I would like to have a dollar for every conversation I have with a friend, a facilitator of one of the VP3 processes, a pastor or leader, and even with myself, around “what are you thinking about for next steps?”
Deep in the DNA of my spiritual life, and therefore the lens I see others’ personal spiritual DNA, and also the “BIG C” life of the church, is that we ought to be thinking about our next steps for growth. There are always next steps. Jesus talks about things that grow all the time. There is an expectation that we, too, will grow. And in my language, I’ve adopted the words, “What are your next steps?”
To a friend it may sound like, “So, what’s your next move?”
To a facilitator of The Journey process, “Are you helping each of your group participants think about their next steps after The Journey concludes?”
To a Pastor and church leader, “Are you thinking about your church’s next steps for adult spiritual growth? Do you find yourself thinking about some kind of pathway for that growth?”
Let me pull back the curtain on ways we may find our selves thinking about next step conversations.
One definition of the word “catalyst” is “a stimulus to change.”
What happens when someone becomes a catalyst for any type of change? Maybe you’re the catalyst in your home for a change to healthier eating. Or maybe you’re the catalyst in your church for a move toward more intentional discipleship.
I recently made a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana where I met with pastors, facilitators, and financial partners of VantagePoint3. Quickly I found a common denominator in what I was hearing. One name, Beth Booram. Almost all of the people I met had been pointed to VP3 through the influence of this one woman who believes in the impact God is making on lives.
Brent, Pam, and Randy had a conversation last Wednesday around the topic: “What We Are Learning About Adult Development.” For over sixteen years of working with more than two hundred-sixty churches from twenty-three denominations, we have discovered a good bit about how adults develop and mature. Most recently we received input from over fifty leaders “in the field” who have been utilizing our processes with adults in their congregations for anywhere from four to thirteen years. We are finding great insights, encouragements, and challenges amidst all the data of our research.
In this webinar, Pam and Randy and Brent synthesize what we have been learning from our experience and our research. If you at all care about the growth of adults and communities (Ephesians 4:14-15), then you are going to find this webinar beneficial. Here is the webinar recording link to listen in – “What We Are Learning About Adult Development”
By way of a sneak peek here are the seven points they discuss:
1. Shape the person and you stand a much greater chance of shaping everything else.
2. The deepening and empowering of others requires a ministry of paying attention.
I am declaring here, that it cannot be done.
You must choose.
Forward steps OR paying attention.
But not both at the same time.
“Promotion & Recruitment” is my title at VantagePoint3. To be completely honest, when I first started in this role, I very strongly disliked (bordering on hated) my title. I was fine with the “Promotion” part. It was the “Recruitment” part of my title that I did not like. One part of my role is connecting with new pastors and churches and inviting them to partner with us. Technically, that is the definition of “Recruitment.” However, who wants to talk to a “recruiter”? I felt as though that title had a negative stigma attached to it. A “recruiter” is someone who wants something from you…you meet with a recruiter to “sign your life away.” I often wondered how big of a hindrance that title would be…how big of a barrier it would be to beginning a conversation.
In the last couple of months I’ve developed a new passion for both the “Promotion” & the “Recruitment” parts of my title. I have a desire to reverse the negative stigma associated with the word “recruiter.”
Money is always a touchy subject. We all have some and we have decisions to make on what we do with the amount God has given us. It’s always easy to look at those who have more, and figure it’s their responsibility to carry the biggest load. Then we’re challenged with “the widow’s mite,” and wonder where that leaves us – often someplace in the middle.
We have family members with needs, we have mortgages and car payments, our churches have building programs, and many of us have a cause or two. They’re all good and worthy projects.
I met a man recently who is bothered about the giving of people living in the Western world. His research shows on average we give about one percent, sometimes two. He is challenging his friends to look back over their tax returns and set a goal of giving at least five percent. How would our world be different if we all gave five percent? Would all the ministry needs be met?
I would guess that percentage jumps a bit for us “church folks.” If you’ve spent time in the Church, then the ten percent figure gets tossed around. (Our “tithe” has been described as 1/10th in Leviticus 27:32).
So we give as we hear needs, and then some extra at the end of the year. And sometimes my giving is stretched when I hear about an urgent need and I want to respond.
Then I read something like this . . .
“God doesn’t need our cash. He doesn’t come to us, hat in hand, sheepishly asking for funding for His mission. We don’t give because God needs it, but because in giving we declare His value to us and our love for Him. Jesus told us that if we want to know what a person really loves, we should follow the trail of his [or her] money… The world, of course, finds it absurd to be this open-handed with our resources (I earned it, I deserve to benefit from it!)…When was the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity?”
J.D. Greear in “Three Ways the Gospel Changes our Generosity” blogpost on 19 November 2014
That last question has stuck with me. When was the last time my generosity made someone question my sanity?
VantagePoint3 is looking for financial partners. We have a few. But if we are to respond to the growing need for this work, then we’ll need more. If God has used this ministry to make a difference in your life, will you consider joining us? We’re especially looking for people I call “sustainers,” those who share with us monthly. Even a small monthly gift will make a difference.
But if you want us to “question your sanity,” well that would be fine, too.
To give on our secure web site, go to: http://vantagepoint3.org/donate
And if you’d like to set up a monthly recurring gift, please fill out this form and return it to our office…
And for considering joining us, thank you!
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand.
Mark 8: 1-9 (NKJV)
A few weeks ago I read Mark 8. For some reason this story captured my as it never has before. I promptly turned to Matthew 15, Luke 9, and John 6 to read the other Gospel accounts. Since then, I have not really been able to read beyond this. It captured me and I’ve continued reading all 4 of the Apostles’ accounts…
One of my roles with VantagePoint3 is to support the more than 100 facilitators leading a VP3 adult process in their local church. It is a role I deeply enjoy.
Whether you are one of those facilitators or not, my hunch is that if you are reading this blog, you are leading a group of adults right now. That’s the kind of people we are. Perhaps my own experience of hitting the pause button and “really noticing each person” is well timed for you.
The small group I am investing in is participating in The Journey, the first step in the VP3 pathway for adult development. I have led groups like this many times. But this year I found myself a bit disappointed with how well we are all bonding. The depth of sharing isn’t what I desire. There is also one individual that just seems more removed from the others. Less invested. Cautious. This has been troubling to me. So I’ve wanted to “fix” that person. You know, show them the light of my leadership and get them moving along. I asked for an appointment so we could talk about what I was seeing.
19 years ago I followed a nudge to do what I could to help pastors and the leaders in local churches pay greater attention to the development of their adults. At the time I knew part of the concern was a leadership one, and so much of what I put my hand to was couched in the language of “leadership development.” And, in some respect, I was on to something.
From time to time we get emails or phone calls that remind us of the impact of the work we are up to at VantagePoint3. Yesterday we got one of these emails. So I thought I would share.
It is the story of two changed lives now changing others as a result of going through The Journey. Marcy Milburn at Newton Church of the Way in Newton, Iowa passed this story onto VP3’s Kay Hodges. Marcy writes,
This may seem kind of random but I wanted to email VantagePoint3 with an encouraging word about how lives are being changed in our community because of The Journey.
Below is an article that our local newspaper ran a few weeks ago called “From Dope to Hope.” It’s about two men in our church whose backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, one is a law enforcement officer and the other a former convict. They connected during The Journey class a few years ago, and gave testimonies recently about how God used The Journey to bring them together, which later led them in a joint effort to start this faith-based substance abuse support ministry called Discover Hope 517.
I know you probably hear stories all the time about lives that are being changed through The Journey and VantagePoint3 materials, but I felt led to share. I think the “ripple effect” of their story is what’s most inspiring to me: two very different men take The Journey and are skeptical of each other at first, not even sure if they can trust each other because of their backgrounds; they embrace the process, God changes their hearts, and they grow in Christ; God leads them in a joint effort to start a ministry called Discover Hope so that people who struggle with addiction can have a support group centered around Jesus. Lives are being changed and people are being set free because of the love of Jesus!
So I want to say thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because of the opportunity your leadership development curriculum provides, lives are being changed, not only in our church but in our community. Thank you!
Director of Children’s Ministries and Adult Discipleship
Newton Church of The Way
The Spirit is always up to something creative and good, and it is such a gift when we get to witness this faithful work in real time. We are grateful to be a small part of God’s kingdom work in Newton. May the Lord continue to bless the friendship and efforts of Aaron and Robbie and The Discover Hope Ministry in Newton. In Jesus name.