Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Empowering & Platforming Young Adults for Leadership

It was he (God) who gave…… some to be pastors and teachers... to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up… (Ephesians 4:11-12 NIV, abbreviated for emphasis).

The ministry must be given away. God’s will is not for the pastor to do it all, but rather that he be an equipper of others. Ephesians 4:11-12 above clearly states that one of the roles of pastors is to equip/prepare/train other people for the work of the ministry.

Young people and young adults should be included in the ministry. They have been given gifts by God and possess great potential to advance God’s kingdom. They can be an enormous asset to the local church ensuring its future. Waiting until the old guard dies off before deploying younger leaders is a mistake – it’s too late.

I’ve always been mindful of how important developing others, especially younger adults, really is. Over the years we have been deliberate about targeting certain individuals, developing them, and deploying them into a servant role at PCC. As a result we have a very strong church of dedicated disciples and servants. Most of the ministry at our church is carried out by a very large team of kingdom-minded servants, because the sheer volume of work could not be accomplished otherwise. In this mix of volunteers and staff is a good group of younger adults. We don’t clip their wings; we encourage them to fly.

Still, we have much more to do.

To accomplish this, young adults must be empowered AND platformed. We’ve always be intentional about empowering people. But that’s not enough. We must “platform” them also. Platforming means granting someone with the “symbols” of authority. It tells everyone that this person has significant juice and influence in the church.

Being endued with symbols of authority is Biblical. Jesus was called Rabbi. Paul was called an apostle, as were the other twelve. Others throughout the New Testament were called elders, deacons, deaconesses, evangelists, teachers, fellow servants, etc. The titles these people had and the roles they filled where symbols of authority - i.e., platforming.

Today these symbols of authority vary from one organization to another, as well as from one church to another based upon their form of government and structure. But everyone within knows exactly what they mean. For instance, in the business world it’s the corner office. In an academic setting, it’s the letters written beside your name; the difference between being called a “professor” or “instructor.” In a church, it’s the title you are given, the role you are allowed to play, and a host of other subtle symbols.

Many Christians people grew up in a church where the pastor was the only “real” pastor. He was the one who carried out the symbolic duties of spiritual authority; communion, baptisms, weddings, funerals, and teaching. That sent a strong message to every other young leader that if you wanted to be a pastor, you’d better go somewhere else to do it. His was a platform not to be shared.

The senior pastor’s hogging of the symbols and platforms of spiritual leadership also sends a strong message to the congregation. If someone is in the hospital, he has to be the one to visit. His are the only prayers that count. If someone needs spiritual counsel, or even the keys to the church kitchen, he is the one you call. Even worse, many people in the congregation expect it to be this way! The pastor is the only one that is good enough for them.

The result is an overwhelmed pastor and other leaders who have been devalued.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Leaders who willingly share the symbols of a church’s power experience a completely different reality. Since their young leaders don’t have to go elsewhere to fly, they tend to stay. When a congregation has other gifted, powerful, and appropriately platformed leaders to choose from, people will start turning to them for spiritual counsel, as well as the keys to the kitchen, significantly lightening the load of the pastor.

We can platform people in many ways. Most involve simply stepping back and sharing some of the roles and duties that others currently carry out. That’s why I have continually given the ministry away over the years. I’m not the only one who baptizes, serves communion, visits hospitals, offers prayers, or leads up-front events. These same duties are carried out by our small group leaders, staff members, and other gifted persons in our church family.

Another way to properly platform young leaders is with appropriate titles. They are powerful symbols that cost nothing to give away except a willingness to share our church’s prestige with others.

Take a look around PCC and you’ll see what I mean. Titles are everywhere. Some are formal, others less so. We have directors, team leaders, ministry leaders, “heads of”, and overseers. Look on the back of the Sunday bulletin and you’ll see titles related to our age-level ministries. We even use the word pastor in the plural (i.e., pastors) communicating the idea that more than one pastor leads this church.

There are some people in this church family that I don’t want to lose. They are gifted, called of God, and can bring much to the table. I don’t want them to consider leaving PCC as an option if they want to get a spiritual promotion. I believe they can be promoted, deployed, and utilized to the fullest extent of their giftedness right here! To that end I will do everything I can to make that happen.

I’m even thinking about doing away with the title of “senior pastor” for myself. Here’s why: the title senior pastor implies that all others are “associate” pastors. In fact, most church’s use that designation. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the title “associate pastor,” but it has come to mean (in many people’s mind) that you are either too young or either lack the skills to be a senior pastor. So people assume that anyone who has the title of “associate pastor” will be leaving soon for an upgrade.

Ironically, achieving the title of “senior pastor” is always seen as a promotion even if the new church is smaller and the circle of influence is much smaller than in the “associate” days. Apparently, there is a lot of power in the word senior. That’s why I want to change the nomenclature (i.e., system of names) at PCC in regards to pastors.

It should be apparent that visible changes are taking place in our worship band on Sunday mornings too. There are now two worship teams, with each team serving one month at a time. New musicians are being trained and used. Young adults and teenagers are in the mix. Some of the team members are filling new roles. And yes, more changes are on the way and new talent is going to be deployed.

Our Seminar System (101 & 201) is on the drawing board right now getting an overhaul, and the content is being rewritten. When finished, these seminars will be taught by a teaching team – not only by me. This will communicate loud and clear that there are other important people teaching at Pace Community Church.

All of this illustrates an important point about platforming – aspiring leaders know they don’t have to go elsewhere to fly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Giving Young Adults a Seat at the Leadership Table

In most churches very little room is made for young adults to have a seat at the leadership table. Older adults hog the leadership, shutting out the next generation. It’s one of the main reasons churches stop growing and lose their evangelistic touch around the twenty-year mark.

Ironically, most churches are started by younger adults; they are maverick types whose faith causes them to put it all on the line. But soon after getting the church established and nicely furnished, they start to marginalize the next batch of young adults, asking them to wait for their turn at middle-aged leadership.

To counteract that tendency, I’ve made it a personal priority to ensure that young adults have access to ministry and leadership opportunities at PCC. I see it as (part of) my role to enhance their influence and visibility in our church, making sure that they are supported, protected, and listened to.

But I’ll have to admit, it’s not always appreciated by the middle-aged leaders who think that tenure (or seniority) is the best system for filling important roles. I understand their reluctance. Young adults can make a mess of things. They lack the wisdom that comes with experience. In short, they make the same dumb mistake that middle-aged leaders made when they first started out.

But that’s not the real reason that middle-aged leaders keep young adults from the leadership table. The real reason is that one person’s emerging influence is always another person’s waning influence. That’s why making room for young adults is a hard sell, especially to those who already have a seat at the table.

Myself, I love the “idea” of servant leadership and putting others first, as long as no one actually cuts in line in front of me. That’s a real challenge. But it has to be done or we (PCC) will fall victim to the predictable twenty-year death cycle that causes most churches to plateau.

As a church grows older, if not careful, it will develop a generation gap. Then it starts to wonder, “What happened to all the young people that used to be around here?” When that happens it’s a sure sign that the younger generation has been shut out for a long time and have gone elsewhere.

Young eagles are born to fly. It’s their nature. It’s how God made them. If they can’t fly in our church, they’ll bolt and fly elsewhere. And sadly, if and when they do, they’ll take most of the life, vitality, and future of our church with them.

More about this tomorrow…..and what we're doing about it.

Practical Lessons from Nehemiah

After four months of fasting and praying for an opportunity to speak to King Artaxerses, Nehemiah asks for permission to travel more than 750 from Susa to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls which had been broken down for more than 140 years.

When he arrives he inspects the damage. Sometimes you have to face the brutal facts. If you want your marriage to get better, you need to be honest about what’s broken down. If you want your finances to improve, you be honest about how bad they are. Many people who are drowning in debt don’t even know how much they really owe, or how much interest they are paying. If we don’t really understand the depths of our sin, then we may not fully appreciate the grace of God. Yes, facing the brutal facts is hard to do.

Next he inspires the people with a rallying call. “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem” he says to these people who have been living among rubble for decades. He tells the people that the Hand of God was upon him, and they follow his leadership. That wasn’t just a good idea; it is God’s idea.

Finally he organizes the construction project, gives out work assignments, and puts people to work. As I think about this overview, I am reminded of several things:

1. God Uses PEOPLE to Accomplish His Purposes. As Creator of the universe, God could have easily spoken the wall back into existence. Instead Go chose to raise up a leader and a group of people to do the work.

2. God Wants You to Use YOUR GIFTS. Goldsmiths, blacksmiths, woodworkers, stone masons, etc were put to work in areas that matched their gifts. The same things that make you successful in the secular world can make a big difference in advancing God’s Kingdom on earth.

3. People Worked on the Part of the Wall that was CLOSEST TO THEIR HOUSE. Our families are near and dear to us. Nehemiah said “fight for your women, your children, your brethren, and your homes.” Strengthening your family will help strengthen the church, and likewise in reverse, strengthening the church will help strengthen your family. Work on the wall, but stay close to home.

4. Every Job is IMPORTANT When You Are Working for God. Doors, gates, and rocks don’t sound like ministry; it sounds more like a construction project. Pulling guard duty on the wall while working the midnight shift doesn’t sound very exciting; it sounds boring. It’s easy to think that some work is “spiritual” while other work is not, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” When we do things “unto the Lord,” then it’s sacred work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What is a Christian? I mean, really?

When Jesus called people to follow Him, He carefully instructed them on the cost. Halfhearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus He turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price – such as the rich young ruler.

Jesus likened halfhearted commitment to a half-built tower. A builder eagerly begins a construction project without counting the cost. Half way through the project he runs out of money and materials, the work comes to a stop, and this half-built tower becomes a monument to his folly (Luke 14:28-30).

Likewise, the Christian landscape today is strewn with the wreckage of half-built towers – the ruins of those who began to build a spiritual life and then fell away. Their commitment was casul and half-hearted, containing no depth. Instead of surrendering to divine authority and continuing to build, huge numbers of people have opted to cover themselves with a thin veneer of Christianity that looks the part, but isn’t resulting in life-change.

A Christian is not one who simply buys “fire insurance.” The New Testament is very clear that true faith in Jesus Christ is EXPRESSED through in a LIFE OF SUBMISSION and OBEDIENCE. To state it very plainly – Christians “follow” Christ. They are unquestionably committed to Christ as both Lord and Savior. They desire to please God. When they fail, the seek God’s forgiveness and move forward. That is their natural bent – towards God – never back to their old life.

Those who think they can simply affirm a list of gospel facts and continue to live any way they please should examine themselves to see if they are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Unlike preachers today who go to great lengths to avoid upsetting anyone’s assurance, Jesus was determined to destroy the false hope of all who falsely thought they were saved (see Matthew 7:21-23). His message stands in stark contrast to the soft gospel message today, which seems designed to prop up false assurance. The pattern today is to give people an easy message, have them sign a card or say a prayer, or whatever; then tell them they are saved and to never doubt it. Jesus demolished those notions.

It has become quite popular to teach professing Christians that they can enjoy the assurance of salvation no matter what their lives are like. After all, some argue, salvation is a free gift given to people who simply believe the gospel facts, and therefore how one lives has nothing to do with assurance. That kind of teaching actually encourages professing Christians to live in hypocrisy and discourages self-examination. And it clearly violates scripture; we are commanded to examine ourselves at least as often as we take communion (I Corinthians 11:28).

Are we to believe that people who live in an unbroken pattern of sin are truly born again? Is this what a new testament Christian is supposed to look like? Does God really want us to base our assurance on the fact that we signed on the dotted line some time in our past? Yet that is exactly the assumption that Christians have been taught to make. They have been offered the promise of eternal life without the necessity of surrender to divine authority.

As a pastor I often rebaptize people who once “made a decision,” were baptized, yet experienced no change. They come later to true conversion and seek baptism again as an expression of genuine salvation. For this I am very grateful because it means this person has now come under divine authority and their desire is to please God.

Genuine assurance comes from seeing the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in one’s life, not from clinging to the memory of some past experience.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Salvation is verified – not by a past prayer – but by present fruitfulness.

It means absolutely nothing to profess Christ as your Savior if your life does not back it up.

A changed life reveals true salvation.

Salvation is not something that God “tacks” onto your life as free fire insurance; it is transformation that leads to a surrendered life.

To be your Savior, Jesus must be your Lord.

How can you determine if you are a true Christian? Not by sentiment, but by obedience.

The Bible makes no attempt to make itself popular. In fact, it risks its popularity by its severity. For the follower of Christ, God’s Word is sweeter than honey (Psalms 119:103).

The Dangers of Imported Seafood

You can read it here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Service - September 12th

BAPTISM SUNDAY - One service that day

Sunday September 12th is Baptism Sunday. WE ARE HAVING ONLY ONE SERVICE THAT DAY. Both services will be combined into one. THE TIME WILL BE 10:00 AM. About 25 people are currently signed up to be baptized, and there will probably be more by then. There will be NO AGE-LEVEL CLASSES OFFERED THAT DAY, (i.e., pre-k, elementary, middle & high school). All children and teens will be in the sanctuary to celebrate the ordinance of baptism with the PCC family. NURSERY WILL BE AVAILABLE and the nursery staff is preparing for this. There are matters of logistics that make this format much easier for us to pull off. More to the point, I think it is essential that all our children and teenagers witness this important event by being integrated into the main life of the church (especially for something like this).

It’s going to be a great day. We are going to celebrate together, clap our hands, shout out loud, and sing our hearts out. There are some amazing stories behind every person who is going to be baptized. A lot of video will be shot that day too.

Here’s how it’s going to play out: The Sunday before (September 5th) I will take a break from the Nehemiah series and teach on the importance of baptism. I will do this in both services. This message should answer any questions that people have about water baptism. Additionally, it will be a perfect opportunity for me to make an appeal for people to commit their lives to Christ. THIS WILL BE A GOOD SUNDAY TO GET YOUR UNCHURCHED FRIENDS TO CHURCH WITH YOU. The message will be biblically based making the importance of baptism very clear. I will also be extending a strong invitation for people to receive Christ in both services.

The following Sunday - baptism Sunday (September 12th) - there will be no preaching. We will have our normal song service and welcome guests. After that, we will go directly into baptism. IT’S GOING TO BE FANTASTIC!

Between now and then, be on a soul-winning mission. If you will do this, you can see your friends baptized that day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Obama Administration Relents - Releases Pro Abstinence Study

The Obama administration relented on Monday in the face of public pressure and national news highlighting how the Health and Human Services Department refused to make public a new study showing the effectiveness of abstinence education programs.

You can read it here

Systems & System Thinkers

After we moved into our new building, PCC experienced a pretty decent growth spurt. This created a mini crisis for us because we didn’t have enough systems in place to effectively manage this rapid growth. We had succeeded in getting people to church but we were not fully prepared to answer the question, “What Next?” How are we going to get these people connected so they can be discipled? And how are we going to stay organized?

From day one we’ve always had systems in place, but we didn’t need a lot of them when we were a portable church. In fact, we prided ourselves in being a brown bag operation; very flexible, informal, without a bunch of polices. This gave us enormous freedom to make decisions quickly and to be creative with very limited resources. After all, when your church is small it doesn’t take a lot of internal systems to get things done; two or three key leaders is all it takes to get things done and can do so by just shooting from the hip most of the time.

But growth changes everything. Suddenly we were attracting more people than we were keeping. The front door was wide open, but so was the back door. We had a systems problem. Then there were matters like building usage and who got to use it and when. Our small groups were running in all different directions. Some were teaching questionable material. Some were even soliciting funds and receiving offerings which created a pretty big backlash for me. Again, we had a systems problem. We were launching new programs and then changing them often. We had systems problem. Very few people knew who they were supposed to report to, or even if they had to for that matter. We had a systems problem.

All of a sudden, ‘brown bagging it’ doesn’t cut it anymore. The days of ‘winging it’ were gone.

Many of the problems we were facing were systems problems. We failed to recognize that, while systems are not sexy, they are needed. I was getting frustrated about things in our church and would have to revisit the same issues over and over again, simply because a lack of systems. It was time to fix it.

About nine or ten months in to our new building, I went to work of our systems. I made a list of everything in our church that needed to be systemized – things like how we hired people, building use, key policies, campus operations, small groups, soliciting funds, administrative, leadership structure, connections, facilities, financials, age-levels, custodial, job descriptions, house cleaning, guest follow up, new believer follow up, guest services, volunteers, on & on. Next, we wrote them down.

Sometimes people aren’t on the same page, because the actual page does not exist. If there are no systems in place, if expectations are not clearly communicated, and common goals are not established, then everyone is left to decide for themselves what they are going to do. It took us months and months to develop new systems, to implement them, and getting people doing things the same way. It went a long way in improving the day-to-day operations of our church. Many problems just went away because our people knew what was expected of them. Meetings took shape because we knew the goal and the desired result.

Not everyone likes systems. They’re not attractive and seem restrictive. Most people would rather just teach, preach, sing, lead a group, and do ministry without any structure, (i.e, just follow the Spirit or something). That’s fine if you’re operating on your own. But in a growing church that is impossible. Systems and structure are absolutely necessary to keep everyone on page.

The senior pastor may not be the best person to formulate systems in the church. While I recognize the need for them myself and have done a pretty good job developing them so far, I am currently at the limit of my abilities. Besides, I’m more of a visionary and get most excited about looking into the future.

PCC needs a strong “systems thinker” to take us to the next level. We’ve made enormous strides up to this point, but so much more needs to be done. Most of our systems need to be upgraded. Some still don't even exist. When such a person is identified, it will be time to let them go through the church with a clipboard in hand looking for ways to make improvements and then give them the reigns to make it happen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Move on dude...


You need to move on and get a life. If you want an audience to follow what you have to say, then attract your own readers; but I will not allow you to use my blog as a platform to advance your desperate agenda. All your comments have been deleted and will never be posted here. You have an orbit about the size of a Cheerio and nobody cares what you have to say - most of all, me. Your middle-schoolish comments sound like the last gasp of a dying man.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - August 22, 2010

  • Today was a pretty cool day at PCC. Attendance looked way, way up. It was so high in the first service that extra chairs had to be brought out. The music was very good too.

  • I didn’t play on stage myself. It was by design. This is a step towards a role-change for me. Plus it’s preparation for me and Renae to be out-of-town on a Sunday.

  • Everything at PCC should be able to happen in my absence (as well as Renae’s). We have the people for this… now it’s just a matter of making it happen. Good leadership means putting other leaders in place so that I don’t have to worry when I am gone, and the church never misses a beat.

  • Mike did a good job filling my place on guitar.

  • Sitting on a front row gave me a new perspective that I really enjoyed.

  • In the second service the music was a little too loud and the temperature was a little too cold – probably because of the smaller crowd. We should probably compensate for this each week.

  • Conducted a baby dedication in the first service. Three couples. Three baby girls. A ton of family members. The entire area on the floor in front of the stage was filled with people. Then it got even more crowded as members from PCC gathered around, laid hands on them, and prayed. Awesome!

  • Loved seeing so many new faces at PCC.

  • I heard the age-level ministries area was slammed with kids today. That’s great! I heard the nursery was crowded too. School starts tomrrow and probably had a lot to do with it. We are probably going to have to take a look at restructuring the entire area.

  • I had to adjust my message A LOT today; I mean while standing on my feet. Just saying.

  • At the end of the second service I had special prayer for a lady. She came forward asking prayer for a six month old baby. Her story was heartbreaking. I’m glad that people feel they can do this at our church…. even when I’m giving a sermon on leadership. I guess this goes to the point (made in the message today) that leadership is a PEOPLE ORIENTED JOB. This lady and her family need a lot of love and covering in prayer. You never know what kind of burdens people are carrying when they come into our services. I'm just glad that God sends them to us.

  • Baptism service September 12th – going to be a great day.

  • The best verse of the day was Nehemiah 5:15 from the NIV - "But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that."

  • I’ve been reconnecting with some people from my past lately – childhood friends, former church members, etc. This reminds me that when people have stuff going on in their lives they call the person they consider to be their pastor and friend because that person has walked with them before through.

Righteous Leaders

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2 KJV)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Who IS and IS NOT a Leader?

If you are too afraid, too abrasive, or (for whatever reason) are unable to challenge others by your example to get followers, you are not a leader (I Corinthians 11:1; 4:16; I Thess.1:6; 2:14; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess.3:9).

Look up these passages, they are worth the effort.

Patch & Tojo on Blackwater River Today

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Leadership 101

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is LEADERSHIP, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)

Behind the scenes of every great church are great leaders. They are courageous, servant-oriented, and diligent. Throughout the Bible, whenever God was ready to begin a new work, He would call a potential leader and give him or her a leadership assignment.

Almost thirteen years ago we began PCC with seven people. We have grown to where we are through effective leadership; not just mine, but through the contributions of many. I’ve always known the importance of developing other leaders and this has always been a high priority of mine. Over the thirteen years of PCC’s existence our church has done an exceptional job discovering, developing, and deploying other leaders to carry out the work of the ministry. On the other hand, at our current attendance level a renewed effort is needed to get us over the top so that we may reach our redemptive potential.

Romans 12:8 above tells those of us who have the gift of leadership that we had better use it well - that we should “lead with diligence.” Why? Because the Church, upon which the eternal destiny of so many depends, will flourish or fail largely on the basis of how well its leaders lead.

People who are gifted to lead must yield themselves to God. They must cast powerful, Biblical, God-honoring visions. They must build effective ministry teams who are clearly focused. They must inspire believers to give their absolute best to God and for the cause of Christ. And they must insist with pit bull determination that….

  • the gospel be preached
  • the lost be found
  • believers be equipped for ministry
  • the poor be served
  • the lonely be enfolded into community
  • and God gets the credit for it all

If you follow my blog, you will recall I have been writing about leadership matters that are related to our church. I wrote a series on “Rethinking” (Rethinking Church, Rethinking Leadership, Time to Reorganize & Restructure, Rethinking Programs and Volunteers). On July 11th, in a Sunday Mind Dump, I wrote about something I have been thinking of doing for more than a decade: a once-a-month leadership meeting called S.A.L.T. or C.O.R.E. or Leadership Advance. Most recently I have written related articles entitled, “Work Smarter, Not Harder”, “Behind Every No is a More Important Yes”, “I’m Re-establishing Boundaries for Myself”, “Our Need to Get Smaller”, “Leadership Summit Highlights”, “Let Dying Programs Die”, and “An Honest Evaluation.” All of these articles are my thoughts being spoken out loud.

Well, it’s time to pull the trigger on a few things around here. For the last several weeks I have been getting prepared to conduct a series of meetings with leaders and potential leaders at PCC. It has taken me some time. After a very difficult summer of being spread too thin too many times, and almost collapsing from physical and emotional exhaustion, I have pulled back from a lot of things so I could mentally and physically recover. Through this process I have attempted to get plenty of rest. I’m almost there. Secondly, I’ve had to gain laser focus about the direction and future of our church. I think I’ve got it now. Next I have been working on the material I want to share with our leaders.

Some of you have been waiting for this. It’s going to happen soon. Thought you’d like an update.

With your leadership contribution we are going to go over the top and reach our redemptive potential. And God is going to get credit for it all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gone in October....

It's offical. Renae and I have blocked out a two-week period in the month of October to go on a trip together. We will MISS A SUNDAY SERVICE - only the second time in thirteen years at PCC. We have blocked out the dates on our calendar and we will protect them diligently. Nothing else will interfere. We are planning an extended trip along Skyline Drive or Blue Ride Parkway. Thanks to Lynda P. who mapped out an intinerary for us last October we have an idea of what to do and where to go. We will leave on a Monday, be gone all week through the weekend, and then return the following week. Hopefully we will catch the fall colors in peak season. Can't wait.

Upcoming Events....

  • Baby Dedication service (this Sunday)
  • Baptism service (September 12th)
  • A series of serious leadership meetings dedicated to hammering out a strategy for the future of PCC (to begin soon and will be on-going)
  • All Church-Workers Appreciation Banquet (a big hit last year) (Probably the week of Thanksgiving in November)
  • Cardboard Testimony (December)

Day Trip

Renae and I took a day trip yesterday. We enjoyed getting out of town - even if it was only for ten hours or so. We have been to this place before, but it has been about six years. It was good to go back and check it out again, and after doing so decided it would be a good idea to plan a two-day stay very soon.

Click each picture if you would like to see an enlarged view. Then use your backspace button to come back to this blog.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - August 15, 2010

Church Substitutes

In the OT God’s glory was on display in the Garden of Eden, at Mt. Sinai, in the Tabernacle, and later in Solomon’s temple. In the NT God’s glory is manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. But where is God’s glory on display now? Ephesians 3:7-11 answers that question. God’s glory is now on display IN THE CHURCH…. no matter what George Barna thinks.

There is an attitude of indifference towards the church today. Some people think that other events are equal to the church, when, in fact, they are not. Three guys meeting at Starbucks isn’t church – it’s just three guys meeting at Starbucks. Having a five-minute devotional before a ball game on Sunday isn’t church either – it’s a five minute devotional on a ball field. Some people consider their prayer group, a food pantry, or quilting club to be church, but it’s not. In truth, these things often became a church substitute. Yes I know, “where two or three are gathered together” in Jesus’ Name, He is present in the midst of them. But that’s not church. That’s not corporate worship. A church is more than a group of Christians hanging out.

What is a church? Church is a community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, who are organized under the authority of qualified leadership, who submit to the authority of God’s delegated authorities, who gather together regularly for preaching, worship, observing the Biblical sacraments of baptism & communion, and are unified by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission. I’m sorry, you just can’t do that out there on your own.

Here is what the Bible says about the local church:
• We are commanded to attend corporate worship and never neglect attending (Hebrews 10:25)
• The church is governed by overseers & shepherds (Acts 20:28)
• Jesus is building the church and that gates of Hell will not overcome (Matthew 16:18)

Many people have lost their vision of the church because they don’t understand what the BIBLE says about the church, so they just decide for themselves. The church is not a collection of man-made programs. It is the very vehicle that God has chosen to accomplish His purpose for us and for the world.

The church must be central to our lives because it is central to the plan of God. This is not optional. How can anyone claiming to be a Christian take so lightly what God takes so seriously? Let us never push to circumference that which God has placed at the center.

Growing as a Christian is not something you can do on your own. It requires a relationship, a community, and belonging to a church family. I think if people understood this they would take less time off on Sundays to clean out the garage…. or attend something else that served as a church substitute.

If you are serious about growing as a Christian, you can’t “tack” church on to your weekly schedule. Sunday is the FIRST DAY of the week and God is supposed to get His part first. Your family, your employer, your Bible groups, and hobbies get what is left over.


Sunday Mind Dump

  • Good solid day at PCC. Attendance was up and the energy in the house was strong.

  • The song service went off well. A lot of spontaneous worship took place. In the second service people were busting out all over the place.

  • It’s hard to explain, but the Sunday services are emotionally and physically draining for me. Yes, in a good way. But I always need a lot of rest afterwards and usually need a whole day to recover.

  • I’ve been involved in some serious spiritual warfare lately.

  • Several people spoke to me today expressing some concern about the general tone of my blogs lately, wondering if I’m about to have a meltdown. One person even asked me if I was leaving PCC. The answer is no, I’m not having a meltdown and I’m not leaving PCC. I am, however, overworked and pretty stressed out. So is Renae. So are a lot of people. It’s been a challenging summer for us; we have been drowning in work. But I think light is at the end of the tunnel. We’re just going to have to make some decisions and see them through. That’s all there is to it.

  • The series on Nehemiah is going well. Parts 1 and 2 laid the foundation for getting the story line off the ground, but part 5 today was the best for me. I kid you not, I could see God moving all across the congregation in both services. It’s apparent when God is bringing conviction. It’s also apparent when people are riveted.

  • The most meaningful parts of today’s message to me were (1) Our love for our neighbor should be greater than our love for money. The love of money is the root of all evil. (2) When God shows us a sin we are guilty of, He wants us to deal with it and correct it “immediately.” He doesn’t give us a pass and He doesn’t give us six months to pray about it. He shows it to us because He wants us to correct it. (3) Making a promise or vow to God is serious. See your promises/commitments through.

  • There was a first-time guest in the second service today. This gentleman has cancer and the doctors’ prognosis is not good. He had his entire family there (wife, son, daughter in-law, etc). At the end of the service I gave an invitation for anyone who wanted special prayer to come forward. He and his family responded. A large group of people gathered around him, we anointed him with oil, and prayed the prayer of faith. I was deeply moved with compassion. I think the family was deeply moved by God’s Spirit too. He’s going to Houston TX this week for extra treatment and signed up to be baptized before he left the building today. Pray for this man and his family.

  • I think we should create more ‘room’ in our services for moments like these. What do you think?

  • Next Sunday we are singing “Will You Ride.” It’s a jam up song. The worship is going to be fabulous.

  • Next Sunday we are having a baby dedication in the first service for three couples. Two of these couples I preformed the wedding ceremony for, and now I have the privilege of dedicating their babies to God. This is the joy of a long-term pastor – the family circle makes a full cycle and I’m there to celebrate these stages of family life. If I live long enough and can serve as PCC’s pastor long enough, I hope to see these very babies grow up into adulthood to have families of their own. When that day comes I will know that I have lived the long life of a God-ordained, long-term shepherd and pastor of God’s flock.

  • I believe in theology. I believe in good theology. I believe in Biblical theology. I believe in Bible preaching and solid exposition. I don’t like hype, shallowness, or silliness. I don’t believe it’s a good idea for pastors to use tactics for shock value to attract a crowd either.

  • I also think music and lyrics should be Biblically oriented and theologically correct… God honoring. (I have an upcoming blog entitled, “Church is not a GIG” that is especially suited to musicians, singers, bands, pastors, and other church leaders).

  • Baptism service September 12th. We currently have sixteen people to baptize. I estimate about 25 on that day.
    After the Nehemiah series is concluded we will be having a communion service. Be there.

  • In December I would like to have another “cardboard testimony” service. Do you remember the one we had (in Decemeber) two years ago? It was powerful. It’s time to do it again.

  • Pace Community Church is an awesome church and I totally believe God is going to be doing some amazing things through this ministry. You, (our staff, volunteers, and servants), will make it all possible.

  • LEADERSHIP TRAINING: I have a talk prepared entitled, “IT’S ABOUT THE WEEKEND” that stresses the importance of the weekend services above all else. Today something happened that made me realize that I have to give this talk very soon!

  • Are you interested in leadership? Let me know.

  • Some changes are coming to PCC. For one thing, my role is going to change. (You can see some of my previous blogs to get an idea). New leaders are going to be developed. We are going to get laser focus about our mission. We are going to keep the main thing the main thing around here. If you are interested in this kind of thing, read my blog daily. I will be writing about it.

  • Pace Community Church is going to have a cadre of lay pastors, lay shepherds, and others who are authorized (and skilled) at fulfilling a variety of roles; including performing weddings, funerals, hospital visitations, etc.

  • Almost everything is on the drawing board right now; the weekend services, age-level ministries, small groups, seminars, etc. The end result is going to be a much-improved system.

  • You’re going to notice some changes in the Sunday services soon. I’m going to be less visible.

  • We going to be making some changes in our seminar system too. Aside from improving and condensing the material, others will be teaching it…. especially the 201 seminar.

  • I slept 10 hours last night.

  • I hate to admit this, but I ate a giant mound of hot chicken wings tonight. There was no sugar involved, but it had to be about 20,000 calories. Now I will have to get up real early in the morning to have a gut-busting run. I hope the temperature is mild and the humidity low.

  • There is a man who attends church with us that I went to High School with. I ran in a pack of four, and Bobby was the leader. This was more than thirty years ago. He is going to be baptized on September 12th. What this does for me I cannot fully express.

  • I thought that I was going to come out of my skin during the song service today, especially during the last song “From the Inside Out.”

  • The next couple of months at PCC are going to be awesome!

  • Leave me a comment.

Sunday Mind Dump is Coming - Hold Your Horses!

Friday, August 13, 2010


"The church is the hope of the world, and leaders are the hope of the church."
Bill Hybles

Work Smarter, Not Harder

About ten years ago I used the story described below as a sermon illustration to demonstrate our need for more leaders at PCC, and why pastors must give the ministry away to others rather than trying to do it all themselves. It is time for us to make this our emphasis again. Read on if you are interested in the future of PCC.

First Scenario…..

Imagine a foreign country hit by a devastating earthquake, where 50,000 people are injured or dead. Two medical teams, each headed by a doctor, are being airlifted to the disaster area.

The physician leading the first crew steps out of the helicopter and is immediately overwhelmed by all the carnage he sees. Moved by compassion, he rushes over to the first bleeding body and gets to work. He assigns his team and their medial supplies to minister to this one person. Next, they minister to another injured person. Then another. Then another.

Now the doctor faces a worse dilemma than when his helicopter touched down. He would like to assist more of the injured, (there’s still 49,996 others), but he has already expended all his resources on the first four bodies presented to him.

The only solution, he decides, is to make himself even more available. He resolves that he and his staff will push themselves harder. They will be on call twenty hours a day, seven days a week, to treat as many people as possible.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later this well-intentioned medic is forced to return home. His body has not kept pace with his desire to help. With his resistance lowered he has caught one of the diseases rampant in the disaster area. The care he and his team have provided must now come to a standstill until a replacement arrives.

Second Scenario….

Meanwhile, what is the second medical team doing? They, too, are deeply shocked and moved by compassion toward the massive death and pain they see in every direction.

The physician heading this second group quickly concludes that her small team by itself is inadequate. So, instead of scooping up the first person in sight and immediately beginning treatment, this doctor opts for a different plan. She formulates a strategy that will touch a maximum number of people in the least amount of time.

The doctor announces to her team, “Let’s train some people as life-support engineers. One group will make sure safe drinking water is available; another will deal with shelter issues. Yet another group will work on waste control and public health by providing field latrines and begin repairing the city-wide sewer system before contaminants spoil the water. Still another group will ensure that proper food, meals, and nutrition are provided.”

This form of relief effort and preventive care, multiplied throughout the disaster area on the shoulders of many, will slow the growth of infection, allowing the medical intervention to have a greater impact than the first team.

Which Team Would You Choose?

Which of these two teams was the most caring? Which team would you choose? Remember, both teams had equally strong feelings of love and compassion. They differed only in how they showed their concern.

The initial response of most Christians, including trained leaders and pastors, is to act like the first group. They want to help, so they allow their impulsiveness to plunge them into immediate action to focus on the most urgent needs.

Unfortunately, many of us frantically work fifteen hours a day, only to come down with chronic-fatigue syndrome. Worse still, we are motivated to do this by a mistaken assumption about ourselves; we wrongly assume that the key to effective ministry is our personal availability and longer hours.

Work Smarter, Not Harder....

I propose an alternative: The greater need for Pace Community Church is to develop a cadre of lay pastors, lay shepherds, and group leaders, who become the primary ministry leaders and care-givers in our church. The field of need is simply too big to be handled by a few. To the extent that the same two or three people become so preoccupied with the nearest bleeding body, they cannot provide adequate care for others.

We must catch a glimpse of the bigger picture here. We cannot continue to accept the first case that crosses out path, wrap our lives around it, and allow the rest of the church to go down the tubes. It is not a demonstration of wise leadership for pastors or staff to provide all the ministry themselves… even if they do discover how to clock in twenty-five hours a day.

Church leaders who want to maximize their impact must develop a means of budgeting their physical energies. One way this can be achieved is by following the model describing the second team above.

To that end, I’m going to spend more of my time working “on” the church rather than “in” the church. The scriptures are clear that the role of the pastor is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Nothing is said about the pastor doing it all himself, rather he must train others to carry out the work. The pastor’s role is to equip the church, period.

The impact of PCC’s ministry would expand exponentially if I (we) spent less time working harder and longer, and instead used our time developing other leaders who would, in turn, become a cadre of lay pastors, lay shepherds, and ministry leaders who were responsible for leading the ministries of our church. This could include almost everything; serving as department heads, teaching classes, leading groups, preaching & teaching, playing music, welcoming guests in the Sunday services, doing a call to worship, teaching seminars, performing weddings & funerals, making hospital calls, etc.

Of course, this is a little unnerving for some people, and they will flat out reject the idea. For some people in the church, only the senior pastor (or some other senior staff member) will do for them in their time of need. So our congregation will have to get used to the idea that we will not always be personally available for every party, meeting or need; and that others, just as gifted, will be there. On the other side, some pastors & staff just can’t let go of the ministry; they get their sense of security and self-worth based upon how well they are liked, needed, appreciated, and affirmed. They too, will have to make an adjustment by learning new skills such as training and developing other leaders, letting go, delegation, and serving as overseers.

My hope is that the Spirit of God will grant us new insights into the nature of ministry. This model spreads the ministry evenly upon the shoulders of many, which is much more effective.

The objective is not less care, but assured care.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Sin of Not Resting

In the Bible God calls those who will not work lazy, but He calls those who will not rest disobedient.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

How People Connect to a Church

Through Friendships – they make or have friends
Through Identification – they identify with the church, its people, its philosophy
Through Tasks or Roles – they find a place serve
Through Spiritual Growth – they are challenged, nurtured, and bear fruit

Behind Every No is a More Important Yes

It’s so easy to say yes. Yes to another request, yes to being there, yes to doing it for them, yes to another idea, yes to an unrealistic deadline, yes to everyone. Soon the stack of things you’ve said yes to grows so tall that you can’t even see the things you should really be doing. I’ve never regretted saying no, but I have often regretted saying yes.

I’m going to start getting myself into the habit of saying no more often. I want my life back. I’m not going to feel guilty for saying no either. This is a matter of priorities for me. I can’t say yes to everything, meet every expectation, answer every phone call, respond to every crisis, make every hospital visit, show up to every event, accept every invitation, enter every persons home, and be at every birthday party. Between my normal office hours, leading our staff, preparing for the weekend services, plus being a husband, my time is already full. Do I really want to take what little personal time I have left of my life and fill it up with more church-related activities? No.

Behind every “no” is a more important “yes.” When I say no to something, it means I am saying yes to something bigger and more important. I’m saying yes to:

• My spiritual health
• My mental and emotional health
• My physical health
• Having some energy left over for my marriage
• My wife
• My family
• Being in control of my own personal time
• Having a personal life away from the church
• A slower pace of living

The needs of people are great, and their expectations are endless. The demands of our church are many, and the work is never done. If I don’t draw a line in the sand, all my emotional, spiritual, and physical energy will be drained. I have to be the one who says, “Whoa, I can’t do this much anymore”, because no one else will. If I continue to lead on empty I will end up in the hospital suffering from fatigue and failing health, and people will be saying, “He should have taken better care of himself.” If something is going to crash-and-burn, better it be something else than me.

Only I can give myself permission to rest or to overachieve, to pace myself or run at the pace others expect of me.

I’m Re-establishing Boundaries for Myself

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. 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 interruptionis. Of course, this is a tension we all wrestle with. But I wanted you to know that I am making every effort to guard and develop my spiritual life.

I’m going to protect my personal time by limiting my evenings out at church-related events. I am physically present at too many church-related events. This is killing my personal time and it’s unhealthy for me. I’m going to maintain a healthy limit and no more. Get used to the idea that I won’t be at everthing that is going on.

It’s amazing how empowering and effective a few changes like these can be to re-claiming my life and getting in touch with a person I left behind. Myself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Five Blog Posts Today....

I'm all over the page...

Our Need to Get Smaller....

For who hath despised the day of small things? Zechariah 4:10

I can remember when PCC was seven people meeting in my living room. I can remember when it was 35 people, 50 people, 100 people, and so forth. I can remember those early days of smallness and I am very thankful for them. In some ways I miss those days.

One of the biggest strengths that PCC has always possessed has been our relational emphasis - we are a very relational church. In fact, we built ourselves on those strengths. We didn’t have all the bells and whistles that other churches had, but we knew what people were looking for – they were looking for connection, friendships, and belonging. To that end, our vision event stated that we existed to “build people” before we would ever build a church building.

We had get-togethers all the time in my home. We encouraged people in our congregation to form dinner groups and go out together. We had Christmas parties in one another’s homes. Our small groups’ ministry was organic – not programmed or institutional – but organic. That is, circles of friends formed naturally and easily and these people spent time together. We wanted to keep ourselves very personal. During those days Renae and I would host an event in our home called “Newcomers Coffee” about once every two or three months. This was an opportunity for recent visitors to our church to meet us informally in our home. It was a great connection tool and always a lot of fun. Then our church staff joined the effort - this way newcomers could also meet the whole team. The last time we hosted this event was about three years ago when there were something like forty people in my house. We simply got too big and had to discontinue. Our overriding motto was “growing larger and smaller at the same time” and it worked!

A lot of things have changed over the years. We are still a very highly relational church, but our attendance has expanded beyond our ability to keep up and connect everyone. This is something I want to fix.
Some of this is the natural result of growth, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept it or even like it. Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us to not despise the day of small beginnings.

For PCC to maintain its personal warmth for everyone, more people are going to have to get involved in the lives of one another. It can't be about "bigness" beyond the Sunday services - we must scale things back to "smallness." Our emphasis can't be big groups, big classess, big seminars, big picnics, or other big events - it has to be about smallness. Smaller is better sometimes. Take our Unite Family Picnic for example: about eight-to-ten people do virtually all the work for an event that attracts about 150 others. I think they've had enough. It would be much better if the same 150 people transformed themselves into 15 smaller groups who had a picnic together as close personal friends. We are facing those kind of issues across the board in our church and they need to be fixed. Our emphasis must be organic, personal, and relational - not program oriented or inclined to biggness, but smallness.

One thing I am certain of: no matter how large PCC grows (and we want to grow as large as God cause us to), we can maintain our personal warmth and relational nature by getting smaller all the time. We must do this.

How to Fail as a Pastor

1. In Your teaching, answer questions that nobody is asking. Put your dusty commentaries back on the shelf where they belong. Nobody cares was Sir So-and-So said three hundred years ago. Quit quoting dead men.

2. Possess one skill: how to exegete a text. The typical seminary training one receives to be a pastor focuses primarily on learning theology. Churches in the twenty-first century however are very complex and require pastors to possess a variety of skills as overseers. Learning theology and how to exegete Scripture is not enough.

3. Do not equip yourself to lead a complex enterprise. Churches today are more complex than churches of yesterday. Long gone are the days of just picking up a Bible and starting a church. Pastors today must deal with zoning laws, political leaders, community boards, banks, business and community leaders. Pastors must know something about Real Estate and picking out good property. He must hire an architect, lawyers, etc, and undergo a grueling capital stewardship campaign. Without a capital campaign you’ll never be able to build, yet these campaigns are enough to destroy a church. Developing ministries within the church, structuring them accordingly, and leading an expanding organization is very, very complicated.

4. Mismanage your personal finances. Pastors must know when to expand programs and facilities by financing, or when to do it by cash. They must continually monitor incoming cash flow against expenses to ensure that the church is in the black and stays financially strong. But if you can’t even manage your own checking account or stay out of credit card debt in your personal life, then handling a church budget will be too much for you. You will fail. As the Bible says, "a pastor not not be greedy… For if a man does not know how to manage his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (I Timothy 3:3,5)

5. Be so naive that you resist business practices. Like it or not, churches must be operated by sound business and administrative principles. Simply having an anointed church service on Sunday morning cannot build a successful church. You must have continual vision casting, strategic planning, goals, strategies, implementation and administration of the vision, leadership development, discipleship training, team building, complying with state and federal laws, allocating of resources, managing facilities, evaluating ministries, keep books and records of account, and manage a budget. Only a nincompoop would suggest otherwise.

The Real Focus of Spiritual Growth

What comes to mind when you hear the word “discipleship?” It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Quite frankly, I think the word has been distorted and misaligned today. The most common definition of “disciple” or “discipleship” today is on how much “content” you know. What follows is usually more lectures, more classes, more lessons, and more church services with longer, and longer sermons. Ugh.

While content is important to know (by that I mean Biblical content – not denominational arguments or some author’s book), the emphasis in scripture is much broader in defining discipleship. In addition to knowing the scriptures, spiritual growth involves a variety of experiences such as having a heart that longs after God… building harmonious relationships with other people…. using your gifts/talents in service to other people…. sharing your faith with lost people… living right… manifesting the fruit of the Spirit… maintaining spiritual disciplines… running the race until you cross the finish line… and maintaining personal holiness… just to name a few. In other words, GETTING OFF YOUR CONTENT and DOING SOMETHING WITH IT.

Spiritual maturity is being like Christ – in life, character, and conduct. It does not mean become a clone or facsimile of another person.

In any healthy church there will be three types of believers:

New believers – still in infancy who need others to feed them
Growing believers – people who have learned how to feed themselves
Mature believers – those who are feeding others

That’s why at PCC we take a developmental approach to spiritual growth - where people are gradually weaned (from the baby stage) and learn to take responsibility for their own spiritual progress.

Two values we hold to:

1. We don’t separate discipleship from evangelism. Churches need to do both. All believers need to do both.

2. We don’t rely a “dependency model” of spiritual growth that means we are constantly “feeding” the “already overfed.” We insist that, at some point in ones spiritual journey, people begin to feed themselves and then feed others.

Spoon-fed Disciples

I am all in favor of discipleship. I believe that Christians should make progress and grow up in their spiritual journey. I’m for theological discussions, Biblical exegesis, Solo Scriptura, and all kinds of other big words. And my KJV Bible can beat up your ESV slim line Bible too. But somewhere along the way we have FORGOTTEN that the process of making disciples BEGINS with SOMEONE who is NOT a disciple. In fact, it begins with someone who is not even a Christian! They are too many churches and impotent ministers who are only interested in making disciples out of those who are already disciples (often those who have simply transferred from another church).

We couch our refusal to engage in evangelism (or even something as simple as inviting sinners to church) by using words like “deep” or “strong meat.” What a cop out.

At Pace Community Church we will disciple you, but we will not spoon-feed you forever.

Christians today have access to ridiculous amounts of information; we have Bibles, know how to read, can listen to the best preachers of the century from all over the world, and look at Bible charts, add infitim. And what do we do with these resources? Very little. We sit around waiting for someone to spoon-feed us even more, something deep. If you are capable of feeding yourself and refuse to do so, that’s your problem. No church can program you into a disciple. You bear some of the responsibility yourself. Some of the most off-target Christians I know are just sitting around waiting to join a holy huddle so they can have deep discussions about missional churches verses attractional churches. How off base can you get?

At some point you’ve got to do more with your faith than sit on it and talk about it. You must engage it and share it.


  • Overanalyzing the past performances can keep us from pulling the trigger on the future. It’s called analysis paralysis.

  • Don't waste time assigning blame. Just fix the problem already.

  • Haters – we can’t stop them, but we can block them. My favorite feature on e-mail, blog, and web site.

  • I only have so many "meeting hours" in a week.

  • It is folly to work hard from early morning to late at night…. God wants you to get proper rest. See Psalms 127:2

  • Some things can just crash and burn. I'll survive. So will the church.

  • God’s calling to ministry also includes ‘timing.’ There is always a delay in the desert (Galatians 1:7) while God prepares you to trust Him.

  • Suicide bombers are murderers, not martyrs. Martyrs are killed BY OTHERS for refusing to renounce their faith.

  • Couples who have experienced miscarriages never say they lost a "fetus." They know they lost a real baby. "God ordained & planned my days before I was born" Psalm139:16.

  • We need to take a long look at our short lives.

  • No church will grow to the size that God wants it to grow without some pruning of the dead wood.

  • Pain warns you that something is wrong in your body - so you go to the doctor. Pain in your life is also an indicator that something is wrong with the way your are living (morally & spiritually). So what do you need to change?

  • Never allow anyone who contributes so little to the relationship to control you so much.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - August 8

A very good day. However it was balanced with good and bad. I’ll try to make this a report of what God is doing more than a rant.

Attendance was good. I don’t know what the count was but it looked good in both services. The attendance in second service looked better than normal.

The people who attend second service are crazy! They shout, clap their hands, stand up spontaneously, and get into church! I was ready to have an altar call and lay hands on people today.

Today was Alex Casey’s last day with us. He is the college aged kid who plays in our band. He can play several instruments (bass, saxophone, drums, etc, almost anything), and has been an enormous assets to PCC and our worship band. He also wears cool hats on stage sometimes, and even looks cool when he does it. Plus he has a true servants heart. He is moving to Mississippi to attend college. We are going to miss him. I hope he comes back.

After church today we took Alex and a few of his friends out to lunch, along with some of our staff. We wanted to honor him in a proper way, and had a lot of fun together.

A lot of people spoke to me about the morning message. I mean a lot. Apparently it was very encouraging for some. I must confess that it was encouraging to me as well. Sometimes when I teach I am doing so simply because that is part of my role at PCC. At other times I’m preaching it to myself just as much as to anyone else. Today was one of those days; I’ve lived it, experienced it, it was alive to me. Just like you.

Some thoughts from the day……

The newness wears off. It’s then that you have to dig in and see your commitments through.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when quit looks good.

Some of you are probably on the verge of the greatest years of your life, but you’ll never know if you run.

The second half of the wall is harder to build than the first half.

The second half of your life can be better than the first half.

Trust God, He’s great and awesome (v.14)

Fight for your families!

Get involved in a ministry of serving others.

When I get to church on Sunday mornings I never turn on my computer - never, ever, ever - for the simple reason that there might be an e-mail waiting for me that will rattle me just before I walk onto the stage. I don’t need that kind of distraction. Well, Gene Tharp opened his e-mail today and, you guessed it, there was an e-mail there written by some unhappy person who felt the liberty to slam everything good about PCC. It came in through our web site. To Gene’s credit he did not tell me about it until after church. I asked to read it. Then I had Gene forward it to my e-mail account and told him not to worry about it because I will handle it, The nerve of some people.

Here are a few comments from facebook about today’s service:

Marueen B. said, The Lord is good and worthy to be praised!!Great God, Good church, good friends and LOVE the men in my life! Jesus Christ and Ronald!

Kim U. said, Church was so AWESOME today. I've been a Christian for a very long time and today I felt like God and I were having a one on one conversation. Sooo close to leaving some walls half finished. Now, I'm rethinking.

Christa C. said, The message today was super interesting!! Talking about overcoming discouragement, which I have been facing some of that lately!! He even talked about how sometimes we just want to bail on our lives; I so get that!! I have thought about running away many times!! I won't, I will stand in the face of adversity and decide that the second half will be harder but better than the first!! Thanks Ron!!

Another lady wrote Renae a long e-mail this afternoon expressing her thankfulness for today’s service. She was driving around aimlessly in shorts and flip flops, drove by our church, felt that she should attend here, so quickly drove to the dollar tree and bought a pair of pants to wear to church. She said the message was exactly what she needed to hear since she has been having a long battle with discouragement. The content of her letter made my spine tingle.

You know what? God does things like this; He actually sends people to places where He knows they will receive help.

Vacation Bible School was totally amazing last week. I’m not sure of the numbers, but this first night was over 70. I think it might have actually increased a couple of night from there to. Most impressive to me were the VOLUNTEERS who did such an amazing job. I was totally impressed with their selfless service. I especially like seeing so many of our teenagers involved in teaching, serving, and stepping up.

I love it when God confirms things… and He’s been confirming some things recently.

There are a lot of things that need to be fixed and/or improved at PCC. Some of our systems are not working well. After meeting with a group of people this week we are beginning to get clarification about these matters. We are going to refocus our efforts on what’s most important and will be ruthless in keeping the main thing the main thing. Over the years we have become too diversified but now we realize that we need to get back to the basics.

For the last couple of years we have been stuck at the halfway point of building this wall. Now it’s time to build the second half…. and it’s going to be greater than the first half. I think we have to the people and the plan to make it happen.

If you have an interest in the future of your church, log on to this blog – I’ll be writing about these events as they unfold. I’ll be sharing the specifics.

Dang! I’m excited about PCC.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Book on Church Growth

I just read the most amazing book on church growth. It's called The Book of Acts and it's found in the Bible.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Leadership Summit Highlights

T. D. Jakes (senior pastor, Potters House, Dallas TX)

“When people are passionate about what they do, they are far more effective in what they do.”

“Leadership is transition. It’s not maintaining.”

“People follow people who move. People who take action. People who take risks.”

You want to make sure the vision doesn’t get “diluted or polluted”.

“People are passionate when you ask them to do something when it’s within their reach.”

“When God gives you people, He’s given you something he really cares about.”

“Passion is more than emotionalism. Passion is the fuel that makes the engine go.”

“If you only surround yourself with people who do what you do, they only compete with you but they don’t complete you.”

“When Jesus picked the 12 disciples, He didn’t pick one rabbi.”

“If you have 2 or 3 confidants in your lifetime, you are a blessed person.”

“Don’t try to hold people too tightly who are meant to come and go.”

“You need to keep at least one ear-cutter on the team.”

“Joshua was a fighter. He wasn’t a brief case carrier.”

“You don’t want to kill the fight. You want to direct them to the target.”

“You can’t be led by someone you can’t read well.”

“When my heart is overwhelmed, I go to the Rock that is higher than me.”

Dan Pink (author, Drive)

One of the problems that we have in our organizations is that we make the wrong assumptions about people.”

“One of the false assumptions is that people are machines.”

Another false assumption is that “human begins are blobs.”

“Our nature is to be active and engaged.”

People need: autonomy, mastery and purpose

“Management wasn’t delivered to us from God.”

“Management is a technology designed to get compliance.”

“We want engagement. Management doesn’t lead to engagement. Self-direction leads to engagement.”

“Give people autonomy over their time, team, task and technique. That leads to engagement.”

“Making progress is the single greatest motivator at work.”

“We want challenge.”

“Performance reviews are not authentic conversations.”

“I think we are seeing the limits of the profit motive. The profit-motive is a good thing, but it’s not the only thing.”

“The only way people will be enduringly motivated is if they’re animated by something bigger than themselves.”

“I’m convinced that anything good in life began with a conversation. That’s what changes the world.”

Andy Stanley (senior pastor, North Point Community Church, Atlanta GA)

“Every organization has problems that shouldn’t be solved and tensions that shouldn’t be resolved.”

“If you resolve some tensions, it’ll lead to other tensions.”

“Progress doesn’t depend on the resolution of tensions but on the management of those tensions.”

“If it’s a problem that keeps resurfacing, it’s a tension to be managed.”

“The role of leadership is to leverage the tension for the benefit of the organization.”

“Often times the right person doesn’t win the argument, but someone wins the argument.”

“Certain tensions are the key to progress.”

for leaders… “Continually give value to both sides, and don’t weigh in too heavily with your personal biases.”

“Always try to see the upside of the other side, and the downside of your side.”

“Don’t allow strong personalities to win the day.”

“Don’t think in terms of balance – think in terms of rhythm.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Plan A - no Plan B

The church is God's Plan A for reaching the world and there is no Plan B. Wes Stafford, Compassion International, Leadership Summit today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let Dying Programs Die

Programs that are terminally ill need to be put out of their misery. Any ministry that has lost its effectiveness needs to removed.

Eliminating dead programs has the same positive effect on our future as tilling the soil has for next years crop. It makes the future possible. It sets the stage so that new seeds can grow without the old roots choking them out. Without this commitment and willingness to cease funding and staffing the programs that no longer work well, we will never have enough money and energy to create the future.

The difficulty with axing certain programs is that every program has its champions. Even after rigor mortis has set in, someone will champion the cause. Usually these champions are leaders who invested time and energy into making the program successful in the first place, or a tiny remnant who believe that if it “helps just one person” it’s worth it whatever it costs.

But a senior leadership team cannot allow these people to sway how resources are allocated. If we give in to everyone who pleads for heroic measures to save their favorite ministry, it won’t be long until we’ve become a historical preservation society, so loaded with ‘yesterday’ that we have no energy or resources left for ‘today’ or ‘tomorrow.’

We have only a limited supply of time, energy, workers, and money. That’s why I will ask the question, “Why are we doing this?” If there is no good reason, we will abandon it. I will say, “Show me the results.” If there is not enough measurable data to demonstrate its effectiveness, we will discontinue the activity in favor of a newer initiative.

We need to understand the importance of PLANNED ABANDONEMENT. We must deliberately ask ourselves, “What ministries or initiatives in PCC are no longer effective?” And once identified, we must let them go. Most people will see it as heartless, but it’s not. It’s about making room for the future.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Clergy Burrnout on the Rise

Read it Here

An Honest Evaluation....

One of the reasons new churches are so effective in reaching people for Christ is because they are typically very lean. The leadership structure is simple. The ministry strategy is very focused. The mission is clear. Unencumbered, ministry leaders are free to be creative and launch initiatives.

But as a church ages the ministry strategy gets more complex. New programs and events get layered on, one after another, without ever removing ineffective programs. The agenda gets bloated. Church growth eventually slows down or plateaus altogether as the complexity increases. The typical response is to add even more structures or systems to fix the problem. Big mistake. This is the very time when programs must be slashed and the whole church needs to get back to basics. The solution is found in doing less, not more.

PCC, like other churches, has gradually drifted towards a complex matrix of varied ministries. These ministries, each with its own champion for the cause, are competing internally for resources, attention, support, and use of the building. We want to avoid the turf battles, volunteer raids, and budget wars that usually follow this kind of scenario. To that end, we are going to be taking steps to fix things:

1. We will not become a federation of sub ministries. Pace Community Church is one unified body – not a federation of sub ministries. We have one mission and one purpose statement. Our staff and volunteers do not belong to a particular ministry; they belong to PCC and serve our church “through” that ministry. Each ministry does not need it’s own website – our main website should have all the content. Each ministry does not need its own advertising budget – our church’s outreach budget covers that effort for everyone. We are not building a house of separate brands; we are one brand.

2. Staff members and ministry leaders must have a CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE about the ROLE of their ministry. People sometimes get tunnel vision. They operate their ministry in a certain corner of the church and lose sight of the bigger picture. The only vision they have is for their own ministry and its needs, and don’t fully embrace the vision of the church. If not corrected, some people will actually begin to think that their ministry is autonomous (independent of the church) and that the only role of the church is to make them and their ministry successful. That is a wrong perspective. Actually, it’s the other way around. Each ministry exists by permission of PCC and the role of these ministries is to serve mission of Pace Community Church.

Instead of asking “What’s best for my ministry?” staff members and ministry leaders should start asking, “What is best for the church?” In other words, sometimes changes need to be made in certain areas (i.e, small groups, teens, children, seminars, hospitality, building usage, etc,), and when those changes are made the guiding principle is NOT what kind of impact will it have upon that specific ministry, but rather what kind of impact it will have upon the church as a whole. If we scale something back or if we increase our efforts in a certain area, it’s for the benefit of the whole. It’s not about you - it’s about the church. It’s not personal - it’s about the bigger picture. Each ministry exists to serve Pace Community Church; not the other way around.

3. We are going to do less. Look. We can’t do everything. We can’t implement every idea. We can’t authorize every kind of ministry that everyone is passionate about. It’s just that simple. To do so diffuses energy and gets the church running off in too many directions at once. To combat this trend we will keep ourselves decidedly simple at PCC, limiting our ministries to about five areas only. Read more here and here. I have written about this before.

To ensure that the most important and productive ministries thrive, it is necessary for us to periodically cut competing systems or programs from the church docket. We just have to SAY NO to some ideas. Even though they would broaden our ministry they would also blunt our impact. For instance, from the beginning we decided not to have choirs, mid-week church services, Sunday night worship services, Easter cantatas, Christmas specials, and a host of other good but potentially competitive programs. There is nothing wrong with any of these programs or ministries. But for us, we can’t do everything that comes along.

4. A significant investment is going to be made in emerging and future leaders who understand these principles. My number one priority is to raise up leaders who get it. I’m looking for people who are loyal to the vision and mission of PCC (which, btw, is the Great Commission). I'm looking for people who understand that the big picture is more important than the little picture. Loyalty to PCC's vision is something we expect because our church can never grow if our leaders are not loyal to the vision of this church.

We will never allow our vision from God to get hijacked by anyone. If we permit people to do their own thing we will wake up one day and not even recognize the ministry that we have allowed to be created. I want PCC to grow and that can’t happen if everyone goes off on a tanget and does what they want to do. Everyone, including myself, must operate withing the boundaries of our mission, statements, and strategy.

It is the job of all ministry leaders at Pace Community Church to carry out the DNA of our church. The leaders that will take this church to the next level are those who know our vision, teach our vision, operate within our vision, and fulfill our vision. These will be the people who are appointed and delpoyed. These are the people who we will deeply invest in.