junior high pastors summit notes, part 4

each year, for the past 8 or so, about 20 middle school ministry specialists from around north america have gathered for a few days of fun and discussion. this year’s participants were: myself, Corrie Boyle (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI), Kurt Brandemihl (Sunset Presbyterian Church, Portland OR), Jeff Buell (McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX), April Diaz (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA), Ken Elben (Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN), Heather Flies (Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN), Andy Jack (Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, IL), Mark Janzen (Willingdon Church, Burnaby, BC), Kurt Johnston (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Brooklyn Lindsey (Highland Park Church, Lakeland, FL), Sean Meade (Stuck in the Middle, Andover, KS), Alan Mercer (Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS), Jason Raitz (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL), Alan Ramsey (Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, Knoxville, TN), Ken Rawson (First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS), Nate Rice (Forest Home Ministries, Forest Falls, CA), Christina Robertson (Journey Community Church, La Mesa, CA), Johnny Scott (Jr High Believe, Oronogo, MO), Nate Severson (Hillcrest Covenant Church, Prairie Village, KS), Phil Shinners (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA), and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL).

for the past few years, we’ve invited a guest to join us for a half day, to present some stuff that would become discussion fodder for the rest of our time. we’ve had chap clark, scot mcknight, an adolescent brain specialist, and christian smith.

this year, our guest was dave gibbons, pastor of newsong church in irvine, CA, and author of the monkey and the fish. we talked about third culture, adaptability, leadership, fringes and vortexes, and a variety of other stuff.

i’ll be posting edited notes from our discussions here in a series of posts. our hope is that these discussions will be helpful to others also…

part 4 is our discussion of our own leadership, in light of the concepts dave presented:


Personal leadership – how do/can we live out third-culture? 70%/30% – How do we really do what we say we are about?

What do we need to think about in terms of our own leadership:

Scott: This is the whole thing. Our churches will not see into people’s souls, we need to do this. People see people, organizations do not.

Christina: People give all sorts of things that are not supposed to be given or helpful, but it meets their own need to feel like they did something.

Ken E: We need to stop looking at the people we serve as projects.

Heather: We bring people what we think they need without asking them what they need.

Ken E: We need to choose to be uncomfortable. I’ve spent a ton of years being really comfortable.

Jeff: What we value is going to come out in where we spend our time. We need to really shift to a place where we really get to know the people we are trying to serve not just doing what is easy or convenient.

Brook: We need to deconstruct and do the timeline and other tools. We are astounded by what we find and it shapes and impacts us. These are really important and we need to change and respond to what we find out about ourselves. How do we change our language and do something different that can really help propel us into something better.

MarkO: We have done something like the timeline with our team and it was really helpful

Nate S: The idea of walking slowly is powerful. When “I” Fail “we” fail.

**We are all really bad at this**

Kurt B: It is really hard to walk slow because of our ministries and the expectations we live within. There needs to be a system set up that allows us to accomplish this goal with more than just me.

MarkO: I am not modeling this. I have always said this was a good idea, but I don’t do it. So do I really value it?

Margins – how does Dave G do this? How does he take two days a week to be fluid?

Kurt J: This is the biggest thing I suck at. I don’t walk slow. I wonder if this is a leadership thing that we have been ingrained into us. I have tried to start thinking of myself more as a pastor not a leader. It seems that pastor/shepherd helps me to slow down because it seems like we have more permission to go slow when we are a pastor. When we are a leader we have things to do and people to lead and that means run fast.

This is really hard, but it is a both/and. We need to be available, but we also need to set boundaries.

MarkO: The core issue is “do I really care about other people?” Often times my heart is not in it and I would rather be doing something else than spending time with this person.

Alan R: I agree it’s a heart issue. I was praying last week and asking God to give me a heart for others. I asked myself if I really love my volunteers and God just overwhelmed me and my heart with how much I may not love like I say I do. Do I really have a pastoral heart?

Brook: How do we stay connected to this as our core issue?

Alan M: It will look different for different people because we all struggle with different things.

MarkO: If I am going to have a heart for other people it’s because God is going to give me that kind of heart.

Kurt B: How do I really love everyone and keep up the machine? If I keep up the machine I am seen as not relational.

Jason R: I disagree – my role is to point kids to their own pastor (their small group leader).

MarkO: I think seeing someone and knowing someone is different. I can “see” someone in a minute and not really know them. I suck at this because I can’t even stay focused with eye contact when I talk with someone.

Scott: We all know people who do this well. What do we see in them and how can we learn from them?

Heather: I am really good at this when people take the initiative with me, but I don’t take the initiative well. My senior pastor is great when I call him, but he does not call me often.

Ken E: I see this valued in my new church. My new senior pastor is in the room all the time and knows what we do and what we are about.

Part 2: 70/30 – what does it mean to rearrange our schedules and priorities to be reflective of what we say is important.

April: this is really hard for me. We have a culture that says “spend 3 days a week with people” and I don’t always do this and it is really hard.

Most of us are not in a system that allows us to do this. Most of us are in places where we could do this as long as it’s in addition to what we are currently doing. Yet, if we really could blow up everything we do in order to do the kinds of things that really connect with our students and change them our ministries would be really different and really powerful.

Christina: If the 70% is really more what energizes us, can we find out what our 70% is and go to our leadership and fight for this.

marko: The 70% was not about what energizes us, but rather what our ministry is about.

next up: a rambly discussion on what “education and exposure” to third-culture might look like for middle school ministry…

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