Campus Leadership Summit!

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Campus Leadership Summit 2014!

Campus Leadership Summit 2014!

Over recent months, God has challenged us to think about how we can focus on what we do best, and, where we can bring unique value to the students and professionals in our area.  With 8 different campuses, we want to have an increasingly clear focus on what matters most!

Without a doubt, one way we can ‘mak[e] the best use of the time’ is to invest in our student leaders.  Since they impact others in their campus fellowships and experience nearly 100% turnover each year, equipping them is one of our highest priorities.

This past Saturday, along with Medical Campus Outreach (MCO), God allowed us to do exactly that.  Fifteen students from 7 of our 8 campuses joined us for a half-day event that exceeded our expectations. In addition, a resident and three professionals currently supporting the students joined us for portions of the day. Later, one of them shared this:

I was glad to come! Thanks for organizing it! I was able to get in some catching-up with [two of the women], and to hear the Temple guys out as they formed their “keys to the game” for the coming year – both very excellent things!  Especially that last little bit was helpful and I feel more aware of their priorities for the coming year and also more able to be involved. 

Here are the topics we emphasized:

  • What Matters Most: Your Walk With the Lord
  • Servant Leadership (led by Steve Munz, MCO)
  • 12 Principles of a Successful Campus Leadership Team
  • Everyone’s Back: Now What?  (Reaching First-Year Students, Establishing A Clear Vision)

Throughout the day, we allowed for small group sessions by campus so that the leaders could personalize what we discussed.  Afterwards, I emailed some key follow-up questions and will touch base on them as I go around to our campuses.

All in all, it was a tremendous time of teaching, fellowship and application.  We trust that God will multiply our small investment in the months to come.  Thank you, dear friends, for making it possible.  You are an absolutely essential part of our team!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in praise & prayer for the following:

  • Praise God that the students are back!  And, that the Campus Leadership Summit went so well.  Pray that God helps our leaders apply a few things God impressed upon them, and, that he helps me (Bryan) follow-up faithfully.
  • Praise God for a new (to me) ministry car.  So thankful!
  • Please pray for great wisdom as I visit all our campuses as much as possible this first month.  I need God’s help in discerning what each campus’s leaders needs are, how I can help, and, which men to start/continue investing in.  Pray also that God helps Sharon connect with the women He has in mind.
  • Pray for many first-year students to get involved: they are the future of our campuses and next year’s leaders!
  • Pray for new donors, and, our overall account balance, which is lower at this time.
  • Pray for Intermed (teaching, fellowship, worship for local healthcare students and professionals; domestic missions theme) on Sat. 9/20 from 9a-1:30p at Esperanza’s Hunting Park location.
  • Finally, pray that many students and residents would come out to our Fall Retreat on 10/11-12.  We’re praying for 25 to sign up, in addition to several professionals to serve on a panel and connect with those who come.

Transition Time!

relay raceThe look of stress on the faces I pass says it (without words) all.

This last month before classes end, and ‘boards’ begin, is a trying time for most of our students.  Things have a way of piling up at the end of the semester, and (understandably) everyone tends to be a little more distracted and a little less available.

So, every May, we adjust our strategy.  Our meetings with students are less frequent and shorter.  We check in more through emails and texts: ‘How’s it going? How can we pray for you?’  And, with new leaders onboard, I work hard to set up meetings with them to strategize for the coming year, address any areas of concern, and help them establish their key priorities.

To give you a feel for how it works, I had an especially good meeting with the leaders from one of our dental campuses.  They’ve been extremely committed in re-launching the group during their first two years, but, understand their commitment next year will be more sporadic because of clinic, which involves seeing patients.  In addition, we will only have 1 leader next year who won’t be in clinic, but he has some other factors that may make it harder for him to ‘run point’ and lead the club.  All of this can feel overwhelming, and, make it challenging to continue the group’s recent success.

This is why I’m here!

Over lunch, I helped them develop a simple, but effective strategy:

  • reach out to first-years – they will be our future leaders and help the fellowship stay strong;
  • I will support the leader who’s not in clinic – so he has guidance and doesn’t have to ‘go it alone’;
  • keep meeting weekly – to provide continuity and much-needed refreshment, even during exams and seasons of busyness;
  • seek the support of the professor who’s been coming – although faculty can’t come frequently, their example of following Christ in the academy is irreplaceable.

It sounds simple – almost too simple, right?  It’s certainly true that this would not qualify as ‘rocket science’, but in the midst of schedules with precious little time, I feel privileged to help the students stay encouraged and take the small steps that will help them obtain God’s vision for their group.

Each campus leadership team’s needs are different, but real nonetheless.  As leaders stay focused on the Lord and His vision for their group, their fellowships thrive.  Thank you for making it possible for Sharon & I to support our leaders; together, we’re making a difference.

In Christ’s love,

Bryan & Sharon

Please join us in praise & prayer for the following items:

  • Praise for great leadership teams at our area campuses and the opportunity to speak into their lives.  Please pray that God gives all of us wisdom to discern His vision for each, and, the strength to live it out.
  • Pray that God gives the students strength to finish well academically, and, to keep growing in their love for Him.
  • Pray for our ministry team as we start to minister to medical residents (the stage in training just after medical school, but before becoming a full-fledged physician).
  • Finally, please pray that the Lord provides a reliable, cost-effective car for me as mine is, as they say, near the end of the road.

 

 

 

Changes!

For those of us in the Northeast, this past week or two has finally brought a change in the weather.  We’re still experiencing a colder day here and there, but temperatures are now generally in the range worthy of the designation ‘spring’.

It may be coincidental, but, spring is also always a season of change for our ministry.  We’d like to share just a few of them with you here.

Bittersweet goodbyes.  On March 21st, our graduating fourth-year students went through ‘the match’, the process that determines where they’ll spend the next 3-5 years of their training as residents.  Although most are moving on to new locations, we’re thankful that a few are staying close.  Without fail, there are always some surprises as the computer algorithm works its magic.  (Under the Lord’s direction, of course!)

Jen, a graduating student from Jefferson, was one of this year’s pleasant surprises. We’ve know her really well for these last four years and watched her serve as a key leader at her campus.  Along the way, God led Jen into an interest in general surgery, a specialty that definitely fits who God has made her.  But, we (including Jen) didn’t expect her to match here in Philly, so we were overjoyed we learned that she’ll be with us for another 5 years!  Although most of our other students will be going to other locations, we trust that God will multiply what we and others invested in them during their time here.

New campus leaders.  Each year, each campus fellowship gets an entirely new leadership team as the year’s current leaders move on to their clinical rotations, (generally) month-long experiences where they learn about the different branches of medicine.  Every year, we marvel at God’s faithfulness in providing for each campus group new students who are ready to step up and serve.  Over the next few months, we’ll be meeting with the new leaders, helping them discover and implement God’s vision for their particular campus.

One Constant.  Throughout all the changes, one thing remains the same: our call to invest deeply in the students God has given us.  Currently, Sharon & I are involved with ‘couples counseling’ (i.e., pre-engagement or -marital) for 6 different student couples, one of whom I just had the privilege of marrying.  In thinking through my schedule for the next few weeks, I realized that I have been meeting with about 15 men on an (at least) somewhat regular basis.  Sharon invests in many of our women.

To mention just one example, recently I had the chance to meet up with ‘Jeff’, a local student leader over a cup of coffee.  The group is fairly new, and I had the opportunity to not only rejoice with him over its successes, but also to suggest what it might look like for the group to keep moving forward.  We discussed the need for more intimate community, connection among the men, and, identified outreach opportunities as a key medium-range goal.  I also had the chance to show Jeff that the confidence he can have in Christ is a key step forward in his growth as a leader, something that will make him more effective not only now, but as he moves throughout his training.  I feel so privileged to speak into, and encourage, the students God has given us!

So, as we head toward year’s end, many changes are taking place.  And yet, we are staying focused on our core priority of investing in students’ and leaders’ lives. Thank you, dear friends, for making it possible through your prayers and gifts!

Warmly,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for four wonderful years with our graduating, fourth-year students, and, for God’s faithful leading toward their next stage of training.  Please pray for us as we invest in them for these last few months, and, that God provides solid mentors and churches for them in their new (as of July) locations.
  • praise for new leaders for each of our campuses.  God is faithful!  Please pray that God gives wisdom as we begin investing in them.
  • Pray for Sharon & I as we mentor/disciple the different students God has called us to invest in.  We need discernment to see where God wants to encourage and challenge each one (or couple).  Pray that the Spirit takes our admittedly small efforts and powerfully multiplies them for His glory and their good!
  • Finally, please pray for our next student brunch tomorrow at 9am.  We continue to focus on the topic of ‘sharing our everyday faith every day’.  This semester, practicing professionals are joining us and sharing their real-life experiences to help the students gain a vision for this area.

What Kind Of A Leader Will You Be?

pegsThis is the season of leadership transitions on many of our area campuses.  As outgoing leaders move on, new leaders are taking their place, making this a season of change and re-evaluation.

Expectations and enthusiasm are (rightly) running high, but leading well isn’t always as simple as it seems.  How do you do it well?

(Footnote: these posts aren’t just for people in a formal, present-tense leadership position.  Reflecting about where you are in your leadership journey is an important part of improving and having more to give).

Over the next month or so, I’ll be exploring that question in my next series of posts.  I’d love to hear your feedback and comments along the way.

In this first post, we ask the question, ‘What kind of leader will you be?’  Everyone wants to lead well, but intentionally considering where you are – and, who you want to be – will help you follow through as exams and ‘life’ threaten to push your role as a leader to the back burner.

In my experience, every leader takes on one (or more) of these roles.

  • the no-show.  These leaders signs up with good intentions, but, at some point, stop showing up to events and responding to emails. They are leaders only in theory.
  • the wallflower.  Unlike the no-show, these leaders come out to many club activities and answers communications from the other leaders.  However, they rarely come up with their own ideas or provide leadership.
  • the misfit.  These leaders are faithful, active participants in the campus group.  At the same time, they don’t ‘fit in’ among the other leaders.  The reasons may vary – coming from a different faith tradition, having a personality that doesn’t ‘gel’, feeling that their ideas aren’t valued, not agreeing with key aspects of the group’s vision, or, being asked to serve in a way that doesn’t fit their gifting.  If this dynamic doesn’t change, they can become disruptive, or, more like the no-show or wallflower.
  • the savior.  These are the take-charge types, full of ideas and motivation.  They’re natural ‘presidents’ and talented, go-to people.  At the same time, they may not listen well or help others play the roles God has called them to.  As a result, their groups become overly dependent on them and reflect their interests rather than that of the entire leadership team.  When they move on, those that follow aren’t prepared, or, feel that they can’t live up to ‘the savior’ that went before them.
  • the biblical leader.  Biblical leaders know the role that God has called them to play on the leadership team, and, they exercise that role with a blend of confidence and humility.  They come in a million different ‘flavors’ – they may be ‘presidents’ or more suited to a supportive role – but, they’re all proactive yet recognize they’re part of a larger team.

Since you’ve lived with yourself for a while now(!), you probably know where your tendencies lie.  Your new leadership team may be just forming, but where do you think you’ll naturally ‘land’ among the team if you just let things unfold?

Take a few moments and reflect, praying through where you are and where you’d like to be.

In my next post, I’ll offer a few key thoughts on each leadership type that may help you move forward.

Principles For Choosing New Leaders For Your Campus Group

Wondering what sort of leaders to choose for your campus next year?  At most of our healthcare campuses, leadership transitions are just a month or two away.

Although the context of this post by Dave Kraft focuses on churches, most of the principles are really helpful in many other arenas, too.  The emphasis on seeking God’s wisdom is priceless, and, the four sorts of connections new leaders should ideally have provides a simple but useful paradigm.

Thinking about this short post in light of the specific, potential leaders on your campus next year could prove very insightful.

New CMDA Student Newsletter

This month, CMDA is rolling out our new monthly student newsletter.  You’ll find a link to our Life Support Podcast, which currently features an interview with Dr. David Levy, a neurosurgeon who’s learned a lot about the impact of praying with his patients.  He’s written a fantastic book on this subject called Grey Matter, which I can highly recommend.

Going Deeper, Leading Better, Having More Fun

This one’s for those of you working on teams.  Campus leadership teams come to mind first, but it could be any situation where you have to work with others.

Here’s a question to reflect on: when you think about your team and its meetings, what do you want them to be like?

If we’re honest, most of us want to have a clearly-defined objective, and achieve it as quickly as possible.  We hope we like the people on our team, but “getting it done” often feels like the bottom line, even if we know there ought to be more to it.

I was challenged – in a good way – today at one of our campuses’ first leadership team meetings of the year.  Instead of ramming through a fourteen-point agenda, they actually decided to shelve official business/planning/strategy and make it a relationship building time.  We ate together, caught up on each other’s summers, and just relaxed.

Just before I had to leave, one of the leaders started guiding us through a time of more purposeful sharing.  Each of us had the chance to share “what God had been teaching us over the summer.”  It was great.  As we shared, we realized that most of us were struggling with prayer and finding real intimacy with God.  All of a sudden, I felt like our relationships had just gone to a new level.  We were living out the sort of vulnerable, Christ-centered friendships we hope to call others to throughout the year.

Although teams like this aren’t always “efficient”, it’s commonly-accepted that they are actually more productive and effective.  And they’re certainly a lot more fun!

As another academic year begins, here are a few suggestions for making your team more connected, productive and enjoyable:

  • consider having a more relaxed kick-off meeting where relationships, not business items, are the primary agenda;
  • balance informal time with a season of more focused sharing that encourages honesty; not everyone needs to ‘open up’ about everything, but everyone is invited to;
  • think about devoting a portion of future meetings to these same kind of things.

If this seems a little awkward to you (and/or others on your team), that’s OK.  Feel free to start small and nudge just a little.

The key is understanding that relationships are part of God’s agenda and should be part of ours, too.  May God bless your team as it goes deeper in the coming year.

 

Being Known: Transforming Our Campus Fellowships

Some time ago, I introduced you to author and psychiatrist Curt Thompson.  Today, I had the chance to sit down with him over lunch and talk about the ways his focus on “being known” by God and others can shape our campus ministries and patient interactions.

I’ll share more in the next post or two, but today I want to share his thoughts on the intersection between “being known” and our campus fellowships.

What, though, does it mean to “be known?”  Dr. Thompson explains it like this in one of his blog posts:

[To ‘be known’] “is to be open, to be vulnerable, and to intend to grow in your capacity for emotional resilience.  It does not mean that you subject yourself to being a doormat… [but] it requires that you allow this process to take place in the presence of another who is trustworthy with your deepest secrets.  But it is the only way to freedom… Knowing is often about keeping others at a far enough distance in order not to be wounded.  Being known is about healing the wounds we already carry.”

I love that last part about the contrast between “knowing” and “being known.”  Obviously, we need to know certain things to make it through our days, and to become effective healthcare providers.  At the same time, we (myself included) like to be what I call “friendly-distant”, friendly enough to be socially acceptable, but distant enough so that no one really understands the core of who we are.  That way, we think, we’ll be safe from getting hurt.

Healthcare training, with its emphasis on memorizing information, achievement, and titles, makes it hard to admit failure and weakness… in short, to “be known.”  Unfortunately, this culture often gets imported into our medical campus fellowships.  We can hold bible studies, worship together, and even talk after our gatherings, but do we let each other in on what’s ‘really’ going on?

As God works with me in this area, I’m understanding that, to do this with others, I have to do this with God.  The good news is that God sees all my junk, but still loves me because of what Christ did for me.  As I get that, then I’m free to let you know me, too, even if you don’t accept me fully like God.  Scary, yes, but Jesus ‘went first’ to set the example for us.

So let’s say you’re convinced your campus fellowship needs to go deeper, to become a community where people are really known.  What can you do about it?

In his book Anatomy of the Soul, Dr. Thompson recommends these possible steps:

  • start with just one (and up to 6-8) other people who share your desire.
  • find a place that allows for open, honest conversation, and simply begin talking about what you hope happens (i.e., “I want a better relationship with you, but don’t really know how to get there.”)
  • after that, you can share the things that might make your conversation difficult (“I’m not sure how you’ll react after I say what I’m about to say.”).  You should talk about what you feel, not just about what you think.
  • from there, you can affirm, as you can, what the other person is sharing and ask questions.
  • the conversation can go anywhere from there.  Ultimately, your relationships should form a tangible picture of God’s mercy, grace and hopeful expectation in real-time.  Ideally, these redemptive relationships can last a lifetime.

As our campus groups become more like this, they’ll become places we want to be, not just something we have to check off our list.  They’ll also be way more attractive to the outside world and become places where it, too, can experience God’s healing and grace.

There’s no script for this.  It will definitely be way more messy and annoying than we want it to be.  But, if we’ll follow Christ into the chaos and allow ourselves to be known, our fellowships will become the vehicles of God’s mercy and transformation that we’ve always longed for them to be.

Will you ‘go first’ where God has placed you?  And, who will you invite to join you?