Nigel Ring on October 18th, 2017

Recently I had a conversation with Susie Howe, wife of one of the elders of a Newfrontiers church in London. In the first part of our conversation, posted last time, Susie shared how the Bethany Project had started and about how she helped to equip churches to support and empower marginalised children in Africa.

In this second part of our conversation I asked Susie how she would advise anyone who feels a call to work in cross-cultural mission. In this video she gives some very helpful and practical advice about testing your call and preparing to go, and about relating appropriately and helpfully with those you are seeking to serve.

 

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Nigel Ring on October 12th, 2017

There are millions of marginalised and vulnerable children in Africa. A few years ago Susie Howe, the wife of an elder in a Newfrontiers church in London, found herself in Zimbabwe due to her husband having an assignment there with his job.

Professionally Susie had been an HIV/AIDS nurse in one of the large London teaching hospitals and, when approached to help with the needs of orphaned children, she felt that children were not in her area of expertise. But God had other ideas.

In this first part of a conversation I had with Susie she is transparent about her walk with Him and how she launched a very effective initiative, now called The Bethany Children’s Trust, that is helping churches to address the needs in several African nations. She has also helped thousands of children in various ‘hands on’ ways through partner organisations.

 

 

Called to Cross-cultural Mission?
Next week I will continue the conversation in which Susie gives some very helpful observations about issues to consider for those who may be preparing to fulfil a call to cross-cultural mission.

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Nigel Ring on October 4th, 2017

 

In this final part of responding to a question about the relationship between Elders and the Administrator I shall address four particular features that are important in this relationship.

1. Friendship
Jesus had great friendship with the disciples. It is worth watching some of the excellent word-for-word videos of the gospels – such as that of Matthew – to get a flavour of the reality of this; watch about 40 seconds of this short clip illustrating Matthew 11:1-2 (although the whole video is well-worth watching). We know that he shared his life with them and that they were party to major decisions he made. Although there was misunderstanding on many occasions the friendship was sustained; he did not speak down to them but treated them as friends in his day to day walk with them, often a literal walk through the fields and woods, chatting about different truths illustrated by the surroundings like grain and harvest fields. I feel sure that this clip of them joking around with one another, as young men in their twenties are wont to do, is a justifiable dramatisation!

For an Administrator to serve the elders well he must be their friend, and be present when discussions are taking place about strategy so that he can contribute from his skill about issues that others may miss. He is not there to veto ideas but to bring his perspective. This brings us to the second key feature, prayer.

2. Prayer
Although I place this here after friendship I do in fact think this is the most important part of how an Administrator can best serve the Elders.

I had the privilege of praying with Terry Virgo and the above teams over many years. Not only did I learn much about prayer in what was effectively a ‘workshop’ but it also allowed me to know what was in the hearts of the vision setters. By listening to their praying I was able to filter their prayer requests though my administrative grid and, assuming their prayers would be heard, I asked God for wisdom about implementation. Over the years such ‘listening in’ allowed me to get ahead with thinking through the practical steps that would need to be taken once God gave the green light and answered these prayers. This stream-lined the implementation process as I understood what had brought about a particular decision and why it had been made. Having contributed to it I had ownership of it.

3. Respect and Trust
Once the merchant had hired his kubernetes to carry the cargo from port A to port B he had to put his trust in the kubernetes to get him and his cargo there safely. He respected the fact that this man had many years of experience. He understood the currents and the winds in the Mediterranean. For instance, he knew by the time of year when it was not safe to sail round the windward side of Cyprus (Acts 27:4). Had the merchant determined the course he might well have taken the more direct but dangerous route.

4. Delegated authority
When a merchant hired a boat he delegated the authority for implementing the safe passage to the kubernetes. It is important that the appropriate level of authority is delegated to the Administrator so that he can implement strategy effectively. Clearly there must be good communication with the elders but it can be a nightmare for the Administrator if they get too involved in the detail! To be effective the Administrator must know the boundaries of the authority he has been given and agree mutual expectations with the elders. Much of this may not need to be spelt out in detail if they are good friends; but if in doubt spell it out!

Conclusion
So, that is how to do it! Remember, success is based on relationship and recognition that the gifts of the Spirit are for the health of the body. Every part must be working properly for the whole body to be built up and function effectively.

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Nigel Ring on September 27th, 2017

 

Last time we saw how the gift of administration is often not fully utilised due to a lack of understanding of how it should operate. This denies the church from benefitting from all that the gift has to offer. Here I will try to give some practical tips.

The Practice
Underlying the question I am often asked is the genuine desire to know how elders and an Administrator should relate together. This is where I will now focus our thinking.

Recognise the gift
Success depends on first recognising the gift, as we learnt in the last posing. If an eldership team sees administration merely as a necessary part of the running of the church they will tend to use it only in responsive mode, giving the administrator and his or her team tasks to get on with to fulfil the vision, responding to the course set by the elders.

While there is a place for this approach which, if handled rightly, will get the job done, it denies the elders of the full benefits of having a gifted administrator in their midst. The gift of administration is much more than just responding to another’s direction. It is a gift which has much to contribute during the thinking and development of a course of action, and the implementation of a strategy to move towards fulfilling a vision.

Kubernesis
The Greek word for administration in the Bible (1 Cor 12:28), kubernesis, carries the feeling of government as directed by a ‘helmsman’, ‘pilot’ or ‘navigator’ in nautical terms, one who carries the skills and authority to get a vessel safely to its desired destination. That navigator is the kubernetes (for example in Acts27:11). The merchant would define the port to which he required his consignment to be taken; the kubernetes would chart the course, manage the crew, determine the set of the sails and so on.

To achieve this successfully and optimally it is important that the kubernetes carries the confidence of the elders and that they actively involve him (or her) in the planning process so that he can bring the particularities of his gift to the discussion while plans are still being shaped. To assume that the elders not only set the direction for the fulfilment of a vision, but also have the skills to determine in detail how that direction is to be followed is clearly naïve, even foolish. The merchant is good at buying and selling products, but probably not at sailing vessels!

Practical skills to determine all the details of implementation do not necessarily come within the leadership gift mix. That is what the gift of administration is about, and it needs to be included at an early stage of thinking and planning.

How does that happen?
There is no Biblical blue-print for how elders and administrators work together, but I have had the huge privilege of serving with enlightened and affirming eldership and apostolic teams. From this experience I have found four particular features to be important in making this happen. We will look at these next time.

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Nigel Ring on September 20th, 2017

 

From time to time I am asked my opinion on matters that affect the smooth running of a local church, particularly related to administration. During the next few weeks I shall address some of these matters as a Q and A series. If others wish to contact me with other issues I would be happy to build responses into this series. It will not run as a continuous series but will punctuate other material I am planning to present.

Question
How should elders embrace the gift of administration? What is the role of the Administrator and how does he or she relate to the elders?

Answer
The relationship between a church’s leadership team, particularly the governing Elders, and the Administrator is arguably one of the most important relationships in the church. Sadly it is often not viewed as such. If the gift that the Administrator brings to the church is well mobilised it releases many others into their gift and frees up a lot of the elders’ time. However, if it is not understood and leaders feel they can either do all the administration themselves or just tell the Administrator what needs to be done and how, they are denying the church of the God-given wisdom and skills that come with the gift.

This is clearly exemplified in Acts 6:1-7 where we see how the apostles who were leading the early church were in danger of being side-tracked by a serious pastoral problem. They recognised that the time and effort required to bring resolution to this problem among the widows would distract them from their primary calling, to pray and minister the word (6:2,4). Once they had appointed Stephen and others to oversee the situation the church started to grow rapidly again (2:7).

The Gift of Administration
In the world administration often seems impersonal and a blockage to getting things done. Unfortunately this view sometimes permeates the church. Yet in the church it is supposed to be different.

The gift of administration is just that – a gift of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Cor 12:28 it is listed in the context of apostles, prophets, healings etc; clearly it is a gift that carries some ‘weight’, not that gifts are to be assessed on any scales of importance. Paul tells us that, like parts of the body, all are vital but some are more conspicuous.

The Bible
It is not hard to find illustrations of God-anointed administration in the Bible. In the Old Testament there are such examples as Joseph, Nehemiah and Daniel. But what about the New Testament?

In the New Testament the examples are not so much centred around men as around situations. For example, Jesus, in feeding the 5000 (Mk 6:30-44), gave significant administrative direction and leadership to both the disciples and the crowd as he organised this ‘event’. There are many demonstrations of good administrative practice exhibited by Jesus as he handles this situation with sound practical tips which can be discerned through this story. Or again, there are many lessons that can be drawn from the commissioning of Stephen and his colleagues in the early church, as I have already described (Acts 6:1-7). Both these examples are explained more fully in my booklets ‘The Gift of Administration’ and ‘Event Management – Jesus style’ (see side panel).

Next time I will share some practical matters of how to release the gift of administration effectively to the benefit of the church and its leaders.

 

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Nigel Ring on September 12th, 2017

For twenty months my wife and I have been meeting in a home with a group of believers in Bath, UK, now called The Gospel Collective. Last Sunday afternoon (Sept 11th) we met for the first time in a public setting – The Beechen Cliff School hall. It is exciting to be caught up in pioneering again!

On the same day The Kings Church (mid-Sussex), that was first planted out of our home 40 years ago, celebrated their anniversary – a fascinating coincidence of events on the same day! That church was the first one Terry Virgo planted before the thought of a church family, which became Newfrontiers, even existed. Some of us who were part of that first church met in Terry and Wendy’s home recently to reflect on the early days and the following 40 years.

This video opens with Terry and me visiting our old home before capturing some of the reflections of the wider group. From those small beginnings has arisen a worldwide family of well over 1500 churches in more than 70 nations.

I wonder what the next 40 years will bring as my generation enjoys watching the next one carry the baton, even passing that on to their successors.

Run well. And I will run with you as long as God gives strength!

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Nigel Ring on September 6th, 2017

The last few weeks have seen Bible Weekends and Festivals up and down the country in the UK. This coming together for teaching, envisioning and fellowship is now a very important and widely attended activity for Christians. What a contrast to a few decades ago when such things did not happen at all. In those days people looked at you aghast to think that anyone would choose to camp in a field and attend meetings in marquees for a whole week of their annual holiday.

Over the years enormous blessing has flowed from these initiatives. I love to meet church leaders who tell me they became Christians or were baptised in the Holy Spirit at one of the Bible Weeks organised within the family of Newfrontiers churches – Downs or Stoneleigh Bible weeks (1979-‘88 and 1991-2001 respectively). And now there are several such events both within this family of churches (click on link for audio recordings of ministry from Newday for young people, New Ground and Westpoint), as well as many events in other streams of churches.

Westpoint
It was thus with anticipation that I visited the excellently organised Westpoint Bible Week near Exeter over the recent bank holiday weekend, hosted by Guy Miller and his team from the Commission family of churches. I was there for only one day as I knew that several of my friends who lead churches in other parts of the world would be there. I have travelled together with many of them through our respective spiritual journeys for many years and it was so good to catch up with them and to be updated on some of what God is doing now in their various nations. I found a great faith-filled ‘buoyancy’ among them, a sense of being ‘on the front foot’, as they are reaching out into their communities with the love of Christ, often planting churches and starting new ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather at Westpoint was lovely (a minor miracle this year in the UK!) and the 3,700 who attended seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the ministry. It was exciting to realise that when, in 1979, we launched the first Downs Bible Week 2,900 attended. Now, in just one of the Newfrontiers apostolic spheres, a greater number gathers. Imagine what the next decades will bring as each of the twenty or so spheres grows!

Prayer
I did not attend a lot of meetings as I went to meet people, though I was glad to arrive in time to hear Terry Virgo share the Bible reading on the first morning on the subject of Prayer. I encourage you to listen to this as it was rich in content, drawing from both scripture and his own personal walk. It could not fail to provoke you to seek how to set aside more time to pray when you hear the stories of answered, persistent prayer. Prayer changes things!

Reading of Romans
On the day I visited, Andrew Wilson gave a dramatic reading of the whole of Paul’s letter to the Romans. This was powerful and I urge you to set aside an hour to watch it – have your Bible in hand. You will be edified and blessed.

Kingdom advance
There is huge value in these festivals. The format is peculiarly British – camping as church groups etc – but the fruitfulness has international ramifications. May they continue for many years to come as we see the Kingdom advance in our generation.

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Nigel Ring on August 16th, 2017

Terry Virgo’s first church plant
On August 21st 1977 sixty-five of us met in the Bar Lounge of Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, at the launch meeting of the Mid Sussex Christian Fellowship, the first church that Terry Virgo planted. House groups had been meeting in five locations around Sussex for the previous few years. These started in Janita’s and my home in Scaynes Hill in May 1973 (photo). Others soon followed in David and Margaret Coak’s home in Balcombe, John and Joan Salmon’s in Uckfield, Ken and Audrey Dalgleish’s in Burgess Hill and Phil and Agnes Ball’s in Henfield. (Sadly John died recently, Joan having died several years ago.)

So, in a few days the re-named Kings Church (Mid-Sussex) – there have been several other names en route – celebrates its 40th birthday. Several of the initial group are still members.

Recently I had a discussion with Jim Partridge, who now leads the church. We enjoyed reminiscing. I was also greatly encouraged by some of the activities they are now pursuing to bless and interact with the local community. Other initiatives not mentioned include See Kenya, the provision of prescription glasses through regular eye clinics (a ministry of the church, but operating under a separate charity) and the partnership they enjoy with Edward and Fridah Buria.

I hope you enjoy listening in to our conversation.

Happy 40th Birthday Kings Church!

 

 

 

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Nigel Ring on August 2nd, 2017

Please take action!
To help families in Burundi, one of the poorest nations in the world, just click on this link and scroll down until you find this cup. Then click on it. If you are in the USA you can also make a purchase. It is hoped that they will become available in UK shortly. Here is the story.

Milk for transformation
I have written previously about the initiative to help transform Burundi through milk and here is a video. By providing rural families with high milk-yielding cows they can generate a steady income.  This helps them in various ways, such as getting children into school rather than following the traditional long horned cows into the hills, as well as the obvious nutritional benefits. So far 400 families have been helped.

One Grow cup = 2 cups of milk
Now an entrepreneurial couple, Brad and Emily, have come up with a brilliant idea. Please ask your church or local coffee shop to purchase the Grow disposable cups shown here since this will significantly accelerate the programme. Each cup purchased produces the equivalent of two cups of nutritious milk through the above cow purchasing scheme.

Make it prominent in a Search
It is important that the cup comes up on the first page of a search – and in just a few days since the launch it has achieved this but it now needs to become the first product. So please click above to help it climb even higher….

…and if you live in the USA – Buy Some!

Thank you!

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Writing as a guest author, Gary Borland concludes his series on Management of Change. He is happy to enter into communication with readers. Contact him by clicking on his name, above.

In order to maximise the opportunities to unlock an organisational vision, it is essential to have a demonstrable and commonly understood way in which those in the church or ministry work together to deliver it. Strategy (the ‘how’) is the way in which this is done to maximise and optimise resources and to create clear line of sight for everyone in the organisation to align their contribution to in support of unlocking the vision and delivering the mission. A poor or absent strategy is seen in a lack of motivation to participate or contribute, disjointed activities delivered to varying degrees of success, and where success may be difficult or impossible to measure. People expect to be led well and a key component of being led well is having clarity not only in where they are going, but also in how they are going to get there.

Organisational Design
With a strategy in place, an Organisational Design is created to deliver the strategy in the most efficient, effective way. Organisational Design is an approach to take the strategy, consider what capabilities, people, practices, processes, metrics and structure are required to optimise strategy execution, and then to build accordingly. A key component of this is the operational model that sits at the heart of the organisation. A set of supporting plans will identify what resources are required, in what order things will be done and will create the opportunity for people to grow their giftings, and in turn develop their leadership, which will increase the capability and capacity of the organisation many times over.

Risk and Opportunity
Managing both risk and opportunity are vital to the success of any organisation. Situations and challenges arise that could not have been anticipated. However, unless a structured method of risk management is in place, entirely predictable circumstances could have unnecessary and damaging consequences. Similarly, if opportunity is not managed in a structured way, openings and possibilities are likely to pass by without ever having even been aware of them.

All of this requires good leadership. Sadly, many people and many leaders approach their life and their various roles with a default strategy of survival; survive as a parent, employee, leader, partner or other area of life. Leaders who operate in a default strategy of survival, invariably consider themselves to be victims. They see themselves as victims of other people, circumstances, events and so on, thereby killing any prospect of stepping out into a bold possibility as a consequence of fear. Operating from our convictions and not our fears is a key leadership attribute, particularly in the context of major change or transformation.

The way we speak and the language we use tells people a lot about our leadership. In simple terms, leaders have two options: ‘Descriptive’ or ‘Committed’ language.

Descriptive language talks about things or refers to them and is normally focussed on the past and talked about as though issues and challenges are all to do with circumstances, and not as a result of ineffective leadership (ie someone else is/was to blame). Descriptive language uses stories, opinions, judgements, explanations, complaints, assessments, predictions, justifications, reasons, assessments…….but often delivers little, if anything.

Committed Language is about making things happen, creating possibilities, outcomes and actions. It is focussed on the present and the future, and is determined by the people engaged in the discussion, not the circumstances or descriptions used to explain why things can’t be done!

Conclusion
Self-aware, committed leaders, standing for new possibilities, leading from a position of conviction and not fear, using committed language, who seek dissenting voices, commit even when uncertain, and understand the power of unlocking the capabilities and potential of their people, are what organisations require in order to achieve extraordinary breakthrough. When linked to effective strategic planning and by embracing some powerful change management principles, there is little that cannot be accomplished. If God is for us, who can be against us?

I am so grateful to Gary for writing this series for my blog. If you wish to make contact for further help write to Gary Borland.

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