Archives For Church Related

What a Week!

December 14, 2006 — Leave a comment

Sorry for the lack of posting, I’ve been swamped this week.  Here’s what a crazy week looks like for me.  This weekend will be especially brutal.

  • Monday – Work all day, Elders meeting at night
  • Tuesday – Dr. Appointment in the morning, Christmas shopping with Jenni in Winston until the stores closed
  • Wednesday – Work all day, meeting with Virginia Tech Community Design Group at night
  • Thursday – Work all day, Coach Emma’s basketball team after work, then work on sermon and work on wedding
  • Friday – Work like crazy trying to catch up, try to finish up sermon for Sunday
  • Saturday – Rehearsal for wedding I am officiating on Sunday night, try to make it to Emma’s ballet’s production of the Nutcracker by skipping rehearsal dinner.
  • Sunday – Get to church early & setup, then preach in church, then get ready for wedding Sunday night, then go to reception
  • Monday – back to work


This is one of those survival weeks. I’m just glad they don’t happen too often!  But even through this, there have been great times with my wife and kids, and times to slow down and reflect about Christmas.  But it also makes you think about what is truly important and where I need to learn to say no more.  Anyway, that’s why it has been quiet around here.

Great Expectations

December 11, 2006 — Leave a comment

It’s been a busy weekend. I was able to share a message yesterday in church about our expectations of Christmas. This weekend just reaffirmed by huge respect for bi-vocational pastors. Juggling the demands of a full-time job with the responsibilities to prepare messages, minister to those in need, and most importantly, minister and be there for your family is HUGE. I really admire the pastors in smaller churches that are called to carry that load. At Cornerstone, we currently have a group of elders and teachers that share the preaching load. For me, just preaching every few weeks and planning youth meetings & events is really tough when you are busy at work.

My message this week was on Simeon & Anna from Luke chapter 2. I think this is one of those passages that is typically overlooked in our studies. By looking at the Biblical account of Simeon and Anna, we can see how their expectations of a Savior led them to action. As Christians, shouldn’t our expectations of Christmas lead us to Christ? In my studying it really hit me hard that Simeon and Anna were in the temple worshiping and waiting. Especially considering the 400 silent years between the prophecies of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. I can’t imagine that we would be patient enough to still be looking generation after generation after generation. We forget and lose track if we don’t get an answer in a few days. Patience is definitely not woven into the fabric of the American life. But here were Simeon and Anna, devoted to seeing the Christ Child, devoted to following the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

After looking at a little background from the Jewish ceremonies surrounding childbirth, we looked at four observations about Simeon & Anna and their expectations that also apply to us today.

1. Those who look for Christ will find Him.
2. They were led by the Holy Spirit
3. They knew how to Worship
4. They were ready to die, but more importantly, they were ready to truly LIVE.

So my question for you is this. Will you take the time to look for Christ during this Christmas Season? Or will you let the busyness, the inconvenience, and the distractions pull your focus to all the ‘stuff’ that takes our mind off of Christ? We say the same thing year after year, but it is so important to SIMPLIFY and focus on the Christ of Christmas. What will you expectations be for this Holiday season?

Attitude

December 5, 2006 — Leave a comment

I mentioned in a previous post about Hyman’s Seafood in Charleston. They had a quote by Chuck Swindoll posted up throughout the restaurant. It was in the bathrooms, at the checkout line, on business cards for people to take, on their website, it was everywhere. There was no question what their “mission statement” and “motto” was. And it was not only posted throughout the restaurant, it was embodied by the people who worked there. It is a quote from Chuck Swindoll.

Do the people in our church know what we stand for? Do they know what is important to us? Have they caught a vision, an “attitude”, an excitement, about following Christ? Do those members of our churches “embody” the purpose of the church? Here is the quote for you to think about.


Attitude

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our ATTITUDES.

Family Friendly Services

November 30, 2006 — Leave a comment

While we were at the beach over Thanksgiving, we had the opportunity to visit Seacoast Church down in Mt. Pleasant, right outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It is probably about the 4th or 5th time we have visited while on vacation. They are a growing multi-site and now multi-venue church, and they were also recently labeled as one of the most influential churches in the country. I first learned about them through a feature article in Vision magazine. I have been listening to the sermons through their podcast for close to a year now, so I have kept up with all their new changes with the multiple venues.

Instead of going to their main service, we checked out their new FamilyLife Service which is held in the “Warehouse” which is in the same building as their main sanctuary. They have created a really cool environment for the FamilyLife service and the Unfiltered(young adult) service. It has the feel of a really cool nightclub. The FamilyLife service is really geared toward involving kids in worship, and I think they did a great job of that. The music was fun and our kids really enjoyed it. Right before the sermon, most of the kids leave the service and go to their kids activities. And their childrens areas were absolutely amazing. I have never seen a daycare as nice as the church rooms were. First class all the way. Since we were visiting and our kids knew no one, they decided to stay in the service with us. Looking around, it made us feel comfortable that there were other kids there. I don’t know how many times I have visited churches and feel like I am annoying everyone just because we have small kids. I love to hear kids talking and laughing during church, it’s a sign that the church is family friendly and that families are welcome. Show me a church that doesn’t like kids, and I’ll show you a church that is headed toward closing the doors. The main sermon is then shown via video from the main sanctuary. They had some technical difficulties getting the feed going, and they did a really good job of slipping in the video from the Saturday night service (I noticed because I was sitting near the back) It was really seamless. It’s glad to know other churches have tech problems. That shows the need to plan for the unexpected.

Here’s what I really wanted to talk about though. Although Seacoast is a growing church that I have really enjoyed, we still noticed problems with being welcomed and knowing what to do. The message was good, and we really enjoyed the entire service, but there were a few things that stuck in my mind. As a pastor, it’s nothing that really makes that much difference to me, but it is always important to know how it feels walking into the unknown. We had no problem parking, they even noticed our out-of-state plates and parked us closer. Nice touch. And we were greeted several times on our way in. But from the time we got into the service, not one person talked to us, even during the meet & greet time. And I know I should have been greeting others as well, but I really wanted to see what it was like to just hang back and see how others react. The other thing that was a little awkward was the response time of the service. From listening to their podcast, I knew that at the end of the service they offer communion, or a time to pray, or a time to go to the cross and nail your burdens to it, which I think is a really great way to get people to think about the service and what they have learned. However, this was never announced from the stage. As we were singing the closing songs, people just started getting up all around us and going to the front. We did leave after two songs(Drew was getting fussy), so they might have mentioned it at the very end, but by the time we left everyone was already back to their seats.

It really made me think about how people feel when they visit our church. Do people talk to visitors? Do they know what is going on, or do we just assume that everyone knows the routine? But the experience was good for me. I need to put myself in the shoes of others. And by going there I learned some good ideas about incorporating the kids into the service. Overall, a great learning experience for a small-town country boy.


We just got back from a long Thanksgiving weekend at the beach. We stayed at a beach house near Charleston, South Carolina with some good friends and their children. Overall with our 3 kids and their 4 kids, we had 7 kids under the age of eight running through the house and it was great. The kids had such a fun time playing and enjoying the beach. We were able to go to the South Carolina Aquarium at Charleston on Friday and see Santa in his full Santa suit dive into the big tank and feed the fish. Drew talked about Santa underwater the whole 5 hour drive back from the beach.

The picture above is at the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse on the beach. The kids played on the rocks and had a blast. The weather was definitely warm enough to enjoy the beach.

I can’t leave out the food either. We ate ribs at Sticky Fingers and got seafood down at Hyman’s Seafood in downtown Charleston. I highly recommend both as great places to take kids. The food was great as well. Have you ever been to a restaurant where you feel the staff and owners actually care about you as a customer? That is the feeling we got from Hyman’s. It was more than just serving food, it was about the atmosphere. They created an atmosphere of caring. It wasn’t because of the decorations or the surroundings, it was because of the people who worked there. The owner even came by our table and talked to our kids and gave them a coupon for free ice cream. You can see why they have been featured in Southern Living so many times. I had to ask myself, does our church convey the same feeling when people come. I’m not talking “seeker-sensitive”, I’m talking do we love and care for the people who come through our doors? If a restaurant can convey that feeling when all they have to offer is food, can’t a church do even better?

Overall this was one of our best vacations ever. Just to get away and spend some time with the family was great. We also enjoyed the time with our friends.
Good times, good weather, good food, and great kids.

10 is the new 15

November 27, 2006 — 1 Comment

Interesting article on MSNBC this morning. It immediately brought up two questions in my mind. Are kids really growing up faster? What can we do about it as parents and Youth Ministers? I think the answer is that they are being forced by society to grow up faster. I am already seeing signs of this struggle in my eight year old daughter.

I think that this issue will force churches to rethink their older children/jr. high ministries. The topics of sexuality, relationships, and appropriate behavior that we spend time talking about in youth ministry will trickle down into younger age groups. This saddens me, because kids need to be kids. They don’t need the added pressure and complexity. As parents, we need to really think about what we let our kids do. It’s too easy to just go with the flow of society and not take a stand and honor our God-given responsibilities as parents.

Here’s a clip from the article.

In some ways, it’s simply part of a kid’s natural journey toward independence. But child development experts say that physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of teenagers decades ago are now common among “tweens” — kids ages 8 to 12.

Some of them are going on “dates” and talking on their own cell phones. They listen to sexually charged pop music, play mature-rated video games and spend time gossiping on MySpace. And more girls are wearing makeup and clothing that some consider beyond their years.

Cannonball !!

November 20, 2006 — Leave a comment

I saw this on America’s Funniest Home Video a few weeks ago. I have a feeling that this kid was in a little trouble after the service. Hilarious.

A while back, I blogged about a problem that is all too common in youth ministry. I talked about youth being disconnected from the larger church and only being connected to the youth ministry. We see the results that flow from this. Teens and young adults that leave the church after graduation because they don’t fit in. I don’t want to just complain, so here are some practical ideas to help the transition.


Most churches are geared toward middle aged women. When you think about your typical service, would it appeal to most guys? Would it appeal to most young adults? Things like the music, the style, the furnishings, the graphics, & the sermons all either engage an age group, or frustrate an age group. Churches should constantly reach up to engage older members, and should constantly reach down to engage younger members. When we get set in our ways, we exclude many who are not in our “target” audience. You may say that you don’t have a target audience and that you are trying to reach all age groups. Really analyze and look at what you are doing, it is almost impossible to be “all things to all people”, without having a plan on how to accomplish it. We must be intentional about becoming comfortably “uncomfortable” in reaching outside our normal services. Think about ways to reach out to the older people in your congregation and in your community to make them feel challenged and welcome. Think about ways to do the same to the younger people in your church. And constantly communicate the fact that your church is committed to impacting people of all ages. This also leads to my belief that …

Youth (teens) should be in the main service with their friends and families. If we truly believe in the importance of intergenerational ministry, then the youth need to be involved in the larger church. When we create a service just for teens, then you create another church within a church that reinforces the fact that our adult services are not relevant to youth. I had never thought about this until I attended a youth workers seminar by Phil Newberry, the Youth Pastor for Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. He talked about the times he had been asked to establish a youth service to open up space in their main service. He refused based on the principle that the youth needed to worship with their families. The cynic in me wanted to say that youth sit with their friends, not their families. But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with him. Even if you don’t sit together, you experienced the same service. It gives parents a chance to open a discussion with their teens about what they have heard and learned.

And finally, if you say that church cannot reach more than one age group effectively, then you should look to Disney & Pixar for inspiration. They have managed to appeal to children, teens, adults, and senior citizens by making movies that connect and engage people of all ages. It requires us to put aside our own preferences, and think about the best way to reach and impact our community. That is what a “missional” church is all about.

This is getting long, so I will share more thoughts later

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