Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Telling Your Story

This past weekend I challenged the people of Charter Oak Church to tell their story about what God has done in them and through them to the people in their circle of influence who don't have a church home. I just received an incredible email from a woman who was immediately put into a position where she could do just that. I love it when God confirms in very real ways what He has spoken through me on the weekend.

How awesome it was for this woman to have heard on Sunday morning about the times that God will give to each of us to enter into a spiritual conversation with someone who doesn't know Jesus in a transformational way, and then for it to have actually happened! I give great thanks to God that when the Holy Spirit prompted her, this woman shared her story with her co-worker. I know that God will bless that conversation, even if it is in ways that we will not fully know this side of heaven. The point is being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Deep Thoughts

Do you remember the old Saturday Night Live segment called "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy? I used to love those.

For those of you you check this blog from time to time to see what I am thinking about, I am sorry that I have not posted anything for the last two weeks. I have been in such an incredibly focused thinking time. I am going through a very steep learning curve right now. It's an exciting time for me as I am trying to step up my ability to do what it is that God is calling me to do at Charter Oak Church. It's also very exciting as I am learning about some things that we are going to be doing here in the future. I can't say enough times how totally awesome it is to be at this church, to be working with this staff, and to be serving with the people of Charter Oak Church!

So while all of that is going on, I have also re-read The Big Idea by Dave Ferguson. I am also in the middle of a sermon series called "The Treasure Next Door." I am trying to help the people of Charter Oak Church to see the potential in people in their circle of influence through the eyes of Jesus. And then to find a way to naturally enfold those people into the love of Jesus. It's been a great series so far, three more weeks to go.

Finally, I think I have been able to set up a one day meeting with one of my heroes for the end of May. I will have the opportunity along with Pastor Dave to learn from two great leaders at a church that is doing the right things for the right reasons. Man, I can't wait!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Book #5 - The Big Idea

I finished my fifth book of the year - The Big Idea: Focus the Message, Multiply the Impact by Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, and Eric Bramlett. This is a great book for those leaders who have a bigger vision for their church and what they understand their role to be in the region. As I am being challenged to find ways to add value into the lives of other pastors in this region, this book was a must read for me.

This is a book about how to bring the Good News in a way that will have the greatest impact while working in the context of a team to accomplish even more that you could ever do alone. Since I naturally gravitate toward teams of people this book was a great read. Many of the things that Dave and his team are doing are things that I have wanted to do and have done in some small way over the last five years. This book inspired me to take it to the next level.

It's Been a While

Yes, I know it's been a while since I last posted anything. I have been off the chart busy the last two weeks, but some pretty incredible stuff has happened over that time frame.

First, I started a brand new sermon series called The Treasure Next Door. The whole point of this series is to help people to build relationships with people within their circle of influence so that they can point people to a relationship with God through Jesus.

Second, the freezing of one of our pipes in the chapel and everything that gets associated with that mess.

Third, our senior management team went to Sandscrest Conference and Retreat Center for a three day retreat where we looked at the future of Charter Oak Church. We looked forward in three time increments - six months, one year, and three years. It was a great time for me to listen to the other members of our team talk about their hopes, dreams, and goals for the future.

I had an aha moment while we were away. Our senior management team still has great passion for the people of this region. No one wanted to talk about taking a break or slowing down after our move. Instead, the list of dreams and goals were long. The really awesome thing was many of them were geared toward taking a stronger leadership role in the future. As we get bigger and bigger the senior management team will be doing less and less and empowering others to do ministry more and more. I was pumped up as I saw our team catching that vision!

Fourth, the major snow storm that hit this region shut our church down for two days.

Finally, and the worst of all because it slowed me down (the snow didn't have much effect on me, I carry my lap top and I have everything I need) was the installation of Google Desktop to my laptop. My computer went from a lean, mean processing machine to almost going backwards. I had heard so many great things about Google Desktop so I installed it. I could definitely see the advantages of it, but I couldn't take the slow speed. If anyone out there knows why this happened please let me know. As soon as I un-installed it, my computer went back to its wonderful self. Who knew?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Back in the News

We were back in the news last night. WTAE sent a news crew over to the church twice yesterday. You can read their article and watch the clip here. I still cannot for the life of me understand how they can get the details wrong. I thought it was there job to get them right.

I left this morning before the newspaper arrived. The Tribune Review was here yesterday as well. I don't know if they ran the story, but they sure took a lot of pictures.

All of this media stuff that happens so quickly and without notice, reminds me of how important clarity in communication is. I believe God gives us opportunities like these to speak authentically about what we are called to be about at Charter Oak Church. I think Cindy did a great job yesterday as our marketing/communications guru.

If someone all of a sudden threw a camera and a microphone in your face, would you be ready?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

January Worship at a Glance

January 6/7 - I preached
646 in worship (12.5% increase from 2006)
278 in Sunday school (11.6% increase from 2006)

January 13/14 - Dave preached
739 in worship (21.9% increase from 2006)
316 in Sunday school (33.9% increase from 2006)

January 20/21 - Dave preached
691 in worship (21.7% increase from 2006)
302 in Sunday school (15.7% increase from 2006)

January 27/28 - Dave preached
1134 in worship (31.1% increase from 2006)
241 in Sunday school (5.7% increase from 2006)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Big Idea

I just purchased another one of the books on my list of must reads for 2007. The Big Idea: Focus the Message - Multiply the Impact by Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson & Eric Bramlett.

The funny thing was I tried a couple of places that I thought would have had it - Barnes & Noble and then Border's, but neither had it. I had to go to a little Christian book store to find it. Kelli said that's what I get for trying to buy a book in person instead of on-line like normal.

I want to make sure I read this book before our Senior Management Team goes on retreat starting next Sunday afternoon.

Book #2 - Velvet Elvis

I am jumping back to book number two because of the missing pages and my waiting for Zondervan to send me a new book with all of the pages included in the book.

I would highly recommend Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. This book will be added to my list of books that I read at least once a year. It challenged me. It inspired me. It taught me how to think differently.

Here's one of those great thought provoking moments as I read, "If the gospel isn't good news for everybody, then it isn't good news for anybody." Think about what that means in the context of your circle of influence. Yea, I know, that could really take some time.

What I'm telling you is - get the book!

Out of Luck

This morning I was doing a little bit of shopping at Macy's department store. I was going through the check out procedure with scanning my debit card when the store's associate said that they were having some computer problems. He tried to make the transition a couple of times and then he called someone.

He said he would try one more time and if it didn't work, "I would be out of luck." Interesting comment. What he said to me was that I was lucky to be purchasing something from that store. I didn't feel so lucky. There was no apology. There was no request if I wanted to pay cash.

Have we come to the point that companies believe that we are lucky to be giving them our money? Are we in danger within the church to have this kind of mentality? Do we believe that people are lucky to get to worship with us?

I think many churches live into this mentality with the way they use language that doesn't connect to people outside or even inside the church. They do it by choosing to be traditional instead of relational. They do it by preaching boring sermons.

I also shopped at Men's Wearhouse this morning. I purchased a pair of pants that they didn't even have in the store. However, every time I have been in this store it is a relational experience. They do not have the same mentality that Macy's has. They treat me like a privileged guest. It's all in the little things that they do that sets them apart. I may have to spend more money there, but it's worth it.

As I finished paying for my pants, it would have been very easy for the sales person to hand me my receipt across the counter and for her to tell me to have a nice day, like she had done a million times before. Instead, she walked out around the counter (which was pretty big to begin with) and she handed me my receipt. It's not a huge thing, but to me that's service.

Are we in the church willing to have "walk around the counter" service for the people who walk in our doors? Are we willing to put aside the "I've done this a million times" attitude and treat each person who walks in our doors as a treasure from God?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Book #4 - The Jesus of Suburbia

I just finished reading The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed the Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle? by Mike Erre. This is a good book for people who are just entering into the post modern discussion. Mike even admits during the Acknowledgements that he doesn't really have an original thought. If you have read anything from Rob Bell, Len Sweet, or Erwin McManus you won't really read anything all that new. That being said, Mike does do a good job of presenting a very real conversation with a pastor who admits that he doesn't have all of the answers and he is more interested in engaging the questions than coming up with the perfect response.

Our Senior Management Team will be discussing this book while we are away on our retreat later this month.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

New Velvet Elvis

As I told you before, I was reading Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis and in the middle of the book, there was a whole section missing. I did the paper work for Zondervan and I have now received my new copy. I am very happy to write that all of the pages that were missing are included. What strikes me is that there was nothing that was included in the package containing the replacement book. There was no form letter. There was no, "sorry about that." Just the book.

When I mess up, I do my absolute best to apologize for my error. It just seems like the right thing to do. When a company fails at producing a promised product, I guess I expected them to have an even higher standard. It is an interesting learning moment for me when it comes to Charter Oak Church.