Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: ministry

Stay in Step with the Spirit

Think back on a recent struggle.  What helped you remain full of faith? How did you know you were walking in the middle of God’s will when circumstances were hard?

Douglass1

Steve Douglass, Cru Global President

Steve Douglass (right), Cru Global President, challenged us while in Ft. Collins, CO, for Cru’s biennial US Staff Conference, to reflect on the previous two years of life and ministry through an Ephesians grid.  His encouragement to us is a classic Christian truth: walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

But how do you do that when life is confusing, challenging, dull, and/or overwhelming? What about when others are promoted or achieve milestones you aren’t able to?  Douglass said Ephesians offers a metric for keeping in step with the Spirit:  Are you still rejoicing, still thanking and still submitting?

Sometimes I (Sarah) think I’m rejoicing, thanking and submitting to God but not  to other people. But if I’m not rejoicing in and celebrating others’ successes, if I withhold my gratitude to others (including to Mike) and if I criticize people, then how am I living out Christ-like character?  Where am I outwardly exhibiting spiritual maturity and transformation? And to that point, if inner transformation isn’t worked outwardly, is it really transformation?

As we kick off another fall in New York, will you pray for me? I want to remain full of joy, thankfulness and submission to the Lord and other people.  I want to joyfully and obediently follow God, even when it means following God down unexpected pathways.

Coaching Training

I’ve been doing it for years without extensive training, so why bother going through the effort and expense of earning a coaching certification? Partly for the certification, partly for the training, and partly for the refresher, not to mention the credibility.

Our work in New York City looks very different from what I originally envisioned a few years ago. We now work mainly with marketplace professionals and executives, and while my background includes 15 years of experience helping people develop and take their next steps, it’s all without any official training program or credentialing. Earning a coaching certificate and moving on towards accreditation with the International Coach Federation provides the reputable background to be able to help New Yorkers make a real difference at work, at play and at home.

Just days after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, I spent at week in Atlanta, GA, to attend coaching training with CRM, Creative Results Management. The training was extensive, comprehensive and professional. My cohort colleagues are from all over the globe which demonstrates the world-wide appeal of coaching.

Coaching differs from consulting and mentoring in that the latter two are focused on someone being the expert and having experience to share with the client while coaching focuses on the client, using questions to create awareness and action steps to solve a current and/or future challenge. Unlike traditional sports coaching, an executive coach doesn’t call the plays, the client does.

Coaching is not counseling, which tends to look at the past to bring clarity, healing and understanding to the present. In coaching, the client, not the coach, sets the agenda and drives the action points. The coach doesn’t need to be the knowledge expert in order to serve the client’s needs. The coach just needs to ask good questions.

The opportunities for networking and helping people take their next right steps towards living out their divine calling are a natural expansion of our ministry to people in New York City. Coaching gives neutral ground to build relationships, become an asset in the City and provide helpful conversations with busy people.

I’m working towards graduation now, taking a teleclass and coaching several clients through an 8-session coaching series to gain experience and start to build a reputation.  While it’s been highly rewarding for me to connect with these clients weekly, the self-discovery my clients have experienced is eye-opening.

A west coast client who works in HR for an athletic ministry said, “I never realized how pursuing [my hobby] is tied to my personal calling. It’s encouraging to continue to define my personal calling.”

“One of today’s highlights was recognizing the reality that something has to change so that I can create,” shared an Atlanta-based entrepreneur. “Ideas can be overwhelming but these are tangible action points to get me started.”

Conference PIE

“This is a new phase in my life in ministry,” I thought as I noticed the VP of Cru’s US Leadership Development walk by while chuckling at us.  I was in the middle of leading a feedback session with one of the City Directors for Here’s Life Inner City, affirming what I’d seen in his character, competency and capacity over the last six months of coaching his Action Learning Team, and offering ideas for further growth, development and stretch opportunities.

But what made this chuckle-worthy over other feedback sessions I’ve been part of was that I had PIE strapped to my chest and falling asleep in the Ergo carrier and I was wearing a dress and heels.

It’s been a busy month in family and ministry, stretching me when it comes to planning, preparation and walking in step with the Holy Spirit.

Seminar on Walking with God for a Lifetime

Last week I spoke twice at “Unmasked,” the south western PA/Jersey Cru student fall retreat, once in a seminar to equip students to walk with God for a lifetime and then later that day during their Women’s Night.  It was a tremendous time, the students were really receptive to God’s words on Hebrews 12:1-3 and fixing our eyes on Jesus, and the staff women pulled off one of the best overall programs I’ve been part of for a women’s night in 15+ years of campus ministry.  It was fantastic, gut-level honest, honoring to Jesus, and overflowing with mercy and grace.  It exemplified the kind of open, caring, passionate community that I long to be part of on a regular basis.

The next day I met Mike and Phoebe at the Newark airport where we flew to Orlando for the third module of SLI4 (Senior Leadership Initiative, Cycle 4), a 2-year intensive leadership development program designed by Cru to help senior ministry leaders from Cru’s ministries across the country (like The Military Ministry, Here’s Life Inner City, The Campus Ministry, Cru High School, Athletes in Action, The JESUS Film Project, and The Office of the President, among others) increase their capacity and competency while growing in Christ-like character.  I was a participant in SLI1, and Mike and I have helped lead aspects of SLI3 and SLI4.

Developing current leaders and helping people stretch to reach their potential is vital in the life of any organization.  According to a recent Fast Company article:

U.S. companies spent an estimated $67 billion on training in 2011. Some have been more creative about it than others. P&G CEO Bob McDonald, for instance, says he invites 150 leaders each year to a training center like West Point or the Center for Creative Leadership. General Electric spends about $1 billion annually on training through its corporate university in Crotonville, N.Y. PepsiCo enrolls its high-potential leaders in a program that includes a week at Wharton Business School and an immersion experience in an emerging market. General Mills has described one of its leadership courses as “a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialogue.”

Cru’s intentional leadership development program for senior employees is one of the places where I (Sarah) feel like I’ve been able to make my best contribution to the Kingdom of God so far.  We haven’t spent $35million like Starbucks recently did to create a passionate experience to turn their employees into Starbucks evangelists, but our 2-year long program which meets every six months for a week of training, challenge, stretch experiences and spiritual input also includes bi-weekly one-on-one coaching with business leaders who are friends of the ministry.

Whether in her stroller, sitting on the floor or a new friend’s lap, or enjoying a nap in the Ergo, PIE attended a good bit of Cru’s Leadership Conference.  When she became more vocal, Mike and I took turns going for walks or finding a dark conference room where she could settle down for a snooze.

As I embrace my new role as PIE’s Mom, there are still opportunities to contribute to the mission and ministry I love so much.  Naturally I can’t dive into everything; a good bit of flexibility is required, especially as her needs change and as (we pray…) God adds to our family.

I’m motivated to help people take their next step in their faith journey to live out their God-given calling.  Sometimes that means taking a back-scenes approach by caring for PIE and our NYC apartment enabling Mike to offer his best and minister without distraction.  At other times it means taking a more visible role to reach out to people.  Finding that balance at each of PIE’s developmental stages is the goal, and my heart wants to be grateful for each day as I live out what God has for me… Even if it invites more chuckling.

 

NOTE: To prepare for the trip I read a ton of parenting blogs and asked lots of moms for tips on traveling with a baby.  One of the best tips: pack blue painters tape.

It serves some very practical uses like taping the hotel room curtains closed so sun light doesn’t stream into the room, securing toys to the seat-back in front of you on the plane to entertain your young one, taping shopping bags or light blankets to the car windows as a sun shield so the Sunshine State doesn’t blind your baby in the car, covering the sides of the pack-and-play or crib with towels to create a dark, cozy place for Baby to sleep, and it also becomes a great toy when rolled into big balls.

Small Steps to the Homeless Shelter

The roasted vegetables smelled really good.  I’d been standing behind the serving counter for an hour picking up clean plates from my left, scooping out a generous spoonful of those veggies and passing the plate to the person on my right who filled the rest of the plate with spaghetti.  It smelled really good.  I was hungry.

He was hungry.  His back was slightly bent.  He hadn’t shaved for a while.  It was a cold day, but he didn’t have a warm coat on.  He came to the homeless shelter at the same time everyday, and stood in the same line which wound around the building.  He was a regular, and he knew that hungry men like himself were allowed into the dining room in shifts so that there was room for everyone to sit down in a warm place to eat.

I was hungry.  He was hungry. But I wasn’t as hungry as he was.  Looking him in the eye, I acknowledged his dignity and greeted him with a smile and an overflowing plate of roasted vegetables and spaghetti.

There’s something good about serving alongside your staff and students when you aren’t wearing the hat of leader or director.  It puts everyone on an even level and let’s face it, there’s something about looking hungry people in the eye and handing them something hot to eat that removes any sense of hubris.

Wikipedia, that vast bastion of ever evolving information, says, “Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving your life to something you believe free of pay.”

at the Rescue Mission

I agree, but I’d also add that when campus ministers and ministry leaders put our love in action by serving alongside of our students, we demonstrate the Gospel in a deeper way.  With over 300 verses in the Bible about the poor, social justice, and God’s concern for both, putting my faith in action seems like a reasonable act of worship.

For years I’ve thought about volunteering on a regular basis.  I had a roommate four years ago who spent one night a week in a local soup kitchen.  I didn’t even know that our small city had a soup kitchen.  As I watched her go week after week, I thought about how she put her faith in action so well.  I put my faith in words very well, but I felt a great divide between my words and deeds.  I justified my lack of intentional effort to serve others by my full time ministry role (unpredictable hours, seasons of craziness, I’m already trying to meet the spiritual needs of so many), but lots of people experience similar work stresses and still find time to help people.

This fall I’ve volunteered at a homeless shelter and a warehouse with supplies for the underprivileged.  Yes, it takes a bit of time to get there, and I have to say “no” to other great opportunities to keep those time slots open.  But those few hours spent serving people in need (people in REAL need) while connecting with my students have given me some sweet gifts and insights.  I walk away so grateful for how faithfully God has provided for me.  I walk away with a full heart of worship, having had my heart touched by compassion.  I walk away knowing that someone else’s hard life was made just a little sweeter because of those few hours.  I walk away with a greater appreciation for the decisions my students make to be there every month, and I get to know my students in a different context.

What’s the next step? I want to model servant leadership by helping “the least of these” without an agenda to advance my own purposes.  For me, it’s to commit to a monthly time to serve at the homeless shelter.  I’d like to make it weekly like my former roommate, but I’ll start with small steps.

What about you?

Earlier that first volunteer day I almost backed out of going to the homeless shelter.  “I’m just so tired,” I thought as the time flashed up that strange greenish color on the microwave clock.  I didn’t know if I had the energy to make the subway trek down to the Bowery Mission.  Enough of our students said they wanted to volunteer at the soup kitchen to serve meals to homeless men that I didn’t think it would make a difference if I showed up.

But it did.  It made a big difference.  To him, to my students, and to me.

 

originally posted on the CruPressGreen Campus Ministry Blog on 15 December 2011

Christmas Cookies!

What would you do with more than eight dozen sugar cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees, snowmen, holly leaves, candy canes and Christmas stockings?  Decorate them, of course!  We pulled the student women and their friends together for a festive Saturday afternoon of decorating with icing and sprinkles.

Decorating Christmas cookies is a holiday tradition for some people, but none of the students had ever decorated cookies.  Julie and I made a quick training video for them.  The video was in jest, but I thought you’d laugh with us!

Our hostess, Kelly, was rather clever about the event, covering her table with a plastic table cloth and setting out paper towels and plastic knives along with the colored icing and sprinkles.  Christmas music and Christmas cartoons played in the background all afternoon as we all got to know each other and “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed at each creative design.

One sweet aspect of the day was that the first six dozen were set aside to give to a halfway house for men with mental challenges.  It was great to show that Christmas isn’t just about getting, but about giving, too.

And in that spirit of giving, Julie led a short discussion about the individual art of decorating each cookie and made parallels to how God was directly involved in “decorating” us when He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs.  She then talked about gifts God has given us, and that December is when we celebrate the greatest and most significant gift of Jesus Christ.

Three hours into our decorating extravaganza, and with plenty more cookies to decorate, some of the student men crashed us, er, rather, they stopped by unannounced and little hungry.  We made them work for their eats, and showed them the fine art of slathering sugary confection all over small, sugar cookies.

Campus Crusade for Christ has a New Name: Cru

One of the most anticipated parts (in my opinion) of our biennial conference in Fort Collins, CO was the announcement of our mission organization’s new name: Cru.

Our New Name and Logo

After nearly 15 years with Campus Crusade for Christ, I’m (Sarah) really grateful for a new name.  I love our mission and the vision and the centrality of Jesus Christ in everything we do.  I’ve served all over the world with the organization and look forward to experiencing the mission in the future.  I think the name change will help us be more effective in our mission of helping everyone know someone who truly follows Jesus.  Our mission remains the same.  Our dedication to Jesus Christ remains the same.  Our statement of faith hasn’t changed.  

Campus Crusade for Christ started as a campus ministry to college students but in our 60 years we’ve grown to more than 29 distinct ministries touching nearly every segment of society around the globe.  “Campus” is too narrow of a name for us.

“Crusade” is also problematic.  At our early stage in the 1950s “crusade” meant some kind of evangelistic revival gathering a la Billy Graham.  But these days our common language has changed and people now picture a sad, deplorable time in Christian history.

But what has surprised me is the controversy that has arisen by the absence of “Christ” from our new name.  Sadly, people erroneously think that it is an indication of a weakening of our resolve or determination to proclaim Jesus Christ.  This is not the case.  The news media, including Fox, Glenn Beck, and USA Today, have stirred up controversy with sensational headlines and commentary.  In announcing the name change, Campus Crusade’s official website has a section where people can comment.  Some of the comments are stinging, caustic and inflammatory, while others are asking clarify questions.

“Cru” is the name by which many of our local campus ministries are known.  I’ve never had to defend or explain our name to a college student, be they believers in Jesus Christ or not.  When I’m with students, I explain that Cru is a Christian campus group.  I don’t hide our commitment to Jesus.  I would imagine that our fellow campus ministries who don’t have the name of Jesus Christ in their name, like The Navs and InterVarsity, would describe themselves in a similar way.

I look forward to introducing myself as working with Cru.  If someone is unfamiliar with the organization, I doubt they’ll ask what it stands for.  Rather, I think they’ll ask what I do, which will open a door to exploring Christianity with my new friend. In the past, I’ve watched people shut down, harden their face, express anger and walk away when they hear our name.  I don’t think “Cru” will have that same response.

On Tuesday night Steve Sellers, our US VP (I was his assistant from 1999-2000 when he was the National Director of the Campus Ministry), took time to explain the heart behind the name change, the process the organization engaged to arrive at the new name, and the humble, prayerful attitude adopted by the 30 people asked to serve on the naming team (which represented the different demographics of the US staff).  The year-long research project included polling staff, donors (my mom participated in a telephone survey!), Christians who are not involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, as well as people who do not describe themselves as Christians.  After the year-long process, the name was approved by the Board of Directors.

We watched this video on the importance of words:

Meanwhile, those of us with smart phones, computers and iPads were twittering away with guesses, prayers, and anticipation.  Parents shushed crying babies in the back of the arena, not wanting to leave early and miss the announcement.  Nearly 5,000 of us sat at attention wishing Steve would simply get to the point: we were ready for the name change announcement.

Upon reflection, I’m very grateful for the way Steve Sellers made the announcement.  Yes, I tweeted: “Hope they make the announcement before the kids freak out! #csu2011.”  But Steve took a deliberate approach to revealing our name so that we understood that the decision was not an arbitrary one, nor was it a flippant choice.  It was a prayerful decision and those who took part sensed the Lord leading them to Cru.

Change is difficult for many people.  As one of the largest mission agencies in the world, we’ve built up quite a reputation as Campus Crusade for Christ in our 60 years of history.  We don’t take that lightly, but it became increasingly obvious that our ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with interested people was hindered by our full organizational name.  Our founder, Dr. Bill Bright, recognized a need for a name change back in the 1970s, and his widow, Vonette Bright, has agreed with the name change.  You can see her discussing it in a video here.

If you have questions or concerns, please email Mike or me, or call us.  You can send us an email from this page by clicking “Contact Us” above.  We’d love to hear from you.

Some additional reading from Cru and some of my staff friends:

 

Alert Expectancy

A few years ago I was stranded in a hotel.  I remember asking God to set up a divine appointment for me that day, since I was stuck in town with nothing to do.  It seemed like a good prayer for a missionary to pray.

Later that day I decided to take the stairs rather than the elevator.  After descending the six floors to the lobby I discovered that I was locked out.  Or rather, locked IN the stairwell.  I raced up several flights of stairs only to discover that the doors were locked tight.  I was in the bowels of an airport hotel.  Alone.

Eventually I found an unlocked door.  At that point I didn’t care if I set off any alarms.  I just wanted to get out.  Pushing on yet another door, sunlight finally streamed in.  Temporarily blinded by sunlight, I breathed the warm, humid, but fresh air.  And I nearly walked into a woman sitting on the curb, weeping.

Afraid to disturb her solitude, I quickly turned and walked away, towards the hotel’s main entrance.

Several minutes later a thought occurred to me:  What if God allowed me to be locked in the bowels of that hotel so that I’d come upon the weeping woman? Perhaps she needed a sympathetic, listening ear.  Maybe she needed to be reminded of a God who rights wrongs.  Or maybe she needed to hear words of love, mercy and forgiveness. If that was the case, then I totally missed the answer to my prayer… God provided an opportunity for a divine appointment.

Alert:  quick to perceive and act.  Expect: anticipate the occurrence or coming of.

As you go about your day, perhaps you can do better than I did.  Perhaps you can keep your eyes open, alert to opportunities which God puts in your way.  That person might not be a student or faculty member.  He or she might take up more than a few minutes in your day.  Living in alert expectancy means keeping our eyes open, even in dark stairwells.  Maybe, just maybe, God choreographed events so that you would stumble into the sunlight at just the right time to help someone else embrace the Light.

Romans 5.3-5 The Message
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Caffeinated Roadshow

Welcome to The Evers’ Caffeinated US Roadshow 2010! Our full-time job right now is to raise support for our permanent move to NYC.  We’re really excited about God’s call on our lives, and excited to invite people to join as financial and prayer ministry partners.

But we’re a bit nomadic right now.  We left our home in Orlando in early June.  After our summer missions trip in NYC, we spent several days in the Delaware area connecting with friends and current ministry partners, and now we’re heading to Ohio for an Evers Family celebration and to connect with friends and ministry partners there.  As we travel from Delaware to Ohio, we’re dropping in on people along the PA Turnpike.  We hope to visit people in Central PA, the State College, PA area and Lancaster, PA area in September.  I don’t know when we’ll end up back in our home in Orlando.  At some point we have to be there to pack up for the move!

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop with free wi-fi in Bedford, PA.  It’s a cute place called HeBrews Coffee Company.  It’s a great place with high-top tables, couches, arm chairs and a collection of regular-height tables.  We’ve been here for a few hours and are so grateful for the cozy environment and the coffee!

A collection of unique people have paraded through the coffee shop while we’ve been here, and the staff have served each customer with patience, dignity and gentleness.  From the tourists from “the Springs” (Bedford Springs?) to the elderly couple who had a car accident outside the windows, to the blind gentleman who seems to be a loyal customer calling people by name, to the mentally challenged woman who enjoyed “coffee with room for cream,” it seems like this is the gathering spot for people from all walks of life.   I’m glad we found it!