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Pause, Reflect, Innovate, Repeat

Every natural transition presents an opportunity for innovation. That’s why this article is about encouraging you to build a regular rhythm into your life to Pause, Reflect and Innovate.

Consider… When was the last time you took some pre-planned, extended time to stop and think? How often do you pause to take a “big-picture” view of your youth or children’s ministry, reflect on your practice and consider how you could innovate to make it better? And how regularly do you take time out of your usual routine to create space for God to speak to you? If your answer is, “not often,” you could be in the danger zone…

DANGER 1: Spiritual deficit 

When you don’t have enough time with God to sustain your doing for God, you begin to operate out of a spiritual deficit - giving out more than you are taking in - resulting in a loss of joy, diminishing passion, and a lack of ideas. This leads to stress, frustration, cynicism, apathy and, in extreme cases, burnout. And don’t forget, the primary thing you pass on to your young people is who you are, and you cannot give what you do not possess.

DANGER 2: Lack of revelation

If you are not taking time to pause and reflect, you are robbing the young people you lead of the thing they need from you most… revelation from Jesus. You are “the blind leading the blind” and you will inevitably end up in a pit.

God does not speak in the busyness, he speaks in the stillness; not in the noise, but in the whisper. Are you in danger of making plans for God without actually listening to God? Because there is no shortcut to hearing from God that bypasses time in his presence.

DANGER 3: Busy not fruitful

We end up filling our time with good ideas and missing out on God ideas. In other words, you become busy but not fruitful - and make no mistake, busyness and fruitfulness ARE NOT the same things. Busyness comes from multiplying activity, fruitfulness comes from being connected to the vine.

DANGER 4: Plateau

We carry on doing what we’ve always done, just because we’ve always done it. But what if how we’ve always done it is no longer the best way to do it!? To paraphrase Andy Stanley, “Experience doesn't make you better, evaluated experience does.” Without time to pause, reflect and innovate, we cease to get better and our ministries plateau.

But there is good news! With a bit of intentionality and discipline, 2018 could look very different for you! I want to encourage you to find a new annual, monthly, weekly and daily rhythm for 2018, creating fresh spaces to pause, reflect and innovate…

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Annually

At the start of each year, I am intentional about taking two full days away from the regular routines, locations and - most importantly - technologies of life. This is a time to shut down my email account and make extended time to pray, walk, study, think, dream and plan. I have found this an invaluable practice that sets me up for the year to come. It enables me to attack the year with a renewed energy and fresh ideas. Change of Pace + Change of Place = Change of Perspective!

Monthly

Consider building a monthly rhythm of fasting into your schedule in 2018 - a day each month to give up food (or, if this is not possible for health reasons, something else - like technology for example), and utilise the times you would normally be eating to pray. This is an often forgotten spiritual discipline, but we would do well to remember that Jesus said, “when you fast,” not “if you fast” (Matt. 6:16)! Fasting should be an integral part of our discipleship, not an optional add-on for extra credit.

Weekly

I’ve tried to build into my schedule a couple of hours each week to hit a coffee shop with my journal to pause, reflect and innovate. This allows me to review what we’re doing at Limitless from a different angle. Out of these times have come some of my best ideas and biggest dreams. Though I must confess, it’s so easy to let this space in my week go for something more urgent! But let’s not allow what is most immediate deter us from what is most important.

Daily

The daily pause should be less analytical and more devotional. The single most important thing you will do today is to spend some time with Jesus. And the same goes for tomorrow. When we regularly stop to pray and open our Bibles (and not to prepare our next session!), we open ourselves up to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are stronger in our battles against sin, fresher in our revelation, and more sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.

Our faith seems deeper, our ideas fresher, our courage greater, our leadership stronger, and our passion more contagious. I honestly believe that the best gift you can give to your young people is a fully fired-up you!

So if you don’t have a strategic, intentional and regular discipline of taking time to pause, reflect and innovate, then put down this mag, pick up your diary (or calendar app), get this into your schedule… and stick to it! I am totally confident this practice will transform your life and youth ministry this coming year. So what are you waiting for?

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INTRODUCING TIM ALFORD

Director of LIMITLESS

Tim Alford lives in Malvern with is wife Jen, son Tobijah and daughter Aria.

He is the National Director of LIMITLESS, the youth movement of Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK and Ireland. He is a passionate communicator of the gospel, having spoken at churches, conferences, schools and events all over the world. Tim is the former frontman of [dweeb], a frustrated supporter of Arsenal, and has on more than one occasion been to the cinema in Star Wars fancy dress.

         

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