Sunday, June 19, 2016

Missing the point of reading, studying, and singing

"You have received unmerited love and grace. Share it—or quit reading, studying, and singing about it." 
—Pastor Glenn Kaiser (pictured above)

Sometimes we get so caught up in the activities of reading, studying, singing, etc., we end up missing the point.

But that's precisely the point: Don't miss the point.

I dare you to think about your life for a moment: 
Are YOU missing the point? 

I challenge you to assess yourself by checking out this, this, and this.

Meanwhile, I'll be busy taking my own challenge.

Added Bonus: 
Glenn Kaiser making the same point above—only this time via the blues! Take a listen. Lyrics included below. (Get Glenn's music here and here.)

(If video doesn't appear, go here.)

She came into your life
One look stole your heart
Your friends can see it in your face
Even in the dark
You laid awake at night
Dreamin' of the day
When she would wear your ring
And that evidence would say

You know I love you
I'm so glad, show and tell
Cause when your love is so strong
You just can't keep it to yourself

They hung me on the wood
My blood ran just like rain
I spoke on your behalf
And I'm comin' down again

You know I love you
They know in heaven and in hell
You say you love me
Why do you keep it to yourself?

People in the street,
They need to see and hear
Got noses full of cocaine
And bellies full o' beer
Credit cards and pretty yards
And kids that never knew
Who I am, and what I've done
And what I'll do for you

You say you love me
Ahh, you got my book up on the shelf
You say you love me
Ohh, if you love me
Why do you keep it to yourself?
Ohh, if you love me
Ahh, you gotta show and tell
Cause when your love is so strong
You just can't...
When your love is so strong
You just can't keep it to yourself

And this BONUS is only for those who diligently read this far... something to put a smile on your face AND sum up everything this post is about... enjoy...

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

7 Compelling Reasons Dads Really Matter...

and every reason has something to do with disciplemaking.

Be encouraged dad!

You really do matter. Here's 7 compelling reasons WHY...
1. You're the family comedian
2. You're a Disciplemaking Dad
3. You do what all dads do: Embarrass your kids
4. You have more influence than you realize
5. You're never a "babysitter" when you're with YOUR kids 
6. You're a "loser filter" for guys interested in your daughter
7. You're an incredible encourager

Do you know a dad who would be encouraged by this post?

What are you waiting for?

Send this link to him now——and tell him THANKS!

Happy Father's Day to crazy dads with crazy kids everywhere.

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Sunday, June 05, 2016

28 years later... on June 11th

Strong. Selfless. Smart. Indefatigable. Intoxicating. That's the woman I love and the mother of our 7 children ages 5-25.

And she's funny too.

Last month we were both up before the sun drinking coffee—Stacy at one end of the kitchen table and me at the other. I said, "Why don't you sit closer to me so we can read the Bible together this morning?"

In a tired voice, Stacy said, "That would take me further away from the coffee pot."

So funny. So early in the morning.

We're celebrating God's goodness via 28 years of marriage on June 11, 2016.

Thanks for celebrating God's goodness with us!

"Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing with in your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the LORD's blessing for those who fear him."
—Psalms 128:3-4

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Exciting News about How God is Using YOU!

Check out how God is multiplying YOUR prayer and $ investment in Cadre missionaries for the extension of His kingdom and His gloryThe best way to view this is to go hereYou can also click on any image below to enlarge for reading. Thank you for check this out!
Would you please pray for us? We are disciplemaking missionaries with Cadre MinistriesWe need you. About 2-3 times a month, I'd like to send you a short email with details about how you can say a quick prayer for us. If you are willing to say a quick prayer for us 2-3 times a month, please email me and put "prayer team" in the subject line. We'd be glad to pray for you too.
We are your Cadre missionaries. We couldn't take any of part of this Jesus-like disciplemaking adventure without people like you who love us, pray for us, and give $ to Cadre. We need you. You make our ministry powerful and possible. Every expression of partnership breathes life into our souls… and enables us to do the same for many others! Cadre is a one-of-a-kind ministry. For more information about how you can partner with God, the Allisons, and Cadre Ministries, go here. To make a secure online tax-deductible donation, go here.  Cadre Ministries is a recognized 501(c)3 ministry.

For up-to-date ways you can pray for us, go here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

When someone asks me, "What do you do?"

A Note from Bill Allison...
People sometimes ask me, "What do you do?" When I tell them, "I'm a disciplemaking missionary with Cadre Ministries," I often get blank stares. They have no mental box to put me in. What in the world does a disciplemaking missionary do? Great news!  This story below is at the very center of what we mean when we say, "We're disciplemaking missionaries." It's WHO we are... and WHAT we do. And we couldn't do it without friends like you. So please keep reading.

From fall of 2015 to spring of 2016, I led a Disciplemaking Learning Community in WI. Recently, Pastor Andrew Smiley (the guy on the right in the picture above) sent me the email I am sharing with you in the post below—with his permission. THANK YOU for reading this and tracking with the Allisons, Cadre Ministries, and our disciplemaking adventures! To God—and God alone—be the glory!

I have changed over the past eight months and my involvement in the Wisconsin Disciplemaking Learning Community (DLC) has been a big part of what God is doing in my life.  

Our DLC has continually challenged my propensity to put my life in categories rather than think of my life as one complete whole. It is my tendency to go from "box to box" (family, ministry, etc...) making sure I am faithful in each while failing to connect the dots. I have been frustrated at the tension this type of thinking has brought me as I makes it hard to be "successful" with all things all the time. 

Our DLC has shifted my thinking. I now think about my life as one comprehensive effort to follow Jesus in all things. All of these things are related and especially related to Jesus. I obviously knew that my life was about following Jesus, but learning to follow Jesus in all things in my life has profoundly shift my perspective. 

It is not harmful to my ministry to focus on serving and loving my family. It is not harmful for my family when I fulfill and live out my calling to pastor and make disciples. Making the most of my time (with my family, ministry, in community) has led me to push conversations, activity and focus toward answering this question: 

What does it look like to follow Jesus together today? 

I look forward to continually answering this question alongside others.

A pursuit of following Jesus in my life has only spilled over into the way I lead in ministry, the way I preach, and the way I think and live. I am more open to aligning ministry to meet what I find in the Bible, especially in how Jesus made disciples. The measure of success has less to do with many typical external measures (attendance...) but more about whether the disciple is multiplying and overflowing into others. In my ministry, I am constantly asking this question: 

What does it look like to help other people follow Jesus and make disciples like He did?

Your disciplemaking friend,

Andrew Smiley
Twin Lakes, WI

If you'd like to get your own taste of what Andrew is talking about, go here, here, and here. For more information about Disciplemaking Learning Communities, contact us.

(Above: The WI DLC)

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Transforming Friendships Into Disciplemaking Friendships

Disciplemaking Friendships—Why?

When I went back to college later in life, I was told that I had a “math deficiency.” I ended up having to buy an introductory mathematics book and re-teaching myself some basics.

Everyday I worked through a portion of that pitifully boring math book—alone.

However, once a week I met with a tutor who monitored my progress (or lack thereof) and tried to answer my many questions. (“Why would anyone plant a garden in the form of a triangle and then use the Pythagorean Theorem to measure the hypotenuse?”)

One day I asked my tutor, “Help me understand integers”—and I pronounced it exactly like it’s spelled: “in-TEG-ers.” My tutor smiled and said, “You mean, integers”—and she pronounced it “IN-ti-jers.” Sensing my embarrassment, she said, “It’s okay. You couldn’t have known this simply by working through the book by yourself.”

Right then and there I realized this: Solo book learning is a good start, but a fuller, deeper learning happens in community.

In my math community—with a tutor and few other struggling students—I learned to correctly pronounce mathematical terms I’ll probably never need—such as “integer.” (My math is up to speed these days, but you may have noticed that I still have a significant math deficiency in my attitude.)

In Jesus’ day, this fuller, deeper, communal learning was known as havering. And as it turns out, haver learning is a critically important part of the disciplemaking genius of Jesus. Why? Because you will never fully come to know and experience Jesus or disciplemaking by simply working through the Book by yourself.
(The above was taken from the introduction to the Disciplemaker's Living Guide.)

Disciplemaking Friendships—How?

The newly updated, revised, and expanded...
Disciplemaker's Living Guide
This Disciplemaker's Living Guide is a tool for transforming friendships into disciplemaking friendships.

It's great for families, students, small groups, networks, leadership meetings, discipleship groups, Sunday school classes, elder’s meetings, staff meetings, disciplemaking learning communities, mission trip teams, and even improving your marriage.

What’s New?
* A refreshed size and design.
* A helpful introduction on WHY and HOW to use it as a dialogue rather than merely a devotional resource.
* The Disciplemaker’s Prayer and a challenge to pray it daily.
* Various images and graphics that promote reflection, study, and dialogue.
* Language that clearly ties this resource to the disciplemaking priorities and practices spelled out in the Disciplemaking Is Relationships training.

How to Use the Living Guide
Using the Discplemaker's Living Guide is as simple as this...
* Open the living guide.
* Open your Bibles and read the Scriptures and their contexts. 
* Wrestle the Scriptures and the questions one by one with a heart to know and love God.
* Pray the Disciplemaker's Prayer together (included in the living guide).
You're probably doing it right when your study together leads to more questions and deeper conversations about applying what you're learning together.

8 Ways to Use this Living Guide
1. Sunday School:
Use the Disciplemaker's Living Guide for the first 10-15 minutes of each class for discussion and prayer together for 25 Sundays. Or take your time walking slowly through the living guide the entire Sunday school class. If you read the context of each of the passages listed and give plenty of time for discussion, interaction, and prayer, it will easily fill your Sunday school hour. We've seen both of these approaches work great in a Sunday school setting. Get each member of your Sunday school class his/her own living guide and you'll still have the most inexpensive Sunday school ever.

2. Small Groups: 
This living guide is a great for small groups to live out a disciplemaking way of life together. By wrestling Scripture together, you and your friends have an opportunity to own disciplemaking like Jesus at the conviction level rather than just at the idea level. (And, oh, there is a major difference between those two!) This wrestling Scripture together in community (a.k.a., havering) is a critically important step in transforming friendships into disciplemaking friendships.

3. With Volunteers and Students
Use the Disciplemaker's Living Guide to help your adult volunteer leaders and student volunteer leaders grasp and own the value of disciplemaking friendships as the conduit for gospel ministry.

4. Retreats: 
This living guide is a great summer camp or fall or winter retreat experience. Cadre offers a four-session training experience called Disciplemaking Is Relationships that works well in a retreat setting. Each person would get the Disciplemaker's Living Guide.

5. Family Discussions: 
It can be as a simple and spontaneous as a 5-10 minute discussion via the questions in the living guide after dinner one night a week. If you have a long drive together, use the car time to wrestle a study or two together. Consider doing a family night using this living guide to explore what it looks like to live a disciplemaking way of life together. Then invite other families to share this living guide experience.

6. Starting Meetings:
Instead of just starting meetings in prayer, take 15 minutes to have people get into pairs and work through one of the 25 disciplemaking studies/adventures. This will drip essential disciplemaking values into your elder, staff, and team meetings throughout the year.

7. Mission Trips:
Make the Disciplemaker's Living Guide the team devotional for your next missions trip. Since you're all on a missions trip, why not use it together each day?

8. Can YOU think of a way to use this in your life and ministry?

Your Next Step...

Monday, May 09, 2016

Why we're so boring...

Talking about what you believe—what you think to be true—is okay at best and boring at worst.

But talking about your convictions—what you believe so deeply that you're willing to die for—is a far more interesting conversation.

Spare me your many beliefs.

Tell me your few convictions.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

If you really want your ministry to thrive...

If you really want your ministry to thrive for the glory of God, then you'd better figure out how to find, develop, and retain volunteers.

I have great news for you!

This is your invitation to make this summer 2016 a "summer of love" for God, volunteers, and your ministry.

Session #1 Finding Volunteers
We'll explore five practical ways to turn pew potatoes into passionate participators.

Plus we'll explore...
* Why volunteers want a mission not just tasks
* How to develop a volunteer "job description" for your ministry
* How NOT to ask volunteers for help
* How to train volunteers to find more volunteers

Thursday, June 23, 2016, from 9 AM to 12 noon

The Metal Barn, 9621 State Rt 91, Peoria, IL 61615

Session #2 Developing Volunteers
We'll explore twelve motivating factors that make volunteers tick and why it matters.

Plus we'll explore...
* Why working with volunteers requires real leadership
* The differences between a boss and a leader
* How we demotivate volunteers and how to stop it
* The power of feedback to and from volunteers

Thursday, July 21, 2016, from 9 AM to 12 noon

The Metal Barn, 9621 State Rt 91, Peoria, IL 61615

Session #3 Retaining Volunteers
We'll explore seven ways to retain highly effective volunteers. 

Plus we'll explore...
* Why volunteers quit leaders and not ministries
* How to encourage volunteers
* How to train volunteers—not just organize them
* The three minute difference

Thursday, August 25,  2016, from 9 AM to 12 noon

The Metal Barn, 9621 State Rt 91, Peoria, IL 61615

Each of these three training sessions are filled with practical tools for personal and team assessments. You'll leave with clear next steps for immediate application.

This training is for anyone who oversees a ministry—volunteers and/or paid staff. If possible, please bring another leader (volunteer or paid staff) from your church or ministry as this will help you both process and apply this training experience. If you aren't able to bring someone from your church or ministry, you're welcome to bring another ministry leader from your network or denomination. If you can't find anyone else to join you for one or more of these training sessions, please come yourself.

There is a onetime cost of $30 per person for training materials whether you participate in one, two, or all three of these summer equipping experiences.

Each person will get the newly updated, revised, and expanded edition of Recruiting, Motivating, and Retaining Volunteers—a handbook for anyone who works with volunteers in a ministry setting. 

To save your spot in one or more of these training sessions, please email Bill and let him know what dates you'll be attending.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Monday Funday: Geriatric Rock and Roll Fun and Humor

Instead of torturing you one meme at a time, I decided to put all these in one post. Rock on. 
Get it?
This is in my 23-year-old son's apartment. Pray for him.
Not nice. But kinda true.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What to Do with Bored Church Kids?

"I'm bored."

I couldn't believe my ears. I was three months into a youth pastorate. I had taken the high school students from our youth ministry to a theme park—one with "the world's fastest roller coaster"—and the students complained of being bored.

That was the last time I took any students to a theme park.

Instead, I started doing something else... and when I did this "something else" with students... I quit hearing the words, "I'm bored."

No joke.

I don't know what all the answers are to dealing with bored high school students in the church, but I can guarantee that it's not more fun entertainment. Besides, you didn't get in to youth ministry to babysit whiny teenagers. You got into youth ministry because you wanted to see students become REAL disciples of Jesus Christ... right?

If you're interested in discovering the "something else" that will take the "I'm bored" right out of the students in your high school youth ministry, then you should read this very carefully.

If, after reading that, you have questions and/or would like more information, contact me. I'd love to interact with you.

If you have bored junior high/middle school students and you're not sure what to do with them, then check out THIS and then contact us for more info. We'd love to interact with you too.

And just for the record, I couldn't agree more with Bono when he said, "I want to have fun, and I want to change the world."

Youth ministry done like Jesus can do both.

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Sunday, April 03, 2016

Monday Funday: Lunch with my probation officer...

My friends are legit professionals.

Me? I'm still sporting the original Cheap Trick concert t-shirt from the 70s.

This is where Allison Lunch Rule #1 comes into play:
The guy with the tie buys.

Is this guy really one of my friends or my probation officer?

You decide.

Few things are worse than two old guys posing for a selfie.