Notes from Deaf Leadership Conference – Thrive 2014

As mentioned, I said I would share the notes that I learned from the conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was hosted by Deaf Missions. The bi-annual conference is for leaders or pastors of Deaf Ministry / Churches. It was my first time and I was very encouraged, as well as reminded, of many of the things shared throughout the three days there.  May you be blessed and encouraged as well.


Session 1 – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

“From Discouraged to Encouraged”

The word THRIVE means to grow. We all have different ways of growing. But we need to focus on three areas to THRIVE:

  1. Thrive individually through your relationship with God
  2. Thrive with your church family. Relationships with people in your church are important
  3. Thrive with your mission field. Community outreach, mission trips, etc.

How do we THRIVE well? We must “SOW” biblically.

Galatians 6:9 says: “We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up”

Some statistics that I want to share with you that I learned from the internet:

  • Every month, 1700 pastors leave the church
  • every year, 4000 new churches are planted
  • every year, 7000 churches close

Wow! Thats sad! Why are our pastors leaving? Why are the churches closing?

Here are some reasons why our pastors leave the church:

  • some realized that they were not called to be a pastor
  • some kinds of immoral sin
  • personal reasons between themselves and God
  • overworked – average 55-75 hours a week of working
  • not enough financial support for the work they do
  • lack of support spiritually
  • overwhelmed by problems in the church – having to do it all themselves
  • stress or health related
  • feeling of a failure because the church is not successful

How do we encourage our pastors or leaders who are thinking about quitting?

Lets read from Psalm 73:1-26

The character of focus is named ASAPH. Who is he?

  • He is one of the priests who led worship during the dedication of Solomon’s temple
  • He saw many bad things happening
  • He saw Solomon led astray by women and idolatry
  • During these hard times, Asaph wrote Psalm 73

Lets read from Psalm 73 and find out more about Asaph

  • In verse 1, Asaph saw God bless the pure in heart
  • In verse 2, Asaph saw NO blessing for himself
  • In verse 3, Asaph envied the success of the evil people
  • In verse 4-9, Asaph saw that they had no struggles while doing evil things.
  • In verse 10, Asaph saw they were drinking plenty of water, while mocking others (only rich people had clean water)
  • In verse 12, Asaph saw that the evil people had no worries.
  • In verse 13, Asaph was frustrated because he tries so hard to keep a pure and innocent life
  • In verse 14, Asaph is hurt all day by new struggles.


After all of these experiences, what did Asaph do to change his mind? Lets keep reading…

  • In verse 17, Asaph went into a personal sanctuary and understood its importance.
  • In verse 18, Asaph was reminded who wins in the end, God.
  • In verse 22, Asaph is reminded that his thoughts about the evil people are silly
  • In verse 23, Asaph is reminded that God is with him.
  • In verse 24, Asaph is reminded that God leads him with wise counsel
  • In verse 25, Asaph is reminded that God is his ONLY need.
  • In verse 26, Asaph is reminded of God’s strength and where he draws his own strength from.
  • In the end, Asaph says, “I will declare your wonderful works”


You see the attitude change?

Our challenge to those who are considering quitting.  Look at Asaph and read Galatians 6:9 again:

“We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up”


Thursday Morning Workshop – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

“Difficulties in Ministry

How do we resolve difficulties in ministry? First LOOK AT YOURSELF

Some of the things we encounter in ministry are:

  • Difficult people. Gossipers, those who LOVE to stir up trouble
  • financial issues with people
  • counseling issues
  • exhaustion, not enough time to do everything.

Lets read from Mark 6:7-8.

7 “Jesus called his twelve apostles together. He sent them out in groups of two and gave them power over evil spirits. 8 This is what he told them: Take nothing for your trip except a staff for walking. Take no bread, no bag, and no money.”

lets review this scripture, piece by piece.

  1. Jesus called his 12 disciples together to do his work. He was going to tell them it was not going to be easy.
  2. Jesus gave simple instructions. *take no bag, food, money. ONLY take a staff. (wood stick)
  3. Jesus wanted his 12 disciples to depend on God, not depend on things, no distractions, no baggage.

Baggage is an interesting word. Baggage is similar to past problems such as bitterness, anger, rejection, hurt.

  1. everyone has baggage. (every has experienced something bad in their past)
  2. find the ROOT of the problem
  • if the same problem pops up in your ministry, something could be wrong with the leadership – not the people.
  • get rid of the problem “take nothing for your journey – Mark 6:8)
  • be root in love (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Our conversations with God needs to be like our conversations on the TDD machine. Everytime we type, at the end…we always push “GA”

The problem is when we talk to God, we usually give a “SK” not a “GA”

Session 2 – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

What are you Sowing?” – Galatians 6:8

We are often deceived in two areas: (a) unhealthy friendships – 1 Corinthians 15:33  (b) Sowing /reaping – Galatians 6:8

Often when we sow in our own fields, we want to reap the harvest of another field. We can’t compare fields. Just like churches, we want to be the main guy for another church but not for our own church.

We MUST tend to our own fields….sow it, water it, weed it out, water some more….

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you sowing in your own spiritual life?

Back in the days, Israel and its kings follow God…the rest of the kingdom followed God too.

So if the pastor or leaders are following God….the rest of the congregation will follow God too.

A church’s character is a reflection of its leadership.

All leadership should try to follow qualifications from 1 Timothy 3:2-5

  1. leaders should be blameless
  2. leaders should be husband of one wife
  3. leaders should have self-control
  4. leaders should be sober-minded
  5. leaders should be respectable
  6. leaders should be hospitable
  7. leaders should be able to teach and be teachable
  8. leaders should not have addictions
  9. leaders should not be violent
  10. leaders should not be quarrelsome
  11. leaders should not be greedy
  12. leaders should manage family well
  13. leaders should have a good reputation with unbelievers
  • do you love people? – Mark 12:30-31

It is so easy to ignore the drama and troubled-people in our churches

  • does prayer become important in your life? – Colossians 4:2

do you believe God can or does more than you ask for? – Ephesians 3:20

If we do not have prayer, we will not THRIVE in any way.

  • Do you attend opportunities (outside of your church) for spiritual growth? Deaf conferences, deaf revivals, deaf workshops. Doesn’t always have to be deaf, but if you are Deaf pastor or leader…your networking is important to other deaf pastors / leaders.
  • do you evangelize? – Matthew 28:19
  • do you empower people to minister? – Acts 14:23


Session 3 – Matthew Bellwood (DeafTeen Quest Regional Coordinator)

“Guaranteed Success”

What does success look like? What does Thriving look like?

There are not the same thing because of certain issues.

As leaders & pastors, we need to be reaching out to the lost everyday. If we do not reach out, we will not thrive.

Thriving depends on two important things: (1) DIG DEEPER (2) REACHING OUT

Success is measured mainly by your ASSETS.

There are three kinds of people in this world:

  1. some people make things happen
  2. some people watch things happen
  3. some people say “What happened?”
  • We need to create an urgency.  Urgency to THRIVE in many ways.
  • We need to have a clear strategy. In order to THRIVE, we have to have a good strategy

Many people are great on strategy plans, and they are effective ministers.

If a person studies a lot on the Bible, but have no strategy plan…it will become a failure on reaching the lost.

Video-Logs are great but they become too long, extended, or shows not a good strategy plan. Keep it short and simple. Especially for our deaf youth people.

  • We need to build / empower better teams

Jesus did this with 12 disciples who became effective leaders for his ministry.


Session 4 – Matthew Bellwood (DeafTeen Quest Regional Coordinator)

“Guaranteed Risk”

Our top skill in ministry, no matter what field you are in, is LISTENING.

I love the scripture in Luke 24:15-19.

It shows the listening skills of Jesus.

  1. Jesus came alongside them
  2. Jesus asked questions
  3. Jesus already knew the answers
  4. Jesus listened

There are two quotes that I really love and want to share with you:

“An important part of praying is a willingness to become part of the answer”                                                                        – Duane King, Founder of Deaf Missions

“Every pastor chooses how he will lead a flock. As a risk taker, as a care taker, or as an under taker as it slowly dies” – Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church

  • We need to be HONEST with each other

we must recognize our weaknesses.

Allow God to transform our SCARS into His STORY.

  • We need to have diversity and unity on our teams.

Our teams need to have different kinds of people from different backgrounds. Lets face it, we all want people on our teams that are exactly the same as us. They think like us, they work like us, they do everything exactly the way we would do it. But its not going to happen. We need to work together, learn together, and grow together.

its a risk to work with different weird people, but its worth it.

  • We need to SHOW UP.

its a risk to show up. be prepared for the unexpected. And make the most of every opportunity


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s