Monday, September 30, 2013
Yesterday in the midst of a very busy ministry day, I had an awesome opportunity thanks to our high school staff. I asked a couple of months ago if there was a way for me to meet with high school students that are interested in pursuing a career in full-time ministry. What we came up with was a "pizza with the pastor" event right after our third service yesterday morning. We ate some pizza and I told a little about my ministry journey and then I answered questions they had about going into ministry full time. I love this setting. It brought me back to my youth ministry days when I pastored students all the time. I love teen-agers! They are really thoughtful and ready to learn and ask questions. They asked everything from how long it takes to write a sermon to whether or not math is required for a ministry degree from school. We laughed together and spent about an hour and a half talking ministry and I walked away feeling great about this generation of Eastview Christian Church. I remembered how many preachers influenced my young life for ministry and I asked God if he might not allow me to be an example of faithful stewardship to these 36 students. I'm praying for them today-that somehow God will help them see past their personal limitations and into His great strength in their weakness. God has shown me over time that my limitations are most often used to point to God's great work in an ordinary guy like me. I'm convinced that same thing is true in the lives of all who sense a calling to do God's work.
at 10:32 AM
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I just wrapped up another day of hanging with 15 pastors of churches who average more than 5,000 in attendance and I have learned a lot...and it feels like I should share some of it. Now, I really have to be careful with my comments here because the group of guys I have been hanging with the past couple of days are committed to being a safe place of ministry and support to one another. So..you won't get names or specific stories from me...just some observations that really warm my heart and hopefully will cause you to pray for your pastor no matter what the size of your church. With that in mind, here are some insights... Mega church pastors are less impressed with themselves than you think. Pastors of large churches get a lot of accolades and credit for their growing churches, but you need to know that they know who they are better than anyone else. They have no grand illusions about who they are. They are simply grateful to God for what he has given them. I'm blessed by the humility I have witnessed. Mega church pastors are want to learn and do not believe they have all the answers for how churches should be led. We all sit at each others feet for instruction. Mega church pastors are equally excited and scared about growing numbers of people who attend their church. It's true that sometimes the numbers can be seen as a measure of success and yes, we are tempted to feel good when we grow and not as good when we don't. But along with that excitement comes a huge weight of responsibility. We all answer to people but the strong realization of stewarding what God has given is the drive. "to whom much is given, much is required" is an all too present Bible reminder. Mega church pastors really do believe that Jesus, and only Jesus changes lives and do not wish for anyone to remain outside of faith. We are about sharing the good news. Mega church pastors really do want people to grow and not just sit in the pews (or theater seats, or stackable chairs). People may think we are okay with a shallow congregation, but we spend most of our time discussing how we can lead people deeper in their faith. Mega church pastors are real people with real issues. We have family issues that range from rebellious children to serious spouse and personal health issues. We have friends that have hurt our feelings. We have financial concerns and daily family routines. Our kids are getting married, going through high school, and seeking God's will for their lives. We deal with criticism and we often feel as though there is no one we can really talk to. God sometimes feels distant to us and we often are left to navigate spiritual challenges on our own. Mega church pastors are more often than not introverts (not my case and not a scientific fact, just my observation) Mega church pastors are strong, but not invincible. Tears come to our eyes as we face challenges. Well, I'll stop there. Hear me well on this. I and my colleagues feel extremely grateful for what we get to do. And this is not an attempt to secure anyone's sympathy. Just some observations that you can take or leave. I hope you'll take them and pray for them concerning all the pastors you know today!
at 5:31 PM
Monday, September 16, 2013
Here's to small groups! I know, just like the church they are imperfect, but when you see what I saw last night as we begin to embark on another all church study together, you can't help but be a fan of small groups. I happen to believe that small groups are biblical, practical, and theologically effective. Biblically, we know of many people who had others meet in their homes for church. And while many think that in fact the whole church was represented here, I can point to many public and large gatherings in the first church (not to mention the word we translate as church - "ekklesia" comes from a word that meant to be called out to public assembly). So there were small groups in the Bible. Practically, small groups are a great way to get people in the same spiritual growth and life stages to find true fellowship and accountability. Theologically, small groups encourage many gifts (hospitality, encouragement, service, teaching, etc...) to be used in a broad way and give opportunity for ministering to one another in an intimate setting. So, last night when I walked around and saw nearly 500 small group leaders gather for training and then hundreds of first time small group participants coming in to be asigned to various groups - my pastor's heart soared. What an opportunity for real partnership in the faith. What an opportunity for spiritual growth both individually and as a church body. What an opportunity for real harmony and unity as we all take a faith step in the same direction. What an opportunity for people to risk teaching, leading, learning and being vulnerable with one another. What an opportunity for us to learn how to share our faith. What an opportunity for those who are lost without Jesus in our community. Yes...here's to small groups and what God does through them. For his glory!
at 10:50 AM
Monday, September 9, 2013
Well, I'm still reflecting on yesterday's big announcement at church that our "blank check" for the world now had a number attached to it. Yesterday, I was honored to stand with our Finance Pastor, Mark Zimmerman and reveal that we were giving away $467,000. We had been praying about this for four months and God moved in an incredible way. The video helped explain that we were giving this money away to our global partners in India, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Haiti and Morocco for the kingdom needs in that place. I'm still processing the ramifications of this gift, but here are the lessons I think God is teaching us: 1. God's generosity should be displayed in our generosity. The giving of the people in the church allows for giving in the name of God, but His provision allows for us to give in the first place. He always goes first with giving. For God so loved the world..HE GAVE. And so should we. 2. God's money is multiplied in the church. There are many causes who would love half a million dollars (trust me, I get requests all the time....all the time), but we believe that God's mission is the church - so our partnerships are with churches. Churches rescue orphans, feed poor people, preach good news, give hope, provide daily essentials, and change the society in which they are planted. So, we give to the greatest organization in the world - the Church of Jesus. By training, equipping and encouraging preachers and church planters with these funds, we are investing 25 years into the future. I'm blessed to think that in the year 2035 someone may come to Christ as a result of our gift! 3. God's money will not run out. The obvious dilemma for any church is that expenses never decrease for ministry. That means we will need even more money to accomplish our mission next year than what we needed this year. We could have saved the money. But giving it away is an intentional faith step. With this gift we say: "Father, you provided more than we needed for last year's budget and you can do it again. We don't trust savings for our future we trust God." 4. God's has more in store. I never get to the place in church leadership where I think that God is done. God is not done until he comes back to take us home...so He is going to keep doing miracles, healing, forgiving and maturing in our midst. Get ready. The blank check was awesome, but he has more in store.
at 10:34 AM