Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Note of Sanity about Halloween


So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves (Romans 14:22).

The name Halloween comes from the All Saints Day; a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of Christian martyrs in ancient times. At the time it was called “All Hallows Eve” which eventually became Halloween.  Down through the ages Halloween collided with pagan cultures whose beliefs and influences were incorporated into the day.  Over time it became increasingly superstitious and less Christian.

Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday.  It is so far removed from the past that its religious origin and pagan heritage are not even known.  Nor does it really matter.

Halloween is not the night of the Walking Dead.  People don’t turn into werewolves on a full moon.  There’s no such thing as vampires, zombies, or Jeepers Creepers.

God has made the world and everything in it.  Evil, as bad as it is, does not run unbridled in this world.  No one goes to bed at night afraid that while he sleeps the local cemetery will come alive with the walking dead who leave their graves and invade town to drink blood and eat brains. 

That is, no one but the immature and unbalanced.

Some Christians have gone crazy – utterly losing their common sense – over Halloween.  They are so fearful of evil –  of cooperating with the devil, of being a partaker in evil devices, and so panicky at the thought of goblins, demons, and witches – that they attack other Christians who let their kids dress up like Power Rangers and gather candy from their neighbors.  To them, you are participating in the devil’s night while he is at work all over the world.

They are so much more spiritual than you.

Now everything has become (ahem) “Fall Festivals.”  My church too.  This supposedly gets us away from Satan’s agenda because we now observe the day on church grounds and call it “Trunk or Treat.”

Man.  We have turned into a bunch of Hallow-weenies.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Halloween is simply a night for dress up and free candy.  It’s also a lot of fun for the kids.  For most people it is a day of pure innocence.

Please don’t write me with a history of Halloween and a summary of evil in the world.  I get it.  I need no reminder that Satan is alive and well on earth according to Revelation 12:9.  (He is not in hell, stoking fires, and in charge of a miserable place.  He is destined to be its chief tenant sometime in the future).  Instead, allow me and others the liberty to hand out candy and to allow our kids to go trick-or-treating.  After all, our conscience permits us to do it.  More importanly, so does God.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preaching


Preaching and teaching.  It’s the most important and stressful part of my job.  Compared to the pressure of sermon preparation and delivery on Sunday – which is a deadline that comes every seven days – everything else I do is easy.  Compared to the pressure of speaking about 50 weekends a year and facing a highly educated, successful group of congregants, some of whom have been listening to me for fifteen years, the organizational part of what I do is stress-free.  The only way I can pull it off successfully is to be extremely disciplined in my study habits, being a diligent student of the Word, and managing my time with ferocity.   

But at the same time it’s an honor.  How incredible it is that I get to stand up and proclaim God’s Word to the church.  No one is more aware of our unworthiness than we preachers and pastors are.  It’s no small thing to presume to speak for God.  And yet God chooses to use us.  It’s a high calling.  I hope I never get over it.  I hope I never get over the wonder of knowing that based upon the words that come out of my mouth, people make decisions, and the direction of their lives change. 

When people say, “Don’t preachers only work one day a week?” here’s my comeback.  I say, “Imagine the most stressful part of your job, the part of your job that can make-or-break you financially.  Imagine having to do that every single week on a stage in front of your family, friends, strangers, people who judge you, people who analyze you, people who critique every word you say, and people who dislike you.  Imagine not having the option of calling in sick or getting to reschedule because you weren’t quite ready yet for the presentation.”  End of conversation.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday in the Garden


Renae is picking collards. I picked a row of mustard greens. We cooked them tonight. 

The bottom picture is of two raised rows I made this afternoon - 90 feet long each - for garlic.  I will plant the garlic the first week of November and will harvest about eight months later (June of next year).


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - October 28


Aside from having a great Sunday morning service, this was the graduating group from tonights Newcomers Class (Seminar 101 - Discovering the PCC Family).  A special shout-out to the eleven servant-workers who served in hospitality, making the evening such a success.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Growth Track for 2013


I’ve been working on PCC’s Growth Track with the intention of expanding it.  Currently we offer Seminars 101 and 201.  The expanded Growth Track will include a 301 and 401 seminar.  While this is still a work in process, the working model is shaping up to look something like this:

101 – Discovering the PCC Family

201 – Essentials for Spiritual Growth

301 – Going Deeper:  The Transformed Life

401 – Fully Devoted

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to understand the components of spiritual growth and maturity.  It is my conviction that believers grow best when a growth track is provided.

The single focus of this process is to make disciples - not merely keep people active in church - with each seminar building upon the other.  Does this mean people will come out of these classes as mature believers?  Of course not.  Spiritual growth involves a variety of experiences and disciplines (such as having a heart that worships God; being connected in vital relationships; experiencing community; using your gifts in service to God; spending time in God’s Word; prayer; sanctification; and having experiential encounters with God, to name a few).  However, the purpose of this growth track is to get people started on the journey and to equip them with the tools necessary for growth.  It’s also designed to teach believers to take “ownership” of their own spiritual development.

The healthiest churches tend to have an actual process for making disciples.  They have clarity about the process.  They move believers intentionally through the process.  And they align the entire church with the process.  This is what our future – 2013 – is beginning to look like.

Discipleship is more important than programs designed to keep people involved and active in the church.  Unless a person has a transformative experience with Jesus Christ, all the programs in the world will not keep that person connected to any church; much less, the Body of Christ.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Garden Update


This is two rows of collards in my garden. You'll notice that one row of plants is larger than the other; that's because I planted them a few weeks apart so that they wouldn't all come into mmaturity at once.  BTW, the two rows to the left are Kale and the two rows on the right are turnips and mustard.

The bottom picture is of Chrysanthemum flowers (or Mums) that I purchased at the Biltmore Conservatory in NC two years ago.  Finally got them planted in the ground this year and they are doing well. 


Non-Discipleship Christianity


A good part of church culture in America has accepted the idea of non-discipleship Christianity.  That is, people can be Christians without making any effort to submit to and follow Christ.

1.  The American gospel limits grace to the forgiveness of sin.  We place the focus of grace on conversion instead of the whole journey.

2.  The American gospel separates justification from sanctification.  Of course, justification and sanctification have two different meanings:  the reality of the new birth and becoming like Jesus over the course of a lifetime.  However, we have made the line of distinction meant to distinguish the them to become a wall that divides them.

The problem is that seperating the two gives the impression that being a Christian simply means that we have a protected status before God.  We've been taught that justification settles the issue rather than teaching that a call to believe in Christ also means we are compelled to obey Him.  In other words, the point of salvation (justification) isn’t the finish line; instead it’s the starting line for a lifelong journey (sanctification).

3.  The American gospel separates believing from following.  Believing in Jesus has no meaning if we don’t follow Him in discipleship.  Believing without following isn’t believing; it’s simply agreeing to a set of facts about a religious figure.

The problem is that we have taught a faith that doesn’t transform people.  Survey a room full of church members and most will tell you that they think discipleship is optional for the believer, kind of life extra credit.  However, in Scripture, that kind of Christianity doesn’t exist.

Both Jesus and Paul taught that following Jesus is the proof of salvation.  Jesus’ invitation to salvation always includes a life-long journey of following Him as a disciple – a life of humility, sacrifice, submission, and obedience.  But we have made the test of salvation to be intellectual rather than behavioral, ritualizing it with walking the isle, repeat-after-me sinners prayers, or signing doctrinal statements.

Churches are full of people who believe the right things but they don’t behave the right way.  The real gospel requires us to repent of our sin.  To believe in Jesus means to follow Him daily.  The evidence of salvation is living a life of transformation.  I’m not speaking of earning salvation; I’m talking about proof of salvation.

Perhaps the question we need to ask is, “Does the gospel we teach produce disciples or is it producing consumers of religious goods and services?”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fishing Therapy


Sunrise.  3 Speckled Trout; 10 White Trout; 1 Large Mouth Bass; 1 Red Fish.  (With Jonathan).


Friday, October 19, 2012

This Sunday


This Sunday's message is "The Road to Restoration" and it's the final part in the series on Samson.

You'll be encouraged and uplifted.

During Samson's dark experience in the dungeon, God's grace began to glimmer.  Samson's hair begins to grow back.  And as his hair grows, so does his strenth and his relationship with God.  Now humbled and completely dependent on God, Samson turns his thoughts and heart back to his Father.

Samson prays, "Remember me, O God" and his prayer is answered. 

You too can be assured of God's strength to help you overcome your defeated past.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Prayer is Unanswered & the Heavens are Silent


When Jesus ascended into Heaven the angles said to the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here gazing at the sky?” (Acts 1:11).  That’s good advice that we sometimes fail to follow.  We stand, waiting, looking to Heaven for guidance.  We wonder if anyone is listening.  But guidance has already been given - God's Word.

Why does God allow us to muddle our way through life when it would be so much easier if He sent a direct voice from heaven, an angel, or even a prophet, to tell us what to do?  Why do we have to plow our way through Scriptures for guidance?

One thought that strikes me is that if God granted us direct intervention every time we called out, we might begin viewing Him as a glorified vending machine.  Our tendency is to put in the required coins, and push the proper button-sequence to we get what we want.  Of course, Scripture and experience show us that God doesn’t operate that way.  Nor does He answer our prayers in that manner.

Perhaps His silence is to teach us self-control.  What better way to learn control and patience than to struggle onward doing the right thing when there is no apparent payback?  If we are doing the right thing only to get an immediate reward, disappointment is a very real possibility because most of time it does not come in the manner we expect.  God is sovereign.

Scripture does teach us there is reward for obedience, but that reward may not come in this life.  The author of Hebrews 11 tells us of all those listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame” who lived in faith and died in faith, "not having received the promise."  They understood that reward was not to be expected immediately.  They were desiring a “better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

Most of the time our prayers change “us” instead of our circumstances.  When we pray our will is brought into alignment with God’s will rather than compelling Him to do ours.  This is the kind of surrendered life God desires from us.  And it is the kind of life He empowers to face any challenges.  Remember Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane?

So be encouraged when God seems to be far away, and all the wrong people seem to be reaping rewards.  God remains in control.  He may be silent, but He is not unobservant.  He may not be seen, but He sees.

If you are discouraged, lengthen your view.  Nearsightedness will cause you to give up hope prematurely.  Doing the right thing pays off in the end.  Remain steadfast, and unmovable (I Corinthians 15:58). 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Worship: Monday thru Saturday


Worship can be a confusing word.  For most people the word worship means “singing” in church or "attending" services.  Certainly, that is accurate.  In fact, in the OT the nation of Israel would gather to worship God by offering sacrifices, singing songs of praise, hearing God’s Word, repenting of sin, and receiving His forgiveness.  In our day we follow a similar pattern.  Every Sunday we give sacrificially, sing songs of praise, hear His Word, repent of sin, and receive forgiveness.

But that’s just on Sunday.

In the OT we find rule after rule describing exactly how worship is to be done in the temple.  In the NT this type of detailed prescription is noticeably absent.  What is detailed for us, however, is our daily life of walking in the Spirit.

The temple of God has changed locations.  It is no longer located in Jerusalem.  Neither is it made of brick and mortar.  It’s made of flesh – your body is the temple of God because the Holy Spirit lives within you (see I Corinthians 3:16).

God’s temple – you – is open 24 hours a day.  Not just Sunday.  Paul redefines true worship for us in Romans 12:1-2.  It’s more than singing.  It's more than Sunday.  It’s a whole lifestyle of being devoted to God.  It’s every thought, every word, and every action done in our body that constitutes a life of devotion and worship to God. 

The hidden motives of your heart are making music.

Crazy thing is, this has always been God’s desire, even in the OT.  He detested external worship that was not born from an internal fear, love, and reverence.  (See Isaiah 29:13).  He was offended when people honored Him with their lips, but their heart was far from Him.

In this NT context, where my body is God’s House, worship is much more than a list of songs on a Sunday.  After I finish singing “I Surrender All” on Sunday morning, I must realize that a life of surrender invovles things like taking out the trash with a joyful attitude on Monday.  After I sing, “You Are Conqueror” on Sunday, I must demonstrate that Jesus is really my Lord by showing up to work on time.  Other songs on my set-list of daily worship include: “Forgiving Others As I Have Been Forgiven”, and "Serving Others", and "Stewardship", and "Living the Crucified Life" and “Perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God.”

How are you worshipping God on Monday?


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - October 14, 2012


Pace Community Church

Casual Atmosphere, Serious Faith, No Weird Stuff


A good day with the believers at PCC.

Good fellowship, worship, and hang time together with one another.

After church Renae and I had my mother and sister over for lunch.  Enjoyed the family time… and good food.  Renae prepared a feast.

I took my mother and sister over to my garden (I like to show it off) after we ate.  Lots of green leafy vegetables coming in.

Yesterday we picked out first batch of greens…. And cooked them!  Fabulous.

I’ll have more than enough in a moth or so…. Just in time for thanksgiving.

Attendance was off by 40 people.  By just a casual observation I was able to tell it is primarily the result of vacationers enjoying the fall season to the mountains.

I’m good with that.

I’ll even be better with it when I can take a mountain trip myself  :-)

Today’s message was Part 3 of the Samson series – Samson & Delilah – and it was something else.

Next week is the conclusion.  It’s been a good journey.  Unforgettable.

I can’t believe how many newcomers are coming through the front door right now.  It’s very encouraging. 

Looking forward to the month of November:  Dinner on the grounds each Sunday; Baby Dedication Service; Baptism Service; plus the possibility of a couple of guest speakers.  It’s going to be a real relationship-builder in our church family.

Pretty excited.

Calling it a day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Garden

.

Above:  Mustard greens in the garden.  They're really beginning to grow.

Below:  These are the two rows I've established for my blueberries.  They are 5 feet wide and about 60 feet long, with 5 feet in-between.  Yesterday after work I shoveled (pitched) six  yards of cypress mulch on top of the rows, with a pile left over.  It was a lot of work.  I will till the mulch into the soil (to help raise the ph level - blueberries like acidic soil).  After I plant the bushes I will use the remaining pile of mulch as a top dressing for weed control

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Endless Growth vrs. Church Health (A diary of PCC)


I have always been told that if a church isn’t experiencing endless numerical growth, or has plateaued, something must be terribly wrong.  After all, healthy things grow and never stop.  Right?

Nothing in nature supports the idea that living things keep growing bigger and never stop.  In fact, in the natural order of God’s creation, it’s quite the opposite.  All living things grow to a size predetermined by DNA and environment.  Then they spend their energy sustaining life at the size God has ordained.

Some are ants.  Some are elephants.  Most life forms are somewhere in-between.  But once a living thing reaches its predetermined physical size, it stops growing larger.  It’s not a matter of unhealthiness.  It’s a matter of God’s design.

Applied to churches, the idea of endless growth is dangerous:

1.  It can cause people in big churches to get puffed up.  Have you ever noticed that the primary proponents of endless church growth are those who already serve in an elephant-sized ministry? 

2.  It can discourage people in smaller churches.  There is a plethora of pastors, church leaders, and church members who are embarrassed of their church size.  They feel guilty or inadequate for not growing beyond what their gifting, spiritual DNA, or fertility of the harvest field they serve in will allow.

3.  It tempts church leaders who face a slow growth rate, or a plateau, to take organizational steroids.  Instead of accepting God’s ordained size for our church and faithfully shepherding the flock God has given, we can be tempted to chase after the latest theory, hot-off-the-shelf programs, or worse, gimmicks, believing they will help us to keep growing.  It is a mistake to believe that bigger is always better.  But as we all know, steroids can make us bigger, but they do not make us healthier.  If anything, steroids usually make the human body unhealthy.  The parallels are obvious.  Draw your own conclusions. 

I wrote a related article back in July – The Tyranny of Always Striving for the Next Level – about this pressure to keep pushing for physical growth.  It prompted a few comments.   If you are interested in the subject:  See Here 

Here are the facts about PCC.  We are a medium-sized church.  That makes us larger than a lot of churches, but not as big as others.  Our size has been determined by a lot of factors:  our unique DNA, the spiritual receptivity in this community, the fertility of our harvest field, our building size, the limit of our seating capacity, or perhaps even the limits of our leadership abilities.  It’s also a possibility that our current size is actually God’s will for us.  Maybe it’s a combination of all these factors.  Whatever the case, I’m resting in the knowledge that this is the size we are supposed to be for this season in our journey.

We’ve experienced steady, consistent growth over the years, and it has been ‘healthy’ growth.  Yet we find it difficult to break through the threshold of the next level, so this may be our optimum size.  One thing is for certain, we are so well established and healthy that, short of a colossal disaster, there’s little chance of a significant decline.  We’re here to stay.

This is also the season for us to focus on spiritual maturity like never before.  We want to keep going deeper, not just broader.

At the beginning of this year (2012) we made the decision to cancel our second service and go back to one service.  This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  Here’s why:  as a result of that decision our church has “right-sized” itself to an attendance level that is more manageable for us to take care of.  Whereas before, we were top-heavy with too many fringe followers and consumers – making us wobbly and unwieldy – we now have more dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.

We also thought we could do a better job of shepherding our church family after going to one service, (meaning we would have one congregation to take care of instead of two).  The plan was that we would spend the year 2012 focusing on just that – loving them, discipling them, leading them in worship, administering the sacraments, and providing a better pastoral covering.  In other words, we would spend our energy sustaining the church God has given us, focusing on church health and spiritual formation.  To say it another way:  Going deeper instead of broader.  

I’m glad to say that we are seeing fruit from this effort.  We’ve been emphasizing discipleship like never before.  The weekend services are better than they ever have been.  Our congregation is receiving a steady diet of strong meat from God's Word and asking for more.  

Along the way I’ve been challenging men to step up and fill their God ordained rolls in the home and the church, and this has had the positive effect of closing the gender gap at PCC.  We’ve also begun talking about inter-generational ministry – emphasizing the importance of the age groups becoming more integrated together rather than being structurally segregated.  This is helping to close the generation gap. 

Beginning as far back as 2010 I started this conversation (with church members, in staff meetings, with newcomers, and on this blog) about getting back to basics in the way we do ministry.  I’ve been emphasizing the need to keep things simple; avoiding excessive busyness; narrowing our focus; having margin on the church calendar; minimizing expenses and living within our means; emphasizing organic community instead of manufacturing community through the organizational machinery; being more relational instead of event-driven; the reality of a two time-slot world and the futility of competing against it; insisting that lay leaders own their ministry without expecting the staff to run them; stressing the importance that each individual is responsible in their own spiritual growth; and emphasizing the fact that your family is your first ministry – even ahead of the church’s constant appeals for you to do more.

Most importantly, I have stressed the importance of simply resting in God, allowing His Spirit to do most of the work of adding people to this church and cultivating spiritual depth within us.

To be frank and honest, a lot of people have ignored the conversation.  Some have even disagreed with me, continuing to do what they’ve always done.  But more than enough people have gotten on board with this effort that it’s finally beginning to make a real difference.  Many of the families at PCC are happier, less stressed out, and enjoying their families like never before because they realize this church is no longer in competition with their family time.    Plus, they are experiencing better spiritual growth because they have taken ownership of their own spiritual formaiton.

And guess what else?  It’s working for our church too!  The tide is turning.  PCC is stronger and healthier (in many respects) than we have been in a long time. The evidence is in – we’re getting better, deeper, stronger, and healthier.

Yet, there is more to be done.  We have more ‘body building’ to do. 

2013 is going to be a breakthrough year for us on a lot of fronts.  I can feel it.  This year (2012) has been a good year for me to rest, regain clarity, and concentrate on our future.  Things are coming into focus for me; things that I will be sharing soon.  And if (or when) God ordains another momentum of numerical growth for us, we’ll embrace it.  But at all costs, we will resist the temptation to rely upon spiritual steroids to advance this church.  We have never done that, and we never will.

Remember – we’re going deeper, not just broader. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump – October 7, 2012


Wow!  You should’ve been there.

I say it almost every week, but it was a real good day at PCC.

God’s Spirit is moving.

The stories of life-change I hear each week are very encouraging.  This never gets old.

Really enjoyed the singing too. 

PCC has a really good musical presentation.  There’s great talent on the team.  Most importantly, the team chemistry is very good. 

The message was part 2 of the Samson series.  Everyone really seemed to respond well.   

A lot of people made ‘next step’ commitments.  Hundreds of hands were raised during confession time.

Very excited about the Newcomers Class at the end of the month.

Baby dedication service November 4th.

Also excited about next months baptism service.

Don’t forget, the entire month of November is dinner on the grounds each Sunday after service.

There will be a community Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church (previously known as Harmony Ridge Baptist Church) this year.  The service is on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.  I met with the host pastor, Rob Hadding, and the head of the inter-faith alliance, Doug Homles of Christian Life Church, this week as they were planning the service.  I’m really excited about this year’s event.  I think it will be very enjoyable and a huge success. 

I’m also very encouraged at the leadership theses two pastors are taking in fostering unity, cooperation, and fellowship among the churches in our area.

BTW, as the date gets closer I plan to make a big push in our Sunday morning services for our congregation's participation.

Looking forward to having some coffee and pie after the event too.  :-)

The combined ushers/security team of PCC is planning to have a get-together soon.  We’re thinking of having a Chili Cook-off with the guys.

Philip Polk has been doing an exceptional job on keyboard the last few months.  He’s really stepped it up the past two weeks filling in for Renae so she could have couple of Sunday’s off.

I love the diversity of talent and leadership at PCC.

This is a sign of what our future looks like.  Yes, even including my role.

Very excited about 2013.  I think it will be a breakthrough year for us… on several fronts.

My fall garden is taking off!  I’ll post a few pictures in a couple of weeks.

This hobby gives me a lot of enjoyment.

I never got around to planting my blueberry bushes last year.  But I finally got around to establishing a planting site this weekend.  I tilled up two long rows/beds with organic matter to raise the acidity level (blueberries like acidic soil).  These two rows will be able to accommodate about 40-50 bushes.

I intend to plant the blueberry bushes within the month.

I also have 9 grape vines, 2 lime trees, 1 lemon tree, and 6 blackberry bushes to plant this fall.

Renae and I went fishing Friday evening after work.  We caught 40-45 mullet with the cast net in 20 minutes time.  It was very exciting.

Loving this fall weather.

Love living in NW Florida.

And I will be soooo glad when the election is over!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Simple Church


The mission of the church is to “make disciples.”  It's really that simple.  There is no Plan B.  That means our sole function is to reach people for Christ and move them through the stages of spiritual growth.  Changed lives are the bottom line.  Christ formed within people is the goal.

THE PROBLEM:

Pastor Joe goes to a conference.  He hears some great ideas and comes home with a notebook full of plans and begins to implement them right away.  Six months later a staff member comes forward with a stack of ideas and the church begins to implement those too.  A few months later a group of church members wants their ideas to be incorporated into the ministry menu.  This goes on for years and years until they have stacked programs on top of programs stacked onto more programs.  The energy is diffused.  There is no clear direction.  People are running in different directions.  The church is going nowhere.  Resources are depleted.  People are busier than ever, but there is little progress.

I've written on this subject extensively the last few years.  If you're interested in more related articles, go to the left sidebar under "Index of Categories" and click "Keep it Simple."

THE SOLUTION:

1. Write one mission statement for the whole church. (Not multiple statements:  i.e., a purposes statement, a vision statement, a mission statement, and a core vales statement.  That's confusing.  Neither should there be separate mission statements for each department or group.  That's even more confusing, not to mention it creates splinter groups in the church).

2.  Align everything in the church under that one mission statement.

3.  Ruthlessly eliminate everything that doesn’t fit.


HOW TO DO IT:

1.  Design a simple process.  Q:  What are we trying to do?  A: Make disciples.  Q:  What does a disciple look like?  A:  Put the description down on paper.  Q: What are the steps for making disciples?  A:  Put it down on paper.  Keep it simple.

2.  Implement the process. 

3.  Unite all ministries around this process.  Instead of treating discipleship as a seperate ministry,  all our ministries should be saturated with a discipleship emphasis.  Worship, music, fellowship, volunteering, groups, etc, should be viewed as part of the discipleship process.  Disciple-making should permeate everything we do.  It's the main thing.

4.  Eliminate everything outside the process.  This is where the rubber meets the road and things get painful.  Most people will be grateful that a process for discipleship has been developed.  However, some people will struggle or even resist abandoning pre-existing programs.  Everyone believes in a balanced budget, but no one wants their line item cut.  Everyone agrees that you have to trim ineffective programs, but no one wants their program eliminated.

While becoming simple will be difficult, it is also worth it.  The gates of hell will be pushed back, God's kingdom will be advanced, and people in our church family will be placed in the pathway of God's transforming power.

Looking ahead, this is what 2013 is beginning to look like for PCC.  Are you in?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Books that Have Set Me on Fire this Year


The Disciple Making Church - by Glenn McDonald (The importance of intentional discipling relationships).

Transforming Discipleship - by Greg Ogden (The importance of making discipleship a focus of every aspect of the church's ministry, instead of being a separate ministry).

Family Driven Faith -by Vodie Bauchum (Your family is your first ministry).

A Weed in the Church - by Scott Brown (How a culture of age segregation in the church is fragmenting the family and failing to retain young people once they graduate from High School).

Future Men - by Douglas Wilson (The importance of influencing boys in masculinity because they are future men).

Simple Church - by Thom S. Rainer (Keep church simple and not so compliated for more effectivness)

When the Game Changes, a New Plan is Needed


Churches can get in a rut, trying the same old plays over and over again with diminishing results.  What is needed is a new game plan and a new ministry model with a new emphasis; something that will breathe new life and a new focus into our efforts.

Looking forward to 2013.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Politics, Panic, and Perspective


The Call to Panic

It is tempting to get caught up in the rhetoric about politics and the two presidential candidates because it is presented to us that the outcome of this election is the most important of our lifetime. Talk show hosts, advertisements, commentators, musicians, actors, and special-interest groups all speak with passionate emotion about what is at stake and how a wrong choice will cause the demise of America.  Some of the talk is downright slanderous.

Call me a cynic, but it seems that every election is presented that same way. Of course there are important issues that must be addressed, and that’s why I will vote.  In fact, I have already decided who I am voting for.  It is good to be concerned for our nation, how it is governed, and to speak up when things are not has they should be.  But all this panic talk is getting out of hand.
 
As a Christian I know that I must maintain a larger perspective.

The Call to Perspective

In the book of Daniel we see a man who was taken by force from his own country and transplanted in an alien land.  He survived under three different regimes: Israel, Babylon, and Persia.

I’m encouraged by the fact that Daniel did not see any of these earthly kingdoms as his ultimate authority.  To him it did not matter which person or country had the upper hand; God still remained in control.  Daniel remained steadfast in his worship even in the midst of social and political chaos.

No matter how the next election turns out in November, God remains in control and no one can thwart His plan.

When I was in my 30s politics fired me up.  Now in my 50s, not so much.  I have lived long enough to see fourteen presidential terms come and go, and now realize that things haven’t changed very much…. regardless of who or which party has been in the White House.  So why get so worked up?  Why succumb to the panic?

More and more I rest in the fact that God is still sovereign and the sun still comes up tomorrow.