Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Friday 411

This Sunday's Message is “Kiss Your Old Life Goodbye” as we continue our series from I Peter. You’ll want to hear this for sure. We’ll learn how God expects us to live as believers in this present world. This series is meat for men.

We are working on an indoor solution for baptisms. We’ve got our eyes on purchasing a baptismal pool that we can set up inside the sanctuary. Thanks to our Signs of Life offering we are in a position to make this purchase now. This will be enormous for us – we’ll be able to have water baptisms on a regular basis, in a heated baptistery, indoors – and everyone will be able to join the celebration. Hey, we can even have music in the background.

It’s time to receive Communion again. We will do this before Easter on a Sunday morning. It will help us focus on Passover and the Resurrection of JC.

Easter will be a high attendance day for us this year. Get there early. We will be asking some of you who normally attend the first service to switch to the second service for that day.

I’m planning a series entitled “Why I Love My Church.” This series will depend heavily on testimonies (both scripted and unscripted) from members in our church family. These testimonies will be recorded on video and viewed in the morning service. The idea of telling stories is as old as the Bible itself, which is filled with accounts of God transforming lives. We want to use the “Why I Love My Church” series as modern illustrations of timeless truths found in the Bible – healing, forgiveness, restoration, etc, - all through the power of Christ. This series will be very powerful…. and could very well change our church forever.

Pace Community Church is going to explode this year!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Problems Don't Just Go Away

The worst thing a leader can do when he/she becomes aware of a problem is to ignore it… because problems never just go away on their own.

I believe that when I become aware of a problem in the church, God (in His wisdom and sovereignty) has revealed this matter to me and doesn’t want me to remain passive about it hoping it will go away. He wants me to make a decision and take action. That's what shepherds and overseers do.

  • If there is a staff issue going on, God expects me to do something about it. It’s a mistake for me to believe that if I ignore poor work performance long enough it will eventually correct itself. It never does.

  • If someone has copped an attitude and begins a campaign of malice in the church, it’s a mistake for me to avoid the conflict, hoping that if I do it will eventually settle down. It never does. God would have me or some other leader to intervene.

  • If someone is deliberately attempting to split or harm our church, God expects some responsible person to do something about it!

  • If unrepentant sin is running rampant in a group of church members (who ought to know better), God expects something to be done about it... other than hoping it will fix itself. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (I Cor. 5:6)
I know church leaders who allow bad programming to continue in their church… thinking that one day this horrible situation will magically become good. It doesn’t. It just gets worse.

I used to attend a church where the song leader was a disaster! He couldn’t sing. He was always out of pitch and out of key. He had no sense of timing and no rhythm. I mean he was a disaster. It was so embarrassing and awkward. Someone needed to tell him that he was not gifted for that role. Yet no one said anything or did anything. They just let it continue… year after year. It literally killed that church. No one would intervene because they were afraid of the “family fallout” that would result… and no one wanted to come across as being “the bad guy” who “puts the little man down.” Yet this church died. Was that better?

Leaders can’t worry about someone’s feelings or trying to keep everyone happy when bigger issues are at stake. That sounds good when you say it, but it’s not an easy thing to do. Here’s why – when people are upset about something (or their feelings have been hurt) they are usually the loudest, which makes them seem like a majority. Yet a leader has to stand firm, even when he or she is misunderstood. You’ve got to have thick skin and a firm conviction that what you are doing is for the betterment of the church as a whole, not some individual with sensitive feelings.

The apostle Paul wrote the Galatian believers and really ticked some people off. But he didn’t care because bigger issues were at stake. He said, “I marvel that you are so easily backslid… have turned to another gospel… let anyone preaching that junk be accursed… Do you think I’m trying to please God or men by these words? If I seek to please men then I am not the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:1-10). It’s easy to tell he never read Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

If a leader's number one goal is to avoid conflict and try to keep everyone happy… he will fail at that task and will make everyone unhappy. On the other hand, when leaders intervene and make tough calls for the sake of the church (as a whole), then the whole body becomes healthier, more harmonious, and effective.

Which is better?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Night Teens at PCC

Fifty Six teenagers tonight. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's two:

(Click the pictures to enlarge if you want a full appreciation of what it was like)

Enlarge the picture and take a closer look... Notice how many teenagers are there... notice they have Bibles... their Bibles are open... and they are listening to a teacher of God's Word. Something good is happening here.

BTW - The children's ministry is ROCKING too! They have as many attending on Wednesday night as attend on Sunday morning! How AWESOME is that?!!!!!!!!!

God is doing good things at PCC in our age-level ministries.... and we have the most remarkable team I could possibly hope for. These people have got it together and are worth their weight in gold.

This is a Great Work

I love pastors... especially church planting pastors. There is a strong fraternity among church planters – it is really the “extreme sport” when it comes to ministry. Only church planters understand the sacrifices that other church planters have made to step out in faith (with little or no funding) and follow God’s leading. I love being around these guys. They really are a distinct group.

I have several friends who are church planters. Being around them reminds me that what we are doing at PCC really is a special work. Thousands of new churches are springing up all over the country. New churches are being started in our area too. God’s Spirit is at work in the earth right now, sweeping thousands into the kingdom, and it’s so much bigger than what’s happening in our own neighborhood. I’m glad that I have a small part in God’s work in these last days.

From time to time I have the privilege of sharing with other church planters the lessons I have learned at PCC. They want to know how we did it – everything from meeting at the school, buying land, reaching people, structuring the church, what ministries to launch, etc. I always give away a lot of materials to help them out; seminars, small group manuals, Time to Build Packets, policy manuals, preaching CDs, church structure, etc. These are items that would cost them thousands of dollars to purchase. But I provide them free… most of which I have personally written myself. I figure we are on the same team, so I should help my brother out. In fact, there are at least five churches in the area who use our materials in their church.

I love what God is doing in the world today, and I love what He is doing at PCC. To me, nothing compares to leading this church. I wouldn’t trade being here to be anywhere else. Sometimes people wonder if I’m ever leaving to go to a bigger church. The answer is no.

Overly Intellectual

Mark 12:37 “the common people heard Him (Jesus) gladly”

Have you ever noticed that some circles in Christianity are overly intellectual in their worship, their practice of Christianity, and view of church life? Have you ever sat in a church service listening to a preacher and not understood a thing he said? These guys speak in a “unknown tongue” each week and people leave empty. It’s as dry as chips.
  • This may explain why such congregations are usually very small – regular folk cannot understand what’s being said. It is simply out of touch with real people in the real world who need a CLEAR Word from the Lord.

  • This explains why such pastors often get into controversies (over minor details of doctrine) that are not really as important when seen from a bigger perspective… such as fulfilling the Great Commission.

  • And some of these overly intellectual types will sometimes expect their congregants to give their allegiance to a confession, overlooking the fact that this is not the same as allegiance to God or a love for others.

When Jesus taught He spoke in terms that normal people could understand. He didn’t use technical or theological jargon. He taught profound truths in simple ways. Yet, many pastors do the exact opposite; they teach simple truths in ways hard to understand. They take straightforward texts and make them complicated. They think they are being “deep” when actually they are turning the water muddy. It is more important to be clear than clever when teaching God's Word.

In contrast, crowds loved to listen to Jesus teach. Mark 12:37 says, “the common people heard Him gladly” (or with enjoyment). Jesus was the greatest communicator who ever lived and the Bible plainly tells us that people were SPELLBOUND by His teachings.

Some of the greatest compliments I ever receive are when people say to me, “I understood what you were saying…. I get it now…. I learned something today… I’ve never seen that before.” If a sixteen year old student, a single mother with a baby on her hip, educated school teachers, a lawyer, and a doctor (all in the PCC family) are saying that to me, then I know I’m doing my job effectively. I made a decision many years ago about my preaching/teaching style - I decided that it is more important for me to influence people than it is to impress them (with my vocabulary).

The next time you encounter one of these overly intellectual types who is muddying the water, just remember this - there's nothing wrong with you... there's something wrong with the commuicator. He's just using an insiders code language of pontification that lets you know you’re not in the club.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jogging it Off!

I’m jogging it off… the extra weight that is. No easy way around it. Just do it. What's the best way to start a good jogging routine? Simple. Put one foot in front of the other.

The wonderful thing about jogging is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, and it can involve only one person. You don’t need a club membership, fancy equipment, or a training partner. Just a good pair of shoes - lace em up and get started. Jog if off… the fat that is.

Jogging is the best exercise for burning fat. It burns calories while you are running and also for many hours afterward – it sets your metabolism on fire.

Here's the workout routine that I'm committed to right now:
  • Monday – Jog 2 miles, walk 2 miles
  • Tuesday – Weights
  • Wednesday – Day off
  • Thursday – Jog
  • Friday – Weights
  • Saturday – Mix it up... bike ride, hiking, strenuous yard work, etc.

Want to get started? Just develop your own routine, put it in your schedule and commit to it. That's all it takes. Don't wait until you have the time. Make the time.

BTW, that's not me in the picture - just thought you'd like to know. Besides, I'm a lot closer to being able to fit in my spandex than this guy is.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Hits

  • Very cool day at PCC yesterday. Attendance was good, the music outstanding, and worship spontaneous.

  • I felt rested after being off two Sundays. Really enjoyed the energy in the house. Lot’s of clapping, laughing, and shouting. It was contagious.

  • There were a couple of times when I felt God’s heart deeply during the service.

  • Our church is healthier and stronger in all the vital areas than it was at this same time last year – attendance, giving, volunteers, unity, conversions, etc.

  • More than 50 people are currently signed up for the next 101 Seminar. Wow! A lot of people are ready to be baptized too. Come on warm weather.

  • Talked about predestination yesterday (in the first message from I Peter). It was a good thing to address this topic from the pulpit – it communicated to our congregation what our position is on the matter… more importantly, what the Bible teaches about it.

  • We are raising the bar at PCC. Plus, we have some ministry initiatives we plan to launch this year that I am really excited about.

  • I’m excited about what God is doing with PCC students and kids. Awesome things are happening.

  • I think by the end of this year our church will probably be running about 800 in attendance.

  • I love the craziness of pastoring PCC.

  • The first service yesterday was packed to suffocating capacity.

  • We have a possible candidate to start “signing” in the service for the deaf. I really hopes this works out.

  • Renae and I went over to a friends house yesterday for dinner. It was very relaxing – something we both needed. Renae fell asleep on their couch… something I would never do.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


This is Tojo - one of my (three) Jack Russel Terriers. He is the badest little dog in Pace.

He's 10 inches tall but believes he is a 200 lb dog. A real scrapper.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Factoids

  • Last night I burned my mouth with a hot fork. I was cooking dinner and using the fork to stir. Then I stuck it in my mouth to take a taste. I now have a four-pronged blister (in the exact shape of a fork) on the inside of my upper lip. Not cool.

  • I’m wondering why my bed has 9 pillows on it, only to take them off and put them back on each day. Is that normal?

  • I received three very nice e-mails this week… and one ugly e-mail.

  • I’m writing a book. It is probably going to be entitled “Confessions of a Church Planter” or either “The Ten Year Hiccup.” You’re reading its content on my blog.

  • Do you like guacamole dip? I make the best, even better than La Hacienda.

  • Christianity is not going to spread because a church has cool services. Changed lives are the deciding factor.

  • John Mayer is no sissy. The dude can play guitar… and sing. My favorite song by him is – “Say” – it was also the theme song for the movie “Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman.

  • I want to be like Bear Grylls when I grow up. He’s the survivor guy who has the program, “Man vrs. Wild.” My wife is sick of watching it - not me - can't get enough.

  • I’m about ready for a plate of fried mullet. RH, it’s time to heat up the grease.

  • I have five gift cards to Starbucks…. That means free coffee for me until Jesus comes.

  • Why is it that people can sort out all that confusion on the TV series “Lost” but they can’t understand their Bible?

  • I watched Shawshank Redemption again (two days ago) – it was just as good as the first time I saw it.

  • “the Lord smote the men of the city… and they had emerods (hemorrhoids) in their secret parts” (I Samuel 5:9). You’ve just got to love the KJV.

  • If you can trust Jesus for eternity, maybe you should trust Him with your today.

  • I’m amazed by how much Jesus’ life was marked by conflict. Maybe we aren’t being bold enough in the right ways.

  • I think I’m going to have some chickin-n-dumplins this weekend with a chocolate dessert… as if my nether regions were not big enough already.

  • Renae and I bought a bicycle rack the other day. It mounts on the rear of my truck and is designed to hold two bikes. Now we can take them anywhere. Can’t wait.

  • Seen something on TV that made me laugh so hard that iced tea came up through my nostrils and splashed on the computer screen.

  • The 1970s have called. I think I’m having a flashback.

  • Man, my upper lip hurts.

  • Never stick a hot fork in your mouth.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beliefs vrs Behavior

Many churches (and church people) evaluate spiritual maturity solely on the set of beliefs or creeds one embraces. The ability to debate doctrine or explain theology is considered by some as the ultimate proof of spiritual maturity.

The truth is… spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by ones BEHAVIOR than by BELIEFS.

The Christian life is not simply a matter of creeds, convictions and affirmations. It also includes character and conduct. What I believe must be backed up by my behavior. The NT repeatedly shows us that our actions and our attitudes reveal more about our maturity than our creeds or belief systems:
  • I Corinthians 8:1b (NIV) "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"
  • James puts it more bluntly . . . . James 3:13 (NKJV) "Who is wise and understanding among you. Let him show by GOOD CONDUCT that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."

In other words, if someone thinks they "know something" let them prove it by how they behave.

Knowledge needs to be tempered by character. . . . Our deeds need to be consistent with our creeds.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Younger Generation

What do you think about the next generation of young people coming up? A lot of people believe they will be more difficult to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ than any previous generation. I disagree. Yes, wickedness abounds… but where sin abounds, grace much more abounds” (Romans 5:20) and God has promised to pour out His spirit on our sons and daughters in the last days just prior to the Second Coming (Acts 2:17-18). In light of this, I believe the next generation is being positioned to be swept into God’s kingdom.

Here are a few of my observations of the coming generation:
  • They have been under challenged
  • Their world view is grey, with few absolutes
  • They are searching for a cause.

When you put these together I see a generation that is ready to know Christ.


If you (as a parent) or we at PCC plan to reach the next generation for Christ, don’t ask them to believe your creeds - instead invite them to do what you do. Beliefs are a dime a dozen. This generation has seen every form of spiritual beliefs you could imagine (and many you couldn’t imagine), not to mention the maze of denominational belief-systems.

They’re extremely turned off by people who don’t live what they claim to believe. The next generation doesn’t want to hear about what you believe. They want to see your beliefs in action. And if you’re daring enough to live like Jesus, you’ll have a shot at reaching them.

If your version of Christianity is limited to what you’re against, you're not likely reach many young people. If, on the other hand, your faith is so alive that you must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and love the outcasts—all in the name of Christ, you will attract interest.

As strange as it sounds, if you truly live a mission-driven Spirit-filled life, the next generation might join you and do what you do. Then one day they will come to believe what you believe.

“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” James 2:18

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Blog in Canada?

Apparently someone in Canada has got hold of my blog - an author, who has referenced (and linked to) one of my posts. Does this mean I've gone international?

Volunteers, Growth, & Leadership

Growth is slow. For instance, you can’t really watch your children grow. They look the same size tomorrow as they do today. But slowly, they are growing. By the end of summer their clothes won’t fit and will have to buy them new clothes.

One of the signs of church health at PCC is observed in our volunteers. Many of our new believers become volunteers. Then some of those volunteers become ministry leaders, team leaders, or department heads. This starts with simply allowing the believer to jump in and serve. They grow as they learn… on-the-job.

Many of our volunteers start out having to be told exactly what to do. But over time they just figure it out, do a good job, and learn what it means to serve Christ in an actual ministry capacity. They learn to solve problems and get the task accomplished without having to run to a staff member for every little detail.

Any church that wants to see their people grow must give their people opportunities to serve.

I don’t know how many volunteers we have. I estimate roughly 140 – perhaps more. I can remember when there were only 3 or four. Of those 140, many are emerging with real leadership potential.

Just so you know, we are always watching.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Some people have certain preferences (pet peeves) that become more important to them than anything else in the church. No matter how much good a church is accomplishing, some people get stuck on some little issue that becomes the all-important idol of devotion for them.

For instance, people have left PCC (or will be leaving) because:
  • We don’t do interpretive dance
  • We don’t include a certain doctrine in our tenets
  • We don’t have a ministry style from the 70s or 80s
  • We don’t do church like their last church
  • We don’t do church like the Brownsville revival
  • We don’t…. whatever.

Some people prefer a certain “flavor” of church. It doesn’t matter how much kingdom work is actually being accomplished there, they get tunnel vision and focus on the minors while overlooking the majors. In fact, to them, “flavor” is more important than “results” – their preference is more important than the church’s mandate - the Great Commission.

Such people eventually bolt and attend another church. They often end up at a church that is not accomplishing anything for the kingdom of God. It’s some rinky-dink place running about twenty-two people that never reaches anyone - but they’ll attend there just so they can experience a certain flavor.

At PCC, real kingdom work is actually being accomplished. People are being saved, baptized, discipled, changed by God’s power, and marriages are being put back together. Teenagers are on fire for God. Children are being instructed and grounded in God’s Word. Then there was the Cardboard Testimony – that was dramatic demonstration of what the power of God is truly accomplishing in our midst.

But for some, none of that matters. We aren’t their “flavor.”

One person wants to twirl around in the isles at PCC and exercise her “gift.” Okay, fine. But is that more important than real kingdom work? Is it more important than a sinner being saved? What about being a distraction? Is it more important to twirl in the isle than to “pluck a firebrand from the burning?” Apparently so. This person is on her way out and will eventually bolt from PCC and find another church where twirling in the isles is permitted - but where no one is being saved or discipled. That is the height of spiritual immaturity. Under the guise of finding a more spiritual church, this person reveals that her choice is really all about her and what she wants, and the lost be damned.

A while back another person wanted us to do the Brownsville thing. Nothing wrong with that style, it's just God hasn't called us to be that. Never mind, that in the absence of a Brownsville style church service, PCC is seeing an amazing move of God in our midst. We weren’t the flavor this person wanted, so he bolted…. loudly… taking 3-4 others with him.

Still another person wanted us to include a certain doctrine in our tenets of faith. Because it is not included in print and promoted, this person decided he was unable to continue with us, taking his family with him. Never mind, that in the absence of promoting this non-essential doctrine, hundreds of people have been saved from a life of sin. I ask you, which is more important? Changed lives or a non-essential doctrine? Which of these two issues do the angels in heaven rejoice over?

When you are being pulled in so many different directions by so many different people all at the same time, it quickly becomes apparent that there is no possible way to meet all those expectations. I don't even try. In fact, I fiercely defend who we are. I will go to the mat with anyone over this.

The most unselfish (and mature) thing a believer can do is put aside their own preferences for the sake of others. The apostle Paul did this… and it’s Biblical to do so. I guess this part of the Bible has evaded these (spiritually mature) people.

The kinds of people we are looking for at PCC are the lost, the least, and the lonely - the discarded ones. These are the ones who God will send our way, and when they are won to Christ they buy in, serve, give, pray, sweep the floors, and take care of the babies in the nursery when nobody else will.

The already-saved, on the other hand, who are searching for a certain flavor of church, will want to argue about almost anything. They talk about action and do very little. They want to twirl in the isles but never share their faith. They want to micro-manage the leadership. When they discover that we are not their flavor, will leave.

Every week, every month, every year someone (or a group) comes along and attempts to reinvent us into their idea of what we should be. Or “this is how we did it at my last church.” We can’t do it. We know what our mission is, and we know what our mission is not. We don't try to accommodate everyone or attempt to please everyone. We know what the main thing is, and we keep the main thing the main thing. That’s why we are a healthy, growing, and thriving church. We have our own flavor.

So flavor this.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hot Topics This Week

This week’s posting have created a lot of visits to my sight – some 800 hits. So I thought I’d provide quick links in case you’d like to read them again.
  • Birds of a Feather Flock Together (here)
  • Should a Troublemaker Come Back? (here)
  • When Church Leaders Betray a Confidence (here)
  • Porn in My E-mail (here)
  • The Pastor Who Is a Hireling (here)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Pastor Who is a Hireling

A pastor is not something that one does; it is something that one IS. The present system in Christianity of selecting (often by resume) and voting on pastors is anti-Biblical by its very nature. If a congregation, or a group of laymen serving on a pulpit committee, were wise enough to choose a pastor they wouldn’t need one. Since they are not wise enough, they resort to hiring a pastor. This man then becomes a mere employee of the church who works for a board of laymen (who know nothing about the ministry) and what they have got on their hands is a hireling.

By His Spirit, God gives certain pastors to certain people, and it becomes a life-long responsibility. If a man is a pastor sent by God, he cannot retire from the work of shepherding that flock any more than Israel’s High Priest could retire. Neither can he use his present church as a stepping stone to another.

I have been at PCC for eleven years. During this same period of time most other churches in the Pace, Milton area have been through multiple pastors. The average tenure of a pastor in America today is about 24-36 months. Most people don’t realize it, but it means something to have a long-term pastor. A pastor is a gift from God, not to be refused or disrespected if one would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Many of God’s sheep are right now wandering, as it were, having no (real) shepherd in their life. From place to place they go, looking for something elusive, but what they find, in reality, is a church building with a hireling behind the pulpit. That pastor hireling will probably be gone soon, because the corrupt system that put him in place will also remove him, (hired and fired by carnal people), or he will simply move on of his own choosing to find a better opportunity elsewhere.

The system of hiring and firing preachers cannot provide the pastoral covering that God intends His flock to have.
  • “He that is an hireling and not the shepherd… seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep” ( John 10:12-13).

God called me to PCC to plant this work from scratch. Which I did. For eleven years I have shepherded this flock through thick and thin. I labored tirelessly when there was no money and no means to provide for my own family. For eight years I was bi-vocational to make ends meet. My family and I have stood shoulder to shoulder with scores of people in times of sickness, death, loss, suffering, heartache, and funerals. We’ve been with you in times of joy too, such as baptisms, weddings, baby dedications, and sporting events for your children. I've seen hundreds of people come and go. I've listened to complaints, been criticised, and abandoned. I’ve stood up to church bullies, enemies of the cross, and wolves in sheep’s clothing who would not spare the flock if they could have had their way. I have run off thieves, crooks, and teachers of false doctrine. I have withstood church troublemakers. I have been wounded in the battle and fought the good fight. But I never ran or abandoned the flock. I am not a hireling. This is not my job. It’s what I am… a life-time shepherd for you.

  • Ye are in our hearts… to die and live with you” ( 2 Corinthians 7:3 )

The system of hiring pastors is not healthy – usually resulting in a hireling. Young believers who have been led to Christ by a man who then abandons them to lead another flock are left in shell shock. I hurt for them. Adding to the confusion is that sometimes that young believer is selected to serve on a pulpit committee which is responsible for selecting their next pastor! Say what? Talk about utter confusion! How can that young, wounded lamb be expected to plumb the depths of spiritual mysteries and choose a man who is to be his shepherd? In other words, the young lamb is called upon to discern who is more discerning than he.

I say take a look around you. Look at the hundreds of sects and churches, large and small, that change pastors every 24 months, and keep themselves in business by shifting the sheep from church to church by transfer growth. Is this Biblical? Is it healthy?

Most sheep don’t even know that such a reality as having a pastor for life, given by God, exists. And despite their hunger and thirst, they continue to wander from one dry place to another in search of something they will never find. All the while, green pasture awaits them in the place they are supposed to be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Porn in My E-mail

QUESTION: If I receive an e-mail from a church member which contains an attachment of porn, what should I do? ANOTHER QUESTION: What if that same e-mail is sent to my wife, and half a dozen other women in our church?

Well, that’s exactly what happened, and it is connected to our ten year hiccup. This might help shed some light on that situation and let you know the kind of junk I’ve had to deal with.

This person was an active member of PCC who sent it to us accidentally. He thought he was sending it to a group of men who were in his small group, but somehow got his e-mail addresses mixed up with our addresses and inadvertently included us in this tasteless practice. Talk about a blunder.

To be honest, this incident put us in a tail spin. Situations like this call for decisiveness, but they also call for prudence (caution) lest we do more harm than good. I wasn’t sure what to do. Do we confront him on it? What about the other men on his e-mail list – were they willing participants? If so, the problem is bigger than I thought. What about his wife? – think of the public embarrassment she would suffer if it came out into the open. Should we shield her? And what about the other ladies who received this e-mail and were offended by this dastardly deed? You can see the dilemma I was facing. I wasn’t the only one involved here - there were seven other women affected by this… not counting the men on his e-mail list that he intended to send this to.

Let me pause to say that if this man is secretly into porn that was his business and he’ll have to settle up with God one day. But once it was sent to me, my wife, and the other women in our church, as well as the men on his e-mail list, then it became my business. Judgment day would have to wait. This was happening in the church that is under my charge, and was affecting a lot of people.

I decided to handle this matter quietly and make him aware of what I knew. Which I did. It was then that the fertilizer hit the fan! Oh boy did it ever. He turned on me like a chameleon having hot flashes! Here I was trying to do the right thing in the right way (discretely), but when he realized his e-mail was sent to at least seven women in the church (and me) he went ballistic and got vicious in an attempt to divert attention away from himself. These were godly women whose honor needed to be respected and I’m attempting to handle this in a quiet Biblical manner and he wants to cop an attitude on me? It became obvious that containment was no longer possible… all his own doing (I might add) because he was the one making the scene.

Next I spoke to a couple of men who were on the e-mail list, and they sloughed it off, and laughed.

After that, I even made our church trustees aware of the situation. All three of them ignored the issue and refused to respond. Neither did they offer me any support in addressing the matter - I was on my own and alone. Then, much to my chagrin, I discovered that one of them, and possibly two, were complicit in this e-mail having gladly received it and were delighted to get more!

Man, I knew it was time do something. I needed to clean house. A church member needed correction, a group of men needed rebuke, a small group needed to be disbanded, and a broken leadership system that was installing unfit leaders into position needed to be overhauled!

  • I Peter 4:17 (KJV) For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

This man quickly joined himself with the malcontents in his group (and who were on his e-mail list) and launched into a vicious campaign of rumors about me and our church. He deliberately tried to bring ruin to me by concocting the most absurd lies you could ever imagine. While preposterous, they did cause me some damage and harm – especially to my family. If his campaign of slander had succeeded it would have destroyed the congregation of PCC. This action, in and of itself, made him an enemy of the cross and maybe even a two-fold child of hell. After all, he was willing to damage the Bride of Christ just to cover his own corruption. The things he said to people in the community among unsaved people were inexcusable – they brought reproach to the cause of Christ.

This should have come as no surprise to me, but it did. I understand now that when a person lives in the gutter they don't mind pulling other people (even respectable people) down into the gutter with them - even if they have to lie to do it. He became one of the main instigators and a primary ring leader during our ten year hiccup. But it was all a smoke screen to hide the fact that he was a dirty old man who got caught.

Does this begin to shed some light on people you think you know?

In spite of my attempt to provide godly and compassionate leadership in handling this situation discretely (for all the parties concerned), a few people chose to side with this son of Belial rather than remain in a good church. They chose a brute beast over a shepherd, and I took the brunt of blame for it.

Now, this is the kind of junk my family and I have been dealing with from these people. Could you do this job?

Let me offer some pastoral advice from a shepherd who knows what God expects. If you want to align yourself with people like that, fine, that’s your business. But if you are a sheep in this flock, what you do is also my business. The Bible warns you to withdraw yourself from such a person:

  • I Corinthians 5:11 (KJV) But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Here the Bible commands us to not to keep company with a man who calls himself a Christian when you can clearly see he is living in unrepentant sin. In fact, you’re not even supposed to have a hamburger with him! I am astonished at the people who willingly ignore these teachings from Holy Writ and also ignore the evidence (of corrupt fruit) that is visible in such a person’s life. It is much better to keep yourself under the care of a godly shepherd who has been charged to watch over your soul and who guards the flock. Follow the wrong people and you could be led astray like others.

From a leadership standpoint, there are instances in which we have to go public with situations like this – not always – but sometimes. I attempted to handle this incident discreetly, but it was not to be. So it’s time that I reveal the facts as they occurred, and here’s why – for the future health of our church.

  • I Timothy 5:20 (NIV) Those who sin are to be REBUKED PUBLICLY, so that the others may take warning.

This passage shows us that the sins of an unrepentant person are to be brought out into the open for all to see! One of the reasons for public disclosure is for the sake of the church. It tends to deter others from committing similar crimes, and in so doing keeps the congregation and their worship pure.

It was a painful and humiliating ordeal for me, my family, and some godly women of PCC - and I have carried this burden in silence for a long time. Now that the situation has been fixed and our church is well and thriving, it’s time for you to know. It was the height of disrespect for me as a pastor, and these women as ladies. But I got it cleaned up. It cost me a pound of flesh to do so, but our worship is pure. This brute beast and his complicit companions no longer defile our church or disrespect our women.

Again, does this begin to shed some light on people you think you know?

This is no longer a secret. Just ask.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When a Church Leader Betrays a Confidence

Proverbs 25:19 (KJV) Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

Enough time has elapsed that there are some things I now have liberty to divulge that I haven’t been able to say in the past.

One of the biggest problems I have had (in the past) with people on PCC’s leadership teams was the inability (of some) to keep a confidence. This is a very serious offence. To be a staff member, church trustee, or board member, requires the highest level of integrity and ability to maintain confidentiality. The things we talk about are often of a sensitive nature – trouble in families, church business, church members slipping into sin, a church worker who needs to be removed, things like that. This subject matter is not for dinner conversation and it’s not for public knowledge. What is said in the meeting stays in the meeting. In other words, a church leader has to compartmentalize and keep his mouth shut when he leaves the meeting. Tale bearers and those with loose lips make poor leaders and simply cannot fill those positions because too much is at stake.

Let me give you a for-instance:

Before we built our church building we were in negotiations with a local bank to arrange financing. These negotiations had been on-going for about nine months. Against the assurance we would secure the loan our church launched into a three year giving campaign (Time To Build) in which people pledged to give X-amount of dollars over a three year period. We were juggling both of these events at once. Then the bomb shell dropped. I’ll never forget the day it happened. The bank VP dropped by the church offices (which, at the time, were located on Chumuckla Hwy) to give me the bad news. Only Renae and I were there as he sat down and told us, “Your church’s loan has been denied.” We almost cried. Nine months of negotiations for nothing. Nine months of providing the bank with documents. Nine months of hearing the bank VP say, “it’s a done deal.” Nine months of assuring our church family that “everything is a go.” Nine months of work came to an end in sixty seconds. This was on a Wednesday.

I called an emergency meeting with our trustees and broke the news. I asked, “What should we do? Should we tell the church or wait? If we break the news now we risk demoralization and panic among our small congregation. On the other hand, we could simply wait and attempt to arrange financing with another bank.” One trustee (a good and wise man) suggested that we should wait two weeks before we told the church so we would have time to shop around for alternate financing. If we were successful with another bank our current anxiety would be moot. The end-result is all that really matters – having financing. But if we couldn’t arrange financing within two weeks, we would present our dilemma to the church in a specially called meeting.

Four people were present at this meeting – me and three trustees. We agreed together that we would wait two weeks. We covenanted together on this. It was recorded in the minutes. We held each other to confidentiality. It was a matter of business. We agreed to tell no one until after two weeks. This was a Thursday.

Would you believe that on Friday, the very next day, this confidence was betrayed? Yea. Someone from our church was at Wal Mart when he was approached by another church member who said, “I heard something bad is going wrong with the bank.” Are you kidding me? It hasn’t even been 24 hours and it’s already becoming public knowledge - and in a Wal Mart of all places! Then on Sunday, (just two days later) at least two people walked up to me in the middle of the church service and said, “I hear you’re having some troubles with the bank loan.” All I could think was, OMG! Here I was walking around on the verge of tears and about to fall apart. My nerves were on edge, I wasn’t even sure if our church would hold together if word got out, and now it is confirmed – some blabber mouth has let word leak out! All this within 48 hours. This was bad. Real bad.

Now I have two problems on my hand – the business of arranging new financing with another bank, while trying to calm the fear and panic that is beginning to set in our congregation. Hey man, I was about to fall apart myself but now I have a church that is about to fall apart too….. all because of one man.

I knew who did it.

Have you ever experienced a tooth ache? Have you ever suffered a broken ankle? Well that’s what it is like to put your confidence in an unfaithful person in a time of trouble – very grievous and painful. Here we were in the most critical time of our church’s short history and some tale bearer can’t keep quiet! His loose lips threatened the very existence of our church! Church business became church gossip. Confidential discussions became dinner conversation. He was as unfit and unqualified for leadership as a human being could be, yet I was saddled with the burden of working with this man because of the system we had in place at the time.

This man betrayed confidences at least a dozen times, hurting a lot of people. I kept a journal of what he did. I could never reveal to you all his other offences because they involve people. But this instance of church business I can reveal.

He doesn’t work for us any more.

Of course he went out very loudly taking some people with him. Someone with loose lips would. On his way out he lied, fabricated stories, and did a great deal of damage to me personally and to our church. This man turned into such a son of perdition that he blasphemed all that was good and decent. And he used the small group he was part of to do his nasty work.

Even in the days before this incident occurred, loose lips were a problem with others. I had one lady who served on our management team who was such a blabber-mouth that any business we discussed in private meetings became church fodder the next day. At first I couldn’t figure out where all this trouble and tension was coming from. Then I found out. She doesn’t work for us any more either. She went out very loudly too. People with loose lips are always loud.

You wouldn’t believe how many times this has happened. It is a pure miracle that Pace Community Church has survived. It’s a miracle that I survived.

I fixed the system that was putting people like this in place. Now, the people who currently serve on staff and on our corporate board have tight lips, the highest integrity, and a genuine call of God on their life…. because they are hand picked by others who meet the same criteria. Birds of a feather flock together.

Matthew 18:17 (KJV)17And if he shall neglect to hear them, TELL IT TO THE CHURCH: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is no longer a secret. Just ask.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Should a Troublemaker Be Allowed Back?

Note: This is a bit longer than normal, but worth the read. Read it to the end, you'll be glad you did. It represents how we do things and is very relevant to us.

QUESTION: If someone creates trouble in a church, commits sin in the process, (such as lies, disunity, gossip, division, disloyalty, backbiting, anonymous letters, fictitious e-mails, betrayal, and even theft), then leaves the church loudly, should that person be allowed to come back to that church without acknowledging their sin and seeking forgiveness?

Absolutely not. The scriptures bear this out.

Some good-hearted (and maybe naive) Christians happen to believe that if a person leaves a church the main goal of that church is to win the person back at any cost, and any offence they may have committed is to be overlooked simply because the person desires to return. If such an offender is allowed to come back under those conditions, all the church has done is simply spread a thin Christian glaze of false grace on a very bad situation because the offense has not be dealt with in a mature, Biblical manner. Sinful behavior (such as disunity, gossip, and making trouble in the church) must be confronted so that genuine repentance and healing can take place - and it must never be swept under the carpet. Ever.

When a person is willing to destroy a church to get their way, then a church is better off without that person – and it doesn’t matter who it is! Even if it is the little old lady at the end of the street who bakes you chocolate chip cookies – if she is willing to lie and damage the church just to get her way, then that church is better off without her! This is not a game. Eternal souls hang in the balance. This is God’s kingdom and heaven and hell are at stake.

In the past, we’ve had people blow up and make such a scene, then leave the church. Then about twelve months later they just come back as if nothing ever happened. You should see the gushing - there are hugs & kisses and accolades of “glad to have you back,” and “we’ve missed you,” and “it’s good to have you back home.” But it’s only a matter of time before it happens again. Why? For the simple reason that the previous offence was not discussed and dealt with (but rather ignored) – and the person was led to believe they got away with it.

The reason troublemakers misbehave in church is because some church in their past has groomed them to act that way. They acted ugly, the church leadership allowed them to get away with it, (which leads to reinforcement of bad behavior), then when they change churches they repeat the same ugly cycle at their next church. At PCC we don’t play that game. This is a New Testament church and we use a Biblical paradigm to handle such situations. The buck stops here.

For the record: Yes, anyone is allowed back…. on the condition that they come back Biblically. You have to face the music if you want to come back here.

Take note of the following passages for conflict resolution in a New Testament church:

Luke 17:3 (KJV) Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF HE REPENT, forgive him.
  • Here we see that forgiveness is to be extended to an offender only upon the condition that they acknowledge their transgression. God places the onus (obligation) upon both the offender and the offened. One party must do the rebuking, the other party does the repenting.


I Timothy 5:20 (NIV) Those who sin are to be REBUKED PUBLICLY, so that the others may take warning.

  • This passage shows us that the sins of an unrepentant person are to be brought out into the open for all to see! So much for sweeping it under the carpet and pretending like it didn’t happen.


Matthew 18:15-18 (KJV) 15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: IF HE SHALL HEAR THEE, thou hast GAINED THY BROTHER. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, TELL IT TO THE CHURCH: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

  • Here we see that restoration of fellowship between believers (or in a church family) is completely dependent upon the transgressor acknowledging his/her sin.
  • We also see that the sins of unrepentant person are to be told to the church. Yikes!
  • Furthermore, an unrepentant person is to be written off as a heathen.
  • BTW, every member of PCC has signed a membership covenant agreeing to settle their disputes according to this passage – and we hold people to this New Testament standard.


Let me say it again. Anyone is allowed back… on the condition they come back Biblically. You have to face the music. Not only does such a person have to confess their sins to God, but also to the people they offended – and this might require a group meeting.

This may not set well with everyone. Doesn’t matter; this is Biblical. Besides, the good people of PCC who love unity and want to see their church preserved by New Testament Biblical standards, fully understand how important this really is. They live it.

You know somebody? Tell them to read this blog.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

If there is one thing I have learned over the years of being involved in church work it’s this – people naturally gravitate towards others of like kind. That can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing.

For example, if someone new shows up to our church who has been a troublemaker in their last church, they will soon find the troublemakers in our church and flock together.

On a positive note, if someone new shows up to our church and their life gets radically changed by the power of God and they buy into the vision, they will soon be attracted to people of like kind and will become a blessing to the church and to each other.

I have developed pretty good radar over the years to make these kinds of silent observations and it helps me anticipate the future. This is a lesson that I have tried to communicate to our staff also; that they should stand back and make silent observations about people and not be too hasty plugging them in to a critical role. There have been many occasions when I have said in a leadership meeting that so-and-so will eventually get upset about something and create a stink, months before it even happened! Then sure enough, it happens. Likewise, there have been other occasions when I’ve said, “I think such-and-such a person has amazing potential,” and over time, prove themselves to be an asset.

This is not rocket science, nor is it mysticism - just practical observation. It's easy to tell what kind of church member a person is going to become just by the company they keep.

Bad Relationships

Romans 16:17-18 (KJV) 17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Godly Relationships

Philippians 3:17 (KJV) 17Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday After Church

Was the weather gorgeous today, or what? This is why we live in North West Florida… for weather like this.

After church today Renae and I went to the beach where walked/ran about 4 ½ miles. It was good to be outdoors in wide open spaces, away from the phones, and breathing in the crisp, clean, cool, salty air. The exercise did us good too.

This picture was taken just after the run. Do I look any worse for the wear?

I’d like to give a shout out to:

  • Gene Tharp for filling in for me today. I needed the break & rest. It also gave me a chance to hang around in the atrium before & after the services and mingle with people – something I don’t always get to do.
  • Calvin Thompson for firmly securing the card-holders to our chairs.
  • Robert Hughes for fixing and repairing two outdoor light fixtures.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Five Thoughts on Goverment & Culture

1. It looks like a 4th Obama nominee has trouble with taxes. This is now a trend. If those in charge have trouble with this, they now have a clue how the rest of America feels. Maybe it’s time to overhaul the IRS.

2. The tax evasion committed by these nominated officials is very troubling:

  • Charlie Rangel is on the Ways & Means committee which is responsible for writing tax law.
  • Geithner will essentially head the IRS and was fully aware that he was responsible for self-employment taxes. He sought and was granted reimbursement from the International Monetary Fund for Self Employment taxes that he ‘paid’. That sounds like perjury & evasion to me.
  • Daschle spent the last 8 years screaming about the poor judgment of George W. Bush and how tax cuts are irresponsible and only help that wealthy.
  • What's up what all that?

3. The stimulus plan ($780 billion) on the table is full of a bunch of stupid spending that has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Despite the talk of change, it looks like business and spending as usual in Washington. President Obama (who is attempting to get our economy on track) has some real meatheads in his own party that are derailing his efforts to provide jobs.

4. The lady that had 8 kids freaks me out. She said she came from a dysfunctional family. I think it was a dysfunctional doctor who planted eight embryos in her too. Perhaps some medical ethicists should review that doctors license to practice. She has now given birth to fourteen babies!

5. As the economy tightens up, government-funded social agencies are turning to the church to pick up the slack. At the same time, our local government won’t even allow our school teachers the freedom of religious expression. Not only is that a double-standard, it’s bad business.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm Re-establishing Boundaries for Myself

The last two years have been about the craziest years of my life. This last year, 2008, has been probably the busiest and most awesome year of PCC’s history. Needless to say, we are thriving and on an upwards swing. We are going to the next level. It almost couldn’t be any better at PCC right now – except for me. I realize that my schedule and time-management has gotten out of balance.

Things have been so busy for me with too much to do that I have worn myself thin. There is no way to sustain this pace any longer, so I have come to a decision.

I’ve seen a lot of church people crash and burn – pastors too. Many pastors are ineffective in their ministry because they are doing too much, aren’t taking care of themselves, and have not set up boundaries. They try to be supermen, attend every event, take every call, fix every problem, and counsel every crisis. In the process they end up burning out and losing touch with themselves and their families. I refuse to allow that to happen.

I thought I’d share with you some decisions I'm making in order to re-claim my life:

I’m admitting to myself that I am spread too thin. I don’t have to do it all, and won’t attempt to do so. Some things can be done without me. If we can’t find the volunteers or hire the staff to get it done, it will simply go undone.

I’m maintaining regular exercise. I sleep better, feel better, have more energy, and think more clearly when I’m in top shape. I’m in good shape now, but it could be better. I’m sticking with it and taking it up a notch. Besides, America already has enough fat preachers with heart disease who live short lives.

I’m protecting my Bible time and prayer with ferocity. It’s easy to allow other things in my schedule to crowd this one out and I have to fight hard against it. Most of you know I maintain a prayer journal where I record my prayer requests or reflections from the scriptures – and what this does to strengthen me I cannot fully express. But there is a constant tension between my quiet time and office duties, phone calls, mini-emergencies with people, and a bunch of other stuff that needs to be done. It’s like a conspiracy of interruptions. If I have to get out of the office and go to the woods, then I will!

I need a personal assistant – Someone who will manage my schedule, take my calls, schedule appointments, run interference for me, and manage my e-mails. There is so much going on at PCC right now that I’m getting lost and drowning in the details. I’m a “big picture” kind of person and don’t have the time to micro manage.

I’m going to be saying “no” more often without feeling guilty for saying it. This is a matter of priorities. By saying “no” to some things I am saying a “bigger yes” to other things. I can’t approve every idea that’s suggested, say yes to every request, meet every expectation, answer every phone call, respond to every crisis, or answer every question that comes into our offices. As much as I hate it, I cannot personally connect to every person that attends PCC. I would love to accept every invitation, enter every persons home, and be at every birthday party. But I can’t. Between leading our staff, preparing messages each week, planning the weekend services, plus being a husband and father, my time is limited. This is EXACTLY WHY everyone at PCC needs to get plugged into a small group or ministry team so that you can have key connections.

I’m going to limit my evenings out at church-related events. Okay, I’m a firm believer that the most healthy thing a Christian can do is attend about two church-related events per week – those being the weekend services and a mid-week event (such as a small group, etc) – with an occasional extra meeting thrown in because of necessity. Two time slots is a healthy amount. But I’m doing about 5-6 church-related events each week in the evenings and it’s too much. I’m going to be paring back on the number of events I attend, maintaining a healthy limit. So don’t be offended if I don’t show up at your event – trust me, there are thirty-five others going on at the same time and I won’t be at theirs either.

It’s amazing how a few changes like this is empowering me to re-claim my life and get in touch with a person I left behind….. myself.

Comments are open....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I Blog - 1 Year Mark

Today makes one year since I started blogging. Yep, I started February 6 last year. Here are some statistics about this blog site:
  • In one year I have posted 457 entries, (not counting the articles on Calvinism that I removed and saved to another file).
  • That’s an average of 38 writings per month
  • There have been more than 37,000 visits (or hits) to this site
  • That’s an average of 3,000 hits (or more) per month
  • Both friend and foe visit here frequently
  • Many people from out of town and out of state log on
  • Other pastors frequent this sight as well – so I am sometimes writing to them.

Why do I blog? I think all pastors should do so. Here’s why I do:

1. To develop my writing and thinking skills. Writing has great value for helping me develop new ideas and new insights. By striving to write well, I am also developing deeper thinking.

2. To teach. Here is where I get to say those things that I didn’t get to say on Sunday. In fact, I used to call this blog “My Other Pulpit” for that very reason. As a teacher, I have more to communicate than I can possibly offer in 30 minutes on a Sunday morning, so blogging gives me an outlet. Furthermore, I can address a wide range of topics.

3. To be known personally. The congregation of PCC hears me teach a lot on Sunday mornings, and is probably the main way most people know me. This is good – it’s my job. But it is NOT all of me. Not that anyone doesn’t already know this – but I am far more than the sermons I preach.

I am a husband and father. I have friends. I have enemies. I have some unusual quirks that make me unique. I have hobbies, likes and dislikes. These are the things that make me who I am, and that make me the person who leads your church. They are windows into my personality that may stay shuttered when I’m teaching the Bible.

I can’t be personally accessible to everyone – there’s just not enough of me to go around – but through this blog it’s another way for people to know me as a human being.

Letting people catch a glimpse of my personality is one way of adding authenticity to my teaching and depth to my ministry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Qualities We Look For in Pastors & Staff

We will be expanding our leadership team this year. Regardless of the position, there are certain things we look for in staff members and other church leaders.

1. We will only consider someone who is 100% supportive of the vision, ministry, and direction of PCC. This is not a hobby for us. We don’t have a Plan B. Those who work with us have to be totally on board to help make it work, contribute to its success, and not hinder us in any way. If you are not blown away by the privilege of just being able to work for PCC, then you are not the right person. I am not going to make an attempt to convince anyone to work here. Either you love it or you don’t.

2. We will check your background. We’ll even reference your references.

3. You have to be a tither (and more). If you come on board at PCC as a staff member, or in any other significant leadership capacity, you have to be a tither. And yep, we will check our records to verify your commitment level. Jesus said your money is connected to your heart. If you are not a giver, you are robbing God, are disobedient to God, and we don’t want you on staff or in leadership. Staff and other ministry leaders spend from our budget, and if such a person is not doing their part they are a thief and hypocrite. They are spending other people’s money without contributing themselves. That’s like a government official who doesn’t pay his own taxes (tax evasion) but then sets policy for the rest of us to pay ours. Also, if you are on staff/leadership at PCC and you don’t tithe, you’re done. It’s that simple.

4. Your spouse has to be on board. True, we're not asking your spouse to fill the position, but he/she has to be on board and supportive. That means they need to attend church, be supportive of PCC, and pitch in like everyone else. They need to understand what working at PCC means. Our spouses make huge sacrifices, and an uncommitted spouse will be an issue for you and us.

5. You have to be a leader. We don’t add people to the team to simply DO ministry by themselves… we look for people who can provide LEADERSHIP in the ministry. There’s a difference. That means recruiting, enlisting, inspiring, and overseeing a team of other people who work together. If you are not a “gatherer” of other people, you probably won’t make it. After being a believer who is full of integrity, leadership is the #1 quality I am looking for.

6. You have to be smart and know what you are doing. To be brutally honest, we don’t have the time, or the luxury, of waiting on you to figure out your calling or teach you job skills. You have to be a rainmaker here. That is, when added to the team you must have an immediate positive impact. In most work environments it takes about 6-8 months for a new employee to get settled in and learn the ropes. You will do that in about 3 weeks here. Yes, we’ll hook you up with the right people, resource you, allow room for vocational/professional development, and help you grow in your ministry area. But you’ve got to be a playmaker. This is not the minor leagues and there is no room in leadership for people who are “projects.”

7. You must have to have an attitude of “whatever it takes.” We are a growing church. Statistically, we are larger than 85% of the churches in America, and we will continue to grow. This means we all work like pioneers - we are always breaking new ground. We often work long hours. Sometimes we literally work our fannies off. There are changing demands, extenuating circumstances, and we often encounter the unexpected. Sure, your job/position will be your sweet spot. But there will be other things, outside of your position, that will have to be done. During those times you will be the one expected to do it, and you’ll have to do it without getting frustrated or copping an attitude. You must be willing to go the extra mile, no matter how long it takes. If it means taking out the trash, vacuuming the building, visiting the hospital, or whatever. The words “that’s not my job description” are not part of our vocabulary here. Saying it once is all it takes.

8. You need to have a long-term commitment to PCC. If you are looking for another position in another church, but want to use PCC as a stepping stone to get there, don’t bother us.

9. You must be loyal. Loyalty is a high priority. Loyalty means faithfulness or devotion to a person or to a cause. Using Biblical language, it means faithfulness. What does a loyal team member look like? This is a person who will stand up for the vision of our church or will stand up for me (or any other member) when someone is slamming the vision, criticizing the leaders, or sowing discord among the brethren. They will take the arrows, absorb the heat, and are willing to be criticized for the sake of others. When I see someone who does not talk out of both sides of their mouth, who says the same thing out in the open as they say behind a closed door, then I know I’m looking at a loyal person. Nothing energizes me more than when I walk into a room that is full of people that I know are loyal to me and to each other. This is empowering, energizing, edifying, and uplifting. It fuels creativity and innovation. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (PROVERBS 27:17).

You can read a previous post I wrote on this topic here.

10. You must accept the fact that you won’t get wealthy here. If you’re in it for the money, don’t bother. You could make more shucking oysters.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sermon-Based Small Groups - Velcroed for Growth

Most discipleship programs are linear. That is, they are neatly packaged straight lines where progress can be measured on a graph. Unfortunately, spiritual growth isn’t so linear.

Think back over your own spiritual journey. My guess is that it has been more like a meandering path rather than a straight line. For most of us it would be impossible to translate that experience into a curriculum.

Yet, most of us were weaned on a step-by-step discipleship model. As a new believer I attended “new believers” classes so I could be taught basics of Christianity. (Apparently new believers need to know the finer points of the Trinity, the atonement, the sovereignty of God, and a few other things that I no longer remember). Even though none of this had anything to do with the things I was struggling with as a new believer – such as casting aside sinful habits and cleaning up my life – I was provided with a cool three-ring binder to put my notes in.

It’s a slick process. It makes sense on the flow chart. It’s easy to administer. Enough people will sign up to justify the program. But it has very little to do with how believers actually grow.

Most spiritual growth does not come from a training program or a set curriculum. It is the result of “doing life” and being thrust into “need-to-grow-situations” on the job, in family life, or while standing in the emergency room at the hospital because a loved one has just been in an accident. The lessons we all must learn are, for the most part, universal. All of us need to learn the same lessons. But the order in which we learn them, and the classroom that God uses to teach them to us, are seldom the same for any two people.

Enter Sermon-based small groups.
Sermon-based small groups take this haphazard learning-and-growing process into account. They are perfectly fitted for the way spiritual growth actually takes place in our lives.

The ultimate goal of a sermon-based small groups is to simply velcro people to the two things they need most when faced with a need-to-grow situation in life: the Bible and other Christians.

The "sermon-based" aspect of these groups guarantees that the Bible is always close at hand. It doesn’t matter if last weeks sermon was a dud or home run, or if the lesson itself falls flat. The simple process of handling the Scriptures on a regular basis and looking into them to see what they have to say sets the stage for future need-to-grow moments the believer will face.

Secondly, the “small group” aspect of the group also guarantees that the believer will be well connected to other Christians to benefit from their knowledge and support. While it’s true that Lone Ranger types can learn a lot from self study, they aren’t exempt from needing other believers. As for wise counsel, a swift kick in the rear, and a warm hug, they are hard to self administer.

If we don’t have these kinds of relationship already in place, it’s usually too late to pull them together when a crisis hits full force.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Closing the Back Door #3

Churches that retain their members long term have an advantage when it comes to discipleship. Closing the back door gives them more time to grow people to maturity. But they also have an advantage when it comes to evangelism.

Churches that close the back door do so by serving their congregations so well that the people don’t want to leave. And happy sheep are zealous word-of-mouth marketers (missionaries, evangelists). Most of us can’t help but tell others when we have been well served – and no one needs to tell us to do so.

Four major factors have contributed to our healthy growth – all associated with closing the back door:

High expectations
We have high expectations of those who attend PCC. Few people want to belong to anything, especially a church, that requires little or nothing of them. We clearly communicate Biblical standards for life, character, and conduct. We offer a series of classes for spiritual growth and development. We require our members to make increasing levels of commitment as they grow, and we use commitment covenants for virtually every ministry area of our church.

Small Groups
Small groups are essential. They are little congregations within our larger congregation whose members provide care one to another. In small groups people connect relationally, learn more about the Bible, and develop spiritual muscle. New leaders are spotted and developed in small groups too.

Ministry Involvement (or volunteerism)
Our third key has been encouraging everyone to be involved in some type of ministry. The earlier a new member or attendee can get involved in our church’s ministry, the more likely this person will stay with that church. It becomes a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the individual and our church.

Relationship connections
Finally, the more new members connect with longer-term members, the greater the opportunity for assimilation. In an interesting twist, I have found that most of these relationships were being developed before the new member ever came to our church. In other words, our members intentionally develop relationships with people outside the church, and they invite them to church after the relationship had been established. Once the new attendee begins attending, he/she is already connected to a long term member. Whow! How good is that?

Even a small trickle can flood the whole house if everything is locked up tight.