vision

Do You Trust God With What's Next?

nourdine-diouane-77072-unsplash-copy.jpg

Proving Ground - Part 4

God has big plans for your life but there are tests along the way to fulfilling His promises. In our last week of the Proving Ground series, we are taking a look at two tests that will determine your level of trust in God; a key to overcoming anything.

Today is our last installment of the Proving Ground series. Here is a recap of the first 7 tests:

  1. The Test of Small Things

  2. The Motivation Test

  3. The Credibility Test

  4. The Wilderness Test

  5. The Authority Test

  6. The Warfare Test

  7. The Offence Test

8. The Test of Time

Many people live on the sidelines of life as if waiting to be called into the game. But life is a continual unfolding of opportunities. In order to make the most of these, it is important that we prepare. You must ask:

What do I pay attention to?  vs.  What grabs my attention?

If you take the time to plan, you can list out what you will pay attention to and that will help you focus when things come along and grab your attention.

Focus on your why - Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my problem to solve? When you have clear answers to those questions, you can prioritize your time.

In the Bible, great leaders learned to think both short-term and long-term. They learned to trust God even when it meant waiting. In order for us to do this, we must understand that there is purpose in these seasons of waiting. As James said, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." There is purpose in every season and knowing that allows me to think both long-term and short-term at the same time.

9. The Lordship Test

For centuries, theologians have debated how to balance our free will with the sovereignty of God. In Proving Ground, Gerald addressed this topic very well. He said that trying to pick either free will or sovereignty is a "dumb dichotomy." It is not one or the other, it is both.

God's will is that we would will His will. So while we take comfort that God is in control, we must take great honour and pride in the fact that we have an opportunity to carry out His plans and purposes here on earth. Passing the Lordship Test brings us to believe that God is always right.

Proving Ground Within the Church

It doesn't matter where we are and what we are currently doing, we each have to pass these nine tests continually. God is not concerned with how many people attend your church; He is looking for us to be faithful with what we have. He is moved by the individual lives that are changed with the gospel we share. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world and we have a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have enjoyed this series, we would highly recommend you purchase your own copy of Proving Ground. If you'd like to purchase one, you can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Who Are Today's New Natives?

helena-lopes-592971-unsplash-copy.jpg

Marching Off the Map - Part 2

Generation Y and Z are two very different groups of people. They have been influenced by different societies and, therefore, view things diversely. Today we are pulling apart the differences between Y and Z to determine how we can educate each generation effectively.

What began in academic circles as Generation Y has now been broken down into two separate groupings; Generation Y and Generation Z. Y individuals are those deemed "millennials," born between 1990 and 2010 and Z is the generation born after 9/11. Let's compare the two.

Generation Y

  • Grew up in a strong economy with high self-esteem.
  • Watches YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
  • Worried about growing their status and "likes" on social media.

Generation Z

  • Growing up in a time of recession, terrorism, racial violence, volatility, and complexity.
  • Doesn't want to be tracked so prefer Snapchat over Facebook because messages disappear.
  • Want to co-create, live stream and help make up the activity as they participate.
  • Worried about the economy and world ecology.

7 Shifts Between Generation Y and Z

Elmore discusses seven major shifts between Generation Y and Generation Z. Our challenge as pastors, parents, and educators is navigating these changes. Some of them are subtle while others are quite big. Regardless, it is vital that we as leaders make ourselves aware of them.

1. Confidence is morphing into caution.

People who grew up between 1990 and 2000 had very different childhoods than those who grew up between 2005 and 2015. The economy in the 90's was expanding whereas the past ten years have been marked with economic recession. The headlines have been constantly filled with terrorism and racial unrest since the fateful day of 9/11, nevermind the increase in gender confusion and other social debates.

2. Idealism is morphing into pragmatism.

Ten years ago, it was reportedly easy for Generation Y to get what they wanted. Today, money is a bit tighter and there's been an increase in multi-generational households. Many are forced to think practically and ahead, and optimism has shifted to cynicism.

3. From aggressively pursuing further education to hacking one.

Generation Z watched Generation Y become paralyzed with student loans and debt. So, instead of applying to multiple universities in search of a liberal art education, Generation Z has started to combine university classes with online certificates and real-world experience.

4. Spending money is morphing into saving money.

Generation Y has been known to spend money boldly and with few boundaries. In contrast, Generation Z's reality is forcing them to think ahead and prepare. This isn't necessarily bad though; it could help them in the future.

5. Consuming media is shifting to creating media.

Today, young teens prefer to create media posts as opposed to only consuming them. They desire interactive experiences where they can actually participate in their content's outcome.

6. Viral messages on social media are becoming vanishing messages.

Younger kids have witnessed the downsides of being tracked on social media by their parent's, teachers and future employers, now preferring messaging that evaporates, like Snapchat.

7. Standard text messages have now become icon messages.

Kids now choose to send emojis in place of words. They have strong filters and want content to be shared and understood rapidly.

Elmore's Suggestions for Connecting with Generation Z

Elmore suggests seven things we should do to connect with this upcoming generation. Here are a few that stood out to me.

  1. Keep it short. - Remember, Generation Z has a very short attention span. While they are capable of paying attention for long periods of time, the key is to engage them within 6-8 seconds.
  2. Feed their curiosity. - They want to discover new content and pass it on. So, we need to build a hunger for interesting facts and relay why the information is important to know.
  3. Give them ownership. - Students support what they help create. They'll value something they've discovered more than what's given to them without their effort.
  4. Offer them a cause. - Most kids want to do something important. They want to be a part of something meaningful, not hypothetical.

The deeper we dig into Elmore's book, the deeper we want to go in reaching this generation. This is not a "next year" thing nor a change in our vision, it's a reality check. Our move forward begins with our commitment. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 3

headway-537308-unsplash-copy.jpg

Holy Discontent, Leaving Your Comfort Zone, and Blazing New Trails

With a new generation upon us, we need to step up and lead them like never before. How do we prepare ourselves to reach them? Tune in to today's podcast as we take a look at the next three factors of a pioneer.

Hi Victory Nation! We are continuing our discussion about pioneers and if you've missed the last two, you can find them under the "Inside MyVictory Podcasts" tab above. Here is a quick recap of the first five characteristics:

  1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.
  2. Pioneers often don't fit in.
  3. Pioneers are dreamers.
  4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.
  5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.

Now, let's get started with the next few!

6. Pioneers always want to go further.

Pioneers always have a holy discontent, a term Bill Hybels describes as an "experience of an uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world which aligns with the heart of God that spurs us to take positive action to change the world." It's not a discontent about personal gain, but rather a discontent on behalf of God and His kingdom.

Too many people quit just before the breakthrough. Either they stop because it just became too difficult to press on, or because they lost that factor of holy discontent. Pioneers must always desire to go further in taking the hope of Jesus to a broken world.

7. Pioneers are resilient, resourceful, and tenacious.

Pioneers are a tough breed of people who simply refuse to quit. They would rather die than go back to their old, dull way of life. These people are constantly pushing themselves to grow. John Maxwell aptly stated, "If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone."

To test your limits, pursue your personal best daily. Constantly strive to improve, becoming better with each successive day. This attitude requires that you learn to be comfortable living outside of your comfort zone.

8. Pioneers cultivate the tough land.

Each generation of pioneers must plow a way for the next. We don't have to reinvent the wheel - we can take off where other pioneers have left off.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn't stick around forever to oversee the most important work on the planet. No, He ascended into heaven and delegated that responsibility to His disciples and every successive generation.

I think the church needs to pioneer more so today than ever before. In Marching Off the Map, Tim Elmore says, "Settlers will be left in the dust as the young people we lead disconnect from us and find others they can follow to new places. Or, they will forge ahead with no mentors at all." If the world pioneers and the church doesn't, the next generation will begin pursuing the world or simply nothing at all.

Pastor George Hill says, "We dream, we live the dream, and in living the dream we dream again." We have to constantly re-evaluate and re-invent our methods. The message we need to portray is too powerful for us to settle. The church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 2

devin-avery-517271-unsplash-copy.jpg

Abraham - The Original Pioneer

Are you missing your destiny by choosing to remain comfortable? Do you dream about possibilities or simply live within your current circumstances? In the second instalment of our pioneering series, Pastor Gene and I take a look at the life of Abraham and how God led him to become the "Father of Faith."

If you missed last week's podcast, you can get all caught up here. Let's get started!

3. Pioneers are dreamers.

Before God could use Abraham, He had to get him dreaming. God led Abraham outside and showed him the stars, telling him that one day, his descendants would one day be as vast as the night sky. He was giving Abraham a visual to dream about.

God likes us to dream big, in fact, He encourages it. The limitation in our lives is not God's lack of ability to fulfill our dreams, but often our inability to visualize them.

Dreaming big starts by giving yourself time to dream. Our schedules can often be laden with responsibilities, causing us to neglect time to think or dream. Don't just work in the church, work on the church. Don't just work in your business, work on your business.

When I dream, I begin by reading my Bible and praying. My faith is strengthened when I read about God utilizing ordinary people for incredible projects. In prayer, I find that the Holy Spirit pushes me to think beyond my own limitations and dares me to believe for more.

4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.

Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham "obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Because of his obedience, Abraham has been deemed the "Father of Faith"; a true pioneer. Pastor George Hill put it best when he said, "Today's breakthroughs are the result of yesterday's obedience and tomorrow's breakthroughs are the result of today's obedience."

5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.

If Abraham would have chosen to remain comfortable, he would have missed his destiny. Hebrews 11:9 says, "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise." Abraham was willing to put up with what was less than ideal to obey God and pioneer. If he hadn't done so, he would have never been known as "Father Abraham."

Pioneers are not afraid of hard work and sacrifice because they know that both will be rewarded in the end. They are more focused on the future and end results than they are on today's comforts.

Pioneers live in what Pastor George likes to call the "happily terrified zone." To many on the outside, the risks they take look haphazard and reckless. Why would someone move to an unknown location to plant a church? Why would someone leave their comfort zone to reach out to the lost in missions work? Well, because the church is the hope of the world, on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 1

rawpixel-423665-unsplash-copy.jpg

Taking Risks and Stepping Out of the Mold.

Do you value routine over risk? Fitting in over stepping out? Maybe you have settled somewhere in your leadership. Tune in to the first part of our Pioneering series to discover how to get out of your rut.

One of my most recent reads was Marching off the Map by Tim Elmore. It was a phenomenal book that gave great insight into where we are today as a society and how we can connect with the next generation more effectively. I would highly recommend every leader, pastor, communicator, or educator pick up a copy. It certainly has us talking about what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Last week, we gathered as a staff for our monthly training and I discussed the difference between pioneers and settlers. Pioneers march off the map whereas settlers are not so willing to leave comfort behind. For the next four weeks, Pastor Gene and I will be discussing 10 characteristics of a pioneer. 

1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.

There are no guarantees of success when you march off the map. But at the same time, there is a guarantee of failure if you don’t and remain a settler. Elmore made a powerful statement when he said, “Settlers will be left in the dust as the young people we lead disconnect from us and find others they can follow to new places. Or, they will forge ahead with no mentors at all.

Pioneers are usually the one with arrows in their back. They are shot at by settlers that have no understanding of their strange new tactics. Being a pioneer is not a comfortable place to be, yet settling is not a chance we should take. We have to bravely march off the map!

2. Pioneers often don’t fit in.

Pioneers have the tendency to feel out of place, especially in a room full of settlers. Instead of just going with the flow, pioneers create their own. They are not conformists, they are reformers, therefore, setting themselves apart from the crowd. They are leaders like Caleb in the Old Testament whom God noted as having a “different spirit.” Caleb went on to inherit the promise while the others didn’t.

Our goal as pioneers is to adapt, not adopt. We need to shift, not drift. We can either resist change until we no longer can, or we can adapt and harness that change powerfully.

Pioneering within the Church

As leaders, we must realize what is permanent and what is temporary. Our mission and vision to make disciples are permanent whereas our methods and programs to do such are temporary. We never compromise what the Bible teaches, but we may change the ways we present those truths.

We must also be constantly focused on our why. We can adapt our what or how to achieve our why, but the why never changes. This is about being focused on our outcomes.

I became passionate about the church at an early age but I fell madly in love with its purpose and vision when Pastor George taught me the Book of Acts in Bible College. It was there that I discovered that the church is God’s original plan and there is no backup. It was there that I saw the difference between our mission and vision and the methods we use to get those things done. It was there that I learned that the church is the hope of the world on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend. 

Episode Resources:

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.