Monday, December 19, 2005

Monday Morning QB 12/19/05

Here's the Monday morning QB for this week:

Message: The Purpose of Christmas (Dave Preached)

Scripture: 1 John 1:1-4

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave really brought home the point of why we tell people "Merry Christmas." As controversial as it has become to speak those words in today's society, it defines who we are because of the incarnation. Dave closed the message with a powerful clip from "It's a Wonderful Life."

Stats: 506 in worship + 161 in Sunday school

Final Notes: Christmas Eve worship is this Saturday at 5:00, 7:00, 9:00, & 11:00. We will also have one Christmas day worship service at 10:30am.

For the Sake of the Mission

"The North American church has lost its influence at this critical juncture. It has lost its influence becuase it has lost its identity. It has lost its identity because it has lost its mission." Reggie McNeal, The Present Future

The mission of Charter Oak Church is to reach out to those searching and nurture believers to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. That's what we are called to do and to be. That's why each one of us has been hired. That's what every decision we make should be filtered through - does this help make our mission happen? Why is this our mission? Because...

A recent study pegged church attenance at only 26% of Americans. George Barna reports that the unchurched population has grown from 24 to 34 percent in just one decade. Since 1991, the number of unchurched women has risen from 18 to 30%. The number of unchurched in the Northeast is up from 26 to 38%. 90 percent of kids active in high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college. One-third of these will never return.

"The church's mission is to join God in his redemptive efforts to save the world. People all around us are in darkness. They are going to die unless someone finds a way to connect them to Jesus. The trouble is, the church is sleeping on the job. Too many of us have forgotten why we showed up for work. Even worse, many of us never have known."

Seeing the mission fulfilled begins here, with us as the leaders of this church.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Amazon Reading Plan

I was just on and it gave me three suggested books for me to read next.

I was so excited that I have read one of them (The Present Future), I have another one waiting to be read (Blue Like Jazz), and I am a great fan of the author of other one (The Barbarian Way). It amazes me that Amazon can create a platform that actually can represent books that I would read.

Now if only we could do the same thing for people in the church when it comes to spiritual development, serving opportunities, and leadership growth.

Thanks for Nothing

What happens when we don't have vision - nothing.

Check out this photo from Nothing, Arizona.

I hope that we never become a church of nothing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who/What Are We Teaching?

Howard Hendricks writes, "God never called us to teach the Bible. He called us to teach people the Bible. So study your Bible, but before you teach it, make sure you also study your people."

Light Bearers

"You're here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hill top, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday Morning QB 12/12/05

Here's the Monday morning QB for this week:

Message: Getting Sober for Christmas (Dave Preached)

Scripture: Luke 3:2-18

Service Highlights: This weekend was the Christmas Cantata. The choir performed three concerts. The music, the drama, and the narration were phenominal. I am certain that this will launch the people of our church into the Christmas season.

Stats: 819 worship + 161 Sunday school

Final Notes: We asked people to step up to make enough cookies to give to the workers at our new building site 2-3 dozen each.

Clarifying the Win

Andy Stanley writes in 7 Practices of Effective ministry, "The church should be more determined than any other kind of organization to 'clarify the win' simply because the stakes are so much higher: Eternity hangs in the balance."

Keeping score is so important today. We talk about the score of the Steelers game. We talk about how many yards Jerome Bettis rushed for, Hines Ward received, and Big Ben threw for in yesterday's game. The same is true in today's church. Pastors have a scorecard that we keep on each other. It looks something like this: How many members do you have? How many people in worship on a weekend? How many kids and youth do you have? What is the size of your budget? What is the size of your campus? We measure so many things - so many of the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

How can we possibly succeed if we are measuring the wrong things? So if the things on the typical scorecard are wrong, then what should we be measuring?

I was always taught that the things you measure are the things that get done. If I can define for someone what they have to do to succeed they can better evaluate themselves and I can better help them to achieve those results. However, we try to complicate things, we actually dilute what we are doing to the point that we don't know what we are supposed to be doing. Every time we do that in the church, we lose people.

We need to define who it is we are trying to serve. We should be unapologetic about who we are serving and why we are serving them - that's focus. Then we can get out of the way of the leaders and let them serve those specifically defined people in creative ways. Then we will see lives changed, that's the business that we are in.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Pushing the Excellence Envelope

"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."
- William Faulkner

"People would always say to my father, 'Gee whiz, you've done real well. Now you can rest.' And he would reply, 'Oh, no. Got to keep going and do it better.'"
- J. Willard Marriott, Jr., Chairman, Marriott, 1987.

What will it take on Monday morning to push through the excellence envelope to be great? What do we need to accomplish during the next quarter to say that it was successful? Questions I am pondering and quotes that are challenging me as I look toward 2006.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

What Defines Failure?

I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers' fan. The Steelers have dominated the last couple of years, especially in their own division - the AFC North. The Steelers have defeated the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Baltimore Ravens easily the last few years.

The Steelers lost to the Bengals on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time in like five years. Now every sports' writer that I read says that the domination is over. The Steelers ability to push the Bengals around is over. I don't understand.

How does one game say that nearly five years of winning is now over? What defines failure? Can years of success be eliminated so quickly?

If we have a consistent level of growth at our church and then we have a Sunday that we don't hit it out of the park, does that mean we are headed for a losing streak? Should one game define a team? It appears it does in sports' writers eyes. I hope we never give into such thinking at Charter Oak Church.

Monday Morning QB 12/5/05

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: God Is with Us - I preached

Scripture: Mark 5:13-16 (The Message)

Service Highlights: I talked about God's call in our lives to be light in the darkness of this world. I focused in on the six things that can hide our light. At the Saturday night worship service, I accidentally caught my sweater on fire when lighting a candle. Comments heard throughout the weekend, "He's on fire for Jesus."

Stats: 486 worship + 226 Sunday school
It was a sleeting and snowing throughout the morning.

Final Notes:
That was my last sermon for a while. I will be preaching twice on Christmas Eve, but Dave will be preaching each weekend until the third week of January.