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Archive for January, 2012

The Brotherhood – Part 27

January 31, 2012 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.

So Super Bowl weekend is just ahead. It’s an intriguing sight! Even the non-football fan has made plans to join one of thousands of Super Bowl parties around the country, to cheer teams they haven’t watched all year. It’s just fun–even if, like me, your team hasn’t made the big game in decades.

Here’s a thought…what if you stepped a little beyond your usual football friends and used this weekend’s game to broaden your social circle by one guy? Suppose this year’s game could offer the first step toward building a new friendship, maybe even one that could strengthen your life in years to come.

As a pastor, I saw very quickly the potential of the Super Bowl as an event to connect with new friends. People who might never visit a church on its game day (usually Sunday) were glad for free food and  chance to watch the game with a bunch of people. Through our Super Bowl event, we connected with dozens of people, many who lived on the fringes of our church friends’ lives.

The Super Bowl is one of those moments that rarely occur in our lives. Everyone tunes in, either to see the game or watch the year’s best commercials. So go across the street and invite that couple to come over and watch. Use the game to open some relational doors in your neighborhood. Hey, invite two or three couples and you might be able to convince your wife that you need a bigger TV!

Seriously, let this great social event serve a purpose in your life this year. Let it be the beginning of a new friendship. Who knows where that might lead…

Notes from the Journey with David – 53

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

53. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! (1 Samuel 3:24).
The conflict was inevitable. Joab has been the leader of David’s men. Now Abner, Saul’s general, has joined David too. This is the same Abner who killed Joab’s younger brother. So David’s ability to make peace with Abner will not easily transfer to Joab’s heart. It seems David doesn’t try, giving no orders to Joab concerning Abner. Perhaps Joab convinced David to be suspicious. At any rate, he allows Joab to retaliate unchecked and Joab will kill Abner. While we don’t know David’s heart in this matter, it seems he fails to lead and it costs him a potentially valuable team member. Leaders must dictate mutual respect among the team, even when the issues that separate them seem legitimate.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

REVEALing

January 30, 2012 1 comment

A few years ago, Willow Creek Community Church–the megaChurch that brilliantly leads the way in tackling many of the toughest issues facing churches–produced a study of their own congregation. They wanted to know how they were doing in their effort to make disciples. That’s a critical question since making disciples is the very nature of the commission we’ve all been given.

After surveying their congregation of thousands, they invited hundreds of churches and thousands of people to participate in the survey, and the results were more than a little surprising, even unsettling. Chief among the discoveries was that the typical things churches do–hold worship services, offer small groups, encourage people to serve in the church–were not effectively moving people forward in their relationship with Christ, especially those who had reached more advanced stages of discipleship.

The point wasn’t that we should stop doing what we’re doing. The typical activities of the local church did have some positive impact, especially on those in the earlier stages of discipleship. Instead, the point was to highlight what did move people forward. There was one spiritual activity that effectively moved people forward regardless of their level of spiritual maturity–reflection on Scripture.

The study showed that those who read the Bible for themselves and sought ways to apply it to their lives continued to move forward in their life as a disciple, no matter what stage of the journey they currently were living. Those who failed to develop a regular habit of pursuing God’s Word often became stuck or dissatisfied with their spiritual life and would change churches, become complacent, or give up their pursuit of Christianity altogether.

Of course, the study revealed that there are are many other valuable ways to keep people moving. Pastors and church leaders will find this book quite insightful and helpful to their efforts of discipleship.

If you want to read the study, the book is titled, Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth. It’s written by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson–two members of the Willow Creek staff. It’s a great read with lots of information and examples of ways to keep your people moving.

Notes from the Journey with David – 52

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

52. Good, said David. I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you. (1 Samuel 3:13).
When a man shifts loyalties, as Abner seeks to do in joining David’s side, there is much at stake. Can he be trusted? Will he turn against me and rejoin his former friends? David would understand this threat given that he had offered himself as a friend to Philistine leaders and an enemy to Saul. But Abner’s shift is the largest piece of the puzzle that brings David the kingdom. So David requires something of Abner. His request to bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, to him as wife would forever compromise Abner’s relationship with Saul’s family. There would be no going back. David’s wisdom in breaking Abner’s former connections made the General’s loyalties more certain–a wise move when accepting a leader from the other side.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 26

January 25, 2012 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.

You’ve got to make a choice.

In his excellent book, The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley repeatedly underscores the fact that every choice you make has a destination. Your life is headed somewhere, and you are walking a path that is shaped by the decisions you make. Good intentions have little to do with your destination unless you translate them into action.

For example, you may really want to be a great husband and father, but if you don’t make the daily choice to spend time with your family, you’ll not end up where you wanted to be. Good intentions don’t get the job done. You’ve got to make a choice.

As a pastor, I would often listen to people explaining what they wanted for their lives, and then watch them make daily choices in other directions. Like the guy who wants to live healthier but can’t pass on the cinnamon rolls, you just aren’t going to get where you want to go if you don’t take the steps that will get you there.

That’s why many of us end up in places other than where we really want to be. We fail to translate our hopes and dreams into actions. We think that someday we will be the guy we want to be, and then someday never comes. In fact, we end up further from it than when we started.

Think about your choices–every one of them. Are you making choices for purity by logging off the computer and thinking only of your wife? Are you really putting your family ahead of yourself or using them as your excuse for working all those extra hours? Are you being faithful to God or failing to trust him with your time and money? Do you really choose excellence or do you let “good enough” be enough in little things?

You’ve got to make a choice. Make one in the direction you really want to go.

 

Notes from the Journey with David – 51

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

51. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman? (1 Samuel 3:8).
The divide between Abner and Ishbosheth reveals the pettiness that often follows an insecure leader. Ishbosheth’s accusation is likely born of gossip and the search for some means of lessening Abner’s escalating popularity. But the accusation backfires and Abner is now ready to take his influence to David’s side of the battle. The lesson seems clear. An insecure leader is often destroyed by his insecurity and not by his opponents. Insecure leaders are destroyed from within and people of quality turn from them.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Yes You Can!

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I remember vividly the challenges that faced me on my first day as a pastor. The feelings were the same with both congregations that my wife and I led. While I was thrilled at the opportunity and kept using the word “potential” to keep my spirits up, there was a strong sense that we had a long way to go.

In fact, there were days when those feelings were so strong that I felt almost overwhelmed at the things I knew we couldn’t yet do. Like many pastors, I would attend conferences and other pastor events, enjoy the big name featured speakers, and then leave with an even greater sense of the impossible task in front of me.

What do you do when you’re convinced that you can’t do what others say will work?

Now, I have an answer to that question. After a couple of good experiences leading churches to health and strength, I know the answer to my question and believe in it strongly. BUT I DIDN’T KNOW THE ANSWER BACK THEN!

Like many, I lived in a culture of can’t. I wanted to see our music improve, but didn’t have the musicians to make it happen. I wanted to print a nicer bulletin, but didn’t have the equipment, design personnel, or financial resources to do better. I wanted to have a great Sunday school, but didn’t have the teaching personnel, classroom space, or any money to build more classrooms.

A culture of can’t proves devastating to most leaders. After awhile, anyone’s suggestion falls into the “can’t” pile even if some might argue its possibility. I genuinely tried to be glad for the success of others, but my smile was forced and my frustration mounted when I saw how their hands were full of resources and I had so little.

Somewhere amidst this “culture of can’t” I found an answer. While the list of things I couldn’t do was sizable, there was something I could do. There always is. I realized that I have gifts and abilities that can form strengths for my church. There’s always a CAN!

Much of the conversation in church life today focuses on the long list of things that one needs to be successful, but one day I woke up to the reality that, while the list is valuable, the momentum I needed wasn’t going to be found in someone else’s list. Instead, by discovering what I could do and what our church folks could do and do well, we found the momentum I longed for.

It makes sense really. We believe strongly that every individual has unique gifts and abilities that God wants to use. Why don’t we think that about our local church as well. Not every congregation is cut from the same cloth. There are things we do well and things we lack the resources to achieve. What good does it do to pine for what is beyond our reach when we could be giving our best to, well…our best!

I also discovered that as we focused our energies on our strengths, God brought people into our journey who could help us address weaknesses. Amazing guitar players joined our little family. Computer techs and graphic designers found Jesus with us. People with gifts of teaching came alongside and after a few more miles in the journey, we could check many of the boxes that had formerly been elusive.

The point is simple. If you’re trapped in a culture of can’t, you can unlock its grip by simply reaching for a different answer. Discover what you do well and do it for the glory of your Savior. He’ll take that capacity and make it something amazing in your community. Don’t listen to the “you can’t lie” one more week. Start living in the “can” of your capacity!

And don’t tell me you can’t! 🙂