways:

 

1)  Ash Wednesday Prayer and Ashes

Time: 10 am – 2 pm

Location: The Lamb’s Church, 61 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002

 

2)  Joint Ash Wednesday Service at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene: In lieu of our mid-week worship service we will be having a joint Ash Wednesday service in the Bronx at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene.

Time: 7:30pm.

Location:Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene

971 East 227th Street

Bronx, NY 10466

Ray Lewis Giving A Shout Outs For Jesus? What!!!



This week we are going to take an off ramp on our consciousness cruise of Nehemiah’s’ four step plan for saving his community and stop at the corner of Praise and Judgment to refill our tanks.

 

We just completed a week of public events where a number of individuals in the publicly chose to mention and or speak of their faith in God.   The social media world lit up all day Sunday and Monday over these “shout outs for Jesus” – in several texts, tweets, emails and blogs people voiced concern over those who spoke of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Many casting judgment as to weather these individuals were really Christians or not.  Surprisingly, several of these individuals casting judgment profess to be Christians themselves.

 

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick tweeted scriptures all week and mentioned God in his interviews.  Adrian Peterson, in his acceptance speech at the Saturday night NFL Awards, thanked God for allowing him to win the MVP award and come back from his ACL injury.  And away from the Super Bowl scene; at the NAACP Image Awards, an event that honors people of color in TV since the other award shows minimize participation of people of color, Loretta Devine greeted the audience with a – “Praise the Lord everybody” greeting.   Which received it’s own criticism.  And of course Ray Lewis’ “no weapon formed against me shall prosper” quote before, during and after the Super Bowl.  Lewis also explained, in response to Jim Nance question on how the Ravens were able to overcome such odds and obstacles, in the post game interview answered –  “if God be for you, who can be against you”.  (Both of those quotes are used frequently by those of the faith)  Yes, that’s a slippery theological slope.  In other words, if God is for us, that doesn’t mean there’s an equal and opposite person that God is against.     I’m sure there were others over the weekend but these are sufficient for our discussion as we refill our take here at the corner of Praise & Judgment.

 

The Bible tells us in Matthew 7:1- 6 to first remove the plank from our own eyes before we attempt to remove the speck from someone else’s.  If we were “back in the day”, would we have treated Paul the same way as he preached the Word of God after his conversion?  Paul, who was the mass murder of Christians who later called himself the “ chief sinner”.  Would we have judged David for all his transgressions in the midst of being such a great warrior and king?  The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart.  Would we have asked Ester, whom do you think you are speaking up; you only came into relationship with the king as a result of someone else’s misfortune.  We never know what God is working out in the lives of an individual.

 

I am not defending any of the celebrities.  Their incredible skills and success could be a part of God’s common grace.  And they may or may not have received His saving grace.  As the body of Christ, instead of judging we should be praying for those going through the process of sanctification.  That God will encourage and strengthen them in this journey.  That as public figures, that their lifestyles will show the fruits of their conversion.  And they will overcome any of their struggles.

 

We don’t know if these guys are real; but it is not for us to judge or decide.  We are not the moral police and we need to treat people like Jesus treated people.  We must remember, scripture also tell us that none is perfect but the Father.  We ourselves are striving to live a life that is pleasing to God and we too make mistakes.  Our own personal accountability is not reduced because ours sins are not in the public eye.   Sin is sin and God views our transgressions the same as He does those of others.  Weather ours sins are of the flesh or sins of the spirit (judging, hating, envy, etc), God sees them all.

 

 

As leaders, we must model the lifestyle we want our young people to live.  In this multimedia world where everything is seen by all, our young people should see us loving one another and praying for those who we see struggling with their faith.  Demonstrating the fruits of the spirit we are teaching them  – genuine love for His people, heartfelt obedience to His commands and Christlike character traits.   These can only come about by the Spirit of God working within our life.  Our young people HEAR what we do more than what we say.

 

 

Let me hear from you.  What are you thoughts on this subject?  Give me a shout out, your opinion is important to me.

Does The Burden You Have For The Young People You Serve Lead You To Your Knees Or In Search Of Another Curriculum Or Program

 

Today we begin looking at the details of Nehemiah’s four step process for dealing with the burden he had for the people in Jerusalem.  We as leaders should have a burden for the conditions our young people face and an action plan for supporting them.

 

Step 1 – Nehemiah heard the report of his city.  In response, he spent four months of fasting, praying, weeping and mourning.

 

Our communities are deeply broken by the conditions society, some self-imposed, others that have been created.  We face economic breakdown with parental loss of jobs or the inability to acquire employment.  Businesses are struggling or closing.  We face family breakdowns in two family homes, parental relationships and the relationships between parents and kids. Single family homes are overburdened by the responsibility of the one parent.  Our educational system now pits teacher union reps against administration looking to get control of massive budgets; while neither is really focused on the education of our young people.  The young people themselves don’t see the true value of education and the capable ones dummy down to fit in and avoid peer pressure, thus affecting their long-term prospects of economic self-sufficiency.  Our men are being broken by a system that has devalued them and targeted them in a way that makes high school to prison the norm for a large number of our men.  The political system is run by power brokers whose self-interest sacrifices any other efforts.  The little man with few financial resources has no voice.  Services and assistance are being cut or redirected to those who don’t have the greatest need.  People have lost hope and see no way out and are giving up.

The challenges described above are not just in the urban communities; I am describing all communities.  Unfortunately, we don’t always want to face up to the reality of trouble existing in our own community.  By not addressing these head on we leave our young people exposed to deal with what they see, in their own way.  I conducted a workshop, last week, at a suburban youth ministry and after the workshop the adults were amazed at the attitudes of their young people and the experiences they were having.  The youth workers assumed the issues were in the other communities, not theirs.   They said they have “the good kids” but learned they were not equipping the young people to effectively make Godly decisions.   The young people began to discuss not only their issues but also how they felt the youth workers didn’t understood them, were not equipping them or living as an example for them.  This was incredibly eye opening to these youth workers.  This upper middle class, suburban, curriculum rich ministry learned they had not spent much time in collective prayer seeking God’s guidance in equipping their young people to deal with the issues they face.  Now don’t confuse my point; curricula is necessary but not the end all be all to helping our young people grow.

As youth workers and leaders, we have to engage more in the lives of our young people to understand what they are dealing with day-to-day and not assume everything is ok.  Issues may not be the same in every neighborhood, but every neighborhood has issues.  Your burden for the young people should lead you to find your neighborhoods issues.   That search starts with prayer and fasting on their behalf.  Engaging them in conversation about their challenges and taking those issue to the Lord for guidance.

 

The Bible says when Nehemiah heard about the challenges of his people he was grieved –

3And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

 4And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

 5And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

 

Nehemiah was a middle class person who had a seat at the table with those in control.  He was considered successful and set.  Even though, he was concerned about his people and felt he needed to take action. He knew that phrase the old folks us to say and we must understand today that – “but for the grace of God, go I”.  People have to care and we are the people who have to lead the caring.  Our young people are depending on us to step up and equip them to be able to discern and make Godly decisions.  Stay encouraged. Stay engaged. Stay upon the Wall.  Our young peoples DESTINY demand our diligence.

 

Next week we will look at Nehemiah’s next step after praying and fasting.

 

What is the burden you have for the young people?  How is your team collectively getting it’s understanding?  How are you engaging them?  Join the conversation and be a blessing to someone else.

 

 

Your Diligence Determines Our Young Peoples Destiny

I would be remiss if I started into this blog without first recognizing the birthday of Reverend Martin L. King who would be 84 today.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience.

Now to the ministry . . .

Today I am writing to encourage those of you in the trenches of the new urban ministry.  As I explained last week, the new urban is a life style that permeates all segments of life.  It’s non-geographical; it’s multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-generational.  It’s looking through a prism with each layer being non-parallel.

I want to start today’s focus with a statement that is extremely relevant for those serving on behalf of young people – Behind every social problem; there is a spiritual solution!  Our young people are facing incredible moral challenges.  Whether they are watching the Game on BET or Whitney on NBC; the media makes casual sex, living together and all other forms of sin seem exciting and ok.  Gay marriage has become a cornerstone of network television. NBC calls its new comedy about a homosexual couple adopting a baby “The New Normal,” and that kind of understates it. This season they are not only normal they seem de rigueur.   Actors and entertainers, in Hollywood, are changing relationships like we change underwear.  Kim Kardashian makes out of wedlock pregnancy “in fashion”.  The music industry, of which everyone is listening, still glorifies sex, violence, money power and respect. We must be the counter to all of this for our young people.  Violent shootings are in every community.  In reality, this kind of violence is in many ways a part of our violent history and culture, and we have to start recognizing that there is no “typical” face of violence — it is not just the black kid killing people in gang shootings, the Mexican cartel member, or the “Muslim terrorist.” It can be, and often is, the white, suburban kid next door.  Over 917 deaths from shootings have happened since the Sandy Hook shooting.

 

Lives that are void of spiritual commitment are more willing to accept social response to spiritual problems.  We have to break the cycles, educating our young people on the structural roots of their suffering; historically rooted in structures of apathy and dependence.  J.F. Kennedy once said – Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.  We must help our young people lift themselves out of a self-centered; mentality that says they are victims rather than as the Bible says – we are more than conquers.  Our vision of the community must be God’s vision.  Our mission is to reach our cities and make them places where God’s presence, God’s way and God’s Word flourish and is understood to be the only way to solve problems.  Yes, young people in our cities face numerous challenges.   But WE are called to minister and serve in these environments because this is where God had placed us.

 

We must see our cities as it really is today before we can reach what we hope it to be.  God has a vision for our cities to become places of shelter, communion, purity and hope.  We must understand God’s sovereign purpose for our lives and the communities in which we live.  We must speak positive words and cease denouncing the city and being negative about its problems by beginning to addressing them through prayerful strategic action.

 

The Book of Nehemiah, and the burden he had for his city, lays out a model for us to address this deep spiritual burden for our community, neighborhood and city.  The purpose of your ministry is to bring healing and wholeness to a broken people and a broken generation.  God takes the broken pieces of humanity and transforms them into building blocks for His creation. The opportunity to become builders and arise up out of the ashes of brokenness is upon you the youth worker, a part of God’s church.

 

Over the next few weeks I will break down Nehemiah’s four-step action plan and how it perfectly ties into your responsibility to the young people in your communities:

Nehemiah heard the report of his city.  In response,

1.  Nehemiah spent four months of fasting, praying, weeping and mourning

2.  Nehemiah developed a vision of restoration that symbolically connects to those hurting young people today

3.  Nehemiah witnessed firsthand the terrible conditions of the city

4. Nehemiah purposed to arise, restore and rebuild.

 

Our young people are depending on us to step up and equip them to be able to discern and make Godly decisions.  Stay encouraged. Stay engaged. Stay upon the Wall.  Your diligence determines our young peoples destiny.

Join the conversation, share some of your challenges in the new urban that it may strengthen other youth workers . . .

Youth Ministry Has Taken An Exciting New Directions — It’s Called The New Urban!!!

Happy New Year everyone.

I have just returned from a couple weeks vacation in Paris with my wife’s family.  My time away allowed me to reflect on the past few years and where I see the future of youth ministry.   As I said on facebook the other day – My wife asked me to step away from the IPad, IPhone and email while we were away.  I was able to do some deep reading, contemplative, reflective, introspective thinking and I was able to spend some incredible downtime with God in prayer and fasting.

 

As a result of this time, today we are re-launching our entire Platform – our ministry, social media, workshop series and sermons under the forward looking focus on Leadership in the New Urban.  We will focus on the new models required in ministering to all young people, in keeping our sanity and in networking outside our familiar circles.

 

These are exciting times for those of us who labor in the vineyard.  The urban landscape has changed in such a way that nothing is what it use to be.  The challenges our young people face are so expansive and can no longer be approached through our previous methods.  So what is the New Urban?  The new urban is a lifestyle that permeates all segments of life.  It’s non geographical.  No longer viewed through the lens of suburban, urban or rural.  Check out your young people, everyone’s into the music, the dress, activities and the talk of the new urban.   It’s multicultural, multiracial and multigenerational.  It’s cosmopolitan meets the thug, its hip-hop with a violin and everything in between.

 

 

MINISTERING TO YOUNG PEOPLE

For Youth Workers, the New Urban will require us to be at the top of our relational, relevant and revelatory game.  Young people don’t want to be entertained, taken for granted or spoon feed.  They are living in a world where everything goes and are questioning why they shouldn’t participate.   Peer pressure to conform to the world view is intense.  The world is telling them there are no limits, no morals and no judgement of anything they do.  Yet they want to know how to make God honoring decisions in a world where morality seems to be fading.  They want to see us “Walk The Talk”.  They don’t want us to be their best friends; they want adults who will walk along side them through their mess, guiding them along the way.  Pizza is great, but presence is better.  Lights are nice, but loving is more impactful.  Gimmicks are interesting, but grace is more desired.  Entertainment is fun, but equipping is long lasting.   Dodgeball is engaging,but destiny is the focus is.

 

 

UNDERGIRDING YOUTH WORKERS

Let’s face it, we are challenged with the new urban also.  This world is waxing worse and worse right in front of us and we are about two steps ahead of the young people in keeping up and understanding what’s going on in the secular culture.  We are dealing with situations we never expected the young people we minister to would be involved in at this age.  Our only advantage is our spiritual maturity and experience in dealing with the idols of the world.  The Bible tells us, “we must know the times. . .”.  Even though, I have to admit, sometimes I struggle with the burden of our young people. The weight of their plight brings me to tears.  But we know all of our problems, all of our pain, all of our situations, all of our heart ache can be left at the feet of Jesus.  Place your cares upon Him, He will hear your call.  We serve a God who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can imagine.  Trust in His Word, you know none of this is new to Him.  Stay encouraged and on your knees.

 

 

NETWORKING TO STRENGTHEN EACH OTHER

If we are willing to share our gifts, talents, resources and knowledge we will prevail.  If we are willing to network with other ministries in and outside of our normal circles; if we stay unified in the Kingdom building, holding each other up, praying for each other, strengthening each other in our walk, we will prevail.  Building strong networks take time, energy, empathy, open minds and passion.  In a world of social media, it is easy to make connections, but these connections are not a network.  The strength of your network is more important than the size of your network because, in the end, a strong network is something that you carry with you.  Today’s youth workers need to be able to build networks and work with others to address our young peoples challenges.  In the past it was possible to minister on your own and stay in your personal circle but today, requires sharing information and collaborating due to the overlapping of our young people’s experiences. Where we live is irrelevant, the size of our church is irrelevant, what we did in the past is irrelevant.  To assist parents in the spiritual development of their children, we must press toward to the mark . . .together.

So my brothers and sisters in Christ, stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  I offer this prayer of encouragement from the words of the songstress Laura Stong’s Blessings   :

Dear God;

We pray for blessings
. We pray for peace.


Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
.  We pray for healing, for prosperity.

We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
 yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

We pray for wisdom
. Your voice to hear
.

And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love,
 as if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea
 and long that we have faith to believe

.

What if our greatest disappointments
 or the aching of this life,
 is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
, what if your healing comes through tears.


What if a thousand sleepless nights
 are what it takes to know You’re near

And what if trials of this life
: the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
 are Your mercies in disguise.

In Jesus name . . . Amen.

 

Welcome to the New Urban, ready or not here we go . . .

 

 

Actions                                    Preferences

 

                         Attitudes                                     Perspectives

 

Aspirations                                    Principles

 

 

 

 

Learning And Relearning The “Truth About Reality”, Or The Truth About Urban Ministry

Some make it a habit of reading the experiences of Urban Ministry through the lens of stereotypes, symbols and beliefs and its difficult if not impossible to attach other meanings because there are no other interpretations beyond the “knowledge” they carried with them.  That knowledge would be “shadows cast on the wall” that prevent them from knowing the truth about urban ministry.  They take the shadows as objective representations of reality.  It’s time for us to help them confront their shadows so that they may know the truth about urban ministries.

Most times this is not an intentional act against another group but a lack of deep scriptural knowledge.   I am not referring to memorization or reading of scripture, but an exegetical study to understand the linkages and meaning of treatment to and of others in relationship to treatment of self.  The power behind Jesus commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself should flip the script on our day-to-day thinking.  This goes beyond the idea of just helping someone in need. This view does not allow you to look at them as less than, separate, inferior or not deserving of all that you would do for yourself or your family.

It is antithetical to think that we would do more for others than we would for ourselves.  We each see the world from our own self-interest first and then in service to others.  But this view contradicts scripture.  Let’s look at one of the most well intentioned concepts of service – mission trips.  On the surface they seems totally the right, the Christian thing to do and a learning opportunity for young people.  But from the side of those you choose to serve, it is as disrespectful as any action that one could engage.

 

I will use the word of two greatly respected figures, Martin L. King and Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, to unpack this concept in an attempt as was taught in Ephesians, to tear down the walls of separation in the church that worship the same God and has the hopes of a future in the same heaven.

King said – True altruism is more than the capacity to pity; it is the capacity to sympathize.  Pity may represent little more that the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern, which demands the giving of one’s soul.  Pity may arise from interest in an abstraction called humanity, but sympathy grows out of a concern for particular needy human being who lies at life’s roadside.  Sympathy is fellow feeling for the person in need – his pain, agony, and burdens.   Missionary efforts fail when they are based on pity, rather than true compassion.  Instead of seeking to do something with people, we have too often sought only to do something for them.  An express of pity, devoid of genuine sympathy, leads to a new form of paternalism, which no self-respecting person can accept.

 

Bishop Brazier said – Some in the church contribute money to support missionary hospitals and schools in foreign countries.  They take trips to involve themselves in the total life of people with whom they are working for the sake of Christ.  Why is it that some, while supporting total involvement abroad oppose total involvement at home?  The New Testament sets out clearly a position of equality when it unequivocally states that none of the biological, ethical, social or psychological distinctions by which we compartmentalize men and make some inferior and some superior has any validity as far as their standing before God in Christ is concerned (cf. Col.3: 11).  If this is the case then surely there can be no artificial distinction and barrier in our relationship with each other.  

 

I write this out of love for my brothers and sisters so all races, creeds and religions.  Those I serve with, beside and those yet to be in relationship.   Truth is never uncalled for.  There is no polish without friction and it is with men as someone has said about tea: if you wish to get its strength you must put it in hot water.  So the real opportunity for those outside the urban community is that there is no meaning in a given situation until you relate your own experiences to it, regardless of what you might have been taught about it.  Obtaining personal experience in meaningful relationship with other leaders in the urban communities plays a critical role in this process.  It is through a lived experience of being with others that stereotypical perceptions can be transformed.

 

A general implication of the arguments presented is that, like any diversity related discourse, the choice, conceptualization and the practice in the diverging context not remain essentially a contextual matter.

 

Let’s talk about it.  Hit me back with your comments, thoughts and questions.