This week I talk about the question I get from new Next Gen Pastors: “So, I’m a Next Gen Pastor… NOW WHAT?”
Our family decided to take on the monumental task of doing a Walt Disney World vacation. It was A TON of preparation on the front end, and we seemed like we were prepared for everything and anything that we could run into. We had our Disney shirts, our meal plans, our fast-passes, & our amazing park maps and plans. We were ready for the most magical vacation EVER!!! IT WAS AMAZING, but the one thing that I was not prepared for was that my ministry world would be reignited because of it. I mean, I was on vacation, so I was trying to keep that part of my brain shut off and just enjoy my family time… but everywhere I turned, my imagination was sparked and I couldn’t help but wonder “what if?” What if we put as much energy, enthusiasm, positivity, imagination, innovation, wonder, & excitement into our ministries? What if we took care of families as well as our family was taken care of?
And here is the deal… these feelings were not “We are awful… we’re doing terrible” kind of feelings. They were the kind of feelings where you are sooo blown away by what you see and what you experience, that you can’t help but imagine. You can’t help but dream. You can’t help but envision something bigger, better, brighter, and more full of wonder and amazement.
There was one moment, in particular, where this feeling was strong. We were watching the Festival of Imagination parade down main street, and I was taking Instagram story videos of everything. I looked down and saw my daughter looking up at Mickey and Minnie on their float… and she had that glow. It was the look on her face that said, “This is the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed in my life!!” [ I was so proud of myself for actually capturing this moment, BTW 😉 ]… but as I am taking this video… in the back of my mind I am thinking… “I want EVERY KID to feel this way when they come to our church environments!” What if every kid and teenager who came into our environments could be blown away by the wonder, imagination, and innovation of how we tell and re-tell the story of Jesus? It was like something was shaken loose inside of me… and now I can’t ignore it or turn it off.
I’m not saying we have to “Disney-level” up our environments (I mean, who realistically has the budget to do that?), but I am saying this, “How can we innovate and create environments that capture the imaginations and wonder of the kids that we minister to in a way that they feel like “This is the most amazing thing I have been a part of in my life?”
So dream. Innovate. Use your imagination. Inspire wonder. Don’t settle for the status quo. Allow the greatest story ever to spark passion and excitement in you and in the kids you minister to.
In this webcast I talk about the final 4 ways we, as Next Gen ministries, can partner with parents and families:
Rebuilding. It can be something that is born out of necessity… or out of vision for the future… or out of frustration. No matter what brings it about, though, rebuilding takes a lot of effort and a lot of vision. We’ve been journeying through the OT book in the Bible called Nehemiah because the crux of this book is all about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was ransacked and destroyed by the Babylonians… and generations later, a man named Nehemiah had the burden to go back to his hometown and rebuild the wall so his people could begin the process of rebuilding their city. We’ve looked at the first 7 steps that Nehemiah took in the rebuilding process here, here, & here. If you haven’t checked those out yet… go do that first and catch up. We’ll wait.
No seriously… we will wait.
OK… now that you have caught up… let’s take a look at the final 3 steps of the rebuilding process: RESTATE THE MISSION, CONQUER THE OBSTACLES, & FINISH THE TASK & CELEBRATE.
8] RESTATE THE MISSION
This step is a direct answer to the last step of FACE THE OPPOSITION. Whenever you face opposition in rebuilding, there is the potential for people to give up on the mission or to forget WHY they are going after this project. Vision naturally leaks and goes away… but opposition makes that happen faster. So it is imperative, as leaders, that we not only face the opposition head-on, but that we RESTATE THE MISSION & VISION in the process. Remind everyone of WHY you are rebuilding in the first place. Re-spark and re-kindle that fire that drove them to want to rebuild.
As Nehemiah fortified the weak places in the wall… he recast the vision and restated the mission. He also reminded the people that, if this vision and mission was truly from God, He will empower the work and make it come to pass.
9] CONQUER THE OBSTACLES
Not only will there be opposition to face in the rebuilding process… you will also face obstacles. Opposition has to do with the haters that don’t want to see your rebuilding process succeed… Obstacles are the natural (or supernatural) things that present themselves as problems to the rebuilding process. Stuff doesn’t work, things fall apart, money runs thin… things like that. It is inevitable and unavoidable.
When the unexpected arises, there will be two factors to determine whether we will conquer them or not: ATTITUDE and ADJUSTMENTS.
Our attitude in the face of obstacles may be one of the most important things in conquering them. Those who are following us are watching our attitude. If we get defeated by the unexpected… that attitude will permeate the entire team. Staying positive amidst the obstacles will inspire those we lead to face them with the same attitude. The speed of the leader will be the speed of the team.
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to rebuilding. It is not IF obstacles will arise… but WHEN. And when they do, we will need to be flexible and make adjustments in order to move the work forward. Perfectionism and control is the enemy of leadership. The greatest leaders know how to adapt and adjust to meet the obstacles and conquer them. The true test of a leader is not in how they plan… but what happens when the plan doesn’t work.
10] FINISH THE TASK & CELEBRATE
Anyone can start a rebuilding project… but it takes leadership to finish the task. One of the things that we can often forget or overlook after we’ve finished the task, however, is to CELEBRATE the completion. When you celebrate you add value to all the work that you’ve just put in and asked others to put it. The celebration makes the sacrifice worth it!
Now go and rebuild!!!!
In this episode of the Next Gen Pastor Webcast, I highlight 4 ways we can partner with families!
If you’ve ever been in a season of rebuilding (whether it’s a business, ministry, team… whatever) you will know that three things are absolutely true about this season: 1) It’s a lot of work, 2) It can be highly frustrating, & 3) the reward is in the process and perseverance. As I wrote before here & here… The Old Testament book [in the Bible] of Nehemiah is a story about rebuilding. Nehemiah had the burden on his heart to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem so that his people could begin to rebuild their city. Without the wall rebuilt, they were susceptible to outsiders attacking and ransacking them again. As we follow the story, we begin to see an outline for rebuilding that inspires us as we begin any rebuilding process: INQUIRY, BURDEN, PRAYER, SURVEY, & CAST VISION. Those are the first 5 steps in the process. Today I want to cover the next 2:
6) ASSEMBLE THE TEAM
If you are going to rebuild something of significance, it’s going to take a team. Sure, you can do things by yourself, but what I’ve found is that WE > ME. I am only one person with an ability and capacity cap… but: ME + TEAM = endless possibilities. Nehemiah knew that, in order for the dream of rebuilding the wall to happen, he needed to find a team who could make the dream a reality.
Nehemiah 3 details his team and the work that they began to do. It is breathtaking to see how much can get accomplished when we assemble the team, cast the vision, enable the work, and then release them to accomplish it.
7) FACE THE OPPOSITION
Anyone who has tried to build anything knows this truth: Opposition is out there. You will, almost certainly, face opposition to your rebuilding efforts. Nehemiah and his team faced significant opposition to the rebuilding effort. So it’s not IF you will face opposition, but WHAT YOU WILL DO in the face of opposition that will make or break your rebuilding effort.
“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.” – Nehemiah 4:7-8a
They all plotted together to STIR UP TROUBLE. That is mantra of every hater to the rebuilding process.
As a leader, it is our job to see the difference between opposition of haters and concerns of investors. Sometimes we can mistake people’s constructive criticism for hate and opposition… and sometimes we can’t see that people’s “observations” are simply them not liking the direction and vision because it goes against their preferences.
We need to be ready to hear concerns and face opposition… but not waiver from the vision.
Nehemiah saw the threat coming… and he heard the cries of his team. He put in place armed guards to watch over the weaker spots of the rebuilding process and fortify them. That’s what leaders do. They listen to real concerns and face opposition HEAD ON.