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An abbreviated version of this article was published on the Transforming Center’s website: What does transforming leadership look like for Pastor Noah Filipiak?  Here is the full version:

 

I love seminary.

 

I have one seminary degree and look forward to going back for more.

 

With that said, my experience in a Transforming Community has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received.  It’s not that it’s a competition between the type of things you learn in seminary and the type of things learned through the Transforming Community, it’s just very noticeable which ones are more emphasized in the Church today (and in my own ministry leadership life up to this point).  Noticeable due to the amount of pain and personal struggle I and so many other ministry leaders have endured in our untransformed selves.

 

I’ve seen the same concept true at the gym.  You often see people at the gym, usually fellow men, who are incredibly muscular.  Muscles on top of muscles and they are straining to build even more muscles.  I often wonder if these are NFL players or ditch diggers or some other occupation where this sort of strength would be beneficial.  Obviously the strength isn’t there for pragmatic reasons.  Meanwhile, as a former college track and cross country runner myself, I rarely see these muscle-bound titans hop on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Lots of muscle is great, but if it’s the only thing that’s ever focused on, a person can spend all that time in the gym and still be a very ineffective athlete.  After all, it’s pretty hard to be athletic if you can’t breathe!  There’s nothing wrong with being a bodybuilder or doing a lot of strength training, it’s just caused me to notice an interesting parallel to ministry training.

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Noah Filipiak interviews Pastor Doug Logan about planting an urban church in Camden, NJ; Camden was rated the most violent city in America in 2015.  Pastor Doug is an expert on missiology, urban ministry and what it looks like for the whole Church to live out the whole Great Commission.  He is the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church (Camden) and the author of On the Block: Developing a Biblical Picture for Missional Engagement (Moody Publishers).  He serves on the board for Thriving and for Acts 29 and is the proud father of 3 sons and grandfather of 3 grandkids.

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Doug Logan below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes (takes 24 hrs to appear in iTunes)

Check out www.ontheblock.life for Pastor Doug’s blog, along with free music downloads, more info on the book and upcoming On the Block Conference.

 

Let’s support an urban cross-centered church plant in the middle of “the most violent city in America”…GIVE to Epiphany Church Camden

Connect with Pastor Doug on Social Media:

Twitter: @pastordeelowg

Facebook: Doug Logan

Instagram: @pastordeelowg

Pastor Bryan Loritts discusses how to become a multi-ethnic church, as well as the cost and challenges therein.  Noah Filipiak also asks Pastor Bryan for help in navigating the Christian subculture of church planting, pastoring and being an author in a way where we don’t end up measuring ourselves by performance-oriented metrics.

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Bryan Loritts below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes

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Ministry burnout; despair; discouragement.  This 3-headed monster and its ugly cousins usually come visit me when I ponder how much “bad” is out there in contrast to my ability to do anything about it.  The Bible commands me to do something about it, but that can’t mean I’m to live in debilitating despair, right?  Because as a competitor, it certainly feels like my team is losing.  These are easy topics to preach sermons on, but much more challenging to internalize at the core of our being.  The following four points have been given to me recently by people who have been on this road much longer than me and I hope they help you at the soul-level the way they have helped me:

1. Pray that God will raise up the Church

I’m not in this alone.  There is massive need out there.  Tons of people who don’t know Jesus.  And tons of people enduring incredible suffering.  Jesus didn’t say to his disciples, “Go and glean the entire harvest” in Matthew 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2, he said “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (italics added).  God didn’t leave the world with me as its hope to bring it the good news of the Kingdom, he left it with his Church!  I’m not talking about apathetic laziness, waiting for others to do what I’m supposed to do.  I’m talking about realizing which is the better hope for my low-income neighborhood to find Jesus’s Kingdom:  me working 5x harder than I currently am, or me staying faithful in small ways and praying that God will either raise up 5 more Christians from within the neighborhood to help me and/or have them move in from outside.  Me thinking it’s my job to reach the whole city or praying that God will raise up dozens of churches to reach the whole city.  I can lose sleep over the sex trafficking industry, gang violence, drug use, global poverty and oppression as well as the many unreached countries of the world…or I can pray for them!  Praying that God will bring a revival to his Church, sending out many into the local harvest fields that are ripe for picking.

2. Remember the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Church and Jesus promises the gates of hell won’t prevail against it. 

I’m not in charge of the Church, the Holy Spirit is.  Pressure off.  Do you remember Pentecost?  Prior to this event, Jesus told his disciples not to do outreach (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4) until the Holy Spirit came.  The gathering of believers wasn’t enough; the Holy Spirit was and still is needed.  What a relief to know that the Holy Spirit is not only guiding me, but that I’m a small part of a huge body and the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering the entire thing.

3. Don’t let condemnation rule over you

Romans 8:1 is so clear and beautiful: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Again, easy to preach, hard to internalize.  What’s helpful to remember is whenever you are feeling inadequate, you know that message of condemnation is from Satan and you can reject it.  You are fully adequate based on what Jesus did for you on the cross (Colossians 1:22, et al).  Satan wants us to think our adequacy comes from producing results for God, so when we see the suffering or we see those who are lost, we feel like it’s our fault or we haven’t done enough (bringing despair, burnout, discouragement).

4. Don’t create a new “Law” to be enslaved to

This is closely related to #3.  Jesus went through a whole lot to free us from the power of the law (Galatians 2:21; Gal. 5:4).  The law enslaves.  You can never do enough under the law because you can always do better and be better than what you’ve done.  When you translate this to a zeal for ministry, there is always more ministry to be done!  More people to reach, more people to help.  Ministry can be a very subtle slave-master.  Under grace, we abide relationally in Jesus (John 15) and we stay faithful to him, one small day at a time, one small interaction at a time.  The point isn’t results, it’s faithfulness and abiding.  If we believe that this isn’t enough, we’ve believed the lie that Law will bring us life.  Reject this and cling to grace.  As you share the message of grace to the world, live in the grace that all that is needed has already been done on the cross.  Reject any message that what you already have in Jesus isn’t enough!

Let the Scriptures speak…

What trend do you see?

Is it the same trend or a different trend than you see in America?  In the American Church?

Matthew

6359417358769223841804779694_dream-act(Jesus, Mary and Joseph were immigrants / refugees)  Matt. 2:13-15       When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matt. 5:3-5    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth. Continue Reading…