Leadership

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Aftereffect

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

I remember watching MacGyver years ago and one of the scientific principles he used several times was “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I didn’t post yesterday (Monday) because I can attest to that.

This past Sunday we had our Day of Service (DoS). You can read about it here. But it was so much more than just an afternoon of serving. In my case, it was several months leading up to the day.  For the last few years I enlisted the help of another church since it was getting way too big just for me/us. My friend, James, an Associate Pastor of another church in town, came on board and has been invaluable. Last Spring the Owen County Chamber of Commerce joined us, as they did this time. (I am a board member of the Chamber also).  The Fall DoS entails a bit more since we not only rake leaves, clean gutters, and help get people ready for winter, we also do free oil changes for those who need them but can’t afford them. Invariably, there is one or two who need a bit more. So OVCF paid for 10 oil changes; a set of wiper blades and rear set of brakes for the same car; and an extensive look trying to fix a speedometer cable. Along with that we raked, cleaned gutters, etc for over 30 people. And trust me when I say there were plenty of leaves! Sycamore trees and maple trees abound in our town. Jo and I were going around encouraging and thanking people, but ended up staying at one place as we bagged and emptied huge contractor bags full of leaves 4 times! As it was I took 2 of the bags to put on the garden we have on the church property (one of our ladies started it). Then it started raining about 3:00 and I heard some of the folks were raking in the rain.

Here it is Tuesday and I’m still not done. Still some debriefing to do with James and Cassandra. Still some notes of thanks to be sent to some local folks (Babbs grocery and AutoZone) for their help. Oh yeah…rest. I was dead on my feet Sunday night and even dragged yesterday some. But its a good tired. A tired that comes from helping others. From knowing you were doing what Jesus would do (although I’m thinking He didn’t have gutters, leaves, air conditioners to move, weather stripping to install, or gardens to clean out). Then again…

Tired but satisfied. Tired but fulfilled. Tired but knowing we served as our Master would.

ReturningtoReclaim

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Every year the church I pastor, Owen Valley Christian Fellowship, has an anniversary. (I’m sure that is news. But it is good news!)

Every year Ryan (our youth pastor) and I give a “State of the Church” address. We reiterate our Mission and Vision to the people in order to keep it in front of them.

Every year we follow that with a celebration. A Pitch-in dinner and some good old laughing and talking…and, of course, good old eating some good old food.

This year is no different. Only this year there is a twist…or two. About 2-3 months ago, at the request of the other leaders,  I was asked to keep the growth of the church in front of the people. So I developed what I called FIT. No, it is not a fitness group. FIT stands for Future Initiative Team. We have met twice now and have pinpointed some future ideas of what we need/should/could possibly do down the road. We then delineated them into “Big Ticket Items”; “Items which need our attention but in time”; and “Items which require immediate attention.”  We brainstormed quite an extensive list and this past meeting I “assigned” and asked for volunteers to follow up on the items, especially the immediate ones.  Long story short: following the message this Sunday, I’ll be giving a brief presentation of what we have come up with.

The other twist is the Dedication of our new Youth Addition. I’m excited the Chamber of Commerce is coming to have a ribbon-cutting for us, along with Ryan talking (briefly) about what all is going on in the addition and I’ll close in prayer.

It will make for an exciting day. I’d certainly appreciate your prayers for us. Please ask God to put His hand on our young people and that we be wise in how our building is used. It was never intended to be used for us alone. Twice a week, for example, WRE (Weekly Religious Education), a totally voluntary program for the local school kids uses our building. The kids give up a free class time to attend. Ryan is heavily involved in it.

And lest I forget: Our Mission and Vision is as follows:

Mission: To Connect People to Jesus

Vision:

  • To be Passionate Pursuers of Jesus
  • To be models of Truth and Love
  • To be involved in our Community

I would appreciate your prayers for us this Sunday. A lot of people have had a hand in making this addition a reality. Youth Addition or not, the church (OVCF and as a whole) needs to do more celebrating. We intend to do just that.

Flashback2

Monday, August 13th, 2018

In a previous post I wrote about having a flashback. I’m not going to recap it. You can go here and read it for yourself. To continue my thoughts:

Skye’s definition/description of “Church, Inc.” is this:

It is shorthand for ministry devoid of mystery, for pastors who assume that the exercise of their calling is a matter of skill more than the gravity of their soul. It represents the exchange of the transcendent calling of Christian ministry with mere management of religious institutions and services. If ministry is encountering the heat and light of an uncontrollable sun, Church, Inc is the tanning salon in the local strip mall.

Skye goes on to ask a very complex question: the attraction to religious consumers is easy enough to grasp, but what is the appeal for pastors? The answer is not an easy one and I suspect he will spend the book dissecting it.  I’m only in chapter 6 and I think I’ve gone through a pen while highlighting!! To top it off he includes this quote by Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and woman centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.

BINGO!

Jesus didn’t set up an enterprise. He established his church. He didn’t tell the disciples to “Go, learn the business principles of the world, then take the message to others, and I will be with you to the end of the age.” I think it high time pastors get back to being pastors (shepherds), and churches get back to being churches not small businesses.

There is so much more to say but…

So…

OFF SOAPBOX (for now).

More to come.

Flashback

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Flashbacks are bad…usually. I guess it depends on what you flash back to.

Several years ago I was the pastor of a church when there was a major shift in a pastor’s responsibility. I was always used to seeing myself as a shepherd, as one responsible for the care and feeding of the sheep. Then along came a shift. The shift involved the pastor taking on more of a CEO position and the church being run like more of a business model. I attended John Maxwell’s seminars. Bought his and others’ books. Tried to implement the whole paradigm shift to the church.

I. FAILED…BIG. TIME.

Yep. I failed. Miserably. I knew when that happened that my time was limited in that current pastorate. I couldn’t make the shift to the CEO/business model.

MY. TIME. WAS. INDEED. LIMITED.

I moved on to another church…one that didn’t have or want that model. Good thing. I would have failed there too. My tenure there was not as long as the previous one, and definitely not as long as this one. But that was for other reasons completely.  In the meantime, I read several books which helped me tremendously. Two books by E. Glenn Wagner: The Church You’ve Always Wanted and Escape from Church, Inc cemented my decision.  Another was Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent & Barb Hughes. Two books on preaching which helped were Famine in the Land by Steve Lawson and The Passion-Driven Sermon by Jim Shaddix. They helped convince me of my purpose: preach the Word and quit worrying about modeling the business world.

FLASHBACK TIME

Why? I started reading a new book today: Immeasurable by Skye Jethani. It is subtitled Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. Sounds like it would be right up my alley. Two quotes hit me hard  The prelude to the Introduction:

There are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable greatness of Jehovah…If we cannot measure we can marvel. Charles Spurgeon

The wrong approach put a premium on numbers and results.  You measure success by numbers. They were the qualifiers. When I was entertaining the whole idea of Church, Inc I was losing my focus on people as people and seeing them as numbers to be counted. Chairs to be filled (we didn’t have pews).  🙂

This post is getting long-much longer than I like to go- so I will continue it with another.

Think

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Paul says in Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”

Over the past week or so I have been reading God of Tomorrow, Caleb Kaltenbach’s new book.  A normal review will give the pros and cons , good points and bad points, and whether it is worth your while to read it.  I’m going to take a different approach in this post. I want to highlight several of his included quotes and thoughts. Then let you decide at the end if it is a book you want to invest your time in.

God of Tomorrow: How to Overcome the Fears of Today and Renew Your Hope for the Future

First, an explanation. Caleb’s book’s premise is focused around hope for tomorrow being the solution to the fears of today. He analyzes the culture pretty well and what should be the Christ-follower’s approach to the people who are the culture. Change is inevitable. It is how we react to that change which gives us our approach to people.  (My comments appear after)

“Combativeness without compassion is always going to be counterproductive.”  We need to have our beliefs but we don’t have to cram them down someone’s throat nor do we need to be militant.

“Our differences with people should drive us to them, not from them.” This is sure opposite of our “hunker down” attitude.

“Our fear is no match for the unlimited power and uncontested reign of God.  When will we learn this? Instead of fearing change, let’s hold to our beliefs but not shy away in fear.

“Hope reminds us that our best days are ahead, not behind us.”  And I might add not right now either. No apologies to Joel for that.

“Out-of-place people always have a place with God.”  I seem to remember someone telling a story about going to the highways and bi-ways to bring people into a meal. Hmmmm.  Maybe this would change our approach toward “unlovely” and “unacceptable, despicable” people we often have.

There are plenty more and I plan to use them during the next week as I post some thoughts. But the coup de grace for me was this one:

When people look at your (my) life, it should be so easy for them to see Jesus in how you (I) treat them, love them, and share truth with them. (p.201)

What do you think of those quotes? Think you might get this book?

 

Giants

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

You cannot read the story of Joshua and Caleb and not be impressed.

They were different.  They saw life differently. They were leaders par excellence.

During my recent study of the book of Joshua, and in particular this past Sunday’s sermon which directly involved Caleb, I saw something I had seen before but could not delineate it. As you probably know, along with 10 other spies, Joshua and Caleb were sent into the land of Canaan to spy out the land.  They all came back with glowing reports of the land.

With one difference. Joshua and Caleb’s ideas of submission were different. The 10 convinced the people they could benefit from the land but it was too dangerous. The people were too big. Joshua and Caleb agreed on all counts EXCEPT it being too dangerous. Here’s why:

The 10 spies measured the giants against their own strength; Joshua and Caleb measured the giants against God’s strength. The 10 trembled; the 2 triumphed. The majority had big giants and a little God; the two had a great God and little giants.

What about you? What are you facing today that seems insurmountable? Are the giants you are facing today huge in your eyes? Remember to follow Caleb’s lead: “follow the Lord wholeheartedly.” I would add “Don’t lose heart.”

Here is a song for you to sing in your head this week. Have a great giant-slaying week.

Unfinished

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Have you ever noticed there hardly seems to be a time when we are totally satisfied?

How many times have you finished a project, maybe one that has taken longer than you thought- and after a “small break” you tell yourself- you are back at it. You see something else which needs done.

When we (OVCF) bought this building in 2010 we knew it was small for us. However,  we made due in various ways. Sometime in 2011 we knew we had to do something. After much prayer and planning, we renovated our current facility in 2012. No need to tell you how we did that. Least not now.  By 2013 we knew we needed more room so we went to two services and started plans for an expansion. But after a late night “dream,” I woke up and asked myself a question: “What about the kids? Where will we put them if we expand?” So we put our expansion for a worship area on hold while we raised funds for our youth addition. After 4 years of raising money and paying cash for everything, that addition is ready to be used.  (Hands are clapping big time)

Just a couple of weeks ago I was asked when we are going to start on the adult worship area.  My answer? “When we raise the money.”

Sometimes there is just some unfinished business. I’ve talked to tons of older folks (which I am fast becoming) and have often heard the phrase “If I had to do things over again.” The second most common would probably be “There is still so much I want to do.”

Sunday’s sermon is about unfinished business in two ways. One, is unfinished business Joshua needed to take care of with the surrounding nations and hie people; and two, a man called Caleb had some unfinished business to take care of. Two old men, Joshua and Caleb, will serve as our inspiration Sunday. Thanks for praying. 🙂

Commander

Friday, May 18th, 2018

General Norman Schwarzkopf was known as “Stormin’ Norman.”  In preparation for this week’s sermon I read several articles on his military life throughout Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield, and Operation Desert Storm. He definitely has earned the title “great military commander.” In fact, he might pass muster as one of, if not the greatest military mind of his generation. He was very quotable as well:

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

“True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow.”

And one more (and this is off the topic of leadership): “I’ve managed to convince my wife that somewhere in the Bible it says, ‘Man cannot have too many shotguns and fishing poles.’ ”  🙂

While he stands out as a great military mind and hero, we are studying one right now: Joshua. It takes a leader-a good one- to take over from a leader and be successful. Moses had led the people of Israel for 40 years, but he was now dead and had left the leadership reins in Joshua’s capable hands. He was now the Commander-in-Charge. No, that is not a misprint. Joshua knew the Commander-in-Chief was God.

This Sunday I’m going to take a look at Joshua’s track record (where he proved himself) and then ultimately show that his real power came from his willingness to submit to God in a faith-defining moment (Joshua 5:13-17).  Prayers for this weekend would be much appreciated. Thanks ahead of time.

Recap

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

The Spring of ’18 Day of Service is history. Several things to note:

We served more people than we ever have. We not only did individuals, we were a tremendous help to the organizations we lent our hands and back to. You can see which ones we helped by going here. It has been a long winter, especially for the kennels and Horse Angels. MyPath needed spruced up and cleaned up, especially with the recent flood of about a month ago. The same goes for Cooper Commons (a park) and the county fairgrounds. We were also able to help some local people by cleaning out gutters, cleaning up garbage, raking leaves, and just generally sprucing some things up.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. I prayed for the rain to hold off until at least 4:00 and it bypassed us completely.  I’m not vain enough to think my prayer made a difference but I’d sure like to believe it did. 🙂  I actually think the rain formed to the east of us. But I’LL TAKE IT!  Made for a great day of work.

With the combination of OVCF, The Connection, and the Owen County Chamber of Commerce, we had about 70 volunteers. As you can imagine that was much larger than just a church of our size could do, so it was good to partner with the other two.

I believe we made a difference for those we helped. And that is what it is all about. I received some texts Sunday night from people we helped. Made me feel good. I know we are not to do service with that in mind but it never hurts to know you have been appreciated.  One of OVCF’s “prongs” of our vision statement is “To be involved in our community.” I like it when we can say, “We are.”

Next up, Lord willing, is the Fall Day of Service planned for November 4 (probably).

Visibility

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

I shook things up a bit last week with a podcast of me and the guys at The Connection-a local church here in the community. Today is our Day of Service and I plan to post a summary sometime this week. They are calling for rain this afternoon so I am praying for it to hold off until at least 4:00 (our scheduled stopping time).

So I decided to shake things up again. Today is music video day. Now…I could go calm but that might put you and me both to sleep. Not good. I could go country…but that ain’t going to happen! I could go with a worship song but that would be the normal thing to do. Or I could go wild and blow your doors (ears) off. Not today.

One of my favorite arena rock groups was Kansas. Their makeup included two followers of Christ. One, Kerry Livgren, was the writer behind their monster hits Carry on Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind, both written before he came to faith in Christ. Both still had meaningful lyrics. Kerry has since suffered a stroke that has limited his guitar-playing ability, but not his mind and his heart for Jesus. Like many groups, as members age or grow tired of the grind, Kansas has changed much of their personnel. Steve Walsh has retired, his voice breaking down as well as his health. A new lead singer has taken his place. I tend to think he is every bit as good as Steve on some things.  He sounds, at times, like Greg X. Volz, the former lead singer for Petra before John Schlitt.

The song I’m featuring is NOT a religious song, although it certainly has some application to the religious world. It is not meant to be a political statement on my part either, although I am against dictators and madmen. I am also against religious hucksters who promise the world but have no way to deliver. Followers of health/wealth prosperity teachers (I will refrain from naming names at this point) take note. Followers of Bill Johnson, Bethel Redding, and anyone involved in the New Apostolic Reformation take note.  Here is the song by the group now known as Kansas.

Hope you enjoy it but more importantly, catch its message.  And please, don’t shoot me for my choice of music. 🙂 You might incur the wrath of Jo. Then again…