Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cultivate Health

The strategy God has been working on in me and my ministries also happens to be the same strategy that challenges me the most.  Are you surprised?  I’m not! 

The strategy is the third on the list the bishops created to help the FMC achieve the FM Vision...bringing "wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups, and churches."  The strategy states:

We will work to improve the health of every local church by creating measurable expectations and regular assessments. We will create and utilize training materials that focus on church health.

It's all about living and leading from the personal application of truth.  An axiom I frequently use with leaders comes to mind when I think of this 3rd strategy.  It goes something like this, “you can not effectively lead people from a place you don’t live from yourself”.   

Leaders are called to live congruent lives.  The third strategy is really a "geiger counter" for leadership congruency.  Our work at improving the health of every local church or organization will be accomplished when leaders live and lead from healthy places.  

Congruency to Christ is what makes personal wholeness and multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches possible.  Christ has come to set us free.  That freedom also makes possible, leaders doing ministry out of wholeness.  It  makes possible the fulfilment of our FM vision of bringing wholeness to the world. 

The linchpins upon which the "healthy biblical communitiy's doors swing are the hinges of healthy leaders.  Leaders who operate from healthy places are critical to the success of this third strategy.  If leaders expect to bring, wholeness to the world and the church, they must live and lead from healthy places.  

As a leader I need to make the application of spiritual truths as high a priority in my life as I expect others to make in theirs.  God's work in my life is to be the kind of leader who transcends the 3rd strategy.  He's called me to not only call others to work to improve the health of every local church or organization by creating measurable expectations and regular assessments, He also wants me to see this strategy’s application in my own life and leadership.  If I expect others to improve, whether an organization or individual, I need to consider and ask myself, “What am I doing to be healthy?”  “Do I have measurable expectations and regular assessments that hold me accountable?”  Am I utilizing materials and resources that focus on my leadership health?  When I answer yes to all of the above then holding out this third strategy is so much more powerful and effective because others see the truth being played out in my life and leadership.  Truth is integrated and woven into my life and that is the place where leadership becomes transformational!  

My journey started about 6 months ago attending a Bill Hybels Leadership Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The experience led me to the place I’ve just described.  I have employed resources created by the Best Christian Workplace Institute (or BCWI) to determine the health and engagement of employees in ministry at Grace International School.  I've used the results to help determine the health of the ministry I lead.  The survey results were not surprising.  We have plenty of opportunity to improve the culture and more fully achieve the vision and mission of the school.   We are also working at more effectively increasing the healthy engagement of our team members.  You see God doesn’t just care about the goal of multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches He also cares very much how we do ministry and how we accomplish our goals - bringing wholeness to the world and doing it through the vehicle of healthy biblical communities.  This is not an either or proposition...doing one without the other isn't fulfilment of the 3rd strategy.  Otherwise all we're creating in ministry is "clanging noise".   The ministry will have little to no eternal consequence.  We could end up not accomplishing the FM Vision and miss the Mission mark, “To love God, love people and make disciples.”  

Since taking the BCWI and 360 I have developed the 10 opportunities outlined in the feedback.  I created action points for each opportunity and included clear and measurable means of assessment.  The results of the assessment and action steps have been transparently shared with all who participated in giving feedback.  The goal is to be the kind of organization that actively works to improve the health and culture of the organization and increase the engagement of employees so that we can most effectively accomplish the ministry's vision and mission.  It's been less about creating materials focusing on organisational health and more about having the courage to take the necessary steps to engage and faithfully follow-through. 

We have an important task inviting local churches to partner with us as we engage in both personal and ministry landscape work that holds eternal consequence in this third 
strategy.  We have seen our church partner's hearts resonate with the message, praying and supporting us as we lead with personal integrity.  Our story compels others to participate in the mission and vision of the Free Methodist Church and our ministries.  
May God bless us as we have the courage to let him start with us, living congruent and transformational lives, who in turn have the incredible blessing of leading congruent and transformational communities, churches and organizations in fulfilling the high calling of the Church's vision and mission and this, its third strategy!  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Using our Noodles...Thinking on These Things

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise  think on these things.  Philippians 4:8.

This week's STANDOUT events, giving us opportunities to think through life included:

1.  ....a BOMB attack in Bangkok.  The GIS Crisis Response Team met early Tuesday morning to determine the measures our school would employee to ensure students and staff remained safe.  We heightened security measures, canceled the off-site two day leadership retreat, and changed the venue to be held on campus.  To read more about the boming you might want to check out this link.

2.  ...Liberating Structures were taught at the leadership retreat.  When they are made a part of everyday interactions at school they contribute to a healthy workplace culture.  The structures when implemented, accomplish these outcomes:
  • include and unleash everyone
  • practice deep respect for people and local solutions
  • never start without a clear purpose
  • build trust as you go
  • learn by failing forward
  • practice self-discovery within a group
  • amplify freedom and responsibility
  • emphasize possibilities: believe before you see
  • invite creative destruction to make space for innovation
  • engage in serious playful curiosity

3.  the challenges facing the CMFMC.  In a bi-monthly meeting we considered:  
  • how we effectively meet the needs of young people whose parents can not care  for them,
  • expanding ministry programs including training national leaders,
  • and creating opportunities for churches in the USA to extend the ministries of the Thai church through short-term service opportunities like teaching English, evangelism outreach, etc. 

4.  ...our Annual Thai Staff Dinner.  Between 60 - 65 Thai staff came over to our home for a time of fun applying a Liberating Structure and fellowship around tables enjoying a delicious Thai meal on Friday night.  What a wonderful start to our 11th year and GIS's 17 year.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Williams Stiches

Stitches Sown Into Life
Don and Kathy Williams

New GIS Staff for the 2015-16 School Year

A New School Year  
Last week was the first week of school for students.  It was the third week for new staff and the second for returning staff.  The Queen of Thailand's birthday or Mother's Day was celebrated mid-week which meant only four days of school.  No holiday for us though as we prepared dinner for the Board of Trustees and their spouses.  We had 14 people over for a delicious dinner and wonderful time of fellowship.

Community Bible Study International
Kathy kicked off CBSI by hosting a coffee for those interested in participating this year.  Several women attended and are looking forward to spending time together growing in God's Word.

Court Case
No news continues to be good news.  There could be more info in the coming days/weeks so please stay tuned.

Mother's Day Foot Washing at the Chiang Mai FMC - Children Washing Their Mom's Feet

The FM Church in Chiang Mai
The church will be sending out its first "missionary".  Though they are small in number they have a vision to reach out not only to those in their community as well as those living in other parts of Thailand.  Pray for the pastor and his wife as they have lost about 1/2 of their personal monthly support and need new partners in ministry.  A family member used to make up the difference but because of a change in circumstances is no longer able to help fund their ministry.

Please Pray

  • Don leads a GIS administrator's retreat this coming week.
  • For leadership meetings with the local Thai FM Church leadership this coming weekend.
  • Friday night all the GIS Thai staff will be hosted at our home for dinner.  We'll have about 60 people attend.
  • Pray for new partners for Pastor Joshua and Aun leading the FMC in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thai Culture - What's the Same and What's Different from Life in America and Life in Thailand

Spirit Houses
and Offerings

RED FANTA is the offering of choice.  Why?  It most resembles a blood offering.

Thai culture believes spirits live in these spirit houses and protect the buildings and houses where they are set up.  Thai's present daily offerings to ensure protection for themselves, to appease the spirt, and so they don't do them harm.  This system is related more to animistic beliefs than Buddhist culture.

The photo above was taken by Molly Mazilu and available on Flicker under a Creative Commons License.  Link to License.

Pictured below is another picture of a spirit house.  Googling "Spirit Houses in Thailand" will bring up many pictures of different styles and types or you can click on the link above.

Public domainI, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so:
I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Living a Grand Life: Favorite Ravi Zacharais Quote from "The Grand Weaver"

“Someone once elaborated on each line of the well-known and much-loved Psalm 23: 

The Lord is my Shepherd — that’s relationship

I shall not be in want — that’s supply

He makes me lie down in green pastures — that’s rest

He leads me beside quiet waters — that’s refreshment

He restores my soul — that’s healing

He guides me in the paths of righteousness — that’s guidance

For His name’s sake — that’s purpose

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death —that’s testing

I will fear no evil — that’s protection! 

For you are with me — that’s faithfulness

Your rod and the staff, they comfort me — that’s discipline

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies —that’s hope

You anoint my head with oil — that’s consecration

My cup overflows — that’s abundance

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life —that’s blessing

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord — that’s security

Forever — that’s eternity


― Ravi ZachariasThe Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Chiang Mai Free Methodist Church Throws a Quadruple Wedding

Flower girls getting ready to start the procession.

A little coaxing...
and they're off.
Bride and Groom #1

Bride and Groom #2

Bride and Groom #3
Bride and Groom #4

Bride and Groom #4 and Family
Bride and Groom #3 and Family

Bride and Groom #2 and Family
Bride and Groom #1

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Wats" the Same and "Wats" Different from Life in Thailand Compared to Life in America

See how many you matched in both lists:

“Wats” Different

1.  Wats (temples)
2.  Morning alms (food and gifts given to monks)
3.  Wai (a greeting) 
4.  Monk chants of blessing (response to morning alms)
5.  Moats (waterway around city center)
6.  Muay Thai Boxing
7.  Northern Thai Food
8.  Northern Thai Dancing
9.  Homes built up off the ground
10.Elephant Adventures
11.Bamboo Bridges (will accept wooden bridges)

“Wats” the Same

1.  Monuments
2.  National Parks
3.  Thai Food
4.  Elephants
5.  Waterfalls
6.  Rice Fields
7.  Monks (Buddhists)

8.  Rivers

Send an email to Don or Kathy to let us know how many out of each of the two lists you matched.  Thanks for praying for Chiang Mai, Thailand and her people.