Friday, April 29, 2011

PCC Has a New Website

PCC has a new website.  The domain name is still the same, but there is a new look and new content that is more reflective of our ministry as it is now.  It also has new features such as free sermon listening & downloading (on the MEDIA tab), lots of pictures on most pages, a church calendar, and a page for members to write testimonies and tell their stories of life-change; these stories would be published after review.

Gene Tharp did all the technical work and most of the creative work on the new site, and did an exceptional job.  It presents a much better public image for our church.  I know you will be pleased too.

Go to the site and navigate your way around until you get familiar with everything.

Here’s the link:

PS – We have posted a lot of pictures of people from the PCC family on the website.  If there is a picture of yourself that you would prefer to not be published, let us know.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lately On My Mind

SUCCESSION PLANNING.  For the last year or so I have been thinking intently about “Succession Planning.”  That is:  Who takes my place when I’m gone, and who takes the place of other key leaders when they are gone or leave?  What happens if any one of us suddenly becomes sick or incapacitated?  This is very important and needs to be addressed.  Besides, it’s just a good strategic decision to be proactive in identifying future leaders and training them for succession.  To that end, my eyes are wide open all the time for potential people that God may be raising up.  While there are plenty of people who are currently positioned for increased leadership responsibilities and need to be moved up soon to take PCC into its next chapter, I’m thinking more long-term than that.  It's a real possibility that PCC’s future senior pastor and pastoral team are 20-something year olds within our congregation right now.  They need to be identified, cultivated, nurtured, trained, and accepted by our church family to facilitate a future transition.

ORGANIC COMMUNITY.  One of the main strengths of PCC (and an appealing one) has always been our relational emphasis.  As one of the purposes of the church, fellowship has always loomed large in our ministry decisions.  Though we have grown over the years, have big events, and have systems in place to manage the organizational aspects of our church, fellowship (Koinonia) is still needed; now more than ever.  That’s why we are going to be refocusing our efforts on relational connection.  We are going to speak a new language and adopt a new way of thinking about how individuals and groups get connected to a church family and thrive.  This much I know:  We cannot program relationships – we must provide environments where spontaneous community can emerge.  The goal is not to manufacture community, nor to build programs.  The hope is to have nurturing enviroments where and thriving relationships emerge naturally and in healthy ways.

LOYALTY & DISLOYALTY.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic too.  It is so important to the success of the local church.  Thankfully I’ve been very blessed to have an abundance of loyal people in my life and ministry.  PCC would not be where it is today without them, nor would I.

Loyalty is the principle qualification of any minister.  Paul advised Timothy to select only those who were faithful, reliable, and trustworthy to be leaders in the church (2 Timothy 2:2).  And personal experience has shown me that it is the faithful and loyal people in the church who are the most qualified to be leaders.  Not the most gifted, talented, knowledgeable, or eloquent, but those who are loyal and faithful.  “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are Churches Becoming too "Event Driven?"

You know the drill.  There’s something happening every night of the week.  Or there is a big pageant, cantata, banquet, special play, meetings, activities, membership drives, potlucks, special concerts, add infitim.  It all adds up to a bloated church calendar and burned out people.

Generally speaking, churches are event-driven or program-driven.  We plan an event, get people to sign up, and ask them to show up at a specific time.  Then, when they don’t show up to our event, we assume they are either unspiritual or uncommitted.  And those who do show up are often dead tired. 

Let’s be honest here.  Most people are already very busy with good things going on in their lives, such as work and family responsibilities.  Consequently they have a limited about of time they can donate towards church related activities.  As a rule of thumb, most people will participate in only one or two time slots a week.  This doesn’t mean they are unspiritual, don’t love Jesus, or don’t love the church.  It just means they are living their lives investing in their families, going to work, and contributing to society.

Why do churches become event driven?

·        We don’t know how to do ministry any other way

·        Events are easy to measure

·        We do events because we are afraid to say no

Yes, a certain number of programs and events are necessary in church ministry.  My only point is that there are usually too many of them and people get so busy propping up the program that they miss out on the relational aspect of Christianity. 

The Greek word for fellowship is Koinonia which means communion, and is used in the New Testament to describe Christian relationships in the early church.  This is the missing ingredient in event-driven churches today.  That is why we have narrowed our focus of ministry events at PCC to a few things only.  Beyond that, we want to be more “organic” and relational - just like we always have been.

I’m pondering a phrase - Organic Community - and I want this become part of PCC’s vocabulary and ministry philosophy.  You'll be hearing more about it soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011



Sunday Mind Dump - Easter - April 24, 2011

Simply a great day all the way around.  Blown away by all that God did.

636 in attendance.  The house was packed!  Loved seeing all the teenagers sandwiched together on the front row too.  They were shoulder-to-shoulder.

Lot’s of guests.

It was also really good to see some people come back that I haven’t seen in a long time.

This is a picture of pre-service music.  (Click the picture for an enlarged view, then backspace to return here).

Amazing volunteers stepped up to the challenge and made it happen.  Good to see everyone on duty and so much enthusiasm to serve!

Facebook comments:

Carole B. says, Service was great this morning, singing, preaching, food and the crowd. Never heard or remember hearing Mary did not recognize Jesus until he said "Mary" I guess it is like us here on earth we have a mortal body, then when we die we will have a heavenly body, just as Jesus did. Great message Pastor Ron.

Martha H. says,  Church was AWESOME today! Church was filled to the max, music was wonderful and the message was absolutely on track. Thank you to all the singers, musicians, and Pastor Ron for making Easter at Pace Community Church the best!!!!!

Diane N. says,Top of Form  WOW is right! If that message didn't open some hearts, we might have to get out the crowbars! That was powerful. Thanks Ron. Renae, the music was right on target and the singers were fantastic (they always are but today was truly great)

Renae C. says, Thank you both for those encouraging words. I, too, enjoyed the message ... it deeply moved me as I was again reminded of just how much I need God in every aspect of my life. And I also applaud the Worship Team ... they definitely brought their A-game today and I am proud to serve with them.

Gabrielle U. says,  My Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death:) I am so thankful for all I have been blessed with!

Sharon P. says, What a wonderful day this has been. Awesome church service this morning. The music and preaching were out of this world. Then a super dinner with family. God is good!!!

Robert H. says, Over six hundred in attendance at PCC today.  It was a great day!!! The music was on target!! and Pastor Ron nailed the sermon!! I seen several people I haven't seen in a while.  Now why can't we have this many in attendance every Sunday?

Sue W. says, Today was one of the most awesome days I have had in a very long time, Great Church service , tons of family, food, smiles and remembrances. God is good, and will continue to be so. Amen.... :)

Here are a few key thoughts from today’s message:

** There are four major religions in the world; Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.  Three of those worldwide religions admit its founder is dead.  Only Christianity clams that its founder is alive.

** The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity.  Without it, there would be no Christianity.

** Jesus’ resurrection validates every claim that He ever made about anything. 

** And Jesus said to her,Mary” (John 20:16).

** If in this life only we have hope in Christ Jesus, we are of all men most miserable (I Corinthians 15:19).

I’ve been thinking about today’s attendance.  We had a full house without any advertisement, mail outs, special events, plays, cantatas, or sermon series leading up to Easter.  We simply let our church “self gravitate” on its own.  Virtually all our first time guests were there because someone invited them.  That is amazing!

I think the thing I am happiest about today is that we simply put on a regular service, only slightly ramped up, and it was still a huge success.  In the past we have pulled out all the stops for Easter by planning a lot of special activities.  In the end it left me exhausted, stressed, and burned out. 

That being said, I realize that we have 52 Sundays in a year and they are all equally important.  That’s what we strive for at PCC – 52 great Sundays.

We realized today that we could easily handle a regular attendance of 650-750 without any real strain.

Very proud of our volunteers.  I pastor a unique church, it’s full of some of the best servants I have ever seen.  This week and today saw people serving and getting a burst of energy to do what God has called them to do.

We have some insanely talented people at PCC.

We need to have a baptism service in the near future.

Our children’s ministry environments are working like clock work right now.  I am very encouraged and pleased to see the progress being made there.

Today as I was walking through the age-level ministry area thanking people for serving, I saw a young lady serving in the nursery.  I took note of her because she also sings on one of our worship teams, but her team is not back on schedule until next month.  Yet, there she was SERVING BEHIND THE SCENES.  That’s what I’m talking about!   I really appreciate the people who are willing to sacrificially serve in any capacity - not just the “cool” positions – and seeing her did not escape my attention.  Thank you!

In the past several weeks I have also noticed the high number of people who are now serving in one service and attending the next service (i.e., Attend One, Serve One).  This really impresses me and I appreciate it very much. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Music for Easter Sunday

The Worship Team will provide pre-service music this Sunday, beginning about 20 minutes before service begins.  Those songs are:

·       In Christ Alone
·       Glorious Day (optional, depending on time)
·       Will You Ride

You should get to service early to find a good seat.  In fact, sit towards the front.  No doubt, you will enjoy the pre-service selection, including the much-requested “Will You Ride.”  Another personal favorite of mine is “In Christ Alone.”  There is going to be a buzz in the house this Sunday!

The song selection and worship set for main service is:

·       Love Comes Down
·       Hosanna
·       Christ is Risen (the new song from 3 weeks ago.  It is really good)
·       Your Grace Still Amazes Me

Bring a guest.  Get there early.  Help yourself to a cup of Java.  Sit towards the front.  You’re going to love it.  Your kids are going to love Kids Zone.  Even the preacher is going to love it.

PCC Teens Help Local Homeless Children

Recently the teens of PCC have been involved in a local mission outreach effort and it was pulled of in a first class manner.  They organized this effort to provide humanitarian relief to the homeless children of Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties.  Denise Yates had the idea of collecting the items (that deprived children need) and placing them in Easter baskets.  The teenagers, as well as many others, contributed to this effort.  On Wednesday night the teenagers sorted the materials and stuffed the baskets.  On Thursday morning Denise and two others delivered 164 baskets to three local relief organizations; Favor House in Milton, Loves and Fishes in Pensacola, and Heavenly Blessings in Pensacola.

Holy cow!  These people are getting with the program and doing some stuff!

Through this effort the teenagers learned what it means to be Jesus’ hands and feet to a hurting community, not to mention the homeless children who actually benefited from this practical assistance.

I love being part of a church that does this kind of thing.  This is kingdom advancement.

Thank you Denise, Brain, all the teenagers, and everyone who helped, for a job well done!
Click the pictures for an enlarged view.  Then backspace to return here.

Friday Five - Good Friday (Easter Countdown 3)

1.The church offices were closed today for Good Friday.

2.  I got up early this morning and started doing yard work just after daylight.  I spent about three hours shoveling, raking, relocating a sprinkler head, and digging in the flower beds.  After that, Renae and went to our property on Berryhill Rd and mowed the grass, hooked up a water line, and trimmed tree limbs.  We’ve been at it for about eight hours.  It felt good to get outdoors today and do a lot of manual labor.  We got a lot accomplished.  I’m going to be grilling Rib Eye steak and sauteing jumbo shrimp later.  We’ll round out the meal with corn on the cob, red skin potatoes, and sliced tomatoes.  Feels like springtime, so we’ll have a springtime cookout.

 3.  For Lent, I’m giving up Lent.

4.  I am anticipating a very good attendance this Sunday.  We are praying that souls will be saved, lives changed, and God glorified.  It's what I live for.  It's why PCC exists.  Will you join me in praying for a successful Easter Sunday? 

5.  On this day 2000 years ago, Pontius Pilate, Roman Governor & Prefect of the province of Judea, became a footnote in the story of a Galilean carpenter!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Resurrection: The Key to Everything (Easter Countdown 2)

This Sunday millions of people will be sitting in churches across the world listen to a sermon about Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Many of those people have heard it so many times before that they don’t even care any more; tradition has dulled its impact.  Even among unchurched people, they know that Jesus lived, died, and that we Christians celebrate His resurrection.  They too, don’t care.

I think that church leaders and pastors miss a golden opportunity regarding Easter in not communicating its relevance.  We think we have done our job when we tell people what happened (i.e., Jesus died.  Jesus rose) and mourn or celebrate accordingly.  And that’s how most services will be conducted this Sunday; the preacher will only tell people what happen.  Consequently, thousands of people will leave those services unchanged.  It’s like they are saying, “Yep, I know.  So what?”

It’s not enough that we tell people what happened.  We must tell them why it matters!

Let me illustrate.  Sometimes when I am driving in traffic I listen to the radio.  I hear all the traffic reports coming in from the other side of Pensacola.  Those traffic reports are of no interest to me because I’m on this side of town, so all I hear is “blah, blah, blah, blah.”  But when the weather report comes on, I tune in like a laser.  Why?  Because the same weather pattern on the other side of town affects me on this side of town.  It piques my interest because I care about what impacts me.

Most people who walk through our church doors this Sunday have a filter like that.  Either they will be hearing the same old, “blah, blah, blah, blah” or either they are going to tune in like a laser.  Yea, you can go get all spiritual on me and remind me that God’s Word will not return void, (and I actually believe that), but the truth is 98% of the people who visit on Easter will not be back the following Sunday… unless we explain why the resurrection matters and how it affects them.

This Sunday my message is “Resurrection: The Key to Everything.”  Yes, I will tell that old, old story again, hopefully in a fresh and insightful way.  More importantly, I will share five reasons why it matters and what it means to you.  This will be a golden opportunity for you to invite and brings your friends or family members to service with you.  This message will bridge the gap between what people already know and what they care about.

You can’t ignore the claims of a dead man walking.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Your Ministry is Very Important to God (Easter Countdown 1)

The ministry of PCC matters to God. The people of PCC matter to God. As we head into Easter it is important that we realize that no matter how many people show up for the services, your ministry is significant in the eyes of the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses parts of the human body to illustrate this point in the Body of Christ. “Some parts of the body that seem the weakest and least important are actually the most necessary….. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity” (I Corinthians 12:22-25 NLT).

True, some ministries are more visible than others. But ALL MINISTIRES are important. Never confuse visibility with importance. They are not the same.

Let me illustrate. The most important light in my house is not the chandelier in the dining room. It is the little nightlight in our bathroom so that I don’t trip and fall in the middle of the night. It’s a little light, but very important. The same is true in the church.

You may never get your picture on a web site, on the cover of a magazine, or even be seen on stage in a Sunday service.  As a result, you may think your ministry is insignificant. If you do, you’re dead wrong.

Your ministry matters to God. Whether you are teaching or singing on stage, teaching in a back room, cleaning a hallway, taking out trash, pulling security, mowing grass, changing diapers, answering phones, running the copy machine, ushering in the isles, or monitoring children, your ministry is vital and it matters to God (and it matters to me).  The Bible say God has put you where you are. Paul says, “I thank God, He put me into the ministry.”

Each and every week you do what you do not for your own enrichment or fame – but to see others make a fresh start with God. You work tirelessly to see the lost come to Christ, the poor be fed, the broken-hearted find love, and the disenfranchised find a voice. That’s what a real hero does. That’s what you do.

Discipleship: Expectations must be "Right Sized"

When it comes to discipleship, whose responsibility is it - the church or the individual?  The responsibility rests with both.  Unfortunately, a lot of people believe the responsibility rests solely with the church.  The expectation is that the pastor does all the feeding while the people do all the eating.  This is not only unrealistic and impractical, it is unbiblical.  Sure, the church has a responsibility to “feed the sheep” (John 15:17-21), but the people also have the responsibility to feed themselves, be teachers, and go on to perfection (Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-3).

The goal of discipleship is to slowly make believers stand on their own two feet.  That is, the church is responsible for helping believers grow to a certain point.  After that, they should feed themselves and focus on helping the church with its mission.

To do that, expectations must be right sized.  Growing Christians must be taught that the church and its leaders cannot and will not do everything for them indefinitely, and at some point they must embrace the habits of spiritual growth for themselves. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From "Come and See" to "Come and Die"

Discipleship is a process.

First you get people to repent and receive Christ, then to love Christ, then to grow in Christ, then to serve Christ, then the share Christ.  At PCC we’ve been doing this for thirteen years.

Consider the method of Jesus.  When He first called His disciples to leave their vocations and follow Him, He said, “Come and see.”  That is the entry point for faith.  Then over 3 ½ years of personal mentoring (discipleship) Jesus turns up the heat on His followers and redefines commitment.  He starts saying things like, “You are my disciple if you love one another… if you bear fruit… if you take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me.” 

When Jesus talked about His disciples ‘taking up a cross’ He was communicating to them the concept of ‘dying to self.’  A cross was an instrument of death – a method of execution used by the Romans.  He was now telling them to “Come and die.

There is a huge difference between “Come and See” and “Come and Die.”  Jesus doesn’t say “come and die” at the very first.  He takes three years to move them to that place.

This is exactly where many churches miss the point.  They choose between one or the other.  Some churches are “Come and See” churches; they bring in a lot of people through the front doors and win lost people to Christ,  but do very little to deepen their faith to deeper levels of maturity.  Other churches are “Come and Die” churches; they don’t reach anyone for Christ, but they just keep taking the same group of (frozen chosen) believers deeper, and deeper, and deeper, etc.

Healthy churches are those who have figured out how to balance both evangelism and discipleship.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - April 17, 2011

Solid day at PCC.

Attendance was solid too, but a little lower than last week.

I still like the new service times.  They have a good feel.  One noticeable positive effect the new times have already accomplished is a better attendance and more energy in the second service.

I have been SLAMMED all week; so busy my head has barely been above water.

While on the stage in the fist service this morning, just before I did the welcome, my mind went completely blank.  There were a couple of things I needed to say, and I went totally blank.

After church we had my mother over for lunch, along with two other families from PCC.  It was good fellowship, good food, and good friends – what Sunday afternoons are made for.

Renae and I went berry picking this evening (for blackberries).  We found a good spot and quickly filled up a large container.  Cobbler is probably in our near future.

This is a picture of my son, Jonathan, (far right), and the band he plays in performing at Scratch Ankle this weekend.

EASTER:  Usually for Easter we do a community-wide mail out, have an Easter Egg hunt for the kids, and plan a variety of special activities to have a large attendance.  But this year we have decided to do none of these things.  Instead, we are going to simply allow our people to invite guests to the services with them.   We’ll have a good attendance, just the same, although it probably will not be double in size.

NEXT SUDNAY (EASTER):  The worship band will be performing two or three pre-service numbers before the countdown begins (i.e., Will You Ride?, Glorious Day, and In Christ Alone)  You will want to get there early to get a good seat and if you wan to hear extra music.

The message today really resonated with a lot of people. While it was not for everyone, the arrow found its mark for a number of our members.

Here are few Facebook comments:

Ron B. says:  Loved the message this morning at church, Ronnie sure makes you think. I know what he means about digging your heels in and being stubborn, just when you think you got it all figured out and are in control the Lord steps in and shows you how it is really going to be.

Sharon P. says:  I agree Ron. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says "make God laugh, tell Him your plans?"

Martha H. says:  Blessings to all this Sunday! Hope you spent time in the Lords house today. Beautiful worship music and wonderful word from our pastor!

Alyssa S. says:  "..have a vertical focus, with our eyes fixed upon God, when life brings hardships. God is usually in the midst of our circumstances doing what He does best, bringing about good. We need eyes of faith to see this."

One young man that I personally know, who is on a spiritual journey of seeking God right now, said:  Life doesn’t always go as planned.  There will be hardships and problems, both good and bad that you will have to face.  But you do have a choice of your own emotions and how you react to that burden – you can dwell and complain about it or you can look at it as a life-lesson.  Life is much more than what people are seeing.  Overcome the odds, it’s not impossible.  I went to church this morning and was surprised to see this topic that I’ve been discussing with friends the past few weeks.

This testimony is a miracle.  Trust me when I say that.

I love what God is doing at PCC right now.  The Sunday services are rocking.  The music is good.  The age-level ministries are firing on eight cylinders.  The workers are highly motive and enjoying their work.  (One lady sends pastor Gene an e-mail almost ever week telling him what a joy it is to serve).  The current message series is ministering to people every week.  In the very least, people are learning the Bible and discovering what an amazing God we serve!

The church will be CLOSED this FRIDAY for Good Friday.  The housekeeping team will clean the building on Thursday.  If you’d like to help out and join us for breakfast, we’d love to have you.  9:00 a.m.

One of our biggest needs at PCC right now is ADDITIONAL STAFF!  Full time staff.

A few brick-and-mortar projects that we would like to be able to accomplish this year are:  Purchasing an additional mower (for maintaining the campus grounds), and a one man lift (for changing light fixtures and doing overheard work in the building and parking lot).

Please keep me in your prayers.  I’m pretty stressed out right now.

Pray for revival at PCC.  There is so much that God wants to do in our community, and if we will cooperate with Him much will be accomplished. 

PCC is a great church.  We serve a great God.  Good things are in our future.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Sunday's Message

Murphy’s Law.  You know what it is, right?  It states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  Life is like that sometimes.  Things don’t always work out like we planned.  Beyond minor inconveniences, sometimes tragedies even occur.

How should we respond to life’s setbacks?  We have two choices:  We can view them with faith, or we can resign ourselves to fate.  That’s what this Sunday’s message is about:  Fatalism verses Faith.

The focus of our attention will be upon Joseph’s father, Jacob.  He was a man who had trouble walking by faith even though he had known the Lord most of his life.  He was a negative, pessimistic, close-minded man who lived in fear.  “Everything is against me” he wailed.

We will learn the importance of having a vertical focus, with our eyes fixed upon God, when life brings hardships.  God is usually in the midst of our circumstances doing what He does best, bringing about good.  We need eyes of faith to see this.

You will be challenged.  You will be encouraged.  Bring a friend.

Breaking the Huddle

In football, the time comes when the team must break the huddle and run the play.  Likewise, the church must do the same.  One of the problems with many churches is that its leaders never (or very seldom) break the huddle.  They remain in holy huddles when it’s time to pull the trigger and run the play.

Here’s how you know if you’re living in a holy huddle.  You’re a Christian and all your friends are Christians.  Your social activities involve other Christians only.  You don’t know your neighbors.  You’re active in your church but not in the community.  Your church is ingrown.  There is a lack of zeal and outreach.  The church has an “insider’s club” mentality.  The church lives in its comfort zone, providing a safe, comfortable, non-challenging atmosphere as opposed to walking in lock-step with Jesus’ command to go into the highways and hedges.

Acts 8 is an example of God’s assault on the holy huddle.  The early church had grown and was doing a lot of good ministry in Jerusalem – yet God was not happy with them.  They hunkered down in Jerusalem rather than fulfilling the Great Commission by “going into the world.”  God wanted them to move out, but they preferred the holy huddle.

So God nudged them out, right?  No.  God DROVE them out on the sharp the end of a spear.  He allowed (brought?) persecution to the church that scattered them to the four winds, thus breaking the holy huddle.  If you don’t believe me, compare Acts 8:1 to Acts 1:8.  The persecution worked – Phillip got the message and the gospel finally came to Samaria.

God is like that.  He will drive you out of your mediocrity, your comfortable group of friends, and your spiritual plateau by sending hardships, pain, and persecution.  Could the opposition that you are facing in your ministry not be a spiritual attack from Satan, but rather a divine cattle prod to get you onto His mission?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Letter I Mailed Last Summer

I received an ugly letter from someone last summer.  Now that enough time has elapsed, I can share this.  His complaint was that he and his family had been to church with us two or three times and they had not been able to make any friends.  He then proceeded with a long list of other complaints.  This was my response to him:

Mr. Smith (not his real name of course)

I’m sorry that we have failed you so.  But with eight deaths in our church family, multiple funerals, a very tragic motorcycle accident, several cases of terminal cancer, Student Life Camp for the teenagers, Vacation Bible School for our kids, and the the summer slump,  we are shorthanded on volunteer help and our church staff has been spread very thin all summer.  We have to prioritize our responses in times of emergency and intense ministry seasons like this, so we cannot always fix things around here as quickly as we would like to.  This may come as a surprise to you, but there have been greater needs in our church than you and your demands.

You stated you had no luck making any friends at our church, after three visits, and that we had failed you in that regard.  Sorry.  We can’t do for you what you cannot do for yourself.  And for your information, there are 499 other people at PCC who have been able to make friends in spite of our apparent shortcomings.  Could it be that your failure to make friends has more to do with your own inability rather than us?  You seem comfortable and skilled at criticizing others in the form of a written letter, but maybe you should concentrate on developing your interpersonal social skills by trying to be nice and reaching out to others yourself.  As the Bible states, “a man that has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24b).  In light of this, you have a long way to go.

It seems nothing in our church escaped your criticism.  Rather than respond to your complaints line by line, I will tell you that I found your comments to be very insulting.  You found only what you were looking for – fault – which makes you a little man.  I recognize there are many things that need improving.  On the other hand, our church is full of people who are gracious enough to overlook these weaknesses and, unlike you, are kind enough to actually offer a helping hand to improve things around here.  To that end, most of the ministries at our church are volunteer driven.   So if I have to choose between people like them and someone like you, they win.  That’s why they are my friends and may explain why you don’t have any.

Good luck in your search for a church.

Ron Christian
Pastor – PCC

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dirty Church Buildings & Bad Impressions

Try this experiment. Put a dirty mop bucket in plain sight in the church. Just leave it sitting in a corner for 6 weeks. The first week everyone will notice and we’ll get lots of complaints. By the third week, not so many. By the sixth week most people will be saying “What mop bucket?”  Here’s the point: it doesn’t take long to get used to our surroundings.  We don't notice the dirty carpet, the food crumbs on the floor, the broken fixtures, scuffed up walls, or the clutter in the class rooms. We don't notice, but our visitors do.

I think it is disgraceful for a church building to be dirty and unkempt.  It’s evidence that people don’t care.  Even worse are the people who create a mess and don’t clean up after themselves.  Dirty carpet, messed up rooms, coffee cups on the sanctuary floor, overflowing trash cans, foul odors, and food crumbs are sights you’d expect to see in a dimly lit nightclub; but not at God’s House.  Not at Pace Community Church.

Please do me a favor.  Clean up after yourself.  Don’t leave a mess for someone else to pick up after you.  We have a housekeeping team, made up of volunteers, who do an exceptional job of ensuring that our facilities are in pristine condition every weekend.  But they can't do it all themselves, nor should they be expected to.  Everyone shares in this responsibility.  Empty the trash cans that you use. Don’t leave your coffee cups in the sanctuary.  Don’t drop gum wrappers or cigarette butts on the ground either.  Did you dirty the dishes?  Wash them yourself.  If you use a room for some ministry activity, then clean up when you get through and vacuum the carpet while you’re at it, because someone else is going to use the same room tomorrow.  Did you turn on the air conditioner?  Then you turn it off.  Don’t assume someone else will do it.

Let’s remember.  This is God’s House, not our house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why We Have Offering Talks Each Sunday

This is a new component that we have added to our services this year, and have now been doing them for three months.  “Offering Talks” are 3 minute blocks of time in the regular Sunday service specifically devoted to the topic of giving and generosity.  It is a time in which we explain the “what” and “why” behind receiving an offering.

Here’s are few reasons why we have them:

1.  Giving and generosity is basic discipleship. It is Christianity 101.  This is not some deep theological issue.  Nor is it a taboo subject to be avoided in church.  It is as basic to Christianity as prayer is, and God’s people need to learn what God has to say about money and Jesus’ Lordship over it.  These three-minute talks each week give us a steady diet, albeit a snapshot, of what the Bible actually has to say about our money and our responsibility to be generous.

2.  For too many years at PCC we treated the offering as a tack-on at the end of the service instead of incorporating it as a vital part of our worship.  This was a big mistake, mostly on my part, and we made a deliberate decision to fix it.  To be sure, as a new church plant dedicated to targeting irreligious people, it was important for us to minimize the emphasis on money.  It was an effective strategy in our early years. But we did it too long.  Over time it conditioned a lot of people to coast along for free while others carried the load.  Besides, it also resulted in the stunted spiritual growth for a lot of people. 

3.  It means I don’t have to do a sermon series on finances out of desperation.  Think about it.  When we de-emphasize money and giving all year long it results in a financial shortfall for your church.  So what does the pastor have to do?  He has to get up there and preach a desperate message series on giving just so the church can survive!   That’s not good.  It’s not good for discipleship, and it’s not good for business.  Everyone feels like they are being yanked around – both the pulpit and the pew.  In contrast, by having offering talks each week our finances remain consistently strong.  Furthermore, when or if I ever do a message series on finances, it will not be out of desperation – it will simply be another message series on “discipleship.”  Additionally, it will feel ‘normal’ because everyone will have already been pre-conditioned to this subject.

4.  The three minute offering talks on giving are easier to swallow than an intense message series.  Anyone can listen to a three-to-five minute talk on giving each week; even those who don't want to hear it.  Besides, there is a cumulative effect:   three minutes each Sunday multiplied by 52 Sundays is equivalent to a five-week sermon series on the subject.

5.  It’s important to be taught that God owns it all.  Yes, God owns you and all your stuff...... The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty (Haggai 2:8)...... The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1).  For more evidence of God's claim of ownership, also see Deuteronomy 10:14;  Psalms 50:10;  Psalms 50:12; I Chronicles 29:11, Colossians 1:16.

6.  Stewardship is essential to spiritual growth.  Since God owns everything to begin with, that makes us “stewards” of His stuff.  We are ‘managers’ not the real owners.  Until a person understands Biblical Stewardship and changes their attitude about money and material possessions, they will never manage their earthly possessions in a Biblical manner.

7.  We believe that people are bombarded with incorrect messages everyday telling them how to view money.  For instance, T.V. commercials, businesses, charities, civic organizations, and the music industry all make appeals for money.  But if the church remains silent, we are allowing people to hear a one-sided view of what money is and how it should be used.  The world is not afraid to ask for financial commitments, but for some reason the church has been.  For example, has your power company ever apologized for asking you to make a payment?  Of course not.  At PCC, we have overcome that fear.  We use our offering talks as an opportunity to be clear about what the scriptures teach concerning God’s standard of giving from His people.  We don’t apologize for this.  We didn’t’ write the Bible, God did.

8.  We talk about money because the BIBLE talks about money.  The Bible talks about money too much for us to simply ignore or avoid the subject.  There are around 500 verses on prayer in the Scriptures, less than 500 on faith…but over 2,000 on money and possessions.  Sixteen out of the thirty eight parables Jesus told had to do with money!  To make it plain and simple:  Jesus taught on money and so will we.

9.  Jesus said that money was the number one competitor for our hearts.  If there is one area of our lives, above all else, that holds us back from being fully devoted to Jesus Christ, it is the area of our finances.  This often becomes a stronghold, or a hold-out spot.  (Read Matthew 6:21 and 6:24).  The weekly offering talks systematically chip away at these strongholds, teaching the Christian that obedience in finances is something God demands.

10.  We cannot live with the assumption that everything is for our consumption.  Instead, we are admonished in the scriptures to live in moderation, restraining ourselves from over-indulgence.  In Luke 21:34 Jesus warns us to not live a life of over-indulgence, especially in food & drink and the cares of this life.  Read it closely and you will discover that the glutton is placed in the same category as the drunkard.  These are strong words from our Lord.  Here’s the point:  Anyone who is over-indulging themselves is consuming too much.  Instead of indulging ourselves in excess, we should be generous and sharing from our excess.