Saturday, June 28, 2008


Riding the Phantom Revenge for the first time with Caleb...Awesome!

Riding the Thunderbolt for the first time with Abby...Phenomenal!

Opening and closing Kennywood Park with my family yesterday...PRICELESS!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Creating Margin

Last weekend I shared with the people of Charter Oak Church that I have been running very hard since the beginning of the year - no real breaks, even bragging about not taking a day off. Why is it cool to brag about breaking the 4th Commandment?

So, the last two weeks I have purposefully created margin in my life by taking a day off. It has been so refreshing to be able to catch my breath. I also recognize that there is a difference between taking a day off and creating space to be alone and quiet with God. Mark Waltz posted an incredible blog about what I am talking about. Read it here.

At the beginning of the summer I sat down with each member of our Senior Management Team and told them that one of my expectations of them this summer is to take three spiritual retreats. They cannot do it on a day they typically take off. It does not count as vacation. It is time for them to be still and quiet before their Maker. We cannot give what we don't have. The essence of our job is to give away Jesus. We had better be filled up with Him in order to do that well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bring Your Bibles

Last weekend I challenged everyone at Charter Oak Church to bring their Bibles to worship this coming weekend. We spent our time together last weekend praying and preparing to study the book of Titus for the next three weeks. We were preparing for rain - to steal a quote from the film Facing the Giants.

If you are planning on being in worship this weekend, please make sure that you bring your Bible. If you forget it, we will have plenty available here. If you think of it, read the first chapter of Titus. If you are feeling adventurous, read the whole letter - it's really not that long. Let's get ready to hear what God is saying to the people of Charter Oak Church.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Changing Offices

This week we are continuing the process of the transition between Pastor Dave and me. We are changing offices. This is more of a logistical matter than anything else. The office really doesn't mean anything. I know pastors who believe they are leaders because of the office they occupy or the title they hold. An office and a title have nothing to do with leadership.

I have learned through this time of transition that the more I go up, the more I give up. I have read so much from pastors and leadership gurus about this. I thought I understood it, but I really didn't. I could try to explain it to you as it was explained to me, but until you actually get to the leadership position, you can't really understand it. I know I didn't.

I have been very humbled lately. This is a huge job with huge responsibilities. Every day, at different times in the day, it hits me. Without God I will fail. I need to be on my knees more. I need to be in the Bible more. I need people around me who are praying for me. I need people around me who love Jesus, who love Charter Oak Church, and who love me.

I don't need people who criticize me, just because. I don't need people around me who just say yes, no matter what. I don't need people around me that aren't willing to pick up the servant's towel.

I see people very differently now. More than anything I want to look at each person and know that Jesus went to the cross for them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

PowerPoint from this Weekend

I had a number of people ask me about getting a copy of the PowerPoint from this past weekend's message. If you send me an email, I will get you a copy of it. If you weren't here this weekend, you can't order a CD, we did something that we have never done before. We practiced being quiet - silence is not easy, but oh, so good when you are listening to God.

Tons of Kids!!

Just a few minutes ago we kicked off the biggest summer program in the history of Charter Oak Church. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 kids showed up to learn about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We have 50-60 volunteers to walk along side of these kids in their journey. This place looks incredible. We have also set up a room just for those moms who are dropping off their kids. We have soft chairs, coffee, sweets, and people in there to just build relationships with these moms. Brilliant!

If you think about it today or any day this week from 9am-noon, pray for what is happening here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

On Mission

Yesterday morning 50 adults and high school students pulled out of the Charter Oak Church parking lot to drive to West Virginia to be on mission this week. They are working in conjunction with the Appalachian Service Project better known around here as ASP. Our congregation has been working with the organization for over 25 years now. My first mission experience was with ASP, many, many years ago. It made a huge difference in my life. I hope and pray that it will have an even greater impact on the lives of those who are there now. Please join me in praying for them every day this week. Pray for their safety, their ability to stay hydrated, their ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I pray that every person they come in contact with, whoever it may be, that each one of them will look at that person as some one for whom Jesus went to the cross.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Students Praying

Wow! A group of students from Charter Oak Church have made a decision that they are going to gather together every Thursday at 9am to pray here through the summer. Most high school students don't see the light of the morning during their summer break and yet here is a group that are not only up but are willing to go down on their knees before their heavenly Father to pray. That is a wow for me. Our Pastor of Students - Mark McMahon is leading and leading well.

Influencing the Jesus Way

Rob Wegner of Granger Community Church recently wrote of what I call influencing the Jesus way. He wrote, "Jesus taught thousands. He trained seventy. He discipled twelve. He mentored three." I love that strategy. I love the connection between verb and number. For me, it's all about capacity.

Jesus had the capacity to teach thousands. He had the capacity to train seventy. He had the capacity to disciple twelve. He had the capacity to mentor three. But here's the seems wrong to say that Jesus had the capacity to only do what he did at each level. He is God. Come on, God should be able to do anything and everything. So maybe it is that the capacity isn't on Jesus, but it is on us - those receiving.

So let's change it then. We have the capacity to be taught by the thousands. We have the capacity to be trained in groups of seventy. We have the capacity to be discipled in groups of twelve. We have the capacity to be mentored in groups of three.

What I am trying to get at is that we need to realize what we are capable of doing and do that, not doing more than what we have the capacity to do. Often times we will put ourselves in situations that just do not lend themselves to accomplishing what we want to do. If we could get the right combination of high capacity leaders with the right number of people in the group that goes with what we are trying to accomplish, how much more would we be successful?

Jesus used these numbers in each of these situations, aren't we supposed to be becoming more like Jesus in every aspect of our lives down to the last detail? Let's start influencing the Jesus way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Worship and Sunday School Stats - May 2008

Here are the stats for May...

May 3/4 - I preached
740 in worship (.9% decrease from 2007)
289 in Sunday school (19.4% increase from 2007)

May 10/11 - I preached
756 in worship (.1% increase from 2007)
259 in Sunday school (7.5% increase from 2007)

May 17/18 - Dave preached
694 in worship (10.5% decrease from 2007)
274 in Sunday school (9.2% increase from 2007)

May 23/24 - Dave preached
622 in worship (6.1% decrease from 2007)
195 in Sunday school (2.1% increase from 2007)

Good Stuff from the Blog World

Here are some good things I have read from the blog world recently...

From Perry Noble - Pray for your pastor in these ways...#1 - Our Connection With God, #2 - Our Family, #3 - His Relationship With The Staff, #4 - His Battle With Spiritual Warfare, #5 - Rest. Read the whole post here.

From Scott Hodge - Who are you focused on leading? "Until you get your focus OFF of the people who are disgruntled, unhappy, unsupportive, and resistant to the direction God has called you to go, and ONTO those who are excited, supportive and on board, you will NEVER gain momentum and see a new culture created in your church." Read the whole post here.

From Craig Groeschel - Breaking growth barriers. You are going to have to change your mindset. Much of what you are doing now won’t work later. Read the whole post here.

From Rob Wagner - Jesus taught thousands. He trained seventy. He discipled twelve. He mentored three. Read the whole post here.

From Sherry Moorhead - One question I get a lot from other churches is how do you effectively communicate with the some 2500 volunteers that you guys have here at NewSpring? My answer always goes something like this “every way possible”. Here’s what we do right now. Read the whole post here.

From Kurt Johnson - What are areas in your ministry that are working well that may need a check up?I'm great at evaluating and improving on the weak areas of my ministry, but this morning's conversation reminded me that even some of the strongest aspects of our ministry need to be examined on a regular basis. Read the whole post here.

From Church Marketing Sucks - There's probably 718,000 churches in America that offer free breakfast. The catch? You have to come on Sundays, be greeted and stick around for the service. Westchester Church looked to take a different approach. Every Friday morning before 8:00, you can drop by their parking lot (at the corner of a busy intersection) for some free breakfast. From Stephen Webb's blog: "We show up at daybreak, set up a table, unload the signs, cones, coolers, and muffins, and invite the traffic. We have about 3-9 people on the street holding signs and waving them in. We have about 2-5 people handing out the free stuff. It takes about 20 seconds to take an order and have them on their way. Every morning we have new people. And we hear each week that “This absolutely makes my day.” Free stuff is always a great way to reach people; so is going out of your way for them. Sounds like a great combination to me.

Just a few random thoughts that have been going through my reading brain today. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Won by One to Jamaica Summer Staff

The summer staff of Won by One to Jamaica have started a blog. You can follow what is happening by clicking here. If you haven't been to Harmons and want a little flavor of what it is like, there is also a video that is on their blog site - watch it to get a point of view that is very different than what we experience here at home.

New Books

Here are some new books that I either purchased or were given to me in the last week. Now to figure out how I am going to read them all in the next few weeks...

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Classic Christianity by Bob George
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch
It's Okay to be the Boss by Bruce Tulgan (Currently reading)
The Offsite by Robert Thompson
The Encouraging the Heart Workbook by Kouzes and Posner
Yours are the Hands of Christ by James Howell
Everybody's Normal till You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
Permission is Granted to Do Church Differently in the 21st Century by Cooke and Goodell (Currently reading)

People know I love to read and they just give me books - I love it!!