Team Night – #TMNGHT – Hillsong NJ

Hey guys,

Sorry for the wait. I’ve been sick and I’ve been preparing to share a message with my home church Hillsong NYC tonight. There were some last minute changes and I believe I will be sharing this message next week or TBD, but I figured, why not give you the spoiler and share my sermon notes in case you are interested!

Hope it blesses you to think about leadership in your own home church and daily lives.

Much love,

Jess from Jesscbnyc

TMNGHT – Message 8.13.15

Story: I actually was sold on going to Hillsong based on Team Night. On 7/11/2013 I went to my first mid-week event by myself. I specifically remember Ashley Jones telling us in one of her points that night from panel that there was room for all of us here. Not just at church but in a creative capacity. That was something that resonated with me. I spent my entire life in church and it can be hard as a young person attending a church with either no one your age, or attending a church with lots of young people but finding out there isn’t room for you. The words we speak at team nights are important and the words that we speak and the culture that we foster in church are also important. Church is for an hour on a Sunday, what we do mid-week or as leaders or simply members of this church can either be life giving, or reserved only for our team or social group. I have a heart for this house and in the moments I have with you guys I want to share my thoughts about what we should be striving for as creative leaders.

 

Opening prayer. (Thank God for the opportunity to speak at team night which was something I had a vision for early on in the church. God is faithful.)

Leaders should be:

  1. The dictionary says authentic means. “of undisputed origin”. We are made in the image of God himself. Our leadership and value is from him. We have our own stories and our own giftings.

Galatians 5 (MSG)

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

It’s easy to get lost in creative. Even to this day you can be inspired by what everyone is doing and everyone’s talents. I don’t want anyone feeling that their giftings are not valueable. Not everyone needs to take beautiful photos, or learn an instrument to be creative. We are all parts of one body—of Christ and a body has many moving parts.

 

  1. In being Authentic we should be open and honestly ourselves

In being a part of Team Night every Thursday for years you meet a lot of people who are coming into the night with their problems and their victories. It’s important as a leader to meet people where they are at and be open and honest with our lives.

John 4:23-24 (MSG)

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Leaders should be:

  1. Undaunted: Joyfully expectant, not discouraged by difficulty, picking out the outsiders, ready to rain on the people of our church.

 

2 Corinthians 1:24 (MSG)

24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.

As leaders we are encouraging people on our team and outside of our team to be partners. We’re not looking over each other’s shoulders we are joyfully expectant of the fruits of our labor and everyone else’s labor. We are not leaders for the sake of getting followers but for the sake of being partners.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (MSG)

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

In short, we are not tooting our own horns. We need to be grabbing people that feel like nobodies and assuring them that none of us are somebodies. We need to awaken all parts of the body.

Ephesians 4:7-13 MSG

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

We should be in sync with each other, have a rhythm, be efficient, and full of grace. In tune with our groups and our church.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

My paraphrase: “Until it is done being dry until what needs to grow has grown “ – 5.9.15

We are all in somewhat of a dry spell. I know a lot of teams feel like they don’t have enough volunteers, people can be feeling burned out, etc. But we need to remember that we need to pour out until what’s currently dry has been watered doing our work of making things grow and blossom. And in a lot of ways that’s watering our creative culture, looking for new growth, remembering why we are doing this in the first place. Not getting discouraged.

Recap: 1st point is Authentic, 2nd point is…Undaunted.

 

Leaders should be:

  1. Generous: We do not claim ownership of our possessions, we are Ruth minded, and we are gap fillers

Acts 4:32-35 (MSG)

32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.

 

 

 

Then you have the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi is burned out. She has lost everything. This is a dark season for her. Orpah leaves and Ruth stays even while the situation is difficult and she could be comfortable and go home. This is what I love about Ruth. First, she recognized the true needs of Naomi, and then she acted on it – even when it was hard and very inconvenient.

 

Story: I remember when I first started volunteering nearly 4 years ago, one of the most impressive parts of our church was that if one team was done setting up or breaking down, everyone made a point to check on other teams to see if they could lend a hand. This is something I think we need to remember. You might be called to be on one team, but as a collective body we should be sensitive to other parts of the body to make sure that we’re all in sync.

2 Corinthians 1 (MSG)

The Rescue

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Story: I found in uncanny that during one season where I was very lonely and defeated in my job, I had a GPS for people going through the same thing. This is why it’s important to be authentic in your journey and what you are going through so you can be open to other people, and undaunted to pursue them. Instead of assuming someone doesn’t want to talk to you or thinking everyone looks like they are doing well, give them the benefit of the doubt and be transparent. Another point from a TMNGHT was that when I had a hard season, there were moments where I didn’t have the heart or the energy to raise my hands. And I remember Chris Davenport praying for us collectively as a group and saying that all of us in the room are raising our hands even if you don’t have the energy to or the faith to. This is something powerful and I never want to forget that this is where our hearts should be as leaders.

 

Closing:  Recap of three points: Leaders should be Authentic, Undaunted, Generous

Excerpt from Heaven is in this House . Written by Bobbie Houston

“Imagine a place so irresistible that people can’t wait to get there. Imagine a place so functional that no one ever wants to leave. Imagine a place where the atmosphere causes humanity to flourish. Imagine a place designed for no other reason than to connect you with a world beyond your wildest dreams. Such a place exists and has existed within the heart of God since before all time. It’s the church.”

I want this to be a manifesto as we close out this year. Something we strive for as a group. I want us to be leaders in this church who treat people better than they are treated at home and in the world. Sometimes we take for granted how powerful “welcome home” is. For me, church is more a home than the actual home I come from. And I think a lot of people feel that way. They don’t have a tight knit family or they are mistreated at home or in the world. And we have the opportunity to see the potential in people and be home to people. You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to see in others. At the end of the day we need to show love.

1 John 4:19-21  (MSG)

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

Closing Prayer.

 

Leadership

Source: Biblegateway.com

There are some times when I feel really overlooked. Like everyone is being noticed or elevated for their talents or skills within church and I often am the nameless one. Meaning, people in leadership still don’t know me by name or what my function is. I don’t need to be praised but sometimes you can wonder how you can be so under the radar after years and years and people don’t know that you’re a leader. Don’t get me wrong I know some people aren’t good with names. I know I’m not visibly high on the totem pole either. But sometimes you can feel like no one notices you or appreciates you. In darker times you can even feel like other people are favored by God or the church.

I remember long ago I had posted that when I was first attending Hillsong NYC I felt like I wasn’t beautiful enough or talented enough to be a part of this church. I realized it was definitely the enemy speaking to me and my own insecurities but it was still a sad realization to have. I learned though after a while that some other people felt the same way and so that was refreshing to some degree.

Another time I shared on here how I began feeling during one season of my life that I would never be on stage. I do things behind the scenes to make church home, but I’m not someone anyone is looking at. Right? Wrong. During that season God had a need for me to help out with the choir for church and voila–my big head on monitors everywhere. Haha. I believe God has a funny way of taking your doubts and showing that He can do whatever He wants with you. If you don’t believe you are going to be noticed, He’ll shine a spotlight on you. If you are having a bad day, don’t be surprised if He sends a stranger your way to compliment you. God is good.

Today I wanted to share that I am a part of TMNGHT at my church. TMNGHT or team night is a weekly gathering where everyone who volunteers in a creative capacity gets together to have a mini service and then break off to do team trainings or activities. I’ve done two of these trainings so far for my Venue Design team and felt very honored to be able to do that. You get to explain why we do what we do, why I love it, why it’s important, and bond with each other. It has also helped me feel validated as a leader because I know I have wisdom to share and you don’t always get that opportunity.

I happened to be looking up when my next training was on a shared document from the team and I was shocked to see that not only do I have a training next month for my team BUT I will be speaking a message for the whole group!

This is not, yay me time, but more like affirmation that you can feel unnoticed but God will still use you if you don’t lose hope and even if you have lost it. I’ve been at this church for 4 years and it’s just now happening that these opportunities have come my way. Before that I was in churches my entire life, and was never asked to lead anything or share anything. Over time you can feel jealous that other people are having that time in the limelight, or confused that you have desires that are not being fulfilled and wonder why you aren’t chosen.

I just want to remind you that you are purposed. Your time might not be now and you might have to watch a parade of people getting jobs, or being proposed to, or having babies, or getting raises, or speaking at church or whatever, and it can feel like God just loves those people more than you. But God doesn’t have favorites. Sometimes you might feel discouraged but just know that I have as well and when I didn’t expect it, God showed himself faithful.

Wednesday Inspiration 8.20.14

“Holy Spirit, you have been working within me as I first put my faith in Christ, but I confess that there have been places where I have resisted your work. There are corners of my heart where I have been prideful and selfish. I surrender these to You. I trust You, that your will for my life is greater than my own. Restore me, heal me, create anew what has died. I desperately wish to see the fruit of the Spirit in my life and leadership. Do what needs to be done in order that You may produce healthy abundance in me. Amen.” – Catalyst: Devotional

I post this photo and devotional prayer today as a challenge. I know there are many many hopes and dreams that I have let go of while Jesus takes me on the journey I find myself on now. Although there are still moments where I lose hope, ultimately I remember to put it back in God’s hands–something that has fortunately become easier with time.

This photo quote challenges me to make sure that if areas of my life haven’t changed that I must remember to have this attitude and if areas have changed I need to be careful not to ever get comfortable–something that is funny to me because I can’t remember the last time I felt comfortable. But I don’t think that will always be the case. Life is a series of ups and downs.

Takeaways from the photo:

Never sail too close to the shore and never dream too little.

Never be more in love with Earthly life than Eternal life.

Dare more boldly and venture on wilder seas.

The Catalyst quote feels like an odd prayer at the moment because I don’t really feel like there is anything I am holding on to. I’ve let go of the “dream” job I thought I would be doing for a career that I didn’t choose. I’ve let go of my “pride” by doing tasks that don’t always get noticed or make sense to be doing in the first place. I’ve let go over the years of “people” I wanted to still be friends with but who weren’t adding value to my life I’ve let go of “relationships” or interest in people that I wanted to explore a relationship with, and on and on. I don’t say this like “look at my sacrificial living!”..I say this because we all are in a continual process of lightening our load. And sometimes you don’t even realize how much you’ve left behind or continue to leave behind. Things that I enjoyed, even good things like watching shows on tv, or reading for pleasure, or monthly shopping, etc used to be things that I comforted myself with. Nothing was ever out of control but I’ve noticed that I do those things less and less. Now I go first to God–which is good, but sometimes also scary. It’s like hiking up a mountain with a huge survival pack, but realizing in order to get to the top you need to get rid of nearly everything you’re holding on to. You prepared for all sorts of situations i.e. thirst, hunger, illness, whatever and now you are left with yourself. Sometimes I even find myself seeing parts of my life that are 50% alive and 50% dead like…50% I’m still this sickening romantic and 50% I’m concerned I won’t ever find someone and have to be careful not to delve into panic over it. 

I think this is part of the journey in truly following God. You are laying things down and God brings you His blessings. He comes with the provisions–you don’t need to bring your own. And so I pray that though I may be “losing sight of land I will find the stars” because He is the one that created it all.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Monday Inspiration 8.18.14

 

It’s hard as a woman to not be lead by your emotions. Maybe that’s unfair to say–I’m sure men struggle as well. But I’m not a man so I can’t speak from experience. Ha. I think it’s human to get wrapped up in your emotions and what you feel is best or just simply what you want. I’m actually struggling with that right now. Sometimes when you want something that for whatever reason you can’t have, you worry that you’re missing out. But God is a Father of opportunity and we need to remember that there is not a shortage. If we can’t get one thing we want–it’s not like He can’t provide another of equal or greater value. With that being said I think there are two good reminders to take away.

1. If we are lead by your emotions, as we all typically are at one point or another, we need to make sure we are feeling out of a positive place, meaning one of value and assurance of our position with God so we are not acting out of desperation or a desire to fill some void.

“We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. The verse does not tell us how to love ourselves, it assumes we already love ourselves and tells us to love others the same way.” – Good Morning Girls  Devotional

 

I think the above quote is important because it reminds us first and foremost to love ourselves. The Bible assumes we have that together in order to properly love others. We are to overflow in love and give out of abundance but if we are experiencing a drought and cannot love ourselves–we need to work on that first. 

2. If we are lead by your emotions, we need to make sure we are listening to God’s words and feelings for us and not our own, or anyone else’s. The Father sees us more clearly and more lovingly than anyone else.

 

“The Father sees you, He wants for you far more than what you can conceive. Don’t miss out on His whispers because you have filled your head and heart with your own words. It is never too late to ask God to begin to clear away the distractions and to focus your heart on knowing His will. It’s in these moments where your ability to help others do the same will develop. After all, you can’t lead people to a place you’ve never been. It’s a simple prayer, but it will change the way you live and the way you lead, forever. Father, today I trade everything for you. My wants, my desires, and the things I’m pursuing. As long as they are desires born of this world, I know they will pale in comparison to your plans for me. Please renew my mind so I can know your will. I desire a life full of You, a life full of knowing You. Father, some of the things I have been yearning after for years have sunk roots deep in my heart. If there is anything that needs removing, I pray you begin that process by filling those spaces with your spirit and align my mind with your will. Clear away all of the distractions so that Your vision for me life with be clear to me. May I begin to hear from Your voice so that my actions and decisions reflect a God who is intimately involed in the details of my life.  Amen.”  – Cataylst Devotional 

Thursday Inspiration 8.7.14

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I was surfing Pinterest this morning–because of course I’m mildly addicted–and this was the first thing that caught my eye on the homepage. It hit me square in the chest actually.”God prepares leaders in a slow-cooker”. WHAT? Am I a leader? Is that why life for so long has felt like walking through muck and quicksand to get ahead? I don’t wear my struggle with pride–like LOOK AT ME and ALL I CAN HANDLE!! I’ve actually drifted through many different feelings ranging from confusion to bitterness to acceptance. It’s important to remember that during this process God is still in the kitchen.

I decided to Google slow-cookers even thought I know generally how they work and this is what I found:

-slow cookers help to make meat more “tender and improve in texture and flavor”

-no matter how tough the meat, “when cooked for long periods of time at low temperatures” it will become tenderized

-the goal is to “break down into a rich gelatin”

-http://www.scienceofcooking.com/meat/slow_cooking1.htm

In other words, I’m not a chef but it seems like this process is simply used to make something tough more tasty and tender. And gelatin can be used in all sorts of things according to Wikipedia like “food, pharmaceuticals, photographycosmetic manufacturingmarshmallows, gelatin dessert, and some ice cream, dip and yogurt“. So the byproduct of this process is used for many more things.

Enough food science…let’s apply this to what we were talking about earlier. If life is a clow-cooker, then I am the tough meat in need of tenderizing. My Earthly flesh is in need of tenderizing. And through this process I will become more palatable in God’s eyes. I will become more like Him. I will improve and my life will be an sweet aroma to Him.

“Perhaps… Jesus could smell “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” a life “poured out like a drink offering” (Ephesians 5:2; 2 Timothy 4:6 NIV).”

-http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/your-sacrifice-is-a-fragrant-offering-to-god#.U-OWQvldXRg

And during the process there is not bitterness or anything bad-tasting that comes out. Instead a “rich gelatin” is extracted..in this case the God-taste of my life is poured out and can then and only then be used for many more things.

So during this time I encourage my own soul, and yours to endure those “seemingly unfruitful seasons” knowing full well that we are being put in the slow-cooker for a purpose. If we were put in the “microwave” of life we wouldn’t be rich in flavor. We would be bland. Why would you settle for that when there is a better way to be?

 

 

Photo Credit: Found on pinstamatic.com