The word from the front lines

I spent last week in Knoxville Tennessee with Crossings Church. Following are comments from the Crossings staff (here is a link to help you get to know the team I appreciated the opportunity to support them in their ongoing commitment to faithful life and service. I would also enjoy the opportunity to support other ministries in similar ways.

  • From Mark, Lead Pastor: A few days with Jim leading our staff…absolutely vital to our life as a staff community, crucial in the constant refinement of vision for our church, insightful to have an outside perspective on all that we do, life-giving to each of our souls.  In just a few short days, again this year, Jim has further entrenched himself as part of our faith community.
  • From Molly: One morning we woke up and were given 30 minutes to work through a series of six Bible passages. Some were only a few verses, some were entire chapters. As our staff discussed them, we were reminded why we do what we do. It was an unbelievably encouraging practice to be lead through the promises, challenges, prayers, and dreams written in those six passages. I am so thankful for people like Jim who work as signposts…pointing the staff and me in the way God has for us.  
  • From Monica: I loved (Jim’s) simple but deep questions.  Also, I love it when (he) put parameters around (his) questions.  Such as, when we did the Hemingway’s–6 Words to Describe Your Life, we couldn’t explain ourselves, but others could ask us questions.  This allowed some questions that maybe would never have come up if we explained our own life.
  • From Alan: It always feels like you are part of the staff…so you are missed when you are gone! Thanks for bringing insight to ministry and to our Crossings culture. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to benefit from your years of experience. I think the word is overused and possibly too cliché, but I can’t think of a better one…you have ‘blessed’ our staff and our entire community with how you let the Holy Spirit work through you. Thanks for everything and I’m looking forward to our next staff retreat with our Bellingham staff!
  • From Michael: One morning we were given the assignment to write our own obituary based off a date that we were randomly given.  My date was the end of 2013… While writing it, it gave me the opportunity to reflect not on the thing that I most often focus on, which is the what of life, but instead it made me think of why I do what I do and how I want to approach things.  I’ve never came away from an activity like this and truly felt changed… until then.  I can say with complete honesty that I am no longer the same Michael Sawyer that walked into the Clearing that week and it had so much to do with this assignment…  Thanks Jim!  It is truly a blessing to have you as a part of my life and in our community.  I look forward to seeing you again.
  • From Caleb: Often times we think consulting or having someone come in to guide, lead or direct us means we talk about the nuts and bolts of ministry, critique and reflect on the forms and set out a vision to explain everything we do.  What I think was accomplished in our time together was some of the above, but more importantly it was a reorientation around the truly fundamental things that make us human and followers after Jesus.

Again, it was a privilege to join with and support the Crossings community. Please contact me to explore ways I can support you and the ministry you serve.


Obituaries, a six word story and a baseball

We wrapped up the Crossings staff retreat today by writing and sharing our personal obituaries. I know that may sound a bit morbid, but it is a great exercise to help gain a realistic perspective of ones abilities and limitations. We did this in response to a quote from the movie, “The Kingdom.”

FBI Director James Grace: You know, Westmoreland made all of us officers write our own obituaries during Tet, when we thought The Cong were gonna end it all right there. And, once we clued into the fact that life is finite, the thought of losing it didn’t scare us anymore. The end comes no matter what, the only thing that matters is how do you wanna go out, on your feet or on your knees? I bring that lesson to this job. I act, knowing that someday this job will end, no matter what. You should do the same.

After sharing our last words we developed a six word story that gives a sense of what is ahead for the coming year of shared ministry for the Crossings community:

I shared about Buck O’Neil’s perspective of Independent League baseball players and his referring to some as “lifers.” I then shaped the idea of “lifers” for the Crossings team and my hope that they would all be faithful going forward irregardless of situations and circumstances. To commemorate the retreat we all signed a baseball that the staff will keep for a future reminder of all that shared.