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Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapter 9: Essential #4 Elevate Community

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Thomas Hawk)

Today we are taking a look at chapter nine of Think Orange entitled “Essential #4 Elevate Community.” The contributor for this review is John Mullis. John is the children’s ministry director at Arvada Covenant Church in Arvada, CO. John has been in education for 18 years, 10 of which are as a children’s ministry pastor. You can catch John on Twitter by clicking here.

Elevate Community has the dream that is fresh air and a breath of life to parents who are struggling to raise their kids. They say with intensity, “I want this for my son.” These are the thoughts that inspire leaders who have shepherding gifts. This is the material that helps me sound like a visionary genius when I talk to shepherd leaders about the impact they can have on the life of a child.

My kids are 17, 16, 15 and 13. I have 4 teenagers. (cue music. dramatic pause)

The last few years of life have forced me to struggle to grow up. I feel more like an adult than I ever have. I’ve also felt more inadequate and realized my need for help more than I have before. As the father of these fantastic, hormone guided not quite adult teens, I am thankful, grateful and blessed that they have people in their lives that are saying the same things I’m saying. I depend on it. When one of my teens pushes me away, holds me at an arm’s length or doesn’t want to hear what I have to say, I lean on the community my kids have with other adults who will say the same things in their lives that I’m trying to say as a parent. At Thanksgiving, my 15 year old son, Max, expressed his thankfulness for a group of friends in his youth group that help him and care for him. This is an essential truth of elevating community in ministry.

Before you gather with your small group leaders to cast vision and motivate them, prepare for that meeting by reading chapter 9. Take notes. Think about it. Soak it in and let the thoughts become yours. Or, at least take the book with you and read some of these main points:

When you elevate community as a part of your ministry strategy –

  • You recognize the need for multiple voices – this happens when kids care about what another adult or their peer says more than what their parents say.
  • You cooperate with how God grows people spiritually – God uses significant relationships to prompt or encourage us.
  • You help children and students navigate through critical life situations – caring adults will help kids interpret life situations correctly.
  • You recruit and nurture a different breed of spiritual leaders – the commitment level of volunteer leaders increases because their service is more meaningful.
  • You do something that nothing in culture can match – culture can outdo the production of the church but it can’t outdo the relationships of the church.
  • You provide reinforcement to the parent – a place where kids can show up and be safe and have meaningful dialogue with a trusted adult.

Elevating community takes time and serious effort from ministry leaders like us. It takes determination. As leaders we have to fight the tide of “easy.” There is no “easy” button. We have to battle people saying, “Can’t you just ask parents to serve once a month? You’ll get a lot more people that way.” Have you ever heard that? But people will respond when we lay out the preferred future for our children and how we connect them with caring leaders. We pray for this a lot. I’ve seen the quality of the leader and the quality of the ministry rise over time as our team cranks up the heat on the passion of a person that has the gift of shepherding . I also believe high powered people will be attracted to your teams. People that want to make a serious impact in the life of a child or student for eternity are interested in a big vision. The big effort has big rewards in the life of children, students and leaders.

“Children and students need the skills to navigate through difficult obstacles and the right voices to give wise direction. Everyone needs to be believed in by someone, and everyone need to belong somewhere. True community provides both.”

Elevate Community

You can check out the other posts in the seires:

9 Responses to “Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapter 9: Essential #4 Elevate Community”

  1. Barbara Graves February 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    As we are just at the beginning of this process of becoming Orange, our team has been blessed with volunteers who understand this level of commitment and the difference it can bring. While we have some who rotate monthly as assistants, the ones who have signed on to be a part are, mostly, those who are "all in"! They believe what they are doing is worth the commitment and see the honor it is to have that place in a kid's life. One practical matter that has helped in this, is that we will be having double services as soon as we move into our new facility. Then volunteers can serve one service, and attend the opposite.

  2. Tom Bump February 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Wow, this chapter had so much in it, I'll have to spend some time here. I like john have 4 teens in my home and I have spend a great deal of time thinking about the "end" for each of them. What do I want them to value? I do agree with his summary of this chapter and it is vital that we elevate our ministries as we are seeing more and more kids leave the church. The only way to stop this is to work with parents to help guide these kids into a deeper relationship with the Savior. I must continue to ask God for a big vision and a clear plan to communicate this vision so that the people will grasp and embrace it.

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