Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haiti - Getting Skin in the Game

If you were not in worship this past weekend you missed seeing an incredibly large pile of health kits on the stage at Charter Oak Church. By the end of the day, we boxed up 2,104 health kits to be shipped to Haiti. I can't believe I only challenged our congregation to bring in one per person! I guess I showed my lack of faith. God really showed me a thing or two about what He can do through His people! By taking the time to put these health kits together, you were able to get skin in the game. I believe it is all to easy to just send money, which of course we are doing. But I don't ever want us to pay, pray, and get out of the way.

When you and your family went shopping and driving all over Westmoreland County to find the items, it took time. It gave you the opportunity to talk with your family about why you were doing what you were doing. The Old Testament started as an oral tradition - they told stories about their faith. They told stories about God. They told stories of faithfulness and disobedience to remind them that what they did and said mattered to God. As you talked about purchasing the health kit items you were walking in the footprints of our historical roots.

Here's something else that happened, you were given the opportunity to tell others why you were doing what you were doing. Some people have shared stories of telling store employees and managers why we were doing this. Others have told stories of people who don't attend our church, but as you told them what you were doing, they wanted to get involved.

I love the story of the St. Vincent College swim team putting over 200 health kits together. I love the story of the Mt. View Elementary School 3rd graders putting together over 100. I am blown away by the boys' correctional unit that put together over 50 kits and prayed over each one of them before bringing them over to the church on Sunday afternoon. I love the story of a business man who invited the people he worked with to join him in this work and they put together 20 health kits. I know there are so many, many more of these stories that you personally experienced as you got involved in the work of God to bring hope to the people of Haiti.

I pray that this will not just be a one and done deal for you. I hope that you will realize that God wants to work in you and through you in very real and tangible ways - sometimes in Haiti and other times in your Circle of Influence. As you lean into the power of the Holy Spirit you will get to know His voice and promptings and will see God at work in more and more ways all around you everyday.

What a great start to the New Year! Keep praying, keep looking to God for direction, and I will see you in worship this weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book #4 - The Dip

I am inspired and challenged by Seth Godin. I try to read something by him everyday - his blog or blogs, or one of his books. His books are always short and to the point. He doesn't play games, and more often than not, kicks you in the teeth because most people know what he is saying to be true, but aren't willing to pay the price themselves.
This is so true about The Dip:A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). Most people give up too soon. They quit when they are going through the tough times - the Dip. If they would persevere through that Dip knowing that they will be the very best, then the payoff would be huge. The flip side to that is that many people, perhaps more than those who quit too soon, just stay in the Dip because it is just easier to do so than to quit and focus on something they can be the best at. They are stuck in the Dip and will never get through it because they won't ever be the best at what they are working on.
Seth Godin helps to sift through those decisions. He asks hard hitting questions about quitting too soon and staying too long. Do you really believe you can be the absolute best at something? Will you pay the price? Will you stop doing everything else in order to work through the Dip and be the best?
If you have a Barnes and Noble Nook, let me know and I will be happy to "share" this book with you.

Book #3 - Training Camp

I recently ordered a bunch of books using gift cards from Christmas. One of the books I picked up was Jon Gordon's latest fable about excellence - Training Camp: What the Best Do Better than Everyone Else. It was a very easy read, but was able to teach 11 great principals of excellence in the context of a story.
Most people and in my opinion, most churches, don't want to be great. It is just easier to settle. It takes great effort and intentionality to be great. I believe the church is God's and He will build His church. But I also know there are tons of ways to prevent that from happening.
Training Camp is a great book to make sure that leaders and pastors are doing what is their responsibility in developing themselves, their people, and God's church. Don't go for mediocrity, God deserves so much better and so do His people and the people who need Him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Book #2 - Making Vision Stick

My staff gave me the Barnes and Noble e-reader - Nook for Christmas. The first book I downloaded on it was Andy Stanley's Making Vision Stick. I wanted to read it because I was putting together my vision message for 2010 and beyond for the people of Charter Oak Church. It was a huge help!

I love this line from Andy, "When it comes to making your vision stick, here is the most important thing to remember: you are responsible." As I was reading this book this point really hit home and I began to look at all of the different places and times that I could be and should be casting vision. It's true for all of us in leadership positions.

After getting this idea that we are responsible for making the vision stick then you can drill down into the five main points of the book:
  1. State the vision simply.
  2. Cast the vision convincingly.
  3. Repeat the vision regularly.
  4. Celebrate the vision systematically.
  5. Embrace the vision personally.

This was a great book. It is very short so it can be read quickly and often. I am guessing that I will read through this book on a monthly basis.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book #1 - The Starfish and the Spider

It's time to start posting the books I am reading again. My in-laws gave me a book that has been on my reading list for quite some time now - The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.
We have been talking a lot about small groups and empowering small group leaders to be the front line facilitators of spiritual growth at Charter Oak Church. This means that authority and responsibility are taken out of the hands of the paid staff and into the called and trained leaders. Reading this book was obviously God's timing because that really is at the heart of this book.
I really appreciated the use of real examples of what it means to be a leaderless organization. This isn't something new. The more diffused the power the more likely and organization is able to survive. The harder an organization tries to preserve it's hierarchy and power, the more likely it is going to fail over the long haul.
If we have given the authority to the small group leaders and they continue to multiply, then if the church burns down or if something happened to me or our staff, the church would continue to be the church because we won't be completely centralized in one location or in one person. I realized we do have some centralization, that is why I really appreciated the chapter on the hybrid organization.
If you are a leader in an organization that you want to see succeed and survive, even thrive beyond you, I would highly recommend reading this book.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Working Out

I have started a new work out program called P90x. Yes, I am trying to capitalize on the start of the New Year and making some healthy decisions - both in exercise and in eating.
One of the reasons I picked P90x is because it lasts for 90 days. If I can be disciplined to do this for three months, I am hoping that it will become a lifestyle decision instead of just an opportunity to fail on another New Year's resolution. Another reason I picked P90x is because it is intense. I need to jump start my routine, not with something that is just going to fill some time but not really do anything - I want results. Soccer season is coming and so is the possibility of going to the beach this summer. How awesome it would be to go to the beach without a shirt on for the first time since like high school!
As I think about the discipline of working out physically I also think about it spiritually. I know lots of people start new things in the New Year when it comes to their faith. Our church - Charter Oak Church is kicking off an all church study for small groups to jump start the New Year. What if you started praying every day for the next 90 days - a different kind of P90x? What if you started reading and studying the Bible everyday for the next 90 days - B90x? Instead of prayer and Bible study being something that you just do everyone once in a while or in fits and starts, perhaps it would become a lifestyle. Just think about the difference that would make in your relationship with God. It's not about summer coming, maybe it's about Jesus coming.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back from a Break

Many years ago I heard Bill Hybels say, "Doing the work of God was killing the work of God in me." Then at the Leadership Summit in August 2009, I heard him say it again. About the same time my assistant gave me the book Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro. I think God was trying to get my attention.

I went away for a week of study leave and began to realize that I had too much information coming into my life. I was reading about 50 blogs a day. I had about the same number of people I was following on Twitter. I was subscribed to a number of podcast that I listened to each week. I was reading about one book every week or two. I joined Facebook and have over 700 friends. I was posting to my own blog, Twitter, and Facebook. It was all too much while also trying to deepen my relationship with God and lead a growing church. Something had to give.

I walked away from all of the influx of information. I turned off Twitter. I unsubscribed to all of the blogs I was reading. I stopped posting to my blog and to Twitter. I only checked Facebook once a day. I only read the books that I was committed to reading with others. When I made this decision, it gave me more time to spend in prayer and Bible study. That's what I really needed more than anything else.

I have concluded my fast from information, but not completely. I am not going to be a slave to it anymore, at least that is my hope and plan. I want information to serve me and add value to me and to the people around me, not kill the work of God in me.

So I hope to post to my blog again on a consistent basis. I have a plan of what I want all of this ability to communicate to accomplish. I am looking forward to a renewed, healthy interest in all of the social media that is available.

Monday, January 4, 2010

In Our Time, In Our Day

Habakkuk 3:2, “Lord, I have heard the news about you; I am amazed at what you have done. Lord, do great things once again in our time; make those things happen again in our own days.”

The fulfillment of the God’s vision for the people of Charter Oak Church starts in your heart. Do you really believe that God wants to do great things once again in our time, in our day? What you believe will determine what you do.