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UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Where No One Has Gone Before

Where No One Has Gone Before

Over the past six weeks we’ve posted a series of posts that introduce the story of Freedom to Lead International. We’ve described FTL’s focus on changed leaders that result in healthier churches that impact communities with the gospel. We’ve shared how integrating music works in leadership development. We’ve reported from the ground in Ethiopia as we interacted with leaders from whom we have so much to learn. And last week we talked about leaders being set free to lead others. Today we are inviting you to “go beyond.” I think it was Star Trek that coined the phrase, “where no man has gone before.” And while we don’t have a fancy spaceship reaching far-away galaxies, FTL is truly going where no one has gone before. Our niche is unique and pioneering. We are living in what may be the most exciting era in church history. Unprecedented opportunities abound to expand the kingdom of God, and

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Leading With Story: a Book Review by Evangelical Missions Quarterly

Leading With Story: a Book Review by Evangelical Missions Quarterly

Originally Posted in October 2017 by Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) —Reviewed by Benjamin Espinoza, PhD student, Michigan State University.   Story has become a topic of interest for many scholars, pastors, and missionaries. As Christians, we are called to be participants in the greatest story of all time, the gospel. Rick Sessoms estimates that eighty percent of the world’s people are “story-centric learners,” meaning they learn through storytelling (drama, art, music, etc.). This provides a unique opportunity for us to ponder how we can take the gospel to the ends of the earth using story-based methods and leadership approaches. Sessoms has written an insightful volume on story-centric, Christ-centered leadership which will equip a new generation of Christian leaders to share the greatest story of all time. In Part 1, Sessoms explores the prominence of storycentric learning in today’s society. Story possesses the power to change the minds and hearts of people

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Being Set Free to Lead

Being Set Free to Lead

In the past month or so, we’ve shown a few snapshots of what Freedom To Lead International is about. This week we are inviting you to participate. There are many reasons why people may not feel able to lead their churches and communities. Maybe their cultures say they are not qualified. Maybe they can’t lead because some painful experience in the past causes them to shy away from taking on leadership roles. Freedom to Lead International sets out to do just what the name implies. We speak into those issues and cultivate in people a “freedom to lead.” Here are three reasons FTL is a good investment. 1. Men and women are being set free from dominant ways of learning. Literacy-based learning, for example, is appropriate for many people around the world, but it doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for everyone who aspires to be a competent Christ-centered leader.

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We Have a Lot to Learn From These Leaders

We Have a Lot to Learn From These Leaders

Here we are currently in Ethiopia. As I look around. I’m astounded that most of these leaders have been persecuted for this faith, some imprisoned and tortured. I am humbled that we can walk alongside them in their development, for we have a lot to learn from these incredible men and women. These past two weeks we have been teaching on Spiritual Leadership and Leading Teams to these participants. When we leave from this place I will return with our team to the States where we’ll celebrate Christmas in safety with our loved ones. When these leaders depart from this gathering they will face injustice, and will dare to be lights in dark places. But they will thrive because they go in the strong name of Christ. We have a lot to learn from them. In six months they will: come back for our next visit to Ethiopia. return to

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Using Music to Grow Leaders

Using Music to Grow Leaders

What is your favorite hymn? Recently on Facebook, a question was raised. It was a simple question, really. “What is your favorite hymn? The pull-at-your-heartstrings kind of favorite hymn?” Thinking it would get lost in the plethora of political squabbles and cute kitten videos, I didn’t think anyone would respond. But they did! Several days later the comments were still coming in with exclamations from young and old alike. It is Well With My Soul The Deep Deep Love of Jesus Here I Am Lord Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace on bagpipes, Amazing Grace acoustic version. Great is Thy Faithfulness Blessed Assurance The Spacious Firmament Be Thou My Vision And Can It Be Some hymns were familiar ones. Others were more obscure. Some were from within the past few years. But a simple question struck a chord (no pun intended). Something that is unique about the Christian tradition as compared to

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If Leaders Are Changed, the People Will Come

If Leaders Are Changed, the People Will Come

Last week we started by asking, “What happens on the Wednesday after Giving Tuesday?” In the several weeks between now and the end of the year we are inviting you to “go beyond” and take part in what God is doing through Freedom to Lead International. Empowered by the Spirit, Freedom to Lead is catalyzing a cycle: We cultivate Christ-centered leaders. These leaders foster healthier churches. These churches attract new people who often become redeemed people. These people impact their communities with the gospel and become a fresh coalition of potential Christ-centered leaders. In other words, the cycle begins with changed leaders, and the outcome is changed churches, people, and communities. Which all sounds nice conceptually, doesn’t it? So let me explain this with a story… A Person of Influence “Tesfaye” has been a person of influence in his community for some time. His desire, however, is to be developed as a

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What Happens after Giving Tuesday?

What Happens after Giving Tuesday?

This week in America our families and friends will gather for a day of Thanksgiving. Since my heart surgery in September I have not eaten much sugar, gluten, or dairy, but for this special occasion I am looking forward to the carrot cake that will be made from my mother and grandmother’s recipe. While I watch the parade on television with my three grandchildren, I will also be thinking of our brothers and sisters in far off places. In America we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. The day following is Black Friday where people stand in long lines to get the best shopping deals of the year. Small Business Saturday follows and then of course there’s Cyber Monday, which is when online vendors like Amazon.com explode with all the good things. And several years ago someone birthed a movement called “Giving Tuesday”, which is a day to give back. After giving thanks and then emptying our wallets

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The Leader’s Disproportionate Leverage

The Leader’s Disproportionate Leverage

Leaders possess disproportionate leverage to advance a positive agenda or to impede progress in their corporations, communities, churches, and nations. For Good or for Bad President Bashar al-Assad, an egomaniacal leader with access to chemical weapons – wields far more power than a volunteer group that works tirelessly to lift up oppressed Syrian women. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s reckless chairman who inherited his father’s unbridled power, holds nations in anxious limbo while a faith-based team in Pyongyang seeks peace without much notice. Nelson Mandela’s singular influence released a nation from oppression. And Steve Jobs’ foresight. changed the way the whole world listens to music. Histories of human societies chronicle consistent narratives of a few leaders whose disproportionate leverage brought either harm or healing to the masses. Today billions of people’s lives and futures are in peril because of a few tyrants. And billions of others have hope because of a

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Leaders Who Seek Peace

Leaders Who Seek Peace

Freedom to Lead (FTL) recently traveled to work with a group of second generation leaders that are being developed in Adjumani, Uganda through The Garden Project. These Christian leaders are primarily refugees that have fled from Sudan. In light of their war-torn lives, the Sudanese brothers and sisters found FTL’s module on Peacemaking to be especially relevant. When I returned home, I was reminded that we also need leaders who seek peace. Is All Conflict Sin? One of the themes we kept revisiting during our time together was the discussion about whether all conflict is related to sin. To many of us conflict seems always sinful. However, after examining stories and interacting with the early church experiences, we can see that sometimes conflict is simply the result of not having enough resources to go around. For example, conflict may happen if two people want the only seat left on a

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Saying Yes To God

Saying Yes To God

What does saying “yes” to God look like for Mary Lu and her husband Doug? Read her story about how saying “yes” brought her to Freedom to Lead International. From a Young Age When I was 9 years old, I said “Yes” to the invitation to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and to follow after Jesus Christ. At the age of 15, I said “Yes, God, I will serve you in music and in missions and will go to Nyack College.” I had no idea what saying “yes” to Jesus would look like back then. But what a journey it has been! I must confess that I haven’t always responded with a hearty “Yes!” Sometimes I was saying, “Yes” through clenched teeth. However, it is my most recent journey that has brought me to where I am today. Freedom to Lead International My “Yes” to Freedom to Lead International® (FTL)

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If I Cared About Anything

If I Cared About Anything

A World in Need These past couple of weeks have seemed overwhelming. Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Floods in South Asia. Mudslides in West Africa. Earthquake in Mexico. And we are currently in the midst of historic Hurricane Irma as it is making landfall in the Caribbean and Florida. Out of a real sense of compassion we then respond in the ways we know how: we take out our checkbooks and offer our prayers, maybe even join the relief efforts if we are able. But, if we are honest, we are also asking “how do we go from one major crisis to another without being completely depleted? Can I really care about everything?” How do we respond as leaders without going mad? If I Cared About Anything In the 1990’s there was a movie starring Drew Barrymore called “Ever After” that supposedly told the “real” version

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The Leader’s Illusion

The Leader’s Illusion

Instinct, a 2014 film about the interactions of a young, ambitious psychiatrist (played by Cuba Gooding) with a convicted killer (brilliantly enacted by Anthony Hopkins), highlights many leaders’ common illusion.1

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