Archive for December, 2008

crowds1This morning I got up early and visited a local church plant in a neighboring community. The church is less than 2 years old and meets in a movie theatre. Plum Creek Community Church is making an impact in the community of Castle Rock. In the short time being a church they have grown to a congregation of around 700. Now I know numbers are not everything but it sure says something. If you are ever in Castle Rock, go by and visit this church. You can visit their website at http://www.plumcreekonline.com.

It was my drove home that prompted this post. As I was driving home through the twisting roads, I came across a line of cars turning onto a specific street. There were cars lined up from both directions with blinkers on to turn. It is 9:30am on Sunday morning, what is the big attraction that everyone is heading to go see? So, I did what any curious person would do…I followed the crowd.

I found myself turning with the cars. I really wanted to see what all the excitement was about. Everyone was doing it and I wanted to see. Shortly after turning and driving up a hill, I saw the answer (I know you are on the edge of your seat). At the bottom of the hill people were turning into a church parking lot. Cars were lined up to get into this small church between Parker and Castlerock. I drove past the church and found a place to turn around and completed my journey home.

As I drove home I started thinking about crowds and how crowds can influence. I was caught up in following a group of cars and I had no idea where they were going, but I was curious because of the crowd. Crowds are very powerful. They can cause a law abiding citizen to participate in activities that do not fit into his character. Crowds can also cause a person who is searching for the meaning of life to discover purpose and meaning. Crowds can be bad, but imagine the impact on a community, a city, a state, a nation and world when a crowd is influencing people to become a follower of Christ? That is when it would be OK to do what everyone is doing. What influence does the crowd you follow make?

Phone Calls

Posted: December 16, 2008 in Leadership, Lessons
Tags: , , ,

phoneA few years ago I received an evaluation on my ministry performance.  It was good but there was one thing that tainted my reputation; I did not return calls in a timely manner.  I do admit I would avoid phone calls from sells people.  I would avoid complainers and other negative people.  I would also avoid those seeking a service or someone asking for money.  I would ask the secretary who it was and then I would determine if I wanted to talk to them or not.  If a voice mail was left, it might take weeks before I would listen.

With the help of an honest evaluation and me searching my heart, I realized I had begun to show favoritism.  I would only take calls that would benefit me.  There were only a few that I would talk to.  My heart had become so hard.  I felt embarrassed when I would come in personal contact with the person that left a message.  I knew I needed to do something to change this reputation.  I made a personal commitment to change.  Here is what I did…

  1. I answered every call without knowing who it was.
  2. I returned phone calls within 24 hours of a left message (a rare occasion it took longer).
  3. I was honest.  If the answer was no, I was clear but compassionate.
  4. If I were away and could not return calls, I left that info on my voicemail.
  5. I always thanked the person on the other end for calling.

Phone calls can be very annoying.  However, if someone took the time to contact me, I should show them the RESPECT they deserve by listening and being honest.  Isn’t that what the Bible encourages us to do, “esteem others higher than yourself?”  They may be selling something or just wanting to talk, whatever the case, I gave each the same respect.  It has been a while since I started that practice and I hope my reputation has changed.

So, go ahead and answer your phone.  Be honest.  Call me and see if I answer or at least try to contact you back within a 24 hour time period. 

P.S. If you are a creditor, it will take me a little longer than 24 hours to contact you back!

(Not Responding)

Posted: December 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

computerOk, this is not the Mac vs. PC debate.  I have personally witnessed both having good and both having bad.  Whatever the case may be, if you have used a computer for any length of  time I am sure you have come across that frustrating moment when the computer seems to stop and those crazy words “not responding” appear across the top of the screen.  So what do you do? Ctrl+Alt+Delete (now you know what type of a computer I use)?  Keep pushing buttons in hopes that your computer will give up by the torture and start working again?  Or patiently wait until everything works itself out and starts working again?

Church planting is a lot like working with a computer.  As long as every thing goes according to plan, there is a great sense of accomplishment.  We plan and we do with some idea of how things are going to turn out.  As long as this journey stays like that, everything is great.  However, when things tend to “not respond” the way our minds think it should, we become frustrated and respond like we do with our “Handy Dandy Notebook”.

  1. Ctrl+Alt+Delete.  We shut down and start over or we might shut down without starting over.  Whatever the case, we shut down.  I am not saying that we should not reevaluate if something doesn’t goes as planned.  However, we can see the “perfect road” as the road God has “blessed” and as long as we are on that road, everything will be easy. 
  2. Becoming violent.  Well you know what I mean.  You start clicking and pushing every button in hopes that you will find the “right” combination that will start your computer back into motion.  We take matters into our own hands.  Our logic says that if we do this, that should happen and if it doesn’t we try to make it happen.  We can see the “perfect road” as a road that requires more of our own abilities and we will make it work.
  3. Wait.  We sit back and just wait for everything to work out on its own.  Sometimes our patience runs out and we jump to one of the other options or we wait long enough and we continue to move, or it never works out and we continue to stay in the same spot waiting.  We can see the “perfect road” as a road filled with no effort just relying on God and He will cause things to happen.

Church planting or living life requires all three.  God never intended the road to be easy or lacking challenges.  The road is filled with questions, decisions, determination, evaluation and faith.  Sometimes we need to wait.  The old phrase “timing is everything” is so true, even when you are trying to accomplish something.  Sometimes we need to push forward with determination.  Determination is one of the ingredients of success.  Sometimes, we need to evaluate and reboot or at least tweek a few things. 

The key is balance.  Never allow one to dominate the others.  God causes things to happen at the right moment.  When that moment comes we need to be ready with determination and effort.  As we move forward in that right moment, sometimes it doesn’t turn out as planned.  Evaluation is important to help our efforts and to take full advantage of the right moment.  They all work together. 

All of this is good, but I wish my computer never showed those ugly words again, (not responding)!

Church in the Car

Posted: December 8, 2008 in Uncategorized

car1We all got up to go to church this morning.  We were going to visit a local church that has focused on planting other churches.  We live about 17 miles from the church so we left 45 minutes until the service began.  We found an easy route to the church and we took off looking forward to a great morning.

Apparently, the best time to move over sized equipment is on Sunday.  We got behind a convoy of those “wide-load” cars moving a very large piece of equipment.  They were blocking all 3 lanes and we could not get around them.  So, to my frustration, we followed behind them.  By the time we made it to the church parking lot, service was 1/2 over.  So, we decided to drive back and have church in the car.

I started quizzing each of the boys about sin and heaven.  It was great to hear their insights and understandings of Gods Word.  I also gave each the chance to share their favorite story in the Bible and why was it their favorite.  Hayden likes the Lazarus story.  The reason he likes that story is that for our family devotion we acted out the story and Hayden was Lazarus.  We wrapped him in toilet paper like a dead person.  He wants to do that every night.  Hunter liked the story of Noah and the Arc. and Holden liked the story of Jesus dying for our sins.  When it was Hudsons turn, he just jabbered like he knew what he was saying.

Today, we had church as a family in the car.  It was pretty special.  I don’t think I will ever forget this day and I hope the boys won’t either!

120626_3538My years of ministry have been a huge learning experience. There are more things that are not taught than the things that are taught in the 4 years of college. About the time I think I have things figured out, something always brings me to the humble realization, I HAVE NOTHING FIGURED OUT!
One of the tools I have tried to use for learning is watching others. Watching others ha helped me learn what to do or what not to do. I take paper notes and metal notes on others failures and success. These are things to help me, because the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun,” and I know I wll expereince similar moments and I better know what to do and what not to do in specific moments.
Over the past 15 years, I have compiled a lot of data in my heart and mind, that if ever i get the chance to lead a church, I have a way I would like to do it. I came to these ideas by watching others. I have been like a starving man at a buffet, picking what I like and leaving what I don’t.
This week I had an amazing experience at the ARC (Association of Related Churches) roundtable. I met a pastor, Rick Bezet, Lead pastor at http://www.newlifechurch.tv. He described his experience and his journey on his philiosophy of ministry, and it was identical to mine. As I listened to this guy give out practical nuggets, one right after another, God begin to show me that He was preparing my heart, from the beginning, for a ministry beyond anything I could imagine.
A friend asked me what I thought of the roundtable. I said, “I feel like I have entered a cave and though I had a pretty good idea of my way around, I wasn’t completely sure. As I starting walking through the cave, I started seeing the cave drawings of those that had gone before me and they were the drawings I had drawn in my heart.” You see, I have been formulating a way of ministry in my heart but have not seen someone have all of the areas that I have been crafting. Oh, there are great men, who I look up to, that have some of the components but I had not found one that had all of the components, until this week. Rick, was the cave writings on the wall that confirmed in my heart. I have heard from God and He has been placing those drawings in my heart from the beginning, and it works.
If you ever get a chance to visit Little Rock, AK, you need to visit the church. You will be challeneged to take a look at how you do things.

Snowflakes and Relationships

Posted: December 2, 2008 in Uncategorized

xmas171I have officially been in Parker, Colorado for a month.  It has been busy and exciting.  A few days after Thanksgiving we received a snowstorm.  It was awesome to see the beautiful white flakes fill the trees and cover the ground.  I got up early and sat by the window and was in awe at the peaceful scene.  However, with the beautiful landscape of snow comes the job of shoveling.  Being energetic, I put on my coat, hat and gloves; grabbed a shovel and starting pushing snow off the porch and off the driveway.

It was early, so none of the other neighbors were out shoveling so I went to my neighbors house and started shoveling her driveway.  I was hoping to shovel and get back inside before she noticed but the noise of the shovel caused her to peek out the door to see what was going on.  I was busted!  Busted at trying to be an snowflakeanonymous blessing.  After a brief hello and thank you, I finished shoveling and went inside. 

The next day, Cathy, the neighbor next door, brought cookies to us.  My kids were excited and had them eaten before the end of the day.  As I thought about our purpose here in Parker, I realized I had begun the journey.  Building realtionships and being a blessing with those God brings in contact with me.  Another thought came across my heart, What if I knew my neighbor would never come to know Christ?  Would I continue to pour effort into building a friendship?  The answer is, YES.  Yes, I would.  I was asked to be a light to all, not just the “high prospects”.  I really have no idea where my neighbors are spiritually.  But, even if I did, it wouldn’t matter.  God has created us for relationships.  It is in the context of relationships that God likes to reveal himself.  Cindy and I are really looking forward to building more lasting friendships and relationships with the people God has placed around me.  There are plenty of neighbors and plenty of people that desire friendships.

So, let me ask you a few questions,  Have you made a new friends lately?  Who are the friends you have known the longest?  Who are the friends you have know the shortest?  Any friends you have outside of Church?  Just food for thought.