Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The total cost for the keyboard with a few attachments (cables, direct box, etc) has turned into $2300. This is also the exact amount that has came in thus far, so I wanted to let you know that this need has been met. Isn't this amazing? Wow!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
If twenty people give $100 each, we've got it covered. Or if forty people give $50 each. This is an easy do. Let's make it happen.
.......General George A. Custer, on being attacked at the Little Bighorn, 1876
Be truthful about what is not working in your life. If you are unwilling to acknowledge a problem, condition, behavior, or emotion – if you don’t take ownership of your role in the situation – then you cannot and will not change it. If you refuse to acknowledge your own self-destructive behaviors, not only will they continue, they will actually gain momentum, become more deeply entrenched as habitual patterns in your life, and grow more resistant to change.
Imagine your doctor asking you whether or not you’ve been having dizzy spells, and rather than admit it, you say, “Well, no, not really.” What’s going to happen? The doctor isn’t going to address the problem, and you’ll keep getting dizzy. He might treat your sore toe or the ache in your elbow, but because you have lied to him, he may never deal with the underlying problem.
You may remember the movie A Few Good Men. There is a dramatic court room scene in which Jack Nicholson shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!” In our most candid moments, most of us would acknowledge the accuracy of this statement – we can’t handle the truth. Most people don’t want truth, they want validation. They want reinforcements for their thinking, right or wrong. Like General Custer, they seek out people and information that support the conclusion they’ve already reached. The only things they want to hear are things that give them comfort about who they are and where they are right now.
There is something very threatening about acknowledging a problem. It’s like a self-indictment. As long as you never admit your life isn’t working, you can just “coast along.” But once you admit something is not working, you’re also forced to admit that you are the one who has to do something to fix it.
Once you have acknowledged a problem and take ownership of it, living with the status quo becomes more difficult. You have broken through your delusional system; now you have to “consciously” self-destruct, or change. Once you admit ownership of your problem, you cannot hide behind other people.
Make a deal with yourself right now: There will be no lies, no excuses, and no conning yourself about what’s going on. This is not the time to cheat yourself with some namby-pamby self-evaluation. You have to be willing to ask yourself these kinds of hard questions and give yourself honest answers:
Am I living like a loser?... Am I lazy?... Is my life on a dead-end journey, heading nowhere?... Is my marriage in the ditch and emotionally defunct?... Are my kids self-destructing?... Do I have no personal goals?... Am I continually making promises to myself that I never keep?
You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. If you don’t answer self-evaluation questions honestly, then you are not taking ownership and you will never escape it.
You mustn’t be duped by your own self-talk, any more than when you listen to other people.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I’m excited about what’s planned for the rest of the year: Communion Srvc, Video montage of events in 2010, Cardboard Testimony, the development of new worship teams, a new (and very hot) sermon series, holiday parties, Volunteer Appreciation Banquet, painting the walls in the church, new stage designs, a new structure, new teachers, maybe even a new staffing plan. DANG! We’re on a roll. I'm even going on a vaction!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
- What an amazing day at PCC. Especially in the second service!
- Are you kidding me? The people in the second service are CRAZY! It began on the last song while the girls were signing (using sign language). Spontaneous applause erupted right in the middle of the song. People jumped to their feet clapping, lifting their hands, and shouting. It was great. It only got better as I began teaching. People shouted, laughed, clapped, lifted their hands, and were very demonstrative during the message. There was ENERGY IN THE HOUSE! I don’t know what it is about the people in the second service…. but they’ve got it going on! There is a completely different dynamic in the second service from the first service. It is refreshing to say the least. Attendance is only one third the size of the first service, but you’d never know it. (Click these pictures for an enlarged view, then backspace to return here).
- Even though there were more than three hundred people in the first service, it felt like everyone was asleep compared to the energy in the second service.
- The message today was from Nehemiah chapter 12, entitled: “Holiness, Happiness, and Worship.” It worked, was timely, and was hard hitting.
- A couple of quotes: Holiness always precedes true happiness……The best way to have a happy face is to have a clean heart.
- Another quote: The church is made up of people, not territory.
- My favorite quote: If you call PCC your church home, then ask yourself this question; Does this church and its programs minister to me and my family and do I have confidence in its leaders? If the answer is yes, then get in, get behind the leadership, and support it with your contributions! And if this church DOESN’T minister to you and your family, and if you don’t have confidence in its leaders, then find yourself a church that does minister to you and whose leaders you can trust, and then do the same thing there that God expects you to do anywhere you attend – get in, get behind the leaders, and support it with your contributions!
- This quote stemmed from Nehemiah 12:44b “….. for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites.” The people gave – not only because it was a form of worship and because they were commanded by God to do so – but also because they loved their priests and had confidence in their temple ministry.
- Next Sunday is the final message to the series. It’s part 10 and we are going to go out with a BANG!
- The following Sunday (Oct 17) – before we launch into a new series – I am thinking of sharing a stand-alone message on the topic of Sanctification. The working title right now is, “Justification, Sanctification, and Sex.”
- I’ve got a SLAMMED WEEK ahead of me already. I will be involved in a wedding, a jail visit, relationship reconciliation, sermon preparation, building maintenance issues, etc. Emotionally, this yanks me from one extreme to the other.
- The sound system was PERFECT today! Monitors were on the floor, fewer singers, good tech team. Awesome.
- It looks like we are going to be compelled to buy a new keyboard. Our current keyboard is about to GIVE UP THE GHOST! We might be taking up a special offering for this.
- Renae and I have settled into a new rhythm in our relationship. We have established Friday as “date night” for us (sometimes Thursday night). While it sounds clinical, it is important that we have put it into our schedule and have committed to it. By being intentional about our time together, we have discovered that our feelings “follow” our commitment. This is a very important discovery for us.
- We found out the hard way that if we wait until we have time to be together, something else will always fill the void. It’s like a vacuum. We are very busy people (by virtue of being in the ministry) and something or someone always needs our attention. If we are not careful, we find ourselves reacting or responding to the latest crisis. So we have wised up and said, “Friday is date night for us. It is a sanctified day, and it is our sanctuary. No one is allowed to intrude. We turn off the phones, go dark on the computer, and spend the evening together. It’s been great. The thing I enjoy most? Being here at the house with her (with the doors locked and the phones off) and spending time in the kitchen together. We’ll get out our chefs knives, cut up vegetables on the cutting board, grill meat on the grill, and spend the time talking as we go all evening long. It’s a great way to connect. Then we’ll light candles, sit at the table and share the meal we have prepared together. It doesn’t get any better than that.
- When husbands and wives are together alone in the beauty of holiness, well, that’s as good as it gets.
- Changing the subject: I have NO PATIENCE for people who don’t show up at their post of duty on Sunday morning without even so much as a phone call to let someone know. I get it; sometimes mitigating circumstances prevent you from being present and accounted for. But how about a phone call? Your failure to show up (no matter the reason) should not create a crisis for everyone else. You can be removed from the schedule, and that’s just the way it is.
- Let me quickly add: 95% of people who serve at PCC are very responsible in this regard and ALWAYS let someone know when they are going to be away. This does NOT go un-noticed on my part and it means a lot to me… and I will remember it at “volunteer appreciation” time.
- Some Facebook comments:
- Christy Kline says: PCC Kidz was AWESOME today. We learned about temptation and it was fun!! Tempting kids is so fun!! Then service was GREAT!! Pastor Ronnie was on FIRE!!! Pace Community Church is the place to be!!!
- Christa Collins says: Home from church.. Ron's message, once again, exactly on point what we needed to hear!!! The music was fantastic and the girls that did the singing were beautiful!!! I love the way God reveals himself to me through others!!!! She also said: I have not needed Church the way I do today, In a long time!!! I need my heart and mind renewed!!! Thank you Jesus for your Mercy and Grace!! I can't wait til 9:30!!!!
- Cathy Hall says: Great message this morning Bro. Ron. It blessed my Heart Holiness, Happiness, and Worship. I Love my Church. Great People!
- Richelle White says: So after serving one (had a great morning with PCC Lil' Kidz) I had to head to the Airport. Had Church in the car - the CD sermon was amazing! I never expected to do Church the way We Do Church alone. I was truly NOT alone. Our God is an awesome God and PCC rocks!
- Denise Yates says: I love that my Father is the God of SECOND CHANCES and DO OVERS. I am so glad that he pours out abundant GRACE and MERCY. I am so thankful that he hears me and responds. I am so thankful that he has blessed me with an amazing church family at Pace Community Church.
- Alyssa Schepper says: Missed church today because we were out of town camping. Oddly enough, at 9:30am I was longing to be at PCC worshipping. This week, more than ever, I needed to be surrounded by our church family. Somehow though, I felt comfort knowing that there were people there who were "missing" me too. I am so thankful to have PCC. Thanks Ron and Renae!
- Shelby Perry says: I'm so proud of my signers :) Good job this morning ladies. I enjoyed church more today than I have in a LONG time.
- I think Shelby Perry absolutely outdid herself today. Not only was she the person in charge of practicing with the team of girls who signed during the song service, but she also stood out as a singing member of the worship team. Not only did she look good by singing confidently and strongly, but she sounded good singing a high tenor harmony part.
- Ella McDonald says: This was so great! The youth group is really talented - may they always have a blessed life.
- Here’s a thought for a BUMPER STICKER: “If you love Jesus, TITHE! Any fool can honk!”
- How about this: Why should God give you a financial miracle if you haven’t stopped making poor choices that will create another crisis of debt?
- I overheard a conversation in the hallway today…. a conversation that needs my involvement.
- IT SHOULD BE APPARENT that we are making changes in our Sunday morning services. While we have not hit our full stride yet, we are close.
- Pace Community Church is a great church. Why? Because it is made of great people and an even greater God.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
We are forming three worship teams. Ultimately, we hope to have three worship leaders to lead each team. This will greatly enhance the effectiveness and diversity of the ministry of our church (not to mention relieve Renae). Another result of three smaller teams is that each team member will have more prominent roles (for solos, to be featured, to develop their gifts, etc) than currently exists with one team of seventeen people. Finally, it will be much easier for the audio/tech team to manage the sound system, creating a much better and consistent presentation each Sunday.
This is a strategic move to make for the betterment of the whole. It represents a new opportunity for anyone who serves - those currently on the team and those yet to be added.
1. God loves me – no matter what you say. I blow it sometimes, and I can’t live up to the expectations that everyone has of me. Yet, God loves me no matter what you say. In my faith, the Bible is central to my knowledge and understanding of who God is. The ancient scriptures tell me that God will never leave me nor forsake me. God is with me no matter what. Although some people will try to convince me that I am not even a true Christian, I just don’t buy it. I don’t need their affirmation anyway. I only need Gods.
2. I am more interested in sharing Jesus than I am selling religion. You may not know this, but full-time church work is a brutal field to be in. There is so much self-righteous Pharisee-ism in churches that it makes me sick. I feel called to help people connect with Jesus more than anything else; more than denominationalism, legalism, or any other ism. I’m not interested in putting God in a slick package and trying to sell it to people either. At this point, I just want to model a life of following Jesus authentically. I’m focused on sharing my learning’s along the way with anyone who is interested. And, finally, I’m passionate about encouraging people who are trying to love and follow after God themselves. Model, share, and encourage feels much more natural than package, promote, and proselytize.
3. People, especially family, are more important than anything else in life. I love projects. I love envisioning, strategizing, and executing a plan that results in the accomplishment of a goal. There’s something powerful and adrenaline-producing about that experience. But more than ever, I love spending time with people (despite the fact that I’m a slight introvert). It is my belief that God created every single one of us uniquely, and despite being marred by sin, we are made in God’s image. There is something extraordinary about human beings and every person deserves love, care, and compassion. This is as much part of my spirituality as anything else.
4. Hard work, rest, and play time are important too. I believe these three things truly flow out of a healthy relationship with God. They aren’t disconnected from who God is. Hard work is good for me. It keeps me creative, productive, and provides purpose. Rest is something that God commands me to do, and I’m learning to embrace God’s directive. It is for my own benefit, and it is a spiritual practice. Recreaction is an outgrowth of my ability to enjoy life moment by moment. If God gave me this one and only life to live, I want to enjoy it with plenty of recreational time.
These breakthroughs and insights have come to me over time and through the fires of testing. In some ways I am DECONSTRUCTING my faith away from church-ism and RECONSTRUCTING a new relationship with GOD, FAMILY, PEOPLE, WORK, REST, and RECREATION.
The vast majority of people who I have ever counseled, all blamed something or someone else for their misfortune. This problem is at the very core of human nature; blame someone else. Even in the Garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed Eve in front of God even though he was just as culpable as she was.
How many times have you heard someone who was going through a divorce describe his or her mate as the vile, unfair, vicious cause of all the misery in their life? Whether it is a failing friendship, a dysfunctional life, or unfulfilled dreams, people try to escape accountability by blaming others. These are emotionally charged situations and once anger or hurt enters into the mix, a person’s objectivity becomes clouded. While they are passionately blaming someone else, their skills of self-diagnosis simply fall apart.
You can never fix your problems by blaming someone else. Your best chance at getting better is to stop doing that right now. It huts to admit the truth. You’re the one who is messing up, if anybody is. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner your life gets better. Let’s face it. No matter who you want to blame:
You made the decision…. You said the words… You copped the attitude…. You bought it…. You signed on the dotted line…. You jumped ship…. You bought it on your credit card…. You listened to what they had to say…. You stuck your nose in someone else’s business… You choose the feelings… You quit…. You walked away… You sold out your dreams… You disobeyed… You took the job… You married him… You married her…. You said yes… You said no… You ate it… You smoked it… You snorted it… You inhaled it… You drank it… You believed it…. You started it… You let him come back…. You let her come back… You settled for it… You let them talk you into it… And you were the one that wanted that stupid cat!
Now own it. All of it.
If you believe that your present state of affairs is someone else’s fault, then you will spend all your time trying to fix or correct someone else instead of yourself! You will never get better by blaming someone else for your own cause-and-effect. You create your own experience by the choices you make every day. This choice-making creates your experience, because each choice has a consequence:
- When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence
- When you choose the thoughts, you choose the consequence
Simply put, when you play, you pay. Whatever choices you make in this world, those choices have results. Those results accumulate over time to define your experience and shape the person you become. No one else does this. You do this.
We may be around other people throughout the day, but our most active and consistent dialogue is the conversation that we have with ourselves. We may be with ten different people throughout a given day, but we are with ourselves all day, every day. We talk to ourselves and program ourselves more than anybody else in our life combined. That internal conversation runs in a continuous loop – over and over again in our minds. If it is a negative conversation, it is going to result in negative experiences. In short, we create our experience by the choices we make because our choices have consequences.
A farmer may make a mistake and plant his peas crookedly; the peas make no mistake, but come up and show his line – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You are accountable for your own life. I am accountable for mine. Good, bad, successful, unsuccessful, happy or sad, fair or unfair, you own your life. You are accountable; you have always been accountable; and you will always be accountable. That’s just the way it is.
This is not a proposition that is “generally true.” It’s always true. You create the results in your life, not some of the time, but all of the time. If you don’t like your job, you are accountable. If your relationships are on the rocks, you are accountable. If you are overweight, you are accountable. If you are addicted to drugs, you are accountable. If you are an alcoholic, you are accountable. If you are angry, you are accountable. If you are not happy, you are accountable. If you are insesure, you are accountable. Whatever your circumstance is, if you want to change it, you cannot dodge your responsibility to make it better.
By convincing yourself that you are a victim, you are guaranteed to have no progress, no healing, and no victory. If you continue to cling to the belief that you are “right” so the problem can’t be your fault, you will never create lasting change in yourself. Your flight from personal responsibility will prevent you from putting the bit in your mouth, yanking the reins, and going to work on controlling your life and actions.
Bottom line: You are not a victim. You are creating the situations you are in; you are creating the emotions that flow from these situations. This is not theory; it is life. The solution is within you – not in others.
Man up. Own the choices you have made. Own the behaviors that you live by. Sure, it’s easier to tell yourself that bad things are you parents’ fault, your teachers’ fault, the result of bad luck, or some kind of cosmic conspiracy against you. It’s easier to make someone else responsible - other than yourself – that way you don’t have to require anything of yourself, because you are a victim.
If you are an adult, and you live independently, free from dementia, a brain tumor, or some other involuntary disruption of thinking, then you are accountable.
You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Let today be a huge wake-up call for you.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I haven’t blogged much this week. Got my reasons. I need a little margin right now. But I will be posting pretty soon. Here are some topics I have been working on. Some are complete. Others are in process. Still others will evolve into a series.
- Act Your Age – Not Your Shoe Size
- One-Way Forgiveness: Are Christians Obligated to Forgive in Every Instance?
- Is Alcoholism Really a Disease?
- Does Talk Therapy Actually Work?
- Christian Chickenpox
- Why Teenagers Should Serve
- Jesus, Church, & Money
- In Debt? Give Anyway
- Will the Church Pay My Power Bill?
- A.W.O.L. – Dropping Out of Church
- Disloyal Associate Pastors
- Future Staffing at PCC
- A Staffing Mistake I Almost Made
- No "Theys" Allowed
- Let Squeaky Wheels Squeak
- Learning to Exercise Self-Discipline
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This is Sadie who came into our family about three weeks ago. She is now eleven weeks old and is taking ownership of her new home.
In this picture she has just spotted the family cat and is attempting to move him out! She doesn't realize it yet, but that old tom cat can put a whipping on her; she is only four or five inches tall at the back and he is real big. But that's what I love about Jack Russell Terriers, they are fearless.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Warren Buffet said, "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
Most of us enjoy church each week because a handful of people sacrificed years ago, or decades ago, to get a fledgling idea off the ground. The Christianity you embrace only exists because someone before you paved the way. The salvation you have received is yours only because someone before you shared the good new with you.
Now the question to consider is: Who will be sitting in the shade of your hard work twenty years from now? Or more to the point: Will there be shade to sit in? It depends on you planting trees today.
When you build disciples -- whether it's your children, your church members, or your staff -- you're planting trees.
When you help others develop Christian character, or improve their marriage, or parent more effectively, or become a more loyal friend, you're planting trees. When you teach the Word, and teach others to love the Word, you're planting trees.
Much of our work involves putting out today's fire today. Don't let today's urgencies prevent you from making shade for the next generation.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
At Pace Community Church we do six things:
1. Weekend services
4. Growth Tract (Seminar system)
5. Small Groups (cells, teams, classes, etc)
Looking at this list you will notice that the Weekend Services are listed as number one. It should be apparent that our entire strategy (of fullfilling the Great Commission) begins with inviting people to church.
Friday, September 17, 2010
This weekend we dive back into the Scriptures. After a two week break we return to the book of Nehemiah. The text this Sunday is chapter 8 and the title of the message is People of the Book. That’s what Christians are – People of the Book!
- If you are a strong believer, this message will reaffirm your convictions about God’s Word
- If you are a new believer, you will be motivated to grow in God’s Word
- If you are not a believer, you will be convinced that the rest of us are People of the Book
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The apostle Paul, in Galatians 1, made a big deal out of the fact that there is ONLY ONE gospel, and he spelled it out for us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 which says, “…. you are saved IF you HOLD FIRMLY to the Word…. otherwise you have believed in vain.” So the question is: “What happens if you DON’T hold firmly?” You decide.
Many pastors and teachers today are preaching another gospel that is not the gospel. They are preaching this guys gospel, or that guys gospel, this slant or that slant, the prosperity gospel, easy believism, legalism, a denominational gospel, or Jesus as Savior without Him being Lord, add infitim.
Throw out your commentaries and books that have a slant built it. Throw out your modern authors who are teaching their interpretation of doctrine rather than the simplicity of Christ. How about simply following 2 Timothy 4:2 which says, “PREACH THE WORD, be instant IN SEASON, OUT OF SEASON, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” That means to stay true to the Word no matter what. Stay true to the gospel through every season of change; when it’s in fashion and when it’s not in fashion. Why? Because God Word is unchanging in a constantly changing society.
If more pastors and Bible teachers simply taught the BIBLE ITSELF, instead of author so-and-so, all our churches would be much better off and truer to the gospel.
Start with the Bible. Stay with the Bible. End with the Bible. That’s how you ‘hold firm’ and do not ‘believe in vain’ as Paul said so many do (I Cor. 15:1-4).
Who decided that ones faith should be a private matter? How did Christianity become one of those things that you’re not supposed to talk about in public? Who told you that you don't have to go to church to be a Christian? I don’t know how these things came into being, but I do know they are wrong.
The Bible clearly teaches and emphasizes that ones faith is PERSONAL, but NOT entirely PRIVATE. There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian. There is no such thing as a closet Christian either. We are called to belong, not just believe. We are commanded to publicly confess Christ before men. Unless you are in a cell in solitary confinement, or stranded on a coral reef in the South Pacific, God expects Christians to belong to a community of other believers in the local church, to get accountable to one another, to submit to spiritual authority, and to grow as a disciple. That can’t happen if you are keeping it private. “Me and Jesus Got Our Own Thing Going” might be a cute line from a country song, but it is not New Testament Christianity.
If you just had 1274 pounds of Christian books delivered to your house by UPS, don’t read them on your own. Join a local church, join a small group, and make some Christian friends so you can verbalize your questions.
Our church has a web site. I have a blog and post on it almost daily. I even chime in on Facebook from time to time. While these are great tools, there is a limit to what they can accomplish. For instance, nobody has ever showed up to our church with a printout in their hand of something from our website claiming that our stance on the Holy Spirit is what drew them in.
It’s easy for the computer screen to become my comfort zone. I like my desk. I like my computer. I like my laptop at home. I like to write. I like to surf around on the internet checking out dozens of other blogs. But leadership involves being with people, not just technology.
An e-mail memo isn’t going to change the world. Not everybody reads your e-mail in a timely fashion. Preachers don’t get better by joining MySpace either. You can put out an All-Points-Bulletin on twitter for needing a guitar player, and someone might respond, but probably not. Over-dependence on these Social Medias is a sure sign that we are lacking in real time fellowship and authentic relationships. Our computers have become digital fences, and we interact with people behind the comforts of a 1024×768 screen.
You can’t make disciples via Facebook. On the other hand, you can find out about Farmville, or you can join the Pirate Army in the fight against the Sith Lords, or you can click the “like” tab that One Hundred Millions Christians Should blah, blah, blah. For all the social networking that Facebook brings into our lives, real life doesn’t happen there. It might be a foggy window into life, but it’s not real life.
If we are going to make a difference, it’s going to involve face to face conversations. It’s going to involve real relationships. If you need someone to serve on your ministry team, you’ve actually got to walk up to them and tap them on the shoulder and then make the ask. If we want to make disciples of teenagers, then we need to spend time with them. If we want to be effective as Christian servants, then we’re going to have to push back from our desks and meet with people in workplace meetings, sharing meals together, and going into one another’s homes. Things like that.
Yes, we're going to keep our website up; in fact, we will be improving it. And yes, I will continue to write on my blog and fool around with Facebook a little. But we need to learn a very important lesson: Effective leadership begins at the place where people are, and most often that’s not from behind out digital fences.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
There is a man in the Bible named Diotrephes. He is mentioned only once in the Bible in one of the epistles written by John. It says, “Diotrephes always wanted to be first” (3rd John v.9). The King James Version renders the same verse, "Diotrephes loved to have the preeminence among them.” If God is going to put your name in the Bible for one thing, that would not be a good reason. Diotrephes was really proud and wanted all the attention.
The truth is, some leaders get attention. That’s not wrong. But the sin of Diotrephes was his motive. He wasn't content to serve on the team, he had to be the 'face' of the team. For him, it was all all about being seen.
This same sin still infects the church today. We live in a celebrity-addicted culture (Star Search, Dancing w/the Stars, American Idol, etc) where people get to be famous overnight. If you ever watch TMZ or read People magazine you see all these famous people in there, but they didn’t do anything of significance to be famous. I mean, who is Paris Hilton and what is her claim to fame? Some people are just famous for famous sake, and we are addicted to it. We then bring those same carnal ambitions into the church. The sin of Diotrephes is, “I want to be famous. I want people to notice me, not Jesus.”
Consider this - Jesus chose twelve apostles, but they all didn’t get the same press. They didn’t get the same visibility. In the books of Matthew, Mark Luke, John, and Acts, Peter is mentioned 189 times. John 50. Philip 17. Andrew 13. Thomas 11. Matthew 9. James 7. So forth and so on. Nathaniel, only once.
On any ministry team, some people are going to be more prominent than others. It’s just the way things shake out. Some people are going to get press time, others are not. Be okay with that. Whether you are called to be an upfront person or a behind the scenes person, just be okay with that. Not everybody can play first violin. Some people have to be number two, number three, or number four. Some people don’t even get to be heard. The important thing is that you serve well and be faithful in the role you have been chosen for. Do this and you will finish the race. Whether you are number one, two, three, four, or number ten, do your part, get it done, and make it happen. Do it for the cause of Christ and for the team.
Don’t be like Diotrephes.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We have began a process of addressing our ministries and the internal systems at PCC. Everything is on the drawing board and subject to evaluation. This is our attempt at keeping the main thing the main thing, being good stewards, and being effective. We are allocating our limited resources only to those areas that best serve the purposes of our church.
At Pace Community Church we do six things:
• Weekend services
• Growth Tract (Seminar system)
• Small Groups (cells, teams, classes, etc).
We can’t do everything. We can’t say “yes” to every request or idea that comes along. Sometimes we just have to say “no.” But every time we say no to something we are saying a bigger yes to something else more important.
Monday, September 13, 2010
It’s universal for pastors. Mondays can be the hardest day of the week for us. Honestly. Some Sunday’s are so difficult or draining that the day after makes a pastor wish he was anything except a pastor – even a shoe salesman, like Al Bundy (i.e,. Married with Children).
Yesterday was a very successful day, one of our best ever. Yet, I woke up at 2:00 AM this morning, eyeball wide, stress out, and unable to go back to sleep. I walked outside, sat down in the driveway, and rehearsed Sunday’s events. I never went back to sleep. Daylight finally came. It was a long night.
At first, the answer is hard to find. When I answered the call to the ministry I didn’t sign up for constant criticism from half-committed church members; I didn’t sign up for the constant financial pressure of hoping that enough would come in each week to pay the bills for the church and advance the cause of Christ; I didn’t sign up for having to deal with consumer Christians who feed for free each week; I didn’t sign up for the petty concerns such as it’s too hot or too cold, too fast, or too slow. Further, I didn’t realize that when I answered the call into the ministry that I would be required to be omnipresent (i.e, to be present with everywhere with everyone at all time), and to be all-knowing (omniscient).
So, why is it that I continue to pastor and preach? Because God has called me, that’s why. I don’t quit because He has promised that His Word will not return to Him void. I stay in the ministry because along the way I meet a few people who “get it." I continue as a pastor because every now and then it becomes glaringly apparent that my efforts do make a difference in some people's lives and they appreciate it.
Ultimately, I do not quit the ministry because God has proven Himself faithful to His church, to me and my family, and, most importantly, to His Word. God uses messed up churches, inferior preachers, and impossible situations to demonstrate His power and faithfulness. This is why I do not quit.
God’s call is too powerful for me to do anything else.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
- SMOKIN. That’s what somebody said to me after church today - "PCC is SMOKIN!"
- Here are some comments from Facebook…
- Susan P. said, “Does everyone cry at Baptisms like I do? I wondered what had more water in it...The baptismal pool or my seat....Awesome service!”
- Ron B. said, “Awesome day at church today. Pace Community Church pastor Ronnie Christian baptized 43 Christians today, amazing!!!!”
- Christa C. said, “43 people were baptized today at church!!! That is awesome!!! All of us professing our love for Jesus together!! It was beautiful!!!!”
- Lorrain C. said, “AWESOME service at PCC today!! Special day for Eliana and 42? others who were baptized. Much rejoicing in the Lord for family and friends who attended with them!! AMEN.”
- Renae C. said, “What an AMAZING Baptism service at PCC ... 43 people baptized in front of a packed house! Now go out and CHANGE THE WORLD for Christ!”
- Rose D. said “It was an awesome service! There is nothing better than seeing people publicly proclaim who their Savior is!"
- Michelle L. said, “Awesome servicce...Its not everywhere that baptizes that many at once. Loved seeing all the families baptized together. Jesus is awesome."
- Alyssa S. said, “WOW! We baptized 43 people at church today! Men, women, children, families.... It was AWESOME!”
- Courtney D. said, “The Revelation Song gave me chill bumps, that has got to be the prettiest song ever.”
- Holley G. said, “Great day at church today with 43 people baptized! Enjoy your Sunday!”
- Sherri W. said, "Absolutely amazing day!!! What a great way to start the week. If your week is not off to a good start, try PCC next week:)"
- Cathy H. said, "Glad to be a part of a great church!"
- Alyssa S. said, "So proud to be a part of all the good that happens and will continue to happen at our church! Great job today!"
- Jewel C. said, “Absolutely amazing day @ PCC today."
- James R. said, "It will take you the rest of the day to dry out. Good stuff!"
- Carole B. said, “What a great testimony about our church to all the visitors that came, from the time they drove up to the church, to when they left the church grounds. Everyone had a part in that, great job everyone.”
- Jewel C. said, “PCC has the most beautiful campus of any church that I know of in SRC & surrounding counties...our dedicated volunteers make it possible by all the hard work they do evey single week. They are truly amazing.”
- Ron McNesby, the previous sheriff of Escambia County, had one word, "Wow!"
- I baptized one man who I have known since we were kids (about 9th grade). His name is Bobby. Other childhood friends were in service to witness it. Only God can do this.
- BTW, After I baptized Bobby he grabbed me in a bear hug and completely lifted me out of the water! Only Bobby can do this.
- Another man was baptized who is a Captain with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department. His name is Randy and he is very ill. His extended family was with him in service with him. A large number of his colleagues from the law enforcement community were also in service, including Ron McNesby, the previous sheriff of Escambia County. Even a state represenative from the Florida Bereau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms drove in from the State Capital to be in service. The entire family came forward and gathered around the baptismal pool as Randy was being baptized. It was very, very, moving. Only God can do this.
- Taylor B. plays flute in the worship band. Every week she does an amazing job and today she further demonstrated her skill by that excellent recovery.
- Over 200 pictures were taken today. I will post some of them this week.
- Just got home from a very good leadership meeting. Good things are in the future of PCC.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
As you can see, these two workers - Autumn and Savannah - made it. (Click the picture to see an enlarged view. Then backspace to return).
Friday, September 10, 2010
2. Also, it looks like the FORMER sheriff of Escambia County - Ron McNesby - AND the CURRENT sheriff of Escambia County - David Morgan - are both going to be in service with us this Sunday. Can anyone say, "OK Corral?"
3. TOMMORROW, Saturday, at 8:00 AM is a WORKDAY for the campus grounds. If you have an edger, mower, push mower (for the parking lot islands), or hedge trimmer, show up and help us beautify the grounds in preparation for Sunday. We will be spreading pine straw in the flower beds too.
4. This Sunday Beverly J. will be singing “Revelation Song” again. Can anyone say, “Blow your socks off?”
5. FINAL REMINDER – ONE SERVICE this Sunday – 10:00 AM. ALL kids will be in the sanctuary. Nursery will be provided.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Think about it. Children are “segregated” from the life of the main church from nursery through high school in many churches. By the time a child reaches their teenage years they almost never transition to “big church” because it’s not as fun. After they graduate from high school, most never seem to find a church that’s like their old church. That’s because their old church wasn’t church, it was their teen group. Soon thereafter they quit church altogether. Remember, the dropout rate is 80-90% after graduation.
This is why teenagers need to be gradually weaned from their segregated environment and integrated into the life of the main church. That’s part of growing up and becoming an adult. There isn’t a 13th grade for them. One of the best ways to do this is by getting them to volunteer and serve in a ministry, especially on Sunday morning. Teenagers can be ushers. They can serve as greeters. They can work in the parking lot and traffic control. They can serve in the band and sing on the worship team. They can serve in hospitality, the atrium café, the welcome center, and housekeeping. They can serve with audio and projection. Teenagers can even serve as teachers in the children’s ministry!
What would it be like if most of the teenagers in our church leveraged their influence with elementary children – who happen to think that teenagers are the coolest people in the world? Parents, what level of maturity would be produced in your teenage child if he or she served somewhere, instead of bouncing from church-to-church and to the different youth groups in town looking for the latest excitement being offered? What if our Sunday services were so relevant to teenagers that they actually got connected to the life of the main church? What if the emphasis of student ministry was on students “doing ministry?” Perhaps this could reduce the 80-90% dropout rate.
Having teenagers serve is a good thing. It moves them from a self-centered life style to an emphasis of serving others. That’s the essence of Christianity. In the long run, teenagers who serve on a ministry team along side other servant-minded adults who will train them and disciple them experience one of the best things that could happen in their life - Christianity maturity.
An added benefit also comes to the church. By training and deploying teenagers in serving roles, there will be always be enough people to carry out the work of God. Additionally, this cadre of teenage volunteers represents the next generation of teachers and leaders for our church, ensuring its long-term future.
I don’t have all the answers, and I am actually very pleased with the age-level ministries at PCC. We are deliberate about keeping teenagers involved in the main life of the church. Many of our teenagers are actively serving in ministry roles right now and show all the signs of significant spiritual maturity and long-term commitment to Christ through the local church. Some serve in highly visible roles and others serve in less visible roles; but all of them are needed. I am amazed at how well our youth leaders have developed and deployed these teen servants into ministry roles at PCC. It's a testament to their good work and the leadership provided by the senior youth leader.
Our youth ministry is built on the philosophy that teenagers can become full-fledged disciples. They are not mini-Christians. They have amazing potential and can be a valuable asset to the Body of Christ. I Timothy 4:12 says that teenagers and young adults can be examples to the whole church in a variety of spiritual disciplines:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (I Timothy 4:12)
What would happen if our children's minsitry area was suddenly infused with ten brand new teachers? What would happen if the ushers deparment had ten new volunteers to serve on the team? What would happen if our church suddenly had thirty-five new volunteers willing to serve? We would explode in growth! If you are looking for help and wanting to make disciples, you have to look no further than the teenagers of this church. They are the best untapped pool of talent we've got.
Let’s do it for them. Let’s do it for Christ. Let’s do it for our church.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It should be noted that not everyone who carries the title of “pastor” has been chosen or mantled by God for that role. Some men serving as pastors (or elders) were never called or commissioned by God to fill that spiritual office, but decided themselves it was something they wanted to do. The danger is that those who take on the role of pastor without the call of a “shepherd” are identified in the scripture as a “hireling” who will run away from the flock when wolves creep in (John 10:11-15).
Modern-day hirelings are the kind of leaders who will abandon the sheep to save themselves. They will change churches often; running from one flock to another. They will run when conflict or pressures arise. When great amounts of work and long hours are required, they bolt. When targeted for criticism, they leave. They love easy-street so much that they never stay in one place very long. They simply don’t have what it takes to see the work through. Such men often have a long string of churches in their past; each time leaving wounded and confused sheep in their wake. They don’t care that the faith of new Christians becomes shipwrecked when they leave - their agenda is self-promotion.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Okay, now there are more than 45 comments on Facebook about today's church service at PCC.
Christy K. says: AMAZING!! That is the only way to describe the way we DO CHURCH at Pace Community Church!!! Today was just that! God was SOOO in that place. It felt so good and has mad me smile every time i have thought about it today. If you want to see the way church SHOULD be done then head to Pace Community Church!
Martha H. says: Pace Community Church was AWESOME today! Beverly out did herself on the last song of the worship service. You could feel the Holy Spirit in the place. Pastor Ron spoke about baptism and explained the reason why we do it. Excellent biblical teaching explained better than I've ever heard. We have 38 being baptized next Sunday so come and join us at 10:00am. You won't regret it, I guarantee it!
Mike C. says: I really enjoyed church today. The music was as good as it gets, and to see that many people with their hands in the air is very humbling. I love playing praise music straight to God. What an honor and a joy!!!
Alyssa S. says: Great day... Awesome church, great family and fantastic friends - who could ask for more? So blessed :)
Ann L. says: The music at PCC was amazing this morning.....definition of worship. Why wouldn't you want to be there?
Cathy D. says: Church was awesome! The revelation song was awesome ... Beverly & worship team did a great job ... Ron's message was awesome as well !
Cathy H. says: I so enjoyed today. His presence was there !
- Okay. Where to start…. It was Labor Day weekend, attendance was off 70 people. Still we had over 400 in attendance (about 410 I think)
- We now have 38 people signed up to be baptized next Sunday. Wow!
- Today’s talk on baptism was one of my better talks on this topic. I really liked the insights that Romans 6:1-11 was able to offer. As often as we have baptized people over the years, it’s hard for me to talk on the same topic time after time and keep it fresh.
- The key thought: When Paul was appealing to the believers at Rome to break with their former life and stop the sin business, he did NOT tell them to recall the day of their conversion or the day they said the sinner’s prayer. Instead he had them recall the day they were baptized. Three times he used the word “baptize” to remind them that this was the turning point in their lives – now live accordingly.
- I also enjoyed having the “family talk” too. I opened up and shared my heart. It was personal to me.
- The new song, “Revelation Song” was simply amazing. Beverly Johnson hit it out of the ball park! And I mean it. Taylor Broz did an excellent job on the flute again! What a nice addition her instrument has been to our musical mix; it adds a whole new layer. And Jodi Burgess is nailing it on keyboard!
- I have counted 35 comments on Facebook this afternoon that people have posted about Pace Community Church, how much they love it, and today’s service.
- You know, we don’t have all the big time amenities that other churches are able to offer. But we do have a good church. Our strengths are in simple things like giving God our best, good music, God-honoring worship, solid teaching, strong fellowship, lasting relationships that have been forged over time, and a congregation full of humble servants. Thanks guys.
- I made some buffalo wings yesterday (Saturday). My son Nathan said they were the best he has ever had. My wife and sister enjoyed them too. They were hot, and needless to say I had a major attack last night.
- College football season has began. I’m glad. With a touch of fall in the air this morning I’m now getting into the mood. Looking forward to some football parties (small group type gatherings) soon.
- I like the people I go to church with.
- I have a confession to make. Preaching & teaching two services each Sunday is beginning to be much harder on me than before. I don’t just mean tired; I mean total exhaustion and mental fatigue. Keep me in your prayers.
- Next Sunday afternoon I will be in a leadership meeting. It’s no coincidence that this will happen on a Sunday when we have ONE service.
- Leadership development is my main priority right now. For the remainder of the year I will be devoting most of my energy to that single task – discovering, developing, and deploying others.
- A lot of exciting things are on the planning board right now for PCC, and a few are on the drawing board too. If you read my blogs regularly, you will notice a common theme for the last several weeks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read between the lines.
- Renae and I are looking forward to our 10-12 day break in October. I’m hopeful that I will come back totally rested, refreshed, and recuperated. Taking an extended break like that will give me clarity about some things.
- It’s taken a long time (especially after our ten-year hiccup) to get back into the full swing of things, but PCC is about to see a more focused and on-purpose leadership team than she has ever seen before. Mentally, I’m getting back into the game like never before.
- God has sent PCC a group of people (most of whom were born and bred right here) who are beyond committed and I’m looking forward to seeing how God takes this church to another level.
- I am totally convinced that before my time at PCC comes to an end, we will be busting a thousand in weekly attendance.
- Random thought: I’m craving some of my buffalo wings right now.
- Okay. It was gagging hot in the sanctuary today. We had the A/Cs set on 60 degrees, but it never got lower than 75. Something’s up. The filters are probably clogged. We WILL get that resolved this week.
- Work day next Saturday – 8:00 AM. This is for the outside; mowing, edging, trimming, etc.
- I’ve have been reading a lot of excellent books lately; mostly church-related stuff.
- This week is going to be crazy. After taking a day trip tomorrow with Renae, the remainder of the week at church will be devoted to next weekend. We’ll be getting the A/Cs fixed, cleaning up the building, setting up 500 chairs, setting up the baptismal pool, Saturday workday, Sunday baptism, and Sunday afternoon leadership meeting.
- LET ME CLOSE by saying something I seriously mean. We get 52 Sundays each year to invite people to church and to lift up Jesus Christ through God-honoring worship. Labor Day weekend is no different. A lot of people were away because it was the last holday of summer and I understand the importance of doing this because eveyone needs time to get away for rest or to visit family. That's a lot different that simply skipping church every chance you get. Yet we were very forunate today to have so many dedicated followers in service on a holiday. Your effort did not go unnoticed. The building was full – that means something. Several people prayed today to receive Christ – that’s a big, big deal. About ten people signed up to be baptized – that’s a big deal too. Both services had several first-time guests – that’s huge also. So many (most) of our volunteers were found at their post of duty – that’s dedication. I would like to thank everyone who made the effort to be in service at PCC. Some of you even made extraordinary efforts to be there, and I realize it. Thank you. What a great church we have.
Friday, September 3, 2010
This Sunday is going to be awesome!
We're introducing a new song too. It's entitled "Revelation Song." Very powerful and moving. The lyrics use a lot of imagery from the book of Revelation. Definitely a vertically focused song.
People are going to be saved this Sunday. Lots of them.
Next Sunday will be even better! - Its Baptism Sunday
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
All this talk about making room for young adults and new leaders makes for nice theory. It’ll even sound good talking about it over a cup of coffee. But it’s more difficult to pull off. Those who already have a seat on the leadership bus are seldom cooperative when asked to share the seat or sit somewhere else, especially when it’s for a younger person or newcomer who ought to wait their turn.
As a leader, my choice is clear. Either I can slowly kill off the future of our ministry by allowing tenure to determine who sits where, or I can bite the bullet and start moving people around.
There is no easy or pain-free way to do it. Asking someone to move to another seat on the bus almost always leads to hurt feelings or even conflict. Sometimes the hurt is so great that the lay leader or staff member will decide to get off the bus and find another church. There is no other way to make room at the top. No one ever decides to change seats on their own.
A few years ago we added a highly gifted individual to our team. A few of our key leaders were not very thrilled about it. If the truth be known, they were jealous and it showed. It was ugly. Eventually they left PCC.
Fortunately, most of our staff members and leaders welcomed the new addition to our team with open arms. Almost immediately, he began to infuse our ministry with a fresh wind of insight, enthusiasm, and new ideas – none of which would have been heard or heeded if he’d been forced to sit outside the bus.
This is only one example out of the dozens of similar changes that have occurred at PCC. Even as recently as this summer we have moved people around, enlisted new people, put fresh eyes on certain ministries, expanded other ministries, and delpoyed new talent. Each and every time it results in our church going to another level.
That’s what happens when you make room for others. Although it is never easy, it seems like every time I’ve asked someone to move over to squeeze someone new in, the pain and the pushback on the front end has been well worth the rewards on the back end.