Friday, August 29, 2008

Going for the Gold!

Even the best runner knows that the winner always gets the Gold....
But, what happens when you already have the gold.... what then? Who are you going against then??

YOURSELF! The best competitors are not only trying to beat everyone else, but they are also trying to beat their own best scores....

The whole time you are reading this, waiting for me to get to the deep theological views in this particular blog, I have just beaten my own record!

Last Month 5 Blog posts....
This Month....


Growing - The Conclusion part4

To Wrap up this particular discussion, I want to recap a few questions asked

  1. What does a "Healthy" church Look Like?
  2. What does a "Growing Church" look like?
  3. What does an "Effective" church look like?

In MY opinion, knowing that's all it ever is (an opinion)

A Healthy church is one that is always pointing people to Christ. Looks for opportunities to serve within their means and genuinely wants people to come to know Christ, their motivation for ministry is NOT the numbers, the bottom dollar, or how "Everyone Else" is doing it, but based on the call of God for that particular ministry.

A Growing Church, is typically defined by the numbers, and allot of emphasis is spent on parking, and crowd control if you will in relation to just moving the large numbers through the system. Most systems in this type of church seem to be focused on the event and not necessarily the people.... just by virtue of numbers there will always be a large crowd at any event... Although these are not all bad things, where it can be bad is when "The Event" is all there is.

An Effective church is one that has a mission, a purpose and a goal and will accomplish that weather or not anyone shows up to help. These types of churches are generally characterized by their Programs, and their focus on a few direct projects.

So what does it all mean here???

What type of church are you?? what type of church are we??

Ultimately I think it is important to constantly evaluate and find a balance between all three types of churches

I want us to be a Healthy, Growing, and Effective church!!! And that's what we are!!!!!

I'm just sayin!!!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still Growing....... part 3

As I continue, since my last post I have had no less than 5 conversations specifically surrounding this topic. I am amazed at how much emphasis is on this topic, and how little true direction can be found in the bible regarding church growth.
Let me expound on a few things if I could.
The bible says in Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.
It also says in Acts 2:47
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
Act 2:47 ...praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Unless I'm wrong, which, you know, I'm not... The focus throughout the word of God was never on the number of people.... instead the focus was on the heart of the people and their actions toward others....
a few examples -
  1. David and Goliath, the masses against the children of Israel, saved by one man with a heart toward God
  2. Isaiah (1:13) Phophesied, the incense of the children of Israel was an abomination to God, because their HEARTS weren't there
  3. Never once did Jesus ask peter if he had met His "Fish" quota, nor how many "Fish" he had caught

These are just a few other examples.... many many more, but I won't continue, because - even though God didn't expressly talk about numbers doesn't mean that we are foolish if we do! We are each responsible for what God has given us, to some it is a multitude, to others it's just a few loaves and a couple of fish. The important thing is that we are pointing others to the important thing----- GOD and Him Alone.

So what does that mean????

To take my clues from (yet again) the "WORD" - "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

How many talents have you/I been given, and what are we going to do with it? Add to it, do the best we can with what we got? or do we look at the person that has more talents and strive to be like them???

Last thought for now (I will have more later) Romans 9:21 - does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Growing Boy .... part 2

Yesterday, I left you with this thought;

How good, or how healthy you are has absolutely NOTHING to do with what tools you have to work with, or how much of something you have.

To continue.....

Over the last couple of years, I have been faced with numerous personal, and professional questions related to church growth. I had a friend of mine state "You cannot have an effective, relational church with more than 1000 people". This has always bothered me. I have never been one to focus on the numbers in church, but have always liked and wanted to be a part of a large thriving church.... which is where this blog comes from. As I have been searching, watching and asking.... a couple of questions have come to my mind

1. What does a "Healthy" church Look Like?
2. What does a "Growing Church" look like?
3. What does an "Effective" church look like?

I have spent a lot of time talking with friends in ministry about the differences in different churches and their individual ministry styles. Most of the discussion revolves around the juxtaposition of the "Seeker" (SE) and "Spirit-Led"(SL) church models. I have always been apart of the "Spirit-Led" model. One of the most talked about points, which I will expound on, is the issue of "The Numbers" i.e, how many people are attending the church in question.

I have heard ministers in the "SL" model talk about numbers from the perspective of ... "It's not about the numbers.... but how effective you are at ministry that counts"
At the same time ministries from the "SE" model say "We are healthy, and therefore can reach more people effectively"

Please be aware, that Our church, though leaning more toward the "SL" side of ministry, is still growing very well, and is no way the reason I am discussing this topic

Let me start by saying this..... Bigger doesn't mean better, nor does smaller mean more "Relational".

As I look at this discussion, I see that it is more or less like debating the health benefits of Pepsi vs. a piece of chocolate cake.... pointless. Ministry is and should be about one thing and one thing ONLY. Bringing people to a better understanding of Christ! How do you do that??? The options are endless, but that is not what this particular blog is about.

I think it's time the church stop looking at numbers to justify how well they are doing, and look at the heart of the ministry....
Are people coming to a better understanding of Christ?? YES?? Then you are doing well!!! The rest is just details.
But while I am on it, let's talk about the details for a moment.

1. Size - Say you aren't growing in numbers.... does that mean you have stagnated? well maybe... but I think a better question to ask would be.... why aren't people coming? your particular theology? Style? "Relational-ness" or lack thereof? If you can seriously ask these questions... and hear the answer (Weather or not you agree with it) I believe it will speak volumes as to your health as a ministry and effectiveness.

At the same time... If you are growing in leaps and bounds, are you healthy??
well... again, I think the same questions need to be asked.... Just because people are flocking to you, doesn't necessarily mean you are healthy.... you may just be more popular! Why are people flocking? Because you have a great band, great theology? or because it is easy and non-confrontational? or because it feels good??

No matter what size you are, or what state of growth, you need to ask these type of questions so you can really know if you are healthy. Growing up, I was a BIG Kid, and it wasn't till later in life I found out I was NOT Healthy... just big! Now I am trying to get healthy

That's all for today.... more to follow

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let Em have another piece of cake... he's a growing boy!

I used to LOVE going to grandma and grandpa's house when I was a kid. It was phrases like "He's a Growing Boy" that would allow me to indulge and get pretty much whatever I wanted out of my grandparents. Unfortunately, it also led to the whole overweight and food allergy problem. Not that it was their (or anyone but mine) fault.... but what I was learning was that Growth was based on getting. I remember getting ready to go into the sixth grade. My sister had been playing the flute for two years, and I wanted to join the band.... My parents didn't have much money at the time, so they gave me a trumpet that had been sitting in storage for about 20 years.

Before I go too far, let me tell you about this trumpet..... When I got the trumpet, I remember the first thing I noticed was the smell. It was fairly pungent and had sort of an acrid overtone.... later I was to learn that is what happens when you mix brass and mold-- ie not pretty! The tuning slide had not been moved or oiled in at least the 20 years it had been sitting around, and had magically welded itself in place (Something else i learned WAS possible without a welder). The case was brown with a brown leather trim on the edges and the inside looked like orange velvet (that used to be red). I was NEVER Prouder in my LIFE!!! This was MY trumpet.... I had my own instrument, and was beginning to walk down the path to be my own person, with my own unique identity (and a crappy fallin apart trumpet that you couldn't tune if your life depended on it.... luckily we didn't live in jersey and weren't related to the mafia... but I digress).

I began the sixth grade ready to succeed with the words of my parents ringing in my ears.... "We give him 2 weeks and he will quit". What motivation! They weren't expecting me to fail, but up till that point in life, I hadn't showed real interest in much of anything.Let me tell you though... I was PROUD of my trumpet! I began band learning all I needed to know to succeed. Everyone else in the band was in the same place as I was... just beginning.... most of the other kids had rental horns, or hand me downs..... until...... DUN DUN Dahhhh (Dramatic music).... HERBIE!
Herbie, was a good friend, we hung out and goofed around in class. When He started in band he was playing the rented horn.... not a big deal. We were all learning the basics, technique, what it means to have "Tone" etc.etc. I was rapidly excelling and at this point in the game, I had learned how to tune my trumpet just by how I played (I had no other options unfortunately) and was doing very well. Ended up in first chair by the end of the first semester, and stayed there till I stopped taking band in the 11th grade. About halfway through the first year, Herbie came into class with an unusually large grin on his face.... something had changed..... he put his case down, and put on white gloves.....?????? What???? We were all confused, thinking he may have just joined a cult..... opened up his case and pulled out his trumpet...... WOW!!!! A Bright light hit us all and nearly blinded us in the glory that was Herbie's SILVER Trumpet!!!!!

Now This was not just any silver trumpet.... but a BACH Stradivarius.... $1500 piece or shiny trumpet! I just KNEW that at that moment... I had lost first chair... Herbie just won! He had the prettiest trumpet I had ever seen.... not only did all of his valves and slides work, and work well, but I had NEVER seen a trumpet without a dent. He even had a little leather valve guard.... man he had it all!!! I would had been jealous, but I was so confused as to how it was possible to have such a machine! Then Herbie began to play........

Herbie, if you happen across this post, please don't think ill of me.....

Herbie wasn't first chair, but at the same time Herbie wasn't last chair either. I think the guy that was last chair didn't even come to the school.... we always saw him on days there was a special event or field trip.... and I think he was 35 repeating the 6th grade.... not sure though. Herbie sat next to that guy. He was usually 3rd or 4th trumpet, and at one point when there was a lice epidemic going around I think Herbie made it all the way up to second chair next to me. As he began to play, I was amazed yet again. I didn't know that it was possible for a trumpet so beautiful that it brought a tear to your eye just looking at it, could sound so bad that it would make a goose fly north for the winter just to put itself out of its misery!!!

(This is the part of the blog where I get to the point)
I learned a very valuable lesson that day.... How good you are has absolutely NOTHING to do with what tools you have to work with, or how much of something you have. This is something that I wish I had to put to practice a bit more growing up... but a good revelation none-the-less.
This lesson has come full circle in the last few years, to be one of the most powerfull guiding line for my life and ministry... in my next post, I will go into more detail as to how and why.... but for now I leave you with this....

How good, or how healthy you are has absolutely NOTHING to do with what tools you have to work with, or how much of something you have.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The bikers guide to the secret handshake.

Every society, weather it be secret or not, has a certain expected ritual in which individuals identify themselves with that particular society. In the office world, it has a form of "Casual Fridays", In the Party School Fraternity, it looks more like a upside-down beer chugging contest. Whatever society you are a part of, there are rituals, regardless if you know it or not!

Bikers beware, what I am about to share has been passed down from generation to generation, unknowingly through time. It is a truth that will awaken the realization to others that bikers, although they work hard to communicate their solidarity, are actually one of "Them"... A part of the "In" crowd (please don't egg my house or throw rotten fish at my windows, you know that its true).

Just like the frat boys of old, or the Illuminati... The secrets in the handshake (or beer guzzle if you prefer).

It begins at about 100 meters out, the recognition of another biker heading your way. Any further than 100 meters makes it more difficult to distinguish if it is a "True" motorcycle, or a set of motorized wheels that an 8 year old would get for Christmas, or a last attempt mode of transportation for someone who can't keep a license if their liver depends on it (and in most cases it does).
At this point the handshake truly begins....

step 1. Recognition - I see them, do they see me?
step 2. Loyalty? - What kind of bike are they riding? Harley, Harley Wannabe, Crotch Rocket? and will they respond if I initiate?
step 3. Execute - The Most Vital of Steps!
step 4. The Return
step 5. The George Lucas!

Steps 1&2 are fairly self explanatory, yet critical to the "Brotherhood". It's not a pretty site when you let slip a brotherhood tradition, to someone who is driving a metal frame powered by a lawnmower!

Step 3 - The Most important, is the execution of the "Secret Handshake".
The execution begins from the neck. As you are riding (regardless of what type of bike you may be on) at the point of execution the bottom of your chin should be parallel to the gas tank on which you sit. The neck should be limber, but still firm in that you don't want a sudden gust of wind to ruin all that you are preparing for.

At this point, the chin should be lifted heavenward no more than 15-20 degrees at which point the chin should stop moving and begin its return to its resting place parallel to the tank. This movement should take precisely 1.5 seconds to complete from start to finish. Any faster, and you risk looking like you are having a spasm, any slower and the people driving next to you will begin looking for the piece of sky that is falling. This move should not exceed more than 15-20 degrees, any more than this and you risk whiplash, and a good sound laughing from your passing brother

This is the tricky part.... As soon as the chin has begun to move, the left arm should also move... out away from the body turning only at the shoulder, elbow locked in the same position as you were driving. The arm should move out so the left hand is facing the opposite street ready to greet the passing driver. Now not everyone sees the importance of the hand shape as I do. Let me explain.

Some bikers prefer to extend the first 2 fingers out as the "Peace" sign... This is perfectly acceptable, however discouraged by me because of its insinuation that you are a part of another crowd... the hippies.

Others see it as just sticking your hand out fully extended.... here's the problem with that;
1. it looks like you are trying to fly-- please, for the love of all that is holy... don't flap
2. If your arm is raised too high, you can be mistaken for a white supremacist, or one of the Luftwaffe.

My preferred method is sort of a mixed approach - first two fingers go lazily out the other fingers stay in roughly the same shape as while riding. This speaks volumes... it says, Hey man, what's happnin.... your cool, I'm cool --- but not too cool, ya dig??

Now at this point you have completed the execution!

Step 4. The return. If you have judged carefully, and the other driver has seen you then as soon as your arm has been extended you should see the return "Handshake" from the other driver.

If there is no return, don't worry... You may not have completely botched the execution.... It may be that the other driver has misjudged and assumed you wouldn't "Shake" because of bike breed type, or other factor. However it may still be your fault so try every time you see another biker (of course there could be other environmental factors, wind, water, sun, etc.)

Step 5. The George Lucas, Affectionately called this, by me, based on his use of sunsets as a metaphor for change... At this stage of the "handshake" there is nothing left to do but to ride off into the sunset, hoping for another opportunity to prove your mettel in the brotherhood that is the biker!