Dear Next Gen Family:
A number of years ago while ministering in a church of a long time friend and church planter, Sterling and I met one of the key leaders in the church, Sue Drake. She is an educator, equipper of ministry personnel, mentor and follower hard after Jesus. And she is a mom and wife. And to our great joy, a friend now and partner to the Next Gen Family and the O’Neills.
With very concise clarity, she draws out what parts of the Next Gen are all about. Allow her fresh insights and perspective to inspire us in our COVID-19 burdened era.
Love to you all
We’ll have a word out to all on Friday about our next steps for the Next-Gen
Jim for the Team
Think of a moment where God reached down, touched you with His presence through the rich wisdom of another, and invited you to never be the same.
Such a time for me was NextGen 2018. He did not use the entirety of the event; rather, He orchestrated those often too rare moments where I am undistracted and expecting Him to speak without an agenda I think He should follow.
Jim’s opening words on June 11 called all at NextGen to the values and disciplines that form us as leaders. He challenged us to consider especially the discipline of prayer as an ongoing link of communication with the Father where our daily lives are touched, directed, and transformed by the rhythms of the heart of the Father. He uncovered the often-neglected practices of caring for our mind, will, and emotions- our souls. He rang the alarm bell and called us to see the direct correlation between our private and corporate practices of prayer and our Kingdom impact as leaders.
My world was rocking and it wasn’t even 10 am. As the rest of the week unfolded and I let go of assimilating all things, I also was called to the great purpose of assimilating some things. From speaking to other delegates, mentors, and speakers, the Lord utilized the great wash of the week to speak specific things to all of us. And so we come to the importance of being accountable, not to all things, but to the Lord’s chosen moments and take-aways for us.
If you have attended NextGen, you hear what I’m saying. Using the five senses for praying, giving God refrigerator rights to your soul, Examen prayer, praying Canonical hours, praying the Word, sanctuary prayer, praying identity, Hallelujah acronyms… We must ask ourselves, “What take-aways did I receive to which I am accountable? Have I invited them into the space of my soul and given them the freedom to transform?” In Virgil’s words, are we moving from passive preference, to a submission to what is, and creating improvisation? Are we allowing the experience of NextGen to become expression?
If you have yet to attend NextGen, open wide your mouth, and He. Will. Fill. It. (Psalm 81:10). Right now, expect Him to speak to you. Listen without giving Him your agenda. Give the Almighty creator space to work in your soul as you practice prayer. As Tom Wolf put it, “Learn to lead yourself before leading others.” Part of this commission is to acknowledge the importance of that inner work He is continually doing in you.
Jim would tell you, “The greatest gift you have to offer in ministry is your soul.” Let the rhythms of His heart touch, direct, and transform you. Then, we become leaders who host the presence of others and God’s presence in the same space (thank you, Virgil), and that space becomes the beautiful, daily improvisation of a Kingdom life.