Archives For Andrew Camp

Discernment

I was recently challenged by a quote by Ruth Haley Barton:

“The spiritual leader is distinguished by his or her commitment and ability to guide the discernment process so the community can affirm a shared sense of God’s desire for them and move forward on that basis” (Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership).

I don’t know about you, but I find myself so easily slipping into a mode of ministry where I make decisions, instead of slowing down and patiently discerning God’s desire for my ministry, whether that is simply leading a small group, or leading the leaders of small groups.

Let me offer my best definition on discernment before moving forward.

Discernment is the growing, prayerful ability to recognize and respond to the presence of Christ in all things, big and small.

The foundation of discernment is the development of an ongoing, prayerful dialogue with the one Holy Spirit who indwells all of us. Jesus tells us in John 16:13a, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (NIV). As we engage in this dialogue with the Holy Spirit, we begin more and more to be able to distinguish between…

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My church has recently launched a series on community called Better Together. In conjunction with the sermon series, I, in collaboration with my senior pastor, wrote a small-group curriculum to complement the series. I love community, which is why I love small groups. Like many of you, I work hard on our small group system at my church to equip leaders and to help many in my church experience the fullness of community – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

However, as I continue to reflect on community and work toward helping others experience community, I constantly find myself drawn back to and challenged by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his classic work, Life Together. In it, he writes:

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly…. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser…

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A few weeks ago, I invited some dear friends of mine, Matthew and Monica Green, to conduct some training for my small group leaders. They used 1 John 1 as their guiding text throughout the training. What I especially loved about what they shared is that they combined in such a seamless manner both a spiritual challenge to us as leaders, but also some very practical tools for us.

Their spiritual challenge to us, which preceded the practical, was that our first and biggest priority as leaders is to walk in the light ourselves. The apostle John writes, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3 NIV).

I can know all the practicality of leading a small group. I can know the latest and greatest theories. I can read all the books. I can even know the Bible inside and out. But, and this is a big but, if I am not personally experiencing the fellowship of the Father through His Son, then what I know…

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Personal Retreat Day

In my last blog post, I mentioned the need to make sure we care for ourselves, and gave some ideas on how you and I might go about doing that, one of which was taking a personal retreat day. Today, I want to offer some tips on how to go about doing one.

What is a retreat? John Coe, a professor of mine from Talbot Seminary, defined a retreat as follows: “The setting aside of an extraordinary amount of time to do something for the sake of your soul at an intensity and duration that your ordinary lifestyle does not permit.” At its core, a retreat is when we set aside time to minister to our souls through spending time in conversation with our living God.

First, a word of caution: in taking a personal retreat, whether it is for a day or a few days, you and I will face the temptation to manufacture an experience to make God do something we want. For instance, many times, we take a retreat because we are facing a big decision, or we want God to show us what’s next. But God…

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