Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday 411

My home computer has been in the repair shop for over a week.  That's why there has been a slight slow-down in my blogging activity.  i.e., I do most of my writing from home because I am usually too busy at the office or during normal business hours to write there/then.  But I'm back up and running with my home computer again and look forward to posting this week.

Writing is a pastime of mine that I enjoy a lot. 

I also enjoy gardening (vegetables, herbs, and flowers), bonsai, guitar, fishing, and exercise.  Anything outdoors.

I'm playing guitar in the worship band tomorrow.  Looking forward to it.  It's been a long time - probably more than one year.

New service time begins tomorrow too.  9:30 AM

I still have one Jack Russell puppy to find a good home for.  Male.  Eleven weeks old.  Tri- color:  black & tan on white.  Exceptional dog.

2012 is going to be a great year for me personally and for PCC.  Really looking forward to it.

Our church is perfectly positioned for such as time as this.  God has raised up and brought in some exceptional people over the last few years (since our ten year hiccup) to take us to the next level.

The time is now.  It's all good.

The inside of our building has experienced an extreme makeover this week.  The atrium, children's wing, and sanctuary have been redesigned.  Even the landscaping has been improved.

You're going to be impressed.

New Year.  New Beginning

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The High Price of Flawed Assumptions

Even a highly moral, deeply sincere, smart Christian, with the best theological pedigree, has no guarantee of protection from the consequences of a bad decision based upon flawed assumptions.

Over the years, I encountered and counseled with many people who have made life-altering decisions based upon what they thought were Biblical principles, only to discover too late that what they thought was Biblical wasn’t Biblical at all.  I’ve made plenty of them myself.

Spiritual myths.  That’s what they are.  It’s a story, assumption, or truism that gets passed around as fact.  In most cases the source is a friend, a Sunday School class, a Bible study, a devotional, a book, or even a sermon.

Because they sound believable and come from a reputable source, spiritual myths are often accepted without question and then quickly passed on.  Once widely disseminated, they tend to take on a life of their own.  They become almost impossible to refute because “everyone” knows they’re true.  Anyone who dares to question them gets written off as spiritually dull, lacking faith, or liberal.

For instance, the Bible never says “God helps those who help themselves.”  Another thing the Bible does not say is “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  Something else, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, to lead us to believe that Jesus had blonde hair, blue eyes, and Caucasian skin, except for European medieval art.

Some assumptions are harmless, but others are devastating.  Think of the disillusionment that sets in when someone writes off God for failing to keep a promise that He never made.  Or the despair that follows a step of faith that turns out to be a leap onto thin ice.

That’s why spiritual myths and assumptions must be challenged and explored.  They bring heartache and disillusionment to all those who trust in them.  Spiritual myths are like fools gold.  It looks good at first glance, but once tested, it proves worthless.

Read below for an example…..

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Godly Home Does Not Guarantee Godly Children

Like many other spiritual legends, the idea that a godly home guarantees godly kids finds its source in a well-known, but widely misunderstood, Bible verse.  In this case it’s Proverbs 22:6…

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Most people seem to think that this verse promises us that a child raised correctly will come back to the Lord eventually.

But that’s not what it promises – or what it says.

To begin with, Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise.  It’s a proverb.  Promises are absolute, especially God’s.  When a promise is made, it’s a done deal.  You can take it to the bank.  But a proverb is different.  It’s an observation of how life generally works.  It tells us what usually happens, not what always happens.  The book of Proverbs is called Proverbs for good reason.  It’s comprised of God-breathed observations about life.  But the observations are far from universal.  For instance, the righteous aren’t always honored.  The wicked sometimes succeed.  The diligent can lose it all, and the lazy can strike it rich.

The same goes for Solomon’s encouraging words about children who are properly raised.  It’s a proverb, not a promise.  Some children will not depart from their spiritual roots.  But some will.  It's a fact, and you know it.

Let's look even closer.  How did the phrase “Won’t Depart” ever turn into “Will Come Back One Day?”  It’s the second half of this verse that really gets butchered and twisted beyond recognition.  Here’s what it actually says:  “…and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Try as I might, I can’t find anything here guaranteeing a return to the Lord, especially one that comes after a season of rebellion.  Can you?  In fact, it says exactly the opposite.  It says they won’t turn away in the first place!

The difference is immense.

The myth that a godly home guarantees godly kids (in every instance) is not just untrue.  It’s not just wishful thinking.  It is spiritually dangerous.  If we buy into it, we become especially vulnerable to two things that are never a part of God’s plan for us:  unwarranted guilt and foolish pride.

UNWARRANTED GUILT.  Parents of prodigals can be burdened with a guilt they don’t deserve.  But they aren’t the only ones who get hurt.  It always brings pain and boatloads of unnecessary guilt to parents whose children happen to be hyperactive, learning disabled, emotionally challenged, strong willed, or just plain incorrigible.

You’ve seen it in the Mall or maybe in the church parking lot – a father or mother struggling with the out-of-control behavior of an unruly child.  What’s the first reaction most of us have?  It’s usually harsh judgment or an expressed opinion about the parents, not the child.  “If I was that child’s mother, I would blah, blah, blah.”  Right?  And we also wonder what kind of parenting and home life produced such a little tyrant.

One group that can get particularly hammered by this myth is adoptive parents.  In an incredible act of love, sacrifice, and grace, a couple reaches out to take in an unwanted or abandoned child in the hopes of providing a good home and spiritual foundation.  Many succeed.  But for those who don't, the emotional pain and guilt can be excruiating, especially if they or their circle of friends have bought into the idea that a godly home always trumps a suspect gene pool and or the foolish choices of rebellion.  Let's be honest, when an adoptive child begins to exhibit the same behaviors as their birth parents, the culprit is just as likely to be genetics as home life.   For any one of us - adopted or not - there's only so much a godly home can do to counter these inherited physical or emotional inclinations.

The truth is, every son and daughter of Adam is born with a sin nature.  They, just like their parents, are saddled with a propensity for self-centered and sinful behavior.  It’s not something we can eliminate with a carefully controlled environment or even the godliness of Christian parents.  Our sin nature is not just a mere theological concept.  It’s a real and present danger.

Sometimes it gets the upper hand.

When it does, it’s not always someone else’s fault – not even Mom or Dad’s.

FOOLISH PRIDE.  The flip side of guilt is foolish pride.  It’s something I’ve noticed to be most prevalent among those parents who just happen to have children who are naturally compliant, easygoing, introverted, unassertive, or academically gifted.

It’s not hard to see why we like to take the credit.  When anything turns out well, we’d prefer to think we had something (or everything) to do with it.  If we’ve been told that good and godly kids are the result of good and godly homes, then why not pat ourselves on the back for a job well done?

Oh yea, one more thing.  This foolish prides manifests itself in another way:  hash criticism of other parents who have hard-to-control children or teenagers.  Prideful parents will sometimes oversimplify parenthood by reducing it down to a simple step-by-step recipe, then imply that if everyone else would follow this godly advice like they did, then everyone else's children would turn out as well as theirs did.  But things like Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, or a simple case of stubborness can make the best of homes appear to be dysfunctional.

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate.  Raising children is no easy task.  Each child is different.  Each one has their own personality, strength, and weaknesses.  Each child chooses his or her path.  Consequently, they have a way of dashing our naïve assumptions that are built upon spiritual myths.

Bottom line:  children are not mindless lumps of clay.  The accomplishments or sins of our children don’t always reflect our parenting skills.  There are way too many variables that come into play that we have no control over.  All we can do is our best.  The final outcome is ultimately out of our hands.

GOOD PARENTING STILL MATTERS.  None of this is meant to say that parents don’t have a responsibility for the manner in which they raise their children.  Or that it doesn’t matter how we parent.  It does.  The Bible is very clear about these things.

Both the Old and New Testaments place a high priority on godly parenting, home instruction, and exampleship.  Passing the spiritual torch should be a top concern for every Christian parent.  In God’s eyes, our home life is more important than any other ministry we might have.  Parenting is a top spiritual priority.  And as always, we have hope and assurance in God.  He hears and answers the prayers of  parents and works in our behalf, never against us.  His Word and Spirit are contstantly at work as active agents convicting of sin and drawing people to Christ, including our children, because He is not willing that any would perish.  A godly home always increases the chances of a favorable outcome.

Parenting is a tough job.  Advice is easy.  So is critique.  But for those of us in the midst of the battle, it’s not so simple. Things that sound easy in a seminar or Bible study are usually a lot more nuanced in real life.

I’m reminded of the simple advice to keep my cool and never discipline my children in anger.  Sounds good.  Makes sense.  Even sounds spiritual.  But I, for one, haven’t always been able to pull it off.  What was I supposed to do?  Wait until we were all having a good time – then bam!?

Rather than preening in pride, casting harsh judgments, or wallowing in self-pity and unwarranted guilt, we simply need to cast aside the myth that produces these unsavory responses and live in light of the truth:  As parents, we have a sacred responsibility for how we raise our kids and they are given a definite advantage by being raised in a godly home, but we have no ultimate control over how they turn out.

Admittedly, there are plenty of Christians who have good reason to feel guilty.  Hypocrisy, uncontrollable and sinful outbursts of anger, inattention (or its mirror opposite, hyper control), poor marriages, and too much conflict in the home are all too common.  The price for each is always high.

But when godly parents do the best they can and yet fail to achieve the outcome they hoped for, they need a break, not a drive-by shooting of guilt.  And when things go well, we need a lot more gratitude and a lot less pride.

So, if you’re a parent, give it your best shot – then go take a nap. 

And if you’ve already given it your best shot – take a long nap. 

You deserve it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - December 25, 2011

Absolutely a great day at PCC.

I couldn’t believe the attendance.  We had no way of knowing how many would show up Christmas morning for such an early service (after all, it was a 9:00 AM service), so we only ran two hundred bulletins, but we ran out of them 15 minutes before service even began.  The seating was packed to capacity.  I don’t even know the accurate count, but it was almost as good as a regular Sunday.  The ushers had to bring out extra chairs and run back to the kitchen and prepare extra Communion elements.

The people of PCC never cease to amaze me.

I tried to take a couple of pictures but they all came out blurry.

We had a shorter than normal song service, only two songs, and then we went right into Communion.  BTW, I thought the singing was exceptional by our band and worship team.  The Communion service was deeply meaningful too.  Renee Jones hit it out of the park with the Communion song, “Mary Did You Know.”

The song, “Jesus Messiah” was good too. 

After service, Renae and I attended services at Christian Life in Milton, on Avalon Blvd.  We got to sit together in church - a rare thing - and even held hands.  :-)

We received Communion there too.  Very nice to see how other churches practice this ordinance.  Gave me some ideas.

On the drive down Hwy 90 I was very encouraged and pleased to see that all the churches along that route were having services.  Godly people with godly leaders doing it right.

There’s a lesson here:  Don’t ever cancel your Sunday services in Santa Rosa County (unless there is a Hurricane) or you’ll be tarred & feathered and run out of town on the end of a fence rail!

Will be making a hospital visit later this afternoon.  One of our church family has suffered a major crisis – on Christmas day of all days.

My laptop has been down for a week.  That’s one reason why there been a slowdown in my blog postings recently.  I should get it out of the repair shop tomorrow or Tuesday.

Just got through having Christmas dinner with my family and time around the tree.  Blessed.

Wow - Christmas Day, PCC


Merry Christmas from My Family to Yours

After church this morning, this is the spot my family will gather.  Looks warm and cozy.  Renae decorated the tree and wrapped all the presents.  We'll have Nolan, our first grandchild, with us too.  It's going to be a good day.  I hope your day is filled with joy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Family Worship

God said of Abraham…

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him (Genesis 18:19 KJV)

Family worship and attendance in God’s house for corporate worship as a family is very important.  Parents who neglect this duty do violence to their children; they rob them of the gospel, deny the faith, and are worse than an infidel (I Timothy 5:8).

In contrast, God knew Abraham well enough to know what he would do with his children.  He would command them and teach them in the ways of the Lord.  Is it any wonder that God expresses such confidence and favor in the man?  Not a bad example for us to follow.

What are the reasons we should practice family worship and to be faithful to church as a family?

1.  There are family sins to confess.
2.  There are family mercies to thank God for.
3.  There are family deliverance's to celebrate.
4.  There are family blessings to seek God for.
5.  Family worship honors God and strengthens the family.

Here’s what you can expect from family worship:

1. An increase of knowledge of God for the whole family (Deut. 6:6-7).
2. Family harmony will increase (Colossians 2:14-15).
3  Freedom from the fury of God (Jeremiah 10:25).
4. The blessing of God upon your family (Psalm 128).
5.  Family safety (Psalm 34:7).

Christians who neglect family worship are shamed by the heathen religions of the world.  In almost every heathen religion in the world, family worship has a prominent place in the household.  And should not Christian families, who worship Jehovah, the Only True God, worship Him together?  We should blush for the people who neglect this.  We should also fear for them, because their neglect comes from a heart gone bad, not a lack of knowledge.

The most unprincipled thing a person could ever say is, “I just don’t have the time.  WHAT?!!  No time for God?  No time for His honor?  No time to seek His favor?  No time to plead for His mercy?  No time to bless your children?  No time to acknowledge His Lordship over you?!!

Abraham found the time, and God said of him, “For I KNOW HIM, he will command his children and his household….”

I think I’ll be in church this Sunday… even if it is Christmas.


Computer has been down for a few days.  Hope to be up and running in another day or so.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - December 18, 2011

Really good day. The energy level was off the chart just before the first service out in the atrium. People really seem to enjoy one another’s company on Sunday mornings.

The singers who were singing Christmas carols in the atrium was a nice touch too.

The new landscaping looked very good. Good curb appeal. Thanks to Jack H. and those who worked with him to make it happen.

A lot of people really seemed to enjoy the message this morning. While it was not profound, the outline did reaffirm those things we know to be true and reminded us to put first things first.

Sometimes just “hearing” it again is all the nudge we need to get going.

Attended three Christmas socials yesterday, and three more after church today.

I have eaten 6 million calories in the last two weeks.

Last night was Christmas Caroling at Alyssa’s Antique Depot in Pace. Really a neat place. The singers were exceptional and a big hit to all the customers. Alyssa and her family attend PCC.

Some of the same carolers went to the Hospice center at West FL Hospital today after church, singing for the patients and their families. Many of them were very encouraged and appreciative.

The teenagers had a Progressive Dinner tonight. Renae and I dropped in at one of the host locations for an hour or so. Lots of fun.

Good things happening at PCC. Very excited about the future.

Here’s a comment from Facebook: Great day. Church and 3 Christmas parties...think i got my fellowship in for the week...nah you can never have enough with good Christian folk! Love my church family. Excited about what the New Year holds for us!

My first series for 2012 will probably be on the book of Esther. Will also teach a series on the book of Job.

I have really enjoyed the holiday season so far. Since Thanksgiving I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with a variety of people and groups from our church family. That is a definite advantage to clearing the calendar of regular ministry activities this time of year, because it makes room for holiday and fellowship activities. Plus it breaks the routine, keeping things fresh.

Can’t wait to get started on 2012. Among other things, we’re really going to be doubling our efforts towards newcomers.

It’s going to be an exciting New Year for us.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday FIve

1.  Tonight is our Christmas Musical provided by the children and youth of PCC.   Potluck dinner at 6:00 PM.  Christmas Play at 7:15 PM.

2.  Tomorrow night Christmas Caroling at Alyssa’s Antique Depot.  5:30 – 8:00 PM.

3.  This Sunday’s message:  Advent

4.  Going to a Whole Nutha Level means you will encounter a Whole Nutha Devil.

5.  Don’t forget about our Christmas Offering.  It's a great opportunity.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keep It Simple

Keep it simple.  All of it.

1.  Don’t overdue the signage.  Make it big.  Make it clear.  Make it matter.

2.  Don’t announce or promote everything going on at church.  When everything has the same perceived importance, then nothing is more important than anything else.  Fewer is better. 

3.  Provide a bulletin or program for the Sunday service, not a newsletter or multi-piece magazine filled with multiple inserts.

4.  Meet people where they are – not where you wish they were.  Especially newcomers.  Right now they're just asking where the restrooms are.  Help them with that.

5.  Simply serve, and serve with simplicity, practicing the golden rule.  It’s what Jesus taught.  It should be sufficient for us too.


Visits/hits to this blog in the last month:  United States 2,976… China 204… Ukraine 204… Germany 183… Russia 175… Netherlands 58… United Kingdom 39… South Africa 38… Canada 28… France 23.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Honestly, I’ve come to hate the word accountability.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the concept of accountability and the need for it within the Christian community.  I am accountable to the people I serve, and believers are accountable to each other, etc.  But the way  accountability is typically deployed in churches has gotten abusive.

For a long time in the church world it’s been used as a license to browbeat fellow Christians, manipulate leaders, and hold people in bondage to someone else’s standard. Accountability has become a code word for control or police action.  It has taken on the form self-righteous sword-swinging that leaves many Christians wounded and disillusioned with the church and with Christ.  Far too often accountability is a display of pious judgment wrapped up in false spirituality!  It angers me.

A relationship does not have to be adversarial to have true accountability.  It can exist among friends and other types of compassionate, caring relationships.  In fact, friends do a much better job of maintaining accountability for one another than legal-lords do, because genuine concern exists between friends, unlike with church bullies.

Consider.  Jesus said to the twelve, “I no longer call you servants…. Instead I have called you friends” (John 15:15).  He spoke these words at a time in ancient culture when the Jewish people lived under Roman rule, but then stepped out of that hierarchical structure to call his followers friends.  Jesus could have used words like king, boss, supervisor, or ruler to describe Himself and terms such as subordinates, lower, or minor to describe them, but He didn’t.  Although Lordship titles of supremacy are given to Christ throughout scripture, in this instance Jesus intentionally used the word friends to describe His relationship with the twelve because it portrays a model for human relationships that doesn’t lord one person over another. 

I’m going to venture a wild guess here:  Mutual accountability probably existed among this group of comrades.

Accountability has to do with matters of the heart more than it does with a system of governance.  You cannot legislate morality, honesty, or integrity no matter how hard you try.  The best from of accountability is found among people who share a high level of trust and affinity with each another.

Then there are the “accountability groups” that are so popular today.  Ever hear of those?  Usually they are made up of people who have very little in common each other and are led by an individual who feels like he/she is the Potentate.  Everyone is herded together and asked questions like:
  • Have your read your Bible every day this week?
  • Have you prayed every day?
  • Have you looked at anything you shouldn’t have looked at?
  • Is your thought life pure?
  • Have you lusted?
  • Have you disobeyed God in anything?  What?
  • Have you displayed pride this week?
And the list goes on from here…

What’s wrong with this picture?  For starters, these kinds of questions are not designed to discover the progress we have made.  Rather, they are designed to catch us in some shortcoming from a checklist of required duties.  Besides, they sound like a fishing expedition.

The questions also assume that everyone answers them truthfully.  The fact is, people lie when they answer accountability questions… adding to their transgressions.

Accountability groups tend to set up rules and conditions for you to live by, which are enforced by legal-lords or controllers.  Your accountability partner’s job is to make sure you are following the master plan of expectations.  It’s an adversarial system at best, and relationally corrosive at worst.  Most of the time it’s both!  Either way, it’s very unhealthy.

It would be nice if morality, honesty, and integrity could be achieved by adhering to an accountability group’s legal codes, but in reality accountability often amounts to a relationship where one person holds another person responsible in a hierarchical or abrasive relationship.

Yet, healthy accountability can be found.  It is the kind that exists between friends and other caring, responsible relationships.  It’s not about “catching someone.” It’s not about keeping tract.  It’s not about keeping the rules.  Rather, it’s about listening, showing empathy, offering help, and establishing restoration.  That’s how we keep one another on the straight and narrow – in caring relationships where the checks and balances are built naturally and organically.

I think that’s a snapshot of what an authentic Christian community should look like.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday Mind Dump - December 2011

Something is wrong with the drivers’ door on my Tahoe.  It won’t open from the inside handle.  So when I want to get exit the vehicle, I have to roll down the window and reach out to use the outside handle.  Makes me feel like the Dukes of Hazard.

It’s going to the shop A.S.A.P.

Five of my six puppies are headed to new homes in the next day or two.  Going to miss them.  I’ve gotten too attached.   They are beautiful and have great personalities.  Have I mentioned I’m going to miss them?

I hope to spend the whole day writing Tuesday. When I was in school a day of writing would have been pure misery. Today, it feels like heaven. What changed?

Church was good yesterday.

Attendance was up in the second service.  The ironic thing was that it was the same day I announced that second service was being discontinued.

Although attendance was up in second service, it was still flat.  Very flat.  The energy level is so low it feels mortifying.  We’ve decided to put this thing out of its misery.

We had a Christmas party last night for ministry leaders and team leaders.  Great event.  I always enjoy spending face time with PCC people outside of the Sunday morning service, and last night was no different.

The food was excellent.  So was the company.

Renae and I have been invited to a small group party next Sunday evening.  Looking forward to that too.

Next Sunday morning’s message title is: Advent.

Christmas day we are receiving communion.

2012 is going to be very exciting.

Friday, December 9, 2011

2011 Christmas Offering

Each year in December we give above and beyond our regular giving to bless our church and community in a generous way. If we end the year financially strong, we would like to fund these initiatives next year:

TEENS: At least 20 scholarships to help teen students experience summer camp in 2012, and to provide training and supplies for the leaders who pour into teenagers each week.

KIDS: Continue offering first-class curriculum and guidance for the 70+ kids who attend Kids Zone each Sunday at PCC, as well as resourcing the leaders who serve our children weekly.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MINISTRY: Improve all aspects of our Guest Services by creating a positive first impression for newcomers to PCC. When guests are valued, they will return. This area includes, but is not limited to, traffic & parking, ushers, greeters, welcome center, and hosts.

FOOD & BEVERAGE: Purchase of kitchen equipment and other material for expanding fellowship activities, banquets, and our growing Café ministry.

NEWCOMERS: Development of Next Step Opportunities for newcomers to PCC such as seminars, workshops, and events.

DISCIPLESHIP: Continued development of Discipleship systems and opportunities for those who actively attend PCC.

BUILDING: Upgrades to our building such as painting the walls, new furniture for the atrium and chairs for the patio.

EQUIPMENT: Purchase a one-man Aerial Lift for overhead maintenance.

Ways to Give in the Christmas Offering:

1. Online at (just click the GIVE tag and follow the directions)
2. Each Sunday morning in December
3. You can make an ongoing pledge
4. Mark your gift as “Christmas Offering.”
5. Or you may designate your gift to a specific item on this list and it will be used to specifically fund that area.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Campfire Talk

In church work you never go from one level of leadership to another without paying a price.  As churches grow, pastors and other leaders must recognize when there needs to be a change in leadership style and how to make it a reality.

Let me use a campfire as an analogy.  I heard this illustration years ago and have since incorporated it as a talking point at PCC.

When our church family was smaller in numbers everyone was able to sit around my campfire.  I was a solo pastor and had direct contact with everyone.  However, this became impossible as our church family grew larger.  There were simply too many newcomers and too many old timers to all sit around one fire, and there wasn’t enough of me to go around.  I had a dilemma on my hands.  When I started paying attention to the newcomers, many of the old timers felt neglected and became unhappy.  And of course, the newcomers could not be ignored either.  After all, God wanted them to be part of this church family as much as anyone else.

In order to fix the situation I had to communicate to the old timers – that if they wanted to continue sitting around my fire – then they had to go out and build fires of their own so they could invite and minister to others just as I had been doing for them.

The response to this kind of change is usually met with resistance because people want to be around the leader’s campfire, only receiving care rather than growing up and giving it to others themselves.

Yet I also knew that if we didn’t make this transition I would become the bottleneck that restricted growth.  As a solo pastor I knew everybody, did all the praying, all the baptizing, all the teaching, all the visitation, knew every kid, dog-and-cat by name, and provided care for everyone.  But there’s a limit to how many people one man can take care of, so I knew that if I continued in this role our church would be limited by my capabilities.

I couldn’t let that happen, so I did the campfire talk…. hundreds of times.

Has it worked?  Yes.  Our church now has multiple leaders who are the primary caregivers for a broad section of our church family.  Through our staff, small group leaders, lay leaders, other ministry leaders, and people who simply have ministry gifts (of hospitality, helps, mercy, and shepherding, etc) more kingdom work gets done than I could ever do by myself.  In essence, these people are the consistent point-of-contact for many of our members as well as the first responders in time of need.

This model follows the principle of Jethro spoken to Moses (in Exodus 18) to appoint others to help.  Moses would have never succeeded in leading the Hebrews to Canaan if not for this counsel.

Did we pay a price?   Yes.  I had to be willing to let other people be pastors & shepherds too, I don't know everyone by first name,  and our church family had to be willing to accept the gifts of others. 

There is no growth without change, and there is no change without loss, and there is no loss without pain.  But the upside is too great and the downside too scary to not pursue this kind of personal growth.  Our church is far greater because of this transition than it would have ever been if I had chosen to fly solo.

I need to have another campfire talk pretty soon.  We're about to bust some new territory.

When a Small Staff is Better

Most church leaders believe if they had more staff members, they could get more done.  While that is often true, it’s also often not true.  In many ways a smaller staff can be better than a large one.

When a church is overstaffed, forward progress generally slows down.  When a church is slightly understaffed, more ground can be taken quickly.  Smaller staff teams are flexible and can turn on a dime when necessary. 

Here are a few theories why a smaller church staff can be better:

  • When you have a lot of staff, the roles are usually clearly defined and specialized which that can lead to, “That’s-not-my-job” mindsets.  On the other hand, smaller staffs are forced to work together and innovate, and work outside of job descriptions, which creates unity and a spirit of collaboration.
  • Bigger staffs take more time and energy to manage.  Small staffs are easily managed.
  • When more people are on staff, it’s easy to stop developing volunteer leaders, which eventually weakens the foundation of the church.
  • A larger team might unconsciously not work as hard as they would otherwise.

Obviously there are exceptions to these theories.  Furthermore, being grossly understaffed for a long period of time is not healthy either.  Still, given the choice, I prefer a leaner staff.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We're Going Back to ONE SERVICE

On January 8th, the first Sunday of 2012, we are discontinuing two services and will be offering one service only.  The new time for the combined service will be 9:30 A.M.

We are very excited about this decision because it fits into an overall strategic plan for next year.  This move will certainly reenergize our church family with a fresh infusion of excitement and encouragement by combining ourselves as one church.

We also believe that our church staff and ministry leaders will be more effective in administrating and providing care for one congregation verses two because we have been spread pretty thin for a long time now.

Additional seating will be added to the sanctuary to accommodate the combined attendance, so prepare yourself for a full house each week.   The increased critical mass will facilitate growth and a friendlier environment.  The worship will be better, the teaching will be better, and the synergy in the room will be electric.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed so much to making the second service successful.  Your sacrifice, commitment, and support have made it all possible.  I also hope that we can count on your continued support as we launch this new initiative as well as several others in 2012.

We are going to be busting some new ground!