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Newsletter  -  Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Teaching through Relationship

My latest Bible study quest has been to go through the gospels using a chronological Bible and study each little time frame of Jesus’ life. I have been looking at everything with the foundational understanding of John 5:19; Jesus would do only what He saw the Father doing (was in obedience to the Father out of a loving relationship) and that Jesus wanted to restore us to this same relationship with the Father. With that as my paradigm, I was blessed to see how incredibly relational Jesus was with those around him. Beginning with the first two disciples who asked Jesus where He was staying, Jesus continually opened His home, His life, and His time to others. John 1:35-39 shares that instead of telling these two disciples of John where He lived, Jesus told them to come with Him and find out. The three of them spent the whole day together which means Jesus made provisions to clean their feet and prepared meals for them. In Mark 1:29-37, Jesus and friends go to Peter and Andrew’s house not only for the day, but they stay all night there. He visited with them in their comfort zone and spent His time not only healing those who located Him there, but laughed, talked and ate with Peter’s family in friendship. Early in the morning Jesus gets to a quiet place where He can listen to the Father, see what He is doing, get the Father’s strategy for His day, and be refreshed by the Spirit. When it is breakfast time and Jesus is not to be found, the friends begin to look for Him; they care that their friend is missing. After the wedding at Cana, the scripture says that Jesus, his family, and friends all went to Capernaum and they all stayed there for a few days, John 2:12. Relationship; Jesus was all about teaching and building disciples through a loving, friendly relationship. I am so inspired that Jesus never presented Himself to His disciples as separate, more anointed, or superior to them. He never required that they refer to Him by a title. Instead, He taught them to walk in relationship with the Father and how to understand the Kingdom of Heaven as they lived life together daily. He spoke encouragement into their lives by saying that they would do what they witnessed Him do and so much more; God’s promotion, purpose and plan for their lives.

I am continuing on the same theme I began with last newsletter, the importance of communication and relationship in a healthy ministry. In the last newsletter I shared specific ways to build a healthy relationship with pastors and communicate effectively with them. This one will focus on relationship between a leader/facilitator and team members. Relationship, real and self-less, is foundational; it should never be based on what the other person can do for me. Like Jesus, a true leader spends time with each person in the team outside the four walls of the church, rehearsal, technique class, and special events. This means being vulnerable and transparent with each other and refusing the temptation to pick up an offense. So with that as a foundation, let’s talk about communication within a team.

The Bible and history gives us great examples of discipleship. The gospels are filled with Jesus teaching through relationship, but I am going to look at the discipleship of Paul. To fully grasp the situation we have to look at Paul in his early conversion years. He was a Pharisee that found no fault in himself. He was the Jew by which every other Jew should be measured; he says so himself in Philippians 3: 4-6. When Paul/Saul had his personal experience with Jesus and became a believer, like you and me, not everything in his character was changed immediately. I can believe that he was still stubborn, had ego issues, and other baggage from his lifetime of Pharisaical training. What changed him over time? The first thing was getting quiet before the Lord daily to build an intimate relationship with Him. The second thing was being in constant relationship with mature believers who could speak truth into his life during times of natural fellowship and the willingness to receive the truth and change. The third was walking out his created purpose with a loving, supportive mentor, Barnabas. And fourth, Paul took what he learned and shared it by mentoring others who also became fathers of the faith.

This is our template for our team communication. First, all of us as lovers of Jesus need to develop a daily intimate relationship with Him where we take the time to adore Him and be still to listen for His voice. Psalm 62: 1 says, “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him.” V. 5 “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.” V. 11 “God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times”. Like David, in order to hear God plainly and regularly, we need to spend quality time quietly listening in His presence. When we get His plans, His wisdom, His goodness, tenderness, loving kindness, strength, and oh so much more, then we are able to communicate in unison with His spirit rather than with our own human thoughts and feelings.

My growth spurts in ministry and understanding of God always occur when I spend time not only at conferences and Bible studies, but in the company of people who are walking ahead of me in the deeper relationship with Jesus that I hope to attain. The fire that feeds my hunger for more of God becomes a huge blaze as I hear testimonies from these precious saints and talk with them about the wonders of the Holy Spirit. In a ministry team, there needs to be an open discussion about the Lord; share what He is saying and doing in each person’s life. It is strengthening to one’s spirit to have others confirm that the Lord is saying the same thing to them. Group prayer, strategy, encouragement, spiritual warfare, celebration, and creativity unite the team with vision and purpose. Times of being together become exciting and refreshing when this group relationship is fed. Teams should make a point of attending worship arts conferences and inviting mature Christian arts ministers to their church to share with the group. The team gets stirred together by the Spirit and grows as they come into relationship with mature lovers of Christ who have walked the paths before them.

The third thing is relationship between the team and team leaders. Remember to follow Jesus’ example and don’t let your busy life cut out your responsibility of building relationship with individuals. I encourage team leaders to regularly have different team members over for a meal, meet for coffee, go to a fun event, a park, shop, sightsee, or find some other enjoyable setting to build real relationships outside the institutional church. You have to give yourself to know and care about a person. Our friend, author Ed Chinn, wrote in an article for Lucid Magazine, “Our greatest need is not for mentors, teachers, preachers, or wardens, but rather for someone who cares.  Someone who can walk all the way around us, see who we really are, pick the burrs from our wool, speak gently, and keep us away from the abyss.”* This is being a Barnabas for those God has put beside us. Think of the joy, leaders, when the one you are investing yourself in becomes a strong worshiper and leader in the Lord. Look for the gifts God has placed in each person and encourage them in those gifts; make room for their gifts.

The final foundational point is to be an encouragement to someone who is less mature spiritually than you. There should always be someone living a stronger, wiser, more passionate, trial tested relationship with the Lord that you spend time with regularly. Here we gain insight and wisdom. Someone like Ed described in the last paragraph. In turn, you should also be pouring what God has given you into someone else. As we do this, we must count it a blessing when God promotes this person and guard our hearts from feelings of competition or jealousy. The kingdom of God has a place for all of us, and as we grow in deeper relationship with Him we will move to new areas of ministry and responsibility. You may have heard of the saying, “We need to always be working ourselves out of a job.” That phrase applies to us in ministry. As we grow, God will give us new assignments which often means we must let go of the position we held in the past, so we need to nurture those who will take our place.

A final thought about vision and group communication: Years after my pastor had recognized and supported my dance ministry, I approached him and said, “I want you to teach me how to be a leader.” We began to meet 1-2 times a week in his office to talk and pray. One of the things he had me do was develop a mission statement. This put my purpose into a short, easy to remember sentence. It helped me understand the vision God had given and called me to by defining my part clearly. As you get a clear definition of the vision the Father has given to you, you need to clearly communicate it to the team. He will give a precise word for you as an individual and for the team ministry. In your weekly time of team worship, prayer and study, talk about the vision and what God is saying to each person about fulfilling it. Isn’t it great that all of God’s children are His anointed ones with the same access to the Father and the same amount of the Holy Spirit? Be sure to encourage each person to share what the Lord has shown them through the week. The team gatherings should be a safe place where mistakes can be made when one tries to step out speaking, hearing and moving in the Spirit. And it should be where nurturing takes place so that individuals will continue to step out in the Spirit without fear. As you flow in communication through relationship, team support will be built and personal growth flourish.   

* The House on Sugar Ridge, by Ed Chinn http://www.lucidmagazine.com/The-House-On-Sugar-Ridge

 

Recommended Resources

I talk a lot about listening to the Holy Spirit, seeing what He is doing, and the dances of Heaven. We have recently become friends with a couple, Dennis and Lynnie Walker, who have written books that beautifully explain practical steps for being in such an intimate relationship with God that we can pick up on what He initiates in Heaven. Jesus taught us to pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. We can know daily God’s will by picking up what He is doing in Heaven and then follow through with doing it here on earth. I highly recommend getting their books and reading them for a huge step into intimacy with the Lord. Dennis’ book, Catching the Initiatives of Heaven, not only gives practical advice for an intimate, world-changing relationship with Jesus, it is also filled with incredible testimonies of what has happened when people catch God’s initiatives and activate them here on earth (healings, dead raised, salvation, etc). Lynnie’s book, Heavenly Encounters, is a collection of stories from their extraordinary lives as missionaries in the jungles of Peru to the miraculous here in Las Vegas where they now live. If you are going through a change of seasons in your life with the Lord, this book will encourage you and make you smile. My children have loved sitting together and reading this book as a family. They roll with laughter, give wide-eyed gasps, and are eager to discuss the miraculous walk of faith the Walkers have exampled. Please check their website to order their books. It would be great for all families, singles and ministry teams. www.dunamisarc.org

 

Due to some issues with location, our May workshop in Las Vegas will be postponed. Dawn invites you to join her at two incredible creative worship arts conferences this summer

May 31- June 4  Celebrate New Life in Nassau , Bahamas . For more information: http://celebratenewlife2011.eventbrite.com

July 2 - 9  9th International Creative Arts Worship Conference at Dunamis International Family Church in Alberton , South Africa . Contact:  brigittek@difc.org.za

   

 

 

 

 

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