As a child I could not memorize.  I could learn, of course, but anything that had to be memorized was a loss for me.  For years I wanted to learn the names of the disciples but I felt it was too hard.  Then one day I decided that I was going to do it.  I worked out a system that seemed easy.  Even though, my brother tells me that I can make even the simpliest things difficult, this system works for me.  Perhaps it will help you also.

I began with the first book of the New Testament:  Matthew

From the word, Matthew, I created an acrostic of the names of three disciples that are often over looked and are the hardest for me to remember.  Using the first four letters of Matthew’s name, I learned the first four disciples:

1.  Matthew

2.  Andrew

3.  Thaddeus

4.  Thomas

Then I listed all the “J” names because they were the easiest to recall.  I arrange them in alphabetical order:

5.  James (the brother of Jesus)

6.  James the Lesser

7.  John

8.  Judas

There are two Simons:

9.  Simon the Zealot

10. Simon Peter

That only leaves two disciples:

11. Bartholemew

12. Philip

Even if this system doesn’t seem to be easy for you , my method might jar your brain into figuring out a method that works for you.  Using this system, I was able to teach my class of adults who are mentally challenged all the names of the disciples in about three weeks.  Of course, you will have to review them pretty often to keep the name sealed in your brain.  Yet with this method, you will have several memory hooks to hang the names in your brain.  Happy memorizing!

Within every ministry or business, there is wiggle room.  Before we examine “the how” for learning about and becoming comfortable within your ministry’s culture, there are several things where there can be no wiggle room.

Jesus’ disciples knew that he was not only their leader.  He was their example.  Before he sent them out in two’s, he traveled with them, showing them the way.  At his death, these men had experienced survival because the Lord had sent them out to experience the Holy Spirit’s working through them.

If any ministry is going to succeed, it is vital to learn how to work as a team.  Jeffery Lay in his book, Top Gun on Wall Street, says “We don’t send anyone, anywhere. We all go together.”  Lay was a top gun pilot who transferred the leadership skills learned from the military into the business world.

Leaders cannot lead from behind.  If you are in a leadership position, you must not only be willing to go before but you must be the first to venture into new avenues.

There is a fatal notion that leaders don’t actually do much work.  They learn to delegate.  The problem with that philosophy is that few people willingly or happily work for a leader if their leader does not fully understand the concerns of the workers.  Before delegation can successfully happen, there must be example.

Within a ministry, you must have the good will of all your volunteers and paid staff.  That doesn’t mean that you need to know the nuts and bolts of every single activity.  However, you must do more than walk though the ministry space, looking, pointing and asking stupid questions.  The person who is following you must know your commitment to the people you are serving.

They need to understand that at any time you are willing to pick up a broom and sweep the floor or make the refreshments.  Each week volunteers need to see you moving chairs, teaching or doing some physical ministry.  Volunteers and staff must know that you are willing learn the bookkeeping or the desk-top publishing or a new data base.  You want to be able to venture into the new activities demanded by your ministry.

When The Special Gathering was having some concerns with our bookkeeping, the head of our ministry, Richard Stimson, went back to college to learn the fundamentals of accounting.  While he didn’t need to learn how to be an expert in accounts receivable, he wanted to be able to have an overall vision regarding this area of ministry.  I was impressed with his willingness to venture beyond his comfort zone to learn how to lead in this vital area.

Years ago, I visited a large ministry in southern Florida.  A bit shocked, I listened as the director of the ministry spoke to her fellow volunteers.  She was more than stern as the men and women listened.  They nodded and smiled, agreeing with her admonitions.  After the meeting, I asked her how she could be so stern with her volunteers.  “I’m also a volunteer,” she said, laughing.  “My teachers know that I am doing as much or more than they are every day of the week.”

She and Stimson live what Lay advocates, “Don’t send anyone, anywhere.  We all go together.”  Without a team no ministry will not be successful.  However, without a leader, there will be no team.