Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Great Night

Last night our family spent a few hours with some friends of ours who are missionaries in Australia. They are only able to get back to the States about once every five years. I am blown away by the fact that we can only see them that often and yet because we have the same DNA as followers of Jesus, we can re-connect with them as though we just saw them last week.

I loved sitting out in the yard, cooking on the open flame, and hearing Chris talk about what he does with Youth with a Mission. He is an incredible leader and servant of God. As I listened to him talk, I was pumped up. This guys is on fire for the Kingdom of God. He has given his life to raising up leaders that will be sent all over the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. As we sat there talking, without even knowing it, he poured energy and passion into me. I love being a part of something that is bigger than I can ever comprehend. It bring Kelli and me such joy to partner with these great friends.

As we were preparing to leave, I gave them a check from our congregation that was a nice chunk of change. I told him that it was just for him and his family to have fun with. He said that so often when people and/or churches send him support money it really has chains attached to it. Rarely does someone give them money for fun. I loved it when Kelli told them to go on a date. The look on Gina's face was priceless. I could tell it had been a very long time since that had happened.

I can't express how awesome it is to be at a church that gets it when it comes to missions. I knew I didn't need to take a special offering or to ask permission to do this. I knew I could confidently bless this family with the complete backing of our congregation.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Book #12 - The Elephant in the Boardroom

I just finished reading The Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken about Pastoral Transitions by Carolyn Weese and J. Russell Crabtree. The point of this book is to think about and create a strategic plan for the church as it goes through pastoral transition. The book tries to be for every church in every situation and size. This is not a book you should just read from cover to cover. You have to find out what kind of church you are a part of and then follow the line of thinking in the book. Interesting book - I didn't necessarily track with everything in the book, but it did make me think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Perry Called to Today

I never thought I would ever say those words...Perry called today. But that is what happened. I'm not bragging or name dropping. I am totally sold out to learning. I want to learn from the best. I want to learn from those who have been there and done that, because that is the level that I want to go to and I believe God is leading Charter Oak Church. Why should I make mistakes that others made and are willing to share with me?

Perry is the real deal. I want to talk to leaders, not people who are going to try to say the right thing but not say anything at all. I have been thinking and praying about some really tough issues lately and he just out right said what to do and I didn't even have to ask about it. He knew it was coming. What great insight!

Here are a couple of big things he said to me...
1. Lead at the next level. We are at 750, start making decisions now for what it's going to be like at 1,500.
2. Once you get to 1,000 get a personal, executive assistant. I'm not smart enough to do this without someone "handling" me.
3. Develop leaders - be a leader of leaders - pour into those who are going to take Charter Oak Church to the next level.
4. Hedgehog Concept - be the best at what you can be the best at, the rest is just a distraction.
5. Don't listen to criticism - the bigger you get the louder it will become and it will come from people who are in the Church (the big "C" Church) that just don't get it.

There were a ton of other things too that I can't share here, but I can tell you the time I spent with Perry took me up a level in my leadership. It was awesome.

Thanks Perry for taking the time to pour into me. I know you are an extremely busy guy. You not only get the leading the local church thing, you get the Kingdom building part too! You're the best!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Son Force Kids

We kicked off our Vacation Bible School yesterday. I have never seen such an incredible work of creativity for a children's ministry in my life. Our volunteers hit it out of the park. We had over two hundred kids who heard about the love of Jesus. We had tons of moms and dads that were blown away by all of the hard work done by Maxine and her staff. Way to go!

One of the new things we did this year was provide an adults only cafe in our Common Ground. Coffee, specialty drinks, and a variety of finger foods were provided free of charge for parents (mostly moms) to hang out and build some community.

I am reminded once again of how awesome it is to work at Charter Oak Church. I have never been a part of a church whose total focus, energy, and passion is on pointing people to Jesus like it is here!

Monday, June 18, 2007

7 Barriers to Prayer

This past weekend I shared seven barriers to prayer. I thought I would share them here so that if anyone didn't get a chance to write all seven down could get caught up.
  1. Prayerlessness (James 4:2)
  2. Unconfessed Sin (Isaiah 59:2)
  3. Unresolved Relational Conflict (1 John 2:9)
  4. Selfishness (James 4:3)
  5. Uncaring Attitude (Proverbs 21:13)
  6. Inadequate Faith (James 1:5-7)
  7. Busyness (Luke 10:38-42)

What are some other barriers you can think of and what is the related scripture to it?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Book #11 - The Imperfect Board Member

I just finished reading my eleventh book of the year - The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence by Jim Brown. The book is written in the same format as Patrick Lencioni's books. There is a story that has the point of the book woven throughout it. Then at the end of the book is the explanation of the point. As I am working with the Church Council at Charter Oak Church this book is invaluable. It gave me a completely different understanding of what my role is and what the role of Church Council is. I am thinking about purchasing a copy for everyone on our Council.

One of the real values of this book is that there is a website that goes along with it. The conversation doesn't end at the end of the book. The author is seeking to continue the work that was started. I love that. I can continue to learn. When I have a specific question or issue, I can go directly to the website and find some direction.

If you read this book from a church's perspective, every time you read CEO, replace it with pastor. Every time you read board of directors, replace it with Church Council. I think this book will add incredible value into any pastor's leadership development.

May at a Glance

May 5/6 - Dave preached
747 in worship (21.3% increase from 2006)
241 in Sunday school (13.6% decrease from 2006)

May 12/13 - I preached
755 in worship (19.5% increase from 2006)
241 in Sunday school (6.2% increase from 2006)

May 19/20 - I preached
775 in worship (32.5% increase from 2006)
242 in Sunday school (15.2% increase from 2006)

May 26/27 - I preached
662 in worship (29.3% increase from 2006)
191 in Sunday school (15.8% increase from 2006)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Book #10 - They Like Jesus but not the Church

I just finished reading Dan Kimball's new book They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations. I always enjoy reading Dan's books because he challenges me to think in ways that I typically don't. He really brings the cultural perspective to the table. Because he is in a very unchurched area of California with tons of young adults he is able to write about the emerging generation like no one else.

The region that Charter Oak Church is in doesn't have the kind of culture around it like Dan's church does. However, there is a growing population of young people in this region who are beginning to be influenced by the culture out west.

Dan comes to many of the same conclusions that I do about the future of the church. We probably disagree on how we get there or why we get there, but the end result is the same. If you want a very thorough look at how the unchurched look at your church, this is a good book to pick up.

Orderly Worship

Devotions for June 5, 2007

Proverbs 5
1 Corinthians 14

"But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." (1 Corinthians 14:40)

The disunity that Paul was writing about earlier in the letter now comes out again in the context of worship. The followers of Jesus were using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to promote themselves instead of God. They were lifting up speaking in tongues as a way of proving they were more spiritually mature than others who could not.

The focus of their worship became all about what they could do. It was causing division among believers and it was causing unbelievers to think they were crazy. Paul teaches that it's all about God and helping people to follow him. Therefore, preaching in a way that everyone could understand was much better than speaking in tongues. As Paul is teaching about the disruption of the worship service due to speaking in tongues, he also turns to women and tells them to remain silent. Paul concludes the chapter writing that all that he has given them is so that their worship may honor God.

I wonder what the unbelievers thought about the worship services at Corinth? It was obvious that their worship wasn't about God or pointing people toward a relationship with God through Jesus (which Paul says is the point). It makes me wonder about our worship services. What do unbelievers think when they come in and experience worship at Charter Oak Church?

The point of this chapter seems to be that Paul wants to make sure that the focus of worship is upon God and helping unbelievers hear about who God is so they can follow him. Paul wants to remove any barriers to that focus. So he wants the emphasis to be on preaching and not on speaking in tongues. He wants the focus to be on God and not on those who think they are spiritually mature.

Then Paul brings up women in worship. This has caused some major problems for people. If we read this in context it seems obvious to me that Paul is continuing to address distractions in worship and he is not teaching about women's role in churches. Paul is addressing specific issues within the Corinthian church so he must be doing that here as well. There must have been something that was occurring within the context of worship that was disrupting the worship and he wanted it to stop. It shouldn't matter who it is that is causing the disruption of worship, they should be told about it.

The point of our worship must be God and pointing people to a relationship with God through Jesus.

Heavenly Father, forgive us when we take the focus of our worship off of you and place it on ourselves or anything else. Help us to create worship gatherings that honor you and place you on the throne of our lives. Send those who do not believe to us so that we may point them to you. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The End of the Series

This weekend completed the series on Intimacy. I learned a great deal leading up to and during this series. I had seven weeks to prepare, study, and pray over this series. I wrote a forty page study guide. It was the most preparation I have ever put into a message series before.

Here are some things that I learned or I was reminded of:
  • Preparation is everything. I was more relaxed going into each weekend because I knew all the work was already done. I just needed to review it.
  • Preparation is one of those things that only I can do. I do a lot of different things around here, but the one thing only I can do, is prepare for my messages. I need to remember to focus the majority of my time on only what I can do and then hand off the rest so others can do only what they can do.
  • Criticism is louder than praise. I received a couple of critical emails/letters during the series. I also received a ton of praise emails/letters. Which did I focus on? The criticism.
  • The total package of the worship service can make me look really good or not. The whole arts package around this series has been fantastic.
  • What I get to do around here on the weekends is priceless. But it isn't about me, it's all about God and he deserves all of the praise and glory for what is happening here.

Well, one week off from preaching so I can go to Annual Conference and then I am back for a four week series called - Can You Hear Me Now?

Love in Action

Devotions for June 4, 2007

Proverbs 4
1 Corinthians 13

"Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Paul turns from telling the people of Corinth of how far they have fallen short in their attitude towards their gifting to explaining the most excellent way - love. He points out that we can do all kinds of things, but if it is void of love then it is all for nothing. Instead he teaches what love truly is - love is action. It is not emotional. It is living out the life of Jesus.

Paul acknowledges that we really don't have the full picture yet. We haven't reached perfection, but one day we will, then everything will be revealed. Until that time, the characteristics of faith, hope, and love should be our goals in life. Love being the most important.

This passage is read so much at weddings. It is not merely a chapter for husbands and wives, it is for the Church. We get caught up in so many things that distract us from the mission of God. One of the last characteristics we put on is love. We are not so different from the Corinthians.

We need to capture verses 4-8 and live them out 24/7/365. It should be the cry of our heart to make sure that we are putting on the character of love as demonstrated by Jesus. The Church would be a very different place if we choose to love as Paul teaches.

Almighty God, forgive me when I do not love. I know that all too often I am the antithesis of what Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians 13. I want to put on the fullness of the love of Jesus in my life. Help me to choose to love.

I pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will be known for our love for each other, the people in this region, and the people around the world. I pray that we will live love loud for the sake of Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.