Friday, March 30, 2007

Quiet Time

My usual routine in the morning is to get into the office at least an hour to and hour and half before anyone else. This morning I was listening to Leeland while doing some leadership development work.

That quiet time for me is so valuable. As I was in that "zone" I felt a new appreciation for those times that are described in the Bible when Jesus would get away early in the morning for some quiet time with his Dad.

That quiet, alone time I have each morning gives me the passion and energy for the rest of the day. If you are a leader, I think you need to get this discipline into your schedule. Would you be willing to do something that would increase your productivity during the day by 50-100%? I'm telling you, that my quiet time adds that much more to my day.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book #7 - Measure of a Leader

Last week I finished reading my seventh book of the year. I haven't read a book this slowly in a very long time. The author was recommended to be by my dad. He suggested another book by Aubrey Daniels, but Barnes and Noble only had this book by him. I am so glad that they did. I am already reading it a second time. There is so much good material for leadership development in this book. It's not a difficult read. There is just so much in it that carries over into the leadership of a growing church with a growing staff like at Charter Oak Church.

The quote I posted earlier has all kind of biblical applications. Think about all of the times Jesus said "you have heard it said...but I say to you..." Jesus was talking about the difference between leading with "don't do this" versus "this is the kind of lifestyle that people who are his follower live daily."

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is leading people and want to get a lot better at it.

It's All About Behavior

"The average organization's leadership emphasizes behavior that the organization doesn't want rather than those that the organization does want. Focusing on reducing errors is almost always inefficient because it takes the focus away from the behavior that is critical to the desired performance."
Measure of a Leader, Daniels & Daniels

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Email & Website Down

If you are trying to get in contact with me or with anyone on staff at Charter Oak Church, you can't do it right now through email. We lost our domain name and we are trying to get it back. You will actually have to pick up the phone and give us a call if you want to get information to us or ask a question. Sorry about the inconvenience. Hopefully, we will be back on line tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Prolific Writers

I am totally amazed by the ability of some pastors to continually publish books, articles, blogs, etc. and still lead their congregation. I have taken a 2 week break from blogging in order to be able to do some of the things asked of me around here. I had to stop writing in order to really concentrate on some very important work.

Now I am starting to write my first curriculum for an upcoming sermon series. My next series is called Intimacy: A Look Beyond the Covers. I am in the process of writing a study guide for small groups. We are going to publish it in-house and offer it to anyone in the congregation who would like to study the material along with the sermons each week.

As I am working on this project, it makes me all the more aware of what it takes to write a book. I am hoping that this small project will teach me the discipline I will need in the future to continue to write and maybe some day, I will become a prolific writer.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I called my accountability partner yesterday to check in with him, he has a major deal that is happening in his life right now. I wanted to encourage him and let him know I am praying for him. Even though he lives in Texas, thanks to technology, we can stay close.

In just a few minutes of conversation I walked away feeling blessed and closer to God thanks to this very good friend of mine. If you don't have someone in your life that will tell you the last 10% of what is going on in your life, then you need to find one.

People are already running from the church because of the character issues of so many followers of Jesus. This is too important to put off. You are very vulnerable if you think that you could never have a failure occur in your life. That's just plain arrogant!

Find someone who truly loves Jesus and loves you so he/she will tell you what you need to hear, even when you don't want to hear it.

Thanks, Mark. You're the best!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Leadership and Servant Training - Last Night

Last night at our Leadership and Servnant Taining gathering, I shared "five fundamentals" to a vital church that will be released very soon by a United Methodist bishop as a book. We had some great discussion over these issues. I love the leaders of Charter Oak Church. They are willing to open up and tackle tough issues in a way that helps me and I believe our church to be the very best that God has to offer. Here are the five fundamentals:
  1. Radical Hospitality
  2. Passionate Worship
  3. Intentional Faith Development
  4. Risk-Taking Mission and Service
  5. Extravagant Generosity

The adjectives that are used are very specific and led us to really root down to where we are here at Charter Oak Church and where it is that God is leading us into the future. It also exposed some pre-conceived ideas. It was an awesome night that added great value into my life. You guys rock!

Politics and the Pulpit

I was recently asked to sign a political petition. I had to think about what the implications were for me to put my signature on that piece of paper. I have really bad handwriting so no one would really know it was me, but I would know.

I quickly decided that I wasn't going to sign the petition. But since then I have thought a great deal about the role of a pastor in the life of the congregation when it comes to politics. I remember from my church history class in seminary of how the church pulpit was a very powerful platform for putting across a political view point. Politicians would join the "right" church so they could have the backing and influence of that church. I also remember reading about pastors who used the pulpit to put across their political agenda to their congregation. I realize that it isn't just church hisory, it still happens today.

In today's society, there is a very strong push to keep the separation of church and state far apart. However, it does seem that the African American church has a greater acceptance. Last week I saw a church pulpit used in a very powerful way by a presidential candidate.

I vote at every election - local and national. No matter how big or small, I'm there. I am just not about doing the political thing from my position of leadership in the church. I want to preach Christ crucified and his grace is enough for people like you and me. I want to help people get on to God's agenda for their lives and to live authentically into that. For me that also means that people make their own political decisions without me trying to manipulate them. Because that's what it comes down to for me - manipulation, when it comes from the pulpit.

What do you think?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Book #6 - The Deity Formerly Known as God

I just finished reading Jarrett Stevens new book The Deity Formerly Known as God. The book is a spin off of J.B Phillips book Your God Is Too Small. Stevens takes on the destructive images we place upon God in the first half of the book. Ideas like "Cop around the Corner," "Sweet Old Man," and my favorite "All-You-Can-Eat Buffet." The second half of the book is dedicated to bringing to light constructive images of God that should shape our view of God. Great topics like "Late-Night Neighbor," "Single-Minded Shepherd," and "Lord of the Boardroom."

I liked Stevens' style and the conversational tone of the book. He opens his life up to the reader and we get an inside look at the life of someone who used to be on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, but has recently moved to North Point Community Church just north of Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Counting and Discipline

There were two great comments left on my last post on counting people. I wrote that we count people because people matter to God. The first comment talked about measuring spiritual growth. The second comment was about keeping the counting motivation pure.

The first thing I would say is to read Jim Collins book Good to Great and the Social Sectors. What Collins writes is that non-profits, such as the church, cannot measure success the same way a business can. Businesses ultimately measure success based on how much money they make. For the church we still must measure. The measuring becomes much more difficult, so we must do it with greater discipline.

Here is where I believe most churches fail at measuring. It is easy to just count how many people are on a membership roll, how many show up for worship, and how much is given each week. All of these things are very easy to measure. Most churches stop here. They will pronounce their statistics and leave it at that. I posted the statistics for February. But I didn't do it until I posted about a woman who had the opportunity to share her faith at work. I shared in my weekly email to our leadership even more stories similar to this one.

So we count people, but we don't stop there. We have to be disciplined in how we determine success. I have growth indicators that I am tracking for our church that have numbers behind them, but even deeper than that I look behind those numbers at the people they represent. I seek to connect with those people to find out what their story is and where they are in their journey to do life with Jesus in a transformational way.

The way I try to keep counting motivation pure is to always connect the numbers with people. I can be very excited about growing by 23% in the last year, but if I'm not meeting those people and hearing their stories and the stories of the people who are inviting them, then it's just about the numbers. I don't ever want to just be about the numbers. I am all about the people behind the numbers. I want to celebrate people coming into the Kingdom. I want the people of Charter Oak Church to know that the risks they are taking on the people in their circle of influence is worth it.

The increased level of discipline then means that we aren't just counting, but ultimately looking for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth to me is people who are being obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity isn't just about praying, but it's about praying when the Spirit says pray. It's about sharing your faith when the Holy Spirit opens an opportunity for a spiritual conversation with someone in your circle of influence. If I just count people, then I won't know the stories behind those people. I love it when I receive an email or a phone call from someone who "just has to tell me what just happened" when they were faithful to what God was prompting them to do.

Worship and Sunday School Stats

After publishing the attendance statistics in my last post, I thought it would be good to share with you what the year to date figures are.

2007 worship - 709 YTD
2006 worship - 573 YTD

2007 Sunday school - 264 YTD
2006 Sunday school - 236 YTD

God is at work in this place. People are learning about the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Remember, we count people because people matter to God.

February Worship at a Glance

February 3/4 - Pastor Dave preached
661 in worship (11.8% increase from 2006)
248 in Sunday school (31.9% increase from 2006)

February 10/11 - I preached
607 in worship (17.4% increase from 2006)
279 in Sunday school (16.3% increase from 2006)

February 17/18 - I preached (Snow storm)
564 in worship (4.1% increase from 2006)
255 in Sunday school (1.2% decrease from 2006)

February 24/25 - I preached (Ice storm)
631 in worship (1.8% increase from 2006)
172 in Sunday school (8.6% decrease from 2006)