Legacy Now - Jason Carr Writes

Exploring the collision of everyday life and an incredible God

Added Value

starbucks-cup-hed-2014

I’m always looking for added value when I spend my money. For example, my local grocery store gives fuel points on gift cards purchased there. Those points are redeemable for discounts on gas at their fuel pumps. I now use gift cards from there often. Need to reload my Starbucks card? I visit the grocery store to buy a gift card and load it my account. Need something from an online store? I buy a gift card. If I’m going to spend the money anyway, why not get added value for that money and make it go further?

Many of us subscribe to that thinking in more areas than coffee and gas. We are always looking for added value in everything we do.

The church I attend is great at this. If you volunteer, you likely have a drawer full of church t-shirts. You didn’t sign up to get a t-shirt, but it’s added value to your service. Another church I worked with recently hosted their leaders for a great dinner and time to invest in them as followers of Christ. It was a way to give back to those giving to the ministry and add value to their service.

It is wise to consider how you can add value to those who invest in your ministry.

As a church consultant, I understand that. Often a church or leader will bring me in for one purpose, but I want to add more value than just that. That value might be a follow-up report. It might be an ongoing relationship and assistance. It might be helping someone consider things they were not even thinking about yet. It has looked many different ways, which is actually quite fun. It’s on me to add value to those I serve.

A church wanted me to serve them with some consulting, but they did not have the budget. They then asked me to speak at a retreat for their student ministry and then asked me to do some leader training and coaching while there. Boom. They were able to make it happen and I was able to add value in more ways than one. I loved that.

I’d love for you to think about how you are adding value to those who serve your ministry. Are you giving them the bang for their buck of serving?

At the same time, please remember that I am available to serve you as you serve others. I hope in doing so that I can add value to what He has trusted you with.

Take Courage

iStock_000016097473Large

God is really good, but the situation still stinks.

Ever said that?

I have—and recently. If you have read my blog over the last year, you know that I’ve been walking through some incredibly tough family challenges. When the craziness first happened, I operated on adrenaline trying to figure out how to function. As time passed, the tough stuff has become the new normal; my faith has grown substantially; and as hard as things have been, God has been really good.

It’s really a funny thing about faith. You discover it in new ways when things are trying. You discover things about yourself and God that you might not have wanted to know. At some point you are grateful for it, but at the same time wish you hadn’t had to go through the pain.

One of my best friends said it well the other night: “I just don’t get how Paul was always so upbeat when things didn’t go right. A lot of the New Testament he wrote while in prison. He was being punished for being obedient to God and he used that to point others to Him.”

Dang.

That is so true though, isn’t it? God has a way of using our messes to become our message and our brokenness to reveal His wholeness.

One of the amazing things about the history of the Christian faith is that it is stuffed full of people whose stories are as much tragedy as success. In the midst of suffering, they used tragedy to point others to the One who sustains.

That leads me to a question. How are you using your current situation? Are you busy moaning and groaning about it? Are you pointing fingers at the others who might have done you wrong? Are you mad at the world for not giving you what you think you deserve? It’s the human reaction, for sure.

Dig deeper. Let the anchor of faith hold in new ways to reveal to you that in the midst of hard times, God is as present, real, and faithful as He has been for all of time. He has not given up on us. He is not unaware of our present circumstances. He is in process of taking your story and, if we’ll allow, using it to point back to Him.

Those words don’t come easy, friend. I’ve lived though heartbreaking, life-changing challenges in and around my life. Yet in the midst of that storm, the Lord has been very present and standing on the water reminded us that we can take:  “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 13:27 NIV)

No matter your situation today as you read this, I pray that He takes the storms of your life and uses it to draw you closer to Him and tell the world that although things might be hard, He is still a good, good Father.

Why Hire A Consultant?

Hello I Am Someone Who Can Help words written on a nametag sticker or label, which could be worn by a therapist, consultant, doctor, or other expert who can solve your problem

You might be wondering why your church would want to hire a student ministry consultant. Here are some benefits I’ve seen that might be helpful for you to understand not only what I do, but others who serve churches too.

Fresh Eyes
We get so focused on what we know and what we have to do that it is easy to miss things. We are all uniquely wired and passionate. Inviting other eyes into your world is a healthy way to ensure you are not missing things. It also helps put focus on things that need some attention.

Confirming Eyes
We all want to know if we are moving in the right direction. It’s helpful to have someone validate, encourage, or direct our paths to help us do that.

Other Perspectives
A question I get often is this: how do other churches deal with this? I love being able to share ideas from different churches with each other.

Needed Ears
One of my main roles in working with churches is to ask questions and listen. I have a lot to share if needed. One of the most important things I can do is offer a set of ears that cares and wants to listen to where you are and where you want to go. I can’t help if I don’t listen.

Moving Forward
My heart is not to just see how things are now with your ministry. It’s to dream about what could be. With the tyranny of the urgent, we often get stuck in today. I’ve learned that part of my role is to help you dream about what God might want to do in your ministry longterm.

Utilize Them
Some of my favorite experiences have been when churches leveraged one thing to use for another. For example, I spoke at a student ministry retreat and while there they asked me to do a leader trading with their volunteers and meet with some key leaders. I loved that. They told me they did not have the budget to bring me in on a regular consulting trip, but could bump up a little more than they were going to pay their retreat speaker and use me for more than just speaking. If you hire a consultant, utilize them as much as possible.

There are many positives to taking the step to bring in someone to help you be the best you can at your ministry. As always, I’d love to serve yours. You can find information on that here.

Strong & Fragile

fragile_heart_by_nerdynaru

Some things just don’t make sense.

It’s amazing how God made humans to be so strong yet fragile at the same time.

Those two things don’t always align. But when you take stock of your life, it makes perfect sense. He has made us frail to remind us that He is not.

Everyone has a story. Every story includes overcoming challenges. Every story includes failing them.

It demonstrates the polarities of God’s economy: you are often the most whole when you are broken.

Brokenness can be so fulfilling. I know, that doesn’t make sense—right? Not in a broken world, but in God’s completeness, it makes perfect sense.

In the last twenty years of ministry, I’ve heard countless stories that sound something like this: “If you would have told me that I could get through this, I would not have believed you.” Yet, in the power of His grace, we manage to carry on throughout the hard times. In fact, those moments become engrained in our story.

One of the special things about engaging in relational ministry with others is that you get to jump into the trenches of the stories of others. At times, that is a celebration. Other times, it’s a challenge to make it through the battle. Either way, it’s part of the opportunity of investing in others, helping them trust, and leveraging their story towards our Heavenly Father.

Many years ago I had to call a parent. I hated doing it, but I had to. A student had made an extremely unwise choice that threatened his life and the life of others. That student was mad at me and disengaged from our ministry. That hurt.

Much later on, I ran into him. He’s married now and has a family. He gave me a big hug and simply said: “Thanks for loving me enough to do the hard thing.” His story reminded me that loving, leading, and investing in others is not always easy, but in the end by His grace, it is always worth it. It does not always work out like that, but the results are up to Him, not us.

Redemption wins in the end. And it seems that often the path to redemption is paved in brokenness. As you engage in leading others, don’t run from the brokenness, run TO it and trust Him that He will redeem it in ways only He can.

Free E-Book!

ebookcover_pagesize

These days if we have an issue, we can usually Google or YouTube it and figure out an answer quickly. That works for most things, but not everything.

As you build your relational ministry, it takes time. There is no quick band-aid fix and it actually takes a lot of intentional planning and time to set your ministry up for long term relational impact.

I know that because I have lived that. I have served in both the para-church and church world for the last 20 years building relational ministries. It is my passion and what I do for a living through Legacy Now. I’ve taken many of the constant issues I’ve heard from student pastors and leaders and put together a quick resource to help you build a ministry based on relationships and the volunteers who invest in them. More and more churches depend on these heroes to help invest well in the students He trusts you with.

I am giving away a E-book I wrote titled “5 Tips To Build Your Relational Ministry” to help you do that. My ministry Legacy Now is for you. I want something for you more than I want something from you. I am also launching a monthly email that will have a quick tip in it to serve you as you invest in others.

To download the book, you need to sign up to get the email. I am honored to be a resource for you. Thanks for allowing me that opportunity. Hoping and praying that it is of help for you.

– Jason

You can access the download page here: Free E-Book

WIRED

cables-wires-discharge-jaguarind

On the Myers/Briggs test I am an EFNP.

On the RightPath test I am a Networker.

If you are familiar those tests, you see my results reveal that I am highly relational. In fact, I once met with a life coach who examined my tests and told me: “You test as one of the most relational people I’ve ever seen.” As excited as I was by that comment, she told me that includes some great strengths, but also some glaring weaknesses.

I keep learning about that and in doing so, it’s changing my life and ministry.

I used to have a roommate who was brilliant with technology. One time I walked into his room to ask him a question, and he snapped at me. I was taken aback. You see, I am the guy who always has multiple things going on at once. Music. TV. Something is always going on. He looked at me and said, “Sorry man, I don’t do two things at once well. I need to wrap this up before I can talk with you.” Gotcha. I am not wired like that, and he reminded me that God wires us all uniquely.

A student shared something really deep and personal with a ministry friend and me. I held onto it, and when I brought it up a few days later, my friend said, “It’ll work itself out.” He was not troubled by it at all. As we talked, we realized that the day God handed out empathy, he was not first in line. I evidently was. We hear the same story and react differently to it based on how we are wired. Fascinating.

One summer while on a college beach project where college students go to grow in their faith, I was hanging out in our common room. I was listening to some killer 80’s hair metal having a good time playing rock star in my mind. And then a guy in my room came in and just turned it off. I was mad. He looked at me and said, “When I hear that, it reminds me of the person I used to be, the person I am trying to move on from.” Huh. That didn’t pop up in my head when I heard that. I learned about convictions in a new way and how we process them.

I share all that to make a simple point. Knowing yourself and others is huge in life and ministry.

While I was consulting with a student pastor recently, he shared some frustration he has with some young leaders on his team. As we unpacked it, one obvious discovery was that he was not clear on how his leaders are wired, yet he had expectations that might not fit. We landed on the need for him to better understand how they are wired and how that fits into their ministry. Simple, yet profoundly important.

Take time to consider how God has wired you and those around you. It will help you extend and receive grace in critical ways.

Doing vs. Being

divdiv-class

A good friend said something recently that triggered some deep thoughts in my mind. He said: “We are not a small-groups church, we are a church that does small groups.” He was saying that although small groups are a part of their church’s rhythm of operations, it’s not what it is built around.

That means that some time and energy will be given to develop and maintain them, but not as a priority. Programming and staffing will reflect that although it’s important, it’s not the most important thing.

I appreciated his candor, because so many churches are trying to be a small-groups church, but instead are churches doing small groups.

To really engage in small groups well, it takes a cultural shift to prioritize staffing, funding, leadership, and vision to that end. It won’t just happen because you break students up and put a leader in the room. It takes vision, training, and regular maintenance to build a thriving ministry based on small groups.

There is a huge difference between doing and being. You can be a small-groups church. You can also be a church that does small groups.

It’s a foundation question that is worth asking. What kind of church are we? What kind of church do we want to be?

It’s wise to act like you are, not like someone you are not.

In student ministry, this is a massive question because students in this generation are wired so relationally. You are only going to reach so many through teaching. I’m all for teaching. As a speaker I love it! At the same time, I understand the value of relationships too. Honestly, as much as I love speaking to students, I understand that some of the greatest impact I can make is in the life of the small group I lead. In fact as a speaker, my passion has changed over the years to speaking more as a setup for small group as much as anything.

If you are a church that just “does” small groups, what can you do to make that more than just “doing” and “be” a church that does small groups. Your honest answer to that question will help you determine planning and organizing for your ministry.

If you are a church that just “does” small groups, how can you change your methods from “do” to “be” and become a small-groups church?

This is an area I love helping churches with. Let me know if I can serve yours!

Random Things I Think I’m Thinking

empty-notebook1

The older I get the more I find myself just thinking. Not that I didn’t think when I was younger (although that might be debatable) I just enjoy taking time to think. Below is a random list of things I’m currently thinking, learning, and find myself talking about with others.

  • Reminding myself that the more I have to learn humbly reminds me about the more I have to learn.
  • Some times God brings you to the wilderness to help you more clearly hear His voice.
  • What the meaning of “coffee” to each person is unique. Respect it, but don’t judge it.
  • Empathy is a discipline of learning that this world is not about us and we were not meant to do it by ourselves.
  • Much of life is more about how you deal with things along the way.
  • Our stories are much deeper than we usually let on and often even realize.
  • Some of the most life-giving conversations and moments have nothing to do with a cell phone and social media.
  • Writing and re-writing a book is a constant lesson in self-doubt and confidence.
  • If God cares mostly about the heart of a person, so should we.
  • I almost told a student the other day that my car was older than them, almost.
  • Behavior matters, but you can’t fix behavior if you neglect the heart.
  • I’m big. A golf ball is little. Not as easy as you would think.
  • Many churches would benefit from fresh eyes perspective, but the fear of many things prevents that.
  • Is it bad when a barista at Starbucks asks you where have you been?
  • Music with meaning has the power to transport you. Go on the journey.
  • Every time I learn of a friend/leader falling into sin, I’m reminded that that sin lives in me too.
  • Consulting is harder than I thought it was going to be, but way more rewarding.
  • Leading a small group of students to authentic community is a lesson in learning how to listen, ask questions, and teaching them to talk.
  • Having a vision for the church that’s personal does not mean it will be shared corporately. Don’t expect others to be a part if they don’t know.
  • God has yet to give up on me and asks me to do the same to others too.

Clear Vision

clear-vision

I recently worked with a church that had run into a wall trying to build momentum for its student ministry. After talking about what was going on, it was clear to me what was happening.

The leader had not clearly shared his vision. He was getting frustrated that others did not show up or engage in what he was trying to do. They had no clarity on what that was.

It leads me to a fundamental truth I talk about and see often with churches. Don’t assume that because you spend a lot of time talking, praying, and dreaming about something, that those around you are tuned into it. If you work at a church, it’s your job; you spend all week thinking about it. Even those who work with you might not fully know your vision if you don’t communicate it.

Remember that volunteers have a life outside of the church. They might have jobs, families, school, hobbies, and friends among other things. Believe it or not, they don’t sit around all the time waiting to read our emails or see what we post on social media.

If you want them to buy in to the vision, you have to communicate it clearly and often. Click To Tweet

That means on stage, in person, and through all your streams of communication. The vision should be clear and easy to engage.

For example, if you envision a “revival week” and no one else shares that vision or understands why you are doing it, don’t be surprised if they don’t show up. If you are transitioning to small groups, but don’t clearly explain what you are asking of leaders, don’t be shocked to have a room full of Sunday School teachers, not small group leaders.

A friend recently said this to me: “Vision is sometimes the easy part; executing the vision requires a lot of work and commitment.”

Whatever your current vision is, take time to think about those He has put around you. Do they know it? Are they helping you chase the vision? Are you communicating it well?

I’m praying that He will give you the wisdom to answer those honestly and then give you the courage to do whatever you might need to do to engage with it.

Senior Letter

lead_large

The local high school in my hometown has a cool tradition of giving personal letters of encouragement to the upcoming graduates. Written by family, friends, and persons of influence, the letters are collected and given out at a special senior breakfast. I’ve been honored to write quite a few letters over the last two decades.

As I finished one, I saved the letter in a file and had a sentimental moment as I looked through some of the other letters I’ve written for students over the years.

Just like that, the lives of so many come flashing back in my mind.

Those letters reflect years and years of relationships. They reflect small groups—good times and hard times. They reflect countless coffee meetings and weekends full of chili and football. They reflect a lot of prayer, huge dreams, and unmet expectations. They represent life.

I’m leading a group of freshmen now and reading those letters made me think of them. What do I want to write them three years from now? What do I wish were true by God’s grace for them in the next few years?

All those thoughts land me on a really important, but hard-to-swallow, truth of student ministry: ultimately, the results are up to God.

We can do everything we can in the life of a student, but only God can change a heart. Click To Tweet

As I look at all these letters and think of all these students, I know that many are walking with God. Some are not. Neither is really “my fault.” My role as their leader was and is to love them, point them to Jesus, and leave the results to Him. No more, no less.

As the school year wraps up, take time to think about what kind of letter you wish you had received when you graduated high school. How can you help someone else get one of those today?

You can. Go be an influence in someone’s life and leave the results to Him.

« Older posts