Hero Spot

For those of us attending our Cru15 national staff conference, we have had a lot to think about this past week.

We’ve talked about…
…being people who share the Good News,
…moving toward ethnic diversity,
…building partnerships and being good partners, and
…taking the Good News everywhere.
We’ve been challenged in big ways.

Maybe, like me, you’ve followed the #Cru15 tweets as well as the activity feed on the Cru15 app. It’s been great seeing what God is doing in many of our lives.

One session was particularly meaningful for me in terms of my day-to-day work. Joshua Ryan Butler, a pastor at Imago Dei Community in Portland, shared some great perspectives for partnering with others in furthering the Kingdom.

Here are just a few of my notes of his session and some musings related to launching and building new movements.

  • We like to see ourselves in the hero spot, even in missions.
  • But to make a lasting difference for those we minister to, we need to help the locals on the ground become the owners.
  • I think this is just as true in our efforts to launch ministries on new campuses and in new communities.

Butler offered three paradigm shifts.

1. The locals make better rangers.

  • We like to see ourselves as the Lone Ranger and they can be Tonto. It makes great newsletter material, but does it help?
  • We should serve, keeping in mind the locals’ pride and dignity.
  • There is a role we play, but we must put those indigenous in the lead role.
  • When we leave they’re still there.
  • From the beginning give them local ownership.

Principle: Give ownership to students, volunteers, and faculty from the start.

2. See them as agents, not recipients.

  • We tend to look for leaders who look just like us.
  • God often takes the last kids picked to make them leaders.
  • His story of the woman with HIV had the least qualifications to be leader.
  • Are we willing to have God pick those least likely to lead and invest leadership in them?
  • Their faith just might surprise us.
  • I know the Lord is in control of everything, so will I trust Him to use even the “least of these.”
  • The most tragic aspect of life can become the very thing that will bring Him the most glory.

Principle: God calls many who do not have natural advantages into leadership.
Case in point: Me.

3. They have better ideas than I do.

  • I think this one is the hardest for us staff to swallow, but we would do well to believe it.
  • Imago Dei has a saying that pastors can’t start ministries.
  • If we truly believe that God cares more about the eternal condition of every student on that campus or community than we do, then he has the seeds of His work already there.
  • Do we believe that God has given them the vision for their community?
  • Students are insiders. Tap into that.
  • Our goal should not be to contain, but to unleash and shepherd.
  • When we create space for them to lead, we give them dignity.
  • Imago Dei uses a screening process to vet leaders who start ministries.
  • He told about taking sports equipment to a mission site and asked the teachers to put it away until two weeks after they left. In that way, the teachers were the heroes.
  • We want to be heroes.
  • Listen first, then resource.

Philippians 2 contains a Eucharistic hymn.
Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped.

  • He bent down to serve us by lifting us up to God.
  • What He did in humility on our behalf, He will be exalted for it.
  • Those who humble themselves will be exalted.
  • Jesus said that it’s better that He go away, so that the Holy Spirit can work in us and we become one.

Principle: The test of my leadership is not what I do, but what others do because of what I do.

Butler left us with two questions.

  • Where do I have influence?
  • How do I give my spot away?

They are helpful in thinking about launching in new places and communities.

A Better World Series:


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