Why don’t more people step into Church leadership?

One of my favorite things I get to do to serve the church is leading our young adult ministry. It’s not a large group of people but it’s growing in number, and in its effectiveness, and it keeps me thinking young. We are in the middle of a study called “Identity: Image Bearers of the King”. We have been looking at how God has created us to be His ambassadors on earth while we await His return.

Our most recent study was on the “Office Gifts” from Ephesians 4:7-11. This particular night I noted two things that our young adults seemed to have never been taught from this passage. The first came from verse 7, many people when they teach on the “Office Gifts” start on verse 11 completely missing this part. “Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift (CSV). “Each one of us” is a key to understanding this passage. Every person who is a follower of Jesus Christ has been given an office in the church. This doesn’t mean that we are all hired by the church or that we have equal authority. It does mean that we are all capable of carrying a portion of the burden that is caring for the Church.

The second new piece of information to many of our young adults seemed to come from verse 11, ” And He Himself gave aron-320023-unsplashsome to be… (CSV)“. He, here referring to Jesus, gave each one of us to be gifts to the church. You are the gift! Each member of the body is a gift to the church! What would happen if every person actually believed that they had a part to play in the church? And, what if they had a roll in “equipping the saints for the work of ministry”? Verse 12 tells us that the goal of these gifts is that we all might “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son”.

When so many in our faith communities have never been told that they are a gift to the Church, is it any wonder that we haven’t grown into maturity? Is it any wonder that the Church is so fractured? That’s the point of this entire passage, we are all meant to be one, to function in a manner where we all support each other.

So why don’t more people step into Church leadership? I’m sure there are many reasons, but I think an easy one to address is that so many have never been told that they are a gift to the Church, that they are an important part, and that if they aren’t there we are missing something.


While I receive great joy from working with our college and twenties at my local church, my full-time job is with Envision Atlanta.  I run oversee our Bussiness Development Team where we create and maintain businesses that function as discipleship platforms.  Each member of Envision Atlanta raises their own support.  If you would like to find out more about what our site does or my role with the team, please email me at brianvalois@gmail.com.  If you would like to help support me financially, please follow this link.

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What happens when we get back up, part 2

Last week I published some thoughts on failing, a post to myself but probably words many need to hear.  As always I had more experience failing this week.  If this had happened to me even just a couple weeks ago I would have described it as a “disaster”.  Here is the story:

The Business Development Team for Envision Atlanta started a window cleaning company in the spring of 2017 (you can read more about that here if you’d like). I’ve made many mistakes along the way but after a little while you start to believe that you should have everything figured out by now, and then tend to be even harder on yourself than you should be.  This is where I’ve landed, forgetting the journey of learning never ends.

Once a month we clean windows at a local thrift store.  In the spring and summer the store often uses window paint to decorate the store front windows.  Normally we just work around it and use water-less or low water cleaning techniques.  This time however one of the managers asked if we would take the paint off, I immediately said yes, thinking the soapy water would take it right off.  I sent the other half of my crew out to start cleaning the paint using a magic eraser.  It didn’t do a thing.  I then tried a razor blade specially made for windows.  It was doing a poor job, but we were going to have to spend hours of extra labor to remove all the paint.  After finishing the first window and starting the second it hit me.  Mistake #1: not testing my tools on the paint before agreeing to do the task.

Humbled, I walked back in to the store and told the manager I was going to need to charged extra for the windows, that it was going to take me hours to remove the paint.  She needed to check with a superior to get the ok.  I went back to work on the windows we had already started knowing that those would have to be finished regardless of the decision. She came back out and asked how much I would need to charge, “Two dollars a window, so $16 total.”  It immediately sounded very low coming out of my mouth.  “That’s fine” she said with no hesitation.  Mistake #2: pricing myself lower than the work is worth.

My gut had told me to ask for $5 a window and I blew it, I could have always gone down and would have probably gotten at least $3.

At this point I was curious as to what they had used to paint the windows. Mistake #3: Not asking what they used before agreeing to any of this.  Wouldn’t you know it said right on the paint marker how to remove it!  At this point my mood changed from disappointment and frustration to excitement.  It was finally hitting me I was in the position to learn and to grow from my series of errors.  As a window cleaning my knowledge had expanded.  It was a moment of grace poor out by God.  Wisdom was given and answers supplied even though I wasn’t actually looking for either, most of the time I am content to sit in my frustration, this time I got back up.

The irony in all of this is that our business team meetings are called “What Went Wrong Wednesday” (we can’t meet on Fridays due to scheduling conflicts so “Failure Friday” is not usable).  The point of the meeting is to normalize failure as part of the process of growth and learning process and as a way to help each other as a team and grow us closer together.

What happens when we get back up

I’ve written on failure before. I will write on it again. It’s something I’m good at (failing that is). I write on failing because I need the reminder that their are two options when we fail. Option A) stay down, option B) get back up. I am not good at getting back up. So I’m writing this to myself and if it helps more than just me great, but if it is something that just I return to, something that keeps me going, then it has served its purpose.

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Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

 

Brian this is what happens when you get back up:

1) You redefine yourself!

Too often you have named yourself after what you have not done well, where you chose to walk away, and by the times you just gave up. When you return to your mess and choose to clean it up you can no longer call your self a quitter, a failure, or a someone who does not finish. When you choose to fight through the difficulties you become a finisher, a winner, a person of your word.

2) You become worth investing in.

If failure no longer defines you then you now become moldable. Even though it feels like the only thing others see is when we fall down they see when you get back up, and back up again, and again. Those are the types of people you choose to bring on your journey, don’t you think that others want the same people around them? Don’t you think that other people want want to know that you are worth their time and their investment? Be worth investing in, get back up when you fall.

3) You are worth following.

If you want to be worth following you can’t be someone who gives up. No one follows a quitter because there is no where to go. The people who you choose to follow have gone somewhere and are still going. The set backs and the challenges have become the places of growth in the lives of those who overcome come them. Each challenge becomes a classroom with knowledge and understanding that go beyond the current adventure, allowing the next journey to be more difficult and an even more rewarding lesson. Begin to share how you got back up, how you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. Those that want to grow are the ones that are worth your time.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who made it out for my ordination service.  If you didn’t make it you can watch the video below.  If you want to skip to where I came on to speak then go to the last twenty minutes or so.  Special thank you to Mike Plunket who gave the charge.  It was an incredible night that won’t be soon forgotten.  I’ve never felt so encouraged or empowered.  Enjoy!

 

 

In Remembrance of Coach Young

Some people leave a much larger impact on us than the average person. It seems that God uses them to show the depth of his grace for us. Through simple interactions our wounds are somehow smaller after crossing their path than they had been. Where hurt and brokenness once where there is now hope and peace. Joe Young was God’s grace to me.

While I was at Toccoa Falls College the depth of my character could justifiably be questioned. Good choices were not my specialty nor was humility something I was interested in. Things got so bad that I was brought before the discipline committee and expulsion was the topic for the day. Even though I was allowed to stay in school there were those who felt it was in the best interest of the school to protect the other students from me. Joe was not one of those people. The night before I graduated Joe approached me at a banquet and told me about a conversation he had with one of the deans of the college. He told me how he was warned not to let me on the team, and how I would destroy the team. Coach continued to tell me how he said, “I’ll take a chance on him.” I think that’s what Jesus said about each one of us as he was wrestling in the garden before his arrest. “Are they worth it?” “Yes, I think I’ll take a chance.”

What is most amazing to me is that Coach knew to wait to tell me he had taken a chance on me. He must have seen how angry and alone I felt and how telling me this up front wouldn’t have been helpful. Like all good runners he waited for the right moment to make his move. Waiting until I had healed enough to understand the risk he took for me. Joe had hardly known me before I had joined his team.

Joe pushed me harder than any coach before me. The entire season I was injured and every practice Joe made me run. Mind you he took care of me and watched out for me, but he still pushed me farther than I would have gone. Every day I would want to sit out and everyday he made me run. Joe, knowing that I wasn’t in danger of being hurt worse, wanted me to push through so that once the pain was gone I would be faster and stronger than I ever thought I could be. I remember one race in particular where I called out to him as I ran past him, “Coach it hurts so bad.” Without hesitation, as if knowing I was going to say something to him he yelled back, “Everyone else in hurting too, KEEP GOING!”

That day changed my life. Everything Joe had been trying to teach me made sense, keep going. With Joe in mind I’m going to keep going. When things go wrong, I’m going to keep going. When I feel lost in life, I’m going to keep going. When it feels like hope is lost, I’m going to keep going. And when my hart his heavy with grief and sadness at the loss of a friend, mentor, and coach, I’m going to keep going.

I know you didn’t walk to Jesus when you entered Heaven, I know you ran, and when I get to heaven I’m running first to Him and then I’m running to find you Joe

What is the Envision Atlanta Business Development Team?

Here is a brief description of what the team I lead is and what we are trying to create.

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“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men…” – Colossians 3:23 HCSB (EA Business Development theme verse).

 

The Business Development Team exists to help Envision Atlanta reach it’s goal of becoming more sustainable.  We do this by creating work spaces that not only help fund the mission but also:

  1. Provide a livable wage,
  2. Function as discipleship platforms,
  3. And allow leaders to rise and be developed.

We believe that every person who follows Christ is called to be a missionary regardless of where they work or the vocation that they serve.  This means that those who are called to the Clergy and to Missions have no higher call than those of the Congregation.  Every believer in Jesus is responsible for the missions field that they are in! This attitude allows every job to be dedicated to God and therefore Holy calling.

 

As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts (Proud to be a Window Cleaner), our first work space we’ve created is a window cleaning company:  EA Development and Services, LLC.   A large portion of my time with Envision Atlanta has been spent building this company and growing the customer base.  By the end of summer 2018 we hope to bring our first employee on to the EA Dev and Serve team.

In December of 2017 an other person joined Envision Atlanta as part of the Business Development Team.  She is heading up our Thrift Store initiative and is doing an amazing job.  The thrift store has already started taking donations and we are excited to be releasing more details in the near future.  It has been a privilege getting to advise and oversee this project and I can’t wait to see its potential turn into reality.

There are also many administrative duties I have for the site but I won’t bore you with those.  If you have any questions about Envision Atlanta please stop by our website: www.envisionatlanta.org

How have you been failing today?

The day started off very poorly for me.  I was still stressed about a lost check I found out about the night before and I had just realized gaping wholes in one of my many areas of responsibilities…donation tracking.

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Some of you know that my main job with Envision Atlanta is Business Development Team Lead.  It’s my job to help the team start small businesses and facilitate their growth.  However, I have a very busy second roll with the team, Site Administrator.  The second job has grown as the site has and I’ve often had to back up and figure out what needs to be done and how to do it.  Back to my morning…

I could feel the anxiety growing within me.  “You should have known and anticipated this a year ago” I told myself.  “How could I have?” I argued back, “The position grows with the site, donor relations wasn’t listed on my job description!”  It’s hard to reason with yourself when “you should have known” keeps coming back.  Thankfully God gave me the grace to come up with a solution that will help me move forward and make tracking information easier.

I’ve met person after person this year who want to start their own business but who are afraid of what will happen if they fail.  The last time I opened up facebook the first post I saw said this:

“I know its TOTALLY cliche but… I’m having one of those fear of failure moments. What is it you’re suppose to do when you don’t want to try because you might fail?”

So what do we do to combat the fear of failing?  I think it helps to identify what we are actually afraid of.  What I’ve discovered is I am more afraid of what people will say when I fail than if I will fail.  Very few people fail and cause major damage to others.  There are relatively few lives on the line when we are trying to decide if we should start writing that book, or paint that picture, start that business, or even ask that person out.  is your egos on the line?  Yes, your ego may suffer but isn’t that what’s holding you back anyway?

Beginning this year my team is going to talk through failure.  “How did you fail this week?” is going to become a weekly question.  Why? I want my team to be failing.  I want them to fall down, get back up and try again.  I want them to create better and better by making mistakes and fixing them, because if no one on the team is failing we aren’t advancing into new areas and new ideas.

 

How it all began…

This is where it all began and why I get to work with refugees in Clarkston, GA.  For those of you who support my work with prayer or through funding this is why I’m doing what I do.  If you want to become part of my support network click on “partner” from the menu above.

 

 

6 Months later…

It’s hard to believe I’m six months into my work with Envision Atlanta.  Emotionally I’ve been all over the place through this part of the journey.  I’ve had easy days and hard days, ups and downs.  Somethings have been easy and some things have been hard.  Most of you who follow my blog either pray for me or support me financially.  Consider this post my semiannual report to my stakeholders!  Everything listed below was possible because Pete Brokopp took a chance on me and allowed me to run as fast as I wanted to with everything he gave me.  Thank you Pete, the journey has just begun!

Back in March I wrote about being a window cleaner, that’s one of the jobs I have (you can read that article here).  But better than that I get to work in a company I started.  It EA Development and Services LLC 1was a difficult task that I could not have completed without the help of my friend Tom Walsh who has been my consultant and biggest cheerleader since December.  I’m made many mistakes along the way like every small business operator does but I think I’ve been able to learn from almost all of them.  It’s been a fun journey, there are so many of you who have supported me, Envision, and EA Development and Services LLC.  Much more to come in the future, I can’t wait till we can hire our first employee!

Having never done more than somewhat keep up with a Facebook page, I wouldn’t have ever guest I would be tasked with building two websites and managing three facebook pages, and corresponding with people all over the country.

Design work is something else I’ve gotten to do that was rather unexpected.  I’m very proud of our T-Shirts that you can see below.  I also got to design our first postcards.  I’m learning how to streamline the purchasing process from customers ordering through order fulfillment and learning just as much about business through Envision Atlanta’s store as I am through the window cleaning company.  Order your shirts here. =)

Every day brings something new.  Some days I feel up to the task and fail miserably.  Other days I’m fighting internal conflicts, disappointed with myself, and somehow God lets me over come my obstacles.  I have so much growing to do still, so many things I need to get better at, and yet I can reread this post anytime to remember what  God has helped me trough.  I am capable of more than I think I am because people like you pray for me, encourage me, and support me.  I know that everything I put my hand to is a collaboration and you are just as responsible for this as I am.  Thank you!

If you’d like to be part of my prayer support or financial support please click here to find out how we can partner.

Envision Atlanta Update #1

Thank you all who have been following my blog and praying for me and Envision Atlanta.  This post is an update post and specifically for my blog post “What New Beginnings Look Like”.  If you haven’t read that post, I would encourage you to start there and then hop back here.

Our future ministry center still sits empty and a mess, however, the necessary work on the outside has begun! The three things we needed to happen before work on the in side could begin were: 1) sidewalks put in to access the basement, 2) a second door put in, and 3) work done on the building to prevent flooding on the inside.

I happy to share that the sidewalk is in!  Here is what the work looked like!

And here is the final project!

Thank you all again for your prayers we ask that you continue to pray.  Click here to see what you can do to own a part of what’s happening in Clarkston!