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Archive for June, 2013

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 55

55. But no one asked, “What do you want?” (John 4:27).

Really? No one asked? Jesus is engaged in conversation with a woman of questionable reputation and none of the disciples found a reason to ask Him or her what that was all about. Remarkable! Why the disinterest? Lunch. The disciples had gone to town for food and had returned, ready to eat. They were consumed with their stomachs and let the life-changing moment this woman experienced pass them by unnoticed. How often we likely make the same choice. We are so consumed with our daily needs that we look right past the harvest that buds around us.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 100

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.

As my wife and I were hiking through our local nature center a few days ago, I noticed a squirrel chasing a leaf as it jumped and bounced with the wind (the leaf, not the squirrel). Now I’m no expert on squirrels (I admit proudly), and there may be some nutritional value in oak leaves that squirrels crave, but I couldn’t help but think the little guy was wasting his time. Even if you catch that leaf, I thought, what will you gain?

Okay, the fact that I was having an imaginary conversation with the squirrel should probably frighten me a bit, but as with any odd moment, the communicator in me was looking for a life metaphor. Today, I’m thinking about us–guys who chase a lot of different things with our lives. No, I’m not calling you a squirrel, but I wonder if the effort we exert in our chases looks just as silly to someone bigger and more developed, like God.

Are we chasing things that don’t have any potential to nourish us?

Sure, the squirrel could have just been playing, enjoying a much-needed break from his rat race, but what if he thought the leaf was really worth catching? That would be kind of sad–to finally grasp the prize you want and find that it wasn’t really worth wanting. Somehow it feels even sadder when humans do that.

So I guess my encouragement for your life of excellence today is to be sure that the things you chase are worth chasing. Don’t be a squirrel…well, you know what I mean.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 54

54. Just then the disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman (John 4:27).

Jesus surprises us in this way all the time. Who He speaks to, who He makes himself available to, who He loves always comes as a shock when we begin thinking ourselves to be better than others. Yes, there were many sociological factors that would prevent this conversation, but God dwells above societal boundaries. He reaches beyond any boundary we might construct in order to rescue those who are in need. Of course, that’s the one barrier He won’t reach across–the one that we build to insist we don’t need Him. But to those who see their need–who are poor in spirit–theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Categories: Leadership Journeys

Rules of Thumb – Part 5

Let’s take one final look at some more “rules of thumb” for congregational management. Remember, the idea of “rule of thumb” is a general estimate, as there will be churches that succeed, even though they may not hit every recommended measure.

1. You can typically park 100-125 cars per acre. If you use an average of 2.0 – 2.5 people per car, you can see that you’ll need an acre of parking for every 200-250 people attending a single service.

2. Unless you have twice the parking you need, you’ll want to plan no less than 30 minutes between service times so you can “turn over” the parking lot. If you have simultaneous Sunday school and worship services, you’ll have to count attendance in both when calculating your parking needs.

3. With pew seating, you’ll need to calculate 20″ – 24″ of seating space per person. Your architect may have used 18″ when calculating your seating capacity, but apparently more architects need to go to church 🙂 ’cause people won’t sit that close in pews. Individual seating (chairs) is the only way to encourage closer proximity.

4. Don’t forget the 80% rule–it applies to classrooms too. Once a room is 80% full, growth will slow until a strategy for more space (larger room, multiple services, etc.) is implemented.

5. Every church must reach new people, even to overcome the “natural” losses experienced each year. On average, 1-2% will be lost due to death, 3-4% will transfer to another church, and 2-6% will typically stop attending church altogether each year for a variety of other reasons. That’s 6-12% of anticipated loss! If your loss percentages are higher, find out why and work to address the issue (i.e. if death loss is higher, you may have an older congregation and need to find ways to reach young families, etc.).

That last one’s not a lot of fun to think about, but even the healthiest churches can anticipate a loss of around 10% of their congregation each year. If you’re in a particularly transient area (i.e. military community, etc.) your numbers may be higher and don’t necessarily mean your church is unhealthy. They do, however, mean your church needs to be reaching and discipling more new people each year. If you don’t…well, you can do the math.

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 53

53. When he comes, he will explain everything to us (John 4:25).

Interesting confidence coming from a Samaritan woman. Messiah will make everything make sense. And yet when He came, they didn’t recognize Him or accept His teaching. It’s the same for us. If we can’t see that Jesus is our Messiah, if we can’t receive Him by faith, we will not listen to His direction for our lives. For that matter, many of us who believe also struggle in our commitment to obey. What a sad reality. Fortunately for this woman, she will discover that Jesus is the One she’s looking for and she will choose to live in obedience to His wisdom and truth.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 99

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.

Well, another Father’s Day has come and gone. Sure hope it was a good one for you.

Today, I want to try and bring some balance to your Sunday church experience. You see, I’ve noticed over the years that Sunday sermons on Mother’s Day tend to laud the blessings mom brings to our lives, while Father’s Day Sundays are usually filled with challenges to step up or be more than we’ve been. The ladies get applause, while the men hear a measuring stick that many fall short of. I heard a message on sexual sin, a solid, biblical effort to help fix what’s broken in many men–much needed but hardly uplifting.

This blog is primarily that same kids of communication. Here we talk about commitments, how to live them, and why we should, but let’s pause a minute and applaud those who do…

Way to go, Dad, when you guard your eyes from the millions of unhealthy images available to you each week. Your diligence in guarding your eyes, and ultimately your heart, gives you the capacity to make great decisions as you leave your family. Hidden sins affect judgment, so your diligence is paying off more than you know!

Way to go, Dad, when you lay aside the demands of your own world and give your best to your children’s challenges. Their issues usually aren’t as life-changing as their young hearts believe, still you care and show them that those issues matter to you.

Way to go, Dad, when you show up to help when others are hiding somewhere. Your faithfulness and dependability speak volumes about your character and you set a remarkable example for your kids. Your commitment to God, your church, your community, and your country show your children what really matters in life.

Way to go, Dad, when you give your best to the little things. You’re probably already reaping the rewards of excellence, but if not, they’re on the way. Doing what’s right and doing it well guarantees that life’s best is headed your way!

Way to go, Dad, when you wear the title “Father” in a way that honors the Heavenly Father you share that title with. I know some mess that up badly and paint tragic ideas of fatherhood, ones that even affect how children can understand God. But not you, and that honors and glorifies your Father in Heaven.

I could go on, but hope you realize that the life you’re living is worthy of celebration. You are what God had in mind when He conceived the idea of future generations growing up under your roof, so WAY TO GO!

Notes from the Journey with the Disciples – 52

52. When true worshippers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

After generations of those who would perform acts of worship out of ritual or duty, Jesus announces that soon the only ones who will worship will be those who do so out of genuine desire. Are we among those? The requirements for worship (animal sacrifices, etc.) have certainly been simplified, but do we give them our best effort? It remains possible to be more concerned about the where of worship than the Who.

 

Categories: Leadership Journeys