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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Interview - Rich Jones

Rich Jones, youth pastor of 20 years, and current lead pastor of Element church in Pittsburgh, was the guest speaker of the week. Rich seems to be very down to earth and certainly has a committed heart for the ministry. His journey as a VFCC graduate throughout various churches was close to my heart. It is encouraging to see someone dedicated to both God’s mission and his family. One of his stories that impacted me was the one where he remained homeless for two weeks and slept in his car. Instead of begging for a home or asking to live in the church, he moved his wife back home and remained in his car.

After the journey of church searching Rich developed a heart for church planting. Once this desire was solidified he planted Element church where he remains as head pastor today. This new church is heavily involved within the community in an area that is surrounded by mostly low-income families. Currently they are holding service at Mr. Smalls Theatre, a club where local concerts are held. Taken what he was given, Rich Jones has seen his ministry continue to grow and is surrounded by a team that he couldn’t work without. To close, I wanted to mention Rich’s circular leadership plan. Opposed to a hierarchy system, the circular system allows for an equal balance of roles within the church. It is a lot less corporate and a lot more relationship based. I really enjoyed that concept and was honored to be able to see an experienced minister who didn’t quit, and who is now in his sweet spot.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Interview - Lee Rogers

This week I had the pleasure to listen to Lee Rogers as he spoke bluntly and openly of his successes and his failures within the ministry. When he spoke about his transition from a small church to a large church it especially connected with me, because I have had to transition from a small church to a very large church in my life. It was encouraging to see a man with a deep passion to witness youth reach there full potential in God. That was made evident when Lee began explaining the ministry he is currently involved in called Youth Alive.
Youth Alive is an initiative for middle school and high school students to become campus missionaries in order to spread the gospel to the unreached students in their schools. Lee listed four strategies for youth alive: First, “the campus missionary,” because the indigenous missionary is the best missionary. Secondly, are campus clubs, which is a vision for church planting within schools. Thirdly is the Seven Project, which is an assembly that takes place in schools. In the morning the assemblies are totally secular, while at night Christ is presented. Finally is prayer, more specifically prayer zone partners, in which people pass by schools and pray for the campus missionaries inside. It was enlightening to see the background behind youth alive and the impact it has had in the secular world!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Community Compassion Organization - Food Bank

This week I contacted Ann B. McManus, the director 
of Second Harvest Food Bank in Lehigh Valley and Northeast, PA. She was very helpful and knew her company well. The Food Bank is basically a warehouse distribution center that provides food to local non-profit organizations, such as: churches, soup kitchens, day care centers, after school programs in the inner city, and emergency food providers. There are about two hundred and five food bank in the United States, each assigned to its own territory.

Although food banks primarily distribute food, they also serve in raising hunger awareness through programs and other means, like surveys of five hundred people who use the pantries in the area. Ann put the Food bank’s goal this way, “ To advocate for people who can’t advocate for themselves regarding the food issue.” Most people who get food from soup kitchens and other means, often get food that is very unhealthy containing things like high sodium. Because of this, the food bank has developed coolers giving them the capability to serve food fresh food. They hope that in the future these would be used opposed to canned and boxed food.
The food bank has an approximate yearly budget of 2.4 million dollars. One third of that if from public contributions, about half is from state or federal funding, and the rest is from things such as grants, small fees, etc. There is a staff of sixteen paid full time employees and another four full time employees who volunteer.

Employers at the food bank are searching for employees who have enthusiasm and passion for helping people. They want mission driven people who can make a difference, and the rest can be taught. On a smaller scale employees working in the warehouse should be able to lift seventy pounds, because it is a fairly physically demanding occupation. A college degree doesn’t hurt but is not necessary.

Guest Speaker - Jason Tourville

Jason Tourville, our guest speaker, was a very down to earth guy who loves the Lord. The way he talked about his four children (two boys and two girls) showed a compassionate heart. Jason is an alumnus from VFCC so it was encouraging to see a successful pastor coming from here. Jason launched right into the ministry after college. And throughout his post undergraduate life he was able to move through a wide range of churches from small churches to mega churches. Eventually God softened Jason’s heart and called him to be a senior pastor, which he is today in a small church in Philly.

Jason is the creator of Hope4Philly, an outreach ministry out of Convoy of Hope. It was incredible to hear the statistics of Hope4Philly, such as: 10,000 out of 15,000 people were prayed for, 120,000 lbs of groceries shipped, and 2200 volunteers this year alone. The organization amongst eight separate sites is phenomenally strategic to say the least. Jason is a balanced leader, evident in the success of Hope4Philly, resulting in many more souls being added to the kingdom. It is good to see a leader who takes ministry seriously. When asked what the biggest lesson Jason learned when launching this outreach ministry, he responded: “your team will make or break you.” I thought that was a very practical life lesson to take the heart.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Speaker - Dan Miller

Dan Miller, Senior Pastor at Back Harvest church spoke with us this week. Right away it was obvious that Dan had a special anointing of the Holy Spirit on his life. One of my favorite things about Dan was how transparent he was in speaking to us. Something that I was encouraged by was when Dan spoke of the outpouring of church funds he put into The Rock Recreation Center, which was founded by him. Often times churches will use their money to buy newer equipment, better pews, and a lot of other secondary things. The Rock Recreation Center is an awesome program similar to the YMCA, which allows children and adults to have a safe Christ centered environment to grow in every way possible.
When I looked at Dan Miller I recognized him as a very well balanced individual, in many aspects, including his marriage. His tips on marriage were solid and well received, such as: never yell at your partner, compliment your wife daily, and most importantly do not bring up issues of the past. I think any marriage could benefit from these three ideas. Since I am called to Pastoral Ministries, to hear encouraging words from Dan and then being prayed over was extremely special. The Holy Spirit was evident in class yesterday and I am very grateful to have met Dan Miller.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Community Compassion Organization – Convoy of Hope

I contacted Jeff Nene, Senior director of public relations for Convoy of Hope. He was very quick in his response and was obviously passionate about his organization. Convoy of Hope in Northern California; its founder’s names were Hal Donaldson and his two brothers Dave and Steve. At age twelve Hal and his siblings suffered the loss of their father due to a collision with a drunk driver. Their mother was also severely injured and hospitalized, but during this time the Church extended its hands, in love, out towards the family. This is what drove Hal and his brothers to begin Convoy of Hope. Prior to Launching Convoy of Hope Hal and his brothers founded Church of America, of which Convoy of Hope was branched out of. Church care America specialized in meeting needs of small churches and one particular church asked for help feeding the hungry within their neighborhood. What started out of the back of a pickup truck grew into an extremely potent ministry, that is, Convoy of Hope.
Convoy of Hope has helped people all over the world, especially in the midst of natural disasters. The four major areas that Convoy of Hope has helped people in are: children’s feeding, community outreach events, disaster response, and partner resourcing. Primarily through orphanages and schools, over 100,000 hungry children are fed. According to Jeff Nene, “We hold about 50 events every year where communities, churches, and local agencies come together to touch the poor and suffering in their community.” The needy also have the opportunity to come in to the events free of charge and leave with free groceries. Convoy of Hope is one of the first organizations to respond to a natural disaster. They helped in both Haiti and Japan, along with many other countries hit by catastrophic disasters. Partner resourcing is an amazing thing where Convoy of Hope finds like-minded organizations and then supplies them, as it’s necessary.
Convoy of hope is almost entirely funded by donations from churches, businesses, and even individual people. As far as employment, Convoy of Hope like most companies looks for people that share the same point of view and passions, abilities that meet the basic job requirements and references, and most importantly a Christian character.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Speaker – Dave Dallenbach

Dave Dallenbach, our guest speaker was truly inspirational in his display of originality in front of a small class of college students. His passion for seeing people reached all over the world really resonated with me. When Dave began speaking I prejudged him as the salesman type who was not really interested in expanding the kingdom of God, but instead, expanding the amount money in his bank account. What humbled me is when he said he could have been working for a lot more money than he is working for now, but chose to devote his life full time to the ministry. Dave Dallenbach is the creator of CellFunds and it is an amazing concept that I certainly see God using for His good. To think that we can instantly transfer up to five thousand dollars through texting simply by using our cellphones is absolutely bizarre to me. But bizarre or not it is becoming a reality and not only nation wide, but internationally. I believe this creativity is necessary in the day and age we live in, because of all the amount control people have over us opposed to allowing God to dictate our lives. The urgency of Dave’s heart regarding The LORD’s return is what had the greatest impact on me. The presence of God was evident in our couple of hours of conversation; and I am incredibly grateful that Dave shared with us his time and heart.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Richard Curtis Interview

Yesterday in class we watched a video of Richard Curtis being interviewed by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. It greatly impacted me in a positive way. Richard Curtis is a movie director who is very passionate about two things: the power of love and a concern for the poor. These passions were born when Richard Curtis spent four years in the Philippines and learned to recognize the reality of poverty at a young age. This stuck with him throughout his entire life. Here we have a man who is very connected to the secular, big name, TV and movie personal and yet is unashamed of making movies that don't make a lot of money in comparison to the big name titles out there. In fact, he mentioned that he had rejected some big time actors in order to allow his movies to have the greatest impact that it could. As Pastor Bill Hybels said at the end of the video before a congregation, this man hasn’t even got his relationship with God figured out and yet he is doing more to impact the world than we have ever done.
Our culture is extremely desensitized to the world around us. We are all about individualism. It is found in what we wear, watch, and listen to. It is wired in our culture to think of ourselves before others, to pray for our needs before others, to feed ourselves before others. This cannot be so. If a man who is not a devout Christian can make movies to open the public’s eyes, how much more can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


My name is Jonathan and I am currently majoring in Pastoral Ministries with a minor in Urban Ministries. My hometown is Boston, MA. I was born in the United States, but both of my parents were born in foreign countries: my father was born in Portugal and my mother was born in Brazil. I have a heart for missions, both world missions and local missions. I believe that we as believers are all called to missions: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:18-20). I believe God prepared my heart for the cities of the world at a young age through the gifts He planted in me and through my attraction to the hip-hop and multiethnic culture found in urban environments. Growing up, I got along well with people of all races and ethnicities. God has also blessed me with a passion for dancing (specifically popping) and rapping. Music is one of the most powerful tools we have to reach a lost and dying world and I believe dance is a way of properly interpreting that music.