Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time for a Change

Good time last night. It's always fun to be in a relaxed setting, enjoying each other's company.

We all sense, I think, the need for ASCEND to change. In our hearts we know that what we're doing isn't having the impact we desire. Something isn't right. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's you. Maybe it's us. Maybe it's a lack of clear focus. Maybe it's a 'sit and soak' crowd. Maybe we're outside of God's will. It could be a lot of things. Change is in the air.

I think this is all good. In my reading and discussions with ministry leaders many are coming to the conclusion that our culture is going through a magnum force shift causing massive 'transitional confusion'. I buy it. What worked five years ago doesn't work anymore. Churches which looked like they had it all together are struggling. Service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis struggle for membership. Schools wonder how to reach today's generation. The things I did in youth ministry years ago won't work today. As a result, everyone is looking for what does work in today's culture. Thus the confusion

ASCEND's model of ministry worked and worked well for a long time. I don't think we can ride the wave of the past anymore. We need to figure out prayerfully how to minister to single adults in this day and age. What does work? What doesn't? Where is God at work in our present ministry? What are we doing that seems to lack supernatural authority?

It's time for a change. What do we do? Oh, I have some ideas but I only see things from my vantage point. I want to hear from you. Check the comments section at the bottom. A window will pop up. Post your response to the question ..."What needs to change at ASCEND". Don't post anonymously. Use inclusive language ...'we' not 'you'. Be honest. Respond to the post other people make. Let's see if we can get some clarity of thought on all of this. Most importantly, Keep praying. Let's see what God does.


Anonymous said...

Here's another thought. Sometimes we yearn for 'what was' and then fail to see the possibilies for the 'right now'.

Does yearning for 'what was' keep us stuck and unable to unleash the potential of the present?

Janine Palm said...

I'm excited about changes for Ascend. I agree with the previous comment ...We spend too much time and energy trying to recreate what "was" and fail to accept the fact that it just doesn't work anymore! You can't willfully change people or their habits. Folks will have to make a choice - many may choose to leave Ascend. The value of our ministry is not determined by large attendance turnout. I believe God wants more from us for us! We've got to figure out how best to make this happen! I'm anxious to hear what everyone thinks. Peace, Janine

Mike said...

Thanks Janine. I'm hoping we can get a fair amount of folks weighing in on this.

Last night I talked a bit about my experience in Africa. I was blown away by the 'faith' of the people I met. They believed, really believed that Jesus could and would transform a life.

I'm convinced that so many of the folks we work with need that kind of transformation. It's not 'religion'. Who needs that? We need a relationship with our Creator.

How do we keep that in the forefront of our thoughts and prayers and then build all the necessary fun, social, and service dimensions around it.

How do we build a community of 'transformation'? Is that what we really want?

Anonymous said...

I think that there are still some "small groups" going on from what was formed last year. Ask those leaders what the dynamics of the group are. If the leaders are committed and walkin with Jesus......the group will too. Life transformation.
In short --I think "small groups" are worth investing some time and energy.

Sherry said...

I am very excited about the future of ASCEND. I beleive that there is much spiritual warfare going on, because the enemy sees the good we have done and continue to do with Gods love and blessings.

My heart tells me that we have to be still and listen for God to tell us what he wants us to do. Then we must move forward doing his work, with conviction. We meet in a church a house of God and should not try to minimize this in fear of offending regulars or new comers by opening the bible or quoting scripture. I think everyone is there for a reason, whether they realize it or not. What I long for most in ASCEND is to continue to grow in my spiritual life, have fellowship with other Christians who believe in God and make a differnce in another persons life. ASCEND helps me to stay focused on being the best Christian I know how to be. I am grateful for the leadership team at ASCEND.

Cynthia Rosati said...

One of the only things certain in life is change. We need to be able to embrace it and know that change is not a situation so much as it is a realm of being. Change answers our need for adventure, for meaning and for deep soulful connection. It answers our spiritual and emotional cravings. Sometimes the only difference in people, is their attitude, the way we see things. We can see "change" as a vehicle for a full life or an obstacle to hurdle or hide from. Look at your life, and you will see from the day you were born til now, it has been weaved with changes, one moment at a time. I haven't the strength to move through life alone, I lean on God to guide me and I trust him and welcome changes and opportunity. With that I grow, learn and become. Ascend should be just that...a chance to grow in spirit, learn from others and become more Christ-like in friendships. We CAN make it happen!

Mike said...

Someone inferred that people won't blog if they have to sign their name.

That got me thinking. It got me thinking, especially, about the whole notion of 'safety'. Would people not sign their name because they don't feel safe? What causes people not to feel safe within a singles group like ours?

I worry sometimes that our 'culture of gossip' (and there is one -it is an issue) makes our ministry feel unsafe at times. As a result people don't feel comfortable sharing weaknesses, hurts, discomforts, doubts and their faith.

What do you think?

On another note, I've been encouraged by several conversations I've had with folks about their small group. I think that's a ministry area that needs to be elevated to a much, much higher plane.

Robert W. said...

anine Palm wrote:

Hi Robert!
Very very good thoughts. If you can, and if you want to share these thoughts with the other leaders, can you post this on Mike's blog ? See you tonight.

From: robert wright [mailto:worldexpo1904@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 10:27 PM
To: Janine Palm
Subject: Re: Note from Mike - ASCEND

I think we are outside of Gods will Mike, and that we are apprehensive in being more biblical base aloud because of the variety of the crowd, worried about keeping the numbers and timid in spreading the good news to the lost in our group or the Christian dead in our group. We need to unit together and all together at the same time. Seems numbers are a factor in trying to please to keep the numbers there for $$$ support and a population report to our church leadership as you must do. I'm sure they want to see the numbers too. Not to say that that isn't important. I know that if the Lord sees that we do dare to be more open with our mouths about our convictions, because our hearts are in it as you heard last evening, to lead the lost/dead in our group to Christ, that He will honor His gospel and Ascend will become refined.

I once suggest saying to a few leaders that I think it would be great if Mike required the leaders to BRING their Bible to TIO. It would seem foolish in the minds and eyes of those who scoff at boldness of the Word, but the effort is always honored from whom the message is about, Jesus Christ.

Just my thoughts for some time now.


Mike said...

Robert: Actually #'s and $$$ isn't a big motivator nor am I ever pressed by church leadership about these things.

#'s and $$$ are indicators. We have a budget. If we don't meet that budget we can't do everything we'd like to do. If #'s drop I want to make sure we're asking the right questions about why they're dropping?

We can boldly proclaim the gospel but do it in an insensitive manner that doesn't honor the Lord or the people we're trying to reach isn't what we're after. How do we proclaim Christ with power, in a relational way, that allows God to work in people's lives?

Let's keep talking.

The bigger issue is whether or not we are doing what God wants us to do. I want people to meet and know Christ. That's a given.

The hard thing is determining how to walk alonside someone long enough to discern the best way to talk with him/her about the Lord.

How do we present the gospel in a relevant way to the crowd we've been given? Then, how do we disciple those who have responded.

Joanne said...

I really don't see anything wrong with ASCEND. It isn't like it was five years ago. But things change and this is today. So I guess my question is, "what is wrong with ASCEND?
Joanne Histed

Mike said...

Thanks Joanne. I think every ministry has to ask itself hard questions about 'what's working' and 'what's not'? One of the questions I keep asking myself is whether or not we are helping to produce disciples. That's the mission of Christ Church.

I do see a lot of people who are turning to the Lord. That's encouraging. I see so many good things happening.

On the other hand, I sense a bit of a malaise within ASCEND. What's that all about? How do I contribute to it? Are we missing something God wants to do with us?

So, change is inevitable. I'd rather be less reactive, more proactive.