Author info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

Originally posted at: https://churchm.ag/how-do-you-define-excellence/

How do you define excellence? 

You’ve heard it before and you’ve probably used the term as you trained volunteers. I know that I have.  At times, it feels like the perfect word to describe the efforts of a well-orchestrated team accomplishing a project but at other times, it feels like a source of frustration as it is ever elusive. But what does it really mean? How do we actually define it?

Sure, I could quote Webster’s or lookup something from Seth Godin but I think my concern over the term being used in the creative arts arena is that it can’t be defined. Or better yet, it can be defined in a multitude of different ways.

It’s not quantifiable and even though spreedsheets aren’t always sexy, they at least provide us objective means of evaluation and feedback. Now, I am in now way going to try and create a system by which we grade our projects and creative endeavors. However, I do want to make an observation.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience. For instance, if you asked me about a moment when I witnessed excellence in church communication, I might mention the time that I saw an interactive, multimedia presentation in the middle of a Christmas service. However, you might mention a moment in which you were served communion, while an orchestra played behind a chorus of singing children.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience.

I know, the illustration is not perfect but I hope that it illustrates my point. It is difficult to use the term excellence as a goal when the definition is so varied. People will come to believe the project is complete or more than satisfactory while you are scratching your head wondering how in the world they considered the project anywhere near completion. Sound familiar?

Now, I must admit – the term can seem helpful at times. And no, I don’t think we should remove all mystery or idealist values from the creative process. I just think that, for whatever reason, the term can become the proverbial carrot, always out of reach and never grabbed. Or worse, it can wind up being used as an easier to swallow synonym for perfection. If that’s the case, then those around us will be robbed of times of celebration which I believe are crucial to both a team dynamic and a creative individually.

For the majority of us, I don’t think we mean for this to happen. I know I don’t. But I’m just unsure of how to use the term to effectively communicate expectations. Perhaps the solution is to define it and invite others to utilize that definition. I’m not entirely sure. I’m merely asking if there is a better way. A way in which we can facilitate art to a certain standard without every having to critique a piece with the words, “It just doesn’t feel or seem right.”

How do you navigate this? What are ways that you’ve seen the term used?


Originally published on November 29, 2012 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2arVxoe

Author Info: Stefa Chappell was just named Chi Alpha’s first National Field Director, after serving faithfully in a variety of roles throughout the country. She recently completed her Master's degree, and when she's not taking care of her adorable dog Finn (who has his own Instagram) she's probably out for a run, or searching for authentic salsa. She has a passion for college students that’s unparalleled and has a gift for teaching about stress, rest and cultivating healthy devotional rhythms.

Facebook | | Twitter | | Finn's Instagram | | Stefa's Instagram 

I have found that one of the hardest things about being in ministry (for me now for over two decades) is maintaining my faith.  Yes, I just said that.

The ministry is a wonderful calling—an adventure in walking with Christ that’s a little off the beaten path compared to most vocations.  In being called to full time ministry I have been invited to walk a path similar to the path Jesus walked—dependent on God through His people for my salary, called to serve and lead this fabulous, messy group of people called the Church.  

Online fundraising for Reach the City - 2016

Ministry is not unique in having intense pressures.  What makes ministry unique is that it is so intricately bound with our faith.  If I did not love God, why would I be in ministry?  But the pressures, criticism, unending workload, typically lower pay and higher expectations can have an adverse effect on a person’s spiritual life.  Outside of a daily, protected time with Jesus, there are a few things I have found to help me keep my faith in Jesus central to my life as I endeavor to serve in this wonderful ministry. 

Take intentional time away from the ministry to be reminded that you are first and foremost a child of God.

I was called into relationship with God before I was called to ministry.

Several years ago I took a six-month sabbatical—I was burned out and too young to be that way.  For much of my sabbatical I traveled and stayed with dear friends who just loved me.  Without question, the most valuable thing that the Lord did deep inside me was to remind me that I am first and foremost His daughter.  I don’t think you need to take a sabbatical to learn that lesson (although I think more ministers would be healthier and more fruitful if they did!), but it must be learned.  I was called into relationship with God before I was called to ministry.  I was called to relationship with God before the earth was founded.  That’s got to mean something. 

Have friends outside of the ministry.

My friends are lawyers, image consultants and nurses—they own their own businesses and work at places like NASA and somewhere that has to do with Defense (which I may or may not be allowed to know about). :)  As I interact with my friends we don’t talk much about what’s going on in my job (insert Selah here!).  We talk more about our relationship with God than my To Do list.  I am not the leader in our friendship.  I am a follower of Christ.

Remember that God really doesn’t need you.

The simple fact is that God can do this work without me.  Yes, He wants me to be involved (which is why He asked) and He wants to partner with us mere mortals to see His Kingdom come to earth (and He always will), but He really doesn’t need me to make sure it all happens.  When I keep this in mind I can’t help but respond with gratitude for being a part of this work.  There are times when I literally say to God, “Thanks for thinking of me.”  Gratitude nurtures a healthy relationship with God (or with anyone, really), and that’s a great way to stay Christian in the ministry!



Originally published on July 16, 2014 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2ahv1hD

Posted
AuthorBlane Young

Ministry is about less.  Somehow in a year I’ve turned ministry into processes, into the execution of my skills, into delightful experiences.  None of that is wrong.  Without my talents and methods I would be useless.  But ministry is not about these additives.  Ministry is about people.

 Written by Nick Holmstedt      Facebook  | |  Twitter

 Written by Nick Holmstedt

   Facebook | | Twitter

It seems so obvious.  I have found this truth multiple times.  Then I bury it beneath the rubble of my profound methodology, my ingenious hypotheses, my selfless preoccupation with myself.  Each time I turn around and so “Oh yeah, I need to be ministering TO others.”  A friend recently reminded me that “We are filled up to be poured out.”  As I have been staring my future down I wonder why I commit to that admittedly daunting path of ministry. 

And then I re-engage in community.  My processes crack against the spirit of my friends and family and the fault-line is real discipleship.  Ministry is the meeting of people and process and God the molten lava that underlies and causes that powerful unity. 

How can we live focusing primarily on people?  How do we avoid wrapping ourselves in methods at the sake of relationship?

I’m no expert, but I’ve found a few mental checks keep me lined up with God’s will here:

1)      Keep people on your mind and be praying for them.  It’s easy to focus on the next task, your objective.  Write down names on post-it notes and every time you see that note, pray for the person.  When you hop on Facebook, choose the top two or three people and say a 5-second prayer.

2)      Keep in touch with people.  It’s easy to forget people are primary when our interactions are limited.  Reach out and let someone share a story.  Do it as often as you can- which might be different for you than me. 

People’s worth will lead you to engagement in and of itself- just give people an opportunity to renew your hearts over and over again.

Posted
AuthorBlane Young

I have found that one of the hardest things about being in ministry (for me now for over two decades) is maintaining my faith.  Yes, I just said that.

The ministry is a wonderful calling—an adventure in walking with Christ that’s a little off the beaten path compared to most vocations.  In being called to full time ministry I have been invited to walk a path similar to the path Jesus walked—dependent on God through His people for my salary, called to serve and lead this fabulous, messy group of people called the Church. 

Written by Stefa Chappell     Facebook    | |   Twitter

Written by Stefa Chappell

Facebook | | Twitter

Ministry is not unique in having intense pressures.  What makes ministry unique is that it is so intricately bound with our faith.  If I did not love God, why would I be in ministry?  But the pressures, criticism, unending workload, typically lower pay and higher expectations can have an adverse effect on a person’s spiritual life.  Outside of a daily, protected time with Jesus, there are a few things I have found to help me keep my faith in Jesus central to my life as I endeavor to serve in this wonderful ministry. 

Take intentional time away from the ministry to be reminded that you are first and foremost a child of God.

Several years agoI took a six-month sabbatical—I was burned out and too young to be that way.  For much of my sabbatical I traveled and stayed with dear friends who just loved me.  Without question, the most valuable thing that the Lord did deep inside me was to remind me that I am first and foremost His daughter.  I don’t think you need to take a sabbatical to learn that lesson (although I think more ministers would be healthier and more fruitful if they did!), but it must be learned.  I was called into relationship with God before I was called to ministry.  I was called to relationship with God before the earth was founded.  That’s got to mean something. 

Have friends outside of the ministry.

My friends are lawyers, image consultants and nurses—they own their own businesses and work at places like NASA and somewhere that has to do with Defense (which I may or may not be allowed to know about). :)  As I interact with my friends we don’t talk much about what’s going on in my job (insert Selah here!).  We talk more about our relationship with God than my To Do list.  I am not the leader in our friendship.  I am a follower of Christ.

Remember that God really doesn’t need you.

The simple fact is that God can do this work without me.  Yes, He wants me to be involved (which is why He asked) and He wants to partner with us mere mortals to see His Kingdom come to earth (and He always will), but He really doesn’t need me to make sure it all happens.  When I keep this in mind I can’t help but respond with gratitude for being a part of this work.  There are times when I literally say to God, “Thanks for thinking of me.”  Gratitude nurtures a healthy relationship with God (or with anyone, really), and that’s a great way to stay Christian in the ministry!

Posted
AuthorBlane Young
skyline.jpg

One day I was talking with a pastor who serves in a community a few hours from D.C.  He casually mentioned that there are about 3000 people who live in his community.  In a split second, it struck me — there were about 3000 people who lived on my street.

At the time I lived in a high rise condo buildingone  building that stood tall like a soldier next to several others just like it.  I knew how many residents lived in my building and did the quick math to discover how many people lived in the few short blocks that shared my same street name.  There are about as many people who live on my street as in his entire town.  Now multiply that by the numbers of streets in my neighborhood...and then the number of neighborhoods in my city.  That's a lot of people on Jesus' mind. 

I dont know if the difference in our communities seemed as dramatic to me before that day.  I dont think that the people on my street are more important as the people in his townbut there are just so many of them.

Written by Stefa Chappell    Twitter  ||  Facebook

Written by Stefa Chappell 

Twitter || Facebook

I have lived in the suburbs, the city and literally off a dirt road in the country, and I have to say that urban living is a bit of a different beast.  One reason for that is the mass of humanity present that sometimes feels squished together in a small space.  There are just an awful lot of us.  And its not just that there are a lot of peoplethere is a high number of remarkably diverse people.  I daily bump into neighbors from different cultures, ethnicities and religionsdifferent in dress, customs, world views, language.  It was like the nations had come to live on my street.  No, the nations actually had come to live on my street. 

The beauty of this crowded reality is that the cross section of this diversity invites us to incarnate the Gospel in so many arenas.  And ministry on any urban university campus shares a similar opportunity.  Take the nations, fill up a small space with them, give them opportunity to learn and exchange ideas, then watch them graduate to dramatically influence their world.  

Truth be told, urban living can be both exciting and maddening.  It's not always easy to live so crowded, and it's ridiculously expensive to live here.  Sometimes we long for open space or silence (or, at least the sound of something other than a siren!).  Sometimes we'd love to be able to afford more square footage for our dollar.  But Jesus called us to be with people in order to incarnate His message.  In the city, there are a lot of people here who can see the message lived through our lives.  

I have to admit it--I'm a city girl.  I enjoy the energy of the city and I don't really mind the sirens (all that much).  Yes, we're crowded but bumping into people simply gives me the opportunity to show some Jesus to them when we do bump.  

Posted
AuthorBlane Young