Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In life we all face loss. On Sunday night we found out that 2 teenagers (a senior and a college freshman) connected with our church and student ministry died in a car wreck. Watching our students deal with loss has been difficult. Our volunteer team has even struggled as we wrestled with how to help our teens through the process. Loss hurts in any situation but when it comes to loss of life there is a deeper pain. When we lose those we love, we are confronted with the reality that this life is short...is not permanent...is a gift. We are now in the the middle of grieving and hurting with these families but as we mourn together we grow stronger. As I have reflected about this time of loss here are some things we are striving to remind teens...
  • Life is short // We say this all the time but in times of loss we are faced with the reality of our own mortality. Over and over we have heard teens and adults reflect on the brevity of life. Our team is just trying to help teens learn from this loss. Life is short and the reality of that truth is in our face this week.
  • God is present // It's during times of loss we long for the presence of God more than ever. God is not just present when things are going well. God is present in the hurricane of pain that death forces on us. This week our message is simple..God is with us.
  • Relationships matter // Times of loss remind us that we need each other. Teens simply want to be together. For our team, the importance of the small group leader is elevated in times of loss. The consistent relationship a small group leader has with students really matters when teens face the hurt of losing a friend.
We have been reminded this week that we don't have all the answers. We are not in control. We also know we can't explain why. What we can do is simply be present as students face loss head on. We will point people to Jesus who saves and hope that sustains.

Monday, August 29, 2011

getting an outside perspective

This fall our Family Ministry Team at Grace Community partnered with the guys at Orange and hired in Joy Bowen to do some coaching with our team. We needed an outside perspective to help us process a staff realignment we were about to make. We called the guys at the Orange Coaching team and got some help and the experience was priceless for our team. We decided to handle two needs in one weekend. Friday night our staff gathered for a session with Joy and then the next day we held a training event for our volunteers. Because we brought someone from the outside in...
  • Our volunteers heard a fresh voice // We can't take all our volunteers to the Orange Conference so this gave us the chance to bring a little bit of Orange home! Volunteers need fresh voices when it comes to training. Sometimes it helps to have another leader say the same things we have been saying.
  • Our staff was encouraged and challenged // We were encouraged with what we were doing well and pushed to rethink some other plans we had for the future. That is what we needed. I loved that we walked away knowing we were doing some things right and still had some things to work on!
  • We discovered some insight into what is NEXT // Our team knows now what we need to focus on in the coming year. That was the best part of partnering with Joy and the Orange Team this fall. From the outside Joy was able to see clearly what was next and pointed that out for us.
If you are interested in getting an outside perspective for what is going in with your ministry give Mark Miller an email or visit the orange website. I promise, it's worth the investment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

when crisis strikes

If you work with teens or kids crisis moments are things you work hard to avoid. We have policies, guidelines, safeguards, and checklists but still if you are reaching people then crisis will knock on your door from time to time. An accident, a volunteer mistake, a natural disaster, or a student that makes a terrible choice can all place our team right in the middle of a crisis. Crisis will come but the most important question is how we respond and lead in the middle of the situation. When crisis strikes here are a few guiding thoughts that our team tries to embrace.

  • confront // In crisis situations your team needs a leader and needs wise decisions made. The quicker the issue is confronted the better control you will have in influencing the rest of the process.
  • console // So many times in a crisis situation people simply need another person to listen and be fully present. People impacted by crisis have to know we care and we will make things right. We can't take away what went down but we can make sure people impacted feel loved and cared for.
  • connect with parents // For those of us who lead children's or teen ministries we always have to keep the role of the parent in mind when crisis strikes. If something goes wrong make sure you are connecting with parents ASAP. With text messaging, tweeting, and Facebook nothing can be kept quiet. We never need to keep parents out of the loop. Connect with parents fast and make sure they hear the true story.
  • clean up // With crisis you always get to clean up what went wrong. This is the stage where we have to process what happened and how to make sure it does not happen again. Clean up also involves making sure your church leadership is in the loop about what went wrong and what the correction was. Always make sure your supervisors are in the loop and involved with every aspect of cleaning up the mess. Never try to "clean up" alone.
  • correct // Always make sure you allow crisis to make your ministry stronger by making the right corrections. We learn then we work to make things better and more efficient.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ministry and My Kids

Balancing family and ministry is a constant struggle for parents in ministry. Chelsea and I both have leadership roles at Grace Community Church and the demand for us to balance home and church has become even more important. There are times both of us have responsibilities that take us away from home and from our kids and we signed up for the challenge. God has called us to serve His church and serve our kids and He is passionate about both. If God is for both then as parents we can be passionate about both and be effective at both. The other day my youngest told me that she loves church. My oldest is already volunteering at the age of 8. Both our kids believe in, enjoy, and are thriving in their growth as followers of Jesus because of the partnership our family has with our church. As a pastor (especially a student pastor) here are some things we are doing to make sure we have balance with church and home.
  • We involve our kids in the ministry we lead  >> our kids understand and are involved in much of the ministry we lead...what a great advantage. They know the volunteers we lead with. They care our events go well. They even give us feedback (on ministry ideas for kids). when our last group of seniors graduated my 8 year old cried. Why? Because she loved those teens. That is a kid who is involved and connected!
  • We make sure our kids are plugged in to their weekly small groups >> This is a big deal. Our kids are a part of our church. We make sure they are growing just like we are trying to hep other teens and kids grow.
  • We make sure our kids are serving with us >> Our girls know there are things we do for "work" and things we do just to serve. We involve our kids in our effort to serve our community.
  • We protect our days off and take vacation >> Yep, we take days off and we use our vacation time. Days off and vacation just help our family find health. We find we need it in order to function!
  • We protect 4 nights of the week to be home >> being home and being in a routine is a big deal. We have community group night, a night of the week our kids are involved in outside activities, and a night where we are doing student ministry...the other 4  are nights we try to be home. Kids need to know they matter as much or more than anything going on at church. They see where we spend our time. 
  • We leave work at work >> Home is home and work is work. When we leave the office we are trying to leave our problems at the office. This is hard with technology but it has to be an effort we make every week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

life and death...

Life comes with no guarantee. Life is a gift with given with a beginning and an end. What is most significant about life is what we do in the the process of living, the writing of our story, the choices we make. I watched this video today and was simply inspired. I hope you will take just a few minutes and hear Ed tell his story. This was a great reminder of the blessing and power of one life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great ideas, bad communication

A few weeks ago I went with a few of my friends to Atlanta to spend a day at the PGA Championship and play a round of golf together. We went to an older course in the Buckhead area. The course was in great shape and had a fun layout but it was lacking one thing...signs! At least 5 times during the day we were confused about where to go for the next hole, or what direction the upcoming hole was supposed to go because...THERE WERE NO SIGNS! There were times we simply felt lost and it messed with our experience for the day.

In the ministries we lead we can have great ideas, great environments, a great mission, great staff, a great strategy but if we do not communicate effectively with volunteers and attenders we can sabotage our effort. For those of us who lead family ministries we also have the tension of communicating well with parents. Communication and your communication strategy need as much attention as the time you put info shaping your message each week. Announcements, signage, volunteer info emails, social media posts are either helping people know the direction you are heading or confusing them. More than ever people are bombarded by messages that want their attention. When we cut through the clutter and hone our communication process we help advance our mission. I promise, effective communication will pay off in the end. Make sure your great ideas and followed by clear communication.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Revolution Conference 2011...coming Saturday!

Every August our Family Ministry Team at Grace Community hosts a conference for our volunteers who work with kids called the Revolution Conference. There is never a perfect time for a training event. We never get "all" our volunteers there, but we believe that training and renewal are a big deal. We also enjoy giving our volunteers a few surprise gifts for coming to our training events and we have a cool gift for this year! We are so excited that we have Joy Bowen from the Rethink Group as our guest speaker. Joy is one of our favorite leaders and she has so much wisdom from her time serving in several churches. We feel this day is important because it allows our volunteers to hear the "why" behind what we do each week and learn more about how we call all improve! Why and how are both so important ideas we need to communicate to our volunteer team. We can't wait to see how God works this year at the conference. To see our plan for the day just check out www.revolutionconference.tv.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FEEDBACK...You need to hear it!

Feedback, questions, concerns, ideas...you need to hear them. One of the best things we can do for the teams we lead is to create a culture where feedback is encouraged. I can't tell you how many times the right feedback at the right time from a volunteer has shaped the direction of our ministry for the better! Is all feedback equal...nope, but that is where we listen and discern. Your team ( staff and volunteer) have ideas to make your organization better. Make sure they know you want them to speak up when something is on their mind. Your team needs a voice, make sure you give them that opportunity to have that voice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

yes...I work with my wife!

Yes, it's official. I now work with my wife. This week Chelsea joins our Family Ministry Team at Grace Community Church as our Family Ministry Coordinator. She is part time which is great for her full time job as mom and wife. Truth be told Chelsea has been my top leader in every ministry I have ever led through the years. As a teen she felt a call to ministry but felt when she married a pastor she had filled that calling. Chelsea is also one of the best educators I have ever seen in a classroom setting. I really like hiring teachers for our family ministry team. (If you can run a class, connect with parents at school, deal with administration, then you can thrive in the church setting) As Family Ministry Coordinator, Chelsea will lead our partnership with parents, strengthen our organizational systems, and help us build our special needs ministry at GCC. She also has to put up with me but she has been doing that for fifteen years.

Yes we hired my wife and I know that would not happen in many organizations. At Grace we have decided to always hire the right person for the role regardless of what their last name happens to be. We have several family connections on our team and we work hard to make sure there are healthy boundaries between work and family for everyone. Why hire Chelsea for this position? Here are a few reasons...
  • Calling // Chelsea feels called to invest in families and kids. This is a calling she has lived out for years as a volunteer so it is so great to see her live that out at our church on staff.
  • Education // She is finishing her graduate degree in school counseling at Western Kentucky University...wow, that is going to be useful.
  • Experience // so many years as an amazing volunteer...an amazing parent...a teacher with 8 years of experience...what more can I say.
  • Team Connection // yea, Chelsea was interviewed by several on our team and this is just a great fit for our staff team. Connection matters. Thrilled she already has healthy relationships with the team.
There ya go...excited about this addition to our team as I know this will help us advance the Kingdom of God.

Monday, August 15, 2011

check out our new website

On Sunday we launched our brand new website at Grace Community Church where I serve. So proud of the team that worked to hard on this project and really excited about the results. We believe our website is the front door of our church. When people are checking out where to attend they look to the web first. When people need information they are gonna hit our website. When they miss a Sunday and want to stay up to speed they are going to grab content from our website. The new design helped us refine our message and communicate more effectively. We are also using QR codes now to help direct people to specific parts of the site so if you have a reader test it out on the logo above. Hope you will check out the new site.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

one idea that worked...Open House

Late on Wednesday night and I am still processing how our Open House for our student ministry went. We were simply blown away by the turnout. You can see in the picture the room is packed with teens and parents. We pushed back the start of our year so we could host an Open House for new middle and high school students in our church and community and combine that with a small group leader training. This is one idea that worked and here are a few reasons our team is so excited...
  • We connected with families >> Our hope is to always partner with families and this provided an avenue for us to meet parents and teens in the same setting. Open House was a great way to connected with parents.
  • We cast vision >> It was great to be able to explain who we are and where we are going!
  • We promoted small group >> Open House gave us a chance to introduce our small group leaders to many new students!
  • We helped 6th graders >> Yep, new 6th graders are nervous about another new environment. We got to help them adjust tonight.
  • We worked to build momentum >> Every teen tonight left with a free t-shirt from our ministry and got a heads up on upcoming events. That helps to build momentum.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Does your title matter?

I have to admit I am a title guy. I like people to have the right title for the role they fill in our organization. I think titles help our team define roles but they can never limit the influence or responsibilities people have in our organization. Today public titles and internal structure are going to look different. I am involved in many aspects of our church that go beyond my title. An effective organization never allows a title to limit the impact a person can make. Sure your title matters but here are a few reasons your title matters less and less...
  • Teamwork // If you do more than talk about "team" then titles will loose their internal significance. Teams work together. Teams share responsibility. Teams sacrifice for the good of the organization.
  • Motivation //I am reading the book Drive by Daniel Pink so this idea is stuck in my head. Today people are motivated by being able to make a difference, by being a part of a movement not just doing a job and getting paid. Titles will never motivate this generation. Being a part of a mission of significance will every time!
  • Creative Expression // Creativity can't be contained in a title and all of us need the freedom of creative expression. Most people have gifts that fall outside their title that the organization needs.
  • Flexibility // When you focus on hiring talented people over filling job titles you will have movement in your organization. When leaders have the freedom to move around and find new motivation then the organization wins...oh yea, they get a new title!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Passion + Responsibility

If we were all honest we would admit there are things we do in our job that we are passionate about and things we do out of responsibility. Last week was a crazy week packed full of details that I was responsible for. On Thursday I found myself tired and drained with tasks that had to be done. I finally got to a place where I was able to spend a few hours working on a project I was passionate about. It was amazing. I immediately felt a sense of joy as I was able to focus on what I was most passionate about. It was in the moment that I was reminded of an important principle for any leader. Handling the tasks I am responsible for opens opportunity for me to do what I am passionate about. None of us will ever have a job where we spend 100% of the time doing what we love doing. Some of us waste time dreaming of a time where we will be free from responsibility (tasks we do not enjoy) and thriving in passion. The truth is that we can't separate the two. Executing my responsibilities leads to freedom to pursue my passion. Passion and responsibility are linked and you need to balance both in order to be an effective leader. Make sure you are blocking time in your day, week, and month to focus on what you are passionate about and manage what you are responsible for!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You should join Twitter

Seriously...you should join twitter. I tell that to leaders every chance I get. I was a doubter. I waited for a long time to get an account. I could not imagine why I needed one other social media outlet. 8,000 tweets later I am here to say that Twitter is my favorite social networking tool out there. If I had to go with only one social networking tool I would choose twitter.  Why...here are a few reasons why I love using twitter!
  • Networking // I have been able to connect with other leaders and develop friendships on twitter. No matter what you do in life you can find other people to connect with and network with on twitter.
  • Sharing ideas // Twitter is about sharing ideas...sharing what is happening now (in 140 characters or less)...sharing what is coming up. I love that twitter allows me to share my blog, ideas I have, and what is going on in my life quickly. I also love seeing what other people are thinking.
  • Lists // Lists allow you to group people and follow just what that group is sharing. I have a list for my church, a list for sports, a list for people thinking Orange. Lists allow me to keep it all clear.
  • Current News // If you want to know what is happening right now then get twitter. You will know what is going on before CNN or ESPN every reports it.
  • Focused interaction // Facebook is for friends but twitter allows me to focus. Love that on twitter I can focus on ministry and networking.
  • Simplicity // Twitter has boundaries and it is easy to use on my Macbook and iPhone. I just enjoy the simplicity and I think it will outlast many other tools out there.
So if you are out there and you are doing ministry take a few minutes and get a twitter account. You can find me at @michael_bayne and if you want to follow our team at Grace Community Church go check out our links to twitter on the staff page.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

our first MIX & REMIX open house

For the first time at RELEVANT student ministry we are having an Open House for new middle and high school students! I'm not sure why it has taken us so long to figure this out but our team felt like this is a needed night for people in our community and at Grace Community Church. This week we will give parents and teens a chance to hear about our ministry, to get inside info on upcoming event dates, and to meet their small group leaders. Our hope is to partner with parents and this is just one more chance to help teens and parents know what we are about. If your go to Grace Community Church or if you live in Clarksville and are looking for a student ministry for your teen then come check out our first ever Mix & Remix Open House. Here are the details...

Date: August 10
Time: 6:30-7:15
Location: St. B Christian Church (280 Dunbar Cave Road 37043)
Email us with questions to michael@gcomchurch.com or check out www.relevantstudents.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Creating Peace

You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.  - Matthew 5:9 (MSG)

You have probably read this verse before in your Bible. You will remember it as "blessed are the peacemakers" from the Beatitudes. I love this translation from The Message. We are blessed when we make peace...when we help people cooperate instead of compete. If you are a leader this is a great reminder. Creating peace is hard but rewarding work. When we work for it Jesus said we would be blessed. The amazing thing about creating peace is very often have to move through conflict to arrive at peace. Conflict and peace have a strange relationship and most of the time without conflict peace will never materialize in our churches...our small groups...our families...our businesses. So the question for those of us who lead is simple. Are we helping people cooperate instead of competing? Are we willing to pay the price in order to create peace?

Monday, August 1, 2011

You can only follow poor leadership so long

You can only follow a poor leader for so long. Poor leadership will drain you emotionally. Poor leadership will sabotage your strategy. Poor leadership will bring frustration. When you're in an organization with poor leadership at the top you will at some point leave. The question you have to ask now is what do I do in the middle of this journey. You know what I'm talking about. Many of you out there are ready to quit but God has called you to stay focused and lead. God has you where you are for a reason but many times we waste opportunities because we are frustrated. When you are faced with working in an organization with poor leadership here is what you need to do "in the middle."
  • Keep Leading >> So many time we give in to poor leadership and quit taking risks. Keep leading strong. The team you lead needs your leadership.
  • Honor >> Remember who is in charge. When you are the team leader you will want people to honor your choices...give that same honor to your leaders now.
  • Learn and take notes >> Make sure you make notes of lessons you learn in your current environment. You will have a chance to do things differently.
  • Keep dreaming >> Even if you are the only one, keep dreaming about what might be possible!
  • Keep learning and listening >> Hit a conference, visit other churches, follow blogs, read books! Don't allow poor leadership to hurt your growth.
  • Be patient >> When you led by surrounded by poor leadership other opportunities look fantastic. Never allow your frustration to lead you a direction that might be no better.