[ADVANCE] : Here and Now

I’m indebted to any leader both past and present that have sown words of life, counsel and direction into my leadership journey.  There are moments where I don’t know what to do with a dream birthed inside me, yet it’s the godly counsel of those around me that continue to shape how a dream became reality.

As the seasons barrel forward, I continue to look to the next generation and the call that God has placed on their lives whether they realize it or not. I believe there are God size dreams and visions in the hearts and minds of 20 and 30 somethings right here in North America.  I see the Kingdom of God advancing in many ways and I continue to get a picture of what Heaven will be like.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb.” – Revelations 7:9,10 (NIV)

If heaven is going to be slam packed, beyond what the eyes can see with people from every tribe, tongue and nation, we have an unprecedentated opportunity in the HERE and NOW in our cities here in North America.  Jesus even prayed,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (NIV)

I firmly believe that we live in the most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural cities in the World and Christ intended Heaven’s reality to exist in the Here and Now on Earth.  If God has put something in your heart about lost souls in your city or somewhere else, I encourage you to join the conversation as we gather in Orlando to move beyond visions and dreams but walking out the Great Commission to advance the Church of Jesus in the Here and Now.

[LEADERSHIP] : For Keeps

On reflection of the small group I led this semester at Clover Hill AG, I wanted to share some thoughts on common challenges I’ve heard from other group leaders over the years.  By no means are these thoughts perfection and definitely not the ONLY way to do groups, just some reflection.

Challenge 1 | Lack of Commitment

Answer: Keep it Small

The larger you get, the easier it becomes for attendees to miss a group meeting and it not be that big of a deal.  Our group this semester was 5 deep.  We started together, chose to keep it at 5 for the 12-week semester and committed to being at group.  Rain or shine, snow storm or whatever, we were there.  If Jesus led 12, and He was Jesus, I’m guessing I shouldn’t try to do more than that so I can stay on the effective train.  You may touch dozens, maybe even hundreds or thousands, but how many are you truly discipling?  Realistically, I felt good with 4 others.

Challenge 2 | Lack of Momentum

Answer: Keep it Fresh

If things seem stale, I encourage your group to take a break this next semester and have your participants try others groups.  You have a God given design and destiny and so do the people under your care.  Use the Growth Track to help them find that identity and run with that call. Maybe it’s time for them to launch a group, ministry, or something else.  Your relationships remain in tact if they were formed well, but stale things need to be thrown out!

Challenge 3 | Lack of Interest

Answer: Keep it Fun

Relationships are at the core of our Faith.  Our relationship with Christ, His Church, and everyone else.  Relationships will drive the success of your group, not your teaching, study or anything else.  Groups exist to create another means through which we can connect one on one with each other OUTSIDE of group time.

As a group, we’ve laughed a lot.  There are times where we’ve come legitimately prepared to discuss Scripture, but we divert because of a conversation.  That’s ok.  The flexiblity allows for interest to stir conversation toward real life issues.  That keeps it interesting.  That keeps it fun.

Challenge 4 | Lack of Genuiness

Answer: Keep it Real

There’s no other way to say it.  Your group is as real as you’re willing to be.  Lead by example.  It may require you to remove a mask first and be vulnerable, but I’ve found the realness stirs realness in others.  If others stiff arm being real, it’ll only be a matter of time before they remove themselves from the group.

Having said that, I led the charge and shared my story.  THAT was not easy, but very freeing.

You’re the leader.  You set the tone, the direction, and the overall pulse of the group.  Authenticity will crush the lack of genuiness, and we are a Church that are committed to keeping it real!

Challenge 5 | Lack of Opportunity

Answer: Keep it Moving

Perhaps it’s time for you to step to the plate.  We lauched our group with 5 people.  Lord willing, this group will become 2 groups next semester adding 2-3 more people.  These guys are capable, and I want to fuel their opportunity as we send them out in two’s.  We will teach you everything needed to be a successful group leader, coach you and make sure you are positioned for success.  You are a key part of the Church.  It’s time!

True Confessions of an Associate Pastor : KCA, Toronto

I’ve been reflecting a whole lot on the effectiveness of my leadership lately.  Truth be known, I’ve done some things right and a lot of things wrong. Leadership really is a journey.  So many experiences … too many to mention.

A few weeks ago, I attended a pastors conference where Mark Batterson shared about the debt he owed to those that helped pave the way for him.  As I listened to him, I got out my phone and began to message both friends and Pastors that have shaped the leader I am today.

If you know me, you already know my parents and grandparents are spiritual heavyweights in my eyes.  They’ve put the wind in my sails, and have been my greatest encouragers on this trek.

172944905_640Pastors such as K.C. Chacko and James Abraham.  These men taught me how to pray, properly read the Bible and pastor people.  I’m indebted to the both of you.

Godly Youth Directors like Sam Abraham, Rajoo Joseph and Martin Thomas.  These guys gave me a chance.  They showed me the ropes.  I’m indebted to you and your families.

Elders such as Sam Cherian, Varghese John and Elias Joseph.  These men of God help guide the church in uncharted waters.  I’m indebted to you.

For nearly a decade, I sat under the leadership of these men and families, who loved the Lord and gave me a chance.  They led.  I followed.  I was taught how to hear from God and was also given the opportunity to serve in the ministry.  I did things right, I did a lot of things wrong yet these men of God are the reason why I’m the leader I am today.

Give honor where honor is due.

To my home church in Toronto, Kerala Christian Assembly … because of your impact on me, you are also credited with the over 700 recorded salvations over the last two years at Clover Hill Assembly of God.  You are a part of the 200+ water baptisms over the past two years. It’s been over 10 years since the elders and Pastors of KCA laid hands on me, and released me.  KCA, I’m indebted to you.

I’m here to serve your children and grandchildren as others have served me.  The time is now for the next generation of Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, Prophets and Apostles to be trained under godly leadership, as I was trained.  My question to you, is how we can partner together to see God use these young men and women to advance His Gospel?

God is with us.  Let’s continue to advance the Gospel and grow the Kingdom both numerically and in spiritual depth.  Every gathering has its strength.  Together, we are unstoppable and we will see the Gospel forcefully advance.

In Christ,

shaju