Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few of My Least-Favorite Things

1.  I dislike movies that are enjoyable to watch until the makers decided to insert a racy sex scene or nudity to increase sales.  These lurid scenes have zero to do with the plot and are completely unnecessary, but there it is.  In all cases, I am offended.  In some cases, if the scene does not move along quickly, I’ll leave the movie.  At home, I'll turn the channel.

2.  I dislike committee meetings, business meetings, and deacons meetings.  When I think of the thousands of them I have attended or chaired over twenty-eight years, I can honestly say most of them were unpleasant and wasted a great deal of time.  I’ll spare you the details, but these meetings often descend into angry conversations, disagreements, conflict, bad feelings, and broken fellowship – usually over minor issues.  However, I’m glad to say that since being at PCC I haven’t had so many bad experiences because we don’t have any committees.  We have ministry teams.  (See my previous two blog posts).

3.  I do not like parades of any kind; especially Mardi Gras parades.  What fun! – large crowds, standing on hard asphalt for hours at a time, loud noise, slow-moving exhibits, and only the occasional laughter.  And with Mardi Gras, you get the added element of debauchery.

4.  I don’t like concerts very much anymore either, even when the featured performer is a favorite of mine.  The crowds are horrendous, the behavior of some people is shocking, and the music is much too loud. If the performer has been at this a long, long time, then they are bored with having to sing the ‘old favorites,’ so they pull a little switcheroo and insert new lyrics or ad lib or laugh at their own song. Not good.  Besides, I have attended hundreds of concerts over the years, mostly when I was younger, so I now have it out my system.

5.  I don’t not like movies that use Jesus Christ’s name are part of their profanity.

6.  I don’t like to hear God’s name in a string of profanity either.

7.  I don’t like having difficult conversations over a meal.  If I am having relational tension with someone and we decide to get together to work it out, I will always decline an invitation to “discus this over lunch.”  After having lost my appetite and wasted good money on food I didn’t eat - on more than one occasion - my standard reply now is:  “Let’s meet somewhere private… like my office.”  I mean, who likes to be angry over dinner?  Not me.  I'm too likely to mash English Peas in someone's ears.   

8.  I dislike it when people say “all roads lead to heaven.”  It is intellectually dishonest to say that when those roads are diametrically opposed to one another; not to mention it's deceitful, dangerous, and diabolical.  There’s only One Mediator between God and man, and His Name is Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5).

9.  I dislike football games where my team could have won, but the coach made some dumb moves.  Okay, that makes me an arm-chair quarterback and a side-line second-guesser, but hey, I’m a fan.  What’d ya expect.

10.  I dislike pointless, boring blogs.  So I’ll end this right here.  :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mobilizing Members for Ministry

One of the greatest needs in churches is to release the members for ministry.  A Gallup survey reveals that 50 percent of all church members have no interest in serving in any ministry.  Think about that!  No matter how much a church promotes involvement in lay ministry, half of its members will not get involved.  And that’s okay… people are extremely busy and have very full lives.

The encouraging news, however, is that this same survey reveals that most of the other 50 percent of members have expressed an interest in having a ministry.  This group is an untapped goldmine.

Americans today have less discretionary time today than they had in the 80s, so optimizing their volunteerism is essential.  If a person comes to me and says, “Pastor, I have four hours a week to give to the church” the last thing I will do is put him on some committee.  I want him to get involved in ministry, not maintenance.

There is a difference between ministry and maintenance.  Maintenance is “church work” – administration, budgets, buildings, legal matters, compliance with state and federal law, organizational matters, bills to pay, policies to write, and so forth.  Ministry is “the work of the church” – helping people, meeting needs, making disciples, and so forth.  The more people we involve in maintenance decisions, the more we waste their time and keep them from actual ministry, and create conditions for conflict.  Maintenance work also conditions people to think that their responsibility is fulfilled by simply voting on church business.

A common mistake made by many churches is to take their best and brightest people and place them on committees.  You drain the life out of people by scheduling a constant string of committee meetings.  We have no committees at PCC.  We do, however, have more than sixteen ministry teams.  I would like to see that number expand.

What is the difference between a committee and a lay ministry?  Committees discuss it, but ministries do it.  Committees argue, ministries act.  Committees maintain, ministries minister.  Committees discuss needs, ministries meet needs.

Committees also make decisions that they expect others to implement.  At PCC, the implementers are the decision makers.  We do not separate authority from responsibility, but trust people with both.  This makes committees irrelevant.  We don’t give decision-making authority to those who do not minister.

Who, then, does the maintenance (administration) at PCC?  The paid staff does. This way we don’t waste any of our members’ valuable time.  People really appreciate the fact that the time they volunteer is given to actual ministry.

I’m sure you can see how radical this approach is.  PCC is structured in the exact opposite way of most churches.  In the typical church, the members handle all the maintenance (administration) and the pastor is supposed to do all the ministry.  No wonder the church can’t grow!  The pastor becomes the bottleneck.  There is no way that one man, or a small number of paid staff, can minister to all the needs in the church.  He will eventually burn out or have to move to another church for relief.

Conversely, when 50 percent of the congregation is mobilized to do hands-on ministry, more needs can be met, more disciples made, more hurts healed, and more lives changed.  Why?  Because hundreds of ministers can accomplish more than one minister.

Once a church gets up to 300-400 in attendance, no single person or board can know everything that’s going on in the church.  I haven’t known about everything that happens at PCC for years.  I don’t need to know about it all!  You might ask, “How do you control it?”  My answer is:  “I don’t.  It’s not my job to control the church.  It’s my job to manage and lead it.”  Big difference.  Our pastors and staff are responsible to keep the church doctrinally pure, organizationally sound, on mission, and headed in right direction, but most of the ministry decisions are made by the people actually doing the ministries of the church.

We are serious about mobilizing our members for ministry, which is why we have streamlined our structure:  we can deploy people into ministry easily while minimizing unnecessary administrative involvement.  The more organizational machinery a church sets up, the more time, energy, and money it takes to maintain it –  resources that could be invested in ministry to people instead.

People are happier, more harmonious, and have higher morale when they are released to do ministry.  Fulfillment comes from helping people, not from administrative maintenance.

In war, you always find the highest morale and sense of camaraderie among those one the front lines.  You don’t have time to argue and complain when you’re in a fox hole dodging bullets.  Ten miles back, however, soldiers in the rear echelon grumble about the food, the lack of hot water for showers, and the lack of entertainment.  The conditions are not nearly as bad as those on the front line, but people are critical because they’re not occupied with the battle.  Whenever I meet critical and cantankerous Christians, I usually discover that they’re not involved in a ministry.  The biggest complainers in any church are usually committee members with nothing else to do.

My guess is that the average church would be healthier if it eliminated most of its committees and business meetings to allow for more ministry and relational evangelism.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Self-Directed Ministry Teams

There are a wide number of approaches to church government, from elder rule, deacon boards, Episcopal, Presbyterian, or congregational governance to name a few.  Yet, most forms of government have two features that dominate the church’s structure:  committees and majority rule.

The work of the church is usually assigned to a network of committees.  Most committees do not actually engage in ministry, as much as they make decisions for others to implement or abide by, which are then brought before the church for wider approval. 

The other dominate feature in the structure of most churches is some form of majority rule.  Whether it is in the form of a monthly business meeting, or simply how a committee or board makes a final decision, the raw democracy of majority rule is the tool employed.

Even though committees and majority rule are deeply entrenched within the life of most churches, it’s interesting to note that none of the terms or models can be found in the Bible.

Problems with Committees.  First, committees take people away from the front lines of actual ministry and move them to organizational matters, church business, or policy.  By doing so, the best and brightest people often become bureaucrats or power brokers which can result in micro-management and organizational paralysis. 

Second, committees separate authority from responsibility.  In other words, the people sitting on committees have all the authority while the people doing the ministry have all the responsibility.  This is a recipe for poor decision making, not to mention low morale.  The individuals who are intimately involved in a particular ministry are the best qualified to make the day in, day out decisions regarding that ministry.

Misgivings about Majority Rule.  Majority rule is deeply rooted in American democracy, and, as a result, has often been incorporated unthinkingly into the church.  An over-enthusiasm for democratic principles can render a church impotent of actually doing anything.

The biggest misgiving about majority rule, and one that is far more serious, is that the Bible teaches the church is a family (Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 2:10-12; I Peter4:17) and should be cared for and led by the most mature members in the family - not the immature. 

In most family households, the immature members (children) outnumber the mature members (parents).  When my children were little, if we had voted on everything, my family would have had ice cream for dinner every night, no bed time, and would have lived at Disney World.  But as the parents, my wife and I were the most mature so we had the authority to call the shots - to make the most important decisions that were best for family as a whole.

The church is a family too.  As a result, it contains members who are at different levels of spiritual maturity.  If every decision is made by the majority, instead of the most spiritually mature, then there is a very strong chance the majority could mislead the church.  It’s foolish to give someone who has been saved for ten days and another who has been saved for ten years the power of the same vote!

PCC’s Self-Directed Ministry Teams.  Since our beginning, PCC has used a structure of “ministry teams” to carry out our mission and ministries, as well as handling all the business of the church.  Here’s an excerpt from our bylaws:

PCC is made up of a variety of ministry teams, with each team or ministry having its own leader, and each team is entrusted with the responsibility and authority to make any decisions that concern their particular area.  The reason for this is simple: decision making authority is given to people who are actually doing the work because they can make a more “informed” decision than someone who is trying to control it from a distance. 

It should be apparent that ministry teams make committees irrelevant.

At PCC a ministry team is merely a small group of people with a complimentary assortment of gifts and abilities who are committed to a particular ministry that supports the mission of our church.  But for a team to function, the team must be self-directed, which means they own the process or the task at hand.  Only when given the responsibility AND authority to follow through on a task can a team have the flexibility to be responsive to changing events and demands.

LET ME OFFER A FOOTBALL ILLUSTRATION:  The coach and coaching staff train their teams - the offensive team, the defensive team, and special teams.  Once the game begins however, the coaches are on the sidelines and the team is on the field.  The coach can still call in plays from time-to-time, but once the ball is hiked and the play is in motion, the team is self-directed!  They have to be self-directed because the nature of the game demands it.  When the ball is handed to a runner, it is up to him to determine whether to cut left, right, or go up the middle.  While the offensive coordinator may have designed the play, selected the players, assigned them roles, and even trained them, it is the players who are the implementers and who must have the freedom to make split-second decisions in light of the changing realities of their situation.

It takes trust for this kind of structure to operate in a church, but as everyone knows, good people don’t need rules to tell them to act responsibility, while bad people always find a way around them (no matter the structure).  There is little doubt that mistakes will be made, but the gain for Christ through these self-directed ministry teams far outweighs any of the costs or concerns.  Besides, each mistake only adds another experience to the team and increases its commitment to mutual accountability. 

Here’s another excerpt from our bylaws:

Each team will be headed by an ordained pastor (elder), paid staff member, volunteer ministry director or leader, or any mix thereof.  All the ministries of the church will come under the direction of ministry teams, and all the teams combined will fulfill the total scope of the ministry of Pace Community Church.  Team members will be those persons who are spiritually gifted for the task and appointed by pastors.

Bureaucratic types, micro-managers, power brokers, and church controllers have always hated this system we use at PCC because they are given no decision-making authority unless they actually serve on a team, and even then, are limited to their area of ministry assignment.  The people who are happiest and stay the longest are those who sacrificially serve with other like-minded servants (in an area of shared passion) and together accomplish things for Christ.

At this moment, PCC has more than sixteen self-directed ministry teams that are actively serving and providing the ministries of our church.  All the teams combined involve about 140 team members.  Wow!  So if anyone wanted to “control the church” they would have to join all sixteen teams and gain control of each one - which is impossible.  More importantly, this form of structure has served this church very well for years, and is a main reason for our success.

Building on past success, I’m glad to report that we are experiencing a new season of team building at PCC.  2013 is going to be a breakthrough year for us!

T.E.A.M.Together Everyone Accomplishes More

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Mind Dump - January 27, 2013

I love Sundays. It's off to church for worship, fellowship, and time in God’s Word.  Then it’s a family dinner and a long lazy afternoon in my easy chair. It makes a person rich.  It’s what Sunday’s are for.

We are experiencing some serious momentum right now.  The excitement in our services is… well, exciting!

The testimonies coming in from people all over the place simply blows me away.  Just today, we received two long letters from people about their experience with God in this morning’s service.  Very, very encouraging.
Looking over the commitment cards after church I noticed another five or six people committed to and received Christ!  And that’s on top of the five or six from two weeks ago. 

It seems like a move of God is taking place.

I don’t say that based merely on our attendance or the recent commitments to Christ, but because of everything God is doing right now.  Things are happening across-the-board in all spheres of life:  people are being saved… new servants are sacrificially serving… new leaders are stepping up… disciples are being developed… God’s Word finds its mark each Sunday…unity is strong… joy is full…. music is good… new talent is being deployed… team chemistry is firing on all eight cylinders… Christ is exalted… much fruit is manifested… and God is glorified.

No human being could ever orchestrate all that.  Even if we could, it would be empty and void.  This is a God-thing.

What’s the key:  new volunteers… new teams… new talent… new leaders… and new models of ministry.

The Welcome Center was jammed with new people today.

I’m very pleased that the team members (in Guest Services) know how to serve so well; acting as hosts… escorting newcomers to appropriate areas… answering questions…  and making them feel at home.  That creates a positive first impression.

Today’s message was about guilt… the law… the gospel of Jesus Christ… and God’s unlimited patience with us.  It really seemed to resonate with a lot of folk.
I really enjoy teaching verses-by-verse.  It’s so beneficial to everyone. 

Using that method, the text always determines the topic and compels ministers to teach the Word as it is written.

If it’s in the Bible, then it is intended for God’s people to know.

Next week we will be in chapter 2 of I Timothy.  The topic will be “Instructions for Worship.”  We’ll be talking about prayers being offered up for government officials; the lifting of hands in worship (how and why we do it, and what it means); how women should properly adorn themselves; and the role of women in the church regarding teaching and submission.  Yikes!

Yes, we’re doing to tackle the subject.  We go to places where angels fear to tread.

The next message series at PCC will be from the book of James.  I already have two men lined up to assist me.  Our congregation will greatly benefit from these additional teachers.

I love what God is doing at PCC right now.

I’m blown away at the number of children who have suddenly showed up.

Looking across the congregation this morning, I was astonished at the number of young couples.  What this does to me, words cannot describe.  Young parents searching for God…. or on fire for God… connecting with God…. and serving God.

I’m very pleased that the next generation is already among us.  They will take PCC into the future.

Almost time to pass the baton.

I played guitar today and really enjoyed it.  It’s been a long time.

The children’s chorus was fantastic.  I especially enjoyed the last song when they went into a key-change to a higher range… and the kids nailed it!  I wanted to jump up and down.  It was moving.

Renne J. and Sandra B. did an exceptional job working with them for the last month (as chorus directors) and it showed.

I think the kids are slated to sing again on Easter Sunday.

Pace Community Church is SO much more than it was a few years ago.  God gets all the credit.  Yet, at the same time, the great people who have risen from within our ranks must be acknowledged too.  Without them, we would only be a shell of what we are right now.

Love getting the e-mails and Facebook notifications from people about the good things God is doing in their lives.

Okay, my mind is dumped.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some Personal 411

SLAMMED is all I can say!

I have five Jack Russell Terriers.  That’s four too many.  They have dug under the fence and got lose five times in the last ten days.  It’s not fun going on a hunting mission through the neighborhood looking for them, only to wait on phone call from an irate neighbor…. five times!

I’ve got some serious problems with the field lines at my house too.  It has been an issue for years, but has now reached the point that they have to be replaced.  This is a big project and will cost boo-coo bucks to repair.  Not happy. 

If that isn’t enough, my Tahoe finally bit the dust this week.  The engine is ka-put.  It started about six months ago when one of the cylinders (or piston rings) burned up; the mechanic said I will probably need a new motor.   Since then I’ve been driving with seven of the eight piston it has turned into a real rattle trap, and it’s been guzzling gas and burning oil.  The brakes recently started squealing.    Then last Friday water started pouring out the bottom of the engine – I think the water pump failed.  I haven’t even been able to drive to work (a distance of one mile) without the engine overheating and on the verge of burning up.

The Tahoe is fifteen years old and has 216,000 miles on it.  Time to upgrade.  I haven’t had a auto payment for so long that I’m already suffering from sticker shock.  Can’t put it off any longer; fixing to upgrade.

Some better news on the health front.  I have had extreme pain in my left shoulder for more than fifteen years.  Pain has been my constant companion.  It has also affected my sleep.  It’s been so bad that I finally reach the place that I thought my only option was surgery.  However, I recently discovered that my condition is called “shoulder impingement” so I began a series of rehabilitation exercises using a stretch band.  IT HAS BEEN (ALMOST) LIKE A MIRACLE CURE.  Overnight my pain has let up.  I can’t tell you what a relief it has been, not only in my shoulder but in my mind.

I will be planting red potatoes within the next two weeks or so.  Really enjoying this garden thingy I’m doing nowadays.

I’m craving me some summer time.  Can’t wait to get back out on the water.  Last night I heard the song Pontoon” and it got me in the mood.

Can't wait to resume fishing.

Good things are happening in my life right now.

Good things are happening at PCC too.

Very thankful.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What's Happening This Sunday

I intended to post Tuesday and Wednesday but have been slammed all week!  I’ll write about that tomorrow.  But for today, I will attempt to get back on track with the new schedule.

1.  Sunday’s message title is:  God’s Answer for My Guilt (and it’s part 2 of the series on I Timothy we began last week).

Everyone knows what guilt feels like.  However, not everyone knows what freedom from guilt feels like.  This Sunday is going to be a breakthrough for some poeple.  As we gather for collective worship, the Holy Spirit is going to quicken God's Word and make it alive; Jesus Christ is going to be exalted; God is going to be worshipped; the saints edified, and lives are going to be changed.

Come to church as you are;  just know you may not leave that way.

This Sunday is also a great opportunity to bring a guest or friend, especially the unchurched.  The message will be timely for them.  God Spirit is going to do His work and I know your guests will never be the same.

2.  A Testimony… Yesterday I talked to a gentleman who recently committed his life to Christ, and he also attends PCC.  He’s in his 60s. He began to describe his experience at last Sunday’s service. He was gushing, and his exact words to me were: “The music was beautiful, and after hearing your ‘speech’ I felt like I got saved all over again.” I absolutely love the enthusiasm of new converts… even when they don’t get the words quite right. It’s all so new to him.

May we all recapture that same wonder of Christ.

3.  Children’s Chorus Singing this Sunday.  It was a big hit last time, so we’re bringing them back!  They’ve been practicing new songs and are very full of excitement.  They will have half the song service, and the worship band will minister in the other half.  It’s going to be fantabulous!

4.  Your Charitable Contribution Statements are being Mailed Friday.

5.  Open Enrollment continues for Seminar 201 – Essentials for Spiritual Growth.  In this seminar we look at the four basic habits every Christian must develop in order to grow and become a disciple. 

Topics covered are: Four Myths About Spiritual Growth… The Four Habits of a DiscipleHow to Start and Maintain Good Habits… and PCC’s Maturity Vision.

The seminar lasts about 2 ½ - 3 hours with plenty of breaks.  A light meal is served at the halfway point.  A student syllabus is also provided for everyone. 

Sign up in the atrium now!  Child care can be provided - please indicate on the sign up sheet if you need.  Note:  Since each of the seminars in our growth track builds on each other, you must first complete Seminar 101 before taking 201.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Those Amazing Encouragers

“You know the household of Stephanas….. that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints….  I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus because they have supplied what was lacking….. they have refreshed my spirit. (I Corinthians 16:15-18)

Thank God for the encouragers and healers in the church, those men and women whose calling in life seems to be to find a need and meet it, or find a hurt and comfort it.  As they enter a room they are drawn to anyone in pain or trouble.

They are godsends.  They are living proof of God’s goodness.  They are the ones who keep overworked pastors and their stressed-out spouses from giving up and walking away.  I think they are a special gift to the Body of Christ.

In the passage above, Paul mentioned such people. They had devoted themselves to serving the saints, supplied what was lacking, and were a source of joy and refreshing for Paul.  They deserved respect and acknowledgment for their service.

Some people – let’s admit it – wear us out, use us up, and make us want to run for cover.  But there are others who refresh us and leave us stronger than when they found us.  Thank God for such people.

In the early church, willing and spontaneous service was the beginning of an official office.  A man or woman became a leader – not so much by a man-made appointment – but rather his or her work of service marked them as one who could be trusted and deserved respect.

We owe these people a great deal.

Yesterday at PCC I encountered these kinds people once again.  If not for them, I honestly don’t know how long I could last in the ministry.  Their acts of sacrificial service, being first responders to those in need, offering encouragement to me and others in the Body, shouldering some of the load, and supplying whatever is lacking is a GREAT SOURCE OF JOY and REFRESHES MY SPIRIT.

That's why I look forward to our services at PCC each week.  My anticipation of excitment is that I will encounter these people again.  In fact, it's one of the main draws for me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Mind Dump - January 20, 2013

I started a new message series today from I Timothy.  It felt really good to get back into the Word with a consistent series (after all that holiday emphasis in December, and end-of-year business talk the first two weeks of January) and dig down deeper into the content.

The only bummer is that the recording failed, so we have no CDs available.

I could tell that a few people were not tuning in to the message.  Their area of interest is outside of what’s contained in the Pastoral Epistles.  However, I know that our congregation needs to hear this teaching more than some people realize.  This is going to be a game-changer for us.  Here’s why:

After this series (and possibility subsequent ones from 2 Timothy and Titus) we will be more deliberate about installing (or ordaining) more pastors in PCC and/or a variety of other leaders.

This won’t happen in six weeks.  But it is on the things-to-be-accomplished-list in 2013.

The music was exceptional today.  As I was soaking it up and getting caught up in the presence of God, I had the thought that we should sing again at the end of service. 

The name of the song that resonated with me was, “A Thousand Miles”, but the hook line from the song was, It’s Your Mercy that Draws Me Near.  I thought it was a needed emphasis (at the end of service) especially after hearing such a strong word about/from the OT law that brings such heavy conviction.

If you would like to hear it on You Tube from Integrity Music, the link is HERE.  BTW, I think PCC does it just as good as these folk do.

I like what Paul said in v.11, “The law is good if one uses it properly.”  The law should always be tied to the gospel, otherwise people end up condemned with no way of escape. 

The law is like a thermometer that lets us know we are sick.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the medicine that provides the cure.

At least three people indicated that they were committing to Christ today.  That’s why we do what we do.

After service there was a youth-team leadership meeting and lunch.  I hung back with them to fellowship and share a meal together.  After eating, they got down to the business of plotting out a strategy for the first quarter.  Also on the agenda was planning for summer camp.  Very glad to see all these high-capacity people with a heart for teenagers.

There’s no real way to describe all the things God is doing right now.

NEXT SUNDAY’S MESSAGE:  God’s Deliverance from Guilt

Somebody, somewhere, (reading this) has lost more than they ever imagined they would.  However, nothing, not one thing you’ve lost is impossible for God to restore.

That’s the message of grace… and is exactly why Timothy needed to silence the false teachers in Ephesus who were putting people in bondage.

Come next Sunday for a message of deliverance and liberation.

Friday, January 18, 2013

News About this Blog....

I’m going to implement a new schedule for my blog.  It will help me to stay focused, offer a broader range of insights, plus bring balance.  Here’s what might look like in the near future:

Sunday – Sunday Mind Dump.  This is a recap of the day’s events at PCC, and has always been one of the most read pages on my blog over the years.  I will continue to do this, however, it might become blended with a new feature on Monday instead (see below).

Monday – The Top Three Things God Did Yesterday (Vision Fulfillment).  I will focus on the PCC congregation about the great things I saw, felt, heard, or experienced the previous day.

Tuesday – The Church Staff, Volunteers, and Workers.  This will be an opportunity to promote our key players and those who serve so faithfully each week.  I might showcase ministry leaders (by name, with their permission) and talk about the kingdom impact being accomplished.  I will talk about successes, productive meetings, times of prayer, and promote upcoming initiatives.

Wednesday – Core Values.  This will be a great mid-week reminder about the importance of living out the core values of PCC, avoiding mission drift, and a variety of other “in house” matters. 

Thursday – What’s Happening This Sunday.  I’ll try to give a preview of the upcoming weekend services, the sermon, and special presentations.  This is a great opportunity to remind people of what God is going to be dong in peoples lives in just a couple of days.  I’ll encourage everyone to bring a friend or guest, especially the unchurched. 

Friday – Personal Information.  Very few people get to interact with the pastor after service, but everyone wants to feel like they know their pastor.  This blog is a great opportunity for me to be transparent and share personal information about myself, such as hobbies, family, and other happenings.  It will give people an insight into who I really am when I’m off the stage.

Okay, that’s a tall order.  It means six posts a week.  I won’t be able to do all of this immediately, but it is something I will grow into.  Along the way I might need to adjust it and settle on an amended schedule.  At any rate, this should be a better format for me to follow because it provides actual structure.  I’m hopeful that it will increase the ministry effectiveness of PCC too.

I’m very encouraged about the future of PCC in 2013.

PS – This Sunday

I’m beginning a new message series this Sunday based upon the book of I Timothy entitled Doing Church God’s Way.  This series has the potential of being a game-changer for us.

The books of 1st Timothy, along with 2nd Timothy and Titus, are called the Pastoral Epistles.  They are given that name because they were addressed to two of Paul’s sons in the faith – Timothy and Titus – who were pastors.  Timothy was in charge of the church at Ephesus, and Titus led the church on the Island of Crete.

They are written to pastors, about pastors, and anyone who is interested in being a pastor.  They also contain a wealth of information about church life, such as:  church organization, church leadership, public worship, the qualifications of church leaders, how to confront sin the church, the care of widows, virgins, family life, the role of women, backsliders, heretics, how to handle money, and the treatment of individuals, old and young alike.  Wow!

PCC will never be the same after this series. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Mind Dump - Janurary 13, 2013

I’ve been slammed the past few days.  Very, very busy.  Finally got caught up and now have a little time to write:

Attendance has been up the last two weeks.  Very glad to see that.

Today’s message was our annual State of the Church Address.  It contained three sections:  (1) A financial update of PCC, (2)  An update on going back to one service, and, (3) A personal update about myself.

Regarding the financial portion, we talked about our (1) annual income, (2) annual expenses, (3) end-of-year bank balances, (4)  how we recovered and got back to the $200,000 threshold, i.,e, our rainy day fund, (5) the painful journey of budget cuts and cutting expenses (6) the new mortgage (7) a recent staff reduction, (8) our squeaky-clean procedures, and, (9) the positive possibilities for 2013!

When the house erupted in spontaneous applause, I suppose it was a pretty good sign that people were very encouraged about their church.

Apparently, the best line of the message was this:  “I had a series of meetings and told people that we’re not using that $200,000 for cake and ice cream parties, and we’re not using it to buy pencils.” 

Got a lot of positive feedback on that one.  :-)

Of the hundreds of people in service today, only 20 picked up a financial statement.  That’s a normal trend for us.  The end-of-year talks I give each January are so transparent that the questions of most people are answered satisfactorily.

It also reveals that virtually everyone is happy with PCC, and has confidence in their church and its leaders.

There’s a massive difference between ministry theory and ministry in actuality.

Though we were talking about “in house” business matters, God showed up today and His presence was felt.

I really hate it for people who miss a move of God because they're so focused on procedual matters that they get sideways and leave the church.

The main "business" of the church is to make disciples.  We're doing that.  Lives are being changed.  We are reaching people who are far from God and turing them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is moving at PCC.  We baptized dozens of people last year.  Attendance is up, conversions are up, baptisms are up, and volunteerism is up.  The music is better, worship is vertically focused, and the teaching is deeper.  Prayer groups are forming, cell groups meet regurlary, fellowship is strong, teenagers are on fire.  Church unity is at an all-time high, and, most importantly, Jesus is being exalted in all we do.

I also gave a brief personal update about myself – my health and state of mind.  I was experiencing burnout in 2011, so I took active steps in 2012 to recover.  I’m glad to report that I’m better now, my strength has returned, and I’m ready to be at the helm in 2013. 

Now we’re off and running for 2013! 

2012 is over… and all the junk that came with it.  It’s time to raise our sails and catch a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit.

The next sermon series is going to be from the book of 1st Timothy.

1st Timothy (along with 2nd Timothy and Titus) are “pastoral epistles” and cover a lot of aspects regarding church life, holiness, morality, elders, who leads the church, false doctrine, the role of women, etc..  I think PCC will greatly benefit from the instruction contained in this letter.

The following series is likely to be from the book of James.  The focus will be upon very practical aspects of the Christian life such as relationships, pursuing wisdom, favoritism in church, helping the needy, praying for the sick, and much more.

I intend to use a team-teaching approach for the James series (meaning I will use a couple of other men in the church to assist me.

Good things will come from this.

My garden is doing good and I’m still getting a lot of enjoyment from it.  Right now I am harvesting carrots, green onions (scallions), and lots of collards.

I have two rows of garlic and two rows of bulbing onions planted.  The rows are 100’ long each.  I plan to harvest the garlic and onion in May or June.

Sometime this month I will be planting red potatoes.  Last year I planted 7lbs and harvested 90 lbs.  That’s a good increase.  This year I will be planting about 50 lbs and should harvest 500 lbs.

Of course, I’ll be giving plenty of them away.

I currently have 22 blueberry bushes planted and want to plant 8 more for a total of 30.

This week or next I will be planting muscadine grape vines and building a trellis for them to climb.

A deer has been eating my collards.  I’m about fed up.

The Denver Bronco’s lost the playoff games.  Do you remember that one time when Tim Tebow won a playoff game for Denver?

Due to the massive outbreak of flu, today I replaced my usual handshakes after church with a “woot toot’ and two hands raised in the air.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday News

1.  This Sunday – State of the Church Address.  I’ll be providing PCC with a financial update, an update on going back to one service in 2012, and a personal update about myself.  We will also have end-of-year financial statements available.  We had a very good year, and 2013 looks even better!  Come hear all the details.

2.  Vision 2013 – I’m very excited about 2013 and want to talk about it soon.  I want to see the congregation of PCC move towards community like never before; towards deeper spiritual maturity and full participation in the life of the church.  I’m currently building a preaching team (you need to hear about this) who will share the pulpit ministry with me; and we are doubling up our efforts on teenagers.  Additionally, we will be emphasizing family ministry and challenging parents like never before.  In 2013 we will be rolling out a 301 seminar; insisting on ministry alignment, and a host of other great things.  Our commitment to reaching lost people still burns white hot.  Our mission remains the same – to make disciples.  We are still dedicated to both sides of the Great Commission: (1)  reaching those who are far from God, and, (2) turning them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.  We might even include a Fifteen Year Anniversary Celebration at PCC this year!

3.  New Sermon Series to begin in two weeks:  Doing Church God’s Way.  This will be a verse-by-verse journey through the book of 1st Timothy.  It’s meat for men and is going to be a real eye-opener.

4.  Children’s Chorus Sings in service, Sunday, January 27th.  Very excited about that.

5.  Here is a link to a great blog postMotherhood as an Act of Worship.  It was written by Marie, the daughter of Larry Osborne (a pastor and author whose books I love to read).  He posted this link on his twitter account, where I found it. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 - Commit

Commit to LESS – Less griping.  Less whining.  Less eating.  Less television.  Less Facebook.  Less spending.  Less time with toxic people.  

Commit to MORE – More reading.  More exercise.  More laughing.  More margin.  More time working on things that matter.  More time with safe people.

Commit to BUDGETING – Making a budget is simple.  Some people think it’s hard.  Sorry, it’s not.  The hard part is exercising self-restraint in spending.   Shopping isn’t essential.  Food, shelter, and bills, those are essential. 

Commit to NOT BEING A VICTIM – Bullying is all over the news.  It’s really a shame that there are bullies in the world.  It’s even more tragic that bullied people sometimes choose to end it all with an act of deadly violence against themselves. 

Bullies have always been with us.  Not much you can do about that.  On the other hand, there is something you can do about yourself.  Refuse to be a victim.  A bully can’t bully someone who refuses to take it.  Teach yourself and your children to not be victims.

Commit to DISCIPLINE – Being lazy is easy. That’s right, it is. 

It’s easier to listen to your favorite political pundits and news anchors (conservative or liberal) and swallow their words hook-line-and-sinker than it is to study, read, and search to discover the truth yourself. 

It’s easier to down a pill or have surgery to lose pounds than it is to exert some self-discipline by beginning to eat right and exercise.    

It’s easier to “charge it” with money you don’t have than it is to pay cash.

Lazy people take the easy way out.  It’s easier to blame Obama or Bush for everything.  It’s easier to blame Wall Street for their financial irresponsibility than it is for a lazy person to admit that they overspent and never saved anything eihter.  Lazy people would rather criticize their employer than acknowledge they missed too much work – called in sick when they weren’t – came in late – took long breaks – and gave less than 100% performance on the job.  They would rather blame the school system for their child’s inability to read when they never spent any time tutoring their child at home.  They would rather blame the government for squandering tax dollars when they themselves cheat on their taxes and rob God of the tithe.

Bottom line:  It’s just easier to be that way.

Smart people, on the other hand, take responsibility for their lives. They require a lot from themselves and don’t let themselves off the hook so easily.  They pay their own bills.  They work hard.  They are exemplary employees.  They would rather earn their own way than rely on a handout.  They have a conscience and sense of honor.  They are good parents.  Smart people are concerned about their health and the health of their family. They are self-disciplined and get out of bed in the morning.

Commit to WISDOM.  Proverbs 29:11 (KJV) says it all, “A fool utters all his mind:  but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.”  In other words, just because you think it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to say it.  Only a fool would do that.  Don’t jump into trouble mouth first.  Always speak less than you know.  The human tongue is only a few inches from the brain, but when you listen to some people talk, they seem miles apart.  The tongue runs the fastest when the brain is in neutral. 

Commit to a RIGHT ATTITUDE.  Is the glass half full or half empty?  Who cares!  The only thing that matters is whether or not you can drink it.  In other words, does it work?

There are literally thousands of motivational speaks and self-help therapists who spout pious platitudes that do nothing more than make you feel good for the moment, but have no lasting effect.  They sound good, but they don’t work.

Commit to GOOD FRIENDS.  Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you where you’re headed.  The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve.  If you run with wolves, you’ll learn how to howl.  If you associate with good people, your life will be enriched.  The simple but true fact of life is that we become like those whom we most closely associate with – good or bad.

Never become friends with someone because you both agree on negatives.  Rather, find friends who agree with you on positives.  “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).