Archives For Leadership

Dare You to Move

January 16, 2008 — 1 Comment

It was very encouraging to read this blog post this morning. Newspring Church has stepped out on faith numerous times when the money wasn’t there, because they felt God leading them to do something. And God has blessed their ministry because of it. It’s really where we are right now. We feel God leading us to make some location changes. Most of the money is there, but part of the amount will require us to trust God and step out on faith. God just used this post to remind me that He is in control.

It never fails … Almost every week I look back after I finish my sermon and realize that I left something out that I wanted to share. I always hope that I shared enough to get the truth across. I know that God sometimes takes control of the sermon and redirects what I am saying, but there is always that uncertainty when I’m done. I wonder if I prepared enough, communicated effectively, and honored Christ by what I’ve said. My hope and prayer is that I have said what God wanted me to say.

Yesterday, when I was talking about pain, suffering, risk, and loss, I wanted to share 1 Corinthians 10:13. You know the one that says God won’t give you more than you can bear … But wait a minute, that’s not really what the Bible says. It says you won’t be tempted beyond what you can bear. In life, you will go through situations that are more than you can bear alone. It’s only in those times that we realize our full dependency on God.

I like what a pastor down the road shared on his blog

It does not imply that God won’t let you be stressed beyond what you can bear.
Or challenged beyond your ability.
Or pushed beyond your threshold.In reality, God gives you more than you can bear all the time. On purpose.
It’s only when you can’t bear the load that the strength of Christ kicks in…
and He becomes everything you need and more.

I love one day conferences. You get information overload from great speakers and sessions, and you aren’t gone from your family for an entire week. There are two conferences that I am planning on attending in the early spring.

The first is Unleash at Newspring Community Church in Anderson, South Carolina. It will be held on Thursday, March 13th this year. I went last year and can say that it was incredible. The main sessions and breakouts were extremely helpful and encouraging. And the music … , well let’s just say that it was loud and proud. It makes me wish that I lived in a college town. I plan on going on taking some of the people who are interested in starting a young-adult service at our church. I love listening to Perry and I appreciate them putting the video from their entire service online each week. It’s amazing to see how God has brought them from a small college church 7 years ago to a huge growing church today. I’m just glad that they are willing to share what they have learned along the way.

The second conference that I am excited about is the Whiteboard Sessions in Reston Virginia. Ben Arment, pastor of Reston Community Church is pulling together a great lineup of speakers. It will be on Thursday, May 22nd. One day. 8 influential leaders. 30 minutes each. And 1 compelling idea. Here is the list of speakers: Tim Stevens, Mark Dever, Mark Batterson, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, John Burke, Vince Antonucci, and Ed Stetzer. The conference website isn’t up yet, but Ben is putting updates on his blog here. This looks like a great conference and I am excited to hear form all of these great church planters, bloggers, and leaders. I have read books and articles by all of these guys, so I’m looking forward to hearing and meeting them in person.

Bill Hybels from Willow Creek made quite a stir in the blog world a few months back when he talked about the results from a survey that Willow conducted along with 7 other churches. They wanted to measure whether their current structure was facilitating true Christian growth, so they surveyed 5000 people about their Christian life. The results were, as Bill Hybels explained, the wakeup call of his adult life.

What they found is that participation in church activities does not necessarily produce spiritual growth. This was a serious revelation because their church, and many others like it, have been structured to move people from accepting Christ to serving within the church. By serving and participating in the activities of the church, they have assumed that people will naturally grow closer to Christ. What they have found is that spiritual growth is much more dependent on a believer following spiritual disciplines in his or her life. Prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, solitude, and other disciplines are much more evident in a mature Christian. You can see much more about the study at the Reveal website. Another really great review of the study was done by a Christian sociologist. He points out some issues with the format of the survey that may change some of their conclusions, but it is a good discussion of the issues involved.

So how does this affect a church like ours? First we are not following a model, whether it is Willow, or Saddleback, or Fellowship, or Northpoint. We have our own identity and vision. I’m not saying that we can’t learn from larger churches, but we must extract the principles they have learned and apply them to our culture, context, and vision. From the start we wanted to be a church that is serious about making disciples. A church that teaches and equips people to live as Christ followers every day. A church that is missional in nature. We want to make an impact in our community by serving others, by meeting needs, and by sharing truth. Instead of building programs, we want to build up people who can take the message of Christ into their world. I look forward to reading the book Reveal by Willow, but I’m not planning on copying what they are doing. Willow is not located in a small Appalachian town, but we are. And I plan on doing everything I can to share the love and truth of Christ!

My Personality Test

December 18, 2007 — Leave a comment

I took a personality test online. No real big surprises here, but it still is interesting. In reading all the descriptions I think I am more of an INTP personality type rather than the ISTJ that this test labeled me. But I can see aspects of both types in my life. These tests can be helpful in understanding your relationships with others.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Maybe the title grabbed your attention, but this post really isn’t about anything happening next week. It is about all the hype that so many pastors are sharing on their blogs and websites. It has been bothering me for quite some time, so I had to share my thoughts.

It’s great to be excited about what God is doing in your church, but week after week of hype really gets old. Differentiating between hype and excitement is not always easy, but when a pastor states that every week is going to be the greatest ever, when they say that every series is going to be unbelievable, and when they say that every song their band plays is “off the hook”, then I have trouble believing what they say.

First of all, let’s really define what “hype” is. In advertising, hype is making exaggerated claims in order to get people’s attention. Hype is manipulation. Hype is trying to get people to do something out of emotion. A problem that I see is that many pastors think the only way they can get people to come is to exaggerate what is going to take place. It’s an emotional bait and switch tactic to get people to show up. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Sometimes our services aren’t great by the world’s definition. Sometimes our music is far from perfect, sometimes our events don’t flow smoothly. But the Holy Spirit still shows up, people’s hearts can still be changed. It doesn’t have to be over the top to be authentic. In fact, hype creates a shallow experience that is based on emotion and not genuine life change.

When we constantly hype everything we do, we create an environment that pushes gimmicks instead of truth. We are tempted to do something even more over the top to get peoples attention, instead of focusing on what God wants us to say. I believe in creativity, I believe in enthusiasm, but I don’t believe in exaggeration or manipulation. Let’s cut the hype, and focus on communicating God’s truth effectively and creatively, without exaggeration and hype.

Catalyst Wisdom

October 16, 2007 — Leave a comment

The Catalyst Blog had some good quotes from the conference at Catalyst Space. These quotes should make you think. Check them out.

We don’t need to fear power; we need to follow the example of Jesus. By doing so, we break the power of self-centeredness in our leadership. – Andy Stanley

The impact you have on the people you manage is probably greater than your influence with anyone you will volunteer to serve. When we manage somebody, we’re ministering to them. – Patrick Lencioni

Christianity is like the ark. It stinks sometimes, but if you get out, you’ll drown. – Shane Claiborne

When I get to heaven, I don’t want to watch Jesus spew my sheep out of his mouth. No, I’d rather have a select few behind me and be able to say, “Jesus, these are all I had left, but they are crazy in love with you. They sacrificed all of their lives to serve you.” – Francis Chan

Society can be divided into seven spheres of influence. If you want to engage a society and shape it, you must take part in every sphere. The church has made a mistake of being involved in only one aspect of society-the spiritual arena, while abandoning the others like politics, economics and business, education, media and entertainment, and sports. – Pastor Sunday Adelaja

If you want God’s blessing and anointing on your life and you want to be used in ways you never thought possible, then you have to get with his agenda. He hasn’t promised to bless your agenda. He has promised to bless his purposes. – Rick Warren

It’s embarrassing for me to tell you this, but I’ve done way too much ministry believing in God, but acting as if it was all up to me. – Craig Groeschel

If I could ask for one thing in your life, I would ask that you become a person who is intentional about adding value to the people around you. – John C. Maxwell

Learn to act your wage. The Bible teaches that a foolish man devours all he has. If you spend all of your income, you’re a fool. – Dave Ramsey

The human spirit cannot live in falsehood. We are designed to live in truth. Our souls long for the authentic and the real. We can give no greater gift than to help one another write an authentic human narrative for our lives. – Erwin McManus

The system you inherit, adopt, or create will eventually impact what your staff and volunteers do. Because we don’t understand the nature of systems, we blame our people. In reality, it’s not a people problem, it’s a systems problem. – Andy Stanley

John Maxwell had a short message on intentionally adding value to people each day. It was a good message on really caring about others. It seems that throughout the conference we were challenged to love what God loves.

Craig Groeshel really shook me up. In a good way. His book Confessions of a Pastor really connected with me. He shared the realization that he was a full time pastor and a part time follower of Christ. He shared a quote from Bill Hybels that had impacted him, “The way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in me” Ministry is not easy, and what he shared was from the heart. He shared that he was a practical atheist, someone who believes God exists but lives like God doesn’t. Do we really believe God, not just believe in Him? Why do we fail to trust God? What are the signs of Practical Atheism?

  1. We start to believe our effort is begtter than God’s power
  2. We believe our private life doesn’t affect our public ministry
  3. We believe we must please people more than we please God

He shared a prayer from Sir Francis Drake that was very powerful. Disturb Me God when I don’t love the things you love. Read it an see if it impacts you as much as it does me.

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

Dave Ramsey is a wild man. He couldn’t stand still for a minute. He was all over the stage sharing his financial strategies. He was also one of the main sponsors for Catalyst, so his stuff was everywhere. I’m still mad I didn’t win any of the Mac products they were giving away. I’m teaching through his Financial Peace University course with a group of home-schooled high schoolers. It’s really a great financial course. He broke down managing God’s money by doing the following

  • Have a written plan
  • Get out of debt
  • Act your wage
  • Save and invest
  • Give!!!

Think about what the people of God could do to advance the Kingdom of God if we weren’t saddled in debt. He also shared that we shouldn’t preach on tithing, but that we should preach on managing money and getting out of debt so people can tithe. His definition of prosperity is having the money to do God’s will in your life. His message was definitely counter-cultural for the church today. But we can’t follow God if debt holds us back.

Erwin McManus is awesome. I have loved listening to his messages and I love reading his books. But, he is deep, and hard to follow sometimes. But at Catalyst, he had an inspiring message. I have always had a hard time connecting his vision to my context. I love what Mosaic is doing in Los Angeles, but it’s hard to transfer a lot of his passion to a rural community like I live in. He shared about how we must create the future, we must create culture. Authenticity is so important in the church. People are tired of inauthentic churches, and we now have the opportunity to do church in an authentic way.

Andy Stanley closed out Catalyst with a talk on systems. For me, this was invaluable. I have been spending a huge amount of my time creating systems. Teaching does not create desired behaviors. THINK ABOUT THAT. Our preaching will not change people if we don’t have the systems in place to make it happen in real life! Systems create behavior. That is an import concept that we can’t gloss over. He also made a statement that has me thinking. The account of the early church in Acts is descriptive, not prescriptive. We are not bound to look and be modeled like the early church. We have freedom in methodology and models of church to accomplish what Christ commands. That means not all churches will look the same and that’s fine. When it comes to the systems in our churches, we must think about what we are rewarding. Are we rewarding the wrong behaviors? Are we not rewarding what’s really important? All together this was an excellent session.

I even got to talk to Andy for a minute between sessions. He asked where I was from and I gave him the standard answer. Virginia. He then asked where in Virginia. I answered the western part. So he then asked what city, and I told him Galax, and I received the standard comment. I’ve never heard of that. If you aren’t into Bluegrass then most people haven’t heard of Galax. But I appreciated the time he took to encourage a young guy like me.

I can’t wait to go back next year. I picked up quite a few books that I hopefully will be sharing. I got to put a lot of faces with names. I got to spend an awesome few days with my wife. And I was challenged in every aspect of my life. Hopefully next year, I will take more people with me.

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