Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Book #10 - Pop Goes the Church

Last week I had the honor of spending two full days with the senior management team at Granger Community Church. I received a free copy of Tim Steven's new book Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture?

This is a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially pastors who are in main-line denominational churches who have done the same thing year after year and who expect different results.

Tim wants to use pop culture to serve the church. He wants to explore what pop culture says about the reality of people's lives who are in the church now and who are not in the church. What would happen if we actually decided to be relevant?

I am a huge fan of Tim Stevens and I hope his book will open people's eyes and hearts to what is given to us from God to let people know that they matter to Him. Way to go, Tim!!

Informational Meeting #1 - Tonight

Tonight is the first of three informational meetings at Charter Oak Church. We will be meeting at 7:00 in the chapel and any one is invited to be present. This is a time we have carved out to make sure that anyone who has a question or concern has the opportunity to share it in a biblical manner.

I want to make sure the people of Charter Oak Church fully realize that what we are doing and the direction we are moving is right in the middle of God's will. That doesn't mean that it is a comfortable place, as a matter of fact, it means that we will be doing things that if God doesn't show up and if we aren't obedient, then we will fail.

I don't want to fail. I don't want to give Satan a foothold either. It is human nature to be curious. People have questions. I don't have a problem with that, I welcome it. However, I do know that Satan will try to use a lack of information to his advantage. It is very easy to make conclusions that are not correct, but they have been drawn based on a lack of information.

Therefore, I will speak openly about the Unlocking the Future capital stewardship program, the next building phase, the transition between Pastor Dave and me, and anything else someone wants to ask. There will be representatives there from Church Council, the building team, the finance team, and me.

I am so excited about the future of Charter Oak Church. I love to see lives changed for eternity. I love to see people who are already a part of our congregation become more like Jesus. These are exciting times. When we are doing God's work the Bride of Christ is at her best.

Question #4 - Ministry

I am continuing to answer the questions that Craig Groeschel posed on 10 questions each leader should ask in several different areas of life. I am tackling the questions on ministry first.

Question #4 - Is there a person who needs to be moved to another role (or removed), and I haven't done it?

These questions don't get any easier, but they really do force leaders to make sure they have the right people on the bus and in the right seats. As Pastor Dave and I shared a couple of weeks ago about the transition of me moving into the lead pastor role for Charter Oak Church, I shared that what moved us from 250 in worship 10 years ago to 750 in worship today isn't the same. We are staffed differently. We are structured differently. The staffing that we have now won't be the same that we will need at 1,000 in worship.

One of the most important parts of my job is to lead the staff of this church, who in turn lead the leaders of ministries that God reveals that He wants accomplished at Charter Oak Church. It is critical that the people leading (especially me) are growing and developing as followers of Jesus. When that isn't happening then we must have the courage to go to that leader and have a spiritual development conversation. It is all too easy to just be "doing" ministry. If that is the case, then, that leader is going to crash and burn eventually.

Sometimes leaders choose to make it all about them. They will say something like "I have a word from God" or "God told me to do this." I think of Miriam in Number 12. This is the attitude that she had. She didn't want to be under the biblical authority that God had set up through Moses. She wanted to be the one through whom God spoke. Because of this attitude in her, the Israelites could not move on in their journey toward the Promised Land. She was even kicked out of the community for a while because of this attitude. When someone who is in leadership chooses to make it about them instead of the vision that God has given, then the momentum of that church is stopped. This is when a leader has to be removed. This is probably one of the most difficult and painful conversations that I have ever had to have with someone. But as God has shown through scripture, it is the right thing to do.

Please pray that the leaders (paid and volunteer) at Charter Oak Church will have humble, servant hearts that do not seek self-promotion, but Kingdom promotion.

Phrases from Mark B

Here are some great phrases that Mark Beeson, Lead Pastor of Granger Community Church said during the Leadership Live event:
  • "Put your big boy pants on."
  • "Pour into those who pour into you."
  • "Invest in people before buildings."
  • "Don't pay people to pull against you."
  • "You can call the best out of people - it's all about vision."
  • "Never hire a do-er, hire leaders of leaders."
  • "God is sovereign. God is for you. God is for your family. God is for your church."
  • "Get a stranglehold on what renews you - then do it."
  • "Be crystal clear on the things you cannot hand-off no matter what."
  • "Hire monster leaders."

Mark Beeson is an incredible leader. Every where we went he poured into people. He encouraged everyone he came into contact. It didn't matter if it was his staff or a waitress at a restaurant. He doesn't just bleed Jesus, he has Jesus coming out of every pore of his skin. I was blessed to spend two full days learning from this master leader.

It Takes a While to Catch Up

The last time I posted to my blog I was preparing for the start of Leadership Live at Granger Community Church. That was a week ago. It has taken me a while to catch up from being gone and because we are in a very important time in the life of Charter Oak Church as we have launched the inspirational phase of the Unlocking the Future capital stewardship program.

I really wanted to post some comments throughout the Leadership Live event, but I was so busy taking notes and talking to the members of the Senior Management Team that I didn't do it.

Over the next few days I hope to catch up on the posts that I have wanted to write.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leadership Live Starts Tomorrow

We have just arrived in Granger, Indiana after a seven hour drive. Great seven hours of talking to Pastor Dave, bouncing ideas off of him, he asking me questions about the future of Charter Oak Church - tons of laughing. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to go to this conference with PD, the ride time here and back to Greensburg - PRICELESS. You want to know why we are doing the transition one year before he retires, this is it.

Granger Community Church is all about the First Impression and creating a WOW! experience. They have done it with the hotel suite. This is a great hotel. This is a wow. As I walked into my room there was a gift waiting for me, that I will have to save to share with Kelli. It's from the South Bend Chocolate Company. There was also a personal note from Lindsay welcoming me to Granger.

The expectation is already building. PD and I get to spend the next 48 hours with the senior management team of Granger Community Church. We begin at 8:00am tomorrow and end at 9:30pm. I can't wait.

Here's the question I am going to bed thinking expectation is heightened by the small wow factors already, what can we do at Charter Oak Church to create special, small wow factors that get people excited about being at Charter Oak Church?

Please pray for us tomorrow as we have a very long day and I'm sure a ton of information to learn.

Question #3 - Ministry

I am continuing to answer the questions that Craig Groeschel posed on 10 questions each leader should ask in several different areas of life. I am tackling the questions on ministry first.

Question #3 - What ministry (or program or meeting) has lost its effectiveness and should be stopped?

This is a really tough question because every ministry, program and meeting affect people. We have people who are leading them and we have people who are being served, taught, or ministered to through these activities.

However, it becomes very easy for us to just do things because people want us to do them. Many people over the years have approached our leadership team and told us that we should do "X" ministry. We ask them if they are willing to lead it or to work to make it a reality and most say no. But they are very upset with us when we choose not to do what they think we should do. I know they have the best of intentions, but that particular ministry or activity would not be in line with the direction God is leading Charter Oak Church so we have to say no.

Our leadership team has to make some very difficult decisions, especially when it comes to questions like this one of stopping ministry. Occasionally it is easy to make the decision - the leader can no longer lead or there are no more people showing up. But sometimes we have to make this decision when there is a leader and there are people showing up. We just don't randomly make that decision, we struggle, we pray, we really work hard at getting at the right decision. We honestly seek God's direction and then follow it to the best of our ability.

I hope that you will pray for our leadership team everyday. We are making decisions that affect over 1,000 people in our church and in this region. Pray that God's wisdom and discernment will be upon us. Pray that Satan will not have a place to stand in those decisions and following those decisions. Pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will grow to be more like Jesus through the ministries provided inside and outside the walls of our church.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Book #9 - The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

I just finished reading the latest book from one of my favorite authors, Patrick Lencioni, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. I didn't get the book because my job is miserable, I bought it because I wanted to make sure that I was leading and managing the staff of Charter Oak Church well.

The three signs of a miserable job are:
1. Anonymity
People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known.
2. Irrelevance
Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone.
3. Immeasurement
Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves.

If any of these signs are true then an employee has a high probability that they are in a miserable job. The key for the manager is to remove these three signs for every employee's job.

Question #2 - Ministry

Today I am continuing to answer the questions that Craig Groeschel posed on 10 questions each leader should ask in several different areas of life. I am tackling the questions on ministry first.

Question #2: Am I doing ministry from memory or from fresh direction from God?

This is a very difficult question because I think there are different seasons in ministry. There will be times when everything is fresh and there is a powerful anointing from God that is being poured out. Those are the times that I enjoy ministry the most. I love being out on the bleeding edge of where God wants me to be and having to totally rely on him because without God I would fail.

I also recognize that there are seasons of ministry that I go through when I am doing ministry from memory because I am worn out, tired, or just beat up by the rigors of leading a growing church. But it was for these seasons that I studied hard to lay a strong foundation with Jesus. I knew that there would be times that I would not be doing anything new or out there, but just holding on to the love of Jesus. In those seasons I am doing ministry from the memory that God is the one in charge, that he is the only one I seek, that I have an audience of one for my life.

Here is the interesting thing in all of this...when I am going through the season of doing ministry from memory and it is the memory of who Jesus is and who I am in him that I come out of that season and I am put into the season of fresh direction from God. I remember that God is made perfect in my weakness. When it moves from being about me to being all about God, I am changed. I am set free from being worn out, tired, and beat up. I am filled up with a fresh anointing from God.

Please join me in praying that no matter what season you or I am going through that we will place God at the center and remember that it is all about him. Please pray that the leadership - pastors, staff, and volunteers will find their focus and true north from God and God alone.

Announcement from this Weekend

This past weekend we announced that effective July 1, 2008 I will be the new lead pastor of Charter Oak Church. Pastor Dave and I spent 30 minutes at each worship service talking about the transition. Here are some highlight of what we said...

Biblical understanding of great transitions of leadership

  • Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (Moses & Joshua)
  • 2 Kings 2:1-13 (Elijah & Elisha)
  • John 21:15-17 (Jesus & Peter)
  • Philippians 2:19-23 (Paul & Timothy)

Impact of this appointment

  • You will notice very little change in the way we function pastorally
  • It is Dave and Judy’s intent & desire to retire June 30, 2009
  • The God-given vision for Charter Oak Church that began with Dave will continue with Chris

What happens next?

  • We are a growing church and we will seek God’s will to the best way to staff for the future health and growth of the people of Charter Oak Church
  • Will Mark move into a teaching pastor role?
  • Mark already is in a teaching pastor role. He teaches our students every week.
  • Mark is the Pastor to Student Ministries at Charter Oak Church

Informational meetings upcoming

  • Wednesday, April 30
  • Thursday, May 8
  • Tuesday, May 13

We will have representatives from Church Council, the building team, and Senior Management Team to answer your questions about the transition, the “Unlocking the Future” capital stewardship program, or anything else you would like to know.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Question #1 - Ministry

Back on March 31, Craig Groeschel started a series of posts on 10 questions that he believes every leader should be asking in several areas of life. I want to start answering these questions from my place here at Charter Oak Church. The first series of questions is on Ministry.

Question #1 - Is our vision so big that we obviously can't accomplish it without God?

Our vision at Charter Oak Church, when it is boiled down, is changed lives for eternity. We want people to give their lives to Jesus and then to equip them to become more like Jesus in everything they do and say down to the last detail. I think that is a huge vision. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." I love that - Jesus will build His church. It's not my responsibility. I am to be obedient to His word and to live His truth with grace and love.

To put this in an even clearer context of how huge the vision God has laid upon the people of Charter Oak Church think about two things...first, there are 33,000 people within a five mile radius of our church that do not attend church. Even if we were to reach 1% of those people this year, that would be 330! That's God size growth.

Second, we live in a very me oriented society and we are asking people to become more like Jesus. That doesn't just happen. The discipleship process is not an easy one and should not be done alone. We are the Body of Christ, shaped and formed to do life together.

Is our vision so big that we obviously can't accomplish it without God? Absolutely!

Please join me in praying that no matter what we will stay true to the vision God has given us and that we will be obedient to what God wants to do in and through us as He builds His church.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Book #8 - Chasing Daylight

I finished reading book #8 of the year last night. I am a bit behind in my reading. This was the right book for me to read right now. Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment by Erwin McManus was a breath of fresh air for me. It challenged me through the story of Jonathan, Saul's son, and his willingness to risk and be obedient to God no matter what.

I loved this book. I meet people all the time that tell me that they think Charter Oak Church is out on the edge with the way we are seeking to do things and lead in a dying denomination. What is perceived outside these walls may not always reflect what is going on inside. I don't think we are trying to do anything outside of what God is leading us. To me, it doesn't seem very edgy, just obedience. I challenge the people of Charter Oak Church every week to be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and to act in obedience to that prompting. I want all of us to seize the power of every moment. I know I need to do that if I am going to stay where God wants me.

Take a moment to ask God to give you courage today to seize the power of every moment, to give you an openness to His prompting, and the courage to follow through. Pray for me too, that I will always be in obedience to God no matter how risky those around us may think it is.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Isaiah 41:10-20

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

"All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.

Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.

For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel,
for I myself will help you," declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

"See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
and reduce the hills to chaff.

You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the LORD
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

"The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.

I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

My prayer is that in all that we do at Charter Oak Church will be done so that the name of the Lord God Almighty might be known in this region for His glory and honor and praise. Will you make that your prayer?


I am studying Nehemiah right now. I was inspired this morning by chapter three. I am willing to guess that most people just want to hurry over this chapter. It is name after name after name - kind of like the book of Numbers. Here's the thing that grabbed my attention - the people who are listed are done so with the work that they are doing on re-building the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah didn't just take up this cause of God to do this incredible work, but he realized that they had to do it together. He cast a God-size vision of what needed to happen and the people responded by working together to repair the wall.

I think about the work that God has called us to at Charter Oak Church - changed lives for eternity. I think about the people who have come to faith in Jesus here. I think about the people who have become more like Jesus here. This call from God isn't just upon me or the other pastors or the staff, it is upon all of us. We are in this together. It doesn't matter if it is helping a child understand the love of Jesus or a student to live the character of Jesus or an adult to serve with the heart of Jesus - we are all in this together. We serve together, we love together, we do life together.

I hope that you will join me in praying for this call that God has placed on the lives of the people of Charter Oak Church to live into all that God wants to do in us and through us for His glory.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Unlocking the Future Website

This past weekend we handed out "Unlocking the Future" information packets to every family in attendance. It is our hope that every family will use the information within those packets to begin a spiritual journey of what God is asking EVERY family in our congregation to do to be a part of this capital stewardship program. This is not really about money, it is really about God and getting right in the middle of his will for our lives.

We also launched a brand new website that was designed by one of our members that goes along with the "Unlocking the Future" program. You can check it out here.

Join me in praying, "God, what will be my part in this journey of faith? How can I be obedient to your will in order to fulfill your vision for my life and my church? Jesus, draw me closer to you than I have ever been before."

Worship and Sunday School Stats

Here are the statistics for March 2008:

March 1/2 - Dave preached (Desperate Households Series)
711 in worship (5.3% increase from 2007)
302 in Sunday school (6.7% increase from 2007)

March 8/9 - Dave preached (Children's Musical)
865 in worship (39.6% increase from 2007)
No Sunday school

March 15/16 - Mark preached (Palm Sunday)
751 in worship (7.9% increase from 2007)
265 in Sunday school (3% decrease from 2007)

March 22/23 - Chris preached (Easter) (Transformed Series)
1245 in worship (24.9% increase from 2007)
243 in Sunday school (5.4% decrease from 2007)

March 29/30 - Chris preached (Transformed Series)
655 in worship (6.7% decrease from 2007)
236 in Sunday school (24.6% decrease from 2007)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stopped By Barnes & Noble

I stopped by Barnes & Noble and picked up a couple of new books that I have been wanting.
First, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

Second, Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I will start these as soon as I finish Chasing Day Light by Erwin McManus

The Small Things

On April 23 and 24, I am going to Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana to spend two days with their Senior Management Team. I have been looking forward to this time of learning and being challenged to think with an even bigger picture for the future of Charter Oak Church.

Granger is really doing this small gathering of pastors well. The accommodations are top notch. The person who is the staff liaison for this gathering, Lindsay Wasik has been communicating with us and giving us great insight of what to expect. She even gave us her cell phone number, just in case something developed that we needed to be able to reach her.

Yesterday she sent a copy of Tim Stevens' new book Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? When I heard about this book I immediately put it on my "must buy" list. Now I don't have to because the people at Granger Community Church has blessed me with a free copy. Another reason to look forward to the time with the Senior Management Team.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I read Tony Morgan's blog everyday. I like to read what leaders who are ahead of me are thinking. I love to learn. There are seasons for me that I just want to drink from a fire hydrant of leadership development because I am so thirsty to learn. Tony had a pretty long post yesterday that really has me thinking. I have copied just a portion of the post below. If you want to read the whole post click here.

"By the way, as a side note, people don't attend ministry programs or events because of slick promotions. They attend ministry programs and events because those events add value to their lives. You can do all the clever marketing you want, but, if the experience is stinky, people will not show up. That's why staff should be focusing more on leading their ministries rather than promoting their ministries. If the experience is positive, people will tell and invite their friends--that's how ministry programs grow."

What would it mean if we decided to only do what God is calling us to do? What if we poured all of our collective leadership energy into just doing those things?

First, we would make people angry because we aren't doing all the things they think we should be doing. On a regular basis I meet with someone who thinks we should start this program or that ministry at Charter Oak Church. When we try to do everything it is like diffused light - it's nice, but not very powerful. But when we have laser beam intense focus - that's the power of God at work.

Second, we will become very good at fulfilling our purpose of changed lives for eternity. Third, we will be right where God wants us to be - in the middle of His will. When we try to do the things that are not of God then God cannot bless it. Fourth, people will tell their friends and invite their friends and we will fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples of Jesus.