LEAD Pods are the official USMB podcast devoted to leadership development and spiritual growth for Mennonite Brethren churches. This is MBs sharing ideas with other MBs, and hopefully beyond. ‘It’s the best of us to the rest of us.’

Listen on Apple, Android, or Spotify or click the blue icon to the left of each episode.

NEW! Video versions of some podcasts are now available on our YouTube channel.

EP. 087 – Reading the Old Testament with the New Testament in Mind (Dr. Tim Geddert)

SEPT 21, 2023

If we're honest, many of us don't really know what to do with the Old Testament. We know it's important, but some of the stories are hard for us to understand in our modern American evangelical context.

In this week's episode, we talk with Dr. Tim Geddert about his new book "The Beginning of the Story: Understanding the Old Testament in the Story of Scripture." Tim has been teaching Bible courses at Fresno Pacific University for 37 years. Although Tim has focused on the New Testament in his career, his new book tackles common questions and misconceptions that Christians have about the Old Testament.

He says properly understanding the Old Testament is crucial for understanding the New Testament and Jesus' teachings. Tim discusses several challenging aspects of the Old Testament, such as violence and war, Old Testament law, and the reward/punishment narrative. He emphasizes the importance of reading the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and the New Testament writers.

We hope today's episode and Tim's book will be helpful tools to better understand the Old Testament as an essential part of the biblical story.

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EP. 086 – Living on Mission with the LDS Community (Jason Quiring & Drew Pankratz)

SEPT 07, 2023

Every successful church, ministry, or business needs to do the hard work of getting to know and serving its local community. Jason Quiring & Drew Pankratz are doing just that in Saratoga Springs, Utah, where evangelical Christians are in a significant minority compared to the hugely influential Latter-Day Saints churches around them. Jason, Drew, and the other leaders of Greenhouse Community Church are very intentional in how they invest in their local community, and the language they use--and don't use--as part of their ministry efforts.

As the North American culture continues to become increasingly post-Christian, we can all learn lessons from Jason and Drew and their "slow/fast" approach to befriend their neighbors, earn their trust, and establish relationships where conversations about faith are more effective.

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EP. 085 – Living Missionally in the Neighborhood (Jon Fiester & Abby Giwojna)

AUG 25, 2023

Jon Fiester and Abby Giwojna know their neighborhood well--and it can be a rough neighborhood. Renewal MB Church in Rapid City, South Dakota is located in a part of town known for drugs, gang activity, and (frankly) a lack of hope. While planting a church in this type of community brings a set of challenges, it also brings unique opportunities.

In this week's LEAD Pods, Jon and Abby share how they "live missionally" in their community day-to-day by intentionally working alongside police officers, offering free coffee to teenagers, and being ok with a broken foosball table. Your community likely doesn't look like theirs, but their dedication to knowing and loving their neighbors is something we can all learn from!

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EP. 084 – Should Pastors Use AI Tools? (Jason Moore)

AUG 10, 2023

Like it or not, artificial intelligence is here and.... well, everywhere. Technologies like Chat GPT have evolved rapidly, and nearly every week we see headlines of new ways AI is being used in virtually every industry.

So how does this affect the church? Are there tools that can help pastors be more effective? What are the moral issues we need to wrestle with? How much can we rely on these tools before it starts to be too much?

As you'll hear in this episode, AI isn't a pastor. We still have a relationship with Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so we are uniquely positioned to lead our churches in ways machines never could. Still, it's also possible AI could help us with some elements of our work that could make us more effective.

We dive into this crazy new world with some help from Jason Moore, one of the leading voices in the early days of AI in the church.

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EP. 083 – Growing & Developing an Intentional Online Ministry (Alan George)

JULY 27, 2023

Most U.S. churches were forced to develop at least some type of online ministry during the COVID shutdown. Now that we're past that stage, how should we think about our online presence? Does online church "count," or are we just giving our congregations excuses to be lazy? Are there times when online church might be more beneficial than in-person worship? What new tools do we need to keep an eye on, and how can we develop those strategies?

Today we're talking with Alan George, a pioneer in the online church space. Alan was the online pastor for Life.Church for more than a decade, and he has really helpful insight for how we should view online ministry, regardless of the size of your church staff or budget.

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EP. 082 – The Unexpected Birth of SouthLife Church (Kevin Friedberg & Andy Owen)

JULY 13, 2023

After decades of planning and a few failed attempts, Ridgepoint Church recently launched their first church plant--with a path and strategy that no one expected. On today's episode, we hear from SouthLife pastor Kevin Friedberg and Andy Owen from Ridgepoint share the story of how this new church came to be, with pieces fitting together from literally around the world to benefit an underserved community in Wichita.

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EP. 081 – Conquering Porn & Depression, Embracing the Holy Spirit (Brad Burkholder)

JUNE 29, 2023

So many people in our culture today struggle with anxiety and depression. Addictions and temptations related to pornography are also incredibly common. Since Christians are humans too, these struggles and addictions are often found within the walls of the church, and even some of the best Christian leaders in the world wrestle with these issues.

We want to make one thing really clear in this episode: Whatever your role or title is, there is hope, encouragement, and light within reach for you if you're facing any of these struggles. Hiding and ignoring these issues often make them worse, and you were never meant to face this alone.

On this episode, Pastor Brad Burkholder openly shares his story of overcoming depression and pornography and re-discovering a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. After years of struggle, Brad has a pretty incredible testimony of discovering a newfound desire for Jesus and freedom from the bondage of depression and anxiety.

You're not alone, and we hope Brad's hope-filled transparency encourages and inspires you.

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EP. 080 – Bringing Hope to Ukraine through MCC (Ann Graber Hershberger, Yvette Ngale, & Anna Rubel)

JUNE 15, 2023

The war in Ukraine has been continuing for over a year now, and there continues to be a lot of darkness in the midst of so much destruction. It's also true that our friends in MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) have been directly involved with providing aid and resources to help those affected with material, emotional and spiritual support.

On this week's episode, we're joined by three ladies directly involved with MCC's relief and peacemaking efforts. Ann Graber Hershberger (MCC's executive director), Pastor Yvette Ngale (MCC U.S. board member) and Anna Rubel (MCC staff member from Ukraine) have firsthand insight and stories to share about what's happening on the ground in Ukraine, how MCC is helping, and what we can do to help provide for and support those affected the most from the ongoing war.

Learn more about MCC's efforts in Ukraine here: https://mcc.org/stories/crisis-ukraine

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EP. 079 – Giving Meaning to Money (Jon Wiebe)

JUNE 01, 2023

MB Foundation has been an important and influential ministry of USMB for more than 30 years now, and many good things are happening there! On this week's episode, President & CEO Jon Wiebe shares insightful history of the Foundation, as well as some exciting stories of how their growth has led to increased generosity to churches in our denomination as well as to individuals in need around the world.

We should all strive to honor God with our finances and practice biblical stewardship, and MB Foundation offers several tools to individuals, local churches, and other ministries to help us do that. Along with the stories and tools outlined in this episode, you can also learn more at mbfoundation.com.

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EP. 078 – Senior Resources & Preparing for End of Life (Robert Carlton)

MAY 18, 2023

Many of us try to avoid talking about it, but EVERYONE benefits from a thorough plan for the end of life. Robert Carlton (active member at Hesston MB) spent his career helping individuals and families navigate through the world of Hospice, senior resources, wills, and end-of-life planning, and he shares important things we should all think through on this week's episode. Some of these conversations can be hard and awkward, but a well thought-out plan now can bring peace and even joy when your family faces the loss of a loved one.

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EP. 077 – The Hand of God on an Immigrant Pastor (Alex Mutabazi & Terry Hunt)

MAY 04, 2023

In recent years we've shared several stories of how immigrant pastors from around the world are getting established in the U.S. and joining our USMB church family. In today's episode, we hear the encouraging story of how Pastor Alex Mutabazi left a difficult life in the Congo to become an MB pastor in Nashville. In his words, the "hand of God" has been upon him and his church with miracle after miracle leading to where he is today.

Pastor Terry Hunt has been an influential leader in Alex's life, as well as several other immigrant pastors who are doing amazing and important work of helping immigrants get established with new lives in the U.S. There is so much hope and potential for these new MB church plants, so be encouraged and inspired as you hear from Pastors Terry & Alex!

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EP. 076 – Redeeming Money--Live! (Dr. Paul David Tripp & MB Foundation)

APR 20, 2023

This is a pretty historic episode of LEAD Pods for several reasons! First, we talk to bestselling author and pastor Paul David Tripp, author of more than 30 books ranging all kinds of topics related to faith and church leadership. Second, we recorded this conversation LIVE as part of a recent MB Foundation webinar that was co-hosted by our friends Rick Eshbaugh and Bruce Jost.

We've talked about finances a few times before, but instead of getting into the weeds with spreadsheets, budgets, and debt-reduction strategies, today Dr. Tripp shares about the heart behind our finances. Everyone is worshiping something, and our money typically goes to what our heart is most drawn to. So what about you? Are you honoring God with your finances, and how can you train and encourage your church family to "redeem" money?

Check out https://mbfoundation.com/redeemingmoney for more resources on this topic for your church, including free copies of Dr. Tripp's book.

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EP. 075 – Dying to Self, Miracle by Miracle (Vanlalhmachhuani [Amy] Gelatt)

APR 06, 2023

Vanlalhmachhuani Gelatt, who you may know as Amy, has an incredible story of God's faithfulness. Born in India with a very interesting family history, Amy has experienced miracle after miracle in her life that led to her coming to study in the U.S. Now she and her husband Josh lead North Oak Community Church in Hays, Kansas where she is active in ministry and evangelism.

Throughout her story, Amy learned to trust and lean on God's plan when things didn't always work out as she had hoped, but she also experienced amazing amounts of God's favor and blessing that led to where she is today. Her story will encourage and inspire you, and remind you of God's relentless faithfulness!

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EP. 074 – How Flourishing Pastors Avoid Burnout (Bill Clem)

MAR 23, 2023

Being a pastor--at any level--is hard work. Especially over the past few years, church leaders have had to deal with stresses and challenges that can be uniquely difficult. We all want to lead flourishing ministries while also maintaining healthy families and stable mental health. That may seem increasingly difficult, but it is possible with the right boundaries and right guardrails in place.

On this episode, we talk with Bill Clem. Bill is the director of the Center for Pastoral Flourishing at Western Seminary, and he has a big heart for helping pastors avoid burnout in ministry. He has decades of church leadership experience in a variety of roles, including several years at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He has first-hand experience and tons of research/resources to help lead your ministry and keep your sanity in modern church leadership.

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EP. 073 – A Fresh Perspective on Prayer (Jana Hildebrandt)

MAR 09, 2023

Planting new churches continues to be a high priority for USMB leadership, which notably led to hiring Brian Harris as our church planting mobilizer last summer. Brian has been on the job for several months now, and on this week's episode, Brian shares the latest news after his travels around the country and what he's learned so far as he speaks to leaders and develops his longer-term strategy.

Many of us feel guilty when we're honest about our personal prayer lives. Maybe you feel like you don't pray often enough, or you're intimidated when asked to pray out loud, or--if you're honest--the idea of leading or attending prayer meetings feels boring and irrelevant.

Of course that's not how God wants you to feel, and there is a lot of freedom to pray in ways that feel natural to you and fit your personality. On today's episode, Jana Hildebrandt has some helpful tools for us and also shares her personal journey through prayer. What used to feel like a guilt-ridden necessity has really come to life for her, and her story and perspective will hopefully encourage and inspire you as well.

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EP. 072 – Latest USMB Church Planting News (Brian Harris)

FEB 23, 2023

Planting new churches continues to be a high priority for USMB leadership, which notably led to hiring Brian Harris as our church planting mobilizer last summer. Brian has been on the job for several months now, and on this week's episode, Brian shares the latest news after his travels around the country and what he's learned so far as he speaks to leaders and develops his longer-term strategy.

As the familiar verse from Matthew says, the harvest is indeed plentiful. Brian reminds us there is definitely still a need for more churches in our communities, and there are unique ways established churches can work together to plant new churches or help resource other teams who are looking to plant. Regardless of the size of your church or your position in leadership, there are ways all of us can work together to help bring the gospel to those near and far ready to hear the good news.

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EP. 071 – Chat GPT Interviews Chat GPT about Chat GPT

FEB 09, 2023

"In our latest podcast episode, we dive into the exciting world of Chat GPT and its potential uses for local churches. Our guest discusses how this innovative technology can revolutionize worship services by assisting with song lyrics, prayers, and even sermons. Additionally, we explore the many ways Chat GPT can streamline day-to-day operations, making church staff more effective and efficient. Whether you're a pastor, church administrator, or just someone interested in technology, this episode is a must-listen. We explain what Chat GPT is and give a comprehensive overview of its future uses in the church, so don't miss out!"

... Ok, if you know about Chat GPT, you know the drill here. That paragraph above was written by an intelligent, new AI system called Chat GPT. This incredibly smart computer is quickly taking the world by storm, and most of its users are blown away by the many ways it could affect our lives moving forward. Among the implications and questions to wrestle with is how (and if) we should use this technology in the church.

In this episode, we asked Chat GPT to generate interview questions on this topic, and then we asked those questions to Chat GPT. It's basically interviewing itself, with a little help from our host, Matt.

Whether you're excited or a little creeped out by this tech, these are questions that leaders need to wrestle with, so we hope this conversation is helpful as we begin to wrap our minds around how AI might be used to better serve the church.

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EP. 070 – The Importance and the Future of Immigrant Churches (Henri Ngolo)

JAN 26, 2023

America is often referred to as a "melting pot" with a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities represented. Clearly we believe the Gospel is good news for everyone, and it's wise for us to be on the lookout for ways we can more effectively serve and minister to under-represented and under-served groups in our American culture. With more immigrants and refugees coming to our shores every day, how can the Church minister to these communities, and how can the USMB family work with them to prepare for the church of tomorrow?

Henri Ngolo is a minister and church leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who recently came on staff with the USMB team as our new integrated immigrant coordinator. Henri is working with many immigrant leaders who are forming new MB churches around the States, and many exciting opportunities are in the early stages through initiatives like the CORD program. Henri shares parts of his story on this episode and ways we can work together to better serve and minister to these immigrant families.

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EP. 069 – Reading the Bible, Missing the Gospel (Ben Connelly)

JAN 05, 2023

When you spend time reading the Bible, what kinds of things are you looking for? Does your understanding of the New Testament affect your view of the Old Testament, and vice versa? As you read, are you thinking mostly of yourself, or about God?

We all slip into ruts with our personal devotions, and sometimes a fresh perspective or reminder of biblical truths can bring life and deeper understanding of the stories and teachings found in the Bible. Today we're talking with author and pastor Ben Connelly about his new book, Reading the Bible, Missing the Gospel, and he has some compelling and thought-providing ideas that may change how you read the Bible this year.

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