Thank You Jesus

#FF – Dave Kraft

I decided to take the week-end Twitter trend Follow Friday and extend it to the blog, posting some spotlights and links to some of the stuff I read on my Flipboard app. There’ll be a mix covering church & ministry, art & design blogs, media & marketing, music & skateboarding, and maybe the odd travel blog or Apple log.

Dave Kraft is a 71-year old leader who has lasted the distance, spending around 40 years in leadership and on mission with the Navigators and currently on team at Mars Hill Church, Seattle, where he works with training and developing younger leaders. As you’ve probably seen on the blog before, I’ve appreciated his book Leaders Who Last a lot over the last year or two, and our whole Core Team at New Generation have found his insights and teaching to be really helpful on our own journey as individuals leaders and a leadership team. It’s not often you can find someone who’s really run the race well over the long haul and who is primarily devoted to investing that experience into younger up-and-comers, which I guess is why I try to get my hands on everything and anything Dave produces. So, just in case you’ve missed it, you can visit his blog at davekraft.squarespace.com and send him an email if you’ve got questions, he’s happy to send through material and further reading when he’s got stuff.

Esther’s Epic Bible Project

A couple of months ago we got word that 18-year old Esther from Southport wanted to hand out Bibles to every single student in her College this Easter, and that she was working out ways of raising money to make it work. Now, we could stop right there and the story would worth telling…a young Christian decides to give of her own time, prayers, and MONEY (!) so that all her peers in college can have access to the word of God. Amazing!

But that’s not it…shortly after we found out how many people actually go to her college, and realised she wouldn’t just need a few hundred of the NTs (which, again, would still be a story worth telling), but that she was going to need 1700 of the things! That led to some quick sums on a calculator and the realisation that she would need to raise £4250 to be able to pull the project off! FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY pounds! In a couple of months! On her own! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

We all admired her optimism and started to pray, but £4250 in a couple of months. Really?!

Well, those months have now passed and the day has arrived, and this morning, a few of our Teamers piled the Bibles (all 1700 of them!) and themselves into a couple of cars and left for Southport, where they’re currently attaching notes and ribbons, highlighting verses, and helping Esther get ready for the mammoth mass-distribution. One of our Teamers sent through the above picture just a few minutes ago, and I just had to post it.

So far around 350 thousand of these NTs have been produced in 8 languages and handed out in over 10 countries by young people like Esther, but to my knowledge, this is the biggest 1-person Bible Project in NG history, and it deserves a shoutout. What’s more, Esther even wants to raise another £750 so she can give 300 more of the things to all the staff and teachers at her college, totalling £5000 worth of fundraising, all on her own. If you want to make a donation and help her hit the 5K, send me an email at brad@newgeneration.co.uk, and please say a prayer for her as she puts her faith on the line and opens herself up for potential mockery and critique from people in the college, and pray that every Bible achieves what God intended and that people can meet Jesus through it’s pages.

To get some Bibles for your school, college or uni, go to our Everyone Needs a Bible site.

#FF – Steven Furtick

I decided to take the week-end Twitter trend Follow Friday and extend it to the blog, posting some spotlights and links to some of the stuff I read on my Flipboard app. There’ll be a mix covering church & ministry, art & design blogs, media & marketing, music & skateboarding, and maybe the odd travel blog or Apple log.

First up, Steven Furtick from Elevation Church, Charlotte. Steven is just 31 yeas old. Steven and a handful of couples planted a church just 5 years ago in a city they hardly knew. Steven and those couples have now grown that church to a multi-site ministry drawing thousands with an interactive online service running every hour on the hour and plans to go global with international sites and campuses in the pipeline.

The guy may be young, but he’s doing some great stuff, and regularly posts good stuff for church leaders and members alike over on his blog at www.stevefurtick.com. Definitely worth a look.

You can also log on to the Elevation Experience at www.elevationexperience.com.

Groeschel Gets Weird

I stumbled across this short interview/promo video for Craig Groeschel’s new book Weird – Because Normal Isn’t Working on Michael Hyatt’s site, and I can say, if the content of the book is as good as the ideas and insights in the video, then I’m looking forward to reading it. Check the video here.

The Doctrine Discourse

A couple of months ago my virtual blog buddy Jon over the Atlantic came up with an idea. He suggested we get together and read through Gerry Breshears and Mark Driscoll’s co-authored book, cockily titled Doctrine – What Christians Should Believe (in true Driscollesque fashion), and then discuss what we’ve read chapter by chapter on the blog. Last month he kicked the conversation off with the first chapter on Trinity and Community. This month it was my turn with The Doctrine of Revelation and The Word. Whether you dig Driscoll or not, and whether you’ve read the book or not, why not stop by and join in with some comments and let us know what you think over at www.reflectivemusings.com?

What If?

If you’ve missed our latest magazine then make sure to check out the online version here. The theme this issue is “What If?” …based around a talk I did a while back and some ideas that have been circulating my head and the NG office over the last few months. As usual, it’s packed full of ideas, stories, tips and resource spotlights…and the graphics are pretty smooth too. The Team have done a really good job on pulling the content together, and I think that along with our other 2 issues so far this year, this magazine is amongst our best. To make sure you get a copy in your letter box next time around, log onto www.newgeneration.co.uk and register as a member, or even better, a Supporter, and we’ll post one out free of charge every time we release a new issue. No brainer!

A Few Words on Criticism

In this electronic age of instant messaging, and immediate reacting, it seems every blogger and his budgie (including me!) think they have the right to sling digital mud at anyone who’s not in their network, totally overlooking the fact that, as Christians, we’re all part of the same network, and we’re told to believe the best and love on each other like we love ourselves. I’m not talking about debating doctrine or wrestling with theology (things we should encourage and engage with), but about spiteful slander, where the thing gets personal. In some cases over the last few weeks and months I’ve seen some posts and tweets that were just downright nasty. In other cases, it seems people are simply surprised that someone looks like an eye or an earlobe and another like a big toe or a bicep, when that’s actually the whole point.

Anyway, before I run away on a rant, I thought that rather than addressing a particular person’s prideful posts, taunting tweets or sermon slams, I’d dedicate a few lines to the topic of criticism itself…

In my years attending church, I’ve been in settings where you can’t say a word because the pastor always knows best and it’s dishonourable to discuss or doubt, and I’ve been in others where the whole code and culture is critique-based and riddled with cynicism. At New Generation, we’re doing what we can (and I’m sure we’re failing too at times) to help build  where honour is a valued virtue and respect for leaders and elders is expected, but we’re also trying to instil in our organisation practices promoting accountability and transparency, and always make sure we lead with an open door, so that questions can be asked and discussions had.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a fair few jabs in my years leading, both in church and at New Generation, and to be honest, a lot of the comments made have probably been more than justified. I can be a jerk at times, and nobody likes working for a jerk. But, there’s also been plenty of times when it’s just been some obnoxious 18-year old who’s just left home and never had another job who thinks we’re doing it all wrong. Usually they’ve “had a revelation from the Lord” whilst reading the latest book and want to “lovingly” point us in the right direction and get the organisation back on track. This is one of the perks attached to working with college graduates with no real work/life-experience.

Anyway, here are a few things I’ve read and heard others say about handling criticism that I think are helpful:

  1. Make your critics your coaches: this means valuing criticism (whether it was meant well or not) and learning from criticism (whether it is accurate and true or not).
  2. Respond to the content, not the tone: this means you unwrap the points raised and suggestions made, keeping the contents and throwing away the wrapping, which is often bad attitudes etc.
  3. Don’t be paranoid: even if it feels like it’s you against the world, it’s not. Don’t take everything so personally!
  4. Give it time: don’t respond immediately, whether it be to an email, phone call or straight up confrontation…where possible, give it a few days and it’ll be easier to distinguish between the wrapping and the contents, and to decide whether the contents are worth keeping or not. (I’m definitely still trying to master this one!)
  5. It’s part of the package: if you’ve been commended and praised for doing something well, you will also be criticised and slandered. You can’t have the one without the other, so get used to it and don’t be surprised by it. Neither the praise or the criticism should be the basis for your identity, but who you are in Christ. (Easier said than done, right?!)
  6. Remember God: it’s easy to slip into evaluating everything from a human perspective and forget that God is in the mix and that He understands. Not only that, but He’s been there Himself.

What do you do with criticism? Ignore, hit back or handle? How?

La Familia

Ok, so the picture quality may not be the best, but I just LOVE this screenshot sequence of Sara and Leon from a Skype we had a couple of days ago while I was in Moscow. Can’t wait to get home to both!

Interview with Dave Kraft

If you’ve been on the blog before, you’ll know I love Dave Kraft’s book Leaders Who Last. We’re currently working through it with our Core Team at New Generation, and it’s sparked some great conversations and helped all of us with our personal leadership development, particularly when it comes to character and the essence of the leader himself. The Resurgence just posted a short interview with Dave, and it’s nice to see him on camera and catch some insights on leadership and management.

To see the interview click here.