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LFM Receives Nearly $1 Million from Lilly Endowment, Inc.

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CHARLOTTE – Leighton Ford Ministries has received a grant of $999,748 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Mentoring Communities for Thriving Pastors program.

Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry initiative helps organizations create or strengthen programs that support local pastors by helping them build relationships with other clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in church ministry.

The grant will support Leighton Ford Ministries in training approximately fifty experienced pastors to serve as mentors and launching approximately 40 new mentoring communities supporting 320-400 pastors of smaller churches, congregations of color, and new churches (church plants).  Leighton Ford Ministries will also gather and engage senior advisors to provide additional coaching, resources, and counsel.

“Pastoral ministry is currently marked by change,” said Kevin Ford, Chief Catalyst for Leighton Ford Ministries.  “Pastors in the United States are dealing with immediate change forced by COVID-19 and systemic change in a deeply divided society.  The stress, even for the healthiest pastor, is enormous.  Our ministry is focused on providing pastors with an experienced ‘friend on the journey’ to help navigate common challenges, triumphs, and transitions.”

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States.  This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion.  “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives.  These promising programs, including the Mentoring Communities for Thriving Pastors program from Leighton Ford Ministries, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

Lilly Endowment will provide seed money to launch the new mentoring program.  Leighton Ford Ministries will work with other community partners and interested individuals to raise additional funds to continue the program beyond the grant window.

“More than thirty years ago, God called me from the bright lights of the Billy Graham association to a behind-the-scenes ministry of mentoring young ministry leaders, said Leighton Ford, Founding President of Leighton Ford Ministries.  “Thanks to the generosity of Lilly Endowment and the fresh leadership of my son, Kevin, I am grateful to see this unique vision of safe times, safe places, and safe friends for ministry leaders grow to strengthen and impact so many more pastors … and through these pastors, their churches and communities.  To God be the glory!”

 

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company.  While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location.  In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion.  The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state of Indiana.  Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.

 

Leighton Ford Ministries is a Charlotte-based, international ministry focused on mentoring healthy leaders who support thriving ministries for the sake of the Gospel.  Founded by Leighton Ford, brother-in-law of Billy Graham and former Chair of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization, LFM supports more than 30 mentoring communities worldwide impacting nearly 500 ministry leaders, including local church pastors, women ministering in the inner city, leaders of internationally-known ministries, and former inmates now involved in prison ministry.  LFM also provides visioning, strategic planning, governance, and transition consulting services for churches throughout the United States.  Leighton’s son, Kevin Ford, author of Transforming Church and The Leadership Triangle, joined LFM as Chief Catalyst in 2019.

 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Leighton Ford!

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You know him as Leighton, I know him as Dad.  And today is his birthday!  We are so thankful for his ongoing ministry of mentoring and encouragement.  In the midst of a global pandemic, he’s pivoted to Zoom and continues to invest in the next generation of missional leadership.

This morning, I started remembering all the happy times as a kid, playing basketball in our driveway or going on after dinner strolls with my mom and dad down Coltsgate Road.  At the time, he was still a globe-trotting evangelist with a phenomenally busy schedule, but he made time to listen and journey with his younger son.  Now, as Chief Catalyst of the ministry that he founded, I’m even more proud as I see over and over again his exponential impact through mentoring young ministry leaders.

Do you have a Leighton Ford story?  In honor of his birthday, join me in sharing!

-Kevin Ford

 

A New Justice League!

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There’s a new “Justice League” and it’s part of Leighton Ford Ministries! Last month we were privileged to partner with a dear friend to launch a new mentoring community for women who minister and serve in the area of justice. Each participant drew her Spiritual Life Map and then shared with the group. This was followed by a time of silence when the group listened to God, then shared what they heard and prayed for the individual.

One woman shared, “I am going home renewed and inspired in a way I haven’t been recently.”

We thank Jesus for this “Justice League” of Christian women who choose to serve in very challenging contexts. Please join us in praying for their ministries, their safety, and their continued spiritual renewal.

50 years after decrying ‘racial strife,’ Leighton Ford says ‘we didn’t follow through’

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A story from The Charlotte Observer:

 

When a group of clergy approached evangelist Leighton Ford asking him to sign a letter to Charlotte’s black community after the death of George Floyd, he didn’t hesitate. Ford, a white man and brother-in-law of the late evangelist Billy Graham, has been urging Christians to meet the “demands of the Gospel” in the racial revolution for more than half a century.

Singing On Glory’s Side

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Lon Allison always had a song.  Whatever the topic, Lon had a song!

And so it was no surprise that after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer, Lon chose to address the Evangelical Covenant Convention with a song . . . “Untitled Hymn” by Chris Rice.

Untitled Hymn

Lon Allison sings “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” by Chris Rice
#eccmw

Posted by The Evangelical Covenant Church on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Weak and wounded sinner, lost and left to die
O, raise your head for Love is passing by
Come to Jesus, come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live

Now your burden’s lifted and carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain
So sing to Jesus, sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live

And like a newborn baby, don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk, sometimes we fall
So fall on Jesus, fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live

Sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rainThen cry to Jesus, cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live

O, and when the love spills over and music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside
Then dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live

And with your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side

And fly to Jesus (Fly to Jesus)
Fly to Jesus (Fly to Jesus)
Fly to Jesus and live

Lon Allison was the longtime Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, the Teaching Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church, and Chair of the Leighton Ford Ministries board.

But more than his impressive titles, Lon lived for Jesus.  He lived to tell others about Jesus. And he lived to encourage his friends and associates and flock to grow deeply in their faith and love for Jesus through personal discipleship.

Kevin first met Lon in the late 1980s.  Kevin was having breakfast at a diner in San Ramon, CA and saw a guy reading his Bible.  They struck up a conversation, and soon after, Kevin introduced Lon to Leighton. A strong friendship quickly developed, and Lon became a charter member of the “Point Group,” Leighton’s personal mentoring group for young ministry leaders.

Lon’s wife Marie announced his death Sunday evening with these words:  

Lon’s struggle with cancer ended this morning at 9:30 am. (It appears he wanted to get to heaven in time for the great Sunday Worship Service!)  He is now in heaven enjoying the perfect presence of the Lord, the people who went before him and the activities that he was not able to do the last couple of years. 

Lon was a dear friend and colleague.  We miss him so much. But we also know that he has never been so alive!

To paraphrase Chris Rice, on Sunday our friend Lon kissed the world goodbye, went in peace, and now sings on Glory’s side.

Fly to Jesus . . . and live!

 

A Life of Listening Now Available

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Just a quick word today as InterVarsity Press releases my new book, A Life of Listening. As I’ve mentioned, it’s perhaps the most personal book I’ve ever written, and so I’m deeply grateful for the kind words from friends who have previewed the book and found in it encouragement to keep their ear and heart cocked to God, listening for both His whispers and shouts. If you’re planning to purchase the book, may I ask that you consider ordering it today from Amazon? A good first day of sales will help with the algorithms, which in turn will help more people discover the book.

Buy on Amazon

In Tribute to Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie

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On Wednesday of this week God’s servant Lloyd, whom I counted as a dear friend, and great admired, departed this earthly life and ministry to the place Jesus his Lord has prepared for him.

Lloyd died at 88 after a fairly long battle with cancer.

Many knew and profited from his ministry at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, and other congregations before he served there, as Chaplain of the United States Senate for many years, as TV preacher, and author.

I knew him as a friend, never close geographically, but always be frequent phone calls, and sometimes at conferences together.For many years our local Leadership Breakfast Group were blessed by using his books to provoke and inspire our monthly gatherings.
I love him, thank God for him, and recommend his ongoing ministry through his on line sermons and his writings.
Many years ago I copied the following prayer from one of his books.  I have prayed it hundreds of times before I preacher or ministered myself.  I commend it to you.With a grateful heart for God’s servant, Lloyd,Leighton Ford

A Prayer Before Entering into the Ministry of the Day

 

Lord, here’s my mind, think your thoughts in me.
Be my wisdom, knowledge, and insight.
Here is my voice.
You told me not to worry what to say and how to say it.
Free me to speak with silence or words, whichever is needed.
Give me your timing and tenderness.
Now Lord, here is my body.
Release creative affection in my face, my touch, my embrace.
And Christ, if there is something I am to do
by your indwelling presence,
however menial or tough, control my will to do it.
Lord, I am ready now to be your manifest intervention in situations,
to infuse joy, or absorb pain and aching anguish.
I plan to live this day and the rest of my life in the reality of you in me.
Thank you for making it so!

This prayer above of Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie’s I have used for many years as I prepare to preach or begin some other ministry.

LFM Leader Elizabeth Archer Featured

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One of LFM’s Mentorship Leaders, Elizabeth Archer, was recently featured for her work with her father at the Masters.

Read More: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/golf/2019/04/10/george-archers-trailblazing-daughter-masters-winning-father/?WT.mc_id=tmg_share_fb&fbclid=IwAR0tYwbA5TiUbUIFC_j7tEmMEZBoN8ta_E9GD3jZS4zEIlhDX_5I7-RdZxA

My Next Book Coming Out!

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I have just received the good word that InterVarsity Press, publishers of several of my books, will publish my new book sometime in the middle of next year.  Following is a reflection on the writing!

Leighton

AT WINDY RIDGE, AN AFTERWORD

Early on a July morning I was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of an old mountain house in the hills of Virginia, coffee in hand.

It is a perfectly clear July morning, and a place of calm and quiet.

Across the old road a few cattle are grazing. Otherwise there was no sign of life, not even a car passing.

It is a contented moment. And I have a sense of completeness.

And with good reason. I am at the very end of my book The Voice of Our Calling, and my publisher InterVarsity Press is set to publish next year! So this is a moment of completion.

And Windy Ridge is a fitting place to be.

It was at another Virginia spot, Bell’s Ridge, a couple of hours north, that I literally “got off the fence” and started to write this book.

I was at a writers retreat at the Bellfry, a retreat house built by friends. After lunch one day, I strolled into the woods and sat on an old wooden fence. Suddenly the fence began to shake – and so did the ground around. It felt like an earthquake – and it was!  An earthquake centered eighty miles away was shaking the state. I quickly dismounted!

For several years I had been pondering about writing this book, and always got stuck or diverted. So it seemed that God was shaking me a bit, saying “Time to get off the fence and start writing.” I did!

Now, several years later, I sit in the quiet of Windy Ridge with this sense of completeness.

The words of one of my favorite poems – May Sarton’s Now I Become Myself – come to me as I muse.

Sarton wrote of the years in which she had run madly, wearing other people’s faces, with a sense of the shortness of life. At last she came to a time when everything seemed to fuse together – her work and loves, her times, her face – all becoming part of a poem, made and rooted in love.

Remembering her words, I also recalled Paul’s writing that we are God’s “workmanship” – literally, his poiema, his poetry – prepared beforehand to be “our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10).

As Charles William wrote, God is a poet, and the “lines of our lives” are the lines of his poetry.

It has been years since Sarton’s words first spoke to my own condition. I repeat them to myself with a sense of gratefulness.

For me they signal more than a sense of personal fulfillment. I add to them the other words of Paul, that we are “complete in Christ “ – receiving the gift of God’s fullness in him.

I think back to the years past – the times of being a storyteller (of His story), a friend (to His people), an artist (of His beauty) – and sense how they have fused together.

In these autumn years I discovered an affinity with the ancient Celts who had such a distinctive way of loving God and following Christ, through beauty and ballads, birds and other creatures, song and dance, water and hills.  All of God’s gracious gifts were fused, pictured in the distinctive Celtic cords, where many strands were woven into one.

As I have written this I have also realized how the many voices I have heard have been gathered into One. The Voice of the Shepherd, who calls me by name.