Administration is a key ministry in helping churches achieve their God-given commission. It is often a ministry that is under-valued and ‘below the radar’. This one-day workshop seeks to raise the profile of administration by envisioning, equipping and networking. The day will include opportunities for prayer and prophetic input to individuals (see programme below).
Although the workshop is primarily for those involved in Church Administration it will also be of benefit to church leaders in understanding how administration can help them to be more effective. It would be of great value for teams to attend together, particularly if they represent both Leadership and Administration.
I do urge you to be there (sorry if you are reading this from outside the UK - though you would still be very welcome!). There are only a few days left before the booking fee increases so if you have not yet booked I suggest you go to Spirit led Administration and book in now.
While we, in the UK, are battling widespread flooding our brothers and sisters in northern Kenya are being impacted by the worst drought for many years. Edward Buria, who oversees the Newfrontiers churches in Kenya and has an amazing track record of bringing much needed help to the tribal groups over recent years as they have battled against changes in the weather patterns, has recently sent the following request:
I have just returned back from visiting our churches in Turkana and managed to visit especially our two churches in Kakuma where 1000s of refugees are housed. The current famine has claimed a number of lives in one of our churches. Never witnessed such hopelessness in my life. Even the 2005/6 drought wasn’t as severe as the current one.
Met people who told me that they were not interested in money but just WATER or FOOD. Two little girls touched my heart in the midst of nowhere as they stopped us along the way and only showed us by sign language they needed water.
I am just wondering if you could do a small something on your blog on this current drought/famine?
I am aware that people very generously responded to an appeal for the Philippines before Christmas and am hesitant to highlight another need so quickly. But we are obviously talking about saving lives and I feel you should be aware of the need. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lead a church and lose some of your members through famine.
The Kings Church (Mid Sussex) work closely with Edward. They have recently had a team there treating over 500 people with eye problems. They are happy to handle the appeal and transfer funds to Edward. This allows churches to give through a recognised UK charity and for Gift Aid to be collected where relevant (this only applies to UK donors).
Please contact email@example.com for bank details, Gift Aid forms etc.
Thank you so much.
Heart’s desire in practice
As I look at our church I am aware that there are many ministries that have arisen over the years that have started with individual members of the church who have had a ‘heart’s desire’ to see something happen. These are most conspicuous in ministry with people who are poor or in some way in social need or disadvantage.
One evening more than twenty years ago Sue was sitting at home when she felt God tell her to go to Brighton station. She was someone who had a heart for those who were experiencing unplanned pregnancies. In reluctant obedience she drove to the station. After a short whole she saw a woman carrying a small suitcase leave the station and begin to walk in the direction of the abortion clinic. Sue followed slowly feeling ‘how can I just go and talk to this woman?’ When it was clear that she was indeed headed for the clinic Sue plucked up courage and spoke to the woman. How she would love to report that this woman changed her mind as a result; she does not know the outcome. But this was an experience which caused Sue to launch Alternatives, a ministry to such women. Over the last two decades thousands of women have been contacted and helped as a result of Sue’s ‘heart’s desire’ coming to reality.
Some years before that a small group of young married members of the church came to the elders and asked for permission to start a soup kitchen. We were of course happy to encourage them to do so. Since that initiative was launched nearly thirty years ago there have been several expressions of that compassion and enlargements of the ministry: soup and friendship on the street; a drop in; a residential home for twelve adults; a market garden; a farmhouse for people to get the opportunity to live independent but supported lives; a night shelter. This has been umbrellaed under the ministry Friends First.
Or what about the women who wanted to reach out to the many prostitutes in Brighton (as a conference town this is a major social issue in our city)? They soon found that many women had been trafficked for sex from Africa or the former communist bloc. It was a privilege to work with the authorities to get some of these women returned to their homelands.
Debt is a huge and growing problem worldwide as the recession bites. One young woman had a tremendous heart to provide support and guidance to people who were in the debt trap and so a ministry was started for this purpose.
Not all these ministries are still being carried out but they exemplify the importance of allowing people to express their heart’s desire.
As we help people in our churches to find a place to serve - and remember God has called all to serve; no passengers - let’s not do it only on the basis of finding people to fulfil a need but rather look out for people whose eyes ‘light up’ when they are talking about a particular area of possible ministry.
- They feel they ought to out of a sense of duty. Nb ‘Ought’ is a dangerous word. Analyse why when you are tempted to do something out of ‘ought-ness’. God loves willingness.
- They want to please the leader or may even feel sorry for him as he has a problem to solve with inadequate resources
- They want to be recognised in the church
There could be many other reasons and the above are all negative. I believe the most authentic one is out of a ‘heart’s desire’.
What do I mean by having a heart’s desire to serve? As we have already seen God has given each of us different qualities, skills and attributes. These are all to be used for his glory, maybe for a specific purpose or manner of serving. In Exodus we find a focus on people whose hearts are in tune with God’s.
Let’s look at the context. Having left Egypt the congregation were wandering in the wilderness. Daily the Lord provided food and water. Moses was burning himself out both leading and being judge for all the people to the extent that Jethro, his wise father in law, urged him to delegate the minor disputes to others to solve and to keep his own counsel for the more difficult cases.
Following this the Lord sent Moses up the mountain to receive the ten commandments. This resulted in a lot of detailed laws being established. But there was no focal point for worship. It was at that point that God instructed Moses to make a sanctuary for him (Ex 25:8). He introduces his commission to Moses by instructing him to raise a contribution for this from ‘every man whose heart moves him’ (Ex 25:2). In the next 6 chapters he instructs Moses in minute detail about the building, the fabric, the garments, the ritual practices etc.
In chapter 31 God starts to talk about the workers, the ‘people resource’ that he has given to erect the building and carry out the activity of the tabernacle. It is interesting to note that he again focuses on the hearts of the people as he gave spiritual gifts of craftsmanship e.g. in Ex 31:6 (NASB) ‘in the hearts of all who are skilful I have put skill’. Then we find in Ex 35 and 36 that it is out of the heart’s desire that people came to serve and give e.g. ‘everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution’ (Ex 35:21), ‘…everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.’ (Ex 36:2).
What goes on in our hearts is important to God. They are the centre of our emotions and motivation. The Lord puts into each of us a desire to serve in some particular area. He wants a willing people, whether for giving or for action. The Bible makes clear that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). Also that he is not a slave driver but one who is able to say that we are his friends if we do what he commands us. (Jn 15:14).
So, it is the heart response that any leader should be looking for when he is providing opportunity for people to serve. Next time I will give you some specific examples.
The New Life Church in Milton Keynes is holding an Administration Conference once again this year on March 22nd at the Ridgeway Centre. They have graciously invited me to speak once again. They are wanting to serve the church widely and this is open to churches from any stream or denomination.
Last year’s conference was very popular and so they want to encourage you to book quickly and have introduced an ‘early bird’ booking fee with a 40% reduction.
A full description and online registration are here.
Recently I had the joy of visiting my old friends John and Alex Kpikpi in Ghana. John brings apostolic oversight to Newfrontiers churches in seven nations in West Africa, most of which he has planted. As well as giving some training in various administration matters to the church and school staffs, and some one-to-one mentoring, I offered to make a new video of their school to replace the one I made in 2008.
New Nation School was founded over ten years ago and now numbers over 500 students from 3-18 years. The children are trained in an atmosphere of unconditional love and reach high standards. In the recent International GCSE exams they attained an amazing 99% pass rate including the top mark in the whole of Ghana for mathematics. In A levels they achieved 88%. 85% of A level students go on to university in Ghana or abroad.
I was struck by the broad ranging curriculum, the diversity of extra-curricular subjects and the general happiness of the children. The school is a credit to the dedicated staff lead by John and Alex. You can watch the video by clicking on the picture.
When faced with a dilemma that challenged his pre-determined plan, Jesus used his calling as a guideline to weigh whether a change of plan would be a distraction from or a contribution to fulfilling the main flow of his calling.
How does this apply to us?
Over the past few months we have been gradually building a serving profile to help people identify those aspects of their lives and personality which they can harness to serve in the church. Leaders should be very committed to getting all their church members into an effective place of service; this is what all are called to do - bear fruit (Jn 15:16). But in addition to this general call, which applies to all believers, some have a very specific call.
A good friend of mine, Gail, carried a call to work with street children for many years before she actually had the opportunity to explore it in practical terms. She took every opportunity to be trained in a wide variety of relevant skills as part of her employment, working with emotionally damaged young people.
In every church there are usually a few people who have a specific sense of calling. Maybe it is to go to a particular nation as a church planter, or to enter politics to address issues of social injustice. Others feel, as Gail did, a call to work with particular people groups, a call that eventually took her to Mexico. When considering someone’s potential serving role in the church it is good for leaders to be aware of any such call. If people can be channelled into a ministry which gives a training opportunity, or even through which that call can be realised, they will be very faithful and fulfilled people. What church leader does not want fulfilled and happy sheep?!
For others the call may be less specific. As we saw above we have been chosen to bear fruit. We have also been given good works ‘prepared beforehand’ to walk in (Eph 2:10). So, as members of the body of Christ we all have a call. For some this may be expressed through their paid employment - teachers, nurses and so on, the traditional ‘vocations’ (which literally means callings). For others it may be to make a lot of money to advance the Kingdom.
‘Full-time’ in the market place
Many years ago there was a book with a title like ‘Lord, let me give you a million dollars’ (I cannot remember it precisely). The author had trained as a plumber, attended a Baptist seminary in USA and then applied to be a minister. But in order to finance his training he continued to work as a plumber. He developed a special pre-assembly of plumbing fittings that allowed him to install systems quickly. When he failed to be offered a post as a minister someone challenged him to see his plumbing as a call to ‘full time’ ministry. His invention was highly successful and marketed widely. He subsequently became a major source of funding for the ministry of the international evangelist Luis Palau.
There are many ways to serve the advance of the kingdom. When considering how people may serve in the church we must not ignore such people who may even, through their skill and diligence, facilitate more kingdom advance through their wealth than a so-called ‘full-time’ Christian leader.
Tags: Christian calling
Let’s review progress
Over the past few months I have been looking at the development of a Serving Profile to help people find a fulfilling and fruitful place of service in the church. Of the seven components that make up this profile - Skills and Talents, Spiritual Gifts, Calling, Heart’s Desire, Temperament, Time, Spiritual Maturity - I have so far addressed the first two. These are the main ones that define what a person ‘brings to the table’ ie those features which indicate what contribution a person may make to a ministry through their natural or spiritual aptitudes. The remaining five will not take as many weeks!
We will now turn our attention to matters which affect how these aptitudes may be applied effectively and appropriately to specific ministries. First, Calling.
After Jesus sent the disciples out two by two on their first ministry trip (Mk 6:7-13) they came back on a high! They had seen the sick healed, demons being cast out and, perhaps, many saved. They were tumbling over themselves with good stories that they wanted to share with Jesus and their friends.
I am sure that Jesus was thrilled to see their excitement and no doubt felt an inner joy and satisfaction that they had proved to be good learners. I wonder where they were when they all met up again? Perhaps, in their absence, Jesus had himself taken the opportunity to mingle with the crowd in the local town. Or maybe he had been sitting under a tree, watching the passers by. Wherever they were, clearly they were not alone for Jesus decided that they should go away to a ‘desolate place …. for many were coming and going’ (Mk 6:31).
So they boarded a boat and set sail along the coastline of the lake; perhaps Jesus had a favourite cove in mind where they could sit and relax. But the crowds saw him going and the quiet cove was anything but quiet when they ran the boat up onto the beach.
At this point Jesus had a dilemma. He had made a commitment to the disciples and yet he looked on the crowd and saw them as ‘sheep without a shepherd’ (Mk 6:34). What should he do? Was the enemy throwing a ‘red herring’ across his path to stop him continuing to instruct the disciples? No! Because he had a deep sense of calling he felt peace to stop his intended course of action and teach the people. This calling was embedded deeply within his soul, a reference against which he could make the decisions of life. Where did it come from?
I like to think of the familiar passage in Isaiah 61:1-3, which is often called the Kingdom manifesto, as Jesus’ job description (which also applies to his body, the church). Prophetically Isaiah looked down the tunnel of time and saw Jesus being sent to earth with the express purpose of bringing good news to the poor (which includes you and me), of binding up the broken hearted, of setting the captives free and so on. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians we find that Jesus willingly embraced this commission, counting not equality with God a thing to be grasped but being willing to take on the form of a servant (Phil 2:6,7).
So, when there was the possibility of a ‘red herring’ that was clearly not the case. He knew his call was to minister to those who were as sheep without a shepherd. So he put his previous plans on hold and sought to bring them good news.
Next time we will consider how this principle applies to us.
I am so grateful to all those who have contributed to the appeal for the Philippines. Several individuals have contributed and there are also some churches who are taking offerings over this Christmas season. It is still not too late to make a donation. Just contact me through the address in the side panel.
Eden Singson, who leads the Grace Community Church in Manila and, with his wife Fe, is coordinating the work being done with this fund has just sent an update. Fe has professional expertise in helping people develop income generating skills, a very appropriate gifting for this situation.
Since receiving this report I have heard that they are now planning to launch a fish drying business (using coconut husks to burn) in order to create income for several families. They are buying a special unit to do this. This is the way they preserve their fish and send it to market, even to Manila.
Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ or Haiyan made its fourth landfall over the island of Bantayan in the province of Cebu last November 8, 2013 at 10:40 A.M. and she swept at least 90 percent of the island, wrecking nearly all the houses, schools, infrastructures, poultry and piggery farms, and the biggest feed mill in the island. Haiyan destroyed 95 to 98 percent homes in Bantayan and left a number of casualties. Bantayan Mayor Ian Escario estimated that it would take two to three months for the whole island to recover.
Before this trip, our church member, Danny Santillan, who comes from the place went home to assess the condition of his family. He came back with an assessment of the situation that helped us identify what needs to be done to alleviate their pathetic condition.
We immediately identified the need for food, medicines and to reconstruct their homes. Cecille, the wife of Danny helped us look for a grocery store where we can buy the groceries and the supplier of the building construction materials.
December 6, Friday afternoon, we gave rice and grocery packs for the residence of Barangay Tamiao with the coordination of the community chieftain. The pack contains twenty five kilos (25) of rice, ten cans each of meat loaf, corned beef, sardines; ten(10) pieces of packed noodles, three-in-one coffee and milk. The people beamed with smiles as they carried the heavy relief goods. They declared that they never experienced receiving such big supply of basic commodities. Aside from these grocery items, we also gave assorted medicines for headache, fever, flu, and diarrhea.
The next day, we gave building materials like cements, rebars, hollow blocks, common nails, lumber and corrugated sheets for the two (2) houses totally destroyed by the typhoon while the rest of the ten (10) families received plywood to replace their dilapidated bamboo walls; corrugated sheets to replace their nipa roof aside from lumber, nails and cements. An elderly woman became emotional and approached us saying that she would like to build an arch at the entrance of the community and put the words ‘House of Grace” in honor of the help extended to the community. I was touched and I simply hug her in reply.
We also helped a fisherman whose boat was destroyed by fallen coconut trees at the height of the storm. We bought construction materials to rebuild his boat and planned to help the rest when we will visit them at the end of this month. We extended funeral assistance to a bereaved family and provide milk and vitamins rich in iron and calcium for pregnant women who have nutritional deficiencies.
This is the first phase of the series of assistance for the people of Bantayan. In our next visit at the end of the month, we will monitor the progress of the house construction. I will go back together with my wife, Fe who has the experience in putting up livelihood projects for sustainable development. This time, our theme will be From Food To Shelter To Livelihood.
There will be more visits next year to assess the development of this project. There is more to do with resources available and we believe this will be a long term project. I will update you all for every progress we achieved and we expect people to see a change not only through social action but real transformation that comes from God. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your generosity, support, prayer and love. You are all part of this God-given endeavour.
Edencio S. Singson
Team Leader-House of Grace
Although books on marriage abound this one is certainly not ‘surplus to requirements’. I confess I have not yet read every word (it has only recently been released) but I feel it is such a good book that I want to bring it to your attention in time to ask someone to give it to you for Christmas - or for you to buy copies to give away!
Using the imagery of building a house, John Kpikpi (a good friend of many in the Newfrontiers family of churches), together with contributions from his wife Alexandra, has taken a strong Biblical stance in sharing about marriage. Starting with God’s vision for marriage he than moves on to laying a solid foundation before taking us through God’s ‘blue print’ for marriage addressing all aspects one might expect when building the marriage ‘house’.
For all stages
This book is invaluable across the whole spectrum of marriage, from those who are contemplating it through to couples who have been together for decades. It addresses all stages.
Each chapter ends with thought provoking questions that do not allow the reader to avoid considering the issues just read. It is also liberally punctuated with living illustrations.
This book has one particular unique dimension compared with others. Why? Because John is Ghanaian and Alex is British. But their marriage is neither Ghanaian nor British - it is ‘Kingdom’. They both love the word of God and at the core of all they do this word is their guide. Because the teaching is Biblical this is a book for every couple, whatever their culture. Yet, for those who live in the so-called ‘west’ there is a fascinating cross-cultural dimension which represents significant added value. Not only will it teach you how to build, refresh or strengthen your marriage in God’s way but you will also be enriched as you are exposed to another culture.
The Marriage House is not yet available through Amazon but can be obtained direct from the publisher if it is not already in your local bookshop. Buy it, be blessed and bless others!