Sabbatical Sit Down: Tiger McLuen

Tiger is one of those guys that I don’t see regularly, but every few years for the last couple of decades something comes up and we get a chance to reconnect and catch up. Which is cool, because Tiger is a legend! He’s been doing ministry for something like 5 decades, and is one of the original innovators of youth ministry. His leadership and insights have impacted thousands of men and women doing ministry all over the country and around the world today.

Over the last few years, Tiger has retired, which for him means he’s started a new ministry project. He’s launched Youth Ministry Consultants, an organization that seeks to coach, train and provide resources to churches, and especially rural churches, for little or no cost. Through this organization he is able to, along with his fellow workers and trainers, share ministry insights with those least-served and least-trained ministry leaders across the state and region: people trying their best to serve God and their community, but who haven’t had the schooling and training to help them do the ministry as effectively as they could.

One of the ideas that came out of our conversation, and one that has been reinforced by other conversations recently as well, is the idea of keeping focus on the vision and mission – knowing what we are called to do and making sure that we keep doing it. 

When we go through struggles, when things don’t go according to plan, when we aren’t sure of ourselves, that’s when it’s often easiest to shift our focus or move towards something else, thinking that any change is good when we feel like we aren’t where we want to be or reacting to the loudest noise that points to a problem. This is true in organizations as well as in our day-to-day lives. It often isn’t a big, world-altering event that gets in our way, it’s a hundred little things that drip drip drip and take us off course. And when we find ourselves there, we don’t know what to do.

Oddly enough, Tiger mentioned that as one of his biggest challenges. Churches and ministry leaders get in that place, where things aren’t quite right but they don’t know what to do, and they get discouraged. Then, in that discouragement, they do…nothing. They don’t reach out, they don’t ask questions, they don’t grow. They don’t know what to do, so they just keep digging the hole they’ve found themselves in. Instead of engaging they become defensive. Instead of reaching out they turn in. Instead of moving forward they pull back.

Our world is changing more and more every day. Everything we do, as Christians and as churches, is complicated. We need each other more now than ever. We need the body of Christ to encourage us and keep us moving forward in our mission to love God and love others, and we need ministry leaders to help our group efforts continue to be effective as we advance the Kingdom of God and reach the lost with the gospel.

I thank God for good, wise men like Tiger, and I pray that we all use our time, energy and resources wisely as we seek to serve God.

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