Archives For Empower

One of the greatest challenges in leading in ministry is finding the balance between planning/strategy and empowering/releasing. I don’t like messy. But I wholeheartedly believe that you have two options: You can either Control or Empower. You can’t do both. Control is orderly. Empowerment is messy.

There’s a lot of wisdom on this topic in a recent post by Jon Hietbrink:

surfingMany organizations run like machines–they thrive on alignment, order, discipline, and consistency, but movements are like organisms–they feed on change, complexity, empowerment, and freedom.

Most of the ministries we lead are some combination of both organization and movement.

I cringe at the inference that anything planned or organized is somehow less influenced by the Spirit [love this sentence!]. That said, I’m increasingly aware of our need as leaders to become experts at calibrating the edge of chaos–we’ll never catch a movement by hanging back in consistently safe places devoid of risk and adventure, but we’ll also never see exponential growth if we go boldly careening over the edge of chaos and into the abyss of confusion and disorder. How then do we navigate this tension? How do we surf the edge of chaos?

As a leader who actually tends toward order and structure, it’s been important for me to embrace the chaos as appropriate and good. If we want movement, it won’t be easy, clean, or predictable, and part of the journey for us as leaders is settling this in our souls–our tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty has to increase.

We must foster environments of interdependence where folks are not just allowed, but encouraged to seek help from any and every source. A mentor of mine used to tell me that the job of a leader is to build “webs, not wheels”– an ever-expanding web of interconnected, interdependent parts, not a wheel where all the spokes connect back to me at the center [great metaphor- webs, not wheels!].

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.


How are you learning to surf the edge of chaos as you lead a movement?


photo courtesy of chausinho

Teaching How to Fish

January 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

A conversation I had this summer with my brother-in-law:

Me: “How was fishing this morning?”

Brother-in-law: “Um, it was fun in a different way. It was a lot of work.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Brother in law:

“Well, I never got to fish. I took a friend and his kids out fishing.

They’d never been fishing before so I spent the whole time baiting their hooks, netting their fish they caught, retrieving fishing poles the kids dropped overboard. So it wasn’t fun per se. More rewarding than fun- but so fun to see their faces as they caught their first fish.”

What a great metaphor for ministry.

I told my team that story and we used it all fall: “Remember, teach students how to fish even if it means that you don’t get to fish much yourself.”


I’m convinced that staff’s primary job is not to do ministry but to equip others to do ministry.

But the problem is that most staff go into full time ministry to fish not to make fishers of men.


If you’re interested you can read more thoughts here on how staff’s job is to get more people on the playing field (and how empowered leadership is what Millennials crave). [Update: apparently that linked post no longer exists. I’ll work on getting it back up]


What that’s looked like for us:

  • In the midst of a crazy first week of following up thousands of contacts, Jon (one of our senior staff) spent his first day of follow up with 4 new Community Group leaders walking through how to call contacts and what to do during follow up. He “lost” a valuable afternoon of follow up but was able to equip and mobilize 4 students to pursue freshmen.
  • Staff never share their faith alone. Staff Success in evangelism= sharing the gospel while a student leader watches/learns.


What has “Teaching How to Fish” looked like for you and your team?


photo courtesy of Tassava

Campus Ministry Links

October 4, 2010 — 1 Comment

Some great content put out there in the last few days from CCC staff.  If you’re in college ministry you should subscribe to each of these three blogs:

Midweek Links

September 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

Gary Runn’s Blog is consistently wise and good (as you would expect, if you know Gary). Two great posts from the last couple weeks:

Delegation largely raises up followers-empowerment raises up leaders.

Delegation is less work for you in the short run-empowerment is more work for you in the short run.

Delegation is more work for you in the long run-empowerment is less work for you in the long run.

GREAT comments on two CCCBlogference posts wrestling with very important questions for the future of building Cru movements and reaching every student.  Join the Conversation!

  • Are we really doing Evangelism in the first weeks on campus? – Great thoughts on whether Movement Building actually is just “Gathering” instead of “Winning”.  If you don’t have time, just skip the podcast and go to the comments!
  • This post has the same topic but the comments veer toward what needs to change for us to more effectively reach Hispanic students (because what we’re doing currently isn’t working).  Great stuff.

I have definitely not seen views on this change among students on campus, but hopefully it will trickle down in the coming years/decades.   This brief post says that many in academia are now saying that it is ridiculous/insulting to believe that all religions are just different paths up the same mountain (via DJJenkins‘ link on Twitter).

photo courtesy of Will Montague via flickr

Empowering Social Connectors

September 21, 2010 — 4 Comments

(part 6 of a series on “Focus on the Right People” and multiplication)

How do students connect to your ministry?  Usually it’s thru other students.  And more than likely the majority come through a handful of Social Connectors.

Last year is when I first noticed this Connector Phenomenon .  A hugely disproportionate number of our student women leaders got involved because of 2 students.  Out of 17 student girls leading freshmen Bible studies this year,  11 of them came out of these two girls’ Bible studies!  65% of our new leaders came from 6% of our leadership.

Ben Arment (on his always intriguing blog) noticed this phenomenon at his church and came to this conclusion:

When we cast vision for inviting people to church, we may be assuming too much. What if we poured more resources into the hands of our connectors? What if we groomed them, encouraged them, and fueled their desire to invite people? [They bought Starbucks cards for them to use]

As for the others… what if we started with the fundamentals? What if we showed them how to build relationships? The result would be less guilt-trip and more empowering.

I still haven’t worked out what this means for how staff spend their time.  Is it better to invest heavily in these few key connectors?  Or to invest in raising up more like them?

Right now in our leadership core we are very heavy on introverts.  Really bright, responsible, proactive, godly introverts.  But we’re lacking outgoing “people gatherers”.  Not that Social Connectors have to be extroverted (1 of the 2 girls mentioned above is introverted) – but it helps.

Have you found this Connector Phenomenon to be true?  How can we resource/empower these Connectors?  How can we raise up more Connectors?

What are the implications for ministry and how we invest our time in students?