“A shift in the thinking and actions of citizens is more vital than a shift in the thinking and actions of institutions and formal leaders.”
taken from Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block
I read Community several months ago and have been thinking through the implications of its content ever since. This particular quote has generated a lot of pondering and wrestling in my head.
As a youth minister, there are things I want to see changed or focused on within the context of the congregation within which I work. There are attitudes that need adjusting, focuses that need fine-tuned, understanding that needs broadened, lessons that need learned, and apathy that needs shaken. There are even changes that need to happen, but can only happen when there is a shift in the culture. And changing a church culture is no easy task.
As Block points out the best (only?) way to change a culture is to shift the thinking and actions of the people in the community you want to change. What community culture do you want to see shifted?
- A Sunday School class.
- The youth ministry.
- Your volunteer team.
- Staff dynamics.
- Church leadership.
- Awana group.
- Your small group.
- Parents of your students.
- Your family.
Changing any of these communities will take effort and time. If you are a leader of the community, you have a vital role in helping to shift the actions and thinking of the people within the community. You need to be intentional about changing your thinking, actions, and language. Since you want to see the changes, you have already made the mental shift. You might have even made a shift in how you plan, organize or promote things in order to show the shift. But the most important step (and one that gets forgotten by many leaders) is to verbalize and share your thinking on the shift.
Do you need to change how you talk about a topic? It could be as simple as changing the way you promote the Sunday School class. For example, if you want to shift the class to be more about discipleship than fellowship you will need to stop talking about how much “fun” class is and start using phrases that reflect the depth of the studies.
Do you want church to be less about attendance on Sunday and more about living a life for Christ every day? If you are a leader, you need to help the congregation shift their thinking from the one to the other. How can you help people see the Christian life as more than a checklist? A few possibilities include: speaking about the shift from up-front, changing the way you evaluate and discuss the ministry of the church, or spending time sharing the need for the shift with a few “key” people who can help you champion the changes.
What would you add to this conversation? What have you learned about changing culture?
I Am Second by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett hits on something everyone struggles with. Every story in the book, and it is full of them, is about someone’s struggle with letting God be first in their life. Every human being wants to know they can be different, that they can be better. This book provides some encouragement that it is possible – by putting yourself second.
One great aspect of this book is that it talks about drug addicts, marital unfaithfulness, absent parents, popularity and so much more. You will connect with the stories and be drawn into the lives of the people who are opening up to share their change. But even beyond the book, you will find links to other stories and videos on their website (with more being added).
If you work in a local church setting, this book is a great resource. It contains stories that are great for illustrations. You can direct people to specific stories that relate to something in their life. You can draw from the wealth of experience during a conversation or from a teaching role. You will find it relates with people you know. And you will find that it will change your thoughts and you will be affected by the openness and hope found within its pages.
The subtitle says it all: Real Stories. Changing Lives.
**I reviewed this book as part of the BookSneeze review program**
My advice (rating) – borrow from a friend (3 out of 5)
In less than a month (March 2), I’ll be heading to Louisville, KY to join 3,000 other youth workers for the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. This year, I am going to be taking 4 other youth workers from my congregation. I’m pumped about sharing the experience with them, just hope they aren’t too overwhelmed.
The theme this year is “breathe” and I know a lot of youth workers who could use a chance to exhale a little. Maybe you’re one of those people who just need a place to breathe and refresh. If so, this is the place you need to be. Instead of me sharing why I’m looking forward to this conference, let me just quote/link to my post-conference post from last year. It pretty well sums up why I am going back for the third straight year.
As you can see, the reason I went back to SYMC this year (and the reason I’ll go back next year) is that the conference is more than 5 day event.
- SYMC is a spark plug for your ministry.
- SYMC is a collection of listening ears.
- SYMC is love and support
- SYMC is genuine.
- SYMC is “what you see is what you get.”
- SYMC is a family.
- SYMC is a set of shoulders to stand on.
- SYMC is a safety net to prevent huge falls.
- SYMC is a smiling face.
- SYMC is a place to rest.
- SYMC is a place to recharge.
Here is the entire post – SYMC 2011 post-conference thoughts
If you’re going to be in Louisville, I’d love to talk with you and hear your story.
This is a review my wife wrote after reading the book, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half” by Steve & Annette Economides
If you are in youth ministry, or any form of ministry, you could probably use some of the tips in the book to help your salary stretch a bit more.
“A dollar saved is a dollar gained” is a phrase I have heard before, and in their book the Economides show how to gain a lot of money when it comes to feeding your family. Although not every strategy will work for each reader, there are so many ways to cut costs on your grocery bills that certainly everyone will come away with changes to be made. I appreciated how the chapters were organized and well thought out, and at the end of each there were suggested steps to put the ideas into action. Each of the tips were categorized by how you felt you already were handling the major job of feeding your family. So, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of frugal or shopping every day for each meal, there is room for improvement.
As a mother of three, I felt I walked away from this book with very practical ways to lower or at least maintain my family’s food budget in light of rising food prices. I consider myself fairly frugal when it comes to shopping and preparing meals, and I felt encouraged that I am not alone. Not every idea I read am I planning on incorporating into my plan to feed my family, but I certainly have learned to think beyond coupons to see many ways to feed my family for less! Thank you, Economides, for writing a book that pays for itself!
(This review was written as part of the Booksneeze book review program.)
It Couldn’t Just Happen is not simply a creation v. evolution book for kids. It’s a book that anyone can learn from. Though it is filled with color photos and x-rays, it is not childish in its presentation of scientific facts that shine light on God’s creation. To make it just a little more applicable, each chapter has a series of questions at the end.
The book is broken up into five parts. The first part looks at Earth, including its origins. The second part delves into the beginning of life, even answering the question of if life can begin in a test tube. The third part takes a closer look at the design of several animals and plants. The next part is all about human beings. The last part takes the reader into a quest to understand more about the Bible.
If you’re looking for a book that will answer some of your kid’s questions about the universe or life, this book will do that and much more.
**I reviewed this book as part of theBookSneeze review program**
If you work in children’s ministry, this would be a great book to have for reference when discussing creation, Genesis, the Bible, or God.
My advice (rating) – borrow from a friend (3 out of 5)
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