Friday, September 10, 2010

The Nines

Yesterday – the ninth day of the ninth month – Jo and I attended The Nines. This is a great initiative of Leadership Network, who bring together churches to learn from one another. The Nines is a nine-hour-long conference where church leaders are given up to six minutes presentation time (last year they had nine minutes; this year there were more speakers). These are submitted in video format, and the entire event takes place streamed online. This is a fantastic opportunity in the context of a global recession, eliminating the significant costs usually incurred in attending a conference: we attended for free.

The speakers included church leaders, of churches of different sizes and composition, and others engaged in a variety of ministries; younger leaders and older leaders; men and women; and a mix of ethnic backgrounds – though almost entirely from the USA, which was the thing I’d most like to see change (not that I have anything against my American brothers and sisters, but that the family is so much wider).

This year contributors were asked to share their ‘game-changers’: that is, a particular lesson they had learnt that radically changed the way they approached ministry.

A ‘game-changer’ requires that we used to do something one way, that something happened that changed our perspective, and that now we go about things in a different way. In Jesus’ language, a ‘game-changer’ is a ‘kairos’ event, which has caused us to repent (change our perspective) and believe (act differently as a result). There needs to be a Before picture and an After picture, framing the game-changing revelation.

With some one hundred speakers, it is (intentionally) impossible to create a synthesis of lessons learnt, in an attempt to come up with a Grand Plan. But that would be to miss the point: the idea is to spark creativity. The expectation of the organisers is that any given participant would dislike roughly a third of the presentations, be quite neutral about a third, and like around a third of what they heard. But even a third of one hundred is too much to implement. The key, really, is to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us through a handful.

Here are a few ‘game-changers’ that we really liked:

Michael Hyatt spoke about how we choose to respond to adversity: choosing to ask “What does this make possible?” rather than “Why has this happened to me?” – shifting our focus from a past we can do nothing about to a future of possibility.

Keld Dahlmann spoke about realising that you cannot motivate people, because motivation comes from within: and the resulting shift from trying to motivate people (to do the thing we want done) to helping them focus on what they are motivated for and releasing them into that thing.

Rick Rusaw spoke about the shift from asking “How can we be the best church in the community?” to asking “How can we be the best church FOR the community?”

Andrew Jones spoke about embracing voluntary poverty as a game-changer for mission in the context of a global recession: and as the key to finding the person of peace (Luke 10) who welcomes us – if we have too many resources of our own, we are more likely to miss that person God has prepared for us.

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