Deaf Ministry 401b: Deaf Leadership

continuing the questions that are asked about this topic from outside people….

4) Are interpreters qualifed to be in “Deaf Leadership” roles?

Without showing favor or dismissing anyone…let me first say and remind you…Deaf learn best from Deaf. That is plain and simple. It is also a proven fact statistically. Some Deaf learn well from hearing people, that is great. I, myself, learn well from both. I have learned things from hearing people that Deaf maybe never will teach. I have also learned things from Deaf people that hearing could never illustrate or match in the teaching methods.  So in answering that question…I would have to say, it really depends on the ministry. It depends on the group that is being ministered to. One of the biggest struggles that I have had in Deaf Ministry is that we have a diversified group of Deaf with some who were mainstreamed Deaf, some who were graduates of Deaf institutes schools, and some who know sign language well, and some who depend on both sign and reading lips.  Can an interpreter qualify as a person to help a person who is fully immersed in Deaf culture…chances are not always great.  Now..I can honestly tell you that an interpreter on a “Deaf Leadership Team” is a great asset, yes. It is always good to get feedback from anyone who is serving in the ministry. But overall…a Deaf person needs to be in that leadership role. If no Deaf are available, then the interpreter can operate as a “interim” until God leads someone to fill that role.

5) Related to #4, what about socials, classes, Bible-studies, etc…should Deaf only teach that?

Again…this is a very important lesson for everyone to absorb….Deaf learn best from Deaf.  From my experience, I have been in hearing classes with interpreting. And honestly, it doesn’t stick.  The long minutes of having to focus on a lesson being interpreted does hard time on a Deaf person’s body if the same movement or the same stance is held throughout the whole class. With Deaf teachers and leaders taking over the class….you have the opportunity to learn illustrations, pictures, and new ideas. The teacher is signing while they are moving from one place to another. (It helps so that people don’t fall asleep, smile)  Now if you have a well trained interpreter who teaches classes from time to time, I see no problem with that but then again, it is always best for Deaf to teach Deaf.

6) In Deaf Ministry…what do you think are a few things that need to be emphasized to the people who attend classes, worship, socials, etc?

Wow…as I looked back into my years of ministry…the biggest thing is commitment. Many will say communication, even. But if commitment is there…communication will fall into place. It starts with commitment. Too many times, people that I have worked with have broken their commitments dues to reasons that could have been worked around or prayed for to seek God’s wisdom. Commitment to come and help setup for the socials. Commitment to be willing to serve and teach a class. Commitment to be willing to type up a bulletin for the worship services. Commitment to be willing to pick up people to bring them to church. Commitment to help anyway possible if needed. Without commitment, especially from volunteers…there probably would be alot of pastors and leaders who would get burned out from doing everything.

Next time…will finish up the remaining questions……

Deaf Ministry 401a: Deaf Leadership

If you have not read my other blog posts about Deaf Ministry 101, 201, 301 I suggest you do so as it may help with other areas that you are interested in about.

For the past few weeks or maybe for awhile, I have recieved numerous video-phone calls from many interpreters, emails from people I have never met before, and even messages from people on my Facebook page that I do not even have on my friends list. It amazes me that God has been directing people to search for answers for guidance in Deaf Ministry issues.

Several questions I will post here for now….

#1 “How do you get a Deaf person to become workers in Deaf Ministry?”

Hmmm…it is true, “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few” A wise man once told me that 80% of people (especially Deaf) need to be told what to do and the other 20% are pretty much capable to lead and know what to do. That means 2 out of 10 people will be the “leaders” while the other 8 are “followers” But does that mean the “followers” are excused from not serving? No! They can still serve.

For instance, our Deaf Ministry at our church. We have several teams of workers. We have a Deaf Worship Team which is the basic CORE group of our Deaf Worship every week. People that do the music, the tech, the leading, and the praying which involves one-on-ones or those who come forward at the invitational time. How was this team put together? We took the mature Christians and selected the ones that we felt God was leading to involve into our Worship every week. Does every do a job every week? No…some weeks, the music people will be different….some weeks, the tech person is different….some weeks the decision guiders are different.  How do we train these people? Once a year we have a training that is specifically for our team…to cover all areas, to review guidelines or rules, to overview the past year and to share feedbacks on whatever is needed to be addressed. We learn from each other and we uplift each other.

Training is a biggggggggg MUST for any person that wants to be a “leader” involved in any ministry. I tend to think Deaf Ministry has the bigger challenge because most of the trainings are either hearing-led or interpreted which pretty much doesnt stick sometimes. Why I say that? Several of our Deaf Worship Team members went to a training that was led at our church which was interpreted. The workshop training was an all day event which had group times, discussion times, and self evaluation times. But the thing of it is, if its not Deaf-led…it will not stick as well as a training that is Deaf-led. As a matter of fact, I can honestly say…I remember things I learned in a Deaf conference 4 or 5 years ago more than I learned from the training that I just took at a hearing-led workshop last month. Its not that the trainers or the teacher was not good, no. Its a deaf thing. Its just culturally natural for a Deaf person to learn BEST from a Deaf person.

Aside from the training once a year, we also have a once a month meeting which we pool together ideas for outreach events, concerns, feedbacks, prayer for each other, prayer for the people that come to our church, and prayer for the people that do not come to our church.

It amazes me, and don’t get me wrong. Deaf Ministries that are led by the interpreters are a good thing for awhile but eventually, those interpreters need to be praying and empowering their Deaf little by little to take on more jobs. Jobs such as setting up potluck for fellowships. Or visitations to people that have visited the church but hasn’t been there for awhile. Picking up people to bring them to church. Little jobs like that can do a big thing for a Deaf Ministry.

When I first came to Southeast, the Deaf Ministry was going on its 20th year as an interpreted ministry which was just a handful of Deaf people and lots of hearing folks who were taught ASL from classes. There was a Sunday School class led by one Deaf and one interpreter. There was occasional Deaf Socials which was hearing-led. Very seldom did that Deaf volunteer to do anything unless asked to do so…again the 80% vs 20% illustration from up above.

I knew that in my mind and heart, God wanted to see Deaf do the work. I can proudly say that probably 98% of the ministry work today is Deaf-led at our ministry and that is the goal that every Deaf Ministry should have. About the only thing that our hearing folks do now is interpret our sunday morning services, interpret for weekday classes, or voice interpret for our Deaf Worship.

#2 Once they become leaders for the Deaf Ministry, is seminary education encouraged?

I am probably going to bite myself answering this question but I will answer the same way that I have always answered to anyone who asked this to me. Do I think going to a seminary is important to being a leader for the Deaf Ministry? Not always. but…… do I think getting some training or participating in courses, related to a seminary, to help that leader’s knowledge in the ministry field? Yes, of course…

I have taken courses, I have been to workshops, I have been to trainings, I have had one-on-ones with many pastors via videophone or in person. But I can honestly say, I learned my best lessons before I did any of these. I also learned more from being in the field “DOING the work” than going to a workshop and learning about “how to DO the work”

There is a friend of mine who I respect as a friend who sometimes laughs at me because I am not a big fan of books. I have tons of books, don’t get me wrong. But I am not crazy. As a matter of fact, this friend of mine gave me around 15-20 books that he got free from a convention that was here in town. Still to this day, I have only read one book. There are books that my supervisor has given me to read, I read them because my supervisor asks me to read them and give her feedback. But safe to say, if my supervisor didn’t ask for me to read and give her feedback, it would probably be making use of itself leveling my table to be even.

Do I tell people to go to seminary to get an education if they feel called into leadership? Yes but I tell them to do it for themselves, not for other people. When I was first encouraged to consider going into the seminary myself, I was like “OK, I will go” but the more I realized, I realized I was going because I wanted to please the people who encouraged me, not for myself. OK..maybe you say, no we need to be going because its for God. True! But eventually if your heart is not in it, then it is truly not for God nor yourself, its for other people.

I had this young Deaf guy come to me and ask if I had graduated from any seminary. I told him that I wasnt a graduate. He kind of looked puzzled and come to realize, that my thinking was the same as his thinking. Not all leaders out there are scholars or seminary graduates. For those who did go through the years of school, I applaud with respect. For those who are not in school and going about the way that I have done, I applaud with respect evenly.  There was a song that had a lyric that said “The last to be chosen are the first He will call…and what He does through them will amaze one and all” 

Now to answer those who are pondering, “will Steve consider going to seminary now?” the answer is no, still. I will continue to take courses, trainings, and workshops….yes.

To my friend…..”Will Steve ever read all of them books I got him?” probably will but not all in once, but eventually I will, bro….smile!

#3 Once they become leaders, how do you find accountable people for that leader?

I think the leaders of any Deaf Ministry will agree with me when I say..it is IMPORTANT to have that accountability partner set up as soon as the leader is ready to take on their role. Tim Bender said it best at a fellowship when we was honoring a Minister… “Pastors (or leaders) are lonely in the field sometimes”  It is hard sometimes for a leader or a minister to do the work but have no physical support or outlet. I am always blessed to be able to depend on my videophone for support from several people that I call on for spiritual support. But suppose the videophone was never invented….many areas or cities do not have multiple ministers or deaf leaders who are able to get together for support and prayer.

One of the best things I love about my area is there are a total of 3 other leaders / ministers that I can call on for my support. Two are involved in another church. One is older and one is around my age. The other is my former pastor at the first Deaf church I attended. But if they are busy, I would have to drive one hour east to meet two other Deaf Ministers. Or I would need to drive 2 hours north to meet two other Deaf Ministers.

Accountability is important. Sadly, sometimes life gets in the way. Family needs, work needs, friends needs, and etc sometimes distract us. But its important…if leaders give give give give give support….where do they recieve recieve recieve recieve support?  

Until next time….I will finish up the remaining 5 questions….

Christmas Lights

You know when the month of December comes around…we tend to see alot of Christmas spirit, Christmas signs, and of course…Christmas lights.

One has to wonder, how and what started the tradition of Christmas lights.

Of course most of us could say..it started with candles back in the old times. Or others could say that it started when electricity was invented and someone put a bunch of light bulbs on a string.

Really that is the traditional thought….but really did we ever think what the Bible says about “Christmas lights” ?

There is no scripture that actually says “Christmas lights” in its original text but eventually if you put scriptures together from several places in the Bible…you will realize that Christmas lights was here for a long, long time.

The purpose of this is to help you to fully understand the history of Christmas lights and then to share it with those you come to meet during the holiday times.

The reason for Christmas is not to find the cheapest video game system for your kids. The reason is not to buy as many gifts as possible. The reason is not to recieve the most gifts as well. The reason, according to the Bible and to Christians SHOULD be Jesus Christ.

So at first notice, Jesus Christ is the “true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9)

Jesus Christ is also “the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the life” (John 8:12)

Jesus Christ is and always will be “THE FIRST Christmas Light”

Never thought of if that way, huh?  Interesting concept and so awesome to think that we use Christmas lights every year for our tree, for outside our home, for inside our home, etc to remind ourselves that the reason we set up lights..is to remind myself, others, and those who visit us about the first Christmas light.

Heres some encouragement:

  • If you are depressed or sad…..look at your Christmas lights…Jesus brings JOY
  • If you are suffering or hurting…look at your Christmas lights…Jesus brings HOPE
  • If you are worried…look at your Christmas lights…Jesus brings PEACE
  • If you are stuck in sin…look at your Christmas lights…Jesus brings SALVATION

Everyone is familiar with or some of the text that appears in John 3:16 but what people do not realize is that later in the few verses ahead in John 3:19 it says something that predicts people’s reason for not remembering Jesus Christ during these holiday times..

“This is the testimony, that the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light; beacuse their deeds were evil” (John 3:19 NIV)

Interesting in the same verse but in the Easy to Read version Bible it says:

“They are judged by this fact. The light has come into the world. But they did not want that light. They wanted darkness; because they were doing evil things” (John 3:19)

I want you to picture something for a moment…….

Back in the old times…they didnt have electricity…they used lamps that was filled with oil to keep the light running and the home to be lit up.

Every once in awhile…the oil lamps will have to be cleaned. The glass around the light needs to be wiped, cleaned, and dried to use for next time. If the glass was not cleaned…the light would be harder and harder to see next time it is used.

Same with us as Christians…if we have accepted the “TRUE LIGHT” (which is Jesus Christ) we need to shine our light as bright as possible so others around us can see that we are celebrating Christmas the way that God wants us to. And eventually we do things that we should not do such as sin, and we need to clean ourselves frequently as possible. If we don’t, our light will become harder and harder to see the next time it is used.

“You are the light of the world…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16)

So may your light shine bright for others to see……may your Christmas be filled with JOY, HOPE, PEACE, and SALVATION…..may God use you to witness to your family, friends, others about the “FIRST CHRISTMAS LIGHT” in Jesus Christ….

Whats up with me lately?

I feel like this is about the only thing I ever do is tell you guys whats up with me lately…there are so many other things I want to put on here but seems my time has been preoccupied with somethings that I love in my life. Such as my job, my family, my friends, and of course above all, my Lord.

The last time I posted anything on here were pictures from the windstorm damage which was about 3 weeks ago.  Alot has happened in those 3 weeks since I’ve been on here.

OUR HOME / FAMILY:

First off..of course the insurance people came and looked at my damages. Apparently it seems that the possibility of replacing the roof on my home and on my garage is an option but have not made any final decisions yet.

This Saturday is my family reunion in Clarksville, Tennesse which I will miss. It is actually the first time they will get together since my grandmother passed away in 2000. Alot of people know about the change God has made in my life and is urgent to see me, my wife, and my three kids which they have never seen before. Its becoming hard to realize that I have to miss alot of family events due to the fact of Saturday evening Deaf church. Not to say, that I wish it was a different day, it has been a challenge for me and my family and my immediate family as well but i know the Lord will bless us with other opportunities later. There is always next year and I intend to go next year for sure.

This weekend is my kids Fall Break. We are going to see about doing something for the kids this weekend. Its been a long time since we have done anything as a family other than YMCA, watching movies together, or going to the park. I mean going to see a movie, going putt-putt, or something that is kid-fun. 

Me and Mandi have come up with the idea of a “Date-Night” sort of thing with our kids. For example, me and TJ would go to movies together and watch something, then go get icecream… then the next week…Mandi and Faith go do something… then the next week…Me and Kamayla will go do something….then the next week mandi and TJ….the next week will be me and Faith…..the next week Mandi and Kamayla….it makes it more interesting because we can give our full attention to one child and they enjoy this alot.

MINISTRY / CHURCH:

Southeast is a wonderful church. The more I work here, the more I appreciate the position, the more I thank God for this opportunity. The Deaf church is awesome in its own unique way. For those of you who do not know, we have been “to hell and back” the last two weeks. Its been an ongoing battle and it will continue to be an ongoing battle. Those of you who are pastors or leaders probably can relate when I say “Its been a priviliege to serve the Lord through these battles.” Because like a captain who sits next to his captain in battle, all of the soldiers and all of the front-lines are doing their jobs to unite together to overcome the enemy but yet all along, they put their faith in the one true Captain. Sorry for the analogy there….been watching too much war movies lately.  Anyway, we have had several issues that have arised in our need of attention and lately they have seem to cooled off…but every minister knows that when the ocean tide calms down, there is yet another bigger wave soon to come.

The new series that I am preaching on is an awesome series. Its called “The Journey Deep” which is an encouragment to all to accept a journey deep into the studies of 1 Corinthians. Recently was titled “From Divisions to Unity” which reflected from 1 Corinthians Chapters 1-4.  The following weeks which last for 10 weeks will be different things that Paul taught to the church of Corinth about differnet issues. I encourage you, if you haven’t already…come and join us for the journey! 

Deaf212 will be soon on October 17th. We are hosting a movie night with pizza. We decided that since we did 3 social events full of dramas, music, games and 3 different special guest speakers…its time for a breather and let us enjoy ourselves with no responsibilities like the past events.

YODA will be on October 24th…me and TJ will be coming up with something soon. For now its at 6:30pm for kids who have deaf parents, or relatives but ages 5 to 18 years old (must still be in high school at age 18)

We are planning for two major events for the rest of the year…one is the Christmas Party which is on December 19th (Friday)  it will be an open Christmas party to all of the community. In the past, we closed it off for space reasons due to the small room that we were only able to have. This year will be a celebration time. We have asked Colin Bruner to come speak for us…we will have a time of worship music, games, devotional led by Colin and a deaf ministry appreciation time with a movie of all pictures from 2008 year. Again this is open to everyone. It will start at 6pm in Fellowship Hall 2nd floor (where New Yrs Eve Social was last year)

The second event is the New Yrs Eve Social at Graceland Baptist Church. The three chruches combined for every three months socials (Louisville Baptist Deaf Church, Graceland baptist, and Southeast Christian) now combine for one major social event at New Yrs Eve. Please keep this in prayer as we begin planning and praying for this. it will be at Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, IN at 7pm to ???? Everyone is invited as well. More info to be posted later

The next time you see me post…i will likely do something mroe ministry wise, rather than personal..

National Christian Convention of the Deaf 2008

Boy what a weekend!

Me, Mandi, and the two girls took off Wednesday August 27th and heading to Jacksonville, Florida. This was a major stepping stone for me as it was (a) my first time going to Florida (b) my first time going to a beach (c) my first time seeing an ocean that was not a picture from someone else’s trip (d) my first time experiencing a different kind of Deaf Christian Conference.

We headed down and stopped near Atlanta, Georgia. Then on Thursday, we drove the remaining 5 hours to Jacksonville. Our hotel was the BOMB…it was awesome..the pool had palm trees all around it and it was just great.

The National Christian Convention of the Deaf was something different. I am used to the Baptist Deaf conferences and meeting the Deaf that ALREADY have connected with. But at this convention, me and mandi were total strangers. We hardly knew anyone. Chad Entinger of Deaf Missions was there. Mary Alice Gardner of Ozark Christian College was there. Bryan Eubanks of Deaf Institute of Cincinnati was there. That was about all I knew (I didnt even know they were going but thank God they did)

Thursday Night was more of a fellowship, introductory, welcome time for us. It was warm and it was friendly. We met about 4 or 5 new people that night. Our main goal was to meet new people and put ourselves on their radar to let them know that there is a new deaf church, a new deaf pastor, and a new deaf pastor’s wife that needs their support, their prayers, and their feedbacks or thoughts to improve whatever was needed.

Come to find out..there was only two “full-time” deaf pastors within the NCCD denomination. Before I go any further, NCCD consists of Christian churches (like Southeast Christian as a non-denominational), Christian churches (Disciples of Christ denomination) and Church of Christ denomination. It was interesting to learn about their thoughts and beliefs but at the same time, we held true to our own beliefs and to try out best to help others to understand that Southeast was different than most. There were about 8 other Deaf pastors that spread as far as Colorado to Florida to Maryland to Iowa. But overall, only 2 full-time deaf pastors: myself and one in Indianapolis, IN.

Friday was the day of workshops… we picked 4 workshops together:

  1. Coming to God on His Terms (lesson about Humility)
  2. A Heart Like His (lesson about how to imitate God’s heart)
  3. Dealing with Offenses Toward Others (lesson on have a clear conscience
  4. The Joy of Moral Freedom for Married Couples (Sexual Purity)

The worship was differnent.  No music as it was hosted at a Church of Christ church. The speakers were basic but “good” basic as in reminding us of what we need to remind ourselves.  

What did I learn from NCCD? 

  • If NCCD is hosted at a Church of Christ church, there will be no tech station with DVD music, sound speakers, or anything related to sound devices.
  • If NCCD is hosted at a Christian church, there will be music period!
  • I learned to appreciate Southeast Christian more because of our strong beliefs, specifically in the areas of salvation, baptism, and serving others.
  • I learned to appreciate my role and job as many Deaf pastors, not only within NCCD but in other denominations as well do not have the benefits that I have with Southeast.
  • Within the workshops at NCCD, out of the four that I attended..only one I really benefited from. And that was on “Dealing with Offenses Toward Others” as in how to approach people that are offended by others or yourself…the word “Reconcile” was used alot. (I will get to this in a minute)
  • I learned to appreciate music more..(smile)
  • i learned to teach others at NCCD that no matter what denomination we come from, we need to work as a team to reach people for Jesus. If people would just ignore the rules so much and work together for the gospel, we can be much more effective.
  • i learned that I am going to make it a priority to attend NCCD every year because it seems to be the thing that God is leading me to. I cannot “assist” in anything within other denominational conferences such as SBCD or KBCD. These conferences are awesome for fellowship, workshops, and support but as a non-baptist pastor, my desire to serve as an officer or worship planning will be limited. I want the Lord to use me in places that He can use me.

Next year NCCD will be in Severn, Maryland. We do plan to go back and possibily bring some others with us to get them to meet new people.

For those of you who want to see pictures, I have them uploaded on my Facebook page. Just go to facebook.com and type in my name Steve Dye (you will see picture of me and my wife in red shirts) Enjoy!

Thoughts for 2008

As of now, we are close to the half way point of the year in 2008. So many things to be thankful for and so many things to still improve on and so many things still left to start on. I say this because to be honest…ministry is a tough job, yes but it can be so much fun if we keep our joy into it. For those of you who know me, I am a workaholic when it comes to ministry. I will be in my office doing stuff for 4 or 5 different things such as an event coming up next week, or a workshop coming up next month or even now as I speak, I am planning ahead for the Christmas Party in December for our deaf ministry. But I come to realize, it is not so much how much I do for the people or for the community, all that matters is if my heart is in the right place, then God will be pleased. If my work does not please God, then what will my work be worth?

Recently I had been challenged a little by a visitor to our church who claims to have found “proof” that Jesus Christ is not real, that the Bible is another made up story just like other books, and that life is just how we plan it and live it. I nearly laughed but come to realize…wow! Didnt we all use to be like that at some point?

I’ve come to realize that it is times like this where someone needs to step up and say “Hey, dont talk about Jesus that way!” And sure enough, I did. I sent this person a very soft-hearted message and ended it with a blunt statement indicating that “you are not lukewarm” related to a lesson that I had bluntly put out there to our group back in April of this year. To this day, I havent heard anything more from them. I do not know if they are thinking, or fuming with anger, or simply just ignoring my message. But I come to ponder, how would Jesus have done it? I am sure Jesus had his many shares of more than one “doubting thomas” in the world….but wow, goodness…makes me fuming upset when people degrade Jesus like that.

other than this one person….ministry has been good so far. we started up several new branches or extensions from our deaf ministry such as marriage support groups, YODA (youth of deaf adults) for kids, ASL classes for beginners, ASL classes for level 2, and we have several others in process.

My biggest project will soon be revealed probably around October of this year but have to work out a few things before I can officially announce it. If all goes well, the deaf ministry in the metro louisville area as well as surrounding areas will be in for a big boost in deaf ministry resources and will be called to help in the project as well. 

I just recently got back from a deaf teen camp and have been trying hard to catch back up on my rest. The camp went very well. Better than I expected if you must know. Plenty of counselors to help and alot of great memories were made. But above all, God was in it and my prayer is that God continues within them when they reach home and so on.

I plan to volunteer this week at MDO (Mini Deaf Olympics) and plan to make some connections with some of the teens who may be living in the Louisville area but dont know about the deaf churches in our area as well. I have come to know that many of the deaf that I meet do not even know that there are two deaf churches in Louisville and become really shocked that one has been around much longer than the one that I pastor. So one of the reasons I am serving at MDO is to plant that bit of information into the deaf teens who may be living in the Louisville area as well as some of the volunteers who may be helping out this week as well.  Please keep the entire MDO staff and teens in your prayers this week.

Deaf Ministry 301: Deaf & Bible Translations?

Again, this is only the view of my own perspective, and not in the perspective of the church that I serve for nor the people that i worship with. The correct Bible translation for Deaf people have always been an ongoing debate between many congregations that I have been a part of.

When I grew up, I had a KJV Bible, which was my first Bible given to me from my parents when I was around 10 years old.  Over the years, I really hadn’t been exposed much to different translations out there. My family was pretty much a KJV type of Bible reading throughout my entire childhood. Although, I had a KJV Bible, I honestly have to confess..I did read it but I didn’t fully understand it. Now I know i was not the only one in the world with this problem because KJV tends to be a little hard for some to fully grasp the words.

Today I have probably 8 different versions of Bible translations. I value the Life Application NIV version as it is more easier for me to study from. Now the debate happens that the NIV has some verses missing in its translation, thats good for us to know…but when it comes down to preach those verses, I will pull those verses from the translation that HAS those missing verses..although I don’t think studying about the “worm” (Mark 9:44 which is deleted from NIV) will help much as I have never seen or heard any other pastor preaching about it. But thats the benefit of having more than one version of Bible translations to look into and find the one that is best for signing in American Sign Language. I study from a Life Application NIV and I preach from it as well.

In my Easter sermon 2 years ago, I quoted 5 different translations of what the angel told the women who had come to see Jesus body in the tomb (after it was rolled away)….”Come and see” was the traditional words in all 5 translations. I wanted to make sure that everyone understood that even though the words of all Bible translations maybe different…the important ones are sometimes the same.

Now..enough about my preferences…what about the Deaf congregations? I have seen some use the CEV, the NIV, the KJV, the NASB, the Deaf-easy-to-read, and a few others that I cant think of. Our Deaf church, we have Easy to read versions for those who do not bring their Bibles…I beleive only one person in our congregation has a KJV, many of the others have NIV version. I tell my congregation that what I preach and what I put on my powerpoint slides are NIVs unless noted on the slide. Sometimes i will point out an interesting point of a different translation to make the connection more clear.  I have learned that the KJV is never my interest in preaching, encouraging to purchase it, or even studying from it. My spiritual self feels more connected and more comfortable and led to the NIV.

I had a couple come tell me that they went to another church to visit and came back blasting at me and upset telling me that I should not be preaching or studying from a NIV. Because it was missing verses and that many are saying that it is similar to a Jehovah Witness’ Bible version. That may be true, but I am not Jehovah Witness and I am not hiding any verses. As i said, the time comes..i will preach those verses if needed. In replying back to this couple, I told them..”Ok so you are saying every Deaf person needs to be using KJV only? If that is true, then do you think everyone will understand it and benefit from it?”  It comes back to that verse I mentioned in last post…”Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” Interesting, the next verse says “Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive”…my point exactly on the Bible translations. Not everyone will benefit from a KJV. I applaud those who do benefit from it, but I do not want to seem pushy towards it and I do not beleive our God wants us to force the one version of KJV on our people.

In closing, I have always told Deaf…you pick a Bible that best fits you. If its a children’s Bible, get it. If its a Deaf Bible, get it. If its a NIV, get it. If its a Picture Bible (from Deaf Missions) get it. I have no problem with translation Bible versions, as long as they speak truth and the individual is being spiritually fed through the Word of God at home and at church. But overall, I think the best version for any Deaf person would be a “Visual-Bible translation” which would include dramas, visuals, and signing of the scriptures.

Some may argue that my perspective seems a little liberal. If we can’t be liberal or flexible in our methods to reach the lost Deaf…we defintely do not need to be legal preaching the only one Bible translation….if we can’t be liberal…and we can’t be legal….then why don’t we all try to be something in the middle…which I like to call..holy.  Again, I close….”If God is in your Bible translation and it leads you to that one translation, who can be against it?” 

Deaf Ministry 201: Why Deaf Worship has to be different?

Before I begin this, I need to make known the topics that I share about Deaf Ministry issues such as music, preaching, worship, events, fellowship, and anything related to what I will share about it is in the opinion and sharing of my thoughts only, it is not the opinion of the church that I work for nor the opinion of the people that worship along with me. I speak for myself only and welcome all those who would like to question my thoughts or my opinions on these issues.

I know that in the last topic was about Music and Visual Aids. Over the next few posts, along with Stephen, we will try to cover alot of ground on the different kinds of needs that a Deaf worship experiences.

In this post, welcome to Deaf Ministry 201: Why Deaf Worship has to be different?

In my early church years, I grew up in church in a “mainstreamed hearing service-reading the pastor’s lips while he’s preaching-following the words in the hymnal books for music-sitting with all the family-laughing last when the congregation hears a funny joke”  You get the idea? I benefited little from the worship experience. Why because I strongly could not catch everything the preacher was saying….I was able to follow the music well as I had hearing aids and able to watch people’s lips for cues of when to start singing the next line or the next word.

In the 1980s and early 1990s…my church didn’t have no visual aids and no help for deaf. Keep in mind that I had not learned sign language until years later so I depended the majority of my understanding on lip-reading.

Lets fast forward to 2000, when I first was exposed to Valley View Church where I was introduced to the idea of visual aids, powerpoint slides, videos in church, etc. I was in awe of how much much I was understanding and how much more I was benefiting from the worship experience. And I knew right then, this is what all deaf churches or deaf ministries NEEDED in order to reach the lost Deaf in our communities.

A pastor in Maryland that I recently spoke with said something that pretty much knocked some of my brain cells out and got me collecting them back up to rethink my strategy…in 1 Corinthians 10:23 it states “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”  now I know that verse was talking along the lines of other things…but what this pastor was trying to indicate was that…visual aids are permitted only if we feel if it is beneficial to our worship experience.

In our preaching…it is beneficial.  In our worship music…it is beneficial.  In our sunday school classes…it is beneficial. In all that we do…any type of visual is beneficial…WHY?  because most percentage of Deaf in today’s churches rely heavily on visuals. 

I cannot imagine preaching or doing worship without the help of visual aids. I cannot see how the deaf churches back in the 70s and 80s did it.  But in the time that the generations have changed, we need to be changing with them. In other words, “old wineskins” need to be be out…and we need new taste.  This is exactly what I am talking about.

In 2003, the deaf church in my hometown, Louisville Baptist Deaf Church…if I am not mistaken, never really used any visual aids until they saw how much of an impact it made at their Deaf Cafe events towards the deaf that were coming and had no church home. Now, the church is using it more for their preaching and for their worship. Overall, it helps!

Deaf worship varies, yes.  I still cherish the ASL songs that have NO music. I envy those who can perform expressive music without sounds. (I have tried and have not really gotten into it) There is a deaf volunteer who sings for Louisville Baptist Deaf Church, Milton Walters…oh my gosh! He by far, blows my heart away with his expressive ASL music. That is cherished everywhere I go because it helps me in my worship as to feed me. But when I get up there to express music in ASL music WITH sound, I am sure there are quite a few who are blown away as well. It is all Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has no limits to how we should express ourselves in worship. Again, I close this with the saying….”If God is in it, who are we to be against it?”

Deaf Ministry 101: Music & Visual Aids

Hello to all my viewers out there. I am not sure who views my blog from out and beyond the Louisville area. I wanted to take this time to share some insights on my experiences with deaf ministry work with anyone who is considering starting up a new one, taking over one, or just along for the ride to support another person who is in the leading role. A few months ago, when I joined the blog world, one of my friends who is the associate pastor of another Deaf Church had something in mind for a deaf ministry series. I am not sure what he had in mind, but I guess I will go forward into it and see whether he jumps in or not. For the rest of you guys, feel free to ask questions or add your own comments.

As you may or may not know, I have 12 years of deaf ministry experience which I have held numerous roles from sunday school teacher, deaf ministry leader, deaf conference vice president, pastor, supporter, visitation group leader, Small groups leader, mentor, and others I can’t think of the top of my head now. I have led numerous workshops and preached about a dozen or more deaf revivals, ministry events, and deaf conferences.

But amid all of that I want to talk about is my second passion as a minister…music. Music has always been on my heart ever since I learned my first country music song which was in the 6th grade…the name of the song was “Always and Forever” by Randy Travis. I guess growing up with parents that loved that type of music, I really didnt have much other exposure other than what my family was listening to.

But when I got involved in the deaf ministry world, the first deaf song I saw in ASL was “Praise Him…Praise Him…Praise Him in the morning…Praise Him in the noontime…Praise Him…Praise Him….Praise Him until the sun goes down”  Interesting song, yes but it also became a weekly habit to sing that song in ASL every week. Almost like the doxolgy song that some churches today sing on a weekly basis…no offense, its not what I enjoy as a Deaf person and it does not communicate anything of interest to me.

In 2000, I joined a church that changed the entire perspective of how Deaf people needed to be reached through the lyrics of a song….this is the part where I want to label as: Welcome to PowerPoint.

Powerpoint has blessed many churches today…but praise be to God who gave man the ability to develop this because it helps ALOT of deaf churches and deaf ministries today. Especially in the area of sermons and music. In the case for sermons, a normal hearing person could look down and hear the minister speaking the verses as he follows along…whereas in the deaf ministry or deaf church’s case, the deaf can look at the powerpoint slide of the verse, look back at the minister signing the verse and later record the verse for themselves to check later for their own personal reading. It has helped tremendously in my ministry for the last few years.

it also has helped in the case for music.  If there is NO music video or visual aids to show of a song that God has led me to sing in ASL…all I have to do is type up the lyrics in powerpoint and voila…the deaf can follow it. Almost similiar to a screen with subtitles.

There is also the option of creating a movie yourself which is time-consuming and very little do it that I have seen. Programs like MoveMaker or Macromedia Flash are the typical programs to use for these if a desire is placed in my heart to create a music video with a selected song inputted. I beleive I have done maybe 4 or 5 of these type of files and have greatly benefited from using them time and time again.

Probably the most popular that most Deaf churches use are from Integrity I-Worship DVDs which consists of song mixed from hymns to contemporary Christian music. Subtitles are optioned in as well as beautiful pictures of scenery from waterfalls to ocean-crashing beaches. I beleive as we speak, there are 7 DVDs of Iworship @ home which has 14 songs each DVD. This is widely used in many Deaf churches that I have visited in various parts of the region.

Now the question is…after hearing about all the options that Deaf churches can us for music and visual aids…the question that may pop up frequently is “Why do Deaf NEED this?”

The answer is really quite simple…Deaf depends on visual because they can’t HEAR. Now some of us like myself and Stephen can hear a little bit but still the visual impact of a song makes the experience much more inspiring to worship. I cannot explain in words how much more my worship has been heightened through the use of visual aids. But then the next question pops up would be, “Isn’t using technology in churches the same as worshipping technology?”  No, not really. We appreciate techonology because it helps the worship alot more for Deaf. Although, I am a technology freak but I say that because I am always looking for better improvements to help the Deaf be more inspired through a Deaf Worship.

A hymnal book in a Deaf church is a great traditional way, but in today’s world..we need to get out of the “old wineskins” and start thinking new changes and new methods to reach the lost Deaf. In our case, the breakthrough would be through the use of powerpoint, visual aids, and things to exalt our Savior through the worship experience.

Closing this topic would be hard but I will for now…the last thing I would like to add, however, is that in the last 4 years that I have worked with Deaf ministry….I have seen more Deaf people remember Christian music through the use of a subtitled video or DVD that was used at a worship event. I can remember maybe 3 songs growing up by singing from the hymnal books or the paperback bulletins at church on sunday mornings….but I can remember almost an entire DVD of music from I-worship. 

Also, many of you may be asking “Deaf..music..sound…How can Deaf hear the music?” Do not worry, some of us can hear it and some of us can feel it. The key thing is: Bass.  If we turn it up enough, we can feel it so that the person signing the song on stage can be more inspired to sign with all their hearts…and the people in the congregation can sing with all their hearts too. Everything in a deaf church doesnt have to rely on sound, many Deaf churches today use no music…and sing in ASL only from the heart. Every singer has their own giftedness in music. Some are pure ASL, some are a mixture of ASL / English signs, and some are just directly from the heart with no music. All are used in Deaf worship. I personally do not do a song in ASL until I have studied the song for a few weeks. For example, I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe was the first song I did in ASL in 2003 for a deaf ministry event…..today, I totally do the song differently. What does that mean? The ASL version of songs can change from time to time….If God is in it, who can be against it?