ESPS ANNUAL CONFERENCE

ESPS ANNUAL CONFERENCE

 

We are delighted to share with you the news that this year we will be holding our Annual Conference online.

We are excited that we can still connect with you all, and although will certainly miss being with you in person, we look forward to sharing together virtually.

As we work towards confirming a date and planning the day, we wanted to use this opportunity to connect with YOU, and ask if there is any specific areas of life in ministry/church/leadership that you would like us to address as part of the day? Where do YOU feel you need encouragement or strengthening? Perhaps in personal development, your walk with God, marriage/family issues in ministry/reigniting vision for the future/weathering opposition, etc. Or maybe something else crucial to you that others would benefit from.

Please do let us know ASAP, just drop us a quick reply with suggested topics of interest to admin@espsministries.org. Your needs are important to us as we look to be a blessing to YOU. We already have a great sense of anticipation for the day, and very much look forward to being together.

 

 

Afflicted and Storm Tossed One…

Afflicted and Storm Tossed One…

I can’t fully put into words the beauty and mystery of what I felt the Lord saying to those of you who may begin yet another day with raging anxiety dominating your heart and even your home at this moment, but here goes:

God may presence Himself with you today, draw near to you, like an unfamiliar bird to a garden, blown off its usual expected flight patterns. He may appear vulnerable rather than impressive, weak rather than powerful, storm battered rather than radiantly feathered.

He may come to you as the unexpected Messiah with an unexpected rescue: to be with you in your weakness, to be the storm tossed presence in your storms. For you, he will not be found amidst the noisy chatter and competitive, confident, territory declaring squawking of other garden visitors. He stands aside from that, quietly.

Look out a side window and there He is. Gentle and lowly. Bring him in without fear to your disordered heart and home. This is the mystery. As you receive the storm tossed bedraggled Saviour, as you give to him the attention and love he awakens in your heart, He will develop in you eagle’s wings.

God bless

Rev Kenny Borthwick

 

Being Fearful or Faithful

Being Fearful or Faithful

I saw a video of a glass walk-way built around the side of a mountain. The glass was constructed in such a way that when a person put their weight on it, it made the sound of breaking glass. Not only that but, when the person looked down, the glass appeared to be breaking also. People were screaming and crawling to get back to the start. These are real people facing real fears, and this walk-way was constructed to take advantage of those fears. I would have been one of them! This is just not right!

The truth is that all of us have fears of some kind at one time or another in our lives. Most pass by as we get older, some stay with us, but there are others which have to be overcome if they get in the way of our functioning.

For the past 10 plus weeks we have been served a steady diet of “fear.” After this trial is over how are we going to get back to some sort of functioning with all that we have been told to do and not do as to “not spread the virus?” or “stay safe!”

For us as Christians, any fear that gets in our way of serving and obeying God is not given by God. 2 Timothy 2:7 tells us that fear is a spirit that is not given from God because He gives us power, love and self-control. It takes courage to face our fears but God gives all we need to do it.

Times of trial are often fearful but they also increase our faith and help us grow (mature) in our faith. To mature we have to overcome, and for Christians overcoming our fear is rooted in trusting God, believing God loves us, and that God will not harm us. How do we get to this point? By believing God’s Word. God’s Word helps us cast out our fears. Strong faith helps us overcome our fears.

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 119:10-16, 105 - God’s Word lights my path and guides me.

Romans 8:31-39 - Paul declares that nothing will get between him and God.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

As we are returning to some sort of normalcy, take courage and go forth in faith, knowing God is holding our hand, walking with us. Calm my fears, Father, as I face the unknown and the unexpected. Increase my faith so I can face my fears and grow in my relationship with You in Jesus name.  Amen.

 

Dr. Allen Tyndall – Lead Director, PastorCare Network, Inc.

This article originally appeared here:
https://www.pastorcare.org/single-post/2020/05/26/Being-Fearful-or-Faithful

How to lead when nothing is normal!

How to lead when nothing is normal!

What began as a major disruption has become a way of life. Not permanently, but for an open-ended and unknown duration of time.

COVID-19 has changed our world.

Remember when shaking someone’s hand was normal? Remember when sitting in a packed movie theatre or crowded concert was a fun night out? Remember when masks were only worn by bank robbers and superheroes?

Hey, that was only five months ago!

There’s a lot of talk about the “new normal,” and yet few can define it or describe it because it keeps changing faster than we can adapt.

I don’t believe leaders fear change. However, when change can’t be led, we can experience a destabilizing effect. When we’re not leading change, because it is leading us, we naturally desire to get back out in front and lead again. That doesn’t mean we “can’t” lead; it means that leadership as we have known it has been challenged. What was predictable is no longer predictable. It does mean that we can and should always start our leadership at a foundational level based on hope, encouragement, faith, and simply taking the next step.

I’m in conversations with church leaders that worked hard to open their doors and now have closed them again. What do they do now?

They lead by taking the next step.

As leaders, we don’t have to have all the answers; we just need to know the next step and have the courage to take it. This is not the time to give up, your congregation needs you more than ever, but as a leader, you do get to be human.

Let’s talk about that:

5 Ways to Help You Lead When Nothing Is Normal:

1) Desiring “normal” is human, expecting it will get you in trouble. 

What is normal? We typically consider normal as a relatively set pattern of living that, for the most part, we enjoy. It’s not without its ups and downs and problems to solve, but there’s enough predictability that life feels stable.

To desire that is normal. To expect that is not going to help you or those you lead. Expecting normal right now is like seeing a tidal wave coming at you and thinking you’ll go surfing.

That may be a bit over-dramatic, but it’s a good picture.

You get to pray for the life you desire, but you must lead through the life you have. I pray every day that God will shut down the coronavirus and heal the sick. But I must lead in the reality of the virus.

The big idea is that your leadership will help you create that better reality for those you lead and for you too.

2) Don’t merely surrender to a new normal; help create it. 

Let’s take this idea of desiring normal, even a new normal, a little further.

It’s important, to be honest about what you want, but you must get real about what you can have. You can have almost anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. That’s instructive in how we lead, pray, and live our lives. That requires insight and discernment to know how to make the right decisions. There is no value in surrendering to circumstances; if you do, you abandon hope.

Here’s a better direction. See your vision for a better life within the reality we live in, then do your best to shape a new reality. You can’t do it all, but you can make a difference.

Here’s how I think it works.

If enough Christian leaders consistently make biblical decisions that honour God and are in the best interest of others, eventually, that wins.

Every leader counts.

Think of it this way; what we are doing is normal. We are leading change, solving problems, and helping people. That’s what leaders have always done.We are just doing it in arguably the most complex times we’ve known in the last fifty to seventy-five years or more.

We should not surrender to a new normal; instead, we get to help shape it.

3) Get focused and fierce about what you can do.

There is much you can’t change, so focus on what you can change.

You can’t surf a tidal wave, but you can get in the water and make some waves that bring momentum.

Here are three practical ways to help you and your team do what you can do.

  1. A) Concentrate on mission-centred small wins. 

Again, start your leadership thinking and conversation with what you can do. Make a shortlist.

Among those options, what is God blessing? What’s working? What could you do to push it across the goal line with a concentrated leadership effort? Do that! And make sure you tell your congregation! Thank God publicly and celebrate the win.

Don’t worry if it’s a small win; celebrate it!

  1. B) Practice option thinking.

I’m still fond of a leadership expression that says, “No plan B.” I like the spirit of that idea, but I don’t like its lack of reality.

Options thinking, sometimes called contingency thinking, is not the same as selling out. It’s not “hedging your bet.” It’s smart leadership.

Options thinking is like playing chess instead of checkers. It’s about thinking ahead.

  1. C) Focus on the next step.

When leading in times of disruption, making detailed plans that span a couple of years or so is a waste of time.

Your vision should span three to five years or longer, but in this season, your plan is best implemented by knowing a few possible smart next moves, (like chess), and pick the next best step you can make.

Then quickly evaluate the results, make any needed adjustments, and make your next best move. (Take the next step.)

4) Paddle harder.

When you’re on vacation and out on a calm lake in a canoe, you can paddle casually. When the water gets rough, you paddle harder to gain forward motion.

There is nothing casual about leading right now. Some leaders feel paralyzed because they think there is nothing they can do, so they lead casual or passively. That not only won’t realize any progress, but that approach actually loses ground.

Similar to when you’re on the lake, and the water gets really rough, it won’t help if you panic. Desperate leaders often make poor decisions.

Paddling harder is still about thinking strategically, not paddling frantically.

5) Remember what you believe.  

When you experience stress, pressure, and challenges greater than you know what to do with, remember what you believe. That will help you get through any difficult season.

Here’s what I mean; in fact, this is what I practice.

When things are really tough, I take extra time to reflect on and gain strength from:

  1. A) My belief in my calling.

There are some seasons in leadership when everything seems uphill.

In those times, I remember that God called me to do what I’m doing, and He specifically placed me where I’m serving.

That gives me tremendous confidence.

  1. B) My belief in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that God is with me, not just loves me, and I’m going to heaven, but He is actually with me in this, reminds me that His power is available.

Intellectually, you know God’s presence and power is within you, but it doesn’t always feel that way, right?

Or you maybe sense God is with you, but the results seem meagre.

I read scripture, pray, and soak on the truth of the Holy Spirit’s power. Then lead knowing that power is available and activated by my faith.

  1. C) My belief that I’m not alone.

Even with my calling and God’s power, I’m human. And I’m relationally oriented. (Most of us are.) The thought of doing this alone is, well, not fathomable.

How about you? You may be in a small church or a large church, and you can still feel alone. The good news is that you only need one person to lock eyes with you and say, “I’m in this with you; let’s do this.”

If you have 3, 5, 17, or 40 leaders with you, you are blessed! Thank God for those leaders.

If you truly feel alone in your leadership, there are two things you can do.

Ask God to guide you to one leader.

Ask for their help.

I’m confident one leader will rise up to help you, and never underestimate the impact of one more leader.

This article originally appeared here.

https://danreiland.com/how-to-lead-when-nothing-is-normal/

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

Developing A Theology and Practice of Lament

Developing A Theology and Practice of Lament

One of the most significant and important things that all communities of faith are going to have to think about in the days to come, and put in place, is a theology of lament. The church at times struggles with lament, the bible doesn’t!! Fred Drummond (National Director of EA in Scotland) has produced an excellent resource to instruct leaders and their churches how best to navigate these uncertain and difficult times. We wholeheartedly commend it to you.

*click on link below for various resources relating to the theology and practise of lament.

https://www.eauk.org/changing-church/toolkit/one-big-idea/developing-a-theology-and-practice-of-lament

https://www.eauk.org/changing-church/toolkit/one-big-idea/developing-a-theology-and-practice-of-lament

The Challenges and Joys of Being Single in Ministry

The Challenges and Joys of Being Single in Ministry

Going into ministry stirred up feelings of joy at following through on God’s call for my life, but it also brought up concerns about potential challenges. Will the people I work with like me? Will they care about what I have to say? Will I be a good representative of Christ in my ministry or will I leave people with a skewed view of God?

These basic questions are asked by most pastors and chaplains serving around the world today. Yet, there is a relatively small group of ministers that have further concerns about pastoral life. Who are these pastors? They are the unmarried men and women serving in ministry. You may not have seen or met many of us, but I guarantee we are out there.

Of course, some of the situations faced by single pastors and chaplains are common to all singles, but there is often another angle brought in by ministry. A challenge that tends to be universal to all uncoupled people is the pressure to find a spouse. I could illustrate this with  many personal stories but I’ll share just one.

It was my last Sabbath at my local church before heading to the Seminary. I was giving my all, trusting God with the next three years of my life knowing it was a necessary step on the path to become an US Navy Chaplain Candidate. As I joined the line for a slice of my farewell cake, a church member pulled me aside. With a look of grave concern she stated, “You better not come back from Andrews (seminary) unless you have a man with you.” I was dumbfounded. I did not know this woman particularly well, but I did know that she had been a single professional for several decades. Apparently being single in my 30s was okay when I was working as an accountant, but now that I was shifting to full-time ministry, it was no longer acceptable.

Once I could regain my speech, I looked her in the eye and smiled. “Thank you for your concern. I am going to Andrews to get my MDiv degree, not a MRS. I think I will be best served  focusing on my studies rather than looking for a husband.” I grabbed my piece of cake and went on my way frustrated that now it was not just my family who felt obligated to comment on my personal life.

The universal pressure put on uncoupled people to find a spouse seems to permeate our society both inside and outside the Church. In my experience, there are those who do not feel comfortable with the idea of singleness—it is seen as a sign of dysfunction. This is especially common in regards to women; older single women are negatively referred to as “spinsters” while older single men are called the more neutral “bachelors.” Women without families are often called selfish or thought to have less value.
The pressure put on uncoupled people to find a spouse is especially strong when you are single in ministry. I have been asked countless times by church members and those I come in contact with in ministry why I am not married. The question is usually tinged with pity and the desire to find someone to help fix the “problem.” It can also be a major obstacle when offering marital and pre-martial counselling. If the minister is not in a romantic relationship then what right and experience does he or she have to contribute? Thus there can be pressure to be in a relationship in order to appear as a credible relationship counsellor.

I do not see singleness as a problem to be fixed. The lack of a spouse allows me to focus the time and energy I would be spending on a romantic relationship on building up my relationship with God. It provides the opportunity to listen to God’s voice in the silences of home life. And as one of my fellow single pastors pointed out to me, it is a joy to serve as an example for younger (and not-so-younger) generations that happiness and fulfilment are not wrapped up in being in a relationship with another person.

The apostle Paul reminds us that contentment does not come from being one half of a couple, but from putting our trust in God in all circumstances (Phil 4:11-13). Additionally, because I am unmarried I find that I can connect with various groups easier—widow(er)s, divorcees, both young and senior singles, those with special physical or emotional needs, and those who are in need of friends.

Children recognize me as an older sibling or a safe adult without the pressure of being seen to have parental authority. Even though I am the same age as some of their mothers, I have found kids to be more open with me concerning their feelings and problems than they might be with the parental adults. I feel blessed to walk beside those on the fringes of our church knowing that those most in need of God’s love may see a glimpse of that in me.

One of the biggest challenges for me personally as a single pastor and chaplain is the management of boundaries on my time. I am 100% responsible for the running of my household. There is only one salary and one person paying the bills, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and running errands. Since ministry is not a 9-5 job, these mundane daily tasks need to be wedged in when time allows. Taking two full days off each week is not practical. It is important for all pastors and chaplains to set some boundaries so that their schedules do not become too demanding. It is tempting to sacrifice self-care and boundaries when we are so wrapped up attending to the needs of others and the running of the church.

And yet a flexible schedule can also be a great benefit in ministry. Because there is no one expecting me home at a certain time or making demands on my schedule, I am often able to make myself available at off times when the need arises. An emergency meeting does not require any special arrangements. Early morning or evening visitations are not a problem. Having flexibility includes the ability to travel and not worry about how to care for those left behind or needing to entertain those coming with me. A single minister can also feel free to move as God is calling without any added anxiety about finding employment for a spouse or schooling for children. It should be noted that single parents constantly deal with the major challenge of good childcare as it can be hard to come by.

Additionally, ministry can be a very isolated and lonely career. Being single in ministry only compounds this. I have known of many single pastors who have suffered great loneliness when they left everything and everyone behind to accept a call to serve a new church. Single pastors and chaplains have a very limited local peer group. For example, I am one of two female pastors in my conference (Presbytery) and the only single pastor.

Many of my other single pastor friends note that they are also in the minority and feel uncomfortable attending family focused ministerial retreats or other functions as one often feels left out and acutely aware of one’s singleness. Looking to church members to fill that loneliness may not always be a good idea. Pastors and chaplains have a certain governing authority that may unintentionally be taken advantage of and there might also be the temptation to share frustrations or information with a member-friend that really should be kept confidential. (I have found that my cat is great to talk to when I feel the need to share something that is not for public consumption. She rarely repeats gossip.) 

Ironically, finding a good local peer group has become one of my greatest joys in ministry. My close friend network—my biggest source of support—is spread across the country. Without a live-in friend (as in the case of a spouse) or friend-generators (many adults will become friends with the parents of their children’s friends), intentionality is needed to make new friends. As an introvert, this can be a scary undertaking.

I made a particular effort to look outside the local church for friends when I moved into my district. What might this look like for you? It may mean that you reach out to other area pastors or become more involved in the community. Volunteering with a local food bank, joining a running group, and attending events at the local library are some great ways to meet and befriend people. I have met a wonderful group of women friends at the small gym at the end of my street. The class-focused workouts have allowed time for us to get to know each other. Not only am I connecting with members of my community, but I have even met some women who were familiar with the church. Just last week several of the women asked about coming to the church to see me the next time I preach. Their support has been a wonderful blessing as I work on building up my physical and emotional strength.

However, the real challenge and joy of being single in ministry comes down to learning to be content whatever your life may be. The calling of singleness may be for a season or it may be long term (1 Cor 7:7, 17). I have found that contentment is a by-product of the faith and trust in God’s plans; it is essential to survive and thrive in ministry.

Kristy L. Hodson is an associate pastor and campus chaplain for the Southern New England Conference

This article first appeared here  https://www.nadministerial.com/stories/2018/2/4/going-it-alone-the-challenges-and-joys-of-being-single-in-ministry and was reprinted from CALLED magazine