grace logoGrace News & Good Ideas 
September 10, 2010
when fall brings changes...
Remember when September meant a trip to the store to get "new"--new pencils, new shoes, new coats? When the change of the air was from fresh, humid, outdoor air to stale, chalk-filled yet electrified air of a classroom.  When thoughts went from adventurous dreaming to feigned boredom?  It was a dying off of summer fun and a growing anticipation for what lies ahead.

Fall combines those two things--it's filled with dying (which we admire when we look at nature, but not so much when we look at our own lives) and also an anticipation for what lies ahead.   It's a time of retooling. 

Grace Institute is following this pattern. We have gathered together and created what we think will be helpful and timely aids in the lives of churches now. Some of what we have planned will be new. Others will be improved.  Look for news to come on:
                                - Lunch and learn web broadcasts
                                - Video coaching sessions with pastors
                                - A major ministry conference with topflight speakers
                                - Continued programs and long-term support for church transformations
                                - Additional staff
is it your season to retool?
     Christian writer Gordon MacDonald relates that he was able to be fairly successful in ministry when he started out because of natural talent that he possessed. He enjoyed church growth and popularity in ministry for a while...until the demands of ministry suddenly displayed his lack of preparation for the long haul.
      This experience is not surprising in light of recent research,  indicating that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to reach a level of mastery in most things, more than most of us plan for. Practice in this sense is not simply repetition, but 1) trying something, 2) failing, 3) and adapting. Had MacDonald known this fact when he was younger, he might have avoided the huge wake-up call that came. So what are the implications for ministry?
      Many of us go into ministry because someone said, "I think you would be good at that." We have some observable, natural talent. For a while we can skate by, almost without trying. But ministry is complicated and complex. The demands seem to increase over time and those who try to get by on natural ability and what they picked up in school years ago instead of engaging in continuing education and practice face the same wake up call MacDonald did years ago. The high dropout rate of pastors, to some extent, reflects this moment of disillusionment. Like anything else, what we do as pastors requires constant practice and honing of skills to continue to raise the level of what we offer in ministry. It isn't a new concept:
(Hebrews 12:7-11 Message Bible) God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. God is treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Is it time for you to retool to be effective?
Michelle Jenks, Grace Institute
2770 Montgomery Rd, Aurora, IL 60504

good ideas
Good ideas:
1. Identify areas of
   demand you face.

2. Put practices 
   (reading, workshops,
   experimental efforts)
   in place and in a

   written plan to insure
   improvement in skills

3. Find some
   supportive, objective
   people who can give
   you feedback so

   you can adapt for
  greater effectiveness.