Archives For Leadership

I recently read an article that made a point that I have been thinking about. Tony Morgan shares

It’s possible to obsess about excellence–which is more about the execution–and completely ignore the outcomes. Churches, in particular, need to be more outcomes-minded. We need to make sure what we’re doing is actually having impact and getting results.

Excellence sounds like a great ideal for the church. We should give our best and do our best for God. But we must be careful. When excellence becomes our goal, we lose focus, we damage relationships, and we lose opportunities to minister to others.

In the rise of the seeker-focused and seeker-sensitive church of the last few decades, the concept of excellence found its way into the mission of many churches.  But I have a problem with the pursuit of excellence. A natural by-product of excellence is discontent. How good is good enough? If we are not careful, we feel that we need to do a little better; just a little more, and then it will be excellent. The pursuit of excellence can easily lead to a perfectionist attitude where everything is criticized and deconstructed. When that happens, the church loses focus.

The pursuit of excellence can rob a ministry of it’s joy. The goal of worship is not excellence, IT IS WORSHIP!! The goal of ministry is not excellence, IT IS MINISTRY!!

Let me give you a real-life example. I read another blog post that shared the opinion that a church should never video their service or share their videos online unless they have a multi-camera setup with high-end equipment. The article relegated video ministry to only megachurches with large budgets, with the vast majority of churches unable to reach the acceptable level of excellence. Here is the problem. Context matters! What is excellent in one church is far from excellent in another. Again, how good is good enough? If you are able to use video and minister to people, then go for it! Don’t compare yourself to other churches. Use what works in your context to make a difference for Christ.

Here is another example from the worship world. I have seen the pursuit of excellence damage relationships. Almost everyone has a story of a worship leader or band member who is critical of others. Again, when excellence is the goal, every worship service becomes a performance where the goal is to not mess up. That is not worship! Worship is about laying down our lives before God, and honoring God for who He is and what He has done. We do need to be prepared, but I have seen God move in incredible ways when we take the focus off of our performance and put the focus on the greatness of God.

If you make a mistake, it’s okay. If you don’t have moving lights and fog machines, you can still worship. If your guitar player oversleeps, you can still have a powerful time of worship. If you have an old video camera, use it! Why? Because it’s not about us, it’s about God. We need to stop comparing ourselves to the church down the street, so that we can become the church that God has created us to be.

Design

I haven’t had a chance to do much writing lately, so I have decided to share some great articles with you. I use a web service called Pocket to collect interesting articles online to read later. From time to time, I will be sharing interesting links and articles that I have read.

Do you like working in a Coffee Shop, but you can’t find one close by? Check out this page for ambient coffee shop sounds – Coffitivity

Here are some more to check out

Sabbatical-Week3

The past three weeks have been incredible. It’s amazing how clearly I start thinking when I actually slow down. The image above is our view each night at sunset, so it has been easy to relax and soak in the beauty of God’s creation.

The first week, we spent most of our time at the Fiddler’s Convention in Galax and with friends. The second week was spent working around the house and cleaning up. The third week has been spent at the beach, enjoying time with the family. And now, as we enter into the last week, my mind has started shifting back into thinking about the church and our future. I want to create a rhythm of life that is more sustainable and that I want to use what I have learned through these last few weeks.

What I love most about the extended time of rest is the chance to read and reflect. I have read a number of books and I have spent time in God’s Word, and I am regaining a love for learning and growing. (If I have this much time to read every month, I would definitely go broke spending money at Amazon!)  I ask for your continued prayers for me and my family as we take this time to connect and grow.

Here’s a quick rundown of my reading last for the last three weeks. I still have a stack of books I’m hoping to finish this week.

Sabbatical-Week1

It’s been quiet here on the blog for a few weeks. Preparing for a sabbatical is a lot of work! But now, after a week of rest, I’m starting to unwind and think a little more clearly.  My pace of life has been wide open for a long time, and this break has come at the perfect time for me. It’s hard for me to slow down and not hurry, but I love what John Ortberg says, “Hurry is not about a disordered schedule, it is about a disordered heart.”

This first week my focus has been on rest. I’ve read a few books about the Sabbath and rest. In the book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt, he shares the following troubling statistics

Today’s troubling statistics on pastors paint a bleak picture.

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.

This really gets my attention, because I don’t want to become another statistic. I want to be a healthy pastor and leader, and I want to be a great husband and father.  At first, my plan for this sabbatical was going to be a lot of studying and reading and planning for the future. But after talking with the elders at Cornerstone, they really encouraged me to rest and to just simply listen to God.  Already, after just one week, I have found myself smiling more, laughing more, and I feel much less anxiety and stress.

Eugene Peterson shares

If we are going to take sabbaticals, let them be real sabbaticals: a willed passivity in order to be restored to alert receptivity to spirit-prayer, silence, solitude, worship…The original intent of sabbath is a time to be silent and listen to God, not attend lectures; a time to be in solitude and be with God, not “interact” with fatigued peers. If help is to be given to the pastor in midcourse, it is not going to come by infusion of intellect but by renewal of spirit.

The most enjoying part of this time has been the discussions with my family about our rhythm of life. I am thankful to our church for allowing me time to recharge. I am looking forward to getting back in September and preaching, but I’m truly excited about the next three weeks with my family.

Seven Years

June 18, 2014 — 3 Comments

preachingIt is hard to believe how my life has changed over these past seven years. Today, seven years ago, I started full-time as pastor of Cornerstone. For the 12 years before that, I worked as a mechanical engineer crash testing airplane seats and designing weight lifting equipment. That seems like a distant memory now, and I can honestly say I’m doing what God has called me to do.

Over the past seven years, I have seen my children grow and mature in the Lord, with all three putting their faith and trust in Christ. I have seen our church grow and mature in the Lord, with many people serving in our community and around the world.  And I have seen myself grow and mature. When I started, I was a young 33 years old with my only experience in ministry as a part-time youth minister. Now, after seven years, I am finally starting to see myself as a pastor.

I have learned much about myself and about leadership. It has not been an easy journey. In fact, it has been much harder than I would have ever imagined. I serve an amazing church, and the congregation has been incredibly supportive and caring. But I have also experienced many critics along the way, and they have taught me the importance of having a tender heart and thick skin. I quickly realized that my natural leadership abilities were not enough. I had to learn to depend on God and I even went back to seminary to earn my Master’s Degree in Christian Leadership.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is to give away ministry. I am naturally a doer, so Ephesians 4:11-12 has been a constant reminder for me to equip and empower others. I have learned that I can’t do everything, and that I need to learn a rhythm of life that can sustain me for a fruitful life of ministry. Before I was hired, the church changed our by-laws to ensure that I would receive a one-month sabbatical every three years.

With the pace of life over these past seven years, I have not taken advantage of that time to replenish and refresh my soul. So this August, after seven years, I will finally be taking a month-long sabbatical to work on my relationship to my God and my family. I am excited to slow down, and I am excited to spend extended time in study and prayer. I am making plans to work on getting back into shape, and I am also making plans to disconnect from all church work during the month. It is already exciting to see people step up, and I am thankful for the opportunity. My goal is to be able to be in ministry for the rest of my life, and the Biblical principle of sabbath and rest cannot be ignored. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next seven years!

mile·stone
/ˈmīlˌstōn/
Noun: An action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

This has been a summer of milestones for both me and my family. As an engineer, I became very familiar with Gantt Charts and milestones. Managing projects, budgets, resources, and timelines was a common task, but we were always able to celebrate significant milestones along the way. So in that same spirit, I want to take a break from my normal blogging to celebrate a blogging milestone.

Two weeks ago I celebrated my 40th birthday, and this week on my blog I hit both 1000 posts and 1000 comments. I didn’t plan it that way, but it’s pretty cool that I hit the 1000 post/comment milestone at the same time. I started blogging in July of 2006, so if you look through the archives, you will find seven years of my thoughts about faith, life, and technology. My posts aren’t as frequent as they used to be, but I am still here after more than a half a million page views on FaithEngineer.com. I appreciate the online community that has grown from this site, and I look forward to many more posts and comments.

Thanks for stopping by the blog and letting me share my thoughts! Keep on sharing your thoughts and please feel free to leave comments on any of my posts! 

Blog-Stats

Page 1 of 1512345...10...Last »