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.

EP. 038 – Protecting Kids & Teens at Church (Nancy Kauffmann)
SEPT 16, 2021

Everyone (of all ages) should always feel safe at church, but we all know that unfortunately isn't always the case. We hope and pray our churches steer clear of abuse and scandal, but it's always best to be prepared and proactive to protect yourself and potential victims in your church family.

These things can be hard to talk about, but it's a topic we can't avoid in today's culture. On this episode we're joined by Nancy Kauffmann from Dove's Nest to provide some insight and advice for how churches can create and follow policies to keep kids and adults as safe as possible from potentially dangerous situations.

If you don't already have a safety policy at your church, get started by visiting dovesnest.net. Jesus made it clear that He loves children and other vulnerable members of society, so we should follow His lead and be prepared!

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EP. 037 – Peacefully Managing Conflict (Jes Stoltzfus Buller)
SEPT 02, 2021

Conflict is unavoidable--especially in today's heated culture. Jesus calls us to be peace-makers, and healthy relationships were at the core of His teaching. How can Christians manage conflict and heated discussions well, and what peaceful practices can we adopt to help us prepare?

Jes Stoltzfus Buller is the Peace Education Coordinator at MCC, and she developed a free curriculum about these topics that your church may benefit from. Today we hear about Jes's interesting history of seeing conflict firsthand in Columbia and how she used those experiences to manage (and even thrive!) in a divided American culture.

Next time you find yourself in a conflict, remember these helpful tools and tips from Jes!

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EP. 036 – Trauma, Neurology, & Effective Education (Dr. David Stevens)
AUG 19, 2021

Modern research shows that stress, trauma, and anxiety can actually physically change our brains. Since we live in an era of chronic stress, that can have a significant impact on how we learn, how we grow, and how we interact with others. As important as these findings are, these things are rarely accounted for in our classrooms, leaving many students without crucial help they need to learn and develop effectively.

On this week's episode, we dip our toes in the deep waters of neurology and trauma research with Dr. David Stevens, a professor at Tabor College who is leading a new master's program training educators how to better care for and nurture today's students.

Even for those of us outside of education, these principles and this research can be very helpful in our leadership. Enjoy this slightly nerdy but super interesting conversation!

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EP. 035 – How to Lead Effective Small Groups (Joe Skillen)
AUG 05, 2021

A healthy small group ministry is a crucial part of the American church today--especially for larger churches. As we grow in our faith, we all need a smaller group of friends where we can study Scripture and laugh, as well as be there for each other during hard seasons. Small groups can often provide that space, but building a healthy ministry takes a lot of work and intentionality.

Today our guest Joe Skillen shares some big picture ideas of how to lead small groups, but we also get into the details about how to choose a study, how often you should meet, pros and cons of open/closed groups, and much more. Whether your church already has a groups ministry or you're looking to start one soon, take advantage of this helpful insight from Joe!

(And stick around to the end to get his hot takes on the NBA free agent season.)

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EP. 034 – What Are You Known For? (Mark MacDonald)
JULY 22, 2021

Your church probably does a lot of things, and you probably have a lot of ministries. One of the hardest things to do as a church leader is to effectively communicate all of your church's messages in a way where every message is heard by your congregation, as well as those outside the church in your community.

Doing that well is very hard, especially if those various events and ministries don't share common goals and themes. Today's guest encourages us to find a single "thread" that connects everything we do. When you do that well, your church can be known for something positive in your community.

What is your church known for? Do you have a "thread" that ties everything together? How are you cutting down on the noise and clutter of church announcements to make sure the most important things stick out?

Mark MacDonald is an experienced church communicator, author, pastor, branding expert, and--yes--model. He takes churches through branding exercises to help them discover this thread that can set them apart and make them more effective in their communities. When you do this well, it's much easier to help others discover Jesus and grow in their faith.

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EP. 033 – Leading Teams & Creating Experiences (Carl Barnhill)
JULY 08, 2021

Whatever position or title you have at your church, all church leaders (staff and volunteer) have a responsibility to lead teams well and create meaningful experiences where people can encounter Jesus.

That's a big responsibility! Ready for a leadership "secret" you already know? It's all about relationships--including the relationships between you and your team members, and between you and Jesus.

Today's guest is Carl Barnhill, the owner and creative director at Twelve:Thirty Media. Twelve:Thirty creates quality media packages for churches, and Carl has a ton of experience leading large church teams and creating powerful experiences. In today's episode we dive into an article Carl wrote outlining 8 important reminders for all of us in church leadership.

Read Carl's article here and be sure to check out all that Twelve:Thirty has to offer on their website. Now go take your volunteers out for lunch!

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EP. 032 – Parenting Teenagers (Matt Gallagher)
JUNE 24, 2021

Teenagers have been given a bad rap. Sure, parenting teens brings a unique set of challenges, but you can do it, and this season doesn't have to be the horror story our culture makes it out to be.

Today we're joined by counselor and therapist Matt Gallagher to get his insight on how to parent teens, how to prep for that season while they're young, what they need the most, and how to cultivate a healthy relationship that lasts.

This episode is full of practical and insightful wisdom we could all benefit from, regardless of what stage of parenting you're in--or even if you're not a parent! Thanks to Matt for sharing this helpful content with us!

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EP. 031 – Teaching Kids About Jesus At Church and At Home (J.L. Martin)
JUNE 10, 2021

Teaching kids about Jesus is one of a parent's most important responsibilities. Today a lot of parents feel inadequate and aren't sure how to actually do that. The church can (and should!) help, but the most effect kids ministry occurs when the church and the parents work together to install Christian principles and values to the next generation.

J.L. Martin has been on both sides of this as a children & families pastor as well as raising four kids of his own. He understands the short attention spans, the awkwardness of praying out loud, and the importance of genuine faith conversations at bedtime. This episode is packed of super practical information that is helpful both for parents as well as those working in churches to give us the best chance at developing a healthy faith in our kids.

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EP. 030 – Kids Ministry Before & After COVID (Brittney Howard)
MAY 27, 2021

Kids ministry is a crucial part of most (if not all) churches, and rightfully so. Effectively ministering to kids and their parents is a huge responsibility and great opportunity to share the gospel with our communities.

COVID rocked the world in many ways, and children's ministry certainly wasn't an exception. Finding ways to reach children stuck at home was a challenge, and now that things are opening up, are there parts of our ministries that need to be shifted, removed, or started to adjust to this "new normal"?

Brittney Howard oversees the children's ministry at Prodigal Church in Fresno, and she and her team have been wrestling with all those questions. They found creative ways to minister during the shutdown and have great ideas of goals for the re-opening process. Be encouraged and maybe get some new ideas as we all walk through these rapidly changing times together.

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EP. 029 – Caring for Your Aging Parents (Lisa Keith)
MAY 13, 2021

All relationships can be messy, but the parent/child relationship is particularly interesting. As parents get older and their kids become care-givers, that can be a rocky transition, even for the closest of families. Knowing how to navigate new boundaries, difficult life adjustments, and challenging health diagnoses can lead to a lot of stress for both the parent and the child. How can we prepare ourselves in advance for that stage of life, and what does "success" even look like?

Today we talk with Lisa Keith from FPU who is currently facing this challenge with her parents. After they moved in with Lisa a few years ago in great health, all of their lives were forced to shift once health and memory issues rapidly entered the picture. Lisa is handling the challenges with a lot of grace, and today she reminds us that there is always a silver lining as long as we keep proper perspective.

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EP. 028 – USMB/Congo Partnership (Henri Ngolo, Terry Hunt, Rick Eshbaugh)
APR 29, 2021

Sometimes unlikely pairings can lead to significant and important partnerships. In recent years, many Congolese immigrants have found a new home in the U.S. in MB church families. Henri Ngolo has been one of those influential leaders, and MB district ministers Terry Hunt and Rick Eshbaugh have been instrumental in helping these new Congolese church plants grow and thrive in the U.S.

Many immigrants coming to the U.S. today are viewing that shift as a missionary assignment. The U.S. NEEDS church leaders from around the world, and we have much to share with them. Together, we can have a huge impact on the kingdom of God locally and around the world.

A lot of positive change has already come from these Congolese partnerships, and exciting things are on the horizon. Enjoy this episode and be encouraged!

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EP. 027 – COVID's Effect on the Local Church (Dan Strutz, Jordan Ringhofer, & Tim Sullivan)
APR 15, 2021

The sudden emergence of COVID-19 rocked all of our worlds, but church leaders had to move quickly and make tough decisions about how their congregations would meet. Those tough decisions seemed to keep coming for basically an entire year, and that pressure can put a huge strain on leaders--especially in particularly divided times.

Today we talk with three of USMB's district ministers to hear what they have been hearing from our local MB pastors around the country. We hear some encouraging success stories, and we also share stories of burdens we've all had to learn to carry together. As the world starts to slowly reopen, we hope this conversation leaves you encouraged and ready to see what God is up to in this new season of ministry.

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EP. 026 – Honoring God in the Workplace (Jason Lansdown)
APR 1, 2021

Many of our listeners are on staff at a local church, meaning our literal job is to spread the word about Jesus. As great of a privilege as that is, often times people working in the marketplace have more opportunities to build relationships and share about their faith with non-believers. Business leaders have tremendous opportunities to share the love of Christ by the way they lead, how they treat their employees, and how they view their business.

Jason Lansdown owns two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Wichita, and he is a fantastic leader. His faith plays a critical role in how he leads his teams and runs his restaurants, and he is very intentional about financial generosity and leadership development in the next generation.

How can you honor God with your day-to-day work? How should the church view wealth and business success? Should churches start utilizing more business principles in their leadership? This is a great episode with lots of practical advice, so enjoy this great conversation with Jason (and then go grab a Chick-fil-A sandwich).

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EP. 025 – Fighting COVID (Dr. Jules Glanzer)
MAR 18, 2021

All of our lives have been affected by the spread of the Coronavirus, but few of us have been hit as directly as Tabor's president, Dr. Jules Glanzer. After catching COVID, his health declined dramatically and led to an extended stay in the hospital. As his symptoms got worse, he even had a vision of entering heaven that led to significant shifts in how he's choosing to spend his days now.

Dr. Glanzer's story is encouraging and inspiring. He also shares important leadership lessons we can all take away from this challenging time. Thank you, Dr. Glanzer, for sharing your story so openly with us. Enjoy, listeners!

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EP. 024 – Living With Grief / Loving Grievers Well (Jenny Akina)
MAR 04, 2021

Losing a loved one is one of the hardest parts of the human experience. It's also true that knowing how to support grieving friends can be a tricky tight rope to walk. Everyone grieves differently, and knowing how to walk alongside people on that journey can be a real challenge.

Today we talk with Jenny Akina, a Grief Share leader from Fresno. Her husband passed away years ago, and her journey with her own grief has given her a big heart for others going through the grieving process. This week's episode has valuable information both for those who have recently lost a loved one, as well as those of us who want to support friends and family members currently going through the grieving process.

Grief is hard, and it's a topic the church doesn't often address. The Bible instructs us to mourn with those who mourn, so hopefully this conversation gives you the tools to do that well.

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EP. 023 – Honoring God With Your Finances (Nate Yoder)
FEB 18, 2021

Debt. College. Mortgages. Tithing. Roths. Wills.

Like it or not, money is a big part of our lives. A lot of us didn't get great training for the nuts and bolts of a healthy financial life, and it can be challenging to know where to begin--especially if you find yourself in a tough financial situation.

Today we talk with Nate Yoder from MB Foundation about all of this and more. How can and should we use our money to have a healthy financial outlook ourselves, and what does God have to say about our money? This is a practical and helpful episode where we think you'll learn a lot, so enjoy and get in touch with MB Foundation if you could use additional help!

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EP. 022 – TWO-PART EPISODE! Political Division (Don Morris & Tim Sullivan) + Free Speech & the First Amendment (Lyndon Vix)
FEB 04, 2021

After a few weeks off, we're BACK with a special two-part episode! Several big cultural events took place while we were away, and we wanted to spend some time as a family talking about the violence at the capitol and the current political landscape. Don Morris and Tim Sullivan guide us through what the MB statement of faith has to say about events like these and provide some comfort and encouragement for these times we're in.

We also talk with lawyer Lyndon Vix about free speech and the first amendment. These days there's lot of talk about "big tech" shutting down sites like Parler and taking certain leaders off platforms like Twitter. These are big and complicated issues, but as leaders, it's important for us to be educated and informed about cultural discussions like these.

Buckle up--we cover a lot of ground today. But we hope you leave encouraged and confident in your faith of who is really in charge in these troubling days we face.

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