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Leighton Ford Ministries

Reflecting on Thanksgiving 2020

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Has there ever been a Thanksgiving where it’s been harder to give thanks than in 2020? Yes, we have much to be thankful for . . . but after this year, we just don’t feel it, right?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 reminds us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances . . . ” (ESV).

In all circumstances? Thankfulness is a practiced spiritual discipline. Sometimes you have to “do it before you feel it.”

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to join me in reflecting on 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and practice thankfulness . . . “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

-Dr. Jim Singleton, Executive Director of Missional Leadership, Leighton Ford Ministries

Declaration of Independence?

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Declaration of Independence? Nope, older. This is the original charter of a 300-year-old church I had the privilege of working with this weekend. The charter was signed by John Morton, who later signed the Declaration of Independence.

Even though they’ve been active in ministry since 1720, this church is now boldly looking to the future. This weekend, I worked with leadership on a clear vision (what do we want to accomplish), education (how to secure buy-in from the congregation), and opportunity (some way or place each person can participate in being missional in a very tangible way).

The average lifespan of an American church is approximately 56 years. What does it take for a church to survive 300 years? What does it take for a 300-year-old church to keep thriving? I’m excited to be part of the team to figure that out.

-Kevin Graham Ford, Chief Catalyst, Leighton Ford Ministries

A Giggle of Pure Joy

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This poem came to me several years ago on a retreat at The Society of St. John the Evangelist, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their garden brought back a memory from many years before in Poland.


The fragrance of roses rising
made Mary Oliver spin with joy.
This morning I was spun
by a chorus line of tulips
dancing in the morning sun
and breezes off the Charles River.

Their saucy white heads
tossed in rhythms that
brought to mind a company
of white-wimpled
Lutheran sisters
in a Polish country convent
playing frisbee for the first time
on their summer lawn.

One young and pretty sister,
reaching overhead to make a catch
tumbled backwards
into a huge bush,
feet and legs and skirts flying up,
with a giggle as joyful as a bell.

It was holy laughter.
That is how I saw it then.
Today the tulips tossed
their own heads back
and smiled Amen.


-Leighton Ford, in the garden of The Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 2007

Looking Back at the Queen City Leader Summit

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When I was 14, a businessman named Evan Hedley took a chance on me as Director of Youth for Christ in my hometown. He mentored me, prayed for me, encouraged me, and corrected me.

Last month, I was invited to address the Queen City Leader Summit hosted by CBMC – Charlotte. I asked those Christian business leaders . . . and I’m asking you today . . . is there someone 10 years younger than you that you’re mentoring? Encouraging them? Listening to them? Learning about them? Letting them know that you care? I would encourage you to do that!

The Leadership Triangle

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Most leaders have only one tool in their toolbox. If it’s a hammer, everything looks like a nail. They pound and pound, but nothing changes. In the end, their solution becomes the problem.

This week, I’m introducing The Leadership Triangle to a group of senior pastors, executive pastors, non-profit leaders, and academic leaders at the PLI Senior Leaders Forum (formerly, Pastor Leadership Institute).

In The Leadership Triangle, I introduce the idea that there are three different types of challenges – tactical, strategic, and transformational. Before deciding what tool to use, we first have to know what kind of challenge we are facing.

If you’d like me to discuss The Leadership Triangle with your organization, please send us an e-mail. You can also find my book, “The Leadership Triangle,” on Amazon.

-Kevin Graham Ford, Chief Catalyst, Leighton Ford Ministries

Embrace Messiness

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Right now I’m in the middle of a busy season working with several churches on visioning and strategic planning. Typical organizations express vision in dry, bureaucratic language that gets stuffed in a file cabinet and forgotten. But that’s not our goal! We want to help churches develop an authentic and accessible set of core values . . . a “True North” the congregation can truly embody and embrace.

“Embrace Messiness” is a core value of University Place Presbyterian Church, which I worked with in a visioning process in 2013 and 2017. This applies to how the church handles the messiness of life – young families with messy kids, single parent homes devastated by divorce, or neighbors struggling with homelessness and addiction.

By embracing this core value, the church now has the largest preschool in Washington State, serves 3,000 meals per month to families in need, and has established a Safe Haven house for immigrants! As a result of aligning to their True North, Pastor Aaron Stewart reports worship attendance has increased dramatically for the first time in over a decade, with over 5,000 in attendance over a 7 day period (pre-pandemic).

When a church truly aligns . . . or re-aligns . . . to their True North, amazing things begin to happen.

-Kevin Graham Ford, Chief Catalyst, Leighton Ford Ministries

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!

By | Food for thought, News | No Comments

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.

Christian Men at Work

By | Leadership, Mentoring | No Comments

My daughter has said, “Dad’s not a workaholic. He’s a thinkaholic.” And it’s true! In addition to the busyness in the world around us, there’s also the busyness inside our heads. When do we ever have time to just stop, lean back, listen carefully, and be quiet in God’s presence? It doesn’t have to be weeks and weeks. It can be just a few moments when we stop in the middle of busyness and ask, “what is the Lord saying?”

Recently I was invited to join Dave Hilgendorf on the “Christian Men at Work” podcast. If you have a few moments, join us as we discuss listening, discernment, Sabbath pauses, and Jesus as an Artist.


Listen Here

The Next Generation

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As a grandfather, mentor, and evangelist, I am so proud of . . . and inspired by . . . these words from my granddaughter, Anabel, as she speaks to her generation about COVID-19:

“Normally, we’d all say that those events are too hard to endure. But, I wholeheartedly believe that God chose our group specifically to be the group to show where our joy and hope comes from, and how to stay strong and brave during a harsh time like now. And I have no doubt that we can do that. As the Class of 2020, it’s our duty to show what really matters to us now, and for years to come.”

Who will be the mentors for Anabel’s generation? Who will help her peers live out their passion for Christ?

That question is why Leighton Ford Ministries is actively pressing on with training new mentors and launching new Mentoring Communities, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Thank you for praying with us as we work with a new generation to raise up leaders trained to lead like Jesus, for Jesus, and to Jesus.