Adult Team Blog

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

Send out the Missions Volunteers

Your missions team has prayed and is ready to go. Now it’s time to figure out how to get them there. The more folks involved in sending, the more will also be praying and feeling they are a vital part of the kingdom work God has planned for the team. Many hands also make for easier—and quicker—work.

Consider these ideas to spur your church on in its sending efforts:

Bake and Serve Silent Auction

As the WMU director, solicit donations from church members: plates of cookies, loaves of bread, or gift certificates for a pan of lasagna or a homemade meal. Consider asking for services to be donated as well: 2 hours of leaf raking, 3 hours of housework, or 4 hours of babysitting.

Carryout Dinner

Sell tickets for a barbecued chicken dinner. Ask members of adult missions organizations to gather at the church kitchen early in the day to prepare chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and rolls. Set up an assembly line to fill carryout boxes, and deliver to vehicles as folks drive by to pick up. Recruit students to direct traffic in the parking lot.

Missions Books for Bucks

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

If I Will, You Will

One minute I had my perfect post-college plans set, and the next I was convinced they would never come to fruition.

The plan (or so I had hoped) was to move overseas in 2015, a few months after graduation. I saw no need to look for a full-time job or move back in with my parents, because I was going to start my life as a cross-cultural worker when I wanted.

It quickly became apparent that my timeline and God’s timeline weren’t matching up, despite my best attempts to get my way. I went to my university pastor for advice, and he told me to pray and listen to what God was telling me about it.

I prayed and very clearly God told me, “If the Lord wills, you will do this, but wait.”

While that wasn’t the answer I wanted, I listened, and it paid off. I’m only a few months into my term, but I can see that if I hadn’t waited and listened, delaying my plans by a year, so much would be different.

Even as I try to stay focused on my work in South Asia, I find myself wondering about what’s next, and He continues to remind me, “If the Lord wills.”

Are You Listening?

My toddler, positioned on my left hip, was jabbering away. Suddenly he realized I wasn’t listening. With his two chubby hands, placing one on each side of my face, he turned my head so it was positioned directly in front of his face. Happy that he now had my full attention, he continued to speak to me as if I understood every word. That scenario happened almost 38 years ago and I still find myself having a problem listening with my full attention.

Listening is something which does not come naturally to us. In our selfishness we talk first and listen lastly. Listening is a skill, an art. It means consciously making the effort to listen with our mind and hearts, being intentional and disciplining ourselves to learn the skill. Listening involves all of you. It is eye to eye contact with full attention devoted to the person who is sharing.

Over the years God has placed women in my life who have listened in that way. Ears attuned to my joys, sorrows, problems, and giving me their undivided attention. They have listened, prayed and invested in my walk with Christ. Are you that kind of listening friend?

Prepare with Prayer

“Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers was right. No matter what kingdom work calls us, that work must be grounded in and fueled by prayer.

As your church prepares to send out short-term missions teams this summer, make prayer a priority. Recognize that prayer unites the body of Christ and makes those who pray just as important as those who go.

Consider these ideas to ensure those going are covered in prayer:

Prayer Cards: Create postcard-sized prayer cards that include a team photo, a key verse for the trip, and 3 specific prayer requests. Distribute cards to members of missions organizations and consider including in the church bulletin.

Prayer Sync: Challenge church members to set clocks or phones for a daily reminder to pray in the weeks leading up to the trip. If the missions trip dates are July 10–13, consider praying from 7:10–7:13 each day, for example.

London, Listening, and Counter-Cultural Living

If we are going to make changes in our culture, we have to live counter-culturally. A mentor of mine often repeats these simple, wise words. Opportunities to live in a way that challenges our culture are easy to find in college. By choosing to make godly decisions in the midst of the temptations and challenges students face almost daily, counter-cultural and cultural living can seem as starkly different as black and white.

Then, suddenly, something happens that rips you away from your comfortable student bubble. You could graduate, transfer colleges, or even simply realize that you don’t know your university as well as you thought you did. If you’re like me, you can study abroad for a semester in London and realize just how little you really understand about other cultures. I no longer have the luxury of simply living against the status quo. I first have to identify differences between England and my home that do not reflect God and then live against the flow. In new places, though, not getting caught up in the flow is hard to do.

His Schedule

Reading the church newsletter, Brenda sighed. In addition to the usual activities, a baby shower, a workday, a preview of the upcoming Easter music, and a new ladies’ Bible study were scheduled.

“Lord, with work and family responsibilities, how can I do all this?” she moaned. Gently, she sensed the Lord saying, “Let me, not the church calendar, plan your schedule.”

Brenda had been considering a local service project that could use her skills and provide interaction with unbelievers. Realizing God was leading her to revamp her schedule, she decided to bow out of choir, skip the workday, and forgo the Bible study.

When she received some critical remarks for lessening her church involvement, she lovingly explained her actions. With freed-up time, she began kingdom-building relationships in her community.

By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

 

Get Plugged In

Arriving in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, NAMB church planter Jay Parks knew building relationships was vital to building New Life Church. When his son got involved in soccer, Jay attended practices and games, looking to “plug in where families already were,” he says. He soon began coaching, and after a year-and-a-half, he has met many families through it.

Jay and his wife April also committed to engage two families a week by inviting them to dinner, hosting over 100 families so far.

“This shifts a focus from just inviting them to church to simply trying to get to know them,” he affirms.

The soccer field and the Parks’ dinner table have brought many into the fledgling congregation. “Building relationships is so important when trying to reach people with the gospel,” Jay emphasizes.

(You can read more about the Parks’ story at www.newlifekona.com.)


By Ann Maniscalco

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