Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An interesting day off this past Sunday

Last week I took a Sunday off and actually attended another church. This was a first experience for me. Generally speaking, when i take a Sunday off, I'm taveling to see my parents, something like that. I've never taken a Sunday off and just stayed at home before.

I decided to go to another church for a number of reasons:
  1. I am always told this is good to do for rest and relaxation.
  2. It was interesting to be a regular guy in a church. I don't get to experience that too often.
  3. Get some new ideas for our church, maybe... cause we do everyting right, right?

Saturday night I was stressed by this whole gogoing to another church thing. one, my kids didn't want to go. So we decided to have our kids dropped off at our church. That was a weird position to be in. Then, all week I kept thinking I was preaching Sunday, thenI would have to remind myself I wasn't. That was stressing me for some reason. Out of routine I guess. Then I felt guilty for not going to my church.

Well, we went to Forefront church in Virginia Beach and once I went there it was really relaxing. It was nice to go and not have to worry about anything. It was a great experience.

What did i get from this church that might help our church? We could do a lot better and making sure our service is open to new people who don't know anything about church. We also could do a lot better at tailoring our service to reaching to people who know vary little about church.

Why? Well think about it. Non-churched people don't miss going to church. if I missed a Sunday i would miss going to church. Non-churched people don't miss it. They are very happy to do what they are doing now, golfing, sleeping, hunting, whatever.

We've got amake our service so good that if a non-churched person came to our service they would not want to miss out what's going to happen next week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

SPARK Evaluation

Last night we had our monthly staff meeting and we spent the time evaluating the SPARK series we just finished. Everyone said they liked it and they wanted to do it next year, but as always there is room for improvement. here is what we found, see if you agree....

1. What needs to be repeated?
* The extended worship at the end of the service
* Having eveyone, adults, youth, and children looking at the same topic each week
* The prayer chairs
* The Generosity buckets

2. What are some things we liked, but don't neccesarily need to be repeated?
* Might not do it for six weeks, maybe four
* We don't have to start it in September, maybe October

3. What can be improved?
* Need to be more collabrative in the next session across ministries
* Have specific Life group Leader training for the series
* Suspend traditional Life groups for SPARK groups during the six weeks
* The generosity bucket could use something more novel next time (Possibly themed with
whoever we are helping

4. What doesn't need to be repeated?
* There was some confusion between what was in the Life Group lessins and what was said
in the messages.
* Starting it in September
* The Life Group Lessons could take the topic of the messge a little deeper

There you go!

What did you think?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A great quote

I was listening to a Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast the other day and he said a great quote by Craig Groeschel.

"If we are going to reach people nobody else is reaching then we are going have to do what no one else is doing."

Think about that. Where do church people get ideas on how to reach people? Often, they get thier ideas from other church people, not the people they are trying to reach. The churches in this area are already doing a good job reaching the people they reach, but there are thousands of people in Suffolk who still don't have an active faith in Jesus Christ. Who is going to reach those people?

We are.

That means if we are going to reach them we are going to have to do some things that no other church is doing. We're going to have to make mistakes. We're going to have to risk some things. One thing is for sure. we have to do something different. We might do some things that make the traditional church cringe. Good.

This brings up another thought concerning new church work. Many times a new church will attract people from other churches because of the freshness, or the cause, or whatever. What happens many times is they bring along the ideas from their other church to place on the new church. What they don't understand is the church was not started to reach people like them, church people. It was started to reach preople the other churches in our community are not reaching. Church ideas will not work in our church.

What does this mean? For example, if you are thinking that once we get into a building that we are going to become a traditional church with Sunday evening services, Wednesday night dinners and other traditional church programs you are going down the wrong track. We're thinking inthe direction as our church building as being a safe place for homeless people, victims of domestic violence, and the like. We want it to be a place where the community truly comes to, and not just church people.


If we are going to reach who no one else is reaching we will have to things that no one else is doing.

Thiings I Hate about God

Ever hear people complain about God?

How could we do that? He is God.

So that has led to our new series for November...

4 Things I Hate About God.

What are some things you hate about God?


Deacons in the church carry an important role in the church. The role is loosely based on the men in the Jewish synagogues who were charged with taking care of the physical matters of the synagogue building. In the Bible we first see Deacons as a role created to solve a problem concerning the feeding of widows. Later on, in 1 Timothy, we see the role of Deacon as a formalized part of the structure of the church.

Deacon means servant. Literally it means "dirty feet people" as in the slaves who cleaned the dirty feet of ancient sandal wearing people. It has become popular to say that if you are serving in the church then you are a deacon. I have some concerns about this populist thought. Here are a couple comments concerning Deacons.

One, they serve under the authority of the elders. The elders appointed the deacons who were full of the Spirit to administer food to the elderly in Acts 6.

Secondly, it is an appointed office that carries authority. The authority isn't about spiritual matters or policy decisions, that's the elder's role. The authority concerns the allocation and distribution of the resources of the church so the congregation is well cared for.

Thirdly, it is a position that requires good character. The requirements in 1 Timothy are not an exhaustive list, after all, do you want a Deacon that doesn't show the Fruit of the Spirit? It is an emphasis on the character of the person. You need to be able to trust the people in charge of the resources of the church.

Being a Deacon is more than just taking care of the physical matters of the church. They are the front lines to making sure people in the congregation are being taken care of. It can be much more pastoral in nature than we realize. After all, isn't taking the food to the widows a pastoral ministry? They are responsible for developing systems so the congregation can be healthy and give a thriving testimony of God's community here on earth.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Concerning the Nobel Peace Prize...

I wonder if historical figures can receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I have a nominee.. Jesus Christ... who made mercy and justice kiss eachother on the cross so that we might know freedom.

PEACE in Christ

Fun at the Peanutfest

Hi everyone!

I just got back from doing a couple shifts at Celebration's booth at the Suffolk Peanutfest. It was a lot of fun. People like it when you give out free water after they ate some hot peanuts from a table down the way!

I had a couple of thoughts as I met all kinds of people. One was this: We're offering water, but Jesus offers living water, that will eternally quench our thirst in life. I sure hope that somehow, someway, through our effort that connection is made.

Then, concerning that effort, I thought this is a lot like the parable of the seeds. Some people are thorny ground, others rocky, others on a well beaten path, and other fertile soil. I pray that our brochures found some fertile soil for God's word this weekend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Come on, Live a little

I had a thought the other day. Why is it when we say, "Come on, live a little," it's about an activity that leads to death? Come on, have another drink, live a little! Go ahead, jump with the bungee cord, live a little!" Come on, take a toke, live a little! What's your problem, go 110 mph, live a little!"

But when Jesus, "Follow me and find eternal life," we think of it as being like a funeral service?

When did the roles get reversed?

Thoughts on Raising the Dead

I came across a video of a colleague stating that Christians can have the ability to raise the dead. He cited the passage in Matthew where Jesus sent out the disciples as his proof text. He said God wants us to raise people from the dead.

I don't know if I agree. For one thing, why would the dead want to come back to this earth? If I was in heaven I think I would be quite content. I don't think I would have a desire to come back. Rather, I would want the people back on earth to join me!

Whenever I hear about the raising of the dead in our time I have questions like the one I just posed. I have questions like that because I look at these facts from the Bible.

Before Jesus died on the cross the Old Testament describes the place of the dead as Sheol. Your King James translates Sheol as hell. But the Hebrew meaning is simply the place of the dead. It wasn't a pleasent place, but it wasn't viewed as a torturous place either, at least to my understanding.

Of course, if you were in Sheol, you would long to be back on earth, alive again. But after Jesus died and rose again things changed. Paul writes that to die is to be with Christ. I take that to mean that when we die we are in heaven with God. The alternative, then is hell. If you are in hell then God's judgement is already cast upon you, you cannot get back out! So when we raise someone from the dead then why pratel (sp?) do we think we can bring them back, or they would want to come back?

Of course, this does not answer the instances where Paul brought the young man back to life who fell out the window or other instances. This is a theological puzzle for me. If I die and find myself in heaven, then why would I come back? If I was in hell, and God's judgement already given, then how could I be brought back? For a second chance? That doesn't make sense because after you are in hell there are no second chances.

So my theological question is... when Paul rose that young man from the dead, from where did he raise him from? When we say we can raise people fromthe dead, from which dead place do they come from?

Why do I write this? We are told to test the teaching of others with the word of God, to question, to probe for ourselves the truths of God's word. This is what I am attempting to do. So, anyway, what do you think is the answer to this theological dilemma?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Church Government

How is the church to be organized and governed? This is a thought that has occured to me over the last few months as I have sought to deal with how our church is organized and how it gets activities accopmplished.

I have always desired to have a pretty flat church. What I mean by that is I believe the church is here to set people free to do ministry in Jesus name. I like to show a loot of trust in the people that volunteer at our church that they can handle challenges that God has laid before them. i ama firm believe that if we are going to grow you have to make the decision to let go of control and trust people.

I also say flat in that I don't want to have a lot of heiarchy and red tape in the church's organization.

With that being said the Bible does lay out a certain hiearchy and order in how the church is to be governed.

1. Of course, Jesus Christ is the leader of the church.
2. Then secondly, the Bible is pretty clear that the elders are the overseers of the local church. They are in charge of the church and oversee the activities of the church. They are called to hold people accountable to the faith and to see the church is God honoring.

3. The Elders fulfill four functions in the chruch
A. They establish church policy (Acts 15)
B. They have oversight of pastoral matters (Acts 15)
C. They are called to a ministry of prayer (Acts 6:1-7)
D. They are involved in the ministry of word (Acts 20)

Next week, we'll talk about the role of the Deacon.

Why do people get upset at church?

I've been in church work for 20 years and the one of many things that baffles me (emphasis many, I'm easily baffled) is how get people in the church, who are to display faith, hope, and love, can get so upset and over emotional with each other. Why is that?

I've heard many reasons why. One of them is Christianity is something that is close to one's heart and thus can blossom into a very strong emotional issue. I can understand that. After all, the cliche' says it's the one's closest to you that hurts the most.

I beleive James, the brother of Jesus, has a more accurate answer. He writes, "Jas 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? Jas 4:2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. Jas 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

So many times we look to the people inthe church to give us what we want. We expect church people to "act' a certain way and when they don't we get upset and mad. James here says we do not have because we do not ask God. Wow! What a condemning statement. In other words we need to be patient and wait on the Lord to provide for us and not expect the church to meet all our needs. This desire to have the church act in a certain gets in the way of faith. As a minister I have seen this time and time again. Many people drop out of church because the church did not act like like they thought it should. Also, as a minister I have to remind myself of this time and time again.

As the minister of the church I have expectations I want our congregation to live up to. I strongly desire to see people working out their salvation and when I don't see this happening it really breaks my heart. The issue is whether I let this dissappointment change how I treat my brothers and sisters in Christ. Do I let my anger get in the way of communicating with that person? Do I let my disappointed hope lower my standards for me and others?

True, the church is called to care for each other and we should obey that command. That is obvious. But the moment we look to the church to meet our needs and not God then I believe we are making a mistake. Humans will fail us, God will not. Paul writes in Colossians 3:2, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moved In!

Hi everyone, I'm finally back and have the church office set up in it's new digs. I'm lovin' it! I haven't had a formal office in two years! This is so cool.

To get the new office I had to do some painting and remodeling to get it. I had to put up a wall which was a lot of work, but fun too. I haven't done that in a while.

One thing I learned in all the remodeling and painting is this, details matter! I can paint the middle of the wall really well, but it's on the edges that make a break a great paint job. Same thing with putting up drywall. Putting it up in the middle is easy, it's the edges that show's the difference between a shoemaker and a pro.

I thought this was true in the Christian life too. Being a generally good person, pay taxes, go to work, being a responsible parent, is something a lot of people do. But it's in the edges of our life that Christianity genuninely shows up. For example:

Do you have peace when there is no peace around you?
Do you have gentleness when you are treated roughly?
Do you love when you are hated?
Do you have patience when it seems so urgent?

The list could go on... like a good paint job, Christianity is seen best when lived out on the edge.