Archive for the ‘Heart’ Category

Gift of Time

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Granger Community Church, Heart, Team

‘Tis the season when many make a conscious decision to “give above and beyond their normal giving” to assure our community knows that they matter to God.

Teams of volunteers (who are already engaged in ministry all year long) recognize the opportunity to offer more of their most precious gift — time — so that the most precious gift can be shared and experienced this season.

Volunteers not only recognized this chance, but are taking full advantage of the occasion by serving in a hundred different capacities year-round. They serve out of the love of changed hearts so that the experience of thousands and thousands will be enriched. They are part of presenting the hope of the world through this local Body.

Last week it struck me once again that there are just so many things that happen behind the scenes. If it weren’t for these amazing volunteers, these special touches just wouldn’t get done.photo blog test

Have you ever considered that during this season about 30,000 programs get stuffed? Ever take time to consider that someone placed in holders and prayed over candles for 10,000 guests?  Have you ever asked who gets here at 6:00 AM in close to zero temperature to clear the lots and sidewalks or who runs traffic for special events and weekends? Maybe you wonder just who is it that arranges for 200 gifts to be distributed to children in the inner city? Did you know that someone actually prepared meals for the artists who gave thousands of hours for the Christmas production? Yep, thousands of hours. Volunteers built the sets for the production…and volunteers will tear it down too. Or who even comes back to clean up the used candles and clean all the wax out? It’s sure not any of Santa’s helpers. 

People serve outrageously all year long. When one’s heart has been changed, you can’t help but give back. There are a bunch of things happening this season to take away obstacles for those who’ve been invited to hear about and receive that same gift of a changed heart. I’m grateful this season for those who’ve joined in the call.

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Most people who know me would have opinions on what my biggest challenge is.  Let me reveal it now so you can focus on this post. It’s me. My biggest challenge has always been, and will always be, me. Focusing on what God has called me to every moment or – as our Pastor has said hundreds of times – “doing the next right thing” will always be my biggest challenge.

On to my second biggest challenge:  Rarely – well, on occasion…truth be told, nearly every week I vent (refer back to paragraph one) to my wife about something involving volunteerism or volunteers. I’ll express concern to her about a volunteer just not getting it when it comes to a ministry or responsibility. Relax – if you’re taking the time to read this, it’s not you.

Claudia’s default response to me of late has been “Kim, they’re volunteers.” That phrase woke me up at 2:33 a.m. recently. What I remember waking to was a teaching around here that I’ve heard more than a hundred times:  “Excellence Matters to God.”

When I bottom-line Claudia’s response, I get what she’s saying…I’m the staff person, I get paid and volunteers don’t. Part of me gets that. About five percent of me. It’s in the 95% where my second biggest challenge lies: helping volunteers who follow Christ understand that they are equally as vested in the mission, vision and values as any staff member.

I’m not talking about equal hours invested in ministry. I’m speaking in terms of stewardship – the stewardship of our available time, focused with excellence to serve for the cause of Christ. Excellence in our ministries matters to God whether individuals are paid or not. Giving our best, as if it matters to the cause of Christ (because it does), will change our entire perspective of how we prepare, present and perform our ministry.

Our volunteers – your volunteers are on the front line of this battle. It’s only in games like Risk where the “soldiers” on the map have no influence on the outcome of the mission.

It doesn’t matter the ministry. If we fail to internalize and live out that what we’re participating in has the potential to impact a life for the Kingdom, then we’ll never give it our all. (As a side note, if it doesn’t have the potential to impact a life, cancel it.)

I pray for our leaders to get this, I pray for them to challenge their team members to leave nothing at their “post” when they leave, to fully engage themselves in the ministry at hand, to be focused and intentionally seeking out how God will use them in the next moment to help others take a step towards Christ.

Man, if I could get this solved I’d get more sleep.

Greetings,

Looking back on 2012, I am left amazed beyond words at what God has done through the ministries of Granger Community Church. If there’s one thing I don’t want to get lost in all of this is that very little could happen without the collective efforts of well over 2,000 volunteers. Teams of volunteers led by hundreds of leaders across the body of this church have been instrumental in accomplishing what no one would have thought possible a very short time ago.

To just run effective weekend services (52 times a year) that offer incredible arts, awesome teaching, care for students and kids, guest services that consistently rock our visitors, technical arts that are second to none and all the support ministries that accompany every weekend service so that guests have the opportunity to take steps towards Christ is a monumental accomplishment on its own. Not only here on the Granger Campus, but volunteers who minister with the same diligence throughout the region, campus wide and around the world through hundreds of your ministries.

I’ll only refer you here: 2012 Volunteer Ministry for the partial list of what has been done through this collective Body for the cause of Christ in the last year. This is Granger, Indiana, friends. Although Granger has a post office, not much would be known about this place on the planet apart from the association of a church body that has changed so many lives. This visionary church, your church, would not even be known were it not for God working through His people, on Mission to impact thousands of church leaders and countless thousands of individuals — all impacted by the ministries you serve. Just amazing.

The privilege will continue in 2013. We’ll look back, God willing, and say much of the same. Not what “we have done” but rather, “look what God has done through His people.” Look again at the lives changed, look at the stories of God’s faithfulness through your impact in this last year. Re-visit these events and look through the videos on the new and expanded website here. Explore this new site and examine for yourself what happens every week.

Look at what God is doing as His people in Granger value core principles: Love, Steps, Truth, Impact and Team. These aren’t just slogans on our windows, rather a path to fulfill our 2016 Vision. These values, as they are applied to you, your teams and your ministries, will help us to help others take their next step towards Christ. It’s been an incredible year — it’s going to be an incredible year.

Thank you for your tireless efforts, for your intentionality to serve on mission. Thank you for giving time, for putting aside self for others. There is no better definition of Love than when one serves. Thank you for leading and for your impact — much of which you don’t even know about. This could not happen without God’s purposing through you.

Your staff is honored, your church is blessed, but more than anything, Christ is being made known at all of these touch points because of the ministry of His people — you.

Blessed,

Kim

Often times when I think of a volunteer Rockstar, I’ve tended to stereotype the requirements or limit them to the amount of “time-served.”  Although that’s an impressive way to grab the attention of any ministry leader, it’s not the sole measurement.

There is one Rockstar you won’t see here on the weekends, serving alongside the hundreds of other volunteers that make a typical weekend run so smooth. And you won’t see him during the week, serving with our ministry outreach teams across the communities or the world. You won’t even recognize this volunteer because his primary serving capacity takes place inside the walls of his business.

I first met Tim Markley in April of 2005 when his name came to me as someone interested in helping with “graphics.”  Having no clue what he meant by that, I called and found out that his business was graphics-centered.  After a long conversation, I grabbed a few staff members and took a tour of his business.

I remember the feeling of awe when he told us “whatever you want, just let me know.”  That was the beginning of a new look for our church.

Be honest for a moment … haven’t you known someone who thought, “I wonder how much “that” church pays for all those series promotional posters?  I’ve enclosed a few to remind you of how long this has been going on.

That” church – our church – is being blessed nearly every week or series since 2005 with the generosity of Tim’s graphics company.  Not only does Tim’s company print these dynamic, eye-catching gems, but he or a member of his team delivers the finished graphics to the Granger site.

These are ginormous scenes require a great deal of preparation, management and a commitment to excellence that Tim has overseen. I would venture to guess that his incredible gift through the years has reached into the thousands of dollars.  Now, as you may remember I’m not good at math, so let’s just agree that whatever the gift, it’s been amazing.

The amount of the gifting has never been a concern of Tim’s.  He loves the church and its mission, vision and values so much that he’s doing what he’s been blessed to do to help reach people for Christ.

I wish I could post my favorite 50 pictures of Tim’s work over the years but I’ll just conclude by saying this: If it’s been displayed as a poster board or vinyl on our campus, it’s probably because of Tim Markley and his gifting to the church.

Thank you Tim.  You’re a Rockstar in the eyes of the few who know you and now that you’ve been exposed, may others celebrate in the gift of your ministry to us.

Photos: Jeff Petersen

Reflections-

Posted: August 2, 2011 in Everything Else, Heart

The ebb and flow of the week can take you from awesome heights in ministry to your knees at the speed of an email, a passing conversation or a phone call. I’ve been reminded recently just how much I don’t know, how little I really control and how much I must rely on the provision and mercy of God.

Here’s what I know to be true about me.  I need to continue to seek God for his wisdom, discernment, timing and intervention. I need to continue to prepare myself, humble myself and focus on the fact that whatever good I’m privileged to accomplish is only made possible because I’m seeking that wisdom, listening for that discernment, willing to wait on His timing and looking for those “Godidents” so that I can make myself available in a way that honors people and guides them to, or closer to, Christ.

I want to see, in a nanosecond, everyone outside the “body” who’s entangled by sin as a “there, but for the grace of God, go I” individual who matters to God. I need to work hard at putting aside biases, stereotypes, and preconceived ideas that isolate me from the very ones He has called me to serve.

I need to be faster at realizing, quicker at thanking God for, and then somehow learn how to share His work as if I’m having anout-of-body experience, watching God and God alone accomplishing that which my heart knows to be Him and Him alone.

I want to realize hourly that I’m surrounded by many of the best leaders, creative and mission-minded staffers who share this journey. I want to learn from them and without a flash of envy, humbly share with others what I’ve gleaned as nuggets I happened, by the grace of God, to stumble upon.

I want to see with fresh eyes that every volunteer who has partnered with this church has a unique story, a God given gift that he or she is looking to share. I continually want to be about helping others who have yet to dive in to understand the same.

I need to have eyes and ears that recognize people who are hurting, or those I hurt, and have feet that move me toward the ones I often try to avoid.

And finally, if that day comes that I’ve done my best at all these steps, I need to realize that my best may often not be received by everyone. That’s when, after careful examination, I’ll need to be faster at letting things go.

The first time I met the “better half” of this duo was about five years ago. Mayra Sandoval-Cooper came into the arts department speaking to me of creating imagery out of sand or some such discussion (it could have been sculptures or paintings, too) What I do remember was thinking “this lady’s got passion and loves the arts; I think I’ll see if she can run words for our weekend services.” My job isn’t rocket science.

That was Mayra’s entrance to volunteering. Although she remains a member of the arts team, her first passion in ministry is with her husband, Ken, as the two of them partner to lead Son City Kids.

Son City Kids, I’m convinced, is where Jesus would be spending much of His time if He had come to South Bend in 2001, the year the ministry was birthed. The Coopers, along with their team of volunteers, specialize in loving children and creating an environment where the love of Jesus is exposed to “their kids” and to the children’s parents.

Ken and Mayra have intentionally downsized their business venture in order to lead this amazing ministry and its volunteers into one of the most heartfelt ministries offered through Granger Community Church. Just a weekend ago, the annual Son City Kids Carnival exploded into action again. A fire truck was made available to spray water to help quench the 100 degree temps along with activities such as face painting and water slides. Like any good carnival, hotdogs, popcorn and snow cones were served up…only without the cost. There was no end to the action as hundreds of children visited the annual event.

Here are a couple of stories I’ve been able to dig about these two rock stars:

“Ken and Mayra can be caught often walking through the Monroe Circle meeting with kids and their parents. Ken is like a Rock star of sorts. When you walk through the neighborhood with Ken you realize they all love and respect him as you hear nothing but the chants of kids and parents alike calling out his name, “Coop!”

“Coop walks through the middle of gangs, some of which have grown up in SCK. ‘I know a better way,’ Coop suggests. The boys smile, shaking their heads at this old white guy wearing a lime green SCK t-shirt with a smile as big as Texas and saying, ‘I know Coop.’ Coop can always be found walking through the community making sure kids are signed up for the upcoming events.”

“Currently, Coop took on the head coach position of the SCK sports program after the original coach relocated out of the area. Even after putting in a full day at his business, he makes sure he gets everything together for the baseball game … then he puts on his coaching hat.”

“At anytime you can expect that Mayra or Ken will receive a text or call from the teens they have poured their lives into stating how much they love and appreciate Mayra and Coop for all that they’ve done. For many of the kids, the Coopers have stepped in to assume the parent role.”

“Ken and Mayra are often caught finding and moving furniture to anyone needing it in Monroe Circle.”

You two are changing the community for Christ! You are truly Rock stars in ministry here at Granger Community Church. Thank you!

Bottom of the Ninth

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Encouragement, Heart, Team

Last Wednesday, Claudia and I had the opportunity to take her dad to see the Cubs for his 87th birthday. Our two sons and their ladies joined us for the evening adventure to the “friendly confines”. It was an amazing outcome, leaving me pondering, “how could this relate to teams of great volunteers”? I know that sounds a little strange-but this is how my mind works now days.

This was the game status when this team analogy thing hit me: the Goliath team just tied the game on their end of the ninth. It’s now a one-to-one game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a man on third for the home team. Pinch hitter up for the Cubs with two strikes on him (OK-it was Aramis Ramirez pinch-hitting, but go with me).

Put that suspense on hold while I give you the history of my visits. Our family visits have yet to see the Cubs lose in Wrigley. Yeah, it’s the Cubs, so we’ve come close but we’ve always “sung the song”.

Hang on tight while I take this next turn.

There’s another team I admire, that “plays” with passion in “bottom-of-the-ninth” situations. This team always comes through in the clutch whether I’m there or not; for 10 years, I’ve never seen them loose. They’ve covered each other’s back and have always come through to raise the W flag at the end of a weekend.

I’m talking about the GCC I-Mag team and though the analogy might be a stretch, it gets the point across: these players aren’t just determined to be in full force on “game day,” they’re also committed to each other. They’re winners. They strive to make the weekend experience great and, in the process, to make each other feel great about being a part of a team. This team’s strength started months before the service, before the temperature hit 90 on a rare three-day holiday.

We’ve never had anything less than a full, team presence on game day for a full decade. The I-Mag team unexpectedly went to the “bottom of the ninth with two outs” last weekend, but team players stepped up to the plate – thanks Doc, Laura and Chuck for your willingness – to keep the perfect record intact. Like so many Cubs baseball games, we’ve come close a few times but we’ve always “sung the song.”

Speaking of the Cubs, Aramis came through, we sang the song and the undefeated record is still intact. It’s hard to imagine 39,000 fans cheering and singing for a club that’s 12 games below 500. That’s a post for a sports writer…or psychologist.

Now, here’s where I hope this post comes together. When you’re able to come through in a pinch like our team did, it can probably be credited to months or years before, when the intangibles were being built into the individual team members and when those members internalized the meaning of “team.” It’s the training, the encouragement, “coming to bat” for team members when needed and never giving up, even in the bottom of the ninth. It’s knowing the vision and executing it for your guests because you know the stakes.

I salute the greatest I-Mag team on the planet for their commitment and excellence. I salute the individual volunteers (all 37 of you) on this team who have been and are willing and able to pinch hit and come through in the clutch when unforeseen circumstances strike in the 9th.

You’re my heroes.

If you’re just joining the post, you’ll need to jump back here to get the context 🙂

(Guest Services, Leaders)

Are leaders taking their role seriously to lead volunteers or is it a status thing to be the head honcho? Leading teams of people is so much more than directing and dictating information to them; it’s the empowering, encouraging, building into them, creating opportunities for community, all because they matter to God. So, are you leading?

  • As a leader, because your people matter, do your team members know you well enough to call on you when life throws that curve ball, or are they just calling you to tell you they can’t keep a commitment. Worse yet, are they just calling for a commitment?
  • Leaders, do you know the prayer concerns, the hurts of your team members and is there a time you set aside (because your people matter) to seek God on their behalf? Is seeking God on their behalf seen as a privilege by you as their leader rather than a promise to keep?
  • Leaders, if your team members don’t have the opportunity to look at your eyes as you tell them that they matter, that their ministry matters, who then will convince them that what they give up their time for is making a difference?  Who’s telling them that what they’re doing is a link in the chain to guests who have yet to understand that they matter to God? Are you communicating the wins in your ministry to the team?
  • As a leader, would you notice if a team member has been missing for a couple of months and would you know why?
  • Leaders, are you making sure that great team communications are happening? Does the team know what’s happening, what they’re celebrating and what the needs of the ministry and the teammates are?

Leaders, you have the incredible privilege to “clarify the win” to teams of your awesome volunteers. You matter to God. Your volunteers matter to God. It’s the same message just translated a little different because of your responsibilities.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at how your volunteers translate the win to the guests that we all serve because, yes, they matter to God.

We’re on the last post of this series. All previous excuses for not volunteering were real. I’ve protected the names of the guilty, listened to their words in disbelief and offered replies as therapy for myself. After all, that’s kind of what blogs are all about. Here’s the final countdown – heard of any of them?

#7 “God hasn’t called me to serve”

Really? Here’s another top 10:

#8 “I’ve served for years … let the young people step up”

Yep, let ‘em step up. But here are a couple of things for your consideration: there’s no age limit on service and no such thing as too much service. As long as you’ve got breath, you’re called to advance the Kingdom. There might be physical limitations that restrict us, but there’s never a shortage of ministry opportunities during the “golden years.” The joy factor in giving of your time doesn’t have to extinguish at 65, 70 or 90. In fact, the fruits of your experiences can mentor to the generations to come if you let them.

Our role as servants to the King doesn’t have an expiration date, save for the day of Christ’s return. You wouldn’t consider decades of loving and forgiving one another as an excuse to stop– why would serving others be any different?

#9 “All the church wants is my time and money”

Not true. Many churches want you to come on Easter and Christmas, too.  Sorry, I just stepped back into sarcasm. My guess is that if you’re not serving, it’s highly probable that you may not be tuned in to the heart and vision of your church. Real growth happens outside of that one-hour Sunday thing.  It happens in the disciplines of a Christ Follower that include – but aren’t limited to – the time and money things. Growth happens as we build relationships, relationships often found while serving on a team. Growth happens when we’re seeking to help others without expectations or self-gratification. Growth happens when we realize we’re the ones growing from a selfless act of serving or giving.

#10 “No one has asked”

Sure, it’s great when we’re invited to stand arm and arm to make a difference with someone we know. It’s encouraging when others see our giftedness and tap us on the shoulder to join them on mission. That’s the best approach but, still, the invitation is all around us. It’s in the realization that consumer Christianity doesn’t have a part in changing our churches or our communities. Here’s the reality: If we, as Followers of Christ, utilize excuses to stop serving, not only are we causing a disservice to others but also stunting our own spiritual growth.

 

#4 “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.”

That’s normal and we can fix that. Really. Unless you understand some basic principals of Rick Warren’s work revolving around the acronym SHAPE, you might just miss your calling a couple of times before you hit your sweet spot. Discovering your unique SHAPE (Spiritual gifting’s, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) will go a long way in helping you discover opportunities that don’t feel like you’re going to the dentist office every time your weekend to serve arrives. Serving doesn’t have to hurt to matter – but to those who are hurting, your serving matters. Whether helping to serve inside or outside the “box,” there are opportunities where we make a difference in the lives of others that will actually bring joy to our often self-centered lives. If at first you don’t succeed … but this time, bring a little SHAPE to the mix.

#5 “I don’t know what I want to do” (So you’ll keep doing nothing?)

Here’s what’s simple: If you’re not sure where to start, you might look into #4 and then be determined to “just say yes.” Here’s what’s difficult: It’s kind of just the reverse of breaking a bad habit.  In this case, you know you should do something but the gap between your head and heart is often filled with competing emotions of good intentions, distractions and deterrents. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat like a quote Oprah reportedly said in the news this week. It’s actually really meaningful: “People don’t change because of what they know but because of what they feel.” Profound. Let’s stop there. My hope in calling out all of these excuses is this: Christ Followers move from what they THINK in their heads is the right thing to deciding in their heart that it’s time to DO the right thing.

#6 “Everything’s under control” (I don’t think I’m needed)

Look around you – you’re kidding, right?! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that every ministry is fully staffed with volunteers and your church appears to be “under control” (pause for breath and reflection). What about outside the church “box?” What about the workplace where you might be a light in a dark world? What about the hurt you could bring relief to at your local shelter? Your community doesn’t have those problem areas? Well, I guess you’re not needed then. Which brings me to my second point: This entire serving thing (although sounding counter-intuitive) is about you! Why? Because you need to be in relationships. You need to be part of something outside of yourself. You need to feel the joy of giving. You need someone to tell you “thanks.” You need to know you’ve made a difference. You need to express your giftedness – to serve and do good works in this world because you (all of us) were made by God to do so. It’s that whole “salt and light” thing.  (Matt.5:13-16)

More excuses coming soon. I’m 56; I’ve heard many.