The Gift of The Ask

Deepening Ministry by Growing Connections

“All they can do is say ‘no.’” Those seven words, said with a shrug, were spoken by a woman who has a gift we don’t hear much about in the church: The Ask. Pastor Denise Evans, Director of the Kingdom Life Ministries Community Development Corporation (KLM CDC) and Community Liaison for The Deborah Project and Deborah House, is the woman with this gift. To those of us who do not have it, it seems terrifying. KLM’s Pastor Doriane Parker-Sims once said of Evans, “I don’t know how you do it, but your gift is in asking for things from people who want to give you things.”

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The best Christmas pageant ever is yours. Whatever you do with your church’s kids to mark the season is always the best. Because involving children, whether they’re singing, playing an instrument, dancing, speaking, or just putting on a costume and walking to the front of church, helps all of us see the story of Jesus afresh. Or at least to experience moments that move us anew.

Celebrating the Fruit of Your Labor

Listening to Family Leadership Initiative Stories

“God does amazing things in his church if we follow him and obey him. We celebrate the things God is doing through you, celebrate the fruit of your labor.” Here are stories of some fruit from Mision de Fe Assemblies of God Church, New Hope Baptist Church, No Greater Love Ministries, and Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church from the recent Celebration Dinner.

When Ministry Couples Learn Together

Their marriages and their churches are energized

Terence and Janet Williams have been married for thirty years and have been serving together in ministry for just as long. That definitely qualifies them to be experts in both, but they’re not resting on their laurels: they recently took Gatherings of Hope’s Leading Community Based Ministry (LCBM) course. And they took it together.

Taking Risks and Rising to the Challenge

Celebrating Our 2016 Award Winners

“Our goal tonight is to celebrate you. To celebrate each other. To look at the person sitting next to you and realize they’re a precious gift. God is doing great things in our churches and in our lives, and each one of us is precious and important.”

When the Needs Are Deep, the Vision Gets Deeper

How one Grand Rapids church went from giving away backpacks to providing housing

It started with a simple idea: let’s give away backpacks with school supplies to kids in Grand Rapids. Now, their annual Back to School Carnival serves 6,000 people with food, games, entertainment, haircuts, school supplies -- and fuels The Deborah Project and The Deborah House.

We Are Grateful For You

Yes, You

There will be plenty of articles published this week about how gratitude will enrich our lives and our faith. Instead of adding to that number, we at Gatherings of Hope want to express our gratitude to the pastors and ministry leaders of Grand Rapids: We see you. We value who you are and what you do.

The Austin Team

Marriage and Ministry, The Power of One

Pastors Jathan and Veverly Austin work out their callings together: “Pastor Jathan is a visionary, a person of faith. He dreams it, and sees it; and I can see it, facilitate it, and put legs to it.”

Building Leadership Capacity

A round-up of recent articles

We Cannot Stop the Blessing of Giving

In August, Rev. Dallas Lenear talked with the pastors in the Refine track of the Summer Clergy Learning Retreats about how to communicate with givers, and how to lower the barriers to giving.

Learning Together

Resources from the Summer Clergy Learning Retreats

This summer, two dozen pastors met regularly to discuss a variety of tools for congregational management, for running meetings, for dealing with conflict. They talked openly with each other about the stresses inherent in a life of ministry. They had opportunities for sabbath rest. While an article cannot give you rest or a fireside chat with fellow pastors, it can give you the list of the tools and resources that emerged as helpful.

Leading from the Middle

Pastor as Shepherd

In this final article about metaphors for pastoring, we explore the nitty-gritty of a shepherd’s work. How do you lead sheep who wander, who make messes and give you lice, who are ripe for predators? From the middle.

Training at Every Meeting

Practice can’t make perfect unless you’re practicing the right way and heading in the same direction

“Every trustee gets trained. You’ve just got to decide whether you’ll be the one training them.”

Wrapping Up the Summer Clergy Learning Retreats

(or What We Learned On Our Summer Vacation)

Three groups of pastors and ministry leaders met this summer to learn about tools to help them be more effective leaders, both at church and at home. Here’s how it went.

Five Ps of a Successful Meeting

(plus a 6th)

Every meeting needs attention to prayer, purpose, product, probable issues, and process -- and every meeting requires a lot of preparation.

The Surprise Discipleship Tool

Written Job Descriptions

How a written job description is a tool to help ministry leaders succeed. It’s a tool to guide training and discipleship of the leader. It’s a tool to help avoid conflict between pastors and ministry leaders, but when conflict does arise, it provides a way forward. That’s powerful work for a one-page document.

Pastor As Coach (Not Athlete)

#2 in a series of three articles about metaphors for pastoral leadership

A coach calls it training, a pastor calls it discipleship. For both the coach and pastor, success is not their own: it lies in the actions of the athlete and church member. At the same time, the athlete and church member needs what the coach and pastor provide.

2016 Hope Rally

Family Leadership Initiative “takes over” Meijer Gardens

The Hope Rally is both celebration of and encouragement for the work done by both volunteers and participants of Family Leadership Initiative -- and an opportunity to take families out of the daily grind to enjoy each other.

The Simplest Consensus-Building Tool Ever

The five-finger vote

“The primary tool for pastoral leadership outside preaching and teaching is meetings. And so many people lead bad meetings.” Rev. Tony Campbell teaches us how to use the five-finger vote to build consensus and lead a better meeting.

Are you a superhero or a gardener?

#1 in a series of three articles exploring metaphors for pastoral leadership

Superheroes are extraordinary lone heroes who often leave devastation in their wake. Gardeners are patient and generous stewards who understand how to tend their plants through challenges so the garden can still be healthy and fertile. Which sounds more sustainable to you?

Who will pastor the pastors?

What can pastors do when they are pressed by troubles from every side and are weary down to their bones?

Getting Unsnared

How having written policies and expectations can give a church more time and energy for its true mission

At the first Lunch and Learn Session, pastors and church board members learned about solutions to recurring organizational and administrative problems.

Summer Camp for Clergy?

Not two weeks in the woods, but experiences to help pastors recharge themselves and their ministries

GoH is gathering pastors and ministry leaders in small groups for experiences that will give them (1) access to experts to help them work through the conflicts and hurts that often result from a life in ministry; (2) opportunities to rest, recharge, and make friends across denominational lines; and (3) tools and skills to help them better manage themselves, their boards, and their congregations.

The Thriving Small Congregation

Celebrating the strengths of the tiny church

While megachurches get a lot of attention, over half of American congregations have fewer than 100 regular attenders. But don’t cry for them. They have strengths that help their people thrive: intimacy, vulnerability, and a focus on discipleship.

Unity is a Force Multiplier

Pastors and community leaders come together to hear from Luis and Kevin Palau

Pastors and community leaders in Grand Rapids hear from Luis and Kevin Palau about the Palau Association philosophy--“Love and serve the community with no strings attached, based on the needs, not on a program, and joyfully proclaim the Gospel”--and consider whether to do a big event together in the future.

To Spur Action, Recruit Imagination

How stories help us rehearse the people we will be

What influences our action? Not our thoughts, not our ideas. Imagination. Story. Narrative.

Thank You, Dr. Mariano Avila

Leader of Hispanic Ministry Certificate Program makes a difference in his students and in our city

Dr. Mariano Avila is granted the 2015 Community Service Award for his leadership of the Hispanic Ministry Certificate program, a collaboration between Calvin Seminary and Gatherings of Hope.

Three Churches Amass Six Million Skill Points

The Bethel FLI Cluster Rocks Khan Academy

Seeing and Doing

Exploring Art at the GRAM

The Holy Work of Sharing

Krystal Sweat