How Stephen Hamilton Got Started as an Outreach Pastor

Stephen Hamilton is the outreach pastor at Bow Down Church in Florida. He leads various ministries within the community and also hosts groups who are partnering in the local community. Yet, even with all he has going on, he is also pursuing a graduate degree to continue growing.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?
I serve in the inner city of West Palm Beach Fl. as an outreach pastor.

How do you serve those people?
I serve through a wide range of different ministries in the community I live in. We hold recreational outreaches, homeless feedings, bible studies, prayer walks, and other quarterly outreaches.

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
I began desiring to want to enter youth ministry in high school.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
After graduation from Liberty University God brought me here through a friend that had already graduated and started ministering in West Palm. He has given me extra favor here and has really opened the way for the ministry here to take root relationally.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Yes but they have changed throughout the years.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I would have definitely become more educated. I also would have emphasized prayer more.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
I'm not really great at this one. lol I still need work on this one. However, a monthly newsletter goes out or it is suppose to. 🙂

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
I use anything I can get my hands on that comes from an experienced, educated and fruitful life.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
The staff I'm apart of prioritizes it and I'm pursuing a graduate degree at the moment as well.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
Make sure you are being discipled by a mature believer that is miles ahead of you in your spiritual walk.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
Stay humble so that you can continue to learn and listen to rebukes and instructions, they are valuable.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Yes, without hesitation!

Stephen Hamilton

Stephen Hamilton

Outreach Pastor, Bow Down Church

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Bible Stories and How to Be More Productive in World Missions, with Bryan Thompson – EM205

Bible Stories and How to Be More Productive in World Missions, with Bryan Thompson – EM205

Bible Stories and How to Be More Productive in World Missions, with Bryan Thompson - EM205

Episode 205 - Bryan Thompson

There is something to say about the value of productivity in ministry, especially with short term missions. Bryan Thompson joins us to discuss the importance of using our time wisely and taking advantage of resources in ministry and shares a few productivity tips.

He tells stories about trips in Mexico, South Africa, and other places where God used a short term trip to build churches, bring conviction, or encourage believers. He also reminds us of how impactful Bible stories can be on a person and a culture. When someone comes into contact with the Word of God and with His presence, everything changes for the better.

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What we talked about

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Partnerships in Missions: How to be Flexible and Humble, with Gena Thomas – EM204

Partnerships in Missions: How to be Flexible and Humble, with Gena Thomas – EM204

Partnerships in Missions: How to be Flexible and Humble

Episode 204 - Gena Thomas

If someone were to ask you, “What do people do on short term missions trips?” you might think of evangelism or building projects. But what about encouraging or listening? Gena Thomas makes a returning visit to remind us of the many ways that people can serve through short term missions.

During the show, she points out the value of flexibility and humility, especially for the team visiting the long term missionaries. When a team is flexible, it allows for relationships and partnerships to be formed. By serving wholeheartedly, short term teams can bring great encouragement and benefit to the organizations they work with.

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Armchair Quarterbacks: Can They Make Us Better Leaders?

Armchair Quarterbacks: Can They Make Us Better Leaders?

I’ve noticed something interesting about sports that I think applies to ministry and leadership as well. I often see it in relation to American football but I suspect it applies to other sports as well.

Whether I'm seeing people in the stands, or connecting with some friends who are watching a game on TV, it seems like there's always one thing that I notice. And it’s not necessarily the game.

Of course, to be fair, I'm not a huge sports fan, so I might not be watching the game as much as I'm watching the people. But that's where things get interesting.

Everybody knows what should happen next.

It seems like people who are watching the game are actually better at calling plays and knowing what to do and the people who are actually in charge during the game. Or at least they think they are…

And that's one of the interesting things about leadership.

You see, it's always easier to think that you have complete clarity when you're on the outside looking in, with a completely different perspective, with limited information about what's actually going on and without concern for intricacies, and the stakes for mistakes are incredibly low.

But the game changes when the stakes are higher and you're actually in charge and responsible.

That's important to know not only if you are in charge or if you're not in charge.

If you're not in charge, it's important to remember because you're not the person who's actually being held responsible for what happens. It's not that your opinion doesn't matter. But if you don't actually have the responsibility, or you don't have the relationship, or you haven't been asked for input, in your opinion might not mean quite as much is the person or people who actually are responsible.

And if you are responsible, it's important to remember that people with outside perspective can actually be really valuable sources to help you lead well. And it's important to make sure that you cultivate meaningful relationships with people who have the experience, the expertise, and the heart to help you.

And how does this affect you?

Well, if you're a leader, remember that you need these people. Seek them out. Pray and ask God to help you find your key advisers and the people who can speak into your life and your ministry.

And if you're not leading in a particular area, remember that it's important to learn into think critically and sometimes to share but you thinking see, but ultimately someone else is responsible in those areas. Use the opportunities to learn and grow. But don't forget that it's so much easier to lead when you're not actually in charge of leading then it is and you are

And above all, remember that when your leading God's people, you're actually following him and he is providing all that you need to lead well.

No what did I miss?

Is there something in this analogy that I didn't get right? is there another way to apply this?

And how are you apply this to your life?

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How to Prepare to Lead a Powerful Missions Trip, with Bruce Coble – EM203

How to Prepare to Lead a Powerful Missions Trip, with Bruce Coble – EM203

How to Prepare to Lead a Powerful Missions Trip

Episode 203 - Bruce Coble

Done well, missions trips can be powerful and life-transforming.

So much of what comes out of a missions trip has to do with what went into it. The preparation, the planning, the prayer and research. But, like the anything, the best plans mean nothing if we can't be flexible and stay true to the primary point of what we're doing.

Listen as Pastor Bruce Coble, one of the best missions trip leaders I know, shares what he's learned about leading life-changing missions trips from his decades of experience.

Not only will you hear his heart and knowledge, but you'll see how his simple approach has born fruit that lasts for generations.

You will not be disappointed.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:38:17)
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The Simple Glory of Following Jesus One Step at a Time, with Nellie Ramirez – EM202

The Simple Glory of Following Jesus One Step at a Time, with Nellie Ramirez – EM202

The Simple Glory of Following Jesus One Step at a Time

Episode 202 - Nellie Ramirez

Wondering what you should do with your life or whether God would have you involved in short-term missions? Unclear about how to move forward?

As Nellie Ramirez shares, sometimes God doesn't give us the entire plan. Sometimes, He gives us only a single word and then walks with us as we discover what He's doing.

Listen as she shares how she and her team are able to use this simple principle. She shares how her team is able to minister to people both at home and abroad, how God used a nearly empty tank of Gas to start a church, and much more.

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How to Keep the Wheels on the Wagon in Ministry and Missions

How to Keep the Wheels on the Wagon in Ministry and Missions

Can you measure effective life and ministry by something other than planned results or the quality of prayer or compassion? Is there something that can indicate things are headed the wrong direction BEFORE the wheels fall off the wagon?

I think there is – at least in the culture I’m most accustomed to. And it’s something we talk about wanting but treat like it’s sin to take advantage of. Especially in the lives of vocational missionaries and church planters.

OK – maybe you don’t. But it’s common. And it’s this.

Rest.

We all want more rest. We want other people to rest. But we don’t actually want rest more than the other things we want.

  • We want results more than rest.
  • We want experiences more than rest.
  • We want security more than rest.
  • We want to feel important more than rest.

To be sure, it’s a fine line to walk because our relationship with rest is nuanced. And I think it’s that way because it’s an indication of how we are trusting God and hearing from Him because we can’t just devise a system and go with it. It’s part of an ongoing conversation.

We can’t say “I must take EVERY Saturday off, unplug completely from any technology, sit in the house, and ignore the needs of my family, friends, and neighbors.”

Jesus didn’t do that. And we shouldn’t either.

But by the same token, if we’re getting to the end of our strength, stamina or ability, it’s impossible to know whether God wants us to extend beyond ourselves so He can supply it for us or whether we should rest and allow God to work without us. Unless we hear from God.

Which means we must have time to pray, to hear from God, to be in a relationship with God.

And what’s scary is that it’s so EASY to get too busy doing what God has called us to do that we forget that He wants to do it with us.

Sure, we my remember that. But in practice, we may not.

I know this sometimes gets me (and keeps me coming back to my relationship with Him). He’s faithful to keep His word and bring me back because He loves me.

But here’s the deal – I don’t think this only hurts you and me. I think that sometimes it can affect vocational missionaries or ministers even more because the eternal stakes are so clear and so high.

Not only do they have all the “normal” stress, but they also have people who have ministerial expectations on them. People who might not realize that resting in God might not mean that they don’t need to take a vacation. People who might not realize that a furlough is just a season with a different kind of work.

And that’s where we come in. We can support our brothers and sisters in this. We can pray for them. We can encourage them. We can educate people. We can remind ourselves and those around us that everyone is called to rest in Christ and if we expect missionaries to be different, then we are putting something on them that God didn’t call them.

How should we pray?

I have four suggestions.

  • Pray that they would find rest in their work.
  • Pray that they would find rest from their work
  • Pray that they would find rhythms of rest in their days, weeks, and years.
  • Pray that they would find or raise up partners to help carry the load

Oh…and then take prayer and turn it into action. Look at your life and ask God if there are places where you need to walk in rest as well.

Maybe this was for you, too. How are you (or how will you begin) walking in God's rest?

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Wondering How to be Strategic in Short-Term Missions? with Tony Svendsen – EM201

Wondering How to be Strategic in Short-Term Missions? with Tony Svendsen – EM201

Wondering How to be Strategic in Short-Term Missions?

Episode 201 - Tony Svendsen

Have you ever wondered if it's possible for short-term missions trips to build on a long-term strategy over time?

If you have, you'll want to hear as Tony Svendsen of e3 Partners shares how he chooses, prepares for, and goes on short trips that line up with a long-term strategy. You'll hear him share two questions to ask to know where to build the best partnerships, five questions to ask yourself before committing to a trip, and how this approach yields incredible benefits.

With his years of experience and heart for building up the body of Christ, you will find Tony's story engaging, ripe with experience, and powerfully simple.

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How to Remain Deeply Devoted After Short Term Missions, with JennyBeth Gardner – EM200

How to Remain Deeply Devoted After Short Term Missions, with JennyBeth Gardner – EM200

How to Remain Deeply Devoted After Short Term Missions

Episode 200 - JennyBeth Gardner

Have you ever wondered why it seems so much easier to have a quality devotional life and hear God's voice while you're on a short missions trip? If so, you'll want to hear what JennyBeth Gardner has so say.

JennyBeth is a vocational missionary with the Transformational Education Network (TEN3). She spends most of her time in the US working on curriculum but she also makes short trips to build relationships, provide training and more.

As we talked, she shared some of what she's learned after years of making short trips, as well as some of the ways YOU can get involved with TEN3.

Want to listen to the Bible on the go? Download for free by trying out Audible.com (and help support the show)!

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5 Things a Talent Show Can Teach Us About Missions

5 Things a Talent Show Can Teach Us About Missions

When I was younger, I found church talent shows and seasonal specials difficult to get through. We’d be locked in, sitting in the middle of a pew for an hour or two while a bunch of people with little stage presence, some talent, and big hearts did their best.

It wasn’t sad – they weren’t under delusions of grandeur like some kid trying to get into American Idol or America’s Got Talent (or Britain’s Got Talent). But at the same time, it wasn’t good. Or at least it wasn’t consistently good.

But something changed when I grew older and now I enjoy them. Maybe not as much as the Symphony or a blues band. Or at least not in the same way. But I DO enjoy them and I think they have some things they can also teach us about missions.

Love makes all the difference

When I was younger, I was listening and evaluating and sometimes enduring based solely on quality.

  • Are they on key?
  • Are they together?
  • Does it sound good?
  • Is there a lot of feedback in the microphones?

Sure, those things matter. But as I’ve gotten older, something else matters more.

Love

Love is the starting point that makes all the difference because if we love people, we evaluate differently. When we love, our desire for a perfect performance is for their encouragement, not our pride. When we love, we evaluate differently – we LOVE seeing our friends and family doing stuff, even if it’s not professional quality.

And the same is true of missions.

When we love, we want the best for each other. We want to see each other thrive. We accept small imperfections here and there because we LOVE each other.

We don’t walk away saying “That email was awful” or “I can’t believe they only gave $5.”

Instead, our hearts are turned towards each other in Christ and we love each other to increasing glory. Sometimes through challenging each other. Sometimes by extending mercy. Often by forgiving. But always with our eyes on Christ.

Stuff will go wrong

In any live (real time) activity there are seemingly limitless opportunities for things to go wrong. Technology can fail us. There may be mistakes in the moment. Maybe there’s rain. Maybe the mail is interrupted.

But in any event, there are always things that can go wrong.

Be as prepared as possible for them – have a back-up plan if possible. And then realize that these are just opportunities for God to come through.

Jump in and help where you can

There’s a reason this comes right after “stuff will go wrong.”

Our church recently had a talent show and there were some technical difficulties with the live video. Ordinarily, that might not be a big deal but I knew that there were some out-of-town relatives who wanted to see adult kids, grandkids, etc. through a Facebook stream.

Well, the stream didn’t come up as expected. I was enjoying the show as part of the audience but once I found out, I immediately let our live video guy know so he could fix it (which he did).

But then a few minutes later, it stopped again and we couldn’t get it restarted. Our video guy had his hands full with other stuff, so I hopped on my phone, kids by my side, to redirect people to a place where they could see the live video.

It wasn’t what we’d hoped for and it took my attention away but we were able to serve well and provide people with something.

Know your limits and trust God

Even thought I wanted to jump in and help, I knew that there was no value in ME trying to fix the stream. There was nothing I could do to help.

  • I had my kids with me
  • Our video guy is much more qualified than I to troubleshoot and fix this kind of thing
  • Even if I could help troubleshoot, there wasn’t an extra computer for me to work with

And I think this can be a significant challenge for us as we think about our involvement with missions. God has given us each roles and our challenge is to do what He’s given us to do as best we can but to also not extend ourselves past the grace He’s given us.

This can take many forms.

  • Not volunteering for tasks we’re not qualified to do.
  • Not giving money we don’t have.
  • Submitting to local leadership when we’re on short-term missions.

I don’t know whether other cultures struggle with this or not. But as a Westerner, I know that I struggle with two fighting forces – selfishness and a messiah complex.

And while I would often like to sacrifice one to serve the other, God has not called me to either. He’s called me to faithful obedience.

Remember that limits can change with seasons

This is a hard one to accept for me.

When I was working on the streaming video, I wasn’t able to get up and leave to work on a computer because my kids were with me. So I was seemingly limited by having to stay where I was and work through a phone – and there were some things I wasn’t able to do well on my phone.

As I’m getting older, there are some things that I can’t do any more. And I understand that’s common. At the same time, because I was older when I had kids, there are some things my peers can do now that I can’t because I have kids at home.

My children, my wife, my house, my job – these aren’t constraints in the bad sense of the word. These are beautiful treasures God’s given me in this season. And my challenge isn’t to find ways around the seasons in my life.

Instead the challenge is to understand the season – the constraints, the limits, the opportunities – and then make the most of that season, whatever it is.

  • Maybe you want to make a lot of short-term trips but you have young kids at home.
  • Maybe you want to give more but your budget doesn’t support it.
  • Maybe you want to transition to full-time missions but find yourself working on strengthening your marriage.
  • Maybe you want to be “on the field” but you’re still raising funds after what seems like forever.
  • Maybe you want to stay where you’ve been serving but God is calling you to leave vocational ministry.
  • Maybe you want to but you find yourself having to do something else.

Whatever it is, recognize what season you’re in or what season is coming, turn your attention to God, and honor God in the season He’s given you.

What about you?

What has God shown you about missions through “ordinary” life?

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