Thursday, December 29, 2016

Integrity over Image

“Choose Integrity over Image.” 
In a season of making resolutions, setting goals, and striving for change - I finished a devotional on my YouVersion app this morning. This one was, to say the least - shareable! I have added the graphic below from YouVersion - hopefully you download the whole thing and give it a read. But the last day just spoke to everything about finding our identity in what we do, rather than in Jesus. We are a crazed people when it comes to Image, and this was just a great read! Enjoy!! 

Oh, friend, what is our obsession with image? It’s like we just can’t stop tooting our own horns and posting pictures that capture the very best of our lives. I guess that’s because there’s no way to really photograph the hard stuff. I’m not going to stop crying in my cornflakes, or acting really selfish, to take a selfie, are you?
Actually, our obsession with image started back in Genesis, at the fall, when Adam and Eve hid in the Garden. God asked, “Where are you?” and they were like, over here, hiding, pretending like we didn’t just get hustled by that serpent. There’s another story in Genesis 11 about the people in Babylonia who wanted to be famous and make a name for themselves, so they built the Tower of Babel. 
God stopped them, but that spirit lives on today. These days, we see people refer to fame as a career path, and if we’re not careful, whatever we are building – even in Jesus's name – can be more about us and our platform than about Him and His glory.
Let’s just be honest about it, even with Jesus, pride is a central issue in our lives. Personally, pride has kept me bound up in unforgiveness. Pride has hindered relationships in my life. Pride has given birth to control, anger, fear, insecurity, and jealousy in my heart. Pride has kept me at odds with the will of God. At different times in my life, pride has made my image, my desire, my insecurity, and my intellect my god. I can think of nothing more destructive to the purpose of God in our lives and in the lives of others than pride.
I’m sorry, this is sort of heavy for a last day… How are you doing? I’ve loved journeying with you, and we’re getting to more encouraging bits, I promise. I wonder if we build an image because we are searching for significance. We haven’t learned how to be found in Christ, so we look to find ourselves in a person or career, in the clothes we wear, car we drive, pants size and Instagram likes, being better than other people, or proving ourselves to someone in our past, because that makes us feel significant, like we matter. Listen, I’m not anti any of those things, but if our motivation is to exalt our image above our integrity, then we’ve rooted our pursuits in pride. 
If we can surrender our image to Jesus, we can learn to live adverse to haughtiness. That’s what Paul did. When he met Jesus, he conquered the pride that shaped his religion and exalted his intellect. So when he writes in 1 Corinthians 2, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified,” we see a man completely changed by the power of the gospel. We see a forgiven man who has let the idol of his image die on the cross with Jesus, so that he can walk in the truth before God and man. 
Our image-obsessed world can sometimes be a hard place to find God. We can lean into the Holy Spirit and find His presence and power to heal us from our past, to receive forgiveness, and to forgive those who have hurt us, so that pride and it’s offspring does not rule our lives. 
I pray you continue to find God in the hard places of life. Thank you for the privilege of walking with you on your discipleship journey. You are so loved. 
PRACTICE: Read Saul’s conversion in Acts Chapter 9. As you enter into his story, ask God what He wants you to see, what He wants you to understand. Is the spirit of pride keeping you focused more on your image than on Christ? Is there anyone God is asking you to forgive so you can move forward?
Monday, September 19, 2016

Leadership lessons from blind Bartimaeus

If you have never read the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), you have missed an awesome chunk of scripture. Or maybe you have read it and it didn't jump off the page for you. I was very familiar with this story and will often use it as an illustration in speaking - it contains one of my favorite questions in scripture. And while the "obvious" question makes me laugh a little every time I read it, the complexity of this simple question could be the source of many chapters of a book! I should write that book.

As Jesus was walking out of Jericho, He was surrounded by a large crowd. Bartimaeus who was sitting on the side of the road begging, heard Him and knew it was Jesus. Bartimaeus began to call out, "Jesus, son of David! Have mercy on me!". The people scoffed at him, reminding him of his status and that Jesus won't have time for him. As the crowd tried to get him to be quiet - he shouted more and more, getting louder. Jesus, hearing him called for him and the crowd began to shout for him to get up and go to Jesus. As he ran to Jesus he threw his cloak aside, when he approached - Jesus said "What do you want me to do for you?". Wait, what? I LOVE this question!

Bartimaeus replied "I want to see", and Jesus said to him "Go, your faith has healed you."

Every time I read this passage I laugh a little. It's such an obvious answer to that question. The dude is blind! Why would Jesus ask? Why wouldn't he just heal him straight away? Here are a few lessons I find to be epicly (not sure that's a word) true!

1. As Bartimaeus called out - He called Jesus, not just by name, but "Son of David". He was exclaiming his faith in Jesus as the Messiah. 
2. As the crowd told him to hush it, he got louder. While they may not be questioning his faith, they are making it clear that Jesus is only for some - and he wasn't that status. Today you see that in rockstar Christianity. People who claim to be compassionate followers of Jesus - but only when He is looking or giving attention to the poor. (which is always, but that's a different blog) In this time, Bartimaeus' condition would be assumed as a consequence for God's judgement. As soon as Jesus called him they quickly joined in. Jesus once again reminded the crowd of His compassion through His actions. He showed them that healing was for all. 
3. Jesus asked him what he wanted. Here we see a very obvious need. But Jesus had him state that need. It is in this posture that we see Bartimaeus show his faith, as Jesus is humbly standing in front of him in His Holiness. How many times a day do we just stop and recognize who Jesus is?
4. The question wasn't if Bartimaeus had faith, the question became "Was Bartimaeus willing to seek Jesus and lay his needs before him - even amongst ridicule." He did.

I use this passage often with discouraged leaders. As leaders, sometimes I think we have the tendency to think that if we haven't been able to fix something or succeed - we are just stuck. We have possessed faith, but still failed! Now what? We fail to see that something that may be an obvious need in our lives, even though Jesus can see it, we haven't given it to Him. 

If you are stuck, or broken as a leader (coming from someone who has been those things) have you sat there in your discouragement and called out to Jesus? As you are being ridiculed or feeling insignificant, have you called Him by name - showing your faith and His greatness? And lastly have you specifically asked Him to see? Or named the specific need? I have been so amazed to learn that it was my vision (or perspective) that simply needed healing. While other times there was a major change or healing.  

For those of us in leadership, we often need to step back and simply ask for help. Maybe to your pastor, maybe to your supervisor - but always to your heavenly father who waits for you to ask. 
Saturday, September 17, 2016

Slides from Epic Bible College Session

This morning I had the privilege of speaking to several Special Needs Ministry Leaders. What an amazing group who are ministering to such a great group in our churches. If you are looking for practical resources for this ministry - or attended the session, here are the slides. Looking forward to hearing what God is doing in your ministry. 

Click here for slides

Monday, August 29, 2016

CPC+ Session Resources

If you joined us for CPC+, you are most likely still sifting through your notes of amazingness! What a couple days, full of great information and useful tidbits. I know I heard several of my team members tuned in to various sessions in our kids ministry offices and they loved it. 

If you watched my session on training, I had mentioned that I would be posting my notes, slides and templates for our training materials. Sorry for the delay, I had some issues with updating the blog - but we are now good to go! 

Below you will find the materials mentioned in the session, and I am back to regular posts with September being focused on equipping your teams! Check back on 9/1 for that new post, or hit subscribe and it will come to your inbox!

Thanks again for your patience, and happy training!

Click Here for presentation slides

Click Here for our Volunteer Manual

Click Here for our training day booklet

Friday, April 29, 2016

Layers of Leadership - from the archives

My new friend Anthony Coppedge read a post of mine (“Day Camp“) regarding whether it’s ministry or childcare and asked me to write a follow-up post here on his blog as a guest author. I am excited that Anthony’s saw my passion for developing leaders and volunteers and gave me a chance to speak to you, his friends in ministry.

Day camp for my staff is a fun summer of getting paid to play and minister to children. Often times resulting in children being saved and whole families coming to Christ as a result. I have come to the conclusion that day camp is an opportunity to build a ministry of leadership, outreach, mentoring, spiritual growth and development. I was recently asked how I came to that conclusion, which I love to have the opportunity to explain.

One thing I have learned from this program is how to begin to build leaders. In Children's Ministry, Pastoral Leadership, or business management we need people who understand, value, and own our cause or vision and can continue to make it happen. Let's face it leaders, you won't be sitting in that chair forever, and if you truly believe in what you are doing, your ministry should thrive even after your exit.

 If ministry leadership was simply a matter of having tasks completed and lining up people to do them, it would be easy. But a volunteer who sees that at the end of the day, every moment with this child can shape their spiritual growth, will make every moment count. So where are these people located? I need to order more please! Well, they aren't ordered, or even found, they're built. (for the lack of a better word)

Why is something as simple as a 10 week summer program seen as an opportunity to build these leaders?  Our counselors are usually college age students that have a desire to have a future in ministry. These counselors were at one time (most often) campers. I believe every moment is a moment to teach. For example, a camper has several opportunities to learn while in camp and even do service projects. Once in high school they can return as a CIT (counselor in training) where they learn how to teach the stories, lead the music and games, and run things alongside an established mentoring counselor. Once they're 18 they can join staff, these kids have proven to be amazing leaders when they come of age. In children's ministry I get to serve kids that have their whole life ahead of them. Yes, my ultimate goal is to introduce them to Jesus and teach them how to have a relationship with Him. However, serving our saviour is part of our relationship and I believe I would be failing them if I didn't teach and give them opportunities as well.

Part of my passion comes from my own layers, when I was 6 years old I was picked up by the church bus every Sunday. I sang songs and learned verses. Once my parents started attending and I no longer needed to ride the bus, our pastor offered me the role of "bus captain"! I was 10, and my job was to make a list of songs and verses to lead as we picked up kids on the way to church.  At the age of 14 I began teaching little lambs with an elderly woman who knew she didn't have many more years of chasing three year olds. I taught with Miss Evelyn for a year before she stepped down, she taught me every piece of that class from crafts, to preparing a lesson for kids that small, to talking with parents. For this reason, we pair new volunteers with someone who has been at it a while. Lastly, all the mentors I have ever had gave me freedom or ownership. As a natural control person this can be difficult to let projects go, but your workers will usually be more dedicated and passionate if they have creative freedom within the support you provide. Many years of people adding "layers" to me came in handy when I married my husband who was a pastor of a small church. This church could be seen as a small country church with nothing for kids, I saw a fresh canvas!

The opportunity for adults, teens, and kids to learn as they go, and grow as they learn is a necessity. Jesus was constantly on the move as he taught, usually on His way to do something else. Life didn't stop for training. Which don't get me wrong, I love a good conference but give me a mentor who has been at it for fifty years and wants to add some more layers to me day by day and I believe that's a goldmine! So for this reason I pass you the following 5 questions to consider...

1. What are you doing every day that can be a teachable moment for someone willing to learn?
2. Are you giving your ministry kids (or adults) an opportunity and the skills to serve?
3. Do your leaders feel like they have freedom within your support to own their projects?
4. Can you spot your future leaders? That 10 year old tech savvy kid, are you adding layers to him?
5. Who are YOU learning from? There's no limit to your layers.

I hope your mind is buzzing with ideas of how to invest in people who will someday take the reigns and effectively communicate the gospel to future generations.  As always, I love to hear your thoughts and bounce ideas. Join me on twitter or cmconnect!

Blessings for your day,

Heidi M Hensley

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Leaders touch a heart, before they take a hand.

Reading in 1 Kings this morning, and studying a bit about connection. 

It's so interesting the parallels that jump off the page in reference to leadership today. While Rehoboam had much different circumstances, many are like what today's leaders face as we make transitions and continue to grow where we are. Here's my three parallels from this morning, enjoy! 

1.He was being crowned king, a new leader to an existing group of people.
Much like a move to a new job or church today. 
2. There was a group of people longing to be heard, I don't need to explain that one on today's level. 
3. There was a prior leader who had influenced a core of people still there. In this case, Rehoboam had access to Solomons elders, a great source of wisdom that he chose not to use.

The unfortunate part was that Rehoboam had been set up for success, but his love of power and politics squandered that. When he was crowned king, his servants asked him to lighten their load - his elders clearly told him that it would be an early win if he did. "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." His initial action of seeking wisdom from the elders was correct, but he chose not to connect on that level. Instead, Rehoboam opted to seek advice from his peers which told him to add to their load. It was an act of flexing power (the easy way out) rather than taking time to invest in his people. 

Chances are, as a leader you are in this very spot in some form. A decision needs to be made, and maybe there are two paths. The easy road of just "calling it" and flexing your power muscle, or taking the time to invest and gain wisdom. 
Here's my lessons from today:
1. Seek wisom in wise places (that's tweet-able right there!) Rehoboam sought out people with no influence or experience. We are told over and over in scripture to let the previous generations pour into us. 
2. Choose the path that connects you to those you lead instead of the one that creates disconnect. Chances are, that's clear. Guaranteed, you can look at a major decision and know that if you are dreading one route because it's not supported you might want to seek wisdom. (yes, there will be unpopular moments as well, but there should b ether ability to know so won is in your corner. 
3. Get beyond yourself, sometimes it's about using your authority to love others rather than get stuff done. The irony is that you will accomplish so much more by taking the time to develop the personal relationships and care for those you lead. This is a hard concept for task driven people, because it forces you to put the to-do list down and just be present with no agenda for a bit.

Now that I have stepped all over my own toes, it's time for coffee! Praying for an awesome day of leadership!! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Chasing Christmas - Responding to the Christmas Visitors

I recently ran across a web page I love,! Great name, right? I was actually looking for some statistics for a writing piece, and instead found a new reading spot.

As we wrap up the holiday season, like most leaders, I am debriefing what we did to engage families we see twice a year on a different level. The seeds have been planted, but as we enter the new year how do we get them to take root? How do we let these families know that there is a place for them all year long? In an effort to support my thoughts that we do indeed see an influx of families that are unchurched, not just visiting out of state away from their church home - I found this! Below is a clip from the site mentioned above:

More Stats: More Jesus

  • 79% of Americans think Christmas should be more about Jesus.
  • 63% think Christmas should include a visit to church. (Wishful thinking, since only 47% get there?)
  • “Younger Americans are least interested in church at Christmas time.” 38% of 18- to 24-year-olds say church is an essential part of Christmas, compared to 55% of 25- to 34-year-olds. Across the board, younger people are less enthralled with Christmas than older people. Of course by “younger people” we’re not talking about little kids enjoying the many bribes of Christmas.
  • While people do want religious Christmas songs in schools (86% agree), fewer buy the “War on Christmas”: Only 29% agree that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is offensive. 
  • Best way to get those 47% to church on Christmas? Personally invite your family (67%) or a friend or neighbor (63%).

As I sat and read over this material, I realize that we are (as a nation) still marketing and advertising like we are talking to the baby boomer generation. Boomers wanted to invest in something - however generation X and Y are longing to belong to something. Very different engagement points indeed! When you consider that gen X and Y are now showing up with their kids to church, maybe even once or twice a year, we need to be ready with an answer of how they fit in and be able to show them where they belong.  I always find this interesting with this generation, and can only assume that the desire for the church to be prepared for their arrival stems from the "instant information" culture they have always known. These are generations that have any and all information needed at their fingertips in an instant thanks to technology. 

A few ways we as the church can engage these guests came to mind as I continued to study family ministry trends, hopefully you find them useful as you look at all the visitor tags and connections that were made this Christmas season

1. Trend vs Tradition - there are few things that allow tradition to trump trend these days. I believe Christmas is one of them. There needs to be a sign that Christmas is still made of what you knew as a child, even if your church brings in a high demand talent, streamlines decor, and puts on the "wow" factor - make sure it's still about the birth of Jesus. Oddly enough, it is non-Christians who usually notice that the "baby Jesus" they came to see isn't present. The simple Christmas story is a familiar part of Christianity that they connect with.  And after the fact, a simple "thank you for joining us" in the form of a traditional postcard is usually welcome. It reminds them of what they came to and provides a personal touch, it also opens the door when you chase it with an email of what you have for them in the new year.

2. For the younger crowd, finding a way to let them know they can be part of something is key. I once  had a lady tell me that she doesn't attend church because "they don't need her". She stayed at home and watched it on TV. She eventually visited a church that had a clear message in their mission statement that they were all a family on mission together - to change the heart of their city for future generations. This was something she could get behind, and she has now been there 2 years. While Christmas is now over, hopefully you communicated that you do indeed need people and can follow up with them. 

3. As a leader, the first week into the new year is a crucial time. Families who showed up still have a fresh feeling of what they experienced at Christmas in their mind and this is the week to let them know that some of those elements stay all year. This should be a week of reminding people that the community they found during the holidays can be an all time part of their life, surprisingly some don't know that. 

This past Sunday I ran into a young couple that visited during Christmas. They have an 11 month old baby and a 2 year old. During our Christmas services they came and learned that the service was going to be a bit much for their littles and opted to take turns sitting in the lobby. Having sat with them for a few minutes, I offered to stay in the lobby with the kids while our feature talent was performing so they could both see it. Surprisingly they agreed and went inside! (I am the children's pastor, so it wasn't a super creepy move ha!) They came out and were like static electricity with their excitement and the fact that they got to share it with one another. By now I was in the floor with legos and crayons and the kids were great, I told them to go hear the message if they liked and I would text if needed. After the service, the kids were great and so were they. So why am I telling you this?

I knew they needed to belong, they felt at home there and just needed someone to guide them a little. Over the weekend after Christmas I let them know I would be in the building for weekend services and we would love to have the kids - Sunday morning at 9:45 they came walking down the hall with no kids! I excitedly shouted "You did it! You checked them in!....AND LEFT" (anyone in kids ministry understands the value of the "you left" part). Smiling from ear to ear they headed to church, and upon return said they met some friends in the sanctuary they knew. Had they not dropped the kids off, they would have never run into each other. 

I know the seeds are planted, and I know the Holy Spirit will work, but I am so excited that they took the steps to experience the community they were longing for. 

Its a great reminder that we have to be ready in so many ways to respond to the different generations and cultures that will be entering our doors as they seek a crumb of what they found to be nourishing at Christmas.  I pray we find ways to let them know that it's nourishing all year.