Archive for the Fusion Groups Category

Fusion Groups: Following Jesus’ Example In Leadership

Posted in Fusion Groups, Waypoint Services on September 15, 2015 by Waypoint Church Partners

A new wind is blowing across the VEF landscape these days – the Fusion Group wind. This fall as many as 200 ministers will begin gathering monthly in 30 Fusion Groups, and we will continue to start new groups monthly. Like Jesus’ early peer learning community, these groups will have three over-riding goals: 1) To offer practical peer learning, 2) To provide authentic pastoral care to each other, 3) To produce prayer-empowered leaders.

Reggie McNeal, in his book Revolution in Leadership, describes a key element in Jesus’ strategy to develop and sustain leaders. He says, “With the whole world to save, Jesus decided to create a learning community.” While Jesus ministered to thousands, he gathered a small group around him in the first Christian peer learning community.

Could it be that Jesus knew something about leaders that we’ve missed today? And could it be that Satan knows something about leaders that he desperately wants us to overlook?

Growing up in a solid church under the leadership of a very capable minister was a blessing. But I must admit I developed a very skewed view of ministers. To me, ministers were people with inexhaustible energy, capable of answering every question, ready to meet any challenge and solve any problem. While I never actually saw any ministers change from their street clothes into Super-Man outfits, in my mind as a little boy I was quite sure they could when needed.

But after almost 40 years in ministry and after spending a life-time rubbing shoulders with ministers, can I tell you a secret, just between you and me? Your minister may not want you to know this secret and I’m certain Satan doesn’t want you to hear it, but here it is: Ministers are only people, just like you! There! The secret’s out. Ministers don’t have all the answers, they are often lonely and hurting, and they regularly struggle under the load of trying to pursue Kingdom growth in their God-given context and calling.

If you are in ministry and would like to become part of a Fusion Group, contact me at neil@vef.cc. Please join me in praying regularly for your church leaders and encourage them to join a Fusion Group soon.

Here is a graphic of all the current VEF Fusion Groups meeting across Virginia, North Carolina, and beyond:

fusion group map graphic-01

neil wheeler - circleNeil Wheeler
Director of Leader Care
neil@vef.cc

Advertisements

Three “Why’s” & Two “How’s”

Posted in Book Review, Fusion Groups, General Advice on March 10, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Some time ago a person asked me about the mission statement of the VEF;   “Pursue Kingdom Growth” and how we were applying that statement.  Then he pressed more to say, “How does your ministry with the VEF apply the mission statement?”  My reply was that I could best illustrate how the VEF ministers through the Fusion program by pointing out 5 books that we have used recently in our groups to “Pursue Kingdom Growth.”   There are three that tell WHY the church prospered and two to tell HOW to continue “Pursuing Kingdom Growth” :

The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark – This book is written by a sociologist who looks at the impossible feat of Christianity in overcoming the forces of Rome without any of the conventional sources of power.  His assessment of the social pressures used is somewhat up for discussion but are not without merit.

The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi – Read an amazing recounting of the corruptness of culture without the influence of Christianity and compare the advances of man because of the influence of God’s revelation.  The author recounts the clash of the Hindu mindset with the humanity of Christ followers. You can’t read this book as a Christian and not feel a sense of joy and relief in knowing Christ and His Salvation.

7 Men by Eric Metaxas – Eric has chosen to give biographies of seven men from history. They are so very diverse and affected different segments of their culture in profound ways.  Each had a moral compass that pointed to the Life of Christ and submission to His Will.  George Washington gave an example of refusing to allow power to corrupt him, William Wilberfource took on the status quo of slavery and immoral conduct, Eric Liddell set an example of sticking to his principles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was willing to give his life for those unable to defend themselves, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in American athletics by not retaliating to the slurs and racial attack of those around him.  Pope John Paul II was a man’s man who showed the world how God’s man stood up to oppression.  Chuck Colson was an example of how Christ can change the heart of a man and then use him to reach those in prison with the redemption of our Lord.  These seven men give us great illustrations of the effect Christianity has on our world.

The Lost Art of Disciple Making by LeRoy Eims – This is a book that has been read by millions.  It is a manual to teach individuals how to win others to Christ and then teach them to win others to win others to Christ.  It should be the goal of every Christ follower to reproduce themselves.  If you don’t have a plan, this one is highly recommended.

There is Hope for Your Church by Gary McIntosh – This is the worst title for a book, but one that fully explains its mission.  Many churches in America are in serious trouble, being either plateaued or declining.  McIntosh gives, I think, a plausible strategy to follow to revitalize your church.  His emphasis on leadership and urgency are spot on and will inspire leaders to action.

Well, there they are: Three “WHY’S” we should be active in pursuing Kingdom growth and two “HOW’S” to get it done.  We all know that there is a God who loves us and the rest of the world.  These books will inspire you to feel as though you can make a difference and then give you a strategy to be successful.

Harry Gill headshot - circle smHarry Gill
Director of Church Resources

A Fusion lesson from St. Benedict and Civil War nuns…

Posted in Fusion Groups, Waypoint Services on May 21, 2013 by Waypoint Church Partners

The VEF facilitates many “Fusion” peer groups around the Commonwealth to provide local ministers an effective environment to be stretched in their ministry. Fusion groups cycle monthly through 4 primary categories for professional development: Shifts in the American culture, emerging ministry paradigms, micro-skills needed for ministry and the spiritual formation of the pastor.

05_RichmondHillLast week my Fusion group focused on this final category by gathering at the Richmond Hill Monastery in historic Church Hill on the East end of downtown Richmond. The history of this Ecumenical Retreat center is fascinating. Immediately following the Civil War the local Bishop looked out across the war-torn ruins of the city and sent word to Baltimore for a group of nuns to be sent by the Bishop to begin praying for the healing of the city.

For the next 120 years the property overlooking downtown Richmond would serve as a monastery, convent and boarding school until its sale and renovation as a prayer retreat center in the 1980s. Richmond Hill follows a simplified version of the Benedictine Rule as the rhythm of life and ministry on the property.

After Constantine normalized Christianity in A.D. 313 many believers ventured into the dessert to follow a more rigid, monastic form of spiritual life. They often created a systematic “Rule” to measure the status of their daily spiritual life. By the time Benedict came along in the 5th century there were dozens of “Rules” of varying length and complexity being used. Benedict decided to make a composite rule that could be used more broadly by those living this monastic life. His “Rule” is 73 chapters long containing very pragmatic instructions about living a monastic life in community with others.

Richmond Hill follows a simplified 12-part “Rule” to govern the cycle of life and ministry on the property: Conversion of Life, Obedience, Community, Simplicity, Humility, Hospitality, Prayer, Racial Reconciliation, Healing, Ecumenism, Christian Social Transformation and Stability.

Of the 12 we discussed with one of the resident priests on-site, I was struck by a couple of these broad areas of focus. First was Prayer: They practice 3 daily corporate prayer sessions at 7am, 12pm and 6pm. Strangely they are meant to be interruptions in the day, not integral parts of it. Stopping to pray when you’re getting ready for the day, working or before a meal is meant to regularly jar you back into prayer for the city, reconciliation, etc.

Second is stability. The order values longevity in ministry that produces stability not just for the monastic community, but for the individual lives as well. When you make a commitment to stick it out at a place of ministry through difficult times or with difficult people the gradual maturity produced as a result creates personal stability you’d not gain by fleeing to the next open ministry available to pursue.

We could learn a lot about ministry from this ancient order: Regularly scheduling prayer interruptions to force us to pray for all the concerns we ought. Staying put in ministry not for the purpose of adding stability to our church, but for the maturity it produces in us.

For more information about the VEF and Fusion Groups, contact our Director of Church Relations at Harry Gill at harry@vef.cc.

Tim Cole headshot - circle smTim Cole
Director of Church Planting

Raising Leaders – Raising Questions

Posted in Fusion Groups, General Advice on September 21, 2011 by Waypoint Church Partners
How do you wrestle with the changes in culture?  What do you do when the successful leaders around you are doing a thing one way and you have always been led to believe that it should not be done that way?
Recently, I have had the privilege of being in Fusion Groups where the participants have been discussing just a variety of things that seem to be “sacred cows” in some of our churches and maybe need to be examined.
Some of the topics were:  Should the preacher know the amount a member is giving?  That question generated a spirited debate in a couple of our groups.  Some said definitely not, it may influence how the preacher ministers to that person.  Others felt that if the giving level changed it indicated a spiritual problem that the minister should be aware of.  Others maintained that those who don’t contribute shouldn’t have undue influence in the decisions of the church.
Another was: Do you baptize a person you don’t know anything about when they first come down the aisle? Or to ask the question another way:  What is required for a person to become a member?  The answers were not the same in every group and within the groups there were differences that were discussed.
I think this is one of the beautiful things about the Restoration Movement.  There is unity in the essential elements of our Faith but room for interpretation in areas of opinion.  Perhaps you would like to join the discussion, just give me a call and I’ll try to hook you up with one of our groups.  If there is not a group in your area, I’ll help get one started.