Monthly Archives: April 2011

2011 Easter Jams

**BONUS** I’m feeling extra joyful/jittery today. So, for no extra cost, I’ll throw in my two Easter Jams as an extra post to further bask in the Easter spirit!

1) Traditional: My last Easter at Duke was nothing short of momentous! I went to 3 consecutive services to get the full range of worship: a sunrise service in Duke Gardens, 9:30am Chapel Hill Bible Church (with congregational participation in the “Halleujah” chorus), & the 11:00am Duke Chapel service in all its majesty. It was a special day for me and I remember it fondly. My traditional Easter jam is (courtesy of my good friend Ben W!) from last year’s Chapel Easter service, Christ the Lord is Risen Today and Thine Be the Glory.

2) Contemporary: My good friend Enping is a classmate from Duke IV introduced me to a song he used today from church where he helped lead extended worship for the congregation. It’s a great song with a driving chorus that calls us to remember how glorious God is! Glorious by Paul Baloche.

Worship on Humpback Rock was good! Worshiping on Easter is especially joyful.


Easter 2011: More than a sunrise

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’ve had a blessed and joyful day remembering the resurrection of Jesus Christ! I had a really exciting Easter, spent largely with students which was very enjoyable.

It began quite early. Some students organized a trip to climb Humpback Rock (a nearby mountain that gives spectacular views of the valleys below) for sunrise at 6:26am so we left Grounds at 4:50am. One of the worship leaders, Jed, brought his guitar and intended for us to sing praise songs atop the mountain at sunrise.

The Easter sun has just crept over the horizon.

After the steep hike up, we were surprised to meet people from UVA Wesley fellowship (United Methodists) — their minister had brought communion elements (a wonderful loaf of bread and two cups for dipping into the juice) enough for all of us! — so we decided to combine our services. Out of my time at Duke, I’ve come to enjoy some liturgical worship practices and this short service, in its simplicity, was no exception.

After a brief sermon, we passed around the bread and cup, tearing off a piece for the next person and allowing them to dip it, saying “This is the body of Christ broken for you. This is the blood of Christ poured out for you.” Then Jed and two other IV students led us in several songs to close which was a great blend of old and new worship styles. See a video from the IV worship portion here:

This is the body of Christ, broken for you. This is the blood of Christ, poured out for you

But the celebrations didn’t end there! After a brief nap, I went to a very full church service replete with organs, hand bells, and a wonderful choir singing some of my favorite hymns with a really excellent sermon by the lead pastor. And afterwards, I went to an Easter brunch hosted by a houseful of IV students! There was turkey, a baked ham, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of other dishes (not to mention desserts)! We even had an Easter egg hunt.

I can’t help but smile at what a wonderful day it was. How we began in the morning darkness clambering up the rocky (hardly-)trail with expectation for the sunrise — and we got more than we could’ve hoped for with communion and time with other believers too! And isn’t that what the Resurrection really does? It sets us free from the bonds of sin and then brings us together because we are washed, saved, and freed to enjoy and grow from each other.

Pausing to dye some Easter eggs at the Easter brunch with students (photo courtesy of Anna F)

CTeam Retreat ’11: building

From 4/15-4/17 the new & old Coordinating Team members & staff went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be refreshed, build community, & prepare for next year. It is incredibly important to build up these leaders spiritually, communally, & practically so that they are well-equipped for our InterVarsity camp at year’s end & leading in 2011-2012. This is part 4 of 4 about the weekend & about leadership development.

On Sunday morning, we gathered together for a last session before heading home. After we grounded ourselves firmly in material about identity (namely, the centrality of our relationship with the Lord, our attitude as servants, and celebration and enjoyment of each other), only then did we turn to the practical matters of vision, work, and excellence. But even so, we did and must turn to them! I led the talk that morning — talking about how to practically lead and live out the values we talked about but do our work faithfully. Because faithful work means good work. How do we work well?

I explained how a real Body does work all together — we are to be collaborative, not segmented. We must be integrated instead of siloed, we must care about EVERYTHING and EVERY piece of ministry and not just our own department. Do we find ourselves defending our territory? Do we allow for dissent? Do we give dissent respectfully? Do we really listen to each other? Do we pursue and invite and want quieter members to contribute? Or do we plunge forward like the Lone Ranger?

I talked about how the process of our leadership should be clear, should be streamlined, should be regimented. We highlighted the pragmatism of Acts 6 (to deal with a racism and distribution issue), or how the Holy Spirit and material/logistical excellence go hand-in-hand in the building of the Temple. We taught the students that God is in the details, not the devil, because God created order and loves it, that God created details, and loves them. We told them to put off the false dichotomy (and arrogance!) that some really “spiritual” Christians like to claim, that planning is less Spirit-driven than openness. Our scripture and experience has not found that to be true.

We are called Kingdom builders. And builders need the help of architects and engineers and craftsman and measurements and blueprints and plum-lines. And these all sound like awfully pragmatic and empirical things, but isn’t this partly how the Temple and Nehemiah’s Jerusalem wall-building take place? We are builders, and we want to build things that are sturdy, lasting, even as they are artful, and expressive. That is what the Kingdom should look like.

I laid out some clear guidelines, goals, and a sample planning worksheet to show them how good planning is a blessing to those we lead — how our preparation and detail-oriented specificity blesses them to better accountability. Instead of “organize this event” we come up with clear parameters to help them gauge success and goals by, and then they are really part of our vision. Instead of “lead that meeting,” we help them think through what kind of meeting we need to have and what it should do, and empower them to lead effectively instead of vaguely. We learn to prepare and think and plan and bless others with the details, because God is in the details.

And after that was all finished, we prayed together, took some photos, packed up and went back to Grounds. Because we have retreats not just to get away, but also so that we can come back better and more ready for what God has for us.

Pray that our leaders will put in the work/effort to prepare, plan, execute, communicate, and build well!

Preparing my notes for my talk on structure, systems, planning, and leading effectively

CTeam Retreat ’11: celebrate!

From 4/15-4/17 the new & old Coordinating Team members & staff went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be refreshed, build community, & prepare for next year. It is incredibly important to build up these leaders spiritually, communally, & practically so that they are well-equipped for our InterVarsity camp at year’s end & leading in 2011-2012. This is part 3 of 4 about the weekend & about leadership development.

On Saturday night, after some time in the sun, planning together, and a tasty dinner, we settled in for a time of celebration. Celebration isn’t something I’m very gifted at in a ministry context — our culture, even our church/Christian culture encourages an “all work, no play” attitude because we are so driven and so focused! We never stop to see what we have been doing and never enjoy it, or never enjoy each other!

We can become so driven, even for the Lord, that we burn ourselves instead of taking time to periodically celebrate what the Lord has done, even as we acknowledge there is still unfinished work. This is definitely one of my own problems, and I am sure many UVAers, even in the Christian sense, feel this same burden to go and never step and never enjoy God’s work or God’s people.

Thus, on Saturday night, we celebrated the new leaders by having a foot-washing ceremony. Remembering the time in the upper room where Jesus washed each disciple’s feet, each old CTeam member washed the feet of their counterpart. It was a time of quiet reflection and joyful handing over. Instead of a leadership transition that was about ascending to new power or having to abdicate, it was about giving new leaders the opportunity to serve! We celebrated that calling God had given them for next year.

Afterwards, each old CTeam member sat in our hotseat. And then for 15 minutes, every other person (old and new CTeam and staff) got to affirm, celebrate, thank, and share about the person there, to actively enjoy that person with all of us together. It was a sweet time! Some people cried as we shared about them, we all had some good laughs and jokes. And after each person was celebrated, they shared the ways they need prayer and then all other members laid hands on that member and prayed for them. I got a chance to sit in the hot seat too, and be affirmed, and be prayed for.

God wants us to celebrate more I think! And in His eyes, it is not wasteful or frivolous — in fact it is essential to growing well and putting things in perspective. Until Christ returns here will always be work to do — and we will always be committed to it — but even in the here-and-now, God grants us the space and blessing (sacrament, almost!) of celebration in light of what the Lord has already done as well as what He has yet to do.

Old CTeam members are washing their counterparts feet in this photo. What a great time of affirmation as we past on leadership to the new executive leaders.

CTeam Retreat ’11: servant leadership

From 4/15-4/17 the new & old Coordinating Team members & staff went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be refreshed, build community, & prepare for next year. It is incredibly important to build up these leaders spiritually, communally, & practically so that they are well-equipped for our InterVarsity camp at year’s end & leading in 2011-2012. This is part 2 of 4 about the weekend & about leadership development.

On Saturday morning, after a light breakfast, we settled into the living room couches with coffee cups, Bibles, and notebooks. Lisa K, the 2010-2011 chapter president, was about to lead us in the first session of the day. Her topic: servant leadership, using 1 Peter 5:1-11. This is a subject of undeniable importance for our CTeamers.

At a top-notch school like UVA — where students seek to amass internship experience, Student Council positions, research credentials, and as many titles as possible to add to their bottom-of-email signatures — it’s easy to subsume Christian leadership under the university culture’s culture.  But while on the surface executive leadership on CTeam looks like Student Council’s officerships, they are totally different. Here are some things Lisa highlighted:

  • Humble vs. Ambitious: It’s not to say that secular leadership isonly about selfish gain — God uses all manner of things.  But a typical UVA student’s ambition to rise in ranks is generally taken for granted or approved of  in our capitalistic spirit.  But our example from 1 Peter says that our leaders should seek positions because they are “eager to serve.”  And when we get position, we do “not [lord] it over those entrusted to you, but [are] examples to the flock.” Our top leaders don’t operate out of the power or position of their titles. They follow the humble authority of Jesus, choosing to ascend or descend in power to better serve the flock.
  • A real enemy vs. neutral market: While we don’t work ourselves into a frenzy, 1 Peter 5 reminds us of the real enemy; this world and life we live in aren’t some neutral market of work, goods, and people. We know that our “enemy the devil [is] looking for someone to devour,” and we know that we are part of a great struggle. This gives us purpose and urgency. But more than anything, it humbles us into dependence on Jesus as He alone has overcome Death.
  • Undergoing suffering together vs. lone rangers: When we are under suffering or stress, Lisa reminded us that we must have the humility to get help! And we are so fortunate that in the Body of Christ are brothers and sisters who will help us bear our burdens. Often times secular leadership or academics leaves you very much alone, like lone warriors having to face an army by themselves. God gave us a body, and we lead in community and are better for it.

As we wrapped up the Bible study, the students were then sent to spend 2.5 hours with the Lord alone, a “retreat of silence” to reflect on their walk with the Lord, and how they feel about leadership and authority. We knew we needed to seek God after two consecutive studies that called us back to Jesus!

Pray for our new leaders to cultivate hearts of service as they prepare for next year!

Lisa K leading a study on servant leadership for old and new CTeam members.

CTeam Retreat ’11: The source of our leadership

From 4/15-4/17 the new & old Coordinating Team members & staff went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be refreshed, build community, & prepare for next year. It is incredibly important to build up these leaders spiritually, communally, & practically so that they are well-equipped for our InterVarsity camp at year’s end & leading in 2011-2012. This is part 1 of 4 about the weekend & about leadership development.

The first night we got there, we spent a little time unwinding from what for all had been a tiring week. It’s a busy time for the students (last midterms, projects, papers, presentations etc.) and staff (year-end preparation for chapter camp, wrapping up discipleship etc.). Some of us went to the beach to enjoy the chilly water and fresh air.  By about 11pm we convened for our first session.

Derek handed out manuscripts of 1 John 1:1-4 — this was to be the core passage for CTeam, for the chapter’s ministry life and their own leadership experience. This short passage has been where Derek has drawn much inspiration for guiding the chapter this year. As Derek led the conversation & students discussed the content of the scripture, we came to the realization that 70% of this passage is about experiencing, feeling, knowing Christ first-hand. Touched, seen, looked upon, with our own eyes and hands. It is so tangible, visceral really, how present and pressing the experience of Christ is! And that is how our life with God, especially as leaders, needs to be!

Your number one responsibility as a leader is your relationship with Jesus,” said Derek. Out of that all our gifts find voice and inspiration, all our work finds strength, and our hearts hope in the face of failure or fatigue. Only out of that can you authentically proclaim, testify, write, and witness to draw people into community with us, which is to say, with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. But above and before all, intimacy with the Father is the foundation and source of our leadership.

This is a timely message for a pressure-laden season of the year, and UVA culture on the whole! Too often they’re told to work work work instead of rest, to achieve for instead of receive from Jesus. And yet Jesus came to serve us first even as He calls us into mission. While we are on mission, if we get the order wrong, we will burn out. Without out a doubt, I needed to hear this message too!

Members of both old and new CTeam jump for joy on the chilly but refreshing beach. Theyre excited to get away for a weekend to bond as a team, learn about their roles, and learn some important things.

Regional Speaker Training

Last Wednesday and Thursday I was in Durham with over 20 other IV staff from the Blue Ridge Region to attend the first ever regional speaker training! Staff young and old, new and seasoned were there to learn some good material and get constructive feedback about upcoming sermons. On Wednesday we had two major training sessions:

  1. Exegesis — how to understand and get the right ideas from scripture so that we are faithfully presenting the text. The process of reflecting on scripture and finding the core ideas is sometimes arduous but we don’t want to impose our own views on scripture!
  2. Deliver — how to effectively deliver these ideas so that they will stick and call people to active engagement/response. We must speak in a way that engages folks (even of different learning styles, of different spiritual/religious backgrounds) that is still faithful to the scriptures and it takes planning and practice!

As I took notes and tried to process all I was hearing, I realized just how far short I fall in my own sermon preparation…

  • I don’t dig deeply enough into the context – both in surrounding paragraphs (or book as a whole), nor the historical/outside material.
  • I don’t go through the grammatical process of diagramming the words to see the real organization of ideas.
  • I don’t take the time to distill the text down to the core ideas.
  • I don’t exercise the patience to let my own heart soak in what God is trying to say to me personally before I want to jump to application or exhortation.

I was very humbled; I am very far from being the speaker/preacher I want to be. Public speaking and preaching is an area where I definitely need more work as a minister. Please pray that I will commit to a more disciplined process of studying and reflection as I go forward with future sermons!

Staff worker Alex Kirk trains us in effective delivery; we learn about styles of learning, ways to organize our concepts, how to engage the audience so that they will hear what the scripture is saying to/about/for them. Lots to take in!

Staff worker John Farmer preaches his sermon in our small group as we listen and give feedback.