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.

Advertisements

T-Shirt Theology

As I was going through my t-shirts the other day and I noticed one I hadn’t wore in a while.  My “W’s” t-shirt.  Now if you don’t know who the “W’s” are, you missed out.  They were a ska/swing band back in the late ‘90’s when Christian ska was at its height with the Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy.  But that’s not the point of the story.  I remember exactly where I was when I got this t-shirt.  It was a Christian music festival called Kingdom Bound held at Six Flags Over Darien Lake.  I haven’t been there since 2000.  That makes this t-shirt at least 17 years only.  That’s absolutely incredible to me.  I’ve worn this shirt to the beach, played soccer

Brian W's Shirt
 

18 year old Brian wearing what is now almost an 18 year old “W’s” shirt

 

and basketball in it, I’ve worn it to class, worn it on dates, and probably used it to clean up a mess or two.  The screen print is starting to fade and peal, it’s not quite as soft as it once was, but it’s still wearable and it doesn’t have a single hole (other than the neck, arms, and waiste)!

It’s got me thinking, why do so few things hold up?  Why is it so hard to create things that last?  People spend lifetimes building what won’t last.  Mass fortunes are squandered in a generation.  Companies are mismanaged and fall into bankruptcy.  I don’t know about you but I have a burden to build something that will last.

1 Corinthians 3 says:

“9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward.”

ws-t.jpg
 

A still very wearable “W’s” shirt 17 years later

 

I read a lot of hope into this passage.  The God of all creation, who created you and me in his image, has called us coworkers and called us to build and create as he pours out his Spirit on us.  But again, how do we know it’s something that will last and not just another heap of garbage?  We start with the foundation of Jesus and we choose our materials wisely.  The way to build something that will last is through Jesus, isn’t that why he told us to pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done?  Then on top of that foundation you build with things that hold up against the fire like truth, justice, and wisdom.

 

Go out and get building the Kingdom!

 

 

 

As an Envision Missionary I raise my own support in order to do the work I do.  I receive no salary unless people like yourself give.  envision-atlantaPlease consider giving being a partner with me by donating to the cause be it small or large, every bit helps.  Click here to discover how you can partner with me.

Why I joined Envision

Like many Christians I lived nominally for many years, never sharing my faith for fear of offending someone.  I rarely opened my Bible and prayed only when I needed something.  God felt distant, far away, and uninterested in the everyday happenings of my life.

Things began to change back in 2012.  My wife and I were living near Pittsburgh and had a friend in Atlanta who was getting married.  We decided to make a week out of the trip rather then just a weekend.  My in-laws were speaking at a College of Prayer event so we attended that.  During one of the sessions there was a call for repentance and I felt I needed to repent for something that had happened to me when I was 14 and repent for the lies I had believed since then.  It was amazing; I encountered the presence of the Spirit in a way I had never before.  I felt free!  A half a life of living in shame was gone!

In the fall we moved to Atlanta so my wife could take a job as the children’s ministry director at a church.  The next spring we attended the same College of Prayer event and something amazing happened again.  There was a call for people who felt called into ministry, maybe for the first time to come forward and to be prayed for. My feet started moving before my head knew what was happening but as my mind caught up I knew I was in the right spot.  I didn’t know what ministry for me would look like but at that point it didn’t matter.

I spent the next three and a half years trying to figure out where I fit into ministry and even trying to figure out what ministry even was.  Eventually I began to realize that God had given me a heart to pastor but I didn’t know what that meant.  I  entered the licensing and ordination process with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  I applied for a job at a local church and didn’t get it…then another, and another.  I didn’t get it, isn’t this what i was called to?  Why was my path running into dead ends if God had told me I was a pastor?  I began to pester my wife with questions about church.

“Why does outreach mean we are asking people to come in to church?”  “If being in church is so important, why are we so worried that people come to our church and not just happy they are going to a church?”  “If we believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for everyone, why aren’t we teaching people use them and giving place for them?”  “Why does the Bible talk so much about widows, orphans, poor, and foreigners so much but we don’t seem to talk about them in church?” And on and on and on…

What I didn’t realize was that God was relieving to me that His place for me wasn’t in a traditional role as a pastor but something different.  Enter Pete.  One day Pete Brokopp showed up at our church.  He had been scouting a town called Clarkston for a new Envision site.  I was part of a group invited to have dinner with him and he shared his vision with us.  As you may have guessed his vision was the answers to most of my questions.  Not only that but there was a position that looked like it was made just for me.  I get to use my business degree as a way to help our church planting goals.  I get to mentor and to help raise up leaders and to pass on what has been given to me.  What seemed like a dead end has become a new chapter in my life.  Please keep praying there is much work to be done!

 

 

As an Envision Missionary I raise my own support in order to do the work I do.  I receive no salary unless people like yourself give.  Please consider giving be it small or large every bit helps.  Click here to discover how you can partner with me.

 

Don’t get lost in the business

I was sitting next to an experienced missionary named Steve.  We were waiting for the program to start and I couldn’t help myself.  I had to ask, “What is one piece of advice you would give a new missionary?”  I hate to waste learning opportunities where there are people who have gone before me and have done what I am trying to do.  I try to be respectful of their time and not be too pushy.  He hesitated and I though maybe he just wanted to sit and not talk before he had to go on stage.  To my delight he responded, “Does it have to be just one thing?”  “Of course not!” I eagerly replied.

“Don’t get lost in the business” he said.

How relevant for me.  I’m the head of the business development team with Envision Atlanta.  Business is my business and how easy would it be to get lost in bottom lines, and flow charts, and business cards?  How quickly we can we loose sight of what our main focus is supposed to be?  My business is Jesus and always should be.  But, through Jesus I get to start businesses so that I can employ refugees, and missionaries, and fund the other work of Envision Atlanta.   I want to be like Jesus who said he only did what he saw his Father doing (John 5:19).  It is so easy to get caught up in what we think we are supposed to do rather than seeking what we aught to do.  Every good thing we do can become a hindrance to our work if it starts to overshadow the One who gave us good work to do.

The saddest thing about my conversation with Steve was that I forgot the second piece of advice he gave me.  Every day we have a chance to learn and I only got half of what I had opportunity to receive.

 

 

As an Envision Missionary I raise my own support in order to do the work I do.  I receive no salary unless people like yourself give.  Please consider giving be it small or large every bit helps.  Click here to discover how you can partner with me.

“Look at the nations and watch…”

joao-silas-29233“Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Habakkuk 1:5

A few years ago I was reading my Bible at a rate I don’t think I will ever be able to reach again.  I was spending about an hour and a half in the morning reading.  I would read for almost an hour on my lunch break and I would read more in the evening.  During one of my reading sessions I was reading through the minor prophets and ran into Habakkuk.  I’m not sure I had ever actually read Habakkuk before, maybe I didn’t even remember it was in the Bible.  It didn’t take too long to get to verse 5, I paused, reread the verse.  I tried to continue on with my reading but I had to keep reading verse 5.  “Look at the nations and watch…”  I had to pause.  I live in a suburb of Atlanta.  According to Global Frontier Missions there are people from 145 countries in metro Atlanta, representing 761 people groups.  In the last ten years over 1 million people have immigrated here.  God is bringing the nations to Atlanta.  Of those 761 people groups 90 of them are classified as unreached or unaproched (see https://joshuaproject.net/ for more information on unreached peoples).

God is doing something new in Atlanta, He’s gathering the nations like never before.  This is giving us opportunities like never before to reach the lost world like never before.  This is how God works:  He initiates an amazing work that we would never think of, then He invites us to be apart of the work.  We see this in Genesis when the Lord creates the Earth, then creates man and places him in the garden to work the land and name the animals.  We see this pattern with Jesus, he trained his disciples and then sent them out.  We see it again in his resurrection and ascension.  Jesus had spend his last three years proclaiming, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” and as he ascended he invited his disciples into his work saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

My role is here in Atlanta.  I get to create jobs and start relationships as a way to find people who are open to hearing the good news that comes through Jesus Christ.  The only question left is what is your part?  How do you fit into the gathering of the nations?

As an Envision Missionary I raise my own support in order to do the work I do.  I receive no salary unless people like yourself give.  Please consider giving be it small or large every bit helps.  Click here to discover how you can partner with me.

Questions to ask before you go on a missions trip.

When we do missions how do we measure the results?  By the number of participants?  Did we have fun?  Did we learn something?  Did we make a friend?  These aren’t bad questions, but are there better questions?  I would like to suggest that asking better questions will make us do missions better.  My boss at Envision Atlanta sent me these questions so I can’t take credit for them but here they are:

1: Is it part of a master plan?  –  Showing up somewhere and working on a project and then leaving isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it might be a waste of your time.  I heard a story of a man who showed up in an village and noticed the soil was fertile but the locals did zero farming.  He was saddened because they were missing a great opportunity to feed themselves well.  He started teaching them to farm and planted a large garden.  He continued the work despite the lack of participation from the locals.  He soon realized why they didn’t farm there.  As the crops started to grow and produce fruit the hippos came out of the river and ate or trampled everything.  He thought he had seen an opportunity but never took they time to ask why they didn’t farm.  He never asked how his vision fit into what was happening in their world.

2: Is there local ownership? – Reread the story above if this one doesn’t feel obvious.  If there isn’t local ownership the project will fail as soon as the people completing it step away.

3: Does it create dependency?  – Some friends of mine work with an organization that does international teaching on prayer.  They send people to do the initial teaching, but the goal is that the local population will grab the vision and begin teaching the information themselves.  This allows resources and people to be sent to more places and allows for growth and independence.

4: What is the long term impact? – Bible translators have to deal with this a lot in countries that have common languages, trade languages, and local languages.  What language of languages do you pick to translate they Bible into?  You would pick the language that reached the most people right?  Well what if that language was readable but implied a lesser value to the people?  What if you were able to provide a document that preserved a dying language?  Or took a language that was only oral and for the first time created a written alphabet for it?

5: What is the felt need of the people you are serving? – Reaching the felt need is the fastest way to someones heart and the fastest way to earn their trust.  When Envision went into Burkina Faso they asked what the felt need was and it was water.  The Envision team started raising money for wells and brought water to over 200,000 people.  “They came for water to drink and walked away with living water” says Pete Brokopp who was in charge of the project.  Without drilling the wells the teams ability to impact the people would have been much more limited.

6: Is everyone else doing it?  – Are you late to the game and creating something that is already being done over and over?  Maybe it’s time to look for a new strategy for reaching out and come up with something that no one else is doing.  This is a business principle.  If you want to reach more people with your program or project try something new and be the first at the table and not be the last.

 

 

 

As an Envision Missionary I raise my own support in order to do the work I do.  I receive no salary unless people like yourself give.  Please consider giving be it small or large every bit helps.  Click here to discover how you can partner with me.