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. 067 – Life as a Pastor's Spouse (Melissa Wiebe & Heather Hubrich)

DEC 01, 2022

For most couples, your spouse's career probably doesn't affect your day-to-day life THAT much, but that's not always true when you're married to a pastor! There are some unique challenges--and unique joys--that come with being a pastor's wife, and today we hear about those from Melissa Wiebe and Heather Hubrich. Both of their husbands are pastors and church planters at Lakeview Church in Utah. While the pastor's spouse may typically fly a little under the radar, both Melissa and Heather have settled into their niche where they can give and serve the community while also caring for their families--and setting healthy boundaries for themselves.

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EP. 066 – Dealing with Conflict (Erica Haude & Wendell Loewen)
NOV 17, 2022

Humans are messy, and (sadly) part of being human is dealing with conflict. Especially this time of year with elections and lots of time with family around the holidays, you're likely to find yourself in a difficult conversation at some point. How can we be peace-makers in a divided and difficult culture, and how we can we love those around us who believe and behave so differently than we do?

Remember: Conflict in itself is not sin. We have a choice in how we handle these things, and on this episode we have some practical takeaways you can work on. Wendell Loewen and Erica Haude both wrote articles about this in the most recent issue of Christian Leader, and today they share examples from Scripture and tips you can keep in mind for next time you're facing conflict with loved ones.

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EP. 065 – Succeeding a Long-Term Pastor (Eric Nelson)
NOV 03, 2022

Changes in senior leadership can make or break any church or organization, especially when a senior, founding pastor retires. Succession is a crucial leadership discussion that often gets forgotten or delayed, but it's a topic we would all be wise to get a head start on.

Today we talk with Eric Nelson, the new lead pastor of South Mountain Community Church in Utah. Eric recently took over after their former leader, Paul Robie, retired at the end of last year. South Mountain took their time and the succession process worked really smoothly, so what outline did they follow, and what can we learn from their story? Eric walks us through each step, shares lessons he learned along the way, and provides some helpful things for us to think about as more and more churches are passing the reins on to the next generation of leaders.

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EP. 064 – The Importance of Effective Storytelling (Robert Carnes)
OCT 20, 2022

"Let me tell you a story..."

Did we capture your attention? There's something about a compelling story that draws our hearts and minds more than just about anything else. Effective storytelling can be a leadership superpower, so how can our churches tell better stories? What's the process we should use to listen, capture, and share good stories, and how can that cycle help grow our churches and share the Gospel?

On this episode we talk through this and much more with author Robert Carnes. Robert has written two books, including "The Story Cycle," which we talk about on this podcast.

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EP. 063 – The Importance of Sabbaticals (Don Morris)
OCT 06, 2022

If you've considered taking a sabbatical before, maybe some of these thoughts have gone through your mind:

  • People in secular jobs don't get this much time off. Why should I?
  • I don't need time away. I'm doing fine and ministry is running well.
  • I don't have anyone around me to pick up the slack.
  • My team or leadership doesn't support the idea.

Taking time away for rest, renewal, and retooling is so important for ministry leaders. Time away from the grind of ministry is not only good for your own health, but churches also benefit. Ministries can only be healthy if their leaders are healthy.

USMB National Director Don Morris recently took a sabbatical, and on today's episode he addresses all of those concerns listed above and much more. Especially post-COVID, many ministry leaders are depleted, and that's not how Jesus intended for us to lead.

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EP. 062 – Meeting FPU's New President (Dr. André Stephens)
SEPT 22, 2022

Back to school season is in full swing, so now is a great time to introduce you to Dr. André Stephens, the new president of Fresno Pacific University. FPU is our Mennonite Brethren school in Fresno, California, and many great things are happening on campus.

Dr. Stephens was selected as their new president this summer, and he brings with him a wealth of experience in higher ed and a very strong passion for the well-being of well-rounded students. On this episode, Dr. Stephens shares more about his background, what drew him to FPU, what he's learning about the MB family, and where he thinks higher ed is moving in the future.

Good things are on the horizon for FPU, so enjoy getting to know Dr. Stephens!

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EP. 061 – USMB Church Planting (Brian Harris)
AUG 25, 2022

Church planting has long been one of USMB's main goals as a denomination. We want to actively be involved in more MB churches being planted--so much so that USMB leaders created a new position to focus on just that. Brian Harris recently started as our new church planting mobilizer. Brian has a great story of how he came to faith, how he started evangelizing, and what he plans to do to assist MB churches ready to take the leap into multiplying disciples through church planting.

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EP. 060 – The Theology of Disability (Dr. Quentin Kinnison)
AUG 11, 2022

Most of us have individuals with disabilities in our church family--or certainly in our communities. People with disabilities or differently-abled people are often overlooked in society, but that shouldn't be the case in our churches! Regardless of our church's size or resources, we should all be on the lookout to appropriately serve and reach out to those with disabilities, so how can we do that more effectively?

Dr. Quentin Kinnison is an associate professor at Fresno Pacific and has devoted significant time to the "theology of disability." In this episode Quentin shares many practical ideas and potential next steps for all of us to better serve this under-represented people group.

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EP. 059 – Avoiding the Great Resignation (Michael Buckingham)
JULY 28, 2022

You've heard the buzzwords and are likely noticing the nearly-ubiquitous "Now Hiring" signs. The "Great Resignation" is upon us, and the post-COVID workplace is beginning to look a lot different from the office watercolors pre-2020. A bunch of people are looking to change jobs and shift their careers, so how will that affect the Church--and your church?

You probably find yourself in one of two camps: Either your team is currently in the process of hiring/shifting staff positions, or maybe you have a great team that you don't want to leave. In this new workplace reality, how can we care for and honor our employees so they aren't tempted to leave?

This episode we're joined by Michael Buckhingham from Vanderbloemen. He has great insight and tips to help us turn the Great Resignation into the Great Recognition.

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EP. 058 – Future of Hybrid Ministry (Jason Moore)
JULY 14, 2022

Now that (hopefully!) the worst of COVID is behind us, most of our churches are returning to in-person services. Where does that leave our online presence? Should we keep streaming, and how can we improve our online services to be a truly "hybrid" experience of what happens in the room?

On this episode we talk with Jason Moore, the author of the best-seller Both/And. Jason has several examples and insights to share from churches he has worked with who are effectively ministering to people online AND in-person.

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EP. 057 – What The Church Can Learn From Online Dating (Haley Veturis)
JUNE 30, 2022

More and more people are discovering churches online first. What does that mean for your church? If guests read through your website or follow you on social media, would they "swipe right" on your profile and consider a first "date" by attending a service? What are new people looking for, and how can you implement those things for your church online?

Today we're joined by church communication expert Haley Veturis. Her personal experience with dating apps changed her thinking about churches' online profiles, and she has several thoughtful and practical steps we can all take to make sure a guest's first impression of your church leaves them wanting more.

Learn more about Haley and her company Digifora at http://digifora.com.

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EP. 056 – Meeting Multiply's New Director (Bruce Enns)
JUNE 16, 2022

Today we have the privilege of getting to know Bruce Enns, the recently appointed general director of Multiply. Bruce has years of local church leadership experience after his time as an MB pastor in Saskatchewan. There have been lots of changes within Multiply over the past few years, but on this episode we get a peek into Bruce's heart for ministry and his vision for this next chapter of Multiply's work around the world.

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EP. 055 – Effective Rural Ministry (Ron Klassen)
JUNE 02, 2022

Evangelism is always most effective when you take time to study and immerse yourself in the culture and community where you are serving. We often think of that when discussing overseas ministry, but the same can be true in cultures that look a lot like yours on the surface. Even when you have similarities in skin color and language, ministering in a big city looks considerably different from a healthy church in small, rural communities.

Today we talk with Ron Klassen, the executive director of Rural Home Missionary Association. Ron has decades of experience leading churches in small, rural communities, including an MB church in Oklahoma. We all fight the “grass is always greener” syndrome where we wish we had more money, better buildings, etc., but there are some unique and valuable opportunities that come with leading in small towns. Whatever the size of your church, Ron has valuable insight to share about finding unique strengths in your community that can lead to effective ministry.

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EP. 054 – Finding Hope after Human Trafficking (Cathy Turner & John Oelze)
MAY 19, 2022

The issue of human trafficking has to be one of the darkest and most difficult issues in our world today. Since we believe all humans are made in the image of God, we know that each woman caught in trafficking is important and meaningful, and the heart of God is for all of us to experience freedom and love, not exploitation.

With big problems like this, it can be easy to feel hopeless in the midst of all the darkness, but there is also hope and light. Today we talk with Cathy Turner and John Oelze from Hope Ranch, an organization near Wichita that serves women and gives them the tools they need to escape trafficking, discover God's love for them, and rebuild a meaningful life. We encourage you to check out hoperanchforwomen.com to learn more, give, or find ways to pray for these women who deserve our love and attention.

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EP. 053 – Apologetics & Evangelism for Moms--& Everyone Else (Hillary Morgan Ferrer)
MAY 05, 2022

Apologetics and evangelism--both big words and big concepts that can feel daunting to "normal," busy people. As we continue our series on the podcast about evangelism and getting to know this year's convention speakers, on this episode we chat with Hillary Morgan Ferrer. Hillary is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics, a group designed to help moms (and everyone else) find answers to difficult questions about our faith and culture. In our conversation, Hillary defines "apologetics," how it relates to evangelism, and what we can do to answer tough questions your kids may be asking.

Be sure to check out Hillary's books and the Mama Bear Apologetics podcast to learn more, and join us at the MB Convention this July in Kansas City! www.usmb.org/gathering2022.

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EP. 052 – Evangelical Conversations with Muslims--and Everyone Else (Aaron Myers)
APR 21, 2022

Most of us have a tendency to make evangelism more complicated and more intimidating than it was intended to be. There are several examples in the Bible where brand new believers instantly shared their faith, and all of us listening know more about Jesus than those people did. So why is it so scary, and how can we do it more effectively--both to our unchurched friends and neighbors, and to Muslims around the world?

Today we talk with Aaron Myers from the Crescent Project. Aaron shares some helpful and encouraging tips to have faith-filled conversations more easily in our day-to-day lives, and he also shares how God is at work reaching Muslims around the world through online and digital technology. Good things are happening, and evangelism doesn't have to be scary!

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EP. 051 – Influencing Others for Christ (Gary Comer)
APR 07, 2022

Most believers are familiar with the "Great Commission," but many of us also feel ill-equipped to successfully share our faith with unbelieving friends and neighbors. Today we speak with author (and MB convention speaker!) Gary Comer to hear his success stories of how he speaks with his atheist and Muslim friends, and practical tools we can use to become more effective "influencers" for Jesus in our day-to-day lives.

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EP. 050 – International MB Family (Bob Davis)
MAR 24, 2022

The world is a big--and small!--place, and we all have a lot to learn from each other. On today's show (episode 50!), we're talking with Bob Davis about his new role with ICOMB. We can experience the fullness of the kingdom of God best when we work and worship together, and there are lots of ways our local churches can more effectively engage with MB leaders around the world. Enjoy today's conversation, and then head to http://icomb.org to learn more!

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EP. 049 – Like a Good Neighbor (How to Talk about Jesus with Jeff Bell)
MAR 10, 2022

This week we’re continuing our series as we get to know this year’s USMB convention speakers as we explore the topic of evangelism. Today we’re joined by Pastor Jeff Bell from Mosaic Church, and sharing the love of Jesus is in his DNA. There are a lot of important things for church leaders to think about in this episode: What kinds of events is your church hosting, and what is their purpose? Is evangelism part of your discipleship strategy? Are you so busy with church activities that you have nothing left for your neighbors? And when you ARE with non-Christians, are you “making spiritual conversations more normal, and normal conversations more spiritual”? Enjoy this conversation with Jeff and spend some thing thinking about your church’s (and your personal) evangelism strategies.

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EP. 048 – Soul Care & Spiritual Direction (Janine Westlund)
FEB 24, 2022

"Soul care" and "spiritual direction" are good-sounding terms you would probably affirm, but what do they actually mean? And are you (as a pastor or church leader) actually taking care of your soul? What even IS your "soul"?

Self-care and self-examination can be critical tools to ensure our own spiritual health, especially the longer we find ourselves in church work. The daily grind of ministry and life in general is real, and it's important we take time to discover what our soul craves and find ways to feed and nurture our true selves.

Above all else, spiritual director and soul care specialist Janine Westlund wants you to remember the words of Jesus from Matthew 11: You are beloved.

If you want to dive deeper into these topics after hearing from Janine, here are some resources you may find helpful:

GPS for the Soul
Daily Examen
Book: Soul Custody by Stephen W Smith

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EP. 047 – Reaching Non-Believers in Your Neighborhood (Jeff Hubrich)
FEB 11, 2022

Jeff Hubrich has a pretty powerful testimony that you probably don't have. After leaving the LDS church, Jeff gradually learned about Jesus through a caring Christian friend who invested in his friendship for years. Jeff is now a pastor who strategically plans his church services specifically for the Mormons in his community--and it's working.

Even if you have a completely different testimony, we can all learn from Jeff's story and spend some time thinking about how and why we do things in our churches. Can you describe the culture of your neighborhood 10 blocks in every direction? What spiritual needs does your city have that you're able to meet? How can you invest in non-believers over the long haul, even if you don't get to see any fruit?

Jeff asks challenging questions and shares encouraging stories that we can all learn from. Enjoy hearing from Jeff in this episode, and then sign up to join us for the USMB convention coming to Kansas City this summer to hear more from Jeff!

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EP. 046 – Developing a Leadership Pipeline (Kyle Goings & Russ Claassen)
JAN 27, 2022

You can't argue with the stats. Most U.S. pastors are getting older, young Christians aren't as active in local churches as they used to be, and--at least in this season--young people don't seem to be interested in vocational ministry. What is causing these issues, and how can we address them now as MB church leaders?

These are big and complicated discussions, but a group of MB leaders are coming together to form a new initiative to serve USMB congregations as well as emerging leaders. Today we talk with Kyle Goings and Russ Claassen about the new USMB Leadership Pipeline, a program aimed to provide hands-on training, mentoring, paid internships, and scholarship opportunities to young MB leaders. In addition to equipping these young people, we also hope this provides a pool of trained leaders ready to serve in our local churches.

If you or your church are interested in learning more about this program, visit leaderpipeline.net.

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