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    How Can You "Plug In"?

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    Paeter
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    How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on September 28th 2016, 10:05 am

    I've been serving in the college/20's ministry at our church for 4 years now and am considering a change of some kind. (For those from my church who may stumble on this, feel free to ask me for details.) It's been good ministry, but I'm beginning to think there may be some other way I can serve and engage with people at our church that will maximize the output of my time investment and fit my strengths a little more.

    Right now my College/20's role is mostly about making small talk with students before and after meetings and being available to them when they want to go deeper than that. I host a monthly game night that attracts my geek brothers from that group, and some good relationships have formed over the years. But it's slow going and depends largely on how deep they want to go with me. So most of my time with them is filled with small talk. I can do small talk, but it takes a lot of effort, especially if I share few common interests with the person I'm talking to.

    I'm feeling drawn toward something that includes an element of play (maybe a hang out night once a month) but is largely a more intentional setting, like a weekly small group Bible study where I can engage a bit more as a teacher/mentor. I've been getting confirmation from church leadership a few times in recent years that teaching seems to be a developing gift of mine, so it seems appropriate to head more in that direction. Given that I'm older (but not too much older) than guys in their 20's and still love a lot of the same entertainment 20 something guys enjoy, I think I'm a good fit as a mentor for that group. (I think that entertainment is a great starting point and common ground for building relationships and hope to build a greater value for "play" at our church.) There isn't currently a role that would be described as "mentor to 20-something guys", but the Men's Ministry is getting a fresh look from new leadership and I'm hoping I can create some kind of role for myself that will fit with their goals as well as with my strengths and passions.

    All this pondering made me realize this is a worthwhile topic for all of us to think about.

    So here are my questions for you:

    If you are serving in your church, what connections, if any, do you see between what you are doing and how you are wired or gifted?

    If you are not serving in your church, or feel like your current fit is not the best, what existing or as yet uncreated role do you imagine might be a good fit for you?

    Maybe we can brainstorm with each other a bit to help get us all connected with our churches in ways that are both more fulfilling and more fruitful!



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    mikel.withers

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on September 29th 2016, 8:58 am

    1: I've been serving, off an on, for several years as a Sunday school/Bible study/discussion group leader/teacher.
    My local church has been pushing small groups and we have about a third of our attendees going to the groups.
    However, they tend to be what I'll call "Self-help" and "Remedial Christian Basics" classes.
    My gifting tends to be in philosophy and theology and what I think of as "deeper" topics (with all due humility), and frankly,
    *let me just edit the rant I just went on, and switch to the below*
    I'm not able to get the support I need to be effective.

    2: I'd really like to see a concerted effort to expand past Paul's "infant's milk" to "meat".
    I know a lot of people in our current culture need the milk, but where do they, where do we, go from there?
    How do we stay orthodox if we (corporately) don't know what that is?

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on September 30th 2016, 9:49 am

    mikel.withers wrote:
    I'd really like to see a concerted effort to expand past Paul's "infant's milk" to "meat".  
    I know a lot of people in our current culture need the milk, but where do they, where do we, go from there?
    How do we stay orthodox if we (corporately) don't know what that is?

    I think you make a really good point. Do you know if there are any other people either attending or in leadership that feel a similar pull? Maybe there would be others you could suggest meeting with (weekly or monthly) to discuss a theology text or go deeper into a book of the Bible? Even if it just started with you and one other person, that's something that could potentially grow in the future and be really fruitful in the meantime.


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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on September 30th 2016, 11:41 am

    I've done classes in the past, with some initial interest, but when they find out I'm not going to be teaching them to prove the earth is 6000 years old a lot of them bail.
    Then there is the problem of needing to teach to the lowest common denominator.
    When you go to an "Apologetics class" and you say, "Well I don't need to know the answer to that... I'll find out in Heaven some day." Well, I wonder what you are doing in that class. Or if your answer to Evolutionary theory is "If people came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"... well then I need to do a class on Evolution, and people get upset that I'm teaching Evolution, even if it is just to understand it enough to counter it.

    I think I'm going to need to sit the co-leaders of the "Connections Groups" down and actually pitch WHY we should have some form of philosophical classes. If I can get them to buy into it beyond just lip service, then maybe I can get somewhere.

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 3rd 2016, 10:35 am

    Is there literally no one that you know of at your church, in leadership or attendance, that has an interest in apologetics? If not, you've got your work cut out for you, as the leadership will be unlikely to commit resources. But if so, you might also consider just an informal, unofficial monthly meeting at a coffee shop where the two of you (if there's just one other person) can discuss chapters of an agreed upon book together. I can see something starting from there if the leadership doesn't want to invest in a full blown class or study group.


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    AdamCollings

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  AdamCollings on October 3rd 2016, 8:45 pm


    1) If you are serving in your church, what connections, if any, do you see between what you are doing and how you are wired or gifted?
    I am currently serving in our creative arts team doing live video switching during our Sunday services. Basically, I talk to the camera people over the headset, advise them, ask for shots, then decide what shot goes live and opera the video desk. I see this as a very good fit for how I'm wired and gifted. Basically, it's a creative endeavour that involves some geeky technology. I focus more on the creative side of video production rather than the techy though. I get frustrated having to plug cables or troubleshoot technical problems (I get enough of that at work being a programmer).

    Some other previous areas I have server:
    * Serving meals to the homeless. Not exactly a fit for my gifts, but something I felt lead to do, to contribute something worthwhile to the lives of the needy, as well as get me way out of my comfort zone.
    * Mentoring young-ish guys. Basically I just facilitated a friendship group between me and two others. We shared struggles, prayed for each other. It was very much all of us mutually supporting each other even though I was technically the leader. Again, not exactly a gift-fit, but a good growing experience for me, and formed some valuable friendships. I was asked to consider this role because I was seen as someone who would have something to offer to younger guys (not teenagers. Talking late 20s early 30s, so people I saw more as peers)


    3) Maybe we can brainstorm with each other a bit to help get us all connected with our churches in ways that are both more fulfilling and more fruitful!
    My church runs a course that helps you figure out what your spiritual gifts are, then looks at that in conjunction with your interests, skills and passions, to help find an appropriate ministry area. There are pre-made courses that churches can buy, or write their own. I'm sure this is a reasonably common thing.
    Of course, this doesn't help if the church doesn't have a particular ministry that fits you. This, I suppose, is where the church's willingness to let you start something new under their banner comes in, which you have shown Mike, can sometimes be hard.

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 4th 2016, 9:32 am

    Sounds like your church is pretty huge, Adam!

    Awesome to hear about you and 20-somethings. I've been working with that age group at our church for the last 4 years and have been blessed by it.

    Our church has done the spiritual gift surveys before and I've taken two or three of them. They can definitely be helpful. I wonder if there is a free one somewhere online that we could use here for this discussion?

    As for starting something new in your church, I agree, that can be challenging. I'm currently working on creating something new for about the third time and am still hitting some bumps and strenuous "people situations" that I hope to clear up this week(this morning, even! Please pray for me!).

    I've found it very useful to dig into learning what the purpose of the church is and getting to know their mission really well. Then you can see where your idea fits in to that and maybe even present it in a way that the leadership will more readily connect to their mission statement.

    That said, some churches will have a mission statement but don't REALLY use it to guide their day to day activities, letting it mostly just be a nice sounding motto. In these cases, we can pray for you. I take that as a symptom of a stagnant or stagnating church, for which there is still much hope. But they'll need someone to help them see where they're at. Which is really hard.


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    mikel.withers

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on October 4th 2016, 2:00 pm

    Bah humbug, I took too long responding and I timed out.

    Anyhow...
    My church isn't stagnant, but it could easily get there if the congregation as a whole is challenged.
    I need to convince those who are the charismatic and energetic "face" of the church to expend energy toward mature growth, rather than just "practical" growth. (maybe vertical growth as well as, not instead of horizontal growth?)
    Our church has a mission statement: "Live the Mission, Making and Teaching Followers of Jesus Christ".

    As I was writing my rambling prior response, Matthew 13, the parable of the sower, came to mind. In particular, the part where the seeds fall on shallow ground, and sprout up quickly, but dry up when the sun comes out seemed most fitting. I think I'll work on a challenge to the two people in charge of our "Connections Classes" revolving around that parable.

    Also, just took a couple of Spiritual Gifts tests, (I figure multiple tests will give me a better overview of my results).
    It looks like I am set up to be a teacher, with knowledge and discernment being strengths, but prophecy is right out. Also, I am either good at exhortation, or bad at exhortation... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And mercy, kindness, and giving are things I could use some real work on (although a lack of material wealth might influence how those turned out).

    Also, all of this has just pounded into my head the need for me to write. It is how I communicate best. (believe me, if this conversation happened over coffee, I'd probably be talking about Chris Claremont and armored fighting vehicles of WWII by now...or maybe Hilbert's Grand Hotel, even)

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 6th 2016, 10:03 am

    The results showing teaching on your tests doesn't surprise me at all. And collecting your thoughts to share with class leaders sounds like a good idea!

    If you want any help "word-smithing" those e-mails/letters, feel free to let me know. If mercy isn't a strength of yours I'd be happy to help you inject grace in your words while still being clear in your message. That's something I've had to continually practice and grow in over the last 10 years.


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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on October 7th 2016, 1:16 pm

    Well, I've taken you up on your offer (sent an email to youATspiritblade)


    Paeter
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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 10th 2016, 9:58 am

    mikel.withers wrote:Well, I've taken you up on your offer (sent an email to youATspiritblade)

    Cool! I'll check it out and get back to you soon!



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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on October 14th 2016, 10:06 am

    I just had a brief passing-in-the-hallway talk with the senior pastor here about the email I sent out.
    He said I hit the nail on the head. (thanks Paeter for help with the wording, it looks like I didn't push anyone into a defensive stance)
    He is determined to put together some kind of "continuing education for church-goers" set of classes. Logistics seems to be what is holding us back right now. I offered to do what heavy lifting is needed.

    So: we'll see how things work out. In the next few years we should be paying off our bonds and then the goal is to construct an adult education extension. (that has been the goal from the beginning as it was only left off because of budget constraints at the time of initial construction) If (and when) we do that it will certainly open up our ability to facilitate more stuff (I"m not at my most eloquent today).

    Now, I need to consider something else...
    Can and should I attempt to get some form of official education, myself, so I can do more heavy lifting than just heavy lifting when the time comes?
    I put it that way because I'm an autodidact, I learn by researching on my own, and I have found college courses (even online) to be very frustrating. -I'll read ten books on a subject that catches my fancy, but if a curriculum demands I read one of those same books, I find my hackles raised...I guess I'm just a rebel. Cool -

    Anyway, just updating on how things are going here.

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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 14th 2016, 10:26 am

    mikel.withers wrote:

    Now, I need to consider something else...
    Can and should I attempt to get some form of official education, myself, so I can do more heavy lifting than just heavy lifting when the time comes?


    I think that's a question to bring up with whichever pastor will be overseeing this new phase of your church. Maybe you could think about what kind of role you would like to play and then ask your leader if they think you should gain some formal education first.

    They might also be open to you having more of a teaching role if they see your learning first hand. In other words, if not formal training, maybe entering into a discipleship relationship with one of your leaders would both increase your knowledge and let the leadership get a sense of where your knowledge level is at and how you handle scripture.

    Another thing to consider would be more of a "stealth teacher" role. I don't mean that you'd be deceptive or manipulative. But rather someone who is involved in a small group study or Sunday school class and through their involvement is able to promote deeper thinking or highlight useful truths through their interactions with others or participation in group discussion. Sometimes what a church needs isn't more official leaders, but a greater number of "solid people" in the body. In fact sometimes a non-leader will have opportunities to impact others that leaders won't, simply because they don't carry the baggage of an official role or title!


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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  Paeter on October 14th 2016, 10:27 am

    And by the way, that's awesome news about how your leaders responded to your e-mail! Praise Yahweh! He's up to something there!


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    Re: How Can You "Plug In"?

    Post  mikel.withers on October 14th 2016, 12:03 pm

    Paeter wrote:
    They might also be open to you having more of a teaching role if they see your learning first hand. In other words, if not formal training, maybe entering into a discipleship relationship with one of your leaders would both increase your knowledge and let the leadership get a sense of where your knowledge level is at and how you handle scripture.
    I've never had any trouble with them not wanting me as a teacher. They just don't know how to handle the topics I gear toward.
    Our senior pastor does, and I think he and I are a lot of like beneath the surface, but ...he's a senior pastor with a whole lot of responsibilities on his plate. I think he is "bought in" now, so maybe he'll be able to spur those he delegated to help me out in particular.


    Paeter wrote:Another thing to consider would be more of a "stealth teacher" role. I don't mean that you'd be deceptive or manipulative. But rather someone who is involved in a small group study or Sunday school class and through their involvement is able to promote deeper thinking or highlight useful truths through their interactions with others or participation in group discussion.
    I do this when I can, but I have a hard time finding the line between challenging the curriculum and undermining a teacher.
    I was recently in a class series where the curriculum ...shall we say "played fast and loose with exegesis". I could have spent a significant portion of each class trying to "correct" the proof texts offered. But I didn't think that was beneficial to the participants who were newer to the faith. So I just left it at a fairly lame "we should be careful with context".

    Paeter wrote:Sometimes what a church needs isn't more official leaders, but a greater number of "solid people" in the body. In fact sometimes a non-leader will have opportunities to impact others that leaders won't, simply because they don't carry the baggage of an official role or title!
    Yes, this.
    I guess how I think about it is like a modern church has a bunch of commissioned officers, but no NCO's. We need sergeants and corporals, not just captains and privates.

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