Evangelical Congregational Church

National Conference 2018 Education Experience
Theme... ALL IN
Session One, Article One

ALL IN has a personal element... I am being redeemed.
ALL IN has a church wide element ... We are being redeemed.
ALL IN has an "engage the community" element... We go forth with the redemptive message.

The following article is a quasi-manuscript (the best I can produce) plus a few extra thoughts (I ran out of time) of what was shared at Conference. The three teaching sessions will be offered in a series of short articles. My hope is that they help you remember what was said and what you discussed and then help you continue the coversation at home, at your church with the members you call family.

Session #1...ALL IN - Body/Mind, Heart, and Soul (The Disciple)
Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:1-2; John 15:4-7; Isaiah 40:31

FIRST . . . please note that the intentions of this material are to address everyone - pastors and delegates - pastors who will check in with each other, who will hold each other accountable; pastors and delegates who will check in with each other, who will hold each other accountable; pastors and delegates who will take this home for their leadership teams and will not stop until the entire congregation - all ages - is on board.

ALL IN has a personal element. "I am being redeemed." "You are being redeemed."

Many Scriptures help us ponder this idea, that we are redeemed, especially that we are redeemed for a purpose.
     And this purpose is bigger than going to Heaven when we die. The following Scriptures begin to point us in that direction:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NLT)... He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
  • Luke 9:23 (NIV)... Then [Jesus] said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
  • Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)... For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

That we have been redeemed, that we are servants of a King and his Kingdom, leaves us grappling with certain realities. For instance, God has me, each one of us - pastor, delegate, church member - in ministry (or serving church and/or Kingdom) as one of the ways he is molding us into Christ's image. We refer to this service as ministry.
     Ministry, by virtue of its "above and beyond simply human" demands, helps mold us into Christ's image or will break us as we play with serving out of our humanity. In either case, God works to redeem each of us for himself. The pressures and experiences of service and/or ministry can be used by God to redeem and/or remake each one of us. God will make us into someone new; sometimes, we must be broken in order to be remade.

Allow me to offer the most basic of basic truths: YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. I know, that's just too simple, too basic, and yet, so very true! YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. This idea rubs against human nature: we too often want to be someone else, someone who with our myopic vision appears to have arrived.
     A good number of years ago, Hawaiian shirts flew off store shelves and appeared in pulpits from the West Coast to the East Coast because Rick Warren wore Hawaiian shirts. For us, it was a kind of "Look Ma, No tie!" moment. Warren, larger-than-life, made casual acceptable. Few of us could pull it off. Our Hawaiian shirts are now pressed to the back of our closets.
     Similarly, preaching methods and discipleship models rotate in and out of style because bigger names than WE THINK WE ARE shift gears mid-game or mid-career and take us along with them. Sadly, most tools like these seldom translate successfully into our backyard. They sound good at seminars and in our heads as we read the latest best seller.

My friends, before we consider the idea of ALL IN for the Kingdom of God, the churches we serve or attend, or even for ourselves, we need to get honest and own who we are.
     Hi, my name is Les and I am a recovering sinner, rescued by grace,
     enjoying being fully known by God and seeking to know Him better.
My personal mission statement, why I live the way I do, is "I am committed to helping others realize a better quality of life." In general, this applies to any aspect of life - health, well-being, education, relationships, employment. In ministry, this applies to spiritual health, meeting Jesus, embracing Jesus, and growing in Jesus.
     As a pastor, this looks like a relational style of ministry, walking beside people until moments arise for me to speak of God's Kingdom; a permission-giving and ministry-sharing approach, seeking to develop and launch men and women into ministry; a hands-on, let's-do-this-together style of ministry, that weaves discipleship, training, and service into daily life.
     My friends... Who are you? Where are you in life? Do you have a personal mission statement? If so, is that the mission that drives your daily life, that drives your ministry? Or are you, perhaps, living someone else's life and mission?

Identity matters! Know yourself. Whether pastor or planter or delegate or even the bishop. YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. Not who you want to be. Not who you imagine that you are. Not who others think you are. Not who you think others think you are. Not even who others wish you were. You can only truly be yourself.
     "Who am I?" We MUST answer this question. Maybe you don't have an immediate answer. Maybe you're not sure how to answer. That's okay. Knowing you don't know is an amazing first step. It is admitting you don't want to be living another's life. It is opening the door to thought and coversation toward a personal mission statement.

There  is a virtual candy store of resources and assessment tools to help make the journey inward so you can engage the outward adventure toward a "fit-and-flourish ministry." These tools will help you "more honestly" define who you are so that you can measure who you are in light of biblical, Kingdom, and ministry expectations.
     Tools like the DiSC, TJTA, Myers-Briggs, and GRIP-Birkman look at our personality. For the most part, these assessments address our nature/nurture design issues. Our self-reveal by way of Q&A, helps us draw a portrait of ourselves.

  • The DiSC is an assessment of behavior based on four different behavioral traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance that help predict our behavior towards others and the everyday things we do.
  • The TJTA is an assessment used to measure a number of important and comparatively independent common personality variable or attitudes AND behavioral tendencies that influence personal, social, marital, parental, family, scholastic, and vocational adjustment. Yes, even ministry!
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating or identifying how we perceive the world around us and make decisions.
  • Tools like the GRIP-Birkman look at our human design and spiritual rewiring. It includes our nature/nurture elements (Birkman Method) and adds in our spiritual rewiring by way of gifts, graces, and team play (Your Leadership GRIP).
One word of caution... when using any kind of skills or gifts inventory, be sure to consider your passions, "what makes your heart beat faster." Gift inventories measure current and past behaviors, often missing what you might yet want to experience.

The inward journey to capture a more accurate image of our own identity is the platform upon which we might build a life and ministry. But it's only the start. What we do with who we discover we truly are is the next step, or series of steps.
     We should quickly recognize that we are each multi-faceted people. We are not one dimensional. There is more to us than what can be seen, though that is indeed important. Beyond our unique identity, we are a body, mind, heart, and soul. Each aspect adds to "me" or "you."

In the next article, we will discuss the makeup and care of each of these pieces of the whole person. Self-awareness, a genuinely good start, is simply not enough. We also need to apply ourselves to our health - body, mind, heart and soul. 
     Until the next issue, I am available to discuss this article, as well as what will be shared in the subsequent articles. Feel free to reach out (717-951-8433 or [email protected]); I will respond.

Les Cool, Kingdom Extension Associate

Discussion Questions:
  • What did you hear/read?
  • What do you think about what you heard/read?
  • What will you do because of what you have heard/read?
  • When do you think you will do this?
  • Who do you think needs to be part of this conversation?