The Fishless Fisherman

There was a group called Fishermen’s Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing.

Someone suggested they needed a philosophy of fishing. So they carefully defined and redefined fishing and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics.

Then they realized they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat and when? These are all good things to know.

So they began research studies and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to faraway places to study different kinds of fish with different habits. Some got PH.D.’s in Fishiology.

But no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered the fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all the Fellowship halls.

Still no one was fishing.

A survey was launched to find out why. Most did not answer the questionnaire but from those who did respond, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment and several to go around encouraging fishermen. What with meetings, conferences and seminars, others simply didn’t have time to fish.

Jake was a newcomer to the Fishermen’s Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, Jake went fishing. He tried a few things, got the hang of it and caught a choice fish. At the next meeting he told his story, was honored for his catch and was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

Now because of all the speaking and his election to the Board of Directors of the Fishermen’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing.

Soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. He cut the speaking, resigned from the Board and said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.” They did – just the two of them – and they caught fish.

The members of the Fishermen’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few.

Lorne Sanny, Navigator Associate (thank you Cecil Bean for posting this!)

A Discipleship Path at Last!

For the last 6 months I have been chairing a committee at our church that was tasked with designing a discipleship path for people of all ages and levels of maturity.  I was really excited about this project because I agree with Greg Ogden who wrote,

“If making disciples is the primary mission of the church, would we not expect some public pathway to maturity in Christ in most churches?   Yet it is rare to find a church with a well-thought out, easy-to-grasp process or path onto which people can get if they want to become self-initiating, reproducing, fully-devoted followers of Christ.”  Transforming Discipleship

Two weeks ago we unveiled the plan to 50+ teachers and small group leaders, asking for their input in support in this new project.  We hope to launch it this August.  Here is the overview:

Dicipleship Path

*Classes are generally 6 weeks.  This is an adaptation of materials from Saddleback Resources.

STARTING POINT
Introduction to our church and vision, weekly church activities, church facilities; opportunity to meet pastoral staff and departmental representatives; Introduction to the Discipleship Path and help to find best fit. 1 hour, monthly

NEW BEGINNINGS  Introduction to Jesus Christ, basics of Christian faith, and walking with Christ; For new Christians or those who have recently recommitted to following Christ; Various curriculum available. Class or with mentor, 12 weeks

101 MEMBERSHIP “Know” –  Commitment to Christ and the church family  Overview of United Methodist history, doctrine (including salvation, baptism, and communion), organization, Membership vows of prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

201 MATURITY “Grow” – Commitment to habits necessary for spiritual growth Principles of spiritual growth & discipleship, habits necessary for growth, learning to read and study the Bible, developing a quiet time, prayer, tithing, fellowship and small groups, maintaining good habits, and a vision for maturity.

301 MINISTRY “Serve” – Commitment to serving God and others  Understanding how God has shaped you, spiritual gifts, discovering your gifts, heart passion, natural abilities, personality types, past experiences, developing a heart for service, serving in this church, ministry opportunities, expectations of those serving, connection with ministry leaders.

401 MISSION “Go” – Commitment to sharing the gospel with others  Discovering your mission to the world, your purpose in the kingdom of God, discipleship, developing your testimony, learning to share the gospel, building bridges to reach others, introduction to local and global missions.

There it is!  Now, we know that “Programs do not make disciples, people make disciples…” but I think this will be a fantastic tool for encouraging spiritual growth and engagement, and it should open the door for many one-to-one and small group relationships.

So now I’ll be writing curriculum and teaching notes all summer…. Ha ha.  What do you think?

Quiet Time Series

It is my great joy to have been meeting lately with some girlfriends who desire to make “quiet times” a part of their daily lives!  By “quiet times” I mean daily Bible reading and prayer.

I have been praying for many months that God would surround me with spiritually hungry women – and He has.  I suppose that’s a prayer He loves to answer!

As I sit and talk with them one-on-one each week, I am excited by their desire to learn and to do and to see God change in their lives.  I am also reminded that there are many traditions, habits, and pieces of historical and cultural knowledge that churched-people sometimes assume everyone knows.  If you didn’t show up in church until you were in your thirties, there’s probably a whole bunch of stuff you don’t know… and it’d be nice if someone explained it to you!  (Even if you were in church, you might have snoozed through some of it!)

In coming days I will address Quiet Time Basics for anyone trying to develop this discipline in their own life, or anyone looking for resources on the topic.

My prayer for these women comes from Colossians 1:9-12:  “For this reason, since the day we heard about ColossiansBiblePageyou, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy…”

 

What a Mentor Can Do For You

Do you have a woman who is committed to investing in you and your spiritual life?Mentoring

Are you the woman who is intentionally investing in the lives of others?

We as mentors and leaders are called to empower others with the power God has given us.

Leaders and mentors who are “other-focused” bring many different gifts to those they mentor or lead, including these:

  • Accountability – They help others keep their commitments to God.
  • Affirmation – They speak words of support and encouragement.
  • Assessment – They evaluate others’ progress, offering an objective perspective.
  • Advice – They offer words of wise counsel and direction.
  • Admonishment – They lend words of caution, rebuke, or correction.
  • Assets – They give tangible resources (time, money, effort, networks) to help their people reach their goals.
  • Acceptance – They provide unconditional love, regardless of the recipients’ identity.
  • Application – They help others find places to apply and practice what they learn (and their gifts).

Wouldn’t you love to have another woman do ALL THAT for you?!

Would you consider BEING that mentor or leader for others?

* Adapted from John Maxwell, A Leader’s Heart devotional, (9/5).

What Teens Can’t Learn from You Tube

Great discipleship metaphor!!

Guest blog today from Courtney Veasey who blogged today on Lifeway’s “Inside Girl’s Ministry” at http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/girlsministry/

Does God ever speak to you while you are driving?

I have found that when I actually have the radio turned down low enough and am not giving a personal concert to others in traffic around me, that God does speak to me in the car. This recently happened to me during my visit home to Florida for Christmas. Santa had indeed visited our family, and with cars packed full of new gifts and old suitcases, I lead the brigade as my family caravanned back to my dad’s house from where we had spent the holidays. The road we were all traveling on was long and winding as it went through the backwoods of North Florida, and I had gotten far ahead of the pack. Suddenly I came upon every speed demon’s nightmare… a state trooper, tucked sneakily behind the brush. Thankfully I was going the speed limit and he didn’t pull me over, but not wanting any of my other family members to get caught by the trap, I called those following to let them know what was ahead.

As I continued on my drive that day, the Lord began to show me how this situation could easily relate to speaking truth into the lives of teen girls and younger women. All of us are on this journey down the long and winding roads of life, but I just happen to be in a place that is a little bit further down the road than younger girls, and I can see some of the traps and dangers that they could find themselves in if they are not aware. Sometimes we can make discipleship seem more difficult than it really is. We come up with excuses for not speaking truth into the lives of girls: “They won’t listen,” “I can’t relate to them,” and so on. But sometimes discipleship can be as easy as sharing stories of your experiences on life’s journey, helping girls to be aware of situations that they should both embrace and avoid along the way.

Never doubt how much they really need your human touch and life experiences shared with them. Sure, with a click of a button, today’s teen girls can learn how to style their hair in different ways or make culinary masterpieces. But there are just some truths about life and the faith that they can’t get from YouTube. They can only get it from YOU.

Why we don’t need “Women’s Ministry”

(*Guest blog – I couldn’t have said it better myself!!)

Dear Women’s Ministry:

The world can give me cute cupcake designs and decorating tips, scrapbooking parties, casserole recipes, and other ways to pass the time. But truly, with my respect and love, may I be honest? If I wanted to learn how to decorate cupcakes, I would take a class in it. If I wanted to be educated on strategies for decorating my home inexpensively from Winners, I would just, you know, go to Winners. Or Pinterest.

But I’m here with you now because I want what the world cannot give me. We’re choking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics, and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up. We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability, not churchified life hacks from lady magazines. Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of real community. We’re trying really hard–after all, we keep showing up to your lady events, and we leave feeling just a bit empty. It’s just more of the same every time.

The women of our world aren’t looking for a safe place to cry about housework and ooh-and-ahhh over centerpieces. We’re not all mothers, some of us work outside the home, some of us have kids, and others don’t or won’t or can’t. Is womanhood only about wifehood and motherhood? What about those among us that are not wives and mothers? We’re not all in the same season of life. We are – or should be – diverse image bearers of a Divine God. 

We need Jesus. We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travelers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus–not to the sale at the mall.
You know what I would have liked instead of decorating tips or a new recipe? I would have liked to pray together. I would have liked the women of the church to share their stories or wisdom with one another, no more celebrity speakers, please just hand the microphone to that lady over there that brought the apples. I would love to wrestle with some questions that don’t have a one-paragraph answer in your study guide. I would like to do a Bible study that does not have pink or flowers on the cover. I would have liked to sign up to bring a meal for our elderly or drop off some clothes for a new baby or be informed about issues in our city where we can make space for God. I would like to organize and prioritize, to rabble-rouse and disturb the peace of the rest of the world on behalf of justice, truth, beauty, and love. I’d love to hear the prophetic voice of women in our church.

Please, may we be the place to detox from the world – its values, its entertainment, its priorities, its focus on appearances and materialism and consumerism?

So here is my suggestion: Please stop treating women’s ministry like a Safe Club for the Little Ladies to Play Church. We are smart. We are brave. We want to change the world. We run marathons to benefit our sisters, not so that we can lose weight. We have more to offer to the church than our mad decorating skills. I look around, and I can see that these women can offer strategic leadership, wisdom, counsel, and even, yes, teaching. We want to give and serve and make a difference. We want to be challenged. We want to read books and talk politics, theology, and current events. We want to wrestle through our theology. We want to listen to each other. We want to worship, we want to intercede for our sisters and weep with those who weep, rejoice with those that rejoice, to create life and art and justice with intention.

Let’s be a community of women, gathered together to live more whole-heartedly, to sharpen, challenge, love, and inspire one another to then scatter back out to our worlds bearing the mandate to be women that love.

I’ll bring the cupcakes next time (although they likely won’t look as cute).

Copyright – Sarah Bessey, http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/155219-sarah-bessey-why-women-s-ministry-needs-jesus.html#.TtW_ZpGuJNR.email)