Category Archives: church

Making Changes in 2011

I’m excited about 2011!

This year I’m taking a risk, following my dream and stepping out to make things happen.

For a long time I’ve been seeking opportunities to live my passion, to do what I love and be able to make a living from it. I’ve decided that the time is now, if I’m going to be true to myself and true to my value of living an authentic life, then I need to challenge myself, confront my fear and step out and give this a red-hot go.

So, I give you Edwards Coaching!

Coaching, mentoring and facilitation have always been my passion and where a lot of my strengths are. I long to see people, businesses, churches and organisations living their lives to their fullest potential, excelling in what they do, and living with Purpose, Direction and Meaning.

Edwards Coaching is the result of over 12 years of experience helping people find purpose, direction and meaning and helping them to achieve their goals.

This is me, following my passion and seeking to make a difference in this world.

It’s exciting and its daunting, it’s a world full of unknowns but it’s one that I’m ready to embrace because I want to build the life I want to be living!

I’d really appreciate your support in this venture, please visit the website, pass on my details to your networks (twitter, Facebook, etc, I would REALLY appreciate this!) and let me know what you think! 

I’m more than happy to chat with anyone interested in reaching their goals or wanting facilitation or workshop services, the internet means nowhere in the world is out of reach and that’s exciting!

I’m especially interested in helping Churches and Not for Profits so please drop me a line so we can chat about how I can serve you. 

So this is my challenge for 2011, to work hard and follow my dream to establish my business helping others.

What are you going to achieve this year, what are your goals? Let’s share them and help each other to achieve them!

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Filed under About Me, church, Family, God Stuff, leadership, Life Coaching, Random

When things don’t go to plan…

Last weekend I attended the Global Leadership Summit here in Canberra. This was my fourth year attending this conference and as always it was a time to challenge myself, my thinking and be taught by some of the world’s top church and business leaders and innovators.

This year was no different, I was challenged in my thinking and behaviour, I learnt new things about leadership and met some great people. This was the first year I attended without being in a formal church leadership role, in fact the first time that I havent been in any formal leadership role and as such I was approaching this Summit with a fresh perspective and new eyes.

I had a list of things I wanted to “get out” of the Summit this year, particularly in relation to a new business venture I’ve started (more on that soon) and was eager to see things from this new perspective. What I discovered was something more powerful than I could have prepared myself for.

As it often happens, I had a set of goals and plans for the Summit and God also had a set of goals and plan for me too. They aligned in some places but in others I was taken completely by surprise by the things God was revealing in my life.

As many of you know, the last 2-3 years have been difficult for me in relation to my employment, service and attendance at a church. In short I left the church I was attending and havent been going anywhere regularly since. I thought I was fine with it, I’d moved on, but in reality I havent and it’s something God made really clear to me.

I had my plans for the Summit but God had his plans for my life. 

I’m grieving for a loss in my life – a loss for what might have been. I had to walk away from things that I had invested huge amounts of time and energy into, where there was promise for growth and empowerment of others and a chance to make a real difference – because the support systems that were promised never materialised. I was challenged to my core and found that I could no longer continue to pursue that path with integrity and needed to walk away. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was naive to think that it would be easy to move on without a need for healing.

To be honest I was really surprised to find that I had these issues and so was Sam when I told her about them. I don’t think its going to be an easy process, in fact I’m not really sure where to start but I’m really grateful that God took the time to reveal these to me, because they are things that will only hold me back and I don’t want anything to get in the way of what God has for my future.

Often we complain when things don’t go to plan in our lives, but often, if we look under the surface we’ll see that it’s for the greater good, that there’s always something to learn from it and the opportunity to become a better, stronger person for it.

I’d appreciate your prayers as I walk this path to healing and would love to hear any advice you may have. Have you travelled a similar path, what helped you get through it?

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Building Young Leaders…part 2

This is a continuation of Building Young Leaders which you can read here.

I spent nearly ten years serving in youth ministry

both within the church and with para-church organisations in my city. In that time I’ve had the privilege to work alongside and mentor some amazing young people on leadership and ministry.

Due to the circumstances, each opportunity was an apprenticeship. Very few of them were formal arrangements, simply an agreement between them and I to spend time intentionally focusing on leadership and ministry development. We simply lived life together and focused on the tasks at hand. In some cases it was a limited activity (such as a camp) and others it was for a year or more as we led a ministry (such as a youth ministry or school based program).

As I reflect, I find that

these were some of the most influential times in my life.

I’ll admit that it was great to have extra pairs of hands around to help with the work, people to bounce ideas off and glean insights into the minds and attitudes of young people. However it was also a very revealing time about who I am as a person. I was sharing my life with these young people, they got to see me in the good times and the bad (like 3am fourth day in of a five day camp where everyone got a stomach flu!). Overall though, this was a positive experience as they got to see that a pastor is human just like everyone else and we all leant valuable life lessons about self-control, self-sacrifice and service.

I also learnt how to manage people and to work efficiently and effectively.

We’ve all heard the phrase “if you want something done right you better do it yourself” and in most cases it’s fairly true. However this attitude is completely useless when working with ministry apprentices because how are they going to learn if they never get to try? Just like my pastor let me try my ideas and helped me if/when they failed, I too had to learn how to do the same. It wasn’t easy at first but after time I learnt how to watch from a distance while still making sure they (and the project/program) was still ok.

The results spoke for themselves.

The programs and ministries blossomed under the extra attention and input they received. The young people grew quickly in ability, leadership, belief in themselves and their knowledge and relationship with God. I too learnt and grew immeasurably. Apart from the practicalities of leadership, management and mentoring, my relationship with God grew as I was ministered to by these young lives.

Ten years down the track I look back at those times with fond memories. Some of those young people have gone on to become pastors, others are involved in leading ministries in their local churches and some are even leading others in far off countries.

If I had my time over I wouldn’t change a thing.

Mentoring young leaders, taking them through an apprentice’s journey has been a highlight of my life that I will not soon forget.

In a nutshell here’s a list of things I have learnt from apprenticing young leaders:

It kept me humble. There’s nothing like having another person living life with you to help you realise that you simply don’t have it all together as much as you think.

It kept me accountable. I made a commitment to mentor these young leaders and I had a responsibility to see that through. There was no way I wanted to give them the impression that I only wanted them around to help me with my work, I was there to build into their lives because they are important, regardless of how much they might have helped me out!

It made me think about the important. Time and opportunities to build into their lives was limited. I needed to know what the “must haves” were and make sure they were passed on.

It fired me up! There was no way I couldn’t be excited by being around all the enthusiasm young people have. Their optimistic outlook on life is infectious and it fueled my passion and drive daily.

I learnt to trust others, to delegate and to keep people accountable. These were three vital keys I learnt. I had to trust others with programs, people and tasks. I learnt how to delegate and then how to help them learn accountability. These are key skills every leader must have and ones that need to be passed on.

It freed me to focus on other tasks. Put simply, with tasks delegated we got more things done. Sure I needed to keep an eye on what was going on but by establishing trust and accountability, I knew that things were getting done. I was able to focus on things that only I could do.

I learnt how to relate to people on a deeper level. There’s something amazing about sharing life with others this way that brings you to a deeper level of relationship. Trust is stronger, shared vision is deep and sense of ownership is shared. It’s synergy – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – and it’s amazing!

I saw the fruit. Right there and then in each young person I saw God grow fruit in their lives. I saw them learn and grow, stretch themselves and rely totally on God to provide for them. I saw both their knowledge of God and their skills develop, and the blessing that was to the ministries and to the people they served.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t know what’s in my future, whether I’ll be in a formal ministry position anytime soon but I know that what God has already taught me is applicable to every area of my life. I pray that God will allow me to continue to build others up to be the men and women He has called them to be regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

So how about you? Do you think its worth rethinking how we build young leaders in today’s church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions/comments 🙂

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Building Young Leaders…part 1

The other day I asked the Church (myself included) if we think we set up young pastors to fail. You can read it here.

I want to build on this question by sharing how I think we can support young leaders to develop into great leaders and pastors. My comments and thoughts come from my own experience both as a young leader and as a leader of young leaders. I admit that I haven’t done a great deal of research and study into this of late but I have lived it.  Today I’d like to share how I was encouraged as a young leader.

My path into church leadership was somewhat unconventional. 

At the age of sixteen I was regularly working with young people on camps and was part of various groups working with young people in high schools in my city. At the age of eighteen my pastor asked if I’d be part of the youth ministry he wanted to start at our church. I said yes and this began some of the best and most challenging years of my life. 

My pastor took a punt on me. 

He saw something in me that gave him the confidence to let me, a young person, lead a ministry. I had no formal training, hadn’t been to Bible College, all I had was a desire to share Jesus and some knowledge of what young people were into. 

I’m so grateful for what happened next.

My pastor allowed me to fail.

He allowed me to try what I thought was right, to let it play out, to assess how it went and think about how I’d do it differently in the future. He didn’t leave me alone to my own devices, he made sure we met regularly and he asked me a ton of questions. He showed up from time to time at events to show his support (or check on me, still not sure to this day ;-)) and he always encouraged me. 

And I learnt a lot! Through my successes and failures. I learnt what it meant to be a leader, to work in a church and how to live every day with people who think differently to you. I learnt to relate to all age groups, to communicate effectively, to know what I believe and why, and how to share that with others.

In essence I did a ministry apprenticeship.

I think when it comes to ministry; apprenticeships are something we often overlook. Ministry is a “hands on” role; it involves being with people, working with people and living life with people. All these things you can’t learn from a book, principles sure, but they are no good unless you can apply them, you can only do that through experience, by actually doing it. 

Don’t get me wrong, a theology degree is important; in fact I think it’s vital for long term ministry, but we need to think long and hard about the benefits of allowing people to do it while working in ministry. 

Let me explain 

The opportunity I had to serve in ministry and study at the same time was invaluable. It helped me put complex thoughts and ideas into context. I was able to test and apply theories right away and it turned information into action, which in turn made me remember it. It was obvious talking to other students that this was a genuine advantage. 

Secondly, I simply don’t understand the purpose behind uprooting someone from a ministry and sending them away to study subjects that are supposed to help them be better in ministry. Isn’t that a little backwards? Shouldn’t we be supplementing their ministry efforts by educating them while they are doing ministry? Most of these uprooted students don’t have a ministry to go back to because in their absence, and the need for the ministry to continue, someone else has taken it over. 

It begs the question;

do we need to rethink how we train leaders and pastors?

If an apprenticeship is the way to go then we need places for apprentices to learn. This in itself is tricky because most churches simply aren’t set up to do this. For whatever reason there seems to be a reluctance to take a chance on young leaders, probably because its time consuming and can be messy. It’s hard work to mentor someone, it’s messy cleaning up mistakes and let’s be honest, correcting and teaching through discipline is not something many like to do. 

It’s also very personal. An apprentice gets to see behind the curtain of your life, the good times and the bad times. If we‘re honest not many of us are comfortable in being this authentic with ourselves let alone someone else. 

I think Jesus gave us a great example of an apprenticeship model.

He took twelve no-bodies and trained them to become twelve of the most influential people in history!

Jesus taught them as they lived life together. He instructed them, corrected them and never missed an opportunity to teach. He didn’t send them to the local synagogue to get a degree, He taught them through life itself. As I mentioned earlier I believe theological study is a requirement for long term ministry so don’t jump on me for using this example –

But isn’t this something that we need to think about?

Shouldn’t we be taking the time to assess what the most effective ways are to develop and build young leaders?

Dont we owe them, God and the church that much? 

So tell me, what do you think? Have you been or had a ministry apprentice? How did it work out?

In my next post I’d like to share my thoughts from the other side, as a leader responsible for leading young leaders.

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An Open Question to the Church

First up, I’m not anti-church or anti-God. I LOVE God and His Church.

But why does it seem that we (as the Church, myself included) set up young pastors to fail?

This has been bugging me and I’d love to know what you think.

Here’s how it seems to go:

A young person shares the call of God on their life to become a vocational minister/pastor.

We rejoice with them and send them off to Bible college/seminary because they need to prepare for ministry. There’s nothing wrong with that but here’s where things start to go awry…

These potential world changers are challenged and taught all about what they need to believe and why in order to be a pastor. Not bad in and of itself but the concepts and study are rarely taught with real world application or consideration of how to actually teach these concepts in today’s world. So it becomes a purely intellectual exercise and seems to squash the passion and zeal that was once present in these young lives.

The ones who make it through college with even a flicker of the passion and zeal

they went in with are then put on as staff in church “institutions” who force them to conform to the “this is how its done” philosophy. They are not released to follow God’s leading, to try things, make mistakes and forge their own way.

Then almost by default, we give them the role of “youth pastors”

and give them the freedom to do whatever they need to because, somehow, we think that its ok for “crazy stuff” to happen “over there” in youth ministry. After all no one here understands young people, but we want to “keep them around”  and we expect them to “change” into “us” once they hit 18 anyway and join “real church”…

We also assume that youth ministry is simply a stepping stone to “real ministry” and so after (insert average life span of youth pastor here) years or so we ask the pastor to change roles and join “real church”. So we drag him or her into a role they probably don’t want and then we expect them to simply forget the entire way they’ve been doing ministry for the last however many years because that’s not “real ministry”. We don’t let them be creative, we force them to do it how it’s always been done because that’s the way the congregation expects it.

Then comes the dichotomy of expectations

The youth they used to hang out with are sad to see them go but excited to know that they’re part of “real church” now and that means that just maybe they might begin to feel welcomed into an environment that’s been so foreign to them all their lives. So they turn up with great expectations, hoping to see a change, hoping that they can finally begin to connect with what’s going on because after all they know him/her and can relate to them.

Over time they begin to see that he/she seems to be acting just like every one else and they’re totally wreaked. And so is the pastor! They love these young people, they’ve grown up with them and watched them grow. And now they too want to know where the guy/girl they trusted and confided in has gone? Why has he/she changed so much… is this how “real church” is supposed to be, am I not welcome unless I change and become what I perceive as being old?

Meanwhile

the pastor has little choice but to follow the path of those that went before them. If they want to keep their position they need to “tow the company line” and not “rock the boat”.

They try and try to open discussions and dialogue, to look at ways they can encompass everyone’s needs, pleading with leaders to be open to change for the sake of the greater good.

People listen at first, they seem to agree but when push comes to shove most of them will change their mind citing differences of “ministry philosophy” or simply telling them straight up that “this isn’t what we do here”. So what is he/she supposed to do with that?

All the while the church rolls on

people turn up, money is given, laughs are shared and no one notices all the young people leaving out the back door… “they’re just young” they say, “they’ll come back… well actually you know I’m not that fussed really, because they wanted to change everything, and I like it how it is…”

So that young world changer

has now either become a frustrated, passive status quo accepting pastor because he/she wants to keep their job and stay in ministry, or they’ve left the ministry and are struggling to deal with the feelings of guilt and remorse for not attending church and not being able to find a place that thinks church is more than just keeping people happy…

Only a few of them are able to find a place that is ready and willing to change the way it does things in order to continue to reach a world that changes every day…

Why?

But that’s just the way I see it…

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Easter Theology

The older I get the more I’m finding the need to know why I believe what I believe. The truth is that as a Christian I can sometimes take things on face value because, let’s be honest, that’s kind of what we’re taught to do. There’s nothing wrong with trusting the words of someone older in the faith than you but there comes a point where we must also understand for ourselves.

I’m a regular reader of theology blog Parchment and Pen and it has helped me to think about what I believe and why I believe it.

Given that Easter is upon us, I’d like to direct you to two great posts on how we can know that the events of Easter are historically true and that Jesus is who He says He is.

The first recounts the life and death of the Apostles and how this supports the historical truth of Easter, the second is part one on the evidence of the resurrection.

I trust that these posts will bring you closer to God and understanding why you believe what you do about Easter. Dont forget to check back with Parchment and Pen for part two of evidence of the resurrection.

Blessings

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Children, Church & Craziness

I’d love your advice! 

If you have children, previously had young children, or simply have great ideas I want to hear from you! 

I’d love to know your tips for keeping children connected during a church service. 

Understandably our nearly two year old daughter is full of energy and loves to be part of what’s going on. She’s a good girl but doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s not ok to yell “YAY!!!” at the top of your lungs and clap her hands during a prayer for the sick or call out to her friend at the top of her voice when she spots her across the room. And you can forget about sitting still too, the world is just too big a place to sit still and not explore. 

I love these qualities in her but I also realise that they can be disruptive to our and other’s experience of church. I know she’s young but we’d love to help her connect with what’s going on and help her learn through the process. We’re new at this and pretty much clueless right now :-). 

What should we do, what’s worked for you in the past, how have you dealt with this situation? 

So hit me up, I’m ready for your awesome ideas on helping children to be part of church!

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