Summer Snapshots

Chao & Stoudt Crop

Chaos & Stoudts at the rehearsal dinner

Sharon and I recently took a self-paced DVD course in photography. Although we’re not exactly shutterbugs yet, one of the principles that kept coming up went something like this:

Don’t miss life in the process of taking the perfect picture – just take a few snapshots and move on!

This month, we’re going to give you just that – a few snapshots of what God did.  We hope you’ll enjoy reading about them as much as we did participating in them!

  • June 12th – met with a ministry leader and friend about supporting a new campus in our area.  One of our council members serves as adjunct faculty there, and, there’s a strong faculty adviser already in place, so we’re excited to see how we can help.
  • June 17th – first meeting with a new couple we’re mentoring.  Great time getting to know them and their stories.
  • June 18th – nice time of discipleship with one of our campus leaders.  In response to the question, ‘What was one key thing God has been teaching you this year?’, he mentioned ‘God has taught me to be quieter and listen more to what others have to say’.  Priceless.
  • later that day – reconnected with a physician I hadn’t seen in some time.  I appreciated his candor in asking for prayer to overcome cynicism and living for comfort.  His request itself is a sign of God’s work.
  • June 21st – spoke with a physician who wants to get involved with PCOM, one of our medical campuses.  Her willingness to jump in and see what God will do is exactly what the students need!
  • June 22nd – hosted a gathering for students, residents and practicing professionals at our home.  God gave a true spirit of openness and vulnerability, with a theme of ‘trusting God when life is hard’ emerging among our professionals.  Great for those who are younger to listen in and learn.
  • June 25th – met with a student leader at one of our dental campuses.  Met with two of his co-leaders on different days because their schedules are so intense we couldn’t coordinate!  We’re working together to see how we can create a community in this environment.
  • later that day – met with a local pastor who’s completed medical school before receiving a call to ministry.  Curious to see how God will let us work together!
  • July 2nd – terrific time of discipleship with a student.  God used his questions about a relationship and his future calling to lead us into even deeper issues that, more fully explored, will lead to great blessing in his life.
  • July 4-6th – officiated the wedding of two of our student leaders!  We had done their pre-engagement/marital counseling, so it was a privilege to be there for their special day.  We also had the chance to visit two couples from the area who are good friends and supporters of our ministry.

So, there you have it… or, some of it, anyway!  A lot more happened, but hopefully this gives you a feel for this past month.  Thank you, thank you for allowing us to do what we do!

With love,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for a balanced month where we enjoyed time with students, but, as many are away or busy, also with other people who are both friends and essential to the ministry.
  • praise for the privilege to share in the Tim’s & Tiff’s wedding.  It was such a great joy to see them officially starting their new life together!
  • praise that God has provided us with a cost-effective, solid car I can use for ministry. Thanks to the many, many people who prayed, networked and contributed to this effort!
  • praise for our first-ever picnic for residents and fellows (7/12) and the two local physicians who graciously hosted.  Those who came want to meet on a semi-regular basis and stay connected with each other.
  • pray for our support development efforts to yield fruit.
  • pray for our next summer gathering (7/20) and citywide campus leadership training (8/23).
  • pray that our family’s time away at ‘Joni & Friends Camp’ (7/28-8/1) is both restful and a time to grow in what it means to have Matthew as part of our family.
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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.

Another Great Start

It’s hard to read the words, but these are index cards the Jefferson leaders used to map out their ministry vision for the year.

 

It’s hard to believe, but already another year is well underway!  This year, I’m spending time at 7 different campuses, so this has been an especially intense, but wonderful, season of ministry.  Here’s a quick roundup of what’s going on.

 

How Are We Going To Strengthen This Ministry & Reach This Campus This Year?!

Since we experience 100% leadership turnover on each of our campuses every year, helping our leaders develop and carry out a vision for their campus is a critical, and significant, part of my ministry.  Although many issues – like outreach – occur at all of our campuses, the key issues tend to take on a specific flavor at each one.  At Temple, we’re beginning to partner with local healthcare providers and pastors in an effort to holistically reach the surrounding community.  At Penn Dental, the students are re-launching the chapter after a few years of relative inactivity, so we’re wading through what that means.  Drexel is trying to reach their campus community more actively, hosting a ‘Doubt Night’ and possibly participating in a forum on abortion.  And Penn (Med) is asking what it means to include other believing healthcare (i.e., nursing) students in their ministry, but with an eye to helping them launch their own, independent ministries in time.  I really enjoy coming alongside the students and helping them meet the particular challenges, and seize the specific opportunities, that God lays before them!

Building Relationships

For this first month or two, it’s so important to build relationships with new, and returning, students.  As the cliché goes, “people have to know you care before they care what you know!”  The primary way we care for the students is simply by “showing up” on campus, or, inviting students into our home.  Already, we’ve hosted two Saturday morning brunches, with 20-25 in attendance each time.  I’ve been to each of our campuses, some a few times, for their activities fairs, large group meetings, leadership meetings, individual discipleship times, and, just to “hang out”.  Sharon and our kids have also joined me as they’re able so that students can start connecting with them, too.   As we build these relationships, trust grows and ministry moves forward.

Intermed

As you may remember, each year (sometimes twice) the students gather for a citywide time of fellowship, teaching and worship through song.  This fall, it’s been my privilege to put together, and guide, a phenomenal team of students as we get ready for this effort.  While at first summer breaks and busy schedules made coordinating calendars challenging, God has given us real momentum and things are moving forward nicely.  God led us to a theme of experiencing, and giving away, His love.  This is our passion and prayer.  But more than the event itself, the process leading up to the event is an amazing ministry opportunity to invest in our very best leaders and help them learn how to think about, and do, ministry so that they too will be ready to guide ministries on their own someday.  We want to raise up leaders who will raise up others leaders, the chain continuing until Christ returns.  This is how the Kingdom moves forward!

So, there’s a quick snapshot of what God is up to.  There’s so much more to share, but we’ll say more in future updates.  Thank you, as always, for your love, prayers and gifts that make this ministry possible.

With deep gratitude,

Bryan & Sharon

For prayer & praise:

  • praise for so many new students; pray that they keep coming out, and, that God shields them from getting consumed by their studies.
  • praise for faithful leaders at each of our campuses; pray that God helps us discern where we need to provide guidance at each campus, and, how.
  • pray for new discipleship relationships for Sharon and I to form with the incoming (first-year) women and men (respectively).
  • pray for Penn Dental in particular as they re-launch their ministry this year.  Each class (there are four) has different schedules, making coordinated efforts challenging.
  • pray for our Intermed team as we move toward our fall gathering (Nov. 2-3).  We need God’s Spirit to guide us!  Pray also that God will help me mentor our students throughout the process.  Our heart is that their vision for the Kingdom expand, and, that they will become equipped to teach others what they are receiving.  And, that God will be glorified in it all.

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.

Update on God’s Work

This update is a series of short updates on what God is doing through us.  You’ll find a short report, and prayer requests, under each section.

On Campus

As March draws closer, we are now solidly into the ‘core’ of the semester.  “The grind” of the academic calendar is starting to take its toll on many, bringing problems to the surface.  God has given me a number of opportunities to counsel students going through relational challenges.  These included thorny dating issues, and some tension on one of our campus leadership teams.  By God’s grace, all of these situations are heading in the right direction!

Campus leadership team transitions are also taking place.  This has already occurred at PCOM, and will happen at Drexel in early April.  Please pray that God provides momentum at PCOM after a slower start, and that God gives us wisdom in selecting excellent leaders at Drexel.

In a previous email, we mentioned our hope that a physician friend of ours would be coming to the area so that we could continue expanding our ministry.  In God’s wisdom, our friend will complete the next stage of his training in New York, rather than Philadelphia.  We view this as God’s wisdom, though, and already we’ve seen signs from believing physicians at Penn (where we had hoped to expand) that they are increasingly ready to step up and do more with the students.  Please pray for this effort, and one of our council members, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick, as he provides leadership.

Pray also for an interfaith forum taking place at Drexel on March 25th.  Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Paul Tripp, so please pray that God helps him present the gospel in a compelling and relevant way.  Pray also that the believing students follow-up with their peers, and that believing students from other campuses come out.  My hope is that each of our five medical campuses will get excited and do something similar in the 2010-11 academic year.

Support-Raising

The Lord blessed us with a phenomenal December, and we met our budget for the year!  THANKS SO VERY MUCH to all of you who contributed, and especially to those who were able to give something extra.  God has also blessed us with $650 in new monthly support since January 1st.

Please keep praying for new monthly partners, and contacts, as we continue progressing toward full-funding.

Summer Plans

This summer, our family is praying about several missions opportunities, both involving students from Philadelphia.  The two primary opportunities are the Summer Medical Institutes (SMI) in Texas (7/3-31) and Philadelphia (6/12-26).   While we have been to the project in Texas before, the Philadelphia site is beginning again as a pilot project that we hope to expand in future years.  (I have enjoyed serving on its planning team).  At this time, we believe that SMI Texas would be the best option for our family since we would be able to live onsite with the students for an entire month, whereas the Philadelphia project is shorter, and its housing cannot accommodate us.  However, the financial cost (approx. $7,000) for SMI Texas is significant, and it would take time away from our summer support-raising efforts, so please keep this matter closely in prayer.  We know that, however God leads, we will be blessed.

On that note, we consider ourselves blessed to have each one of you on our support team, regardless of the role God has led you to play.  Please know that we are deeply thankful for you!

Bryan & Sharon Stoudt