Creativity

creativity

Today’s quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

While those few words could take a thoughtful person in many directions, I’m content with one simple illustration. In recent years the creativity of pastors and people in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has resulted in the origination of numerous parachurch ministries, including:

  • Best Practices for Ministry – “A FREE conference for those who love the local church, the unchurched and the LCMS” – https://www.facebook.com/BestPracticesForMinistry/
  • Pastor 360 – Making life and ministry better for pastors, congregations and families –pastor360.com
  • Mission of Christ Network – Making known the light, love, and peace of Jesus Christ to people around the world – https://missionofchrist.org
  • J2e3 – Jesus to…Everyone. Everywhere. Everyday. – j2e3.com
  • Five Two – Christian entrepreneurs passionate about reaching those who don’t know Jesus – fivetwo.com
  • MinistryFocus – Making student loan debt repayment grants to professional LCMS church workers – ministryfocus.org
  • Dwelling 1:14 – Joining Jesus on His mission – https://dwelling114.org/

There may be other newly created ministries. These are ones with which I am familiar, all begun within the past several years by someone in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Although the one acorn reference in the quote above might not fit exactly with these examples, I thank God for the thousands of people (thousand forests?) whose lives are touched by the creation of these ministries and of additional ministries that will surely follow.

St. Paul wrote: “I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Cor. 9:22-23)

Advertisements

Entrepreneurial Ministries and Conferences

ConferenceIn the early years of my ministry, programs and conferences sponsored by districts of our national church and also by the national church itself were designed to provide ideas and materials for use by the local congregation. That was then. This is now.

While our national church and some districts still offer such programs and conferences, growing congregations and visionary leaders are initiating ministries and hosting conferences that impact churches across the nation and even around the globe. Today I’m highlighting some of them.

In preparation, I contacted the leaders of each of these ministries or conferences, requesting one long or two short sentences briefly describing their purpose and focus. Those descriptions are posted below my signature. Here are the ministries and conferences, listed alphabetically:

•  Best Practices for Ministry www.bestpracticesforministry.net
•  Dwelling 1:14 www.dwelling114.org
•  FiveTwo www.fivetwo.com
•  J2e3 www.J2e3.com
•  LCMS Mega Church Conference
•  MinistryFocus ministryfocus.org
•  Mission of Christ Network www.MissionofChrist.org
•  Pastoral Leadership Institute www.plinstitute.org

Congregations and individuals with a vision for intentional, strategic, faithful and fruitful Gospel proclamation through word and deed are finding encouragement, support and inspiration through these and other entrepreneurial ministries and conferences. Read the descriptions below and check them out for yourself. I believe you’ll be blessed by what you discover!

Entrepreneurial Ministries and Conferences:

Best Practices for Ministry www.bestpracticesforministry.net is a free conference sponsored by Christ Church Lutheran (that’s not a typo) in Phoenix for those who love the local church, the lost and the LCMS. Last year’s conference had over 1,500 lay leaders and pastors.

Dwelling 1:14 www.dwelling114.org is a ministry that helps leaders disciple their people to join Jesus on His mission in the places they already live, work and go to school. This simple lifestyle is described in Greg Finke’s book, “Joining Jesus on His Mission.”

FiveTwo www.fivetwo.com is a network that fuels sacramental entrepreneurs who start new to reach new. To reach the millions of lost people in the U.S. and beyond, we need a variety of new ministries and the men and women wired to start them.

J2e3 (Jesus to Everyone, Everywhere, Every Day) www.J2e3.com Missions Summit will be held May 4-6 at Concordia Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Tex. Featuring inspiring speakers who will share best practices of missional efforts that effectively reach the lost, the purpose of J2e3 is to send you to be Jesus to everyone, everywhere, every day.

LCMS Mega Church Conference is a fellowship of the senior pastors of congregations of our Synod that have, on average, over 1,000 people in weekly worship. These pastors and their wives meet annually and also offer support and encouragement to one another throughout the year.

MinistryFocus ministryfocus.org is a grassroots organization within the LCMS, established in 2013 to eliminate systemic barriers to the proclamation of the Gospel. To achieve our mission, we provide certain “tools” that are commonplace outside the church, that within the church provide energy and focus for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Mission of Christ Network www.MissionofChrist.org is a lay-led pastor advised tax-exempt organization whose primary objective is to multiply intentional Gospel proclamation worldwide through existing networks of Christian people groups, congregations and organizations. This includes age appropriate local, national and international short and long-term mission work integrated with long-term discipleship internationally and in your home congregation.

Pastoral Leadership Institute www.plinstitute.org trains and invests in leaders for a changing world. PLI believes pastors and spouses gain confidence and courage to lead in community so that fear and isolation are defeated and ministries can best reach lost and broken people with the Gospel of Jesus.

Best Practices for Ministry

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 10.04.00 PMThat’s the name of the “free conference” taking place this week in Phoenix. It’s called “free” because there’s no registration fee. In addition, no honoraria or expenses are paid to the speakers and presenters, who serve for free. Attendees pay their own expenses for transportation and lodging. The host congregation provides free meals for the duration of the conference.

All this is made possible by the sponsoring congregation, Christ Church Lutheran in Phoenix and Senior Pastor Jeff Schrank. Jeff served for a number of years with me on the LCMS Board of Directors. He’s a humble, bold and courageous man doing a great job of ministry in Phoenix.

This is the conference’s fourth year. The first year about 500 attended. This year 1500 are registered. What’s the attraction? A few things come to mind:

  • It’s “A FREE conference for those who love the local church, the unchurched and the LCMS.”
  • It’s in Phoenix in February and it’s cold in many other parts of the country!
  • It meets a need not met in the same way anywhere else in the LCMS.
  • It includes a healthy mixture of lay, commissioned and ordained participants.
  • It offers practical info on what works with transparency on what doesn’t work in parish ministry.
  • It combines ministry ideas with spiritually refreshing worship and fellowship.
  • It’s a gathering of folks who are finding joy in ministry and folks who seek such joy.

BPM Conference Coordinator Nancy Barton says about conference speakers: “Best Practices for Ministry conference does not happen without all these incredible people. I am grateful for all those who share their God given gifts with the church free of charge. This is an act of grace and service, and I trust the person and work of the Holy Spirit to equip the church to do it well.”

Kudos to Pastor Jeff Schrank, the staff and members of Christ Church Lutheran, the volunteer presenters and all participants in this exciting conference! The spirit of camaraderie, cohesiveness and Christ-centeredness is contagious!

My topic this year is “Quo Vadis, LCMS?” Subtitle: “Wine/Women/Worship/Witness/Warfare: Helping a church born and raised in 19th and 20th century culture passionately engage with the Gospel a 21st century culture indifferent and even hostile to Christianity.” I look forward to time together with many wonderful folks!

Five Two Wiki and Best Practices Conferences

Conference 1The first title above may sound a bit strange for a conference name, especially one hosted by an LCMS congregation with 700 excited participants who are almost all LCMS folks. It’s going on this week in Katy, Texas. Attendees from around the country are quite a bit younger than the average LCMS member, most of them having strong interest in mission and ministry.

The second conference referenced above is what its title describes—a conference whose presenters share with leaders who attend the conference best ministry practices that are working well in their congregations. My sense is that the average age of the 600 also excited attendees at this conference, held in Phoenix in February, may be slightly higher than the Wiki folks, but still quite a bit younger than average. They, too, have strong interest in mission and ministry.

Both of these unofficial conferences are sponsored by congregations and pastors, Bill Woolsey at Cross Point Community Lutheran in Katy and Jeff Schrank at Christ Church Lutheran in Phoenix, who sense needs begging to be met. Those needs include missional information, ideas and encouragement, presented without the distraction of political motivation or controversy.

These conferences attract people focused on figuring out how best to communicate the Gospel to people not attracted to church as most of us know it. The worship is mostly “contemporary” and quite spirited. The atmosphere is saturated with Scriptural teaching and preaching. The concern is clearly focused on the eternal destiny of people without Christ. Most ideas and strategies shared are tried and tested. Others are more embryonic and visionary.

An important objective of these conferences is the gathering of men and women who share a focus on mission and ministry that goes beyond traditional patterns and frequently unfruitful expressions. The folks who attend are eager to learn more about how to proclaim the love of Christ in faithful ways to new generations of people who are spiritually hungry but also either not attracted to or even turned off by most of what happens in the organized church.

My commendation is hereby offered to conference organizers, sponsors and presenters, along with attendees and their congregations back home. They are the ones whose ministry and mission will benefit from the return of rejuvenated, reenergized, recommitted workers and leaders.

The mission is real! The field is ripe for harvest! The eternal destination of people who live in darkness and disbelief is at stake! God be praised for the results that his blessing on these conferences will produce!