Starting with “Why”

Start with Why

Recently, a good friend recommended a leadership resource. Immediately it captured my fascination about what creates community and purpose in a business, church, or individual life. Start with Why, by Simon Sinek (Penguin Press: 2009) provides a remarkable challenge. We all start a project from one of three places: what you want to do, how you want to do it, or why you want to do it. Oddly, according to Sinek’s research, only a small fraction of people and organizations start with “why”. But they are by far the ones who change history and experience the highest success.

These are the same tracks we take in congregational ministry and leadership. It is very easy to spend the focus on what we are doing and how we are doing it. Truth be told, we can easily go through the motions and forget the whole reason “why” projects and events are important. On the other hand, when there is a clear sense of “why” we are doing what we do as a congregation (or fellowship group), and we rally around the same “why”, Sinek promises the outcome is far better. I think he is right – especially for faith communities. In fact, when we start any project at “why” our energy is greater, our vision is clearer, and our patience has a greater chance to stay in tact for the long haul.

Having a clear sense of “why” you do what you do, Sinek contends, is the difference between the great movements and leaders of history, and everything else. However, we live in a culture overwhelmed with focus on “what” to do and “how” to do it – mainly via product advertisement. The few companies that promote themselves based on their “why” are so few that they stand out (read the book for specific examples).

I am a collector of leadership resources – stories of business leaders, coaches, and spiritual pioneers. I found Sinek’s writing to be very practical, easily accessible, and compelling. One particular point was the treatment of “gut” level discernment versus rational decision-making. While both are necessary, he contends that research reveals that rationalizing “what” we are doing and “how” we wish to do it often becomes a trap of poor decisions, delayed decisions, or indecision. This is mainly because our culture stresses the rational facts over all other forms of discernment.

heart vs headOn the other hand, “gut” level decisions require emotional assessment. Individuals who start with clarity about “why” they are attempting a project tend to have a more compelling level of energy and vision because they naturally work from the inside out – the heart (or gut) to the head. Sinek explains this process in an easy to understand manner. His examples include Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Regan.

Start with Why offers a great lens through which to consider the history of the Moravian movement, and is a great starting place to consider why so many denominations today are struggling with identity and purpose. I suggest renewal is about recovering “why” we are a congregation, province, and denomination. It is about remembering why our spiritual ancestors placed such a high value on responding to every decision of life with faith, love and hope. What does this mean today? Is this the “why” we need to recover?

It is fairly easy to observe that most congregations are blessed with a supply of very spiritual people and groups. In fact, many rate well on the number and diversity of small group ministry options. But the issue is having a clear and common awareness of “why” a given congregation is seeking to do ministry together – and manifesting that “why” in what they do and how they do it. Sinek offers a simple way to take a look at this reality.

Start with Why is, first and foremost, a resource for personal reflection. It is a great read for anyone seeking to look more deeply at one’s own motivation for life. It is helping me to rekindle the reason why I choose to follow Jesus Christ in the present moment. While it is not a specifically spiritual resource, it is an excellent piece for anyone interested in sharpening his/her own sense of call and purpose.

A synopsis of this resource is available on youtube as a TED talk from Simon Sinek.

neil headshot  The Rev. Dr. Neil Routh is pastor at King Moravian Church.

What Makes a Faith Nurturer?

So you have filled that last teacher spot… take a breath, pat yourself on the back, and remember that this is not your last contact with this group of people.  They accepted the big commitment to teach.  It is up to the church to continue to support teachers.  A monthly appreciation is one idea — a Sunday off, a special Bible study class so that teachers can be fed spiritually, and quarterly teacher training are a few more things your Christian Education committee should be involved in planning to let these teachers feel supported and appreciated, but not overwhelmed. (Let me know if I can help you do any of those things or provide more ideas!)


Now, when you were getting these commitments, did you go to the same people who have done this role in the past effectively? I encourage you to challenge yourself to reach out to individuals who may need a slight nudge toward teaching.  There are some great online resources, such as the free ecumenical site Opening Doors to Discipleship, which might be just what these individuals need to make that final step in discerning that they can teach even if they don’t have to have all the answers.  The first course on this website deals with some very basic teacher training helps and is easy to work through as an individual or as a small group together so that sharing reflections can take place.  The second course is a simple Bible overview.  How many times do you think people feel like they can’t teach because they don’t know enough about the Bible?  The key to this problem is that no one has all the answers and a good, basic knowledge will be all that is needed.  Try to identify individuals in your congregation that might be thinking about taking on a role in teaching and use these courses in a small class to help them to decide if teaching is a calling for them.  This will build your pool of people that you can go to when you are looking to staff Sunday School classes again.  Hopefully some new faces will emerge and breathe fresh air into your program.


A good place to begin all this would be to bring your teachers to Kernersville Moravian Church on Saturday, October 24 from 10:00-2:00 where they will hear about the essentials of the Moravian faith, what it means to them as teachers, and how to begin teaching these essentials to various age level classes during the year.  There will be a chicken pie lunch, a new, free Moravian resource, and many other opportunities for fellowship and learning.  Register online today and bring not only your teachers, but also your camp counselors, small group leaders,  VBS volunteers, and faith nurturers of every type (parents! grandparents!) so that we all can learn the Moravian essentials for educational ministry.


Beth Hayes is  the Director of Congregational Resources and Ministries for the Board of Cooperative Ministries.

Time for Every Matter


I wanted to write this month on time and thought about finding some popular songs that refer to time. There were so many, I decided not to sort through them to find a few that seemed most appropriate. We are so obsessed with time, so I’ll bet a song will quickly come to your mind if it hasn’t already.  After I gave up on songs, I started looking at famous quotes regarding time. There are a lot of those, too. Here is one from Thomas Jefferson:
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.”
Boy, Thomas Jefferson sure wanted us to be busy! He also said:
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

In reviewing famous quotes on the subject of time, I also found this one from Mother Teresa’s book A Simple Path (Random House Publishing Group, 1995)
“In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results. In the East — especially in India — I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving — it is not in the result of loving.”

four seasonsWhat different perspectives on the use of time! The author of Ecclesiastes tells us “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (3:1, NRSV) This verse is followed by fourteen pairs of differing uses of time. What are we to make of our time? Which of the differing uses of our time is right for this time, this place, this situation?

The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “time” on 765 occasions. Job 27:10 asks the question “Will they take delight in the Almighty? Will they call upon God at all times?” Here are a few of many verses of scripture that tell us about our good and godly use of time (emphases mine):

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)
Trust in [God] at all times (Psalm 62:8a)
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times. (Psalm 106:3)
My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times. (Psalm 119:20)
A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
Be alert at all times, (Luke 21:36a)
It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, (Galatians 4:18a)
Be filled with the Spirit, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18b,20)
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

To me, these scriptures seem to agree with Thomas Jefferson on the matter of always being conscious of our use of time while seeming to also agree with Mother Teresa on loving and being present with God and to one another with our time. Certainly both of these renowned figures were very familiar with the Holy Bible and the teachings of Christianity. I have a high degree of confidence that both of them did what they did and were where they were, at least in part if not wholly, because of their unique understanding of God’s calling on their very different lives.

In the coming weeks, spend some time talking about and thinking about our use of the years, days, and hours that God has laid before us. I ask you to consider how you make use of your time in good and Godly ways. What are the actions that you are called to perform and where are you called to serve to best become the authentic, unique child of God that you are called to be?

You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Co 9:11–15)

walter bishop

The Rev. Walter Bishop is pastor at Hopewell Moravian Church.

(All scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)

The Power of Unity – St. Philips Community Day

Saturday, June 15th was a beautiful sunny day made even more beautiful by the laughter of neighborhood children at St. Philips Moravian Church.  The four congregations that make up the Salem Creek RCC (Home, Messiah, St. Philips, and Trinity) worked together on a summer outreach program for the neighborhood around St. Philips Church, kicking off with a neighborhood festival.

The Festival was a grand success!  Trinity Moravian provided hot dogs and a craft table, Home Moravian provided face painting (very popular!) and crafts, and members of Messiah Moravian helped clean up the old playground and prepare the area for the Festival.  There were pony rides, games, and the fire department brought a hook-and-ladder truck and let the children explore and try of fire fighter’s gear.  Over two hundred neighborhood children registered!

Sister Hilda Regalado has been hired for the summer by our Regional Conference to help organize this program and create follow-up programs in the neighborhood.  As far as we know, this is the first cooperative program by an RCC group specifically designed for evangelism and outreach.  We are hoping that more events will look “outside the walls” to bring ministry to the people!

-The Rev John Jackman, Pastor
Trinity Moravian Church
Winston-Salem, NC

brad-ginny-dorothy-Salem Creek festival-cropconrad-dance-Salem creek festival-crop  mrgp-salem creek festival-crop pony-salem creek festival-crop

More than a Classroom

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common…And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47

christian education

Teaching and attending Sunday School is important.

From toddlers to teenagers, I have been teaching Sunday school for many years and have learned from my students each Sunday. I thank God that he has allowed his little ones to bring me to a deeper spirituality.

Why don’t more people teach?  Many times I have ended up being my child’s teacher because no one else would step up to the blessing of teaching. I know that my now grown children would have benefited spiritually to have more Christian adults as mentors during their Sunday school years.

Sunday school is not just for kids; it is also a wonderful time for adults to gain deeper understanding of God’s holy word.  Questions can be asked, and friendships can be made.

“Sunday school is on the death list of many in today’s church…Maybe we aren’t seeing the whole picture. Maybe there is more to this movement than we have been willing to acknowledge. Maybe there is new life just waiting to emerge from unsuspecting rooms where children, youth, and adults are learning lessons not provided in other venues. Could it be that the effectiveness of the Sunday school in the years to come is more about living our faith in effective ways, than it is about our identifying, quantifying, and stratifying the Sunday school as it was or is?”

In our baptism liturgy we say the words, “We come before you with joy, O God, to claim the promises of your covenant.” When we baptize our young people, we as the church repeat these words “For God’s promise is to us and to our children.”

Sunday School: a time to come and claim the promise of the Lord’s Covenant.

Jo Beth Boyles

Jo Beth Boyles worships and serves the Lord at Bethabara Moravian Church, part of the Pilot Mountain RCC, and Jesus is her joy!

Quotes are taken from the book Sacred Challenge: Blazing a New Path for the Sunday School of the FutureVisit our online library to find this and other resources about Sunday school.

Leapfrogging Negativity

Fun outdoorsIn this interesting post on Stewardship, Bob Sitze (author of the forthcoming  Simple Enough: A Companion Along the Way) discusses the importance of asset mapping as part of a stewardship process.  Sitze describes stewardship ministry as beginning with many presumptions about great and continuing neediness.  He sees “asset-based planning and thinking” as one way to “leapfrog negativity,” and we could all benefit from a little more of that!!

Right now you may be thinking about how to fund God’s mission or how to ask people to join in that task. Start your thinking and planning with your already-existing assets—God-given gifts that are useful.

How can you do some asset mapping within your own congregation? If you’re a self-starter, visit this website and do your own asset mapping exercise, or simply grab Luther Snow’s classic book on the topic. If you’re overwhelmed (aren’t we all?) and need a bit of assistance, contact us here at the Board of Cooperative Ministries. We can not only help guide your congregation through the process of asset mapping, we can also help you identify who your neighbors actually are and begin to think about ways to serve them or invite them to join you.  The Northern and Southern Province partnered recently to give our North American congregations access to an online demographics tool called MissionInsite. Find out more about our relationship with MissionInsite and how you can use this valuable tool.

The Ground of the Unity offers us some still-timely guidance about how stewardship ought to look, and it might surprise you:

Our Lord Jesus entered into this world’s misery to bear it and to overcome it. We seek to follow Him in serving His brothers and sisters. Like the love of Jesus, this service knows no bounds. Therefore we pray the Lord ever anew to point out to us the way to reach our neighbors, opening our hearts and hands to them in their need.
-Ground of the Unity, #9

Let’s work together as we open “our hearts and hands” to our neighbors in their need. When we operate from from a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, we can accomplish much for the kingdom of God.

rcb~Ruth Cole Burcaw is the Executive Director of the Board of Cooperative Ministries. Part of her responsibilities includes offering coaching, consulting, training and facilitation to Southern Province congregations and RCCs. She’d love to hear from you!

Introducing the South Branch RCC

The South Branch Regional Conference of Churches consists of the Advent, Community Fellowship, Hope, Hopewell, and Konnoak Hills congregations. The congregations are geographically close, with no south branch rcc squaredance2more than thirteen miles separating us. Close proximity allows us to more easily celebrate fellowship and service events together, which in turn aids our closeness in affection. The congregations vary in size, providing a rich variety of resources and perspectives from which to learn and to serve.

I recall an early meeting of our delegates in which there was a general reluctance to expend a lot of time and energy on the RCC. We agreed we did not want to meet too often.
South Branch Square Dance1

Looking back fondly across these two and one-half years, we have moved to a place of looking forward to meeting together in fellowship, sharing, learning, and service.

We have celebrated the relationship between our congregations with shared meals that also benefit organizations (Sunnyside Ministry and Greater Things Outreach Center). We have square danced together. We’ve put together gifts bags for the men of Samaritan Inn and have sent overnight teams to serve them. We teamed up with Anthony’s Plot to winterize homes in the Sunnyside area.

We have tried to do some things that we could not quite pull off. Rather than be deterred by these moments, we have decided to adapt our approaches and attempt different things as we learn more about our gifts and capacities as a Regional Conference. We journey forward together in faith, hope, and love.

walter bishop– The Rev. Walter Bishop is pastor at Hopewell Moravian Church and represents the South Branch Regional Conference on the Board of Cooperative Ministries. This story is featured in the Winter edition of The BCM Essentials quarterly newsletter.