Sorting Out The Day

Thank You that my two eldest daughters will return home tomorrow.

Thank You for a motorcycle ride tonight, a good dinner and some fascinating and revealing conversation.

Thank You for the plethora of gifts and talents showered upon the middle child.

Thank You for good friends for the eldest son.

Thank You for wise stewardship and a fun purchase made and enjoyed by the youngest son.

Thank You for dinner and wonderful conversation with parents who provide a solid foundation for our family.

Thank You for strawberry shortcake.

Thank You for fresh coffee.

Thank You for generous friends.

Thank You for summer hours and the privilege of sleeping past 6:00 a.m.

Thank You for cool Virginia evenings.

Thank You for my house.

Thank You.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow…

More From Nancy Beach

Here are the remainder of the notes I took during the point leaders’ session with Nancy Beach on Wednesday at the Willow Arts Conference:

Service Planning and Execution
The Willow service planning format is broken into the following categories:
DESIGN (4-8 weeks out)
DEVELOPMENT (follow-up – email, hallway conversations, rehearsals, phone calls)
GAME DAY (the actual service)

The process on Game Day is immensely important. This is often the first combination of tech and programming – so be very mindful of the technical artists’ needs. If the Game Day process doesn’t work, change it- particularly for tech. DO NOT FRUSTRATE YOUR TECHNICAL ARTISTS! THEY WANT TO DO A GOOD JOB. THEY NEED TIME.

Game Day should be:
• Sane
• Joyful
• Prayerful
• Relaxed
• A pleasure for volunteers

(At one point at Willow, volunteers asked to come earlier so that they could enjoy the process more!)

Evaluation and production team issues –
• Get better at reading the room in the moment for evaluation. Ask production team members to bring back opinions and impressions from guests – perhaps with a specific question?
• Arts Ministry leader should be strongly connected to the teaching pastor. Weaving teaching with the arts enables everyone to win. “Be a student of your pastor. Do not let the evil one win. That relationship must be functional and healthy.”

Building Community

Build in community to natural times that volunteers are together; possibly in between services, rehearsals, etc. Connect them, with intentionality.

Some good intentional questions include:
• “What was the high point and/or low point of your week?”
• “What’s the most important thing we can pray about for you?”
Short term conversations (managed carefully so one person doesn’t hijack the time) can be extremely effective.

Long term community building – two-day retreats (borrow a house/cottage/meeting place for point leaders, team members). Give awards, learn, study, etc. Nancy Beach led a Willow team to create ‘funerals’ for one another, choosing songs, a eulogy and designing a mansion to honor one another while still alive (‘all the nice things people say about one another at their funeral – say it NOW for team building).


I have more to post regarding what I learned at the arts conference, but here’s the recap of the journey home:

  • Arrive at airport early Friday afternoon; find out plane has been delayed 30 minutes. Half an hour turns into a full hour. Failed attempt to nap briefly on chair at gate leads to extreme muscle aches. Know that I’ll have to see Mr. Chiropractor Friend and give him money early in the week.
  • Hungry for chocolate, in need of coffee. Stand in line at Starbucks and experience the worst service I’ve ever encountered. Guy at the register keeps calling his two co-workers ‘stupid’. He doesn’t appear to be kidding. When I hand him my money, he looks at me, shrugs and says, “I’m hungry. I ain’t got no break and I ain’t eat yet.” Okay. Turns out they don’t have any coffee ready. I wait.
  • Walk the length of terminal C looked for something to munch. Settle on a large Snickers and a bag of raw almonds. Eat half the Snickers and throw the rest away. Almonds make my teeth hurt.
  • Read part of new TIME magazine about obesity in children. Feel glad that my kids aren’t struggling with weight issues.
  • Realize that I really want to go home.
  • Get on airplane. Take off successful. Read. Type up notes for posterity and future blog post.
  • Landing successful. Hello, DC! We’re home!
  • No, wait. We’re not. We have two hours to drive.
  • Thank God for the guys in our group who paid attention to where we parked the cars.
  • Start the long drive home. Talk incessantly to stay awake. Stop at WaWa in Fredericksburg for fuel ($3.95 – talk about WAWA! Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!) and coffee. And a gargantuan blueberry muffin.
  • Drop off friends at their cars. Drive home. Drag in luggage. Fall on bed, fully clothed. Set alarm. Note time – 3:45 a.m. Fall asleep, fully clothed.
  • Alarm goes off. Note time – 5:30 a.m. Ugh. Drive older girls to meeting place for mission trip departure. Am not very social with fellow parents and youth leaders, all of whom appear to have gotten more than two hours sleep.
  • Go home, longing for more sleep. Realize that daughter number 3 needs to be at babysitting job in 45 minutes. No sleep. Wait for her to get ready, and drive her to job.
  • Go to friends’ house. Crash.
  • Wake up. Note time – 4:30 p.m. Yay.

The rest of the evening has been a blur. Syd and I had a nice date together at Chili’s, where we talked a lot. I’ve run kids here and there, ending up with only one at home, who has a soccer tourney tomorrow. The others are with their dad. I’m discombobulated.

I’m looking forward to worship tomorrow and getting reacquainted with the rhythm of life here. I am determined to make some changes, and plan to make some room in the next few days.


Nancy Beach On Leadership Challenges

We are at our hotel, waiting to leave for the airport in half an hour (and getting messages that flights are being delayed…I WANT TO GO HOME! PLEASE!) I’m scrolling through my notes from Nancy Beach’s point leader session. Called ‘Behind Closed Doors: Leaders Examine Their Greatest Leadership Challenges’, it was full of fascinating nuggets of information and encouragement. I also enjoyed the change to see Nancy communicating in a more intimate environment.

And doesn’t every woman in ministry secretly want to be Nancy Beach? I know I do.

Anyway, here’s some of what I heard that resonated most deeply with me:

Arts leaders’ job descriptions will morph continually. This is a good sign, but difficult to process internally. It requires mature leadership.

Generally, arts leaders start out in the center of planning, concept and design from every angel and detail – right up next to volunteers. Eventually, this era ends and you become a leader of leaders, which will remove you from the blessing of being up close to volunteers.

Whoever is leading the arts ministry should have a seat at the senior management table.

In order to create a sustainable job description, determine your unique contribution to your team; what would be most missed if you left? What would be the hardest thing to replace? As a small group of those who know you best to help you discover your unique contribution. Design something that is 1) sustainable, 2) joyful, 3) gives you creative room and 4) contributes to a rhythm of life that has breathing room.

Create a schedule that deals with energy management rather than meeting blocks. Consider this: Where are you most productive? When are you most productive? Adjust accordingly and protect that time! (Nancy often spends her mornings at Panera to write and plan.)

After you determine your unique contribution and establish a working rhythm, you have to divest yourself of relationships, your identity as a leader (and learn to celebrate the wins of those who take on your responbilities) and your pride (how will you function if you are not at the center of everything?).

As you develop the next set of leaders, look for people who have good instincts; this is integral and not easy to teach. Good instincts appreciate and understand aesthetics and what is appropriate for our church and community.

Create a culture that understands the fluidity of job descriptions for everyone. Evaluate every six months.

Protect against burn-out of volunteers by building community and giving them evidence of life-change.

This was good stuff – things I am still processing as I seek to determine
the four or five issues that I will carry with me as Big Ideas from this

It really has been wonderful.

As we wait to head for
the airport, we’re saddened to hear that Tim Russert has passed. Praying for his
family today.

Arts Conference – New Community Worship

I had a powerful experience last night in New Community Worship. The band was killer and the music was powerful. We haven’t added ‘Friend of God’ to our rotation, but after hearing it last night, I’m won over. I’m there.

They pulled out ‘Here I Am To Worship’ at the end, and it was good. Duh. However, something fresh caught my ear and then captured my heart. The bridge was gentle, beautiful; but they kept going back. Again and again.

And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Again and again.

And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

And then again; not just the two-’cause-we’re-running-late bridge. Not even the four-because-that-let’s-us-build bridge. Again.

And again.

And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

I was free to worship, practially dragged into freedom through this repetition. I could hear thousands of voices around me, above me, behind me.

I lifted my face towards heaven, raised my hands, and mouthed the words soundlessly.

And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

I felt the weight of my sin, the great gift of grace that reached past the ugly evil of my wrongdoing. I could see Jesus, see the cross, witness the heaviness that he carried…

And I’ll never know….

With those words comes an implicit, “Father, forgive me. I’m sorry.” With those words come tears and sorrow, an awareness of sin that usually lives in some darkened corner of my highly-functioning daily life.

And I’ll never know…

And He spoke to me, which He seems to be doing more of these days (or perhaps I am simply hearing more of…) His eyes said it all.

“It’s okay. You’re mine. Forgiven.”

I’ll never know….

“It’s okay.”

I see my sin…

“It’s okay.”

I’ll never know….

“I know. And it’s okay.”

He keeps meeting me, setting Himself in between me and my shame, blocking my attempts to cling to sorrow and self-pity. He reminds me, again and again, of the love that I do not deserve but that He lavishly gives.

My God. My Savior.

It’s been a good few days.

Willow Arts Conference Day 2

It was a long day, and I’ll process more (and write more) later. Here’s a brief overview:

First of all, we’re all safe and we all seem to still like one another. Today, everybody split up and attended different break out sessions according to what interested them or where they were currently serving. We came back together and have debriefed a bit, but I’m sure our dinner conversation will be rich.

Best parts for me were connecting with a couple other women who are in leadership at churches in Michigan and New Jersey. Obvious God-connections, and they led to conversations that truly fed my soul, personally, spiritually and ‘ministerally’ (is that a word?)

Also connected with a guy from home – serving a church not too far from us. Hopefully we can continue to network and support one another; he was a great blessing, and I found out later that Seth (who is traveling with us) knew him well. I passed on telephone numbers and they were able to reconnect.

Last night we processed a bit, and I asked my team what had surprised them the most about the first day. One reply was interesting; she said that she hadn’t expected it to be such a personal experience. Emotionally and spiritually, she was quite moved.

Another person said simply that she looked around and realized that God was “big”. The church was “big”. This is a “big” thing….looks silly in print, but I understand exactly what she was saying. They have such a huge vision at Willow, and they work hard to execute it with such excellence – and it is big. And when you experience it, you get it.

We’re off for some Chicago-land pizza and hopefully an early night. My brain is fried and I need some sleep.