Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thru the Bible

Today is the last day of the year and I just finished the last reading of Thru the Bible in a year. What a great journey it has been! I write and read a great deal about discipline. Pretty much everything I have come across says that great leaders have great discipline to do the things they are supposed to do day-in and day-out. This truth is becoming all the more clear to me. We all naturally gravitate toward entropy. I know I sure do.

When I made the decision to read through the Bible in a year I knew it was something that I needed to do on so many different levels. First, I had never read from cover to cover before. My grandmother, who I have always looked up to as a spiritual giant, talked often of the many times she read through the Bible cover to cover. Second, I wanted to have a new perspective of the totality of the Bible. Yes, I have read the entire Bible before, but going in order makes a difference. Third, I knew I needed to create some space on a daily basis to read God's word for no other reason than to just read His word. It is easy to just read the Bible for sermon or teaching preparation. I know I need more. Fourth, if I am going to be committed to being more disciplined in my life, what better place to start than the Bible. There were only two occasions that I got "behind" in my reading. However, I knew I was committed to doing this so I did the extra work to get caught up.

As leaders our foundation comes from our relationship with Jesus. Our character is to be one with his character. We learn about the character of Jesus through reading the Bible. If you are a leader you must add this discipline to your daily life.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Getting Started on My Reading List

A few weeks ago I posted here some of the books I hope to read in 2007. Well, I received four of those books and I'm excited to start reading. I am on vacation this week so I will be reading up a storm. I just finished One Thing: Boldly Pursuing All That Matters by Dwayne Roberts. Dwayne is a prayer missionary at the International House of Prayer (IHOP). I received this book a few months ago through my subscription to Relevant Network. I was glad to read the book, but it really didn't say too much. There was a ton on the experiential side of prayer, which was interesting, but not always true. I don't believe God wants us to seek an experience of Him, I believe God wants us to seek Him, no matter what. It was good to read something a little bit different than I normally would. That is going to be my theme for 2007 - reading more of a variety of books.

My next read is on my 2007 list - Momentum for Life: Sustaining Personal Health, Integrity, and strategic Focus as a Leader by Michael Slaughter. Thanks for the book Jen.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

You have to read about this

I just found out that there is a Starbucks in Bloomington, Illnois that had an incredible thing happen in the drive thru. Go read it here...

Here's my question, who started this and then who stopped it? If it happened to you would you continue to give or would you just receive?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Other Interesting Statistics

The average attendance in worship in November was 638 people. In 2005 the average attendance in worship during November was 529. That is an increase of 109 people! Holy cow!

The giving through November for 2006 is $1,211,897.20. During the same time frame in 2005, it was $990,727.07. That is an increase of $221,170.13! Holy cow!

I wonder what God will do in December? Just as a little glimpse, we had over 1,100 people here last weekend! Holy God!

November Worship at a Glance

November 4/5 - Dave preached
640 in worship (4.9% increase from 2005)
273 in Sunday school (15.7% increase from 2005)

November 11/12 - Mark preached
599 in worship (20.3% increase from 2005
254 in Sunday school (1.6% increase from 2005)

November 18/19 - I preached
636 in worship (32.3% increase from 2005)
283 in Sunday school (40.5% increase from 2005)

November 25/26 - I preached
678 in worship (29.1% increase from 2005)
216 in Sunday school (9.6% increase from 2005)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Last night was our final Leadership and Servant Training gathering of the year. I walked away thinking to myself - I love the leaders of Charter Oak Church! We have the best, brighest, and Christ-centered leaders. It was awesome to lead a discussion looking at next year. It was inspiring to listen to our people dream God-size dreams for our church. I am blessed to be a part of what God is doing here and is going to continue to do through the people of Charter Oak Church. You guys are the best!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Reminded Again - It's Not About Me

For about a half a second I got a big head yesterday. Fortunately, it was only about a half of a second. I was asking what our "numbers" were for this past weekend. When I say "numbers" I mean what was the attendance and offering. You know those really easy things to track, but may not mean nearly as much as most people think they do.

Anyway, the offering was about 3 times as much as it typically is. The half a second thought that ran through my mind was, "wow, I taught a message on giving and people responded in a huge way." Then it dawned on me that we took the offering before I spoke, and most people write their checks long before they get on our campus. So I was reminded once again that it is not about me, but about God working through His people in profound ways.

I'm not saying that I was disappointed with the offering. I'm saying that it is so important for me to be reminded from time to time that this call that has been placed on my life by God is not about me and all about Him.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Game Show

It just hit me that there was a game show related to my last post - Truth or Consequences. I looked it up, here's the wikipedia information on the show.

Holy Boldness

I have been reading and following a pastor from South Carolina for about a year now. His name is Perry Noble. He is the pastor of New Spring Community Church. I love reading his blog because he has this holy boldness about him. He is not afraid to tell the truth in love. I just subscribed to his podcasts so I am going to start listening to his sermons as well.

This past weekend I was so concerned about how people would react to the way that I taught about giving. I'm not saying that I should preach like Perry, but at the same time I do ask myself if I could really say it the way I want to say it without worrying about the fallout, what would I say?

I often wonder if I should teach with more boldness, but maybe that's not the right word. I seek to convey God's truth to our people in a way that makes them think and causes them to make a decision about their life now and what their life would be like if they lived out what I was teaching. What I don't do, and what I think Perry does, is teach God's truth, but he also lets his people know the consquences of not living in that truth. I will be honest with you, I tend to shy away from the consquences aspect. I desperately want people to choose the character of Jesus because they love Him and have completely given themselves to their relationship with Him. I don't like ultimatums. I love relationship building. I truly believe that lives are transformed by love not fear.

No Heat

Thanks to the storms that ripped through the area on Friday we don't have any heat in the office wing this morning. Do you know how cold it is outside? Well, there is some difference in the office wing, but it doesn't seem like very much. So I am in Common Ground (our connecting space) catching up on some reading.

I just finished my series called Deal or No Deal: Making Decisions that Honor God. Because this weekend was the beginning of Advent, we celebrated the Lord's Supper together. I don't know if it is my Catholic background, but having Communion at each of our worship gatherings does something deep within me. I always feel like I have laid it all out there and made myself completely vulnerable to God. This weekend was especially powerful for me because I was speaking on giving in such a way that we have to completely trust God.

I am amazed at the human psyche, maybe I should write that I am befuddled by my psyche. As I posted before I was really wrestling with God about what to say to our congregation about our proper response to God when it comes to our income. I will admit that I want to speak the truth of God into the hearts of our people, but I want everyone to really like it.

After each worship service I had a number of people say very encouraging things to me about my message. Then, when I got home Sunday afternoon, my son blew me away. He said, "Dad, your sermon touched my heart today. Next week I am going to give God all of my money." Sometimes God just works in such profound ways that warms a daddy's heart like nothing else. It was awesome! My psyche was flying high and mighty. Then a few hours later I received an email that in essence said, "You blew it today." The rest of the day and through the night that email has haunted me. I don't know why. It even consumed much of my prayer time this morning as I tried to listen to God. What am I supposed to take away from this weekend?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What Will You Give This Year?

Last year I challenged our congregation to think differently about giving gifts to those people in their circle of influence. This past week I lifted up the incredible power of influence - that others have over us and that we have in other people's lives. So you have a group of people that you have influence in their lives. What would it look like for you to influence them to think differently about giving this Christmas?

Here is the link for World Vision. This is the site where you can purchase a goat, a wheel chair, a well to drink fresh water, and a whole host of other opportunities to bless people you will never know this side of heaven.

When you give someone in your circle of influence a gift from World Vision you are opening up the pipeline line to a spiritual conversation as to why you would do something so counter-cultural. It's a great opportunity to share what God has done in your life through your relationship with Jesus.

Here's to providing people in a distant land with much needed resources and to providing the opportunity to help someone who doesn't know Jesus another step closer to a changed eternity.

2007 Book Purchases

I was asked by my lovely wife if there are any books on my "wish list" for Christmas. I always have a list going of what I want to purchase next on my book list. So I thought I would share with you my top 12 books I am going to purchase and read in 2007. They are listed in alphabetical order by author.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
by Rob Bell

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
by Marcus Buckingham

Now, Discover Your Strengths
by Marcus Buckingham

The Big Idea: Focus the Message - Multiply the Impact
by Dave Ferguson

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
by Michael E. Gerber

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell

Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment
by Erwin Raphael McManus

A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shares Spiritual Leaders
by Reggie McNeal

Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture
by Andy Stanley

Momentum for Life: Sustaining Personal Health, Integrity, and Strategic Focus as a Leader
by Michael Slaughter

The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus' Essential Teaching on Discipleship
by Dallas Willard

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by N.T. Wright

I am sure that as new books are released next year that this list will grow. I also have a list of books I am planning on reading next year that I already own. I will try to put together a list of the books I already own and will read next year. That will be a long list, but it may be worth while to post. I'll try to remember to do it by the end of next week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deal or No Deal - Last Night

As we are in the middle of this series called Deal or No Deal: Making Decisions that Honor God, I watched the lastest episode of the game show last night. I laughed so hard. The guy that was on it was one of the best I have ever seen. He was doing so well at the beginning, but as the show went on, he started to spiral downward quickly. He left the show with $10. The highest amount offered to "buy him out" was over $200,000. Wow!

This weekend I will be finishing the series with a look at Income - Making Decisions that Honor God. I have been praying and wrestling about how to present this year's message of asking people to pledge for next year's ministry.

At first I thought about just laying it all on the line and do a very deep, spiritually mature message. Then I began to realize that we have grown so much over the last year. There are a ton of new Christians here. There are people who are coming in our doors for the very first time. How do I balance this? I know there are people who are ready to be challenged to give beyond ten percent. I also know there are people who don't give anything.

If you have a few moments would you please pray for me? Ask God to give me the discernment and the wisdom that I will need to hear from Him. I want to speak His truth in love in such an authentic way when it comes to our income. I don't want to be a hurdle in people's lives as they seek to be more like Jesus.

Our God Reigns

I was reminded again this past weekend that our God reigns supreme. It was one of those weekends that can only be explained by the hand of God. First of all, I thought that since we would just be coming through Thanksgiving that we would have a very low attendance. We didn't; we just keep increasing every week. I can't explain it other than to say it is a God thing.

Second, I thought the Saturday night service was just plain strange. I can't put my finger on what it was that stood out for me, but I never was able to get into the flow of the Holy Spirit. Because of how things went on Saturday night, I thought the whole weekend would be a disaster.

Then on Sunday morning something began to happen, at least in me. I could feel the momentum of God's presence building in me and it seemed in the people who were coming in our doors. I felt a spirit of joy and thanksgiving in people. It was just awesome to see and hear people coming to our church ready to worship God.

I know I will never fully understand God. This weekend was a prime example of me trying to but failing. I am so thankful that our God reigns. I don't want to do this without Him. I know I will fail. I don't want to fail. The stakes are way too high. People's lives hang in the balance. I don't want to stay where I am, I want to move with God faithfully and obediently.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Soccer Coaching Clinic

This past weekend I spent 18 hours with about 30 men and women learning to be a better soccer coach from PA West Soccer. In the middle of preaching all weekend I also was running around Pitt @ Greensburg learning and developing as a soccer coach.

I have to tell you, this was one of the best learning environments I have ever been a part of. Part of the time was in a classroom as the facilitator walked us through techniques of coaching - what to do and what not to do. The other part of the time was actually spent on the field with hands-on learning of how to be a better coach. It was totally awesome.

I have been playing or coaching soccer for most of my life. I learned that I am "a stupid American coach." All of the facilitators were foreigners. Pretty much everything I have learned about how to coach soccer was blown out of the water. It was a humbling and an exciting experience. It was humbling because I thought I knew so much about soccer and how to bring the best out of the guys I have been coaching. It was exciting because if the teams I have coached have had success with me doing everything wrong, that means that we should be phenomenal using what I learned this past weekend!

During the on-field sessions the facilitator would explain to us what he expected of us, then he would let us try to implement it. As he would see "coaching" moments he would stop, give us a praise for what he saw us doing well, then he would correct what he saw wrong, then he would show us the correct way to do it, then he would allow us to try the activity again coaching us as needed for us to get it right, and then finally he would release us back to the activity at full speed. It was great stuff. When the session was over, he would take the time to review what he expected and what we should have learned, then he would ask us for any questions that we might have that we needed clarification on.

This week I have been thinking about how I can apply that to my leadership at Charter Oak Church and how we all as leaders can apply this model of coaching in our homes, work places, or wherever we are in a leadership position. Good, good stuff!

Six Steps and Five Quotes

Yesterday I received an email asking me why I wasn't blogging. My initial reaction was, it hasn't been that long since I posted anything, had it? Well, it has been too long. Sorry about that.

This past spring, Leadership Journal shared the following six steps and five quotes by volunteer management expert Don Simmons on equipping volunteers:

  • Training. “If it is important enough to do, it’s important enough to train volunteers in how to do it!”
  • Affirmation. “We often forget that people need to know that they matter more than what they do.”
  • Feedback. “Authentic, love-based feedback does much to develop servants into strong leaders.”
  • Evaluation.
  • Recognition. “Recognition acknowledges people for what they do.”
  • Reflection. “What did you learn about yourself? People decide in the reflection whether they will do this again and if they will let it change their lives.”

I think this list is great. What strikes me is that there wasn't a comment about evaluation. I would say that evaluating volunteers is probably the most difficult aspect of leading. I would also say that it is one of the most valuable because it helps those who are volunteering to know exactly what we want and what we don't want. Evaluation is part of the feedback and recognition process.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Little Reading

While I was away I was able to get a little reading done. The first book I read was Monday Morning Leadership by David Contrell. This was a great little book that didn't take very long to read but it had plenty of pearls of wisdom. One of the first things I wrote down was from the first chapter - "When it comes to leading people, there is no problem that is unique to you. So don’t feel sorry for yourself. That’s a waste of time. Just make plans to make things better. If you want to be extraordinary, the first thing you have to do is stop being ordinary."

The second book I read was Just Walk Across the Room:Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels. This was a very inspiring book. It challenged me and how I develop relationships with people. If you attend Charter Oak Church, I can promise you that you will be hearing more information from what I read. "I'm asking you to give up everything you have and everything you are for the sake of people's souls. Come with me, and you'll see what real living is all about!"


One of the spiritual disciplines that I teach about is solitude. It is a discipline of abstinence. That means I intentionally refrain from doing something, in this case, being around people. I will be completely honest with you, I did not like being in solitude. The first night, when I would have normally been tucking my kids into bed, I was alone. I started to pace and I started to just long for the company or the voice of someone else.

So instead of giving in to the urge to call Kelli, I began to worship God. For over an hour I just poured out my heart to God in worship. It was a good thing there were no other people staying in the cabins around me. I turned up the music and I sang out loud with all that I am. Instead of relying on other people for my energy (which is the definition of an extrovert) I found my strength and comfort in my relationship with God.

I truly believe that I would not have had that level of intense worship if I was not practicing the spiritual discipline of solitude. If I would have just tried to do this time with God at home, it would not have been anything like what I experienced in those woods. I didn't bring an agenda that night for God to fulfill. I didn't ask God to show me anything or to say anything to me. I just came as a sinner. I knelt before the throne of God and proclaimed that my Heavenly Father is God and I am not.

I slept amazingly well that first night.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Alone with God

Last week I took some vacation time to go away to a small cabin in the woods to spend alone with God. I am hoping that throughout this week I will spend some time sharing my alone time.

I couldn't have picked a better week to go away. The weather was perfect. I was able to take long walks in the woods and around the nearby lake every day, some days more than once. The sun was brilliant through the falling leaves. The Son was brilliantly revealed in my heart and soul as I sought to sit at the feet of my heavenly Father.

The two words that I will be writing about and will continue to pray about are FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT. Every day, every walk, every prayer time, every down time these two words continued to invade me and consume me. I cannot fully express in words what God was doing in me as I wrestled with the true living out of FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT.

The questions that I kept asking was...what does it mean for me as a disciple of Jesus to be FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT? What does it mean for our staff to live out FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT? What does it mean for our congregation to live out FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT?

More about my time is coming later...

Friday, November 3, 2006

Compel Them

I asked what does it mean to you to compel people to come to Jesus. I have been thinking about that a great deal lately. We have seen incredible growth around here lately, to the point that I am wondering when we need to start the process for the next building phase because we are already maxed out in a variety of places. We are using over flow parking already. The children's Sunday school area is five times bigger than our old building and yet, we will soon be struggling with overflow of kids. We are ramping up for 1,000 in worship. These are all awesome things!

So if this kind of growth is happening why in the world would I be writing about compelling people to come to Jesus? Well, for me, it's not about how many people we have coming now, it is the people who are not in a relationship with Jesus that matter the most. Jesus said he came for the lost and the sick, not the healthy. Over sixty percent of this region is unchurched! That should set us on fire.

I believe God has positioned Charter Oak Church to be a place where people feel welcome and loved. I believe God is raising up a mother load of people who genuinely love Jesus and want to share that love with people who do not know him.

I believe that to compel people to come to Jesus we are going to have to build relationships with people in our circle of influence so that they can discover that we care about them and we love them. Then we can invite them to Charter Oak Church so they can learn why we love and care the way that we do. And when they get here, we must have a building full of people who are totally sold out to Jesus and his character.

Compel is an action verb. We can't just expect people to come to Jesus because we have a really cool building. We are going to have to get involved in people's lives, not to bring them to church, but to point the way to Jesus.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Compel Them to Come in

As I was doing my morning time with God, I came across Luke 14:23, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full."

I know I have read this passage so many times, but I was reading in a different version this morning (TNIV). God wants us to compel people to come into His Kingdom. Wow!

This may just become one of my rallying passages for my life and ministry. Compel them to come in...compel them to come in...compel them to come in.

In a day when the Church is moving farther and farther away from being relevant and the society around us is moving farther and farther away from God, I read this very simple but profound passage - compel them to come in.

What does the word compel mean to you?

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Worship and Sunday school Stats

I just published the worship and Sunday school statistics for the month of October. We are having God size growth. Last weekend we broke a new record for Sunday school attendance - 320!! That's awesome! We had 669 in worship! The phenomenal thing about that is I saw so many people I didn't know. People are checking God out.

What about you, are you stepping up and inviting people to check God out at Charter Oak Church? Are you finding ways that you can insert yourself into people's lives who do not have a church home? I know you know some one who needs Jesus. 65-70% of this region doesn't attend church. Let's make a dent in that!

Keep up the good work, keep inviting, keep praying for your unchurched friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. Keep looking for those God moments that we have every day to live the character of Jesus. It is so awesome to join God where he is at work!

October Worship at a Glance

Sept 30/Oct 1 - I preached
591 in worship (56.8% increase from 2005)
255 in Sunday school (5.4% increase from 2005)

October 7/8 - I preached
555 in worship (13.5% increase from 2005)
270 in Sunday school (16.4% increase from 2005)

October 14/15 - Dave preached
615 in worship (37.3% increase from 2005)
250 in Sunday school (40.5% increase from 2005)

October 21/22 - Dave preached
577 in worship (72.3% increase from 2005)
231 in Sunday school (2.2% increase from 2005)

October 28/29 - Dave preached
669 in worship (45.1% increase from 2005)
320 in Sunday school (34.5% increase from 2005)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's Your Word?

This past weekend Pastor Dave challenged each of us to write down the one word that it is going to take for each of us to have a serving heart. The words were Listening, Helping and Bearing.

As I have personally thought about each of these three words, for me, it is bearing that I really need to work on in my life as a follower of Jesus.

The one line that really grabbed a hold of me in the message and continues to simmer in the back of my brain is "always be ready to be interrupted by God." Most people do not enjoy being interrupted by anything, or anyone for that matter. But as Pastor Dave reminded us, it is in the interruptions of life that God is seeking to work in and through us. My prayer is that I will have eyes wide open for those moments of interruptions that God gives to me.

What's your word?

Monday, October 30, 2006

What would you do?

I was reading into the mystic blog by Alex McManus this morning and I was struck by this statement and question he posed...

"If you wanted to reach 20-50 people this year or month without reference to your budget, building, membership or staff, how would you do in your context?"

What would you do? This is not a question about numbers. This is about a heart for people who do not know Jesus. Check out Luke 10, Acts 16 and Acts 19.

Do we have the capacity to look beyond the budget and beyond what we want church to look like and feel like for us to be comfortable?

Can we boldly stand up and declare that we are here to let this region know that each person matters to God and therefore we want them to know of the love of Jesus? If we do that I believe that we can reach 20-50 per month for Jesus.

Monday, October 23, 2006

First Night without Soccer

Tonight is the first night without soccer for a couple of months. Wow, what a change! I have started to catch up on my reading. I started reading Compassionate Leadership by Ted Engstrom and Paul Cedar. I really appreciated this quote, "Under normal circumstances, a congregation is the length and shadow of its shepherd. Members reflect the attitude and ministry style of their pastor. When a pastor is eager, so will be the congregation. When the pastor is generous and forward looking, so will his congregation." Good stuff. This isn't a difficult read, but it is a good one to get back in the reading saddle with.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Last night we had our end of the year party for the soccer team. We went to the paintball park and had an awesome time. I can definitely see why paintball has become such a huge industry.

I played three different rounds. The first time I was knocked out by Seth Jonczak and the second time I was knocked out by Tyler Heydorn. Seth hit me in the finger, Tyler hit me in the head. I would give Tyler the "kill". The third round I finally figured out the strategy: stay low, shoot straight. I moved up, bam - I took out one with a shot to the arm. I moved up further, bam - I took out another with a shot to the chest. Finally I am in the other team's side and I take out a third with two shots, one to the chest and one to the neck. It was awesome!! I will not release names in order to protect them from the shame of being shot by their coach.

I will be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous going into this because I knew that I had a bullseye on me because of all the windsprints and running I made the team do. I even had a thought that my own team would turn against me just to get a chance at shooting me. But we stayed together and had a great time.

Fantastic season. We finished 9-6-2. Not bad for our first year together.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


If you follow college football in any way, you know that there was a huge fight on Saturday between the players on the University of Miami and Florida International. There are a ton of suspensions being handed out to the players that are involved. Yesterday the "clean up" began. Players who are hoping to play at the next level are doing everything they can to get television time in order to apologize.

What is interesting to me is that each of these players are saying that their conduct on the field in the heat of the moment of the game did not accurately reflect their character. Really? It is my understanding that our character is revealed in those moments, not hidden. When we are pushed and challenged in our daily lives, how we react is a revealer of who we are and what is truly important to us. For these players to say that their actions on the field did not represent who they are is making what they did on the field even worse.

When we as leaders choose to blame the situation of our behavior we are seeking to take the responsibility for our actions off of us. The truth of the matter is we are all going to fail. We are all going to say things and do things that we know we should have done. We need to take responsibility for what we did, learn from it, repent of it, and walk in the forgiveness of God.

Remember, your character is with you all of the time, whether you want to admit it or not.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Blessing of Multiple Voices

As the title of this blog says, I am one of the pastors at Charter Oak Church. I realized for the first time in a while how much of a blessing that is. I didn't preach this weekend, and I am thankful. I have been going fully speed for the last few months. I thank God for Pastor Dave. What a blessing for me and I believe for the people of Charter Oak Church to have multiple voices from our stage.

Words cannot express my appreciation to this church to have the opportunity to sit with my wife and kids and worship and learn. I also think it is a brilliant strategy for having a fresh word from God for the congregation. I can spend these next weeks praying, studying, and preparing for my next series. I also think it raises the bar of the level of preaching for me. After hearing Pastor Dave preach, it inspires me to want to be a better preacher because he is excellent. When I get on stage, I want to make sure what I am saying is totally from God. This time in-between the series allows me to seek God in a deeper way.

Another thing that happens through this model of preaching is a focus on what is truly important for the people of this congregation to hear. If I am only speaking 25 weeks out of the year, I want to be very sure that what I am saying is relevant to the spiritual development of each person here.

I would highly recommend to all of my pastor friends to share your pulpit or stage with someone who is a great communicator like Pastor Dave. You will be better for it. Your congregation will definitely be stronger for it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

September Worship at a Glance

September 2/3 - I preached
622 in worship (49.2% increase from 2005)
271 in Sunday school (83.1% increase from 2005)

September 10 - Bishop Bickerton preached
765 in worship (48.5% increase from 2005)
No Sunday school stats

September 16/17 - I preached
576 in worship (30% increase from 2005)
264 in Sunday school (9.1% increase from 2005)

September 23/24 - I preached
596 in worship (40.9% increase from 2005)
272 in worship (9.7% increase from 2005)

Monday, October 2, 2006

See the Morning

Last week I picked up Chris Tomlin's new CD "See the Morning." Good stuff. For five straight days it never came out of my CD player in my car. I highly recommend it.

I was totally cracking up when I opened the CD case to find out that I could down load ringtones of Chris Tomlin's songs. One of them is Forever another is How Can I Keep from Singing. Even Christian artists are doing the ringtone thing.

I can assign specific ringtones to people on my cell phone list. If I were to download one of those two songs, I would assign them to my wife, Kelli.

iFear quote

Here's a couple of follow up quotes from the iFear message yesterday.

"Fear is the emotion of conformity.
If Abraham Lincoln was correct that we all come into this world as God's original but usually depart as man's copy, then nothing is more responsible for the erasure of this dignity than fear...
Of all the fears that currently plague our lives – from the fear of terror and death, to aging and illness, to professional setbacks and public humiliation, perhaps none is more tragic than the simple fear of being yourself...
Just take a moment to think about that and to fully grasp how serious that
is: you're afraid just to be yourself... "

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.
~ Proverbs 29:25 The Message

"I am who I think people think that I am."

Thanks Kelli.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Leadership Reminder

I just found this list presented by Scott Hodge. It is a great reminder for leaders on the difference between coaching and just the "gitter done" mentality. Read these and see where you fall some of the time and/or most of the time.

A few differences between a "tasking" mentality and a "coaching" mindset.
  1. Tasking focuses on WHAT. Coaching focuses on WHY. A good coach always explains the "why" behind the "what." If a person is only in tune with the "what", they will never catch the vision and purpose behind it and therefore will not be able to fully reproduce themselves and the type of culture that we value.
  2. Tasking focuses on a job well done. Coaching focuses on WHY it was done well. A coach explains WHY the job was done well. The impact of being specific in your praise towards someone else increases the impact more than we can imagine.
  3. Tasking sees people as a tool to get a job done. Coaching sees every opportunity as a chance to better others and to build relationships. The relational aspect is huge! Because........people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  4. Tasking focuses on HOW the job was done wrong. Coaching always corrects by going back to the vision/mission.

If we can help people identify for themselves where they went wrong or dropped the ball by bringing them back to the vision/purpose of the environment, the response will almost always be more positive. This can be accomplished by asking two simple questions: "Did we hit the target?" and "Why or why not?"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blogger Outline

Here's the link for the blogging breakout session from the ICC this past week. Good stuff.

Character Building

As many of you know, I am coaching for Latrobe soccer this season. Earlier this week, our team and I had the opportunity to learn the importance of character development. I was reminded that I have a responsibility in my day job (pastor) to help develop the character of Jesus in the lives of the people of Charter Oak Church. But I also have that responsibility as this team's coach. I may not be able to say that is what I am seeking to do in these boys' lives, but the reality of my position and my world view is that our character should find it's foundation in the life of Jesus. I can't change who I am.

I was challenged on that this past week. Not that someone challenged me on my faith, but I believe God challenged me through an incident that I could have just let go or I could take the extra time, energy, and focus to deal with it. I could have easily just said boys are boys, but I knew that was just a cop out. Instead I challenged the boys and the team with a higher standard of expectation and character on their part. It was not easy. I lost sleep over it. I'm sure I gained a few more gray hairs too!

In the end, I think it was well worth it. I have had the chance to talk to some great parents and see them step up beyond what I thought they would do. We have great parents on our team! I hope that this week will be a defining moment in these boys' lives. I hope and pray that they will realize that the things they say and the things they do matter and have implications. Part of the implications will be lived out in today's game. It may hurt the scoreboard for us, but I believe it will be a win for them in the long run.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blogging Breakout Session

About a dozen people from our congregation went to the Innovative Church Conference in Granger, Indiana. There were a couple of break out sessions that I would have gone to if I was able to go, but I was here coaching and preparing for the weekend message.

One of the breakout sessions I was very interested in was led by Tom Morgan on Blogging. I was disappointed that I couldn't pick his brain, especially since I have not been posting over the last month. I felt like I needed an inspirational message on why I should blog.

This morning I received my RSS feed and low and behold, Tony sent me all of his notes from the breakout session. I am pumped! He shares the why and how of blogging. I have just briefly read his notes, but I am looking forward to going deeper and maybe even shooting him an email with some questions.

This may be just what I needed to inspire me to keep on blogging.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Information

We have new contact information at Charter Oak Church...

449 Frye Farm Road
Greensburg, PA 15601

(724) 805-0355
(724) 805-0359 (fax)

All of our extension numbers have changed as well...

Barb Bobula - x 249
Cindy Jonczak - x 252
Maxine Wilson - x 253
Andi Farrell - x 254
Betsy Hunt - x 255
Bill Gates - x 256
Tim Toohey - x 257
Pastor Mark - x 258
Pastor Dave - x 260
Pastor Chris - x 261

The website is still the same -
The student ministry website is still the same -
All of our email addresses are the same.

August at a Glance

I try to give a "Monday Morning Quarterback" each week on the happenings from the previous weekend worship services. Since it has been a while since I have posted, let me just give you a glimpse of August...

August 5/6 - Pastor Dave preached
493 in worship (24.5% increase from 2005)
153 in Sunday school (61.1% increase from 2005)

August 12/13 - Pastor Dave preached
548 in worship (31.4% increase from 2005)
155 in Sunday school (53.5% increase from 2005)

August 19/20 - Last worship service in old building
596 in worship (50.9% increase from 2005)
No Sunday school

August 26/27 - First worship service in new building
748 in worship (68.3% increase from 2005)
No Sunday school

I'm Back

Okay, so it's been over a month since my last post. Yes, I have heard you asking me when I was going to start posting again. I think things have settled down enough around here that I can get back to the blogging world again. The last month or so has been a wild ride, more to come...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Last Week

This is the last week in our current building. As you may have noticed, I have not been posting very many times in the last week or so. This week will probably be no different. We have a million things to do and a week to do them in. Here's a sample:
  • Today our worship chairs are being delivered.
  • Today I have a very important meeting at Latrobe School.
  • Tomorrow is our last staff meeting here - we have to get the last details done.
  • Tomorrow night I start coaching my son's soccer team.
  • Thursday our new office furniture is delivered.
  • Thursday is our last work day in our current offices.
  • Friday our new computer network will be installed, so all of our computers will be unavailable as they set up the new system.
  • Saturday we being to move all of our boxes.
  • Saturday night I preach what will be the final weekend in this building.
  • Sunday morning we say goodbye to this place in a very special way.
  • Sunday afternoon we finishing moving everything.
  • Then all next week we get to unpack!

It is an awesome time to be a part of Charter Oak Church!

Monday Morning QB 08/14/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: What We Need More that Money (Dave preached)

Scripture: Colossians 4:2-4

Service Highlights: This was Pastor Dave's last message in our current building. Dave made an empassioned plea for everyone connected to Charter Oak Church to fulfill the words of Paul in Colossians 4:3, "pray for us." This isn't just for the staff but for our entire congregation. I hope you will join with us over the next few weeks as we get on our knees before God as never before.

Stats: 548 in worship + 155 in Sunday school.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Monday Morning QB 08/07/06

Here is the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: What's So Amazing about Grace? (Dave preached)

Scripture: Psalm 121

Service Highlights: Each week we have been remembering the past decades here at Charter Oak Church. This week Lois Frye shared with the congregation her memories. This was one of the most touching moments for me since I have been here. Her ability to tie the past to the future was incredible. Dave shared with the congregation a very clear understanding of what grace is and why it is for all of us.

Stats: 493 in worship + 153 in Sunday school

Sunday, August 6, 2006

A Great Day

Yesterday was a great day! I was privileged to officiate at the wedding of Jeff and Debi - two really awesome people whom I love greatly. What a blessing to be a part of that phenomenal day.

At the reception Kelli and I were able to re-connect with some old friends. I want to thank Dan L. for having such a servant's heart and refilling our pitcher of Pepsi as often as we needed it. What a guy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I Love Our Leaders

Last night we gathered our the leadership of Charter Oak Church for our monthly Leadership and Servant Training. Here we are at the beginning of August and I was blown away by how many of our leaders turned our for this time together.

Andi did a great job casting the vision of the importance of first impressions. We get one chance to make a first impression and it will last. Pastor Dave's words about everything that happened with the media yesterday and our response was perfect. What he said and how he said it made me stand in awe of his ability to capture the importance of the moment. I am learning so much from him!

I really appreciated the time with the leadership just sharing thoughts, ideas, and questions about our move and the new building. These are the brightest and best people on this earth. We are incredibly blessed to have the kind of leadership that we have at Charter Oak Church.

Thank you leaders for your heart to lead in the name of Jesus to the zenith of your potential! You rock!

Monday, July 31, 2006

100 Posts!

There is a huge party going on here right now. Everyone heard that this was going to be my 100th post on my blog. To celebrate, I changed the look of my blog.

Andy Stanley often talks about finding times to celebrate as you do ministry. I couldn't find anything better to celebrate today than this, so we are going to party like its 1999!

Share a Resource

I don't know how many people, if anyone, really reads this blog. But every once in a while I get an email from someone who has read what I have posted or they will hit the comment button and leave me a note. Often times the people who have done that are pastors. I want to share with those of you who use graphics in worship or in your printed material a resource that I use on a weekly basis with all of the graphics that I do here at Charter Oak Church.

I use a good bit of stock photography in my PowerPoint presentations and most recently on our newest billboard. Here is the website that I use - These are high quality, royal free photography that you can use. One of the best parts of the site is the search engine. The AI on it is great!

You have to register your information, but it is free.

Monday Morning QB 07/31/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: When the Storms of Life Are Raging (Dave preached)

Scripture: Psalm 107:23-32

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave shared with the congregation the things we need to know when the storms of life hit: 1) Storms happen to everyone, 2) The pain doesn't last forever, 3) Sometimes God seems to be silent. Then he gave us three simple things to do: 1) Cry out to God, 2)Let God guide you, 3) Remember to remember God's faithfulness. All very good stuff.

Stats: 427 in worship + 110 in Sunday school

Other: This was by far the lowest attendance of the year. I'm not sure why. I know many people are on vacation, but not everyone. Summer was never meant to be a vacation from worship.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Does My Opinion Matter?

I just received an email from asking me to write reviews for the three books I purchased about two weeks ago. That's the first time they asked me to do that. I know everything at Amazon is computer generated, but I wonder why my name or email came up this time. I have bought at least one hundred books from them, why now?

It also got me thinking about my opinion on these books. I am in a very specific situation in my job here at Charter Oak Church. I am reading or have read these books through the lens of where I am right now in my journey and what my learning needs are right now. That's important for me and only me. So, does my opinion matter to others? Is someone else going to read Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley because I give it five stars and write - "Good book"? I honestly can say I haven't read any reviews on Amazon to determine if I was going to purchase a book or not. I don't care what other people that I don't know think about a book. I do care what people who are my mentors and my heroes think and read. I will ask their opinion. But I know them and they are my mentors and heroes for a reason.

Anyway, I am not going to review the books for Amazon.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Getting Perspective

Today I have been working on my sermon series for the launch of our new building. In one of my messages I am going to look at how we just accumulate so much stuff. I was deep into my preparation, when I just needed a break. I started walking around to clear my head a bit. I looked outside. Today is Fresh Express at our church. We bring in two truck loads of food and give it out to people.

We haven't had a flood. We haven't been hit by a hurricane. There hasn't been a natural disaster. Yet, there are over 200 people lined up in the parking lot with anything they can find to collect this free food. I'm thinking about all the stuff we accumulate and here are so many people that are here to collect food for the week so they can survive. Talk about getting perspective. Man.

I'm glad we are here to serve these people in our region like this. But how do we tell these people that they matter to God?


I took a few days off this weekend with my family to get away before we kick into high gear with the move to our new facility. With everything that has been going on around here I just needed to do something physical. So I helped Kelli's dad build a deck on to the back of their house. It was 12 feet by 14 feet. I am very sore today. But let me tell you, it feels good to have done some real physical labor. It felt good to see a job completed. And now I am back in the saddle ready for the next 3 months of total blitz.

One funny story that I have to tell about the construction. As we were fininshing up the framing of the deck, I had one more beam to cut off to square up the end of the deck. So I positioned the ladder in such a way that I could easily cut the lumber using my right hand. I climb the ladder up about 10 or 12 feet in the air and I was positioning the circular saw to being cutting when I realized the the part I was cutting off was exactly where I positioned the ladder. Duh! I am so glad I didn't start cutting or we might be down a pastor. I love it when I do dumb things and live to tell about it!

Monday Morning QB 07/24/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: Getting Your Spiritual Life in Order (Dave Preached)

Scripture: Psalm 85

Service Highlights: I was on vacation this weekend, but I do know that we began our time of remembering our current building. We had a couple speak about their memories of Charter Oak Church. They were a part of the founding group back in the 50's who started our church.

Stats: 493 in worship + 99 in Sunday school

Friday, July 21, 2006

When We Need God the Most

Yesterday was my worst day at Charter Oak Church. One of our students, and the son of one of our staff members, committed suicide. We gathered together as many students as wanted to be here, any parents, and the student ministry staff and we prayed and read scripture for a while last night.

Lots of tears. Lots of questions.

The student's brother and sister were here. We surrounded them with the greatest amount of love that we could.

Here's what I know, God is faithful to His promises. This student gave his life to Jesus. Now he is spending eternity with his heavenly Father. As much as it hurts here, he is rejoicing for eternity. No more sorrow. No more pain.

Worship the King my brother. See you there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monday Morning QB 07/17/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: Dealing with Day to Day Distractions (Dave Preached)

Scripture: Psalm 55

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave taight about how the complications of life can get in the way of our relationship with God. We can become so distracted by them that we no longer see God in our lives. The key verse was 17, "Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice." Dan did a great job with the monologue to make it real for all of us how easily this invades our families.

Stats: 479 in worship + 117 in Sunday school

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday Morning QB 07/10/06

Here's the Monday morning QB for this week:

Message: Who Is God? (I preached)

Scripture: Psalm 50

Service Highlights: I fininshed up this weekend by bringing the last few week together by talking about developing a heart of worship. Worship doesn't just happen for an hour in a weekend service; it is a lifestyle. We cannot afford to allow our singing in during our weekend service become like the burnt offering of the Israelites as described in Psalm 50. God is the center, we are not.

Stats: 511 in worship

Sunday, July 9, 2006

World Cup Is Over

I just watched the end of the World Cup - one word - WOW. I was blown away by this game for so many reasons. Number one - perhaps one of the greatest players of all time, certainly for France, did something ridiculous and was kicked out of the game (red card). Number two - the game ended in penalty kicks, being an ex-keeper, this is the most intense moment in a keeper's life, words can't describe it. Number three - the guy who made the winning goal was not the man of the match (player of the game) - in three different matches throughout the World Cup he made the winning goal.

My final thought on the World Cup actually comes from the closing of ABC's coverage. They played a U2 song called "One". As I listened and I watched the highlights of the World Cup, I thought about the One whom we worship. I doubt that ABC put together the song and the footage to glorify God, but as I watched the best of the best and the passion of the players, I thought this worships God. It was God that endowed those men with such incredible talent. The highlights, for me, were a sacrifice of praise to God.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Monday Morning QB 07/03/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: Public Restrooms Scare Me (I preached)

Scripture: Psalm 84

Service Highlights: This weekend marked my one year anniversary at Charter Oak Church! Bill and the praise band were off the chart great this weekend. I talked about how we often want some kind of sign from God that he is present in our lives, but the truth is, God is always there. I also challenged our congregation to enter into the muddiness of people's lives so we can let them know God's presence also.

Stats: 462 in worship

Saturday, July 1, 2006

TV Spot

Here's the link for the TV spot on Channel 4 News. I don't know how long it will be active. I'm not sure how they pick out what they want to air, but it was a good plug for Charter Oak Church.

Friday, June 30, 2006

15 Seconds of Fame

Tonight I will be on the 6:00 news. Channel 4 stopped by today for a story they are following about our new facility being burglarized for the second time.

They asked me for a short interview. I don't know what they will show of the interview, but I talked about our excitement about what God is doing at Charter Oak Church and our looking forward to moving in 52 days.

If I could go back there is one thing I would want to add - the why. Why we are excited, why we are growing, why we are doing what we are doing. I would say we are doing all of this because people matter to God. That's what we are all about - making sure people know they matter to God.

I hope you will tune in and see my 15 seconds of fame tonight.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I talked about our desire to have a hero.

I love the Spiderman movies. Spiderman 3 will be released in May 2007, but the first trailer is out!! Check out!!

Team Work

There are 54 days left until we move. Thanks to Cindy J. and Jeff I. we will be making this move as a team effort. There will be no one expected to do this alone. As I have been thinking about team work Iwas watching Hell's Kitchen on Fox the other night. The head chef yells and screams at the people trying to prepare their dinners to do it as a team. I may not have like the way the chef tried to get them to work together, I definitely realized the importance of working together. Those that work together on the show have a much greater chance of winning.

Our "win" is to move all of our stuff from our current location to our new facility without anyone getting hurt or burned out. It will definitely take a team!

Monday, June 26, 2006

56 Days

There are 56 days until we begin our move to our new facility. Now that Vacation Bible School has been completed, there is a definite sense of urgency in the staff to think of all of the little details that have to be done in those remaining days.

I couldn't sleep for a couple of hours last night just thinking through some of the stuff that I just don't want to forget to do. Then there is that whole thing of once we move and do all this stuff, we publicly launch our new building on September 16 and 17. We better be ready for that as well.

It is becoming more and more abundantly obvious that this is only going to happen by the hand of God. On our own, we will fail. I have prayed all along that God would reveal himself in such a way that we would all know this has been a God thing. Every day, God is proving that prayer correct. He is an awesome God!

Monday Morning QB 06/26/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: Summer Vacation (I preached)

Scripture: Nehemiah 1-4

Service Highlights: I used the Nehemiah Model to recast the vision Pastor Dave shared with the congregation back in January. Just as Nehemiah needed to remind the people of Jerusalem half way through their work, I wanted to spend some time reminding our congregation the vision God has given to us for 2006 - that the people of this region will know that matter to God.

Stats: 543 in worship and 193 in Sunday school

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's in the Details

Two weeks ago my family went on vacation to Columbia, South Carolina for a week of much need R & R. When we go on summer vacation we typically go to the beach and rent an ocean front house. This year we decided to just spend time with the grandparents. But I also wanted the same set up that we usually have when we rent a house. I like having separate bedrooms for us and the kids. I like having a kitchen and a den to watch a little TV at night.

I went in search of these desires in a hotel in Columbia, SC. I found exactly what I was looking for at The Whitney Hotel. It even has a pool! We reserved a two bedroom suite with a kitchen and a living room. I thought we were set. This is the same hotel that the new University of South Carolina head footbal coach lived for nine months while he waited for his house to be built. I thought this place has to be great.

On paper it had everything we wanted, even a pool. When we arrived and moved into our suite, I quickly realized that, yes, it had everything we wanted, but the execution of the details was greatly lacking. The room was not very clean. I could tell it had been "cleaned" but if you know what I mean, it just didn't have that clean feel. All of the furniture was beat up really badly. I have seen furniture in a frat house in better shape. The pool area was just plain bad, we swam there one time and didn't go back.

One of the really great extras in the suite was a washer and dryer in a separate laundry room right in our suite. We thought this was great, until we tried to do our laundry and the washer didn't work and we had clothes that were totally wet and soapy. It took two days to replace the washer - too little, too late.

There were so many little detail things that were wrong. The funny thing was, my son Caleb, wanted us to fill out the evaluation card when we were getting ready to leave. All I could say is, "there isn't enough time to write everything down." What I didn't say was there wasn't enough space to write it all down.

Our stay at this hotel confirmed in me that details matter and they matter a lot. We can have everything that people are looking for on paper, but if the execution of the details are not there, then people won't be back. I know I won't be back to The Whitney Hotel again.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday Morning QB 06/19/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: My Hero

Scripture: Psalm 121

Service Highlights: I preached on God our Father being our hero. So often we look for heroes in all the wrong places and we are eventually let down. Our Daddy in heaven desires to be our hero because it his very nature to always be there for us. Jonathan Cooper sang a Steven Curtis Chapman song - I Believe in You.

Stats: 469 in worship + 156 in Sunday school

63 Days

I have been gone for a while. We were on vacation and I was at Annual Conference. I am going to be posting some comments on this and many other things this week. We are in the middle of Vacation Bible School. There are about 200 kids running around the church. Hopefully I will be able to carve out some time each day and maybe even a couple of times a day to get "caught up" with my postings.

I have also started a count down until we move to our new facility. There are 63 days left. Lots to be done. I need to be reminded every day of the work that needs to be completed here and at the new facility before this move can happen.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hitting Singles

Most people in the sports' world have been following Barry Bonds and his quest to break Babe Ruth's home run record and move into second place in all time home runs. He has now accomplished it.

With all the fascination with home runs it has made me think about my own desire to always hit home runs. I want to hit a home run every time I preach. I want to hit a home run every time we have a staff meeting. I want to hit a home run every time that I have a meeting with someone about faith issues.

But is it necessary or even important to hit so many home runs? Most people who hit a great number of home runs in baseball also strike out a lot. I certainly don't want to do that in ministry. I make enough mistakes as it is.

In Jim Collin's book Good to Great, he writes about the flywheel. In order to get the flywheel to turn, you have to make push after push after push. You start small and you are just trying to turn the flywheel a little bit. With every push it moves a little bit more.

I consider those little pushes in the right direction - singles. There is no way you can get the flywheel turning at a high rate of speed with a single push (home run). It is in the discipline of consistent small pushes in the right direction that gets the flywheel turning.

I am becoming more and more convinced that is true in leadership as well. We don't have to worry about the home runs. It is more important that we are disciplined in consistently building positive momentum in the direction that God is leading us.

It seems we are hitting our singles in a pretty consistent pattern around here lately. I can feel the positive momentum building. I can't fully explain it, but I know it's happening. We aren't hitting any real home runs (except maybe Pastor Dave with this Family Channel series). But I don't think that is important. God is looking for us to be faithful in the small things so he can bless us in the big ones.

It's all in the discipline of hitting singles and building positive momentum. Let God hit the home runs.

Monday Morning QB 04/29/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: The Challenge of a Great Marriage

Scripture: Selected Passages

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave got very personal as he spoke about having a God honoring message. He set the bar very high for all couples to work on their marriage for a life time. Dan did a great job of doing a Bill Cosby monologue. We baptized another student who made her confession of faith in Jesus.

Stats: 512 in worship + 165 in Sunday school

Final Notes: I think this is one of the best Memorial Day weekend attendance percentages I have ever seen at a church. Most of the time the attendance drops way off. We only had a small drop off. In comparison we only had 357 in worship last year!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Summer Sermon Series

Here's the graphic we are using this summer to promote our series. The ocean is refreshing; it is deep. The beach is fun and invigorating. These adjectives all describe God's word. I am pumped up about the various topics we will be diving into this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Random Quotes

Mark Batterson:
I cited a study that found that 58% of college grads who grew up going to church stop attending church for one reason or another. I've actually seen studies that peg the number as high as 86%.These are church kids. And we're losing at least six out of ten. That attrition rate is going to kill us. It's like we're losing a generation. It's Judges 2:10: "After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel."I felt such holy conviction when I was speaking yesterday. I said, "I'm not in the camp that says what's wrong with them. The real question is: what's wrong with us."If the church was doing it's job--incarnating the gospel in relevant ways--I honestly don't think we'd see so many twenty-somethings leaving the church. They long for community and authenticity and meaning as much as any generation. There is a spiritual hunger. But evidently they aren't finding what they're looking for in the churches they grew up in.

Andy Stanley:
"Preaching is a performance. Preachers are performers. But unlike the comedian, we are expected to more than entertain. We are expected to be educational, inspirational, theological, and engaging all at the same time. So there we stand. All alone. All eyes on us. Waiting. Expecting. Hoping. And did I mention that we have to talk to the same audience week after week? Did I mention that all week long they have been driving around in their cars listening to my dad, Chuck Swindoll, Ed Young, and Sean Hannity. Whose idea was this?"

First Time Visitor this weekend:
I came today because someone invited me because they thought I might be interested in the topic. Boy, were they right! I am getting divorced and the man that I now have a relationship with has three kids and I have three kids. This was good stuff today. I will be back next week.

Andy Stanley:
"Simply put, you have to manufacture interest. On the average Sunday morning, or whenever you communicate, your first responsibility is to pose a question your audience wants answered, create a tension they need resolved, or point to a mystery they have been unable to solve. And if you launch into your message before you do one of those things, chances are, you will leave them standing at the station."

Matthew 14:23, "And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.’”

Note sent home from Abby’s teacher:
The school year is not over. Summer vacation has not begun. We still have work to do. Some of the students have stopped doing their homework assignments. We will continue to work and learn throughout the school year.

The work we have been called to do as a staff of Charter Oak Church is of critical importance. People’s lives hang in the balance. The expectations are very high. Summer officially begins this weekend. We are at T-minus 17 weeks from taking over occupancy of the new building. Over the next three months we are going to have to lean into the power of the Holy Spirit more and more. There is a reason why God has called us to this work. He believes in us. He has entrusted a huge responsibility upon our shoulders because he believes we can do it. But we will only be able to do it through him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday Morning QB 04/22/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: The Challenge of the Blended Family (Dave preached)

Scripture: Selected Passages

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave used the Brady Bunch as a platform to talk about blended families. He gave some startling statistics about how many second, third, and fourth marriages fail. One of the highlights was bringing in a couple from our church who have a blended family. Dave interviewed them in the middle of his message. Their real life words made what Dave was saying all the more real for the rest of us.

Stats: 585 in worship + 210 in Sunday school

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Guess It's Over

I guess you could say my study leave is over. I have a ton of things to get done today that would constitute "work" and not "leave." I will admit that this was one of the most helpful study leaves I have taken. I read two books and re-read another. I was able to spend some extended time in prayer and Bible study. I was able to catch up on a bunch of other reading that I have been putting off - journal articles, on-line articles, and blogs. I planned out my sermons for the summer and I have started processing the sermon series for the launch of our new facility in September.

One of the best parts of this week was to have some real, dedicated time to just think - to listen to God and discern where he is at work and how I need to be joining him in that work. I would highly recommend this week away to everyone, especially pastors. If your church community truly wants to see the best brought out in you, ask them for a week or two of study study leave that doesn't count as vacation. It is a wonderful gift from the people of Charter Oak Church to me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


All this rain has caused me to have some concern over the work being done on our new building. You can't put on roof in the rain. And it has been raining a lot. It seems as though there has been one hurdle after another throughout this building process. God is answering my prayer when we first began. My prayer was "God let this community know you are God through this building process." There have been hurdles and God has removed them - in His time and in His way. It has been a total God-thing. I am amazed at how well God has fulfilled my prayer request. It certainly has built my faith.

So these hurdles created a curiosity in me. When in scripture has there been a time like we are going through? So my reading this morning was the book of Ezra - talk about living in the same time!

The exiles return from Babylon. The first thing they want to do is rebuild the Temple. They are coming back with nothing and yet they give so much to get the Temple started. It reminded me of our Big Event last May when we kicked off our building project. The amount of money people pledge to give that day was incredible.

As the Israelites are rebuilding the foundation of the Temple there is excitement growing. But there is also another voice rising up - dissention (Ezra 3:12). Then there is disgust in the surrounding community over the re-building of the Temple and they send letters to the king to get the work stopped. This reminded me of the work of some people in our area that tried to get our building project stopped because of a storm water issue.

Nothing was going to stop the re-building of the Temple - it is what God wanted. I believe that nothing will stop the building of our new facility, it is what God wants.

Here's the kicker for me - the end of Ezra. God has made it very clear the Temple will be re-built. There is a great time of celebration and everything seems to be going great. Then Ezra comes along and says to all the men is Israel that they have been unfaithful to God by inter-marrying with foreign women. They are convicted and they send their foreign wives and children away. Everyone agrees except three men (10:15). Ezra concludes by naming names - it gives a list of every man who had intermarried! Wow!

Here's what I learned...God is more interested in our character than in a building. Our faithfulness and devotion to God is the most important thing. Nothing else matters.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Future Messages

One of the things I am working on while on study leave is my sermon messages for the future. I will give you some early insight. Here are the titles and scripture that I am going to be using this summer:
  • June 17/18 - "My Hero" Psalm 121
  • June 24/25 - "Summer Vacation" Psalm 100
  • July 1/2 - "Public Restrooms Scare Me" Psalm 84
  • July 8/9 - "Who Is God?" Psalm 50
  • August 19/20 - "Who Needs Walls?" Psalm 40
  • August 26/27 - "Put Your Seats in the Upright Position" Psalm 33
  • September 2/3 - "First Impressions Matter" Psalm 22:30-31

You are the first ones to see this. Tell your friends, Chris is going to talk about public restrooms. Those of you who know me, know I will use pictures!

Laying It on the Line

This morning I read 1 & 2 Timothy in light of making hard decisions. Paul teaches Timothy some hard truths about leading - not everyone is going to be on board with what God wants to do. That hurts. As I read Paul's words I could feel his pain. I feel the same pain. Not everyone gets on board with where God wants to lead us. People leave. People start rumors. We are all sinners. But what's important is being faithful to God - all the time.

Here's one of my favorite parts of these two letters: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that all God's people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

What I hear Paul saying to Timothy is - "don't give up, God's word is sufficient."

Making Hard Decisions

We have a relatively new organizational structure at Charter Oak Church. We adopted it late last year and began using it January 1 of this year. Part of the new structure is the day to day activities of our church are led by the senior management team. This is a group of eight staff people who have the incredible responsibility of leading our church each day.

Even though I am on study leave, I went to our weekly senior management team meeting yesterday. I knew we were going to have some hard decisions to make. One in particular has the potential to get kick-back from people. One thing I have learned about leadership is, it takes true leaders to make tough decisions, especially when people aren't always going to agree with you.

The senior management team is relatively new. We are learning and growing as we go. But each week I see God moving in our meetings in an ever increasing way. I truly believe God is working through us. And I am convinced that God is growing our church because of some of the tough decisions we have made (like the one yesterday) are being faithful to the vision God has called Charter Oak Church to fulfill.

I pray daily for each of the people on the senior management team. I hope you will too. I love these people. Dave, Cindy, Bill, Maxine, Mark, Andi, and Betsy - you guys rock!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Monday Morning QB 05/15/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: The Challenge of Communication (Dave preached)

Scripture: Selected passages

Service Highlights: Pastor Dave kicked off a new sermon series called The Family Channel. It is a five week series that will use television families to describe different challenges that every family faces. This week the challenge was communication and we used clips from Leave It to Beaver. It was a great kick off. If you missed it, I highly recommend ordering the CD, it was a fantastic message!

Stats: 632 in worship + 227 in Sunday school

Ephesians - Your Life Matters to God

Yesterday I read 2 Chronicles. This morning I felt led to read Ephesians. The essence of what Paul writes is - your life matters to God. Before you and I knew Jesus we lived far from God. The choices we made were not based on our relationship with God, but on our relationship with this world. Jesus came to change that relationship. He died to bridge the gap between God and us. Paul writes that maturity is what God desires from our lives. We should seek to be like Jesus in every aspect of our lives down to the last detail - everything we say and everything we do.

The last part of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is particularly important to me right now. He asks for prayer for himself. His request is that he may have the boldness to speak the truth. "Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

That is my prayer.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Gaining Clarity

I have had a problem in the past trying to explain to people my drive within the church to make changes that I know are for the best for the Kingdom of God. Since going into ministry I have had this burning desire to help transform the church.

In seminary I was taught to think theologically. Duke burned that into my brain. When I graduated, I was cocky enough to believe that they had done that. So I could teach, preach, and serve as a pastor. What they didn't teach me was how to take a dying church and a dying denomination and make it great, not just good. I thought for a while, who am I that I think I can do this? Then I began to study the people God used in the Bible to do great things. They were everyday, ordinary people that God chose to use. God does great things through people.

So I can think theologically, I can preach, and I can serve. But so can the vast majority of other pastors in my denomination and in the churches that I have pastored. So the question that has haunted me is, why aren't those churches great? Why isn't my denomination great?

The answer that kept coming to my mind wasn't theological. It was leadership. So I started reading everything I could on leadership. The only problem was that the only sector writing on leadership was the business world. I was so convinced that the difference was a leadership void in the church that I didn't care where I was getting the information, just as long as I was learning what it meant to be great.

Today, I read a monograph to accompany Jim Collins' book Good to Great - Good to Great and the Social Sectors. Collins writes about why business thinking is not the answer for non-profit organizations like the church.

"In my work with nonprofits, I find that they're in desperate need of greater discipline - disciplined planning, disciplined people, disciplined governance, disciplined allocation of resources."

"'What makes you think that's a business concept?' I replied. 'Most businesses also have a desperate need for great discipline. Mediocre companies rarely display the relentless culture of discipline - disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action - that we find in truly great companies. A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness.'"

There it is. The thing I have been in search of is not business practices, but principles of greatness. I have been in search of this because inherently I believe that if anything on earth is going to be great it should be the church of Jesus Christ!

Thinking for a Change

What does it mean to think strategically about what to preach about for the next series, six months, year, and even three years out? What does God want us to hear? Where do we need to grow in our relationship with Him?

I was reading an article written by John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement. Much of the music we hear today in the contemporary Christian genre has its roots from the influence of Vineyard. It is a charismatic denomination. Wimber wrote about thinking strategically about sermon preparation. He relayed some push back that he received from many people on this kind of thinking as a charismatic. He wrote, "The Spirit of God does lead us. But once the Lord sets the direction, we organize the parade. We put the process together after God tells us what he wants done, where he wants to go. We are to get on with planning, organizing, and structuring so that we can get something done. I think that's the nature of this relationship. I think we have a collegiate responsibility with God that he has called us into."

Getting Started

I have begun my study leave. This morning I began at 6am with a work out on the tread mill. Then I spent some time in prayer. With so much to think about and so much work ahead of me, I wanted to spend some time in God's Word. I just finished reading 2 Chronicles. I wanted to read that book because it gives such a good overview of the leadership of Israel and Judah.

It kicks off with Solomon asking for wisdom and discernment to lead God's people. What a great prayer! Then we cycle through king after king after king. Some were good, some were bad. Some were faithful to God and many were not.

As went the faithfulness of the leader, so went the faithfulness of the people. It continues to be true today. As leaders of Charter Oak Church, your faithfulness and my faithfulness to God will influence the rest of our congregation. What does that mean for you? What does that mean for me?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Going on Study Leave

It's Sunday night. Survivor is taking the final vote to get the final two. I haven't watched this season. I'm not really into it. I'm listening to it while Kelli watches...goodbye Terry.

Tomorrow morning at 6am I start my study leave. I am taking a week away from the office to listen to God. I have some things that I want to work on, but I am going to try to be led by God. I want to totally schedule out this time, but I'm not.

There are so many things that I want to work on - Summer sermons, the launch of the new building, leadership development, strategic planning, etc, etc, etc. I am going to do my best to be open to what God wants to do with the next week.

I will use this space to share what God is saying, where he is leading, and how well or poorly I am listening. What an adventure!

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I want to share with you some things that have been happening around here as we fulfill our mission to make fully devoted followers of Jesus. Today I want to share with you some numbers. Not because numbers matter in of themselves but because people matter. What I have to share will prove that numbers do matter to God because people matter to God. Here they are...

77 youth have accepted Jesus since mid February.
25 new members have joined Charter Oak Church this year, over 75% by confession of faith.
23 confirmands made their public confession of faith.
10 confessions of faith in grades 1-4 this past Sunday.
Average worship attendance is up 11%.
Average Sunday school attendance is up 14%.

These are real people who have said that they want to become more like Jesus in every aspect of their lives down to the last detail. And they want to be a part of this community of faith to partner with them in the journey.

The picture is Pastor Mark and I baptizing four youth in a make shift pool. God is at work here. I am so blessed to be here!

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Monday Morning QB 05/08/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: 4D-Forgiveness (I preached)

Scripture: John 20:22-23

Service Highlights: This was the conclusion of our series on forgiveness. This is one of the most in your face sermon series I have done in a while. I told the congregation that the things we were learning were not Christianity 101, but this was much closer to PhD work. I have had so many people tell me stories of reconciliation, seeking forgiveness, and giving forgiveness. God did some great things in people's lives.

Stats: 616 in worship + 279 in Sunday school

Final Notes: Pastor Dave begins a five week series on the family. We have been heavily promoting it in the community through a variety of advertising opportunities. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces.

Sunday, May 7, 2006


Thank you to those of you who read my request for prayer for Kelli's dad. His surgery went well and he is home now. They told him he would go home on Sunday and by golly he went home on Sunday. It didn't really seem to matter if he was ready to go home or not, he went.

Thanks for the prayers.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

The Latest Revelant Package

I received the latest Relevant package today. Check out what I received:

The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World
Life Beneath the Surface: Thoughts on a Deeper Spiritual Life

United We Stand Hillsong United
Phil Wickham
Reach Warren Barfield
A Greater Song Paul Baloche
Merchant Band
To Those Who Cry 1000 Generations

If you would like to borrow any of these items, let me know.

Personal Request

I would ask a personal request of anyone who reads this. Please pray for Kelli's dad. He is having surgery tomorrow.


Naked Conversations

Did I get your attention with that title? There is a new book out called Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Here's an interesting quote from the book:

“Companies need to offer something so unique, valuable, or compelling that people will want to tell others about it… The single best way to accomplish word-of-mouth publicity is not with a clever web site or tell-a-friend software or cash rewards. The best way to do this is to make something worth talking about.”

I think that applies all the more to Charter Oak Church.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Monday Morning QB 05/02/06

Here's the Monday Morning QB for this week:

Message: Forgive for Good (I preached)

Scripture: Colossians 3:13

Service Highlights: We looked at the benefits of unleashing unforgiveness. There are physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits when we bring the characteristic of forgiveness into our lives. God wants us to live a free and wonderful life. When we are unleashed from unforgiveness we begin to live in that freedom.

Stats: 480 in worship + 232 in Sunday school

Monday, May 1, 2006


I think we did a first last night at Powered Up - our student ministry. I think it was a first for the history of Charter Oak Church. We baptized four youth by immersion in the sanctuary. It was a really great night.

The students approached me about being baptized and asked if it could be done in a local river and I immediately got shivers down my back thinking about how cold that would be. Then we were going to try a family's heated pool. Finally I approached Pastor Mark and suggested that he get involved since he will be such an important person in these youth's spiritual formation.

Pastor Mark purchased an inflatable pool, laid plastic all over the sanctuary and we dunked our four students with a ton of youth watching and cheering these new brothers and sisters in the faith. I was so blessed to be a part of it. You could see the excitement in these students' eyes - those being baptized and those who were watching. God is certainly moving!

Friday, April 28, 2006

I was listening to Bill Hybels speak the other day about leadership, the gift of leadership, and the development of our leadership gift. Bill is the senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church - a great teaching church north of Chicago. Here's what he said...
"What's your leadership development plan? Who's responsibility is it for a plan to be put together and for the plan to raise your leadership level up to the fullest potential? Who's responsibility is that? It's your responsibility. You have to take responsibility for the development of your leadership gift. It's something you'll stand before Christ some day and give a response to him about - he put a gift in you. He called you, Romans 12:8 - to develop it to the zenith of its potential, lead with all diligence, lead to the peak of your potential."

You are the leaders of Charter Oak Church. You make this place special. God has called you and gifted you to be leaders. Jesus will build the church, but he will do it through people like you. So what's your plan for developing your leadership gift? What are you reading - I would really like to know. What conferences are you attending, even work related. And here's one I never thought of but Hybels pointed out in his talk - what are you leading that is pushing you beyond where you are right now? If you are only leading in the places where you are comfortable, then you probably are not growing. Send me your answers, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Movie Trailer

This is a link to a short film trailer that is being put together to celebrate Kyle Lake's life.