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Archive for October, 2011

Chasing Real Change

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

We aren’t a patient people. Life has encouraged us to insist on getting what we want somewhere close to the minute we ask for it. We get our food fast, retrieve our mail in seconds, and have little patience for the moments those processes slow down. We want what we want…NOW!

So when we begin to pursue change in our church, we’d like to find some quick answers. Somehow another Sunday in what has always been seems unbearable. So we scour the internet shelves for someone’s key to effectiveness and hope we can quickly add water for best results.

But change…real change…doesn’t come.

If a church has been plateaued or declining on its growth curve, the change needed probably goes deeper than we might expect. While a few program adjustments or maybe a creative addition or two would be helpful, the deeper issues that can truly change the feel of our church won’t be touched by these surface remedies.

Relationships must begin to change. The years together under the steepled roof have left us with certain relational realities that people can sense when they worship with us. Unresolved conflicts that may be a decade old still linger in the air like a musty smell. We may not be battling those things on the surface, but a guest can tell if the people of the church are truly connected or not.

Time also has a way of bringing several different ideas of the church’s purpose, vision, or road to effectiveness into play. People who just want to change a program or two and hopefully see sudden growth often aren’t ready to revisit deeper questions before finding the right path. But, the real road to change has to start by choosing a destination and agreeing to ride in the same car to get there.

Real change starts with people loving people. Now, I’m not talking about loving the first-time guests. The first people we have to start loving is each other. Old walls need to come down. Old hurts need to mend. And as they do, we can find a road to walk that can lead to real change for our church.

Fact is…the only way for our church to change is for us to change. And as God begins to change our hearts toward one another, something else begins to change…OUR CHURCH!

 

Notes from the Journey with David – 26

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

26. Swear to me, by the Lord, that you will not cut off my descendants… (1 Samuel 24:21).
In its cultural setting, Saul’s request is unreasonable. Since families ruled until conquered, a new king would typically eliminate a former king’s family either by death or banishment. Saul asks David to allow his descendants a future in the land, even though their presence could undermine David’s authority. David agrees and demonstrates that commitment on multiple occasions, but the point is to see what seems to concern Saul. He has lost the kingdom for his family. He has failed their future. Now his pride has focused on protecting them. David’s kindness is further demonstration to Saul that his own kingdom is lost. He now seeks to save face for his progeny. The kingdom is finally beginning to change hands. David’s integrity is about to bring him the kingdom.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 13

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Today has been a good reminder.

I didn’t do any work today. Instead, I woke up in a distant city and spent the day traveling through its numerous amazing sites. Oh yeah, my wife was in the passenger seat. That’s right! A whole day doing nothing but touring with the woman who agreed to spend life with me.

Somewhere between Mount Rushmore and a field full of buffalo, I remembered that spending life together is a good way to spend life together. Do you know what I mean?

It’s easy to get so busy living life that you don’t really live it with the one you promised to. Okay, that’s an awkward sentence, but I hope you get the idea. Spending time with your wife is a great way to live.

Now I don’t want to give you the impression that I’ve been neglecting my wife.  don’t think I have been, but I spend a lot of time on the road and most of the time the passenger seat is empty. And, like you, I work a lot of hours and sometimes the evenings seem like a good time to just collapse in front of the television. I think you’d agree that just ’cause you’re in the same house doesn’t mean you’re spending time together. That’s right! Mowing the yard doesn’t count as quality time, unless she’s sitting on the mower with you!

Anyway, today was a great day.

Maybe you can’t get a whole day in a distant city, but pick a night this week to shut down everything else and just enjoy living life with the one who said she’d spend hers with you. Like me, you’ll be glad you did.

Notes from the Journey with David – 25

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

25. May the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you (1 Samuel 24:12).
Without question, Saul has been unfair to David. He has threatened the younger man’s life and is now leading the effort to kill him. David resisted the temptation to kill Saul, believing that even though he knows he is the new king, he won’t be the one who takes down the former king. This is the deepest test of David’s integrity. Saul deserves to be punished for his wrongdoing, but David won’t be the one to initiate or complete that work. He will not be involved at all. He asks God for justice, but he will not allow himself to be the one that brings it. In this David honors both the wisdom and the timing of God in his life.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Breaking the 100 Barrier – Part 5

October 24, 2011 1 comment

Some of the content of this article is taken from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter ‘The Pastor’s Coach’ available at www.INJOY.com.

So we’re a “family church.” Sounds nice doesn’t it? But like its neighborhood namesake, a family church may not be as healthy as we’d like to think. Lots of families don’t get along well and don’t have healthy ways of dealing with their issues. Families often struggle with authority structures too, leaving one person dominant and the rest as subjects of his will.

Of course, when we say “family church” we mean that we all love each other and feel very connected. But that same feeling frequently gets in the way when someone wants to “join our family.” Newbies are not always easily received. Rather, they can find a gauntlet of expectation and the need to prove themselves before they are allowed into our inner circles. Hardly Great Commission thinking, but it rules many churches under 100.

• Change the perspective on how the church is perceived, from friendly family to focused fellowship.
Eight out of ten churches under a hundred (the two remaining are usually new church plants) are viewed as a “friendly family” and not a “focused fellowship.” Friendly is a good thing, but not if it prevents you from reaching new people and serving your community. Friendly families are just that, very close and connected, but closed to outsiders. A focused fellowship is still warm and friendly, but with a different priority. The focal point is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20.) The small church must still be itself, and why not enjoy the warmth of close relationships, but the shift is in the ultimate purpose for gathering. It is not for the sake of the existing relationships, but for the sake of the relationships, with Christ and others, that have not yet been formed.

The shift to a focused fellowship demands intentionality. We often must act our way into new ways of thinking. So we practice hospitality, perfect greeting strategies, and find as many ways as possible to take “outward-focused” steps. The church must begin acting like it expects and wants new friends before any will scale the mountain.

Remember, inward focus is a key reason for church decline. To break through this wall, we must be intentional in our actions, even if it means tampering with that family feeling.

Notes from the Journey with David – 24

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

24. The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my Master, the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6).

David’s right actions toward Saul stand in stark contrast to the latter’s treatment of him. David’s men seem excited at the possibility of destroying their enemy the king, but David refuses to see victory in such a step. Treating the predecessor right is far more critical than using his failures as a platform for leadership. David’s guilt for cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe illustrates how after reflection, he chooses to commit to a more restrictive path for his own behavior. He will honor Saul, even if Saul won’t return the favor.

I don’t imagine you have a true enemy king chasing after you, but this story provides good advice for how one treats a predecessor. Even if the former leader treats you badly, give him what you wish he’d give to you. Ultimately, you’ll win and you’ll do so with the respect of those you lead.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 12

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

I turned on my TV today to watch my favorite NFL team play their nemesis in the enemy territory of THEIR stadium. Honestly, my expectations were quite low. My team hasn’t had a very good season, the best players are out for the season with injury, and the arch rival beat us badly last year–TWICE!

But as I sit here watching the 3rd Quarter, my team has built a sizable lead and seems headed for a big win! Hopefully the good play will continue, but I thought I’d capture my current thoughts now, in case the 4th Quarter turns sour.

What is really happening? There’s really been no spectacular plays, but my team has played solid, mistake free football for almost 40 minutes now. They’ve just been doing the right things consistently and the touchdowns are piling up.

What a great lesson in excellence for us. You may like another team, even our arch rival, but you have to appreciate the proof that doing right things brings, well…better play. In fact, you don’t have to be spectacular if you’ll just be solid.

At the end of the day, excellence proves the winning strategy. Doing little things well and avoiding mistakes proves to be a series of strong steps that lead to good things. Such solid performance, even in the simple things can make any team a winner. Those good steps can make a winner out of any individual too.

Well, we made them punt again. Hope you’re cheering with me…