Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Andy Stanley - Leadership Summit

Andy Stanley has a very lively and dynamic voice and is also very humorous. His purpose in speaking was specifically geared towards making vision stick. Andy mentioned that the vision does not change. Three practical steps used to make vision stick are: 1) casting it strategically, 2) celebrating it systematically, and 3) living it continuously. Casting vision allows you to see it before you in a way that allows you to further explain it to the listener thoroughly and practically. Celebrating the vision puts “skin on the vision” which allows the audience to be inspired by it. Finally, living that vision gives you credibility, because no one will embrace a vision that isn’t followed by the visionary first. I loved the way Andy broke down vision very practically. One of my favorite things that he said was that the way vision works is to first ask the question, “what is the problem,” then offer a solution, and then when the solution is offered, present a reason and develop a sense of urgency based on that reason. Every Monday, according to Andy Stanley, he holds a meeting where his staff shares stories with him about all that God is doing in their ministries. This is one of the many ways were the vision is celebrated. Overall I think Andy makes it extremely practical to grasp the vision and I admire his passion and joy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Compassion By Design Survey (Final Project)

Several days ago, I had the opportunity of going door to door in my hometown of Lynn, Massachusetts and listening to the hearts of my neighbors. As I spoke with my neighbors using the questions included in the “compassion by design survey,” I found many common concerns and interests for the community. The city of Lynn is notorious for its crime and substance abuse, but is also recognized on a more positive note for its diversity. In order to have the most impacting outreaches, I believe that the first thing that needs to be done, is to pinpoint the greatest concerns of the community and then center the mission of the outreaches around those concerns. In order to make those outreaches most effective, you must provide a welcoming atmosphere by catering to the community’s common needs and interests!
According to twenty people surveyed in West Lynn, Lynn is best known for its diversity. The most recognized services in Lynn are: Dunkin Donuts (which also goes for much of the northeast in general), Union Hospital, Lynn Woods Reservation, and My Brother’s table. Some of the biggest concerns in Lynn are: the crime rate, drug abuse, the educational system, and transportation. Specifically, downtown Lynn is where most of the concern is manifested. My brother’s table, which is a homeless shelter, was the most recognized compassion organization that serves out of Lynn. Coming only second to Lynn’s diversity, the sense of community in Lynn was a popular theme.
Based on the previous information gathered, an outreach, which would certainly benefit the city of Lynn, is a cultural awareness themed event. Another outreach that could be effective is a kids and youth day at Lynn woods. Finally, would be to work right out of My Brother’s Table. In each of these outreaches would be prayer tents, with workers available to pray for the needs of the families present. A crucial part of an outreach is the follow-up. This can be done in various ways, but based on the result of the most well known coffee shop in Lynn being Dunkin Donuts, I believe going to a person’s address with a gift card to Dunkin Donuts would be an awesome way to connect to people after the outreach.

Cultural Awareness Outreach
Given that the diversity in Lynn was found to be such a popular topic, I think it would be extremely impactful to have a gathering of people in Lynn from cultures and ethnicities of all sorts in a large area such as the commons in Lynn. The commons of Lynn is a huge grass area downtown, with a gazebo. It is often swarming with people of all ages, from teens playing soccer to parents and their children taking a stroll, and elderly dog-walkers. Prior to doing an outreach of this magnitude, it would be important to understand the predominant cultures in Lynn, especially in the downtown area. Also, security in the downtown area of Lynn is absolutely crucial. Given the magnitude of this outreach, fundraising would be unavoidable. Despite the financial hurdle, the result could change the entire city for good. Once that research is complete than the fun can begin. The idea is along the lines of something like a missions banquet in church, in the sense that there would be booths sharing the greatest things about each individual’s ethnicity and culture. Things such as food, music, dance, art, etc. could be included in these booths. This way the community would be able to share their heritage with their family and friends, remember their home, and get to meet new people, specifically the church members running the booths. Soccer could also be an extremely useful tool to gather in the youth, maybe even run a tournament based on the different countries present. This event would have to be run similar to Hope4Philly, with much preparation and participation.

Youth and Children Lynn Woods Outreach
Lynn Woods is an area that is known throughout the surrounding cities and especially those living in the city. “Lynn Woods Reservation is the second largest municipal park in the greater Boston area. This 2,200 acre forest reserve consists of ponds, wetlands, streams, deciduous/evergreen forest and rocky ledge” (http://www.flw.org/). Given the status of this area, this would provide an awesome time of fellowship with particularly younger children and youth. I believe that children and youth would be the target audience, simply because the atmosphere would be perfect for a camp-like setting. Sports, hiking, scavenger hunts, a huge picnic, etc. I think this would be an awesome opportunity for youth pastors and children pastors to connect with the young children of this broken city. Much of the gang violence and drug abuse is done by youth. If we as a community of believers were to simply care enough for these youth to show them a good time and give them a hope for a better future we would not only effect the younger population but the older as well. Parents would come to know the Lord through their children’s enthusiasm. And as mentioned before, the follow-up process is ideal, obviously it would have to be done with the permission of parents, but getting these kids plugged into a local church is what it is truly all about.

My Brother’s Table
The homeless in Lynn are another group of people, which are unfortunately continuing to grow, as the economy gets worse. My brother’s table is an organization that many churches work through in order to put food on the table for those who would not eat otherwise. It is sad to see people dying of hunger even in a wealthy country like the USA. This would be a low cost outreach, at least in comparison to the other two, yet would still be able to impact various hopeless men and women. In order to creatively turn this into an outreach opposed to a “church outing,” those involved could donate clothing to also distribute, and instead of canned foods and such, maybe make a gourmet meal that you would see at a buffet. Doing this could open a door to minister to those in need. After feeding them it is also important to give them other opportunities, such as finding job openings, barbers, showers, and ultimately a local church home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strength Finder; Marcus Buckingham

Richardstep Strength Finder

Your Top 5 Strengths Are:

Input (95%):
People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

Analytical (95%):
People strong in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.

Relator (95%):
People who are strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Ideation (95%):
People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Connectedness (90%):
People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham has a very humorous personality, and is a very well spoken expert in the field of studying growth in people. He has a very strong sense of how wrong our culture thinks and acts upon the way we think. What I enjoyed about his presentation was his very lighthearted tone and very practical lessons in how to properly grow. One example was: a child, when receiving his or her report card tends to expect the parents asking about the F instead of asking why the A? Marcus Buckingham believes that when we understand our strengths and further grow in them, we will naturally find out our weaknesses. Weaknesses should certainly be acknowledged but not focused on. We tend to pick at the weaknesses of individuals and encourage those same individuals to do the same. Because of this overly critical mindset, it is natural for growth to become difficult to engage in. There is a new method of psychology, which focuses on strengths opposed to weaknesses. It is becoming very popular because of its apparent effectiveness. Three myths that Marcus pointed out in regards to growing are as follows: as you grow, personality changes, you grow the most in areas of weaknesses, A great team member puts his strengths aside and does whatever it takes to help the team. In order to replace these myths, he also pointed out three truths: as you grow, you become more aware of who you already are, you grow the most in your areas of greatest strength, and finally, a great team member volunteers his strengths for the betterment of his team.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Response - Church Planting Boot Camp

Today was a very different class session compared to what I’ve experienced throughout the year. The topic of the day was inflatables. It is incredible to me how when a good idea is launched, how quickly it sets fire. Apparently, inflatables or “moon bounces” are a big hit with young children, which in turn is an excellent way to reach out to the community. If a child is happy, typically the parent is happy too. I had the opportunity to hear from five different church planters today, which each shared stories about ministry and life. Their names are Jason, Ryan, Dave, John, and Caleb. It was encouraging to see a close group of men who were creative in their outreaches, and also passionate for their congregations. I must mention that Dave and Caleb are planting a church in Boston, which is my hometown. I immediately felt a connection to them, not just because they were from Boston, but also because they were passionate about the city and for those who never met Christ. They passed out their freshly made bulletins for the class to see and the design was professional grade. Overall there was a lot to take in, but it was all very useful and well worth the sponge state I was in.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Interview - Gary Bellis

I am very grateful to have been able to engage in conversation with Gary Bellis. Right away it was mentioned that he has been in ministry for 37 years, which was awe inspiring to me because of the average low numbers for pastors' dedication in many churches. Gary is a soft spoken man, which is refreshing to see every now and again. I like the fact that he thought before he spoke, and wasn’t quick to spill out opinions. The amount of wisdom Gary acquired over his time in ministry was evident in his speaking. When he mentioned that his two greatest passions were discipleship and missions I immediately pictured Christ during His ministry on earth. Simplicity would be a great word to describe Gary’s characteristics, in the sense that he is confident in God to the point where a calmness is revealed on his face. Amongst all the incredible traits I noticed about Gary, the one that impacted me the most was the transparency he presented into his personal life. He spoke about some of the struggles he faced amongst leadership in the church and some of those issues were certainly difficult to speak on. When I asked him about his personal devotional life, it brought a smile to my face, because he even answered the question to begin with... and secondly, because he responded “first thing in the morning.” It was inspiring to see a well seasoned leader in the church sitting in front of a bunch of future ministers and just talking life to us.

“I’ll do anything short of sin to reach people to Jesus.” –Gary Bellis

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shift by Brian Haynes

Today Patrick Hays gave a very well organized presentation on the book entitled Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today by Brian Haynes. Being the structured and mathematically oriented man that I am, this book was very compelling to me. It included very practical truths that can be applied to the upbringing of children in the home, which would certainly alleviate the stress on Pastors that is so commonly seen today, and place the burden back upon the parents where it belongs. What I found interesting, based on what Patrick had read in the book, was the fact that the model given in the book was very open to remodeling and additional methods. The way the book organized the flow of the seven milestones in a person’s life was astonishing to me, from infancy all the way to death. This is certainly the mentality that the church has to go back to as a whole. The church is not meant to be a house of babysitters and parents; it is supposed to be a place where those parents are ministered to and at the same time given instructions on how the bible states one should raise their children. I think from the presentation alone, this book is a solid read and would be beneficial to all churches.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Community Compassion Organization - YMCA

For the third and final community compassion organization I chose the YMCA. I interviewed Crissy Jache from the Lynn YMCA in Massachusetts (my home town). Crissy was very informative and straightforward with what she knew and what she didn’t know.

The YMCA started in London, 1812, when twenty-two-year-old George Williams was troubled by the dangerous street life surrounded by turmoil and despair at the time. In response to this he joined with eleven friends and organized the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). This was a refuge of Bible study and prayer, for young men seeking to escape from the hard life on the street. The organization was driven to meet the social needs of the community. Several years later Thomas Valentine Sulivan, inspired but the YMCA in England formed the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston.

Crissy also gave some practical insight on how the YMCA as an organization helps people. The Y helps families live a healthy and well-balanced life, through social means, fitness centers, swimming pools, childcare programs, etc. What is cool about the YMCA, which I had not known previous to today, is that the YMCA builds their facilities based on their community’s needs. This means that some buildings will have, say, a fitness center while others will not.

The YMCA is a non-profit organization. It is funded by a variety of different sources, such as: membership dues, fees for programs (i.e. classes and child care), United Way (a company that funds organizations), grants, fundraising etc.

The hiring process consists of many different aspects dependent upon which program at the YMCA a potential employee is interested in. Crissy recommends that people figure out where they feel they would fit better and then go from there. She also believes in the fact that you can train people to do tasks, but there are certain things you can’t teach a person, such as personality, social aptitude, etc. Background checks are ideal in all programs in the Y, because of the family friendly environment. While there are some core, general, interviewing methods, interviews tend to fluctuate based on the area of the YMCA.