Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ministry Fair

This past weekend we celebrated ministry opportunities at Charter Oak Church. We had over 20 booths of ministry areas that people had the opportunity to check out and listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to their call to take up the servant's towel in a particular area.

If you were one of those people who felt the tug of God upon your heart for ministry, I hope you will not let the week end without touching base with the leader of that ministry. I hope that you will ask God for the courage to get out of your comfort zone and be a part of what God is doing here and in our region.

You have been given a great opportunity to take your next step in your faith development. Go ahead - take it, I'm rooting for you! God has equipped you. Go for it!

Where's the Church? - Where Am I?

I recently was told by my wife that Bono, of U2, met with some of the richest people in the world to talk about poverty and the economy of the United States. Here's a comment I found from that meeting...

"It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger," the U2 lead singer told Clinton's fourth annual philanthropic summit in New York. "That's mad, that is mad."

The Group of Eight wealthy nations vowed in 2005 to raise annual aid levels $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which was to go to Africa. But under current spending plans, the G8 will fall $40 billion short, according to a June report by the Africa Progress Panel set up to monitor implementation.

As I read this I was thinking to myself, what a shame that our country is the one that is doing the least amount in this justice issue. Of the eight, we are dead last on the list of fulfilling our part. Then I realized, is this our country's responsibility or is it the Church's? As long as we can point at something so much bigger than ourselves, like the country, then we don't feel the responsibility. We can blame others. Even when we make it so broad as to say it is the Church's responsibility, I think that is too big as well.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, what is my responsibility? I fully realize that this is an even harder question to ask in such uncertain economic times, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be asking the question. We also can't stop at the question, we need to find answers. We need to move from being a part of the problem to a part of the solution.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dollars and $ense

This weekend Pastor Dave launches a new series called Dollars and $ense. With the state of the economy, this series couldn't come at a better time. The incredible thing is, Pastor Dave and I planned this message series LAST August! That's right, in August of 2007 we felt directed by God to place this series at this time. God is obviously up to something in the world and He uses people like us to make it happen. How awesome to be a part of his multi-generational plan.
I know you have people in your circle of influence who have questions about the economy and what God says about our finances. This is a great opportunity for your to invite those who are asking so many of these relevant questions. I can't wait to see how God uses this series to move people closer to Him and equip them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Thanks to Eric Thompson we now are podcasting all of our sermons at Charter Oak Church. You can click here or on the link on the right. Way to go Eric!


Just read this post by Shane Duffy on confrontation in leadership - good stuff.

Pressing Too Hard

I went to my son's soccer game yesterday. Man, it is very difficult to move from the sidelines as a coach to the bleachers as a dad. They were playing a team that at the end of the game should result in another "W" for them. Late in the game they were down a goal. As I watched in agony I learned some leadership lessons that if I was on the sidelines I doubt I would have seen.

First, in the last 15 minutes of the game, some of the best players were exhausted - they had nothing left and were still on the field, not making the contribution they could have made if they were rested for the last push in the game. How often do we as leaders not take time to rest and get refreshed for the next push of God in our lives? God gave us a gift in the Sabbath because He knows that we need it. We can't lead when we are exhausted.

Second, the players who are really skilled tried to win the game themselves by keeping the ball, but since it is a team sport, they lost control of the ball and missed opportunities to score. The church is very good at raising up "lone-ranger" leaders who are asked to carry the brunt of the work because they have good skills. The reality is, the church is a body and we need all the parts working together. God did not gift us with leadership to go it alone, but to partner with others to join God in the work that He is doing in and through us.

Third, there were many opportunities for players to score, but they never took the shot. This was some of the most frustrating parts of the game for me because I am wired to win so I know that you can't win if you don't score and you can't score if you don't shoot. Many times leaders are given the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life and because of fear or because of busyness or a whole host of reasons never makes the investment. We miss out because we are looking for the perfect set up or because we are afraid we will miss. Our responsibility as leaders is to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Innovate Conference

We're heading for the Innovate Conference today. Granger Community Church puts together one of the best conferences for church leaders that I have ever attended. Charter Oak Church has been learning from GCC for many years now. They have opened themselves up to us along the way and have given us an unbelievable amount of time and resources to move us in the right direction. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us this year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Book Release

I just received an email from Patrick Lencioni annoucing the release of his new book - The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family. Pat is one of my favorite authors. He usually writes in the business sector, but with a definite influence through his faith in Jesus. Now he is venturing into a family development book. I am planning on going to Barnes and Noble today to purchase his new book. I hope they have it.

Making a Decision NOT to Complain

On Saturday I attended a meeting to hear about the new structure of our annual conference of the United Methodist Church. I was there because I was asked to be on one of the newly formed teams. We have a very complex structure in order to serve a very large geographical area with people who have a wide range of ideas of what our annual conference should be doing.

I have to make a decision about continuing to be on that team. I have a decision to make, but before I can make that decision I have to ask myself, what I ultimately believe about my role on the annual conference level and what I believe my contribution should be at that level. Do I believe that since I am the lead pastor of one of the largest churches in our annual conference that I have a responsibility to be on the team? Do I believe that since my number one spiritual gift is leadership that I should be on the team? Do I believe that at this time the things that are going on at Charter Oak Church are too time consuming for me to join the team?

These are some of the questions I am wrestling with as I listen to God's prompting about my role on the conference level. To be honest, I think that in this "flux" time, my natural tendency is to complain about the situation instead of rigorously working through what I believe about this arena of my life before making a decision. I recently read a blog post by Ben Arment about complaining. Here are the points he makes...

The opposite of complaining is leading...

  • If you don't like a decision your boss makes, lead up.
  • If you don't like your office culture, lead around you.
  • If you don't like your circumstances, lead through it.
  • If you don't like your church's short-comings, lead out.

I know that I am to be leading. I don't want to be a part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution. Complaining never gets to the solution, it just dwells on the problem.

I still don't know what I am going to do about being on the conference team, but I do know that I am making a decision not to complain, because ultimately I believe that complaining in not leading and I am called by God to lead to the zenith of my potential and so are you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Going Off-site Today

Our Senior Management Team is leaving in a few minutes to go off-site today. We are going to calendar 2009 and pray, process, and dream about what God has in store for Charter Oak Church in the coming years. We could really use your prayers. This is such an exciting time in the life of our church - lives are being changed, people are sharing their stories of what God has taken them from and who they have become in Jesus. Incredible stuff - only God stuff.

We are going over to New Stanton UMC where my good friend Steve Bane is the pastor. God is doing some really great things there too. I used to think that when I led an off-site that we had to pay to rent a room at hotel or at a conference center or something like that. Then I began to think of all of the churches that are around that probably have a room or two that are available and the pastor wouldn't charge us for it. So we get the off-site with all of the advantages of getting away, even if it is only across town and it doesn't cost us anything.

What would happen if we as the Church started sharing resources for the building up of the Kingdom? What would happen if we started to think about each other (churches) as being on the same team, trying to move the same ball down the field together. I thank God for Steve Bane and his Kingdom mindset, he truly is a servant of Jesus.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week 1 Handout

At the end of the worship service this past weekend I gave each person the opportunity to pick up a handout to continue the conversation at home that was begun in the sermon. If you didn't get a copy or you weren't here, you can click here to get a copy.

I hope it will spark some good conversations in your family, in your small group, and in your prayer time.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I just sent out 10 invitations to seventh grade boys for a new small group that I am starting in a week. What am I thinking? Am I crazy? Those are two questions I had to wrestle with before I agreed to say yes to this new leadership call.
The answer became very clear to me as I heard God whispering in my ear about investing in the next generation. These ten boys have immense value to God. They have kingdom potential within them for today and for the future. I don't know what the future holds for them, but I know the One who holds their future and I believe God is giving me an opportunity to invest in some budding teenagers for the next season of their life.
What about you, who are you investing in?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Small Groups

The small group I am a part of at Charter Oak Church started up again. We affectionately call ourselves "Dads in the Middle." Most of our wives are in a small group called "Moms in the Middle" so we are just playing off on that title. Both our wives and we are standing in the middle between God and our children. We are seeking to do life together as dads so that we can develop as followers of Jesus. We want our relationship with our kids to come out of our relationship with our Savior.
As I look at the church calendar I am blown away by how many small group opportunities there are this fall. I hope that you will carve out the time in your busy life to be actively involved in a small group. I truly believe the best place for spiritual development to occur is in the context of a small group. If you want help getting connected, give me a call.

Book #18 - It

Last week I read one of the best books on church and leadership development that I have ever read. Craig Groeschel's new book It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get IT and Keep IT. One of the reasons I love Craig's writing is because he is so transparent and so grounded in his relationship with Jesus. This book was a very real look at his life as a leader in a local church and what it takes to stay in tune with God.
I originally purchased this book after the Leadership Summit. I ran to the book store at the end of his talk. I think the book sold out very quickly.
If you are a church leader or a leader in the church, then I would highly recommend you get this book. It will be on my desk for a very long time as I read and re-read it. There are just certain books that you know will continue to speak into your life for a long time. I think this is one of those books.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Increased Pulse

I was reading Mark Beeson's blog the other day and he gave some surprising figures about United Methodist Churches. There are only 13 that average over 3,000 in worship. There are only 33 averaging over 2,000 in worship. There are 100 that average over 1,000 in worship. And finally, there are only 1,000 that have over 500 in worship. You can read the whole article here.
As many of you know who read my blog, my vision is to see people in this region who don't have a relationship with Jesus or who have, for whatever reason, stepped away from that relationship to fall in love with our Savior and place Him at the center of their lives.
When I read stats like those given by Mark Beeson, it increases my pulse, not because of numbers, but because there are UM Churches all over the country. We have within us the great potential of sharing life with people who are walking in death. I don't care about our rank with all of the other churches around us. We won't be held accountable for how we compare. We will however be held accountable for being faithful and obedient to the vision God has given the people of Charter Oak Church. We have been strategically placed in this incredible location with very high visibility. God desperately wants to use us to reach this region with the love of Jesus.
If you are from Charter Oak Church I want you to know that we still have empty chairs available on weekends for your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. There is ALWAYS room at the cross. Do everything you can to invest in people in your circle of friends and invite them to worship with you. Remember, these people matter to God.