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Ministry Matters: T E C H IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Balance, Boundaries Help Tech Teams Avoid Burnout By David Leuschner
MinistryToday November // December 2016
ability to do your best, but perfection sees mistakes as problems that ruin everything. Excellence, on the other hand, sees mistakes as ways the team can get better. If you remain frustrated, however, instead of proceeding to problem solving, you may be a perfectionist. Remember, there’s a fine line between coaching your team and pushing too hard. When you start to beat yourself up, you’re on your way to burnout. To avoid this, I developed a benchmark, what I call the “audience-noticed mistake,” a term
I coined because I worked in the live production field. Take a step back, look at the problem from a high level and determine if it derails your program. Ask yourself, “Was this something that derailed the team and was noticed by the audience, or was it a mistake only I noticed that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things?” If, for example, we accidentally make the stage lights red instead of blue for an event and the audience didn’t notice it, we can simply correct the error for the next event. It’s not something that should derail the team during the event. So how do you work hard and with excellence while avoiding burnout? Put boundaries in place that, if crossed, will alert you and
help you achieve balance again. And before the situation worsens, implement these three don’ts: 1) Don’t always go to the rescue.Every problem isn’t an emergency and doesn’t require you to go to work. Understand what a true “emergency” is and how to approach it. 2) Don’t forget about margin.During your busy season, you will be very occupied, but in slower seasons, take down time in stride. Set aside one day off a week, maybe more. If you miss that particular day, take a makeup day. Just as with a financial budget, build margin into your schedule. Plan your day and budget your time. 3) Don’t stress about overwork. I often hear people say, “My boss asks me to do so much more than I have time to do, therefore my planning will not work.” The solution to this problem is simple. Track your hours, requests and the time it takes to complete your tasks. Show your boss a log of all of your tasks and their completion times. When your log is presented with a positive, solutions-oriented attitude, a good boss will want to help correct the overwork issue. There will be extreme situations where a job change is necessary, but burnout is often the result of self-reliance. Avoid burnout by creating a good life balance, setting boundaries and planning well and, most importantly, trusting in Jesus, who promised that in Him, we would find rest for our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).
David Leuschner is associate senior director of technology and technical arts at Gateway Church in Dallas-Fort Worth. He directs more than 500 volunteers and staff to facilitate several hundred events a month for Gateway’s seven venues. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (both @davidleuschner).
Many of us in ministry have been there or are there right now—on the edge of burnout—and we put the blame on our church or ministry. But I have a radically different view. I believe that, for the most part, burnout is a condition of our own personal doing. Yes, there are times when burnout is not our fault, but even then, we have choices. To avoid burnout, consider these alternatives to overwork and perfectionism: 1) Hard work vs. overwork.Most things done out of balance typically become an unhealthy vice or addiction. I was raised to work hard, so almost every year, I check myself in this area. Overwork is more than hard work; overwork is addiction. Some signs of work addiction are obvious—always checking your phone for missed calls, voicemails, texts or emails. Put your devices down for five or six hours and see if you can stand it. If you take on extra hours because you prefer to be at work or you’re afraid you’ll miss something, your work life is likely out of balance. Personally, I have struggled with feeling like I have to be at work in order for tasks to get accomplished. If you feel you are the one who has to do everything in order for the work to get done, that’s a red flag. Obviously sometimes you are the one responsible to get things done, but the problem arises when you are always thinking about your phone, email and work and that it’s on you to finish things. 2) Excellence vs. perfection.Many people addicted to work think everything needs to be perfect. They aim for excellence but think they must keep striving until their work is perfect. Instead, know that excellence is reflected in your attitude and your
Ministry Matters: W O R S H I P IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
3 Approaches to Creative Expression in Worship By Joshua Mohline electric guitars and keyboards. This old message presented in a fresh way brought new life to the song, and the new version was easy for the church to latch onto since the congregation was already familiar with the song. Worship leaders can also inject creativity by using a unique intro for worship or some sort of ramp-up into the first song. The rest of the worship time can remain the same, but having a video or voice-over to start the service can draw fresh thought and creativity into the room. 2) Creative boundaries.The term “boundaries” can be one of the most frightening words for creative personalities. “Boundaries are the enemy!” they say. “Don’t put my creativity in a box!” they exclaim. But
artists borrow; great artists steal.” So find ways to repurpose messages and songs that have become ordinary. That is a much safer approach than trying to introduce a brand-new message or idea in an unfamiliar format. One practical way to do this is to build a new arrangement for a song that the church has sung a thousand times. For example, Bethel Music first released “Come Alive” with an acoustic guitar arrangement on its Loft Sessions album. The church sang the song for years and was very familiar with it, and the band nailed it every single time. So the time came to give the song a facelift. Bethel Music re-released it with a completely new arrangement that included more drums,
boundaries give context to creativity. Consider this practical example. The worship leader can establish the boundary that all musical creativity must happen within the key of the song. Everyone on the team understands they shouldn’t play notes that don’t fit in the key; that would sound terrible. Some creative boundaries might be intuitive and obvious, but from a higher level, it’s a good idea to eliminate ideas that will be major distractions. Ask yourself: Is this “cool” light show blinding the audience? Is the “creative” song intro so long that it completely loses the congregation? Are the lyrics to the new song so abstract that the song loses its impact? These are all things to
MinistryToday November // December 2016
consider when seeking to be more creative in the team’s approach to worship. 3) Ultimate purpose.Finally, when chasing after creative worship expressions, make sure someone on the team defines the ultimate goal of the piece. Is it strictly to try something new? Is it to experience the joy of risk and shake up people’s ideas about what worship looks like? If so, that’s great, but it will look different from other goals. Worship leaders should keep these questions in mind: hh Does this creative expression glorify God? Our Lord is highly creative. Creativity is in His very nature! He loves our creative efforts, so how can we co-labor with Him to create masterpieces that reveal His nature? hh Does the expression engage the people you are serving? Make sure you are creating an experience that is inviting and intriguing to the people you are called to love. Not everyone will love the artwork. Not everyone will “get it.” But as long as there is intentionality about serving and loving through the creative work, that’s a great place to start. hh Does the expression fit the vision of the house? Creative expression will look different in various cultures and environments. For one church, creativity might look like adding a piano to a set that normally just has an acoustic guitar. For another, creativity might mean a fully choreographed dance production. Whatever the context, make sure the expression falls within the vision of church leadership.
Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (worshipu.com), the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide. ministrytodaymag.com
Worship teams tend to be made up of people who crave creative expression. Team members thrive on individuality and insist upon novelty, so asking them to conform is a bit like taking away their very breath. Unfortunately, creativity within the church cannot be a free-for-all with no consistency. That’s just not how worship works in most churches. So it begs the question: How do worship leaders and musicians find opportunities for creativity while balancing the standards of their church culture? Consider these three ways: 1) Fresh verbiage.One of the most effective ways to introduce creativity into worship is by blending something fresh with a familiar message. Pablo Picasso is widely quoted as having said that “good
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Guard Your Heart in Children’s Ministry
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on how we position our hearts, tongues and motives, we could easily disqualify ourselves from our ministry and mission. The Lord desires that we have a passionate appreciation and burning heart for those who run the race before us, then we are free to run our own races with love and humility. Many senior leaders are pioneers and exhibit these traits: hh Live in the present and yet have a prophetic perception of the future hh Stand in the gap between two time periods that will produce two distinct generations hh Take people into uncharted waters hh Begin new moves of God hh Chart the course for the whole “colony” hh Establish lifestyles and standards hh Raise the level of faith in their followers
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2) Children’s leaders do more than provide childcare while the parents attend church.
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Children’s ministers must function with pastoral authority. Paul said: “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but is abundant also through many thanksgivings to God” (2 Cor. 9:12). The word “service” in this passage refers to priestly duties. Overall, those who minister to children and who lead teams of children’s ministers must look to God for approval, not man. Mobilize for ministry, not childcare. You are doing more than just providing a program while parents attend the main service. Build and develop future leaders, parents, pastors, teachers and evangelists.
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1) Children’s leaders must appreciate the heart of their senior leaders. This is a huge test. Depending
10 MinistryToday November // December 2016
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the following principles:
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION: Six issues $24.97; twelve issues $39.97. Canadian subscribers add $20 per year, including GST. Other countries add $25 per year, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. If you have moved, received damaged or duplicate copies/ missed issues, experienced billing problems, want to renew or need additional subscription information, call (800) 829-2547, go online to ministrytodaymag.com (to subscribe), e-mail email@example.com, or write Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 515931602. Foreign subscribers call (515) 237-3640. ADVERTISING POLICY: We make every effort to be sure advertisers operate with the highest principles and credibility. But advertising in Ministry Today does not imply editorial endorsement.
Lenny La Guardia is executive director of the Children’s Equipping Center and vice president of ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.
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For over 30 years, I have helped develop, strengthen and execute the vision and strategies God has given leaders for their family, church and community. But I’ve also spent hours helping them work through the offenses they acquired in the rigors of ministry. As children’s leaders, we also must be on guard against offense. As the enemy intensifies the heat of the battle against family values, there is no time like the present to raise the bar in our walk with the Lord. There is no time like now to invite and embrace daily the ministry of the Holy Spirit. A few years back, my wife and I were guest speakers at a conference, and during the afternoon session, we were invited to participate in a panel with five other couples. One of the questions we were asked was, “Why do you think you have lasted over 15 years in full-time ministry?” I told my wife, “I will answer that question.” She countered, “No, I will answer that one.” After a short disagreement, she blurted out her answer. She said we had lasted in ministry because of our ability to forgive other leaders and parents and because of our ability to help those we had offended to forgive us. My answer would have been much different. I was going to say we had lasted because of my abilities to organize, recruit, build systems and so on, but my wife was right. To guard your heart from offense as you serve in children’s ministry, take note of
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R E A L
L I F E
BY DR. MARK RUTLAND
5 Insights Into the Scourge of Terrorism Why understanding terrorists’ wounds will only make matters worse
n some quarters, the idea is being touted that if we could just understand why terrorists are hurting, we could meet their needs and they, now “healed” as they would be, would stop killing. Trying to understand the grievances of terrorists, however, is not just futile, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because it presupposes that the complaints of the terrorists are real and that at some point, their thoughts and feelings about those wounds are what we would call “normal.” Any such effort to impose rational thought on terrorists only plays into their hands. Their life and worldview, their goals and “values” are in another realm from ours, a realm so evil that trying to “understand their wound,” as some suggest, is actually counterproductive. Here are five insights into terrorism that must be understood and absolutely must inform the response: 1) Terrorists do not have limits. This is the most common reason for failed responses to terrorism. There is a tendency to believe that terrorists have moral limits, that there is some frontier of violence beyond which they will not go. That can be fatal. It should never be said, “They won’t do that!” They will do “that,” whatever “that” is. Terrorism has no limits. None! 2) Terrorists do have morals. That is probably the hardest thing to hear, but it explains the insights in my first point. They are not evil for evil’s sake. They are not mischievous vandals enjoying the damage like teenagers knocking over someone’s mailbox. They are on a moral crusade. Their morality trumps yours, and because they believe they are right and in the right, they are justified in any action. In other words, one cannot be wrong doing the right thing for a right cause. To believe they have limits is a dangerous mistake. To believe they have no morals misses the point entirely. It is exactly because of their twisted morals that they have no limits. 3) Terrorism’s primary goal is destabilization. I frequently hear folks ask, “What do they want?” That’s not a wrong question. It’s just that the answer to that question is way down the line. Whatever they want ultimately, their long-term goals are not what they want at the primary stage of violence. That’s the reason it’s moot to say, “This violence doesn’t seem like a good way to reach their goals.” If that’s what you’re saying to yourself, you’re wrong. Violence causes destabilization, and that is precisely what they are after at
the violence stage of their campaign. Terrorists want to put fear into the general population, thus destroying confidence in leadership’s ability to protect them. By this tactic of destabilization, they count on a frightened population finally saying, just make it stop. Just make the pain and the fear and the uncertainty go away. Give them something, anything, whatever they want, just so long as this stops. 4) Terrorists count on the moral weakness of the people they are attacking. Terrorism has no hope if the general population is strong and resolved to endure no matter what. Terrorists live in the unshakable confidence that good, normal folks with jobs and families will finally say to leadership, “Give them something, maybe not all they want, but make a deal somehow to end this pain and fear.” Unfortunately, the terrorists are usually right about that. 5) There is only one response to terrorism that works, and it only works in the long run. Leadership and the population at large must eschew any moral equivalency. They must not “try to see the terrorists’ point of view.” They must not try to “understand his grievances.” That would actually reward violent destabilization. The terrorist loves it when the very people among whom he’s wreaking havoc try to understand and sympathize with his pain. Leadership and the population must say together, in one voice, “No! You have no legitimate complaint. We will not listen to you, sympathize with you, try to understand you or attempt to alleviate your pain. We will not try to understand the problem. You are the problem, and until you cease being the problem, we will not yield—not one inch.” That, only that, will defeat terrorism. However, even then,victory will not come quickly. Terrorists are in it for the long haul. They count on the good folks giving in before they do. Any thought of yielding even an inch, even one fraction of a millimeter, will never cause a terrorist to moderate his violence. It will not, somehow, make him “see reason.” Any hint of weakness, especially in leadership, and the pain will ratchet up, not down.
12 MinistryToday November // December 2016
D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of both Global Servants and the National Institute of Christian Leadership. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president. ministrytodaymag.com
“Terrorists want to put fear into the general population, thus destroying confidence in leadership’s ability to protect them.”
L E A D E R S H I P
M A T T E R S
BY MARK TEDFORD
State Your Case
Determining and living by your organization’s mission is easier said than done
he website businessdictionary.com defines a mission statement as “a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time.” Such statements are important because they clarify the mission of a company or organization. This then helps align employees’ activities to the same purpose and improves engagement with the mission. Mission statements are not easy to write, however, and even when completed, they may fail to provide the intended clarity. Business owners who are Christian have the added component of how they integrate their worldview into their corporate mission. This is first due to the pressure to survive and then the tension of determining the “what” and the “why” of the business. Approximately 85 percent of large businesses have written mission statements, but for small businesses, the numbers drop significantly. First of all, many small-business owners are so busy trying to survive that they have reflected very little about the direction and purpose of their organization and so they may not have taken the time to create a mission statement. Secondly, clarifying a business’ core purpose entails intentionally limiting business outside that core, and that can be challenging to a business in survival mode. My father used to say that an individual starting out in the insurance industry would “sell Pretty Boy Floyd a fidelity bond if there was a commission in it.” In fact, the process of creating a mission statement may be the first time the owners have seriously thought about the direction of their business. The content of a mission statement should flow out of the calling of the organization’s owners and should affirm the public good of the core industry to which they are called. This is the “what” and “why” of the organization in their simplest form and helps rally the stakeholders to buy in to the business. For instance, as an industry, insurance suffers from a poor public image, and early in my career, I struggled with being associated with that negative perception. One day I realized that its negative image is largely due to those in the industry doing unethical things or sloppy work. Done well, the insurance industry provides a vital service to the community, even if many do not appreciate it. Our mission is a call to do the best insurance work possible and focus on the benefits and feelings a customer should experience when our work is done right. It should also be noted that mission statements for businesses
run by Christians do not have to be explicitly Christian. God providentially works through business to provide for us, so anything that promotes the public good done out of a Christian sense of vocation is acceptable to Him. Certainly a mission statement should be compatible with a Christian worldview, and any aspects incompatible with Scripture should be removed. Leaders who want to be more spiritually explicit in their mission statement may draft an additional “kingdom purpose” statement that grounds the mission to the calling of the owners. It is a mistake to place social or spiritual goals unrelated to the organization in a mission statement. For example, I have done mission work in China, but my company’s mission is not to facilitate my work there. The compelling story in the mission statement should relate back to the primary industry and function of the organization and affirm its value. Otherwise, the statement could imply you are asking stakeholders to engage in work to achieve an unrelated social good. If the social goal is that important, however, the owner should consider making it his full-time work. Ultimately, including such goals in the mission statement devalues the core industry and harms engagement with the primary work of the organization. The primary purpose of a mission statement is to declare the purpose of the organization, while the byproduct of the statement is engagement. The leaders of an organization should be passionate about its mission and strive to articulate it in the most compelling way possible, but it is dangerous to put too much emphasis on how compelling the statement is. Some callings are inherently less compelling than others, but that does not make them any less important. Let the mission be what it is, and let it attract those who are called to it. Trying to jazz up the mission with slick wordsmithing can strip all meaning out of it. A statement designed to provide clarity then merely leads to confusion.
“Some callings are inherently less compelling than others, but that does not make them any less important.”
14 MinistryToday November // December 2016
M a r k T e d f o r d is a partner at Tedford Insurance, a secondgeneration insurance brokerage, and has business interests in transportation and real estate. After obtaining a Master of Business Administration at Tulsa University, he went to Biola University to broaden his studies and received a Master of Christian Apologetics degree. A regular speaker for business organizations, he serves on several boards and is chairman of the Oklahoma Apologetics Alliance. ministrytodaymag.com
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T R U E
S T E W A R D S H I P
BY CHRIS BROWN
Prepare to Grow Your Staff
Try out these hiring questions to bring the right people to your ministry team
art of leading an awesome ministry is hiring awesome people to keep it running. Now, God may have blessed church leaders with the gift of teaching or leadership or evangelism or discipleship. But let’s face it: He didn’t give all of us the gift of finding the right people for our teams. And the ability to hire well is definitely a gift! In addressing hundreds of church leaders each year as a Ramsey Personality and speaker, I’ve learned that nearly everyone has concerns around staffing. And not every church is large enough to have an actual human resources (HR) team—so that responsibility may fall on you. I’m no interviewing expert, so I’ve always appreciated all the help I can get. During my years as an executive pastor at churches, I picked up a few tips that have stuck with me and made hiring well much easier. And now that I’ve been the interviewee at an organization that’s very intentional about hiring the right people, I’ve come to appreciate those tips from the other side. Following are some interview questions that I’ve found most helpful. I pray you put them into practice in your own hiring process and that they’re just as helpful for you! Why do you want to be a part of our team? I’m a teamwork person. I’m all about the power of synergy and unity! How a candidate answers this question tells me if he actually researched our organization and has an idea about our team and culture. It tells me if the candidate truly wants to be part of this particular team and do life together—or if he just wants any old J-O-B. What is the most generous thing a previous employer has ever done for you? I love this question because it tells me if a candidate’s heart is full of gratitude—or just entitlement. Pay special attention to the candidate’s tone and demeanor in an interview, not just his answers, because those will probably tell you exactly what you’re looking for. In addition, they’ll tell you what the candidate expects from you—what impresses him and what doesn’t. What are your hobbies? This question tells me a lot about a candidate as a person outside of work. It gives me insight into his personality and whether it would fit into the role for which he is applying. It’s a bonus when the candidate’s hobbies overlap with his job duties because you know he’ll naturally love the role!
What is the one question I should have asked you that I didn’t? This is a great question that reveals a candidate’s mindset during the interview process. Is the candidate engaged, thoughtful or just going through the motions? It’s also a helpful tool for seeing how quickly the candidate can think on his feet and his level of self-awareness. What do you want to do differently in this job that you’ve never been able to do before? What would you try? What idea would you test? I’m looking for people who want to challenge the status quo. These people are sometimes harder to lead because they have a mind of their own, but I would much rather rein in a team member than spur them on. I want people who are ready to get after it! What’s your dream job and why? What I’m looking for here is insight into what’s important to a candidate and whether my organization can provide it. I want the experience to be a win-win. I’ve learned that that’s the only way a team member is going to stick around for a while. Remember, hiring is a two-way street. You want to make sure your candidate is as much a match for you as you are for them. And here are my three favorites: What are the last three books you’ve read? What do you know about our ministry? And how do you see yourself adding value to this culture? This trio of questions lets me know how hungry a candidate is to learn, either from books or from our organization. It also tells me how humble he is. How the candidate answers the third question tells me which he admires more: himself or the culture of the team he is hoping to join. Part of being an effective leader is the ability to assemble a strong team to lead. And with the right tools—coupled with prayers for God’s guidance—you can lead well. As you journey through the hiring process, I pray you keep these questions in your hiring toolbox and that they help you to build the ministry team God desires for you.
16 MinistryToday November // December 2016
C h r i s B r o w n is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. Available on radio stations nationwide, “Chris Brown’s True Stewardship” provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Follow him online (stewardship.com), on Twitter and Instagram (@chrisbrownonair) and at Facebook (chrisbrownonair). ministrytodaymag.com
“Pay special attention to the candidate’s tone and demeanor in the interview, not just his answers.”
The Modern english Version
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HOLLYWOOD TO HRock Transformed by his experience in the entertainment industry, Gabe Ahn brings a new, creative vision to ministry in the church that his father, Ché Ahn, founded
astor Gabe Ahn is bringing a whole new generation to church with his emphasis on creativity and cultural relevance. He and his wife, Monica, became the cosenior pastors of HRock Church in January 2016, and Gabe is already leading with innovative ways to shake up perceptions of the church. Located just 20 minutes from the iconic Hollywood sign, HRock Church has unique access to cultural influencers and young creatives. In 1994, Pentecostal pastors Ché and Sue Ahn started the Pasadena, California, church—then Harvest Rock— and in 2004, the congregation moved to the historic Ambassador Auditorium. Though the Ahns didn’t build Ambassador, it’s no wonder they saw it as the perfect home for HRock. Lauded by many as “The Carnegie Hall of the West,” the auditorium is a world-class concert hall and theater, housed in a building that resembles the Temple of ancient Israel. Like the Temple, there God’s people invite His glory to meet them and to change the surrounding culture. When Gabe’s father founded Harvest Rock, he had a driving vision: “I have a vision to grow a large, spiritually mature, multiethnic, multigenerational and Spirit-filled church that will have a 18 MinistryToday November // December 2016
transformative impact on our city and our society as an apostolic center. I see a church that loves people and is passionately in love with Jesus. I see our church as a safe place where people sense the love, mercy and grace of God. I see our church equipping people to reach out to those in need, fulfilling their God-given destinies and being successful and prosperous in life. I see a church that believes in the supernatural intervention of God. I see us connecting community and having a sense of family in our midst. I see our church advancing people closer to God. That’s the kind of church I see, and that’s the kind of church I want us to be.” Today, Gabe is chasing that vision for the church, which changed its name to HRock in 2010, and he’s not content to do church the usual way. He is passionate about finding new ways to reach people with the gospel. His creative worldview stems from a unique testimony, in which God led him into the heart of Hollywood and back again.
As the son of the founding pastors, Gabe grew up with strong Christian role models. He says his parents frequently told Bible stories and shared the gospel with him and his siblings. Family devotions took place every day in the living room. »
BY TAYLOR BERGLUND
Lead Pastors Gabe and Monica Ahn
HRock Senior Pastors Gabe and Monica Ahn
Gabe and Monica Ahn are installed as senior pastors at HRock Church in January 2016.
Gabe remembers accepting Christ on Sept. 7, 1984—the day before his fourth birthday. He said he was in the living room, looking through a picture Bible his parents would often read. Gabe came across a picture of Jesus on the cross and called his dad over to ask, “Dad, who is this man?” Ché saw it as an opportunity to share the simple gospel with his son. “This man is Jesus, and He died for your sin,” Ché told young Gabe. “But here’s the great news, not only are you free, but you can accept Jesus into your heart and have a relationship with Him. Would you like to do that?” Without hesitation, Gabe said yes. As he grew older, Gabe dreamed of working in ministry; after all, both his father and grandfather had been pastors, and their influence was strong in his life. He helped out around the church, working in the worship and children’s ministries until he left to attend Azusa Pacific University in 1998. There, he began to explore God’s call on his life. He majored in communications, though he always believed he would end up in ministry. But one semester, he signed up for a theater class as an easy way to complete an elective requirement. In the process, he fell in love with acting. He took more acting classes and auditioned for school musicals and productions. God granted Gabe favor however he applied himself. At his first major audition, he won the lead role in an original play and was mentored by a notable director. Because of 20 MinistryToday November // December 2016
his newfound love for acting and his skills, he began to wonder whether ministry was truly God’s ultimate plan for his life. “In 2000, I had a defining moment,” Gabe says. “It was kind of like a Solomon moment or a David moment, where I really came before the Lord. I found out the Lord said during that time, ‘I not only have called you to use acting for ministry, but I’ve called you outside of ministry’—or what we could consider vocational ministry—‘to become an actor in Hollywood.’” After that, Gabe pursued acting on a greater level. He attended a summer intensive at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, graduated from Azusa Pacific with an emphasis in theater and a minor in Christian ministries and enrolled in a prestigious conservatory. He honed his acting craft for three years, giving up a side job at a restaurant to focus on acting. Gabe was set to make his big break—he had headshots, formal training, an agent and auditions lined up. He got certified by the Screen Actors Guild—a milestone that separates amateurs from professionals and authorizes actors to work in major Hollywood productions. Then “God dropped a stop sign in the journey to my destiny,” Gabe says. Joy Dawson, one of the founders of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), visited Gabe’s church and spoke on the subject of revival. Dawson’s message was the catalyst for Gabe to have another life-changing
conversation with God. “She said one of the reasons why we haven’t seen revival in its fullness is because the members of the church have not been praying as they ought,” Gabe says. “It was a very loving but very convicting word on prayer and on spiritual leadership. I remember at that meeting, I came up to the front, and everyone was really in this moment of reflecting. I just confessed and repented before the whole audience that was there at that conference, and I said, ‘I know that I have wanted revival, but I have not prayed for revival the way that I’ve desired it. So I just want to make a commitment to pray.’” He told the audience he had just quit his job to go into full-time acting but that he felt called instead to pray full time for revival. Seeking answers, he asked the Lord what to do. He heard God ask him, “What do you really want, Gabe? What is your greatest desire?” “Lord, I am crying out for revival,” Gabe said. “I don’t want to just read about it. I don’t want to just talk about it. I don’t even want to pray about it. I want to live it. I want to see with my own eyes. I want to be a part of it.” He says God replied, “That desire is a great desire to have, but you have to understand that revival does not come about without a cost. So what are you willing to lay down on the altar to see revival come to pass for your generation?” » ministrytodaymag.com
Tadas Mikuckis/© HRock Church
“I am still called to the entertainment industry. ... The Lord’s going to use ministry as a platform for the industry, but He’s also going to use the industry call as a platform for ministry.”
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Gabe realized the most significant aspect of his life was his acting career, so he gave it up to the Lord. Gabe called his secular agent immediately and tried to explain something he himself could barely comprehend: that God had told him not to audition anymore. “He responded in a way that just confirmed my obedience,” Gabe says. “I thought he was going to chew me out because I was actually telling him I couldn’t even go to an audition that day. But he said, ‘Gabe, you’ve been a really awesome client of mine, and whether you need to take three months or three years, just let me know if you ever want to come back and be a part of our agency.’ That was just an affirmation that the Lord was moving.” God delivered yet another affirmation when his father approached him with a job offer: “I know you’re not pursuing acting for the season you’re in because you laid it at the altar. How would you like to be the young adult leader of HRock Church?” After praying about the offer, Gabe sensed the Lord’s leading and took the job. At the time, HRock’s young adult ministry had no vision or central leadership. It didn’t take long before Gabe had revolutionized the ministry. The ministry grew exponentially; 150 young adults were now part of the once-aimless program. Gabe himself was growing too. He was formally ordained in 2008, met his wife in 2009 and married her in 2014. All the while, his parents were grooming him to become the new senior pastor of HRock Church. In January 2016, Gabe and Monica were officially named the co-senior pastors of the church. Gabe has reflected this year on the wild journey on which God has taken him—and where he believes God may lead him next. 22 MinistryToday November // December 2016
“Our season of being groomed as senior pastors was really years in the making and years of preparation, but all the while, I know I am still called to Hollywood,” Gabe says. “I am still called to the entertainment industry. ... What the Lord has really shown me is that they’re not mutually exclusive of each other, but they actually work hand in hand. The Lord’s going to use ministry as a platform for the industry, but He’s also going to use the industry call as a platform for ministry, so I am in a period and season of understanding what that looks like.”
Gabe strongly believes the church needs to be heavily involved in culture. He keeps coming back to John 17:14-18: “I have given them Your word. And the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” While scholars have debated what it means to be “in the world but not of the world,” for Gabe, the question is one of the most important issues the church needs to settle. His answer defines his unusual approach to the pastorate. Gabe has observed that many churches “think you can’t be in the world, because if you’re in the world, you’re automatically of the world,” he says. “But I feel like it’s actually the opposite. I feel like if the Holy Spirit is in you and the Father’s love is in you—the more of that that’s in you—the less of the world is in you. And the less that you have the world in you,
Now that Gabe has set his vision for HRock Church, he’s figuring out how to cultivate that spirit of creativity within his church body—and how to attract creative people to his congregation. He calls the effort a work in progress: “We’re in an experimental phase, so we’re trying new things.” But he knows one thing for certain: The message may be typical, but the ministrytodaymag.com
Tadas Mikuckis/© HRock Church
Ambassador Auditorium, where HRock meets, is said to resemble the Temple of ancient Israel.
the more impact you can have by being in the world. The question is not, ‘Are you in the world?’ The question is, ‘Is the world in you?’” Furthermore, Gabe says that Christians who are in the world have the ability to change it from inside. The world is changing, technology is progressing, and media outlets are proliferating. Someone in remote Tibet can watch a gospel presentation on YouTube made by two guys in America. Gabe gets animated simply thinking about the ways culture can become a vehicle for the gospel. “If we use film as a tool to disciple nations, how many more people can we reach than a common sermon from the pulpit?” Gabe says. “We do and appreciate (sermons), and that’s what I do every Sunday. But what if the sermon was the film? What if the pulpit was the screen? What if we saw film as a tool for the gospel?” At the core, Gabe believes it’s about knowing your audience and speaking gospel truth in a way that resonates with their lives. For an audience of California creatives, storytelling is king. “Jesus didn’t always have an in-your-face type of conversation with the Pharisees or with the sinners or with the disciples about what it means to be a perfect believer or follower of Christ,” Gabe says. “He shared stories. He shared parables with biblical truths embedded within the stories, but that was palpable for those who were listening to digest. He talked about what it means to be a sower and sowing seed, because his audience was farmers. ... He spoke to the people according to what would be palpable, acceptable or approachable to them to understand, in a language that was meaningful to them but was embedded with biblical truths. He was talking about the kingdom of God.”
presentation will be anything but. “When I think of Him—the Creator God being within me—then there is no excuse for me not to be creative because the Creator of the universe lives within me,” Gabe says. “So I think of our services from the perspective of, ‘How can we really co-create with God?’ My friend Shawn Bolz says we co-create with God to present the gospel in a way that will draw people in.” Notably, Gabe says he’s not simply the co-senior pastor; he’s also HRock Church’s executive producer. On Sunday morning, he delivers the sermon, but he also proofs all videos and music. He makes sure the service flows well and is properly ordered. He even checks the lighting. When it comes to creativity in worship, he is living out the scriptural call to excellence. Beyond that, HRock embraces a freedom that lets the church try new things from week to week. Some weeks there will be painting during worship. Other times, the church may integrate special songs or dances into the service. The creative team is trying to figure out how to implement spoken-word poetry in the worship mix. The newest project Gabe wants to try is blending his preaching and acting in “servant sketches.” “I get up, read the Word of God, share the Word of God, but then I transition from preacher to actor on stage,” Gabe explains. “It’s been rehearsed. 24 MinistryToday November // December 2016
HRock’s Easter production in 2015 shows the level of skill the church employs to share the gospel with the community.
musical with an original script and music. The church also invites the community in to do their own productions and concerts in the renowned auditorium. Of course, not every church can create such lavish productions. Gabe says the key isn’t the scope but about doing little things that make the gospel memorable. “This past Sunday, I did a teaching on
what it means to grow with God,” he says. “I did something very simple. It didn’t take a lot of creativity or any real genius to do, but I brought a little plant from my house, and I said, ‘This is you.’ And I referred to the plant in my sermon. ... The amazing thing is even if it seems corny or simple, or if it just seems like a little bit out of the box, people will remember that more because of the fact I used a visual aid in my sermon.” That commitment to thinking outside the box has attracted many young people to HRock, allowing it to thrive at a time when many people are hostile to faith. “One of the things we’ve seen is an influx of young people because they’re drawn to the creativity,” Gabe says. “They’re drawn to the approachability. ... When you connect with them, not only does it give them an incentive to come to church, to learn and to grow, but they realize the same Creator who is in me when I’m on stage or whoever’s preaching is also in them, so then they begin to find purpose. ... And what’s beautiful is they’ll come up to me and say, ‘How can I get involved in your creative ministry?’ ‘How can I get involved in your media ministry?’ ‘How can I be involved in your production team?’ It’s a win-win for everybody because everyone comes alive with their creative call and their creative gifts.” Gabe’s passion for bringing people into relationship with Jesus and His church is palpable. No matter what he creates, he prays it glorifies Christ and makes Him famous in culture. “That’s been my heart as a filmmaker and as an actor: ‘Lord, use me as a vessel of Your glory,’” Gabe says. “‘Use me as a vessel to tell Your story—the story of the gospel, the story of salvation, the story of resurrection—that I would make disciples of all nations that would go into the world,’ because going into the world happens before making disciples of all nations. You have to go into the world. It doesn’t say, ‘Come into the church and feel good and be among Christians your whole life.’ It says, ‘Go into the world and make disciples of all nations.’ ... I believe it is the high calling of our lives.” T a y l o r B e r g l u n d is assistant online editor at Charisma Media and co-host of the “Charisma News,” “Charisma Connection” and “C-Pop” podcasts. ministrytodaymag.com
Tadas Mikuckis/© HRock Church
Pastor Gabe Ahn preaches at HRock on a Sunday morning.
It’s been choreographed. Other people come on stage. The set of the stage changes and morphs before your very eyes, and I go from teaching the sermon to actually acting out the sermon in a palpable way, just like a parable.” He imagines a teaching on marriage that morphs into a kitchen setting, where a husband and wife are in the midst of an argument. He can play the role of a counselor helping them work through their differences and embodying the principles taught in the sermon. He is still working on the logistics, but he is shaking up Sunday mornings at HRock. The church’s creativity extends beyond Sunday morning though. HRock has its own drama team that creates Christmas and Easter productions each year. This December, the team is launching its first original production, a full-length
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The way we live today determines how we will spend eternity BY JOHN BEVERE
Getty Images/Sohl; da-kuk
ecently a reality about church growth hit me. Honestly, it blew me away. I was asked to speak in a national conference in Brazil to 14,000 pastors and leaders, and the passion in that arena was something I rarely see. The next day I was at lunch with the top leaders of that organization. I discovered there are over 300,000 members in that church organization. But that wasn’t what shocked me. What shocked me was that the organization was only 17 years old! That’s right, it started with just one family in 1999. I asked them a question (to which I thought I already knew the answer), “How does a church grow to over 300,000 people in just 17 years in a First World nation with this kind of passion?” I expected the reply to be, “Oh, it’s our cell groups.” Without even pausing to think about it, the pastor said, “It’s because we teach on eternal rewards and the judgment seat of Christ. Our people live for eternity.” “John, I know America well,” he continued. “I speak English and I’ve been there, and I know eternal rewards are not commonly taught in your churches. “John, our members live with an eternal perspective on life, but it seems most American Christians live with a 70- to 80-year perspective.” He was correct. What’s remarkable about the fact that so few Americans understand this teaching is that Hebrews 6:1-2 tells us eternal judgment is an elementary principle of Christianity. In elementary school, we learn the most basic principles of education—reading, writing, addition and subtraction. Could you imagine going
to college or building a life without these basic skills? Yet many Christians are trying to build their lives without understanding eternal perspective. If we understand eternal perspective, we live differently—we see things differently, we make decisions differently, and we endure things we wouldn’t otherwise endure. Our pursuits find meaning and intention.
Silver or Straw
A primary obstacle is when Christians hear a word like “judgment,” they often avoid it because they think it means condemnation. But what it literally means is simply “a decision.” There is an appointed day when God, through Jesus Christ, will make decisions about every man and woman who ever lived on Earth. Those decisions are going to be eternal decisions. God is going to weigh our lives, and the decisions He makes—based on His careful investigation—will be eternally firm. Almost all Christians recognize that unbelievers will face judgment, but few understand that even God’s faithful will stand before Him to receive His decision over us. Many passages make this clear to us, but 1 John 4:17 tells us “we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” Certainly, this is only addressed to Christians, as no unbeliever could ever claim boldness during their judgment. “Wait a minute, John,” I hear someone saying. “If Christians are going to face judgment, then what did Jesus die for? What about the cross?” Jesus died for our salvation—no amount of good works could ever give us access to God’s eternal life. But remember this isn’t about condemnation, so we aren’t talking November // December 2016 MinistryToday 27
28 MinistryToday November // December 2016
John Bevere issues an altar call at The Crossing Church in Tampa, Florida.
“This life we have been given may seem like a long time while we are living it, but it is literally nothing in the scope of eternity.” God will not measure Paul against Luke’s calling on judgment day. Neither will God measure Luke against Paul’s calling. In the same way, you and I will not be measured against each other. Pastors will not be measured against those in business. Homemakers will not be measured against teachers. God is just. He will measure each of us according to whether we were true to the unique calling on our life. Then, based on His measurement of our faithfulness, He will grant rewards.
Earth and Eternity
So here is the reality. What we do with the cross determines where we will spend eternity (most Christians know this); however, the way we live as believers determines how we will spend eternity. We must have an urgency about our lives to ensure we will be found faithful on that day. This life we have been given may seem like a long time while we are living it, but it is literally nothing in the scope of eternity.
None of us can understand eternity with our minds. That is why God has placed it in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). Eternity is infinite. It keeps going on and on forever. Compared with eternity, this life is even less than a vapor. Basic mathematics tells us that if you divide any finite number by infinity, the answer is zero. That means you could live a short, five-year life or a long, 120-year life, and both of them amount to the same compared to eternity—zero. That is how short our lives are and how significant the decisions God will make on that day will be. When you consider the shortness of this life, how can any discomfort we encounter in obedience to God discourage us when we know that our faithfulness will result in eternal reward? How can persecution or loss sidetrack us from the pursuit of God’s calling on our lives? Can any difficulty or hardship in this zero-time compare to the joy of eternal rewards? It’s easier to think of this as a ministrytodaymag.com
about salvation. We are talking about God’s decisions, and there are two things we need to know about them. First, we need to know how they will affect our eternal existence. Second, we need to know what the basis for these decisions will be. Paul wrote to inform us that our lives matter for eternity. He told us, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:11-15, NKJV). These verses clearly show both our salvation—the foundation that is Christ Jesus alone—and our responsibility to build on it. How we serve God with our lives will have eternal ramifications. If we build wisely, it leads to great reward, but if we build foolishly we will “be saved, yet as through fire.” God will make a careful examination of each of our lives as He makes His eternal decisions. This examination is to see whether we have been faithful, not to do just any good works, but to see if we did the specific good works that God prepared for us (Eph. 2:10). The apostle Paul and doctor Luke are perfect examples of how this works. Paul was an apostle. His calling was to travel to wherever the gospel had yet to go and preach, demonstrating the power of the gospel with signs, wonders and miracles. He built and discipled churches. That was God’s purpose for his life. Luke, however, was a doctor. Interestingly, we don’t know his name because of his medical advances or faithful work in medicine. We know him because he faithfully recorded the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. He witnessed many of the events recorded in Acts firsthand as he traveled with Paul. We could easily wonder if anyone ever asked Luke why he didn’t work to plant his own churches like Paul did. Yet that was not what God called him to do. God called him to be a recorder and witness to the moves of God so generations to come would have the testimony.
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hypothetical experiment. Consider how you would live if you found out the next 24 hours would determine the quality of the rest of your life. Your choices for those meager hours will result in the house and neighborhood you’ll live in, your job, the people you work with and income, and even your relationships. How would you approach those 24 hours? Would you think and live carefully to make the most of your opportunity, or would you look the other way and hope for the best? It’s important to note the greatest eternal promises are not stuff—houses, neighborhoods, possessions an so on—but rather proximity to God and the opportunity to be an intimate member of His creative plans. Our hypothetical experiment falls hopelessly short of conveying the immensity and true nature of God’s promises—no human being can put words to what God has in store for us. The truth is this life is a vapor, immeasurable against the vastness of eternity, yet this life is the only opportunity we have to store up the rewards—positions,
authority and resources—God will give us for eternity. This truth is not about non-Christians. We already know there is a limited time for them to place their faith in Jesus. This truth is about every single Christian—man, woman, boy, girl, pastor, business professional, stay-at-home mother or laborer. God drove this truth home to a friend of mine one day when I was with him. We were out golfing when he said to me, “John, I’ve worked so hard to build my business, but things are good now. It’s worth about $9 million, and my wife and kids are cared for. Now I’m approaching 50, and I’d like to just level out and coast. Why should I keep working as hard as I have just to grow my business to $35 million?” I answered him, “That’s a great question. Suppose I said to you, I’ve written 17 books now, I’ve traveled to more than 50 nations, I have about 4 million miles just on one airline alone, I’ve done conferences all over the world. My wife is cared for, and my kids are grown up. Why should I keep working so hard to write another book,
travel all over the world and keep doing what I’m doing?” He laughed at me and said, “Wow, I wouldn’t want to be you when you stand before Jesus one day!” “But that’s exactly what you just told me,” I said. “We will both stand before Jesus and be accountable to what He has called us to.” My words stuck with him, as I hope they will remain with you. Our lives are desperately short. We do not have time to waste. We will stand before Him before we know it, either for reward or for loss. Knowing this eternal perspective will cause us to live with purpose, and when our churches live for eternity, they will grow and be filled with passion for Christ. J o h n B e v e r e and his wife, Lisa, are the founders of Messenger International, a ministry dedicated to equipping and discipling the nations. This article is based on content from Driven by Eternity: Make Your Life Count Today and Forever. For more information on this topic, visit drivenbyeternity.com.
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32 MinistryToday November // December 2016
© iStockphoto/Christian Mueller; tunejadez
his is the New York groove, baby, where everybody’s kickin’ it, movin’ it, playin’ it, shakin’ it and makin’ the grind. Is there any time for Jesus in the Big Apple? “People here are incredibly busy,” says Imran Babar, a senior associate at a leading venture capital firm in midtown Manhattan. “They tend to be focused on what’s right in front of them, with limited time to consider other things. New Yorkers often have their guards up since they are surrounded by strangers. It’s a city where people are exposed to almost everything, including many distractions. It’s easy to let the Word get choked out by the thorns of distractions the city has to offer.” Even with those obstacles, Babar and a host of other Christians who live and work in New York City believe it is packed with people longing for the one true God—though they may not even know it. “Many people come to New York with an open mind to ‘experience everything,’” Babar says. “Why not throw in Christianity? There are many people in the city with real needs, whether financial, healthrelated, emotional or mental. The Christian community has a great opportunity to step in and help meet these needs. Many people have taken the dive and found that the ‘cares of this life’ are lacking. Like Solomon, they have experienced everything and come to realize they need more to satisfy them. Many people are lonely and longing for deeper connection, despite being surrounded by millions of other people. Christians can befriend people and invite them to experience community and fellowship alongside of them.” Babar, 34, is a former Muslim who is now a born-again Christian. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular ministrytodaymag.com
Imran Babar, finance
biology from Yale and does indepth analysis on both the scientific and financial aspects of early-stage health care companies to determine whether they are good investments for his firm. In doing research, building financial models and conducting surveys, he meets with many people, including management teams, consultants, Wall Street analysts and physicians. “I believe it is our call and privilege as Christians to share our faith,” Babar says. “The key for me is to start by building good relationships. I aim to prioritize people and share my faith through loving them. On several occasions, colleagues have been intrigued by the fact that I came from a quasiMuslim background. They are interested in understanding why I made the journey to faith in Jesus, which has allowed me to share my story.” Since Babar’s field is intense and jobs in venture capital are hard to come by, many have reached out to him to ask how he made the transition. This has given him the platform to build relationships through mentoring. “My job in finance gives me credibility to speak with people in my industry who are less likely to listen to those in full-time ministry,” he says. Intentional about living out his beliefs, Babar is quick to help resolve conflicts, admit when he’s wrong, give others credit for their good work and serve as an advocate for high standards of integrity. “Although these are obvious things for Christians to strive for, I believe they are important ways in which I can be an example of faith in the workplace,” he says.
‘It Is Touchy to Share at the UN’
At the magnificent United Nations building on 42nd Street and 1st Avenue, Patricia Pantoja, who serves as a human resources assistant there, co-leads a weekly group where they study the Scriptures, invite special guests to speak and offer prayers for those in need. “I invite a lot of my colleagues to this study, so they know I am a Christian, and some November // December 2016 MinistryToday 33
Patricia Pantoja, human resources
come to me to ask for prayer,” says Pantoja, who moved to New York 17 years ago from Bogotá, Colombia, and always dreamed of working at the U.N. “It is difficult for me to share my faith spontaneously,” she says. “That is why having this platform facilitates conversations.” Indeed, colleagues who don’t attend the study have come to her requesting prayer in the loss of loved ones and in difficult situations they are facing. She has followed up with prayers, emails, books and other forms of support. “It is touchy to share at the U.N., as there are believers of all religions,” Pantoja says. “I have had conversations with a strong Muslim colleague who saw my Bible and challenged my belief. I invited him to the U.N. Bible study, but he has not attended. But it is easier to share that I am a Christian in New York than back home. New York is open to all and to diversity, including beliefs.”
‘I Can Be a Living Example to Them’
Dr. Michael Schaefer, a 38-year-old general cardiologist and clinical instructor, spends most of his time seeing patients at several offices in Manhattan. Dr. Schaefer believes sharing his faith is one of his most important jobs. “It’s difficult in New York City because born-again Christians are a minority,” Schaefer says. “Much of what people know about Christians they have learned through negative reflections in the media. That’s why it is important for me to share my faith. I can be a living example to them, and oftentimes, I may be the only living example in their lives.” The first patient who ever set foot in Dr. Schaefer’s office when he was an Dr. Michael attending physician still holds a special place in his heart. Schaefer, “It turns out that he is atheist, and he knows that I am Christian,” Schaefer says. medicine “We have had some discussions about objective evidence for God, but he holds his position as an atheist. It is nice to be challenged by your patients sometimes, and I hope I can help him come to realize the love of God. I pray for my patients often, not only for healing, but for an understanding of God’s love. “I often internally pray in the moment when I am with a patient for the Holy Spirit to help lead me to a diagnosis or correct treatment. It is in these moments when I’m not sure exactly what the answer is that I feel the true power of the Holy Spirit. The answer may not be revealed to me during that interaction, but I’m at peace that the Lord will guide me.” Dr. Schaefer once encountered a patient in the hospital with numerous tattoos, including a depiction of the devil on his left arm and the words “No Jesus” on his right thigh. “I was quite taken aback, but after I finished examining him, I said, ‘If you have a tattoo of the devil, then you must believe that there is a God too.’ He then told me that the tattoo was actually a depiction of his father. At that point, I realized he views God and religion through the negative relationship he had with his father. It strengthened my belief that we need to be salt and light to those who have yet to know the true love and sovereignty of Christ.”
‘I Never Want to Forget How Low I Was’
Gail Dhaniram, bookstore retail 34 MinistryToday November // December 2016
A trek on over to the Flatiron District at 5th Avenue and 17th Street will lead to Gail Dhaniram, merchandise planning manager at Barnes & Noble, who reads trends and identifies new growth opportunities for the book areas across the chain. Dhaniram manages 65 percent of the overall sales with a team of just three people who report to her. It can be stressful, as personalities can get aggressive. “Prior to coming to Christ, I was also an aggressive and confrontational businesswoman,” Dhaniram says. “Remaining in the Word and attending Every Nation Church has had a dramatic impact on the woman I once was. The ministrytodaymag.com
Spirit reminds me, even when I’m stressed to the max, to reflect God’s characteristics when dealing with difficult people. I can confidently say that I am a kind person and create peace when there is conflict. That is not my own doing; that is the Spirit and God’s intervention. As a manager, when I see my team or cross-functional teammates struggling, I share my story of how I came to Christ. I feel sharing such an intimate piece of me creates an honest and sincere bond with people, especially in corporate America, where religion is quite taboo. “Sharing my faith is important to me because I was in a very dark and lonely place before I truly gave myself to Jesus,” the retail executive says. “I never want to forget how low I was and how far I have come.” Dhaniram is part of a monthly prayer group comprised of fellow Christians from different companies who pray for each other and their internal struggles as well as the companies they work for and their leadership. “We meet in a conference room in the office and hold hands while praying,” says Dhaniram, who is willing to share her journey to Christ with people of all backgrounds.
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‘I Don’t Want to Leave Anyone Out’
Veteran actor, model and voice-over artist Lawrence Oliver Cherry has a sparkle in his eyes and an easygoing, joyful manner. That’s what intrigues the actors and associates who work with him on stages, in studios and on location throughout the Big Apple. “I share with them the reason for this terminally positive attitude—Christ as my Savior and God in my heart,” Cherry says. “In the last 18 years, I’ve shared Christ from the TV and film set with everyone from colleagues to strangers, on the subway and in taxis almost daily, praising God to them every chance I get.” Born again at age 12, Cherry fell away from the faith for many years. “I have come through very trying times in my life, and in each, God has supplied the strength, understanding and healing that Lawrence Oliver Cherry, acting I’ve needed,” he says. “Now my wife and I pray together each morning before we rise to begin our day. I firmly believe prayer has brought me back to God.” There is no typical day for Cherry, whose work may start, or end, at 5 a.m. Spending a lot of time waiting to go on camera, he uses it to build relationships with the actors and crew. “I usually use this time to share the wonderful blessing of how I asked God for a loving, beautiful wife with God in her heart, and He gave me my heart’s desire in Yelena,” he says. “Her only child, Irina, now 31, is the daughter I’ve always wanted, in every respect. “Sharing my faith is of utmost importance to me,” he adds. “I tell my friends, family and associates—as well as new acquaintances—that when I look at them, I feel the pull on my heart to want to see them as happy and as assured as I am about spending eternity together with the Lord and each other. I don’t want to leave anyone out. I have friends, of course, who are sometimes diehard unbelievers, and to them goes more of my love and compassion, and from some of them, I have received a heartfelt ‘Thank you.’” » ministrytodaymag.com
November // December 2016 MinistryToday 35
Volume II In His Presence Read about the presence of Almighty God. Learn how to truly enter into His presence. You were born to fellowship with your Creator. The veil was torn. Come boldly before the throne and spend time with the one who loves you eternally. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
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‘Diversity Is a Thousand Times More Intense’
Demario Davis, pro football
On one hand, NFL linebacker Demario Davis had the “typical” life of an NFL player, working 12to 14-hour days during the season— lifting weights, watching film and preparing for games as a New York Jet (now a Cleveland Brown). On the other hand, there is nothing typical about Davis, who participates in Bible studies with players in the locker room, shares his faith with young athletes and mass audiences, and engages culture in the world of professional sports, which “isn’t used to seeing people with the light of Christ on them,” he says. At 27, Davis has led several teammates to Christ, has taught a teammate how to study the Bible and make disciples, and has hosted a camp that shares the gospel with children all summer long. “The gospel tells us to go and make disciples, so that’s why it’s so important,” Davis says. “It’s different sharing the gospel in New York versus the Bible Belt. There are many cultural differences, and the diversity is a thousand times more intense. I study my Word, pray faithfully and trust God with the rest. I believe the more we feed on God’s Word, the stronger our spirits become and the more sensitive we become to its voice.”
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John Luppo hails from a dysfunctional family in the Bronx. His dad was an alcoholic, and his older brother was only 30 when he died of a drug overdose. Luppo himself struggled with depression and hit drugs and booze hard. A successful Wall Street finance guy, Luppo blew thousands on clothes, homes and cars and in gambling and strip clubs. Eventually, he lost three properties and a ton of money. “I had an identity crisis and I looked up to bad guys,” says Luppo, now a managing director John Luppo, investment banking at Clearview Trading Advisors and and management executive manager for former New York Met and Yankee Darryl Strawberry. “My businesses failed and God allowed a lot of purging. I went through a refining fire. I came to Christ in 2010. If you have the victim mentality, you are going to stay a victim; if you become an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb, you will be an overcomer.” Luppo is also now ordained. He jokes about how he, at 5 feet, 4 inches, and Strawberry, at 6 feet, 6 inches, visit supermax security prisons to help inmates find their identity and purpose. He and Strawberry travel together and do evangelistic crusades. “Darryl actually led me to Christ, then took me to a TV show,” Luppo says. “My wife is a Christian TV producer, so I ended up marrying her 1 1/2 years later.” Strawberry, who Luppo says he “looked up to as a kid,” helped get him on the right 36 MinistryToday November // December 2016
Jen Painter Photography
‘I Looked Up to Bad Guys’
SHIELD YOURSELF FROM THE ENEMY’S FIERY DARTS
path in life, and he performed the Luppos’ wedding ceremony. Luppo is also an effective evangelist on Wall Street. “I lead a lot of people to Christ,” he says. Whether meeting with a CEO, sitting next to someone on a plane or walking among the homeless, he seeks direction from the Holy Spirit as to what to say and do. “Spiritual warfare is heavy in New York City,” Luppo says. “Darryl and I both teach that the devil comes to steal your identity so you don’t know who you are, to kill your purpose so you don’t know why you exist and to destroy your mission so you don’t know what to do. I tell everyone, ‘You’ve got to know who you are in Christ.’ Satan is going to tempt us. But when we know who we are in Christ, we can speak the Word and make the enemy flee.” C r e s t o n M a p e s is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who loves to visit New York City.
Juan and Deborah Joy Winans star as BeBe and CeCe Winans in ‘Born for This.’
Beyond the Big Apple
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Ten years in the making, the musical blends humor and drama to tell of BeBe’s life struggle between faith and fame. BeBe’s niece Deborah Joy Winans, who is Juan’s sister, stars as BeBe’s sister and performing partner, CeCe Winans. At one time, BeBe and CeCe were background vocalists on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s television show, The PTL Club. Later, Whitney Houston sang backup on the first record and toured with BeBe and CeCe. BeBe got the idea for the play a decade ago when talking on the phone with recording artist Roberta Flack. She asked BeBe when he was going to write a musical about his life and family. Five days later, he started the first draft. “When you’re a teenager, you don’t think your life is being recorded for others to learn from, or be healed by, or better yet to find strength through your fears and failures,” BeBe says. “Now I know that these were God’s plans for my life. We’re all born for a purpose. This musical celebrates the journey of finding it.” —Creston Mapes 38 MinistryToday November // December 2016
Greg Mooney/© Atlanta Photographers
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The reach of Every Nation Church New York congregants goes far beyond the lives profiled in this article. Pastor Ron Lewis is also the founding pastor and senior minister of a church in the Triangle area of North Carolina, King’s Park International Church, where Juan Winans is one of the worship directors. Winans, nephew of Grammy-winning recording artist BeBe Winans, began starring in fall 2015 in a live musical stage production called “Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story.”
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The THIN Blue Line
Kits Photography PhotoCredit
BY MARY D e MUTH
Cop Church Chattanooga empowers first responders to transform communities for Christ
different type of church meets Tuesday evening twice a month in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Comparing the church to other congregations, visitors will find one significant difference: At Cop Church Chattanooga, those who attend are all part of the law enforcement family. Cop Church is the culmination of the vision of Lead Pastors Jonathan and Meredith Parker. “Cop Church is a God thing,” Jonathan says on the congregation’s Facebook page. “The services are incredible, our families encourage one another, the kids receive amazing ministry, and it is an honor to serve the law enforcement community in this way! Every cop family needs to check us out!”
exactly how his profession and ministry would dovetail. “I asked God, ‘How do we discern this calling into ministry alongside my calling to criminal justice?’” he says. As they sought the Lord for direction, the vision for the church they were to plant became clearer. “If we couldn’t pastor how we thought we would, we could do the same exact
Recognizing a Dual Calling
© iStockphoto/videodet; XiXinXing PhotoCredit
In 2003, before Jonathan and Meredith had even met, they each sensed a ministry call and decided to study at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee. Meredith earned her Master of Arts in Christian Formation with an emphasis in Counseling in 2005, and Jonathan received his Master of Divinity in Ministry Leadership a year later. They met in seminary, graduated a year apart, married in 2006 and later had a daughter, Olivia. As they considered the way forward in ministry, the Parkers encountered several closed doors. Finally, since Jonathan had a criminal justice degree, the Chattanooga Police Department hired him in 2007. At that point, the couple “needed a steady income and health insurance,” Jonathan says. While Meredith followed a more traditional career path to become a counselor, Jonathan didn’t know ministrytodaymag.com
Cop Church Chattanooga Lead Pastors Jonathan and Meredith Parker with their daughter, Olivia
thing for law enforcement families,” Jonathan says. In October 2014, the Parkers announced they would be planting a church for law enforcement families with a family-oriented worship service. “God just swung the door wide open, helping us develop partnerships in the community,” he says. “The doors just opened wide, and He made everything work.” Along with serving the church, Jonathan is also now a school resource officer and adjunct training instructor. He is also founder and president of an organization November // December 2016 MinistryToday 43
Christian Radio, Retail Support Dallas Police During a peaceful, 1,000-strong Dallas rally July 7, a sniper opened fire, killing five police officers and injuring nine others. The day following, Dallas Police Chief David Brown reflected on the tragedy in his city. “Our profession is hurting,” Brown said. “Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken.” “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city,” he added. “All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.” In the aftermath, a local Christian radio station, 90.9 KCBI, encouraged listeners to download or pick up a “Share Hope for Law Enforcement” card. Family Christian Stores, a national chain that has locations in the Dallas area, partnered with KCBI to help distribute the cards to the community. “The purpose for the cards is not only to show how important local law enforcement is to local communities but also to encourage and uplift police officers—especially after the horrific acts committed against members of the Dallas Police Department earlier this month,” a press release stated. People who received a card were asked to write a note of thanks to a local law enforcement officer, then offer the card along with a paidfor meal, handshake or other means of encouragement. “This simple outreach will surely bless tons of police officers as they all go through this trying period of time for law enforcement all over the nation,” KCBI reported.—Mary DeMuth
44 MinistryToday November // December 2016
called Covered Law Enforcement (coveredlawenforcement.wordpress.com) and is on the national board of directors for the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (fcpo.org). With her counseling skills, Meredith seeks to meet the unique needs of the law enforcement family. “The spouses and children of law enforcement officers experience circumstances different from regular community members,” she says. “Sometimes they need to know that people know what they’re going through. I try to be there to guide them or refer them to people who can help.” “God has prepared us on both sides, on the call to ministry and to counseling people who are hurting,” she says. “The two callings work hand in hand.”
Caring for the Wounded
The ministry formed a core team, then launched Cop Church on Feb. 3, 2015. That first meeting, 136 people showed up. Jonathan preached from Mark 2, which tells of a group of people that couldn’t reach Jesus with their paralyzed friend because of the impossible crowds. Jonathan drew the parallel that the people of Cop Church are those who bring their wounded friend to Jesus. “The friends knew that the man was in desperate need of a healing encounter with Jesus, so they got creative,” he says. “They took the man on the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching, made a hole in the roof and lowered their friend on his mat until he was face to face with Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He healed the paralyzed man. The crowd left that day saying, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before!’” The vision for the church relates to the story in Mark’s Gospel: “We have other friends serving as first responders who are paralyzed by the stressful effects of their service. Their health is failing, their finances are troubled, their marriages are struggling, and many of their methods for coping only exacerbate the problems. Cop Church is the creative approach we are using to bring our friends to an encounter with Jesus, believing that He will honor our faith and minister healing to their lives. “And just like in the story from Mark 2, ministrytodaymag.com
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over and over we hear, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before!’”
Praying for a Shaking
Cop Church chose Tuesday evenings for services because some in law enforcement can’t make it to church Sunday and because some are committed to their home church but still need the safety and camaraderie that Cop Church provides. The church’s website, copchurch.com, serves as a gateway that welcomes law enforcement families. “When you visit Cop Church, you will be
welcomed not only by brothers and sisters in Christ but by brothers and sisters in ‘blue,’” it says. “We understand each other and want to create an atmosphere where you can encounter God and experience life-giving fellowship with others.” As lead pastors, the Parkers understand that the work of the church has a Domino effect in the community. “Part of our mission is to empower cops and their families to transform our community through the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Jonathan says. He hopes to disciple law enforcement
Nonprofit, Retired Cop Meet the Unique Needs of Police Officers Dec. 9, 2007, is a day Jake Skifstad will never forget—the day a gunman entered New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing two and injuring several others. Officers rushed to the scene, putting their lives on the line. “We quickly learned that they didn’t have the necessary gear that they needed to protect them against the threat they were facing,” Skifstad told KRDO. “There was nothing on the market that was designed specifically for the street cop.” Typically, line officers arrive at a situation like New Life’s before a SWAT team. But the standard vests street officers wear cannot withstand assault rifle attacks. To meet this need, Skifstad started Shield616, a nonprofit that designed a better vest and provides protective gear, through sponsorship, to officers in the field. Shield616 also provides a support system of people who pray daily for officers and their families. Those who want to encourage an officer “receive a magnet with their officer’s first name and agency,” according to shield616.org. “This will allow the sponsor to be praying specifically for the agency and their officer by first name. Shield616 will provide the local officer with a new vest package.” The full vest package costs $1,000 per officer. “We feel the atmosphere within the law enforcement community has changed due to the numerous events occurring around the country 46 MinistryToday November // December 2016
officers to reach many for Christ. “We are creating an army of urban missionaries to people who are marginalized,” he says. Acknowledging that police have received significant negative attention recently because of officer-involved shootings and public protests, the church hasn’t seen a lot of pushback. “We really haven’t had too much in the last year since the majority of the problems have surfaced,” Jonathan says. But in the beginning, Cop Church did face criticism from some media outlets, as
that shed only a negative light on law enforcement,” the site adds. “We are sensing that not only are officers Shield616 protects more open street cops with this and receptive necessary gear. to encouragement and prayer, they are in desperate need of it.” An author with a long record of public service has also dedicated himself to ministering to his fellow police officers. Jim McNeff worked for 27 years with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California (badge 145), where he retired as a lieutenant. Now based in Austin, Texas, McNeff says he heard from the Lord about this need. “While out on a bike ride, God reminded me that my computer was filled with files that could be used to illustrate biblical truth,” he recalls. He immediately starting compiling stories for a manuscript, and as a result, McNeff wrote The Spirit Behind Badge 145 and Justice Revealed. Both books connect biblical principles to McNeff’s stories of life on the force. He also launched badge145.com, where he blogs to encourage those in the trenches of police work. —Mary DeMuth ministrytodaymag.com
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“After serving in corrections and law enforcement for 17 years, what a blessing it must be to have a safe place for those of us of like minds to worship,” says Russell Lambert, who connected with Cop Church online. For years before starting the church, Jonathan had his own internal struggle. “God, I thought you called me to preach,” he prayed. “What are you doing through all this? And then he opened the door to Cop Church. We are in this cultural, political firestorm that is American policing. God has strategically placed us here to be a voice in the midst of all this. God knew the precise timing and way He wanted us to minister, and it’s been through the law enforcement community.”
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of a Lifetime
BY NATALIE GILLESPIE
How one of America’s best dentists ministers around the world through the power of God
oday Dr. Glenda Payas is an internationally recognized dentist, but it took some doing—both professionally and personally—to get there. Even as an active Christian, Payas lived in confusion and insecurity—until she experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit. “All the time, I was searching for that peace, for what was going to make my life at peace and happy,” Payas says. “I was very involved in church at the time, but I did not have a good biblical understanding of what it means to live a Spirit-filled life.” Burdened by a lack of confidence, she decided to go to college but did the expected thing for women at the time: She became a teacher. She loved science and excelled at math, so after graduating from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, she dutifully taught chemistry, physics and biology in the public school system in her native New Mexico. Throughout her 20s and into her early 30s, she advanced in her career but after a decade of teaching, she realized she didn’t feel fulfilled. Deep down, she knew education was not her calling. “I went into teaching because in my mind, it was a secure job that would let me have a good life, but I never liked teaching from my first year,” Payas says. “So I just kept searching.” Her search took her back to college. As a newlywed, she obtained three master’s degrees, in Natural Sciences, Guidance and Counseling, and Administration. The advanced degrees furthered her career in public education, but her soul still felt dry.
Battling the Fear of Failure
Payas and her husband, Brad, whom she married in 1972, attended a seminar hosted by Oral Roberts. What she experienced there forever changed her life. “Somewhere along the way, we got invited to a laymen’s seminar where Oral Roberts would bring in partners in ministry and hold three-day events to minister and then enlist (attendees) to help Oral Roberts University (ORU),” Payas says. “Harold Irwin spoke (on the Holy Spirit), and even though it was difficult for me, coming from an evangelical background, I would say I received the Holy Spirit.” Her search for career fulfillment continued as she grew spiritually. She looked into law, then medicine and finally decided she would like to be a dentist. “I am very good at working with my hands,” Payas says. “I always liked jewelry-making and pottery-throwing. Looking back on it, I did not have the self-worth to think I could be a doctor. But I thought being a dentist might be an option.” Then Payas discovered that Oral Roberts planned to open a school of dentistry at ORU. Payas traveled to Albuquerque for the prequalifying aptitude tests. When she received her scores, they were not perfect. She was afraid the scores were too low, and she gave up on her new dream. She didn’t even fill out the application for ORU’s dental school. However, her test scores were sent directly to the school, and an ORU recruiter soon called. “A young man said, ‘Hey, we got your scores, and they’re really great. We’d love for you to apply,’” Payas says. “So I filled out the application.” But when it came to the section on the forms where her bosses in the school system would need to write letters of recommendation, Payas was too afraid to ask. “My self-worth at that time was not who God says I am and where it should be,” Payas says. “I could not be vulnerable enough to ask my superintendent and my principal to fill out their review of my performance.” » November // December 2016 MinistryToday 53
She never sent the application. The following spring, an ORU recruiter called again. This time, Payas worked up the courage to ask for the recommendations. She hesitated again about sending the application, but her husband quickly ended her stalling. “The fear of failure for me was very real,” Payas says. “Close to the deadline, my very supportive husband finally said, ‘Glenda, either send it or stop talking about it.’ He never issued ultimatums like that, so I sent it.” ORU called her for an interview then accepted her into its Michael Cardone Senior School of Dentistry. She and Brad moved to Oklahoma, where he got a job with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and she started her dental studies in August 1982. Payas graduated in 1986, the same year ORU’s short-lived dental school closed. She says it was during her ORU years that the hand of God became evident in her life. “I tell you, it is amazing how God continues to mold us without us even recognizing who He is and how He is moving,” Payas says. “God really had His hand on me every step of the way. My mom died in my 30s, and I remembered her saying somewhere along the line that I should be a dentist. I didn’t know it then, but now I believe she had a prophetic word.”
Leading the Student Body
As a 35-year-old student joining a freshman class of mostly 22-year-olds, she expected to “sit quietly in the back” of her classrooms so as not to draw attention to herself. God had other plans. Her leadership skills quickly shone, and she was elected class president her first three years, then president of the dental school her senior year. “At the end of the first two-week period, we were having elections for student government and someone nominated me to be president of the class,” Payas says. “I started to say no, but I heard this voice within me say, ‘Don’t withdraw.’ So I didn’t, and I was elected.” She became student body president during the time the dental school closure was announced in 1985, and God used the skills she gained in her degrees in Administration and in Guidance and Counseling to help students of the 54 MinistryToday November // December 2016
“If you have healing in your hands through the power of God, you minister in ways that are more than just through your drill.”
school process the difficult news. “Being in that position of leadership, with the ability to be a bridge between the youth and the administration, was amazing,” Payas says. “I was able to help these younger kids understand this was in God’s plan and not the end of their life. I was the facilitator between the people in administration who took care of the details of getting students into other dental programs and the students who needed encouragement because there was a lot of pain and bitterness. It truly was amazing how God used all those skills I acquired when I thought I was just searching for peace.” Payas says her years at ORU not only taught her a high level of dentistry but also the ways of the Holy Spirit, how to recognize the voice of God and the principles of seedtime and harvest. “Those fundamental spiritual principles really molded me as a person between the ages of 35 and 40,” Payas says. “They gave me the foundation that allowed me to become the person I am now.”
Serving Around the World
The person she is today is a powerhouse. Recognized internationally for her technique, awards and certifications in restorative, cosmetic and general dentistry, Payas has established a thriving practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has traveled around the world, restoring smiles to the faces of “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40). After graduating from ORU, Payas
bought her first practice in Tulsa for a few thousand dollars. Today, Payas Dental Restoration of Tulsa (drpayas.com) is a million-dollar practice that merges the “art and science of dentistry to create beautiful smiles.” Payas remains dedicated to supporting the university. For more than 30 years, she chaired the ORU alumni board, and served on the board of regents and finally on the board of trustees until April of this year. She dedicated herself to learning all she could about her profession, acquiring some of the top dental certifications, including Master of the Academy of General Dentistry and Master of the Academy of Laser Dentistry. Among other awards and recognitions, the National Consumer Advisory Board named Dr. Payas one of “America’s Best Dentists,” and Dental Products Report, the industry’s leading product magazine, recognized her as one of the “Top 25 Women in Dentistry.” But her greatest achievement is bringing smiles to the faces of her patients, whether they drive to her Oklahoma practice or walk miles to get care in foreign clinics. “Over the years, I went on international missions to Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and other countries,” Payas says. “When I was on the board of regents, I went with Richard Roberts. He would take doctors and a dentist on his outreaches, and we would hold clinics. Now I have this wonderful dental practice God has blessed me with, and we have done a number of international missions. ministrytodaymag.com
I did three dental clinics in Jamaica.” Payas also held the position of lieutenant in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service serving the Indian Health Service—Claremore Indian Hospital in the Oklahoma City area. She also established a dental clinic in Benin City, Nigeria. “We shipped the dental chair and the X-ray machines and got it all through customs, and when it was all there, I took two members of my staff, and my husband and I went to Nigeria and installed the clinic and trained the team there,” she says.
Experiencing a Healing Touch
At the beginning of Payas’ practice, she says the Lord gave her Colossians 3:23 as her governing verse: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” “If you have healing in your hands through the power of God, you minister in ways that are more than just through your drill,” Payas says. “The laying on of hands is one of the things we’re supposed to do, so when you have a peace in your own being and you just touch people, you can minister in great ways.” Payas says the Lord leads her often to ask patients if she can pray for them. When they say yes, she asks Him to give her just the right words. “I greet them, then I minister and treat based on what I know from my Spiritbased life He tells me to do,” Payas says. “I pray, ‘How do I minister to this patient in the given amount of time I have?’ I ask each patient what is going on in their lives, and they tell me their stories. The key is to recognize whether I ask them if they need prayer or just give them a compassionate response. I proceed based on hearing the voice of God.” In 2006, it was Payas herself who needed a healing touch. On a mission trip to Nigeria, she got on a hotel elevator with other doctors on the mission team. The elevator plunged to the basement, crashing into the floor and crushing both of Payas’ knees. She spent the next week in an African hospital, waiting to be flown home. “When the elevator crashed, I couldn’t move,” Payas says. “I had all these Spiritfilled doctors around me, and they pulled me out and laid me on the floor of the basement in that hotel. We didn’t know what was wrong because there was nothing ministrytodaymag.com
Dr. Payas and her assistant care for a patient while on a medical mission in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa.
visible. They found a very old gurney and took me to a hospital. There were no ambulances in Nigeria. A Nigerian physician who had been trained in Switzerland put two casts on my legs from my hips to my ankles. I was there for a week until the plane that dropped us off came back to take us back to Tulsa.” Payas says an ORU-trained physician did orthopedic work on both knees, keeping her out of her practice for four months. “During that time, God provided in a whole new way,” Payas says. “Other dentists came and helped keep my office open and income coming in. And I am walking today because of those (orthopedic) procedures and His healing.”
Preparing for a New Season
Since that life-changing experience, Payas says she realizes God is preparing her for a new season. After 30 years in dentistry and 34 years serving ORU, she is anticipating what God has in store for her and her husband next. “I am healthy, I have survived pretty catastrophic life challenges, and I am at the stage of asking, ‘What is next?’” Payas says. “We have been blessed quite amazingly with our financial position, and I know we want to make some type of investment in the kingdom, really impacting the world, maybe not going myself, but sending others through a ministry the Lord puts on our heart. “I see my life in three seasons, and we are entering the third season. Being able
to let go is the challenge. It was hard to let go of teaching because it was secure even though it wasn’t what I enjoyed. I love dentistry, but when He calls me to let go, I know He will grow me into something else.” Payas remains passionate about people, having invested in students’ lives for three decades by serving and supporting ORU. Today she loves to speak to women, encouraging them not to fear what God has in store for them, to recognize their immense worth in His eyes and to prepare themselves to do His work for His glory. “What a great worldwide cause it is to invest your life into a university that is taking young people and teaching them how to live godly lives and minister in their workplaces, to spend their lives really passionately about taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a hurting world and bringing healing to them in whatever way,” Payas says. “Mine just happens to be dentistry. It’s been a passion for me. Especially as a woman to women, a real thrust in my dialogue is that whatever you are doing now, if that is not what you are passionate about, figure out what is. That passion was given by God, and I encourage you to seek what God wants you to do no matter what your age.” N a t a l i e G i l l e s p i e is an author, editor and journalist who has been contributing to Charisma Media publications for more than 20 years. She also speaks nationally on topics such as stepfamilies and adoption. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. November // December 2016 MinistryToday 55
Halftime Life How to move past mid-life questions toward a better second half BY CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON
iscontent can be a positive driving force, especially in mid-life. As the professional or pastor considers his level of achievement, there often arises a season of “smoldering discontent,” says Jeff Spadafora, director of global coaching services and product development at Halftime Institute. Although Dean Niewolny had hundreds of people reporting to him in his financial services career, he was one who felt that discontent stirring in his soul. In Chicago in 2006, after reading—for the third time—Halftime: Moving From Success to Significance, Bob Buford’s best-selling book now in its 20th edition, Niewolny knew there must be more to life than what he was experiencing. “As I was sitting on the 40th floor of my office building, the Mercantile Exchange building, (I was) looking out the window thinking I should be the happiest person in the world,” Niewolny says. “I have a beautiful wife, two great kids, a $100 million business, four homes, a little airplane, all the stuff that you think would make you happy—and I was empty. I looked out the window and said, ‘God, there has to be more to life than this. There just has to be.’”
Adopting God’s Economy
Niewolny had become a Christian after he started attending Willow Creek Community Church, but he was beginning to feel he wanted more in life. “I want to get on God’s economy, not the world’s economy,” he says. “I really felt the Lord say to me—it wasn’t an audible voice—‘Dean, it’s time for you to begin simplifying your life. I have other plans for you.’ I had no idea what that meant, but now I do.” While Niewolny was well-paid as a business executive, the message of Halftime is not just for those in the upper echelons of their profession. “You do not have to be wealthy to enjoy a productive and significant second half,” Buford writes in Halftime. “Halftime is not about money; it is about responding to your inner voice.” Niewolny’s experience was similar to others who 56 MinistryToday November // December 2016
go through the Halftime program at the Irving, Texasbased institute that carries the message in Buford’s Halftime, which has been lauded by leaders such as Jim Collins, Bill Hybels and Max Lucado. Buford, who led Buford Television, a network of cable systems, until its sale in 1999, encourages individuals moving into the second stage of life to re-evaluate their lives, specifically to take stock, consider their beliefs, find their “one thing,” find the center and stay there, and stay in the game but adjust the plan. “We all want to make a difference and leave some footprints behind that showed we were here, right?” Buford says. “We are tricked into believing that if we only make enough money and climb the ladder of success, that it will satisfy us.” But the founder of Halftime Institute, knows that kind of life is just not enough to satisfy. “You wake up one day and you still have this gnawing feeling in your soul that you can and should be doing more,” Buford says. “And it doesn’t matter what you have already accomplished or in what form or business or industry it was.” Buford believes the Halftime message that rings true with so many in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds has become his legacy. His mentor, Peter Drucker—hailed by Business Week as “the man who invented management”—predicted that “most people these days work at jobs that are not physically taxing,” Buford says. “We don’t physically break down because we are picking crops or digging ditches.” With so many jobs out of the realm of physical labor, Drucker was proved right. “We all keep learning and growing in our jobs so that we can keep up,” Buford says. “Then, one day, it occurs to us that we are in our second half and that there is not unlimited time to leave a legacy, or at least the one that is our specific legacy we were intended to leave. We still have plenty of energy and ability and knowledge to step out and do whatever we are called to do next.” » ministrytodaymag.com
“You wake up one day and you still have this gnawing feeling in your soul that you can and should be doing more. And it doesn’t matter what you have already accomplished or in what form or business or industry it was.”—Bob Buford
Founder Bob Buford, left, and CEO Dean Niewolny lead the Halftime Institute.
“Nothing is wasted. Your God-given gifts and talents may be used for one purpose in one season and then for another purpose in another season.”—Bob Buford Building Into Others
Many leaders get a wake-up call in mid-life. Such was the case for Niewolny. After attending a teacher’s funeral and seeing hundreds of kids there, he wondered how she had such an impact. He asked himself: “What legacy am I leaving?” “Many leave a legacy that is focused on themselves, and that was the path I was on,” Niewolny says. “I really thought, Wow, if I died today, someone could say, ‘He was a pretty successful market manager in the financial services industry. He made a fair amount of money for himself. He had homes for himself and toys.’ But that’s not really a legacy. I wasn’t impacting others. Jesus talks about relationships and how you build into others. To me, legacy is all about the footprint and the impact that you leave on this world as you touch others.” Gift company executive Dick Gygi is one example of a leader aiming to leave that kind of legacy. During his career, Gygi led the sale of his company, CPS Corporation, to American Greetings and merged CPS with Plusmark to form the largest gift-wrap manufacturing company in the world. After attending a Halftime Summit, Gygi began looking for ways to make his second half of life even better than the first. Along with coaching and consulting, he provides opportunities for marketplace leaders to discover their calling through missions. He co-founded ThriftSmart, which claims to have “the most effective thrift store model on the planet.” ThriftSmart has 58 MinistryToday November // December 2016
also supported Sew For Hope, an organization that teaches refugees in the Nashville, Tennessee, area how to sew. Buford points out that women as well as men relate to the Halftime message. “We are now finding that Halftime resonates with both men and women equally,” Buford says. “Even women who have chosen to care for their families and then transition into the workforce (for the first time or again) can find themselves at this critical juncture in life. Halftime is not really a gender issue as much as it is a ‘life circumstance’ issue.” Fortune 500 COO Diane Paddison suffered a divorce after 11 years of marriage. “Going through a divorce for me was one of the first major failures I’d ever had, and for an achiever, that causes you pain alone, that you just totally failed at something,” she says on a Halftime video. When her company went through a transition period and changes meant that working there didn’t mesh with her family priorities, she decided to take some time out and went to Halftime. Eventually, she headed in a different direction, launching 4Word (4wordwomen.org), a ministry to connect, lead and support women to reach their God-given potential, and wrote the book Work, Love, Pray to provide wisdom to young professional Christian women.
Finding New Purpose
For everyone, aging necessitates a change in life’s priorities.
“When we are younger, our priorities are different,” Buford says. “We’re thinking about starting a family, building a career, getting educated and so on. But our calling can show up in many different forms throughout our lives. The truth is, nothing is wasted. Your God-given gifts and talents may be used for one purpose in one season and then for another purpose in another season.” Following Niewolny’s lucrative career with Wells Fargo Advisors, UBS and Merrill Lynch, God invited him into the unexpected rather than to the Southern California lifestyle he and his wife, Lisa, had planned. He eventually became CEO at Halftime Institute. Although Niewolny is far from alone in making such a shift, most people who get involved with Halftime choose to maintain their current career but make small, significant adjustments in their approach to life. “Seventy percent of folks who go through Halftime stay right where they’re at in the marketplace in the job they’re in, but when you’re thinking of legacy, thinking of living a second half of significance, it’s all about changing your focus from inward to outward,” Niewolny says. “And legacy in the marketplace setting, in my opinion, is (asking), ‘How can I build into those who I have influence over or relationships with so I could maybe, in some small way, make their lives better, or have some sort of impact for God’s kingdom and help guide them toward that?” Often, an individual’s legacy is right in front of them. “They just maybe need to do a 10-degree course correction and maybe change a little bit of their approach every day to how they go about their work life,” Niewolny says. For those who follow Christ, the Halftime message has particular meaning. “I believe that it has resonated with Christians because of a simple truth: God is never finished with us,” Buford says. “We always have more to do for Him, and we need to be sure that we are following His guidance on what the ‘more’ is and how to go about it.” C h r i s t i n e D . J o h n s o n is editor of Ministry Today magazine at Charisma Media. Offer your feedback by email at email@example.com. ministrytodaymag.com
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MARKETPLACE MINISTRY FLAGLINE
Why I decided to leave our family business for the ministry
BY CHRIS PATTON
s the oldest of three sons, I was always the one expected to take over the family business. It was all I knew. It was all I had ever pictured as my future, but now I was walking away. After six intense months of praying as well as reading and studying my Bible, I was certain I had to make a significant change in the direction of my life. All of my life, I had been working toward taking over my family’s business, an automobile dealership group in Georgia. I planned to expand it and take it to new heights! I had visions of grandeur, and everything looked like it was headed that way. But when I began spending time in God’s Word, I realized everything I wanted and worked for was only temporal. None of it would really matter in 1,000 years. I realized I was only giving God the Christian-requisite one day per week—actually just Sunday morning—and an occasional Wednesday evening. The rest of my time was spent trying to juggle my job in the car business and my family at home. Even when I added daily quiet times, God was still not the central focus of my life. I knew this was not the way He wanted it! I began searching for answers. If God wanted all of me, what would that look like? I had heard of people getting “called” into full-time ministry, but I did not feel that call. I knew of 60 MinistryToday November // December 2016
Preparing for Judgment Day
I began reading all I could find on running a Christian business. Unfortunately, there were not many books that laid out a clear path for me to follow. There were plenty of business books written by Christians, but for the most part, these discussed how to run a moral and ministrytodaymag.com
© iStockphoto/Askold Romanov
others called to the mission field, but I did not feel that either. What exactly was God asking me to do? What was I created to do? To tell the truth, I did not have a clue! I only knew I was not comfortable with the status quo and had to change it. I sat down with my father and explained that I was leaving the business. Because I was already in a significant leadership position within the company, I told him I did not want to resign effective immediately. I wanted him to have time to replace me and make any other necessary arrangements. This would likely involve downsizing the business and, realistically, could take a couple of years. I did not feel God calling me to leave right away, only to let go and be prepared to walk away. I had no idea where I was going or when. I only knew I wanted to be spending more of my time working for God—whatever that entailed. Over a period of 18 months, I spent many hours reading and studying the Bible. I listened to mentors and looked for any hint of a direction from God on what I was to do or where I was to go. I was focused on hearing from Him. The shock of my life came when I suddenly realized through my studies that God was actually the owner of our family business. I guess I knew all along that He owns everything, but I had never really stopped to apply that idea specifically to our business. I never imagined that I had been working for Him all this time! Through a series of events, God showed me that He had actually placed me there as steward of this business for a time. I was not to leave this business for ministry elsewhere, but I was instead to begin carrying out ministry through the business! I had no real idea what that would look like, but I trusted He would show me.
we had run our business. God was giving me a clear picture of what ministry through business was to look like—in the end.
Maximizing Spiritual Impact
“The first major action we took was to change our sales philosophy.” God-honoring business. Very few books taught how to run a business with a specific, eternal purpose. I needed a path to follow. I needed to understand what exactly God expected from me and in the results of this business. The primary return sought by typical business owners is profit. But as I thought about God’s business, I realized He already had all the money, and I mean all of it. He owns everything! As I dug deeper to figure out what kind of return He would seek, I could only come up with one kind—souls. He wants the soul of every person to come to Him in relationship for eternity. That is the return He seeks! As this idea began to form in my mind, God gave me a picture that clarified everything for me. It was one I would never forget. I had read through Paul’s description of judgment day in 1 Corinthians 3. Consider verses 10-15: “According to the grace of God which has been given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, but another builds on it. Now let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no ministrytodaymag.com
one can lay another foundation than that which was laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, each one’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If anyone’s work which he has built on the foundation endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire.” As I began trying to apply this lesson to our business, I pictured the 19 acres, four buildings and hundreds of cars that made up our campus. I imagined all of our business assets being tested by God’s fire. Immediately I realized that nothing would be left. All of it would burn, leaving nothing but 19 acres of scorched earth. I could envision this black earth. That is when I saw them—hundreds, maybe thousands, of silhouettes dotting the landscape where our business had stood. I suddenly realized these silhouettes represented the souls of the people we had impacted for eternity because of the way
At that point in time, I knew I had my new job description. It was short and to the point, only two words: “Add silhouettes.” My job, from that moment forward, was to operate the business in such a way as to maximize the number of people impacted for eternity because they somehow came into contact with our business. These people might be employees, customers or just members of the community. Whatever the case, we would point them to God by the way we operated our business! As this vision settled deep in my core, the ideas began to flow. All I had read and would continue to read contributed to this flow of ideas. These ideas included various ways we could minister to employees and their families, methods we could use to sow seeds with our customers and opportunities to impact members of our community. I was so excited I hardly knew where to start! The first action I took was to request another meeting with my father to see if he would allow me to stay with the business and pursue this new vision. After describing all I had in mind, we had a great discussion. He fully supported the vision, and I cannot thank him enough for that! It has been more than 10 years since that time, and a lot has happened. While I thought we could implement many of the ministry ideas all at once, I quickly found out that it would be a fairly slow process. One at a time, we would add a process or modify a policy in line with our new vision. We were not always successful with our efforts, but we were more often than not. The first major action we took was to change our sales philosophy from that of a traditional, negotiating dealer to that of a negotiation-free selling system. We removed the sales commissions that typically pit salesperson against customer and replaced them with salary and production bonuses. We posted all prices on our vehicles and removed all of the “back-and-forth” games so many customers hate about our industry. Although some believe this was purely a marketing move, we actually came to this decision as a result of applying Scripture to November // December 2016 MinistryToday 61
Chris Patton leads a devotional time with his sales department.
“I did not have to leave the marketplace to carry out Jesus’ command to go and make disciples.” the business. Several times in Proverbs, it is mentioned that God hates the practice of “unequal weights and measures.” This refers to sales practices that determine the price of products based on the customer’s age, race, education and so forth. The weaker the customer, the higher the price. Our new system determines pricing based on factors relating to the products, not the strength or weakness of the customer. Our pricing is set ahead of time and is heavily discounted. Regardless of a customer’s ability, he will always pay the same as another for the same vehicle. While this transition was very difficult in an industry known for opposite tactics, we have been doing business this way for more than 10 years now and are seeing the benefits.
Making Disciples in Business
Another significant change we made directly impacts our employees. We contracted with Corporate Chaplains of America for ongoing chaplain services. We have one chaplain assigned to us who is available to every employee 24/7 62 MinistryToday November // December 2016
and offers services such as performing weddings or funerals and outside counseling. He visits our store locations and spends roughly two days making contact with each employee every week. This chaplain also leads Bible studies on those days, one at breakfast and one at lunch, and we provide the food. These studies are completely voluntary for the employees, and about 25-30 percent of our employees attend on a regular basis. The topics range from finances, marriage and parenting to handling conflict, personal development and prayer. This is only one of our many ministry efforts. Truly, I did not have to walk away from our family business to begin ministering. I did not have to leave the marketplace to carry out Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. Business and faith should not have to remain separate! Just as I discovered, Christian businesspeople who are committed to honoring God will begin to understand how to leverage their business or job for eternal impact as they begin to pray for direction. They might not immediately see the
full potential of this new view, but God will show it to the one who is seeking. He wants more souls to come to Him in personal relationship, and churches simply cannot reach all of those who never attend. On the other hand, the Christian businessperson has the opportunity to impact those who may never enter a church. He can have more influence on these lives than the pastor of a church ever will. He can bring God to them in a real and powerful way. Marketplace Christians must acknowledge God’s ownership of their business or job and see what He can and will do with it! The believer who adopts God’s job description for his business will not regret it, I promise! C h r i s P a t t o n is president and CEO of the Mike Patton Auto Family in LaGrange, Georgia, a three-dealership group with multiple vehicle franchises. Along with his brother and business partner, Brian, he is a third-generation owner of the family business. Patton also speaks on faith and business topics and blogs at christianfaithatwork.com. ministrytodaymag.com
MINISTRY LIFE BY THOM S. RAINER
Dealing With the Monday Blues 7 ways to cope on the toughest day of the week
sermons. Some are considering quitting. I know. I “resigned” about 25 times in the last church I served as pastor. May I offer some suggestions for dealing with the Monday blues? This counsel is actually the aggregation of conversations I’ve had with pastors much wiser than I. Here are seven of those suggestions: 1) Pray. Take an hour to have a conversation with God. Get away from the office and go to a quiet place. Focus on those areas where you can praise and thank God. 2) Remember that you are involved in spiritual warfare. Some of the blues might come from the enemy. Fight the adversary with the Word of God and with prayer. 3) Don’t get obsessed with one week of numbers. Budgets and attendance can have wild fluctuations. Don’t base your worth on nickels and noses. Use numbers in a 64 MinistryToday November // December 2016
godly strategic way, but don’t let them control you week by week. 4) Pray for those who have been negative to you. Christ did indeed tell us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:42-44). While it might be an overstatement to call a critical church member an enemy, we can still love and pray for those who have been negative to us. 5) Stay healthy. Our physical condition affects our emotions. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Treat your body as the gift from God that it truly is. 6) Understand the slow nature of leading change in an established church. Major changes rarely happen in a short period. There will always be resistance to some change. Don’t get caught up in the weekly ebbs and flows. Keep a long-term perspective. 7) Find ways to celebrate and to express your love to the congregation. Write some notes of gratitude. Instead of sulking in the Monday morning doldrums, find ways to express thanksgiving to others. Here is a blog post by Sam Rainer where he expressed his love to his church (samrainer.com/2016/08/ten-thingsi-love-about-west-bradenton/). It was posted on a Monday. Serving as pastor can be an incredibly difficult job. Indeed, the only way one can thrive as a pastor is to have a secure call to the vocation. But having a call does not mean you won’t experience tough days. And many of those tough days are Mondays. This article was originally published at thomrainer.com on Sept. 12, 2016. T h o m S . R a i n e r serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife, Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art and Jess; and 10 grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter (@thomrainer) and at facebook.com/thom.s.rainer. ministrytodaymag.com
t can be the toughest day of the week for pastors. They have preached with passion and conviction. They have prayed for lives to be impacted. They have worked 15 hours Sunday. Some have taken the barbs from critics. Others have self-doubt about their
STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) Statement required by the act of August 12, 1970, section 3685, Title 39, United States Code, showing ownership, management and circulation of Ministry Today, publication number 08915725. Published bi-monthly (6 times per year) at 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Annual subscription price: $24.97. The names and addresses of the publisher and editor are: Publisher, Dr. Steve Greene, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868; Editor, Christine D. Johnson, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868; Managing Editor, Shawn A. Akers, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 327464868. The owner is Plus Communications, Inc./DBA CHARISMA MEDIA, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of stock are Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746 and Joy Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. The known bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities are: none. Total Number of Copies printed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 22,283; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,420; Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 1) Paid/Requested OutsideCounty Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 12,385; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 11,040. 2) Paid InCounty Subscriptions: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Sales through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 1,245; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 3,261. 4) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 13,630; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 14,301. Free Distribution by Mail: 1) Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 5,303; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 6,189. 2) InCounty as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 4) Free Distribution Outside the Mail: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 254; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 450. Total Free Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 5,557; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 6,639. Total Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 19,187; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 20,940. Copies not Distributed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 3,096 number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 1,480. Total: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 22,283; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,420. * I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. *Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 71.0%; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 68.3%. Stephen Strang, owner Joy Strang, owner
P L A T F O R M
BY DR. STEVE GREENE
Come and Remain
Platform development hinges upon the necessity to attract and retain
hotographers know a snapshot is meaningful only to the people in the picture. A photograph is important to everyone who sees it. We scroll through Facebook and Instagram to see snapshots of lives lived by people we know. Social media is rooted in the appearance of relationships. LinkedIn even labels our clicks as a connection. It seems the more I am “connected” with people I rarely, if ever, see or speak with, the less connected I feel to the people seated across the table from me. Social connections seem to lack meaning. The people we are with at the moment are surely more important. Sometimes it just doesn’t look that way. Ineffective platforms are designed to connect with unknown people who have similar known needs. Platform developers often confuse attendance with relationships. Ideally, a platform is built around the delivery of solutions to a felt need. Compelling content is developed and delivered with heavy frequency through sources that the target audience prefers. A platform might include a blog, book or email campaign. This magazine is a platform. A platform could also be built on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. The platform is that place where we show up every day and deliver a message of hope. Ministry Today online is available with fresh content seven days a week. Notice, a platform is not a place where we show up when we feel like it and deliver a message meant to enlighten all things to all people. The interest level of an audience is measured by the degree to which the message addresses a felt need. A strong message has a certain drawing power. Words tend to spread as words do when the topic and content are meaningful. Marketing becomes measurably more effective when word-of-mouth or keystroke occurs within a target audience, or through the latest social media gathering. Even the most powerful marketing plan will fail to catalyze poor content. Audience interest is earned through compelling content. Words matter most. We use words to attract an audience to our platform. Sure, we might throw in a picture or illustration to add a little gusto to the content, but our words must do the heavy lifting. We gather our best words and form an attraction magnet. We tell stories. We share testimonials. We don’t need more words or pictures in order to be drawn to
the message, “I was blind, but now I see.” I believe this message would be compelling on any platform. It works as a Tweet or Facebook post. It works in a book or on a radio or television message. Media does little more than distribute a message. The labor of language for marketing is to attract and retain. We must continue to serve an audience with reminders about why the platform is useful for daily visits. Church marketing must attract and retain. The message strategy for any ministry should be to develop content that attracts and retains an audience in search of a solution to a felt need. Much of the work in the kingdom of God is initiated by the drawing power of the Holy Spirit. There’s a still, small voice that echoes in our spirit saying, “Come.” I don’t always know where I’m headed when I answer the call to come, but I know whom I follow. The one-word command to “come” is powerful copy writing. No other words are necessary. Less is more when faith is involved. Pictures, bells and whistles are not necessary. In fact, affectations hinder the call to come. Throughout my years in ministry, I’ve been amazed that any sermon or message can draw men unto the Lord. It’s only the Holy Spirit who draws us to Jesus. I think I’ve preached a few stinkers that only the Holy Spirit could rescue. The need we have to draw near to Him cannot be satisfied in any other way. When we consider the retention component of a spiritual platform, we must hear the words Jesus spoke to His disciples: “As the Father loved Me, I also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, even as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (John 15:9-10). Jesus repeats the word “remain” throughout His analogy of the vine and the branches. He exhorts His disciples to remain with significant repetition of the word. In the life of every Christian, the drawing to remain near the cross is repeated by the Holy Spirit. Come and remain. Though now we see darkly, we have more than a snapshot of eternity. We cry out, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
66 MinistryToday November // December 2016
D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is publisher and executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. ministrytodaymag.com
“Audience interest is earned through compelling content. Words matter most.”
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