Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
What Were You Given?
We live the given life, not the planned.But even if we accept that, there is another step and that is what part of the life we are given do we look at? I know far too many people that focus on the bad when there is so much good around them.
As a consultant, I lose clients from time to time - sometimes big clients. But God has always blessed me - always there has been enough. Yet, when I lose a client I tend to focus on the loss instead of all the clients I still have. I tend to worry about the income lost instead of maximize the income available. I focus on the wrong stuff.
God always gives us enough if we just bother to take the proper inventory. Sometimes He removes to make room for something better. But when He does He provides enough in the interim.
But where things get really interesting is when I quit worrying about what I have been given or had taken away and look at the source of all of it. For there there are no worries at all.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
How Political Correctness Wins
- First, secularization has caused many churches to lose a sense of their supernatural mission.
- Second, pastors are afraid of being disliked.
- Third, pastors are fearful that they will be labeled intolerant.
I get in trouble here sometimes for complaining about how many people want to get paid to do ministry, but cannot help but observe that such lies at the root of this. The fear cited is not, I don't think, a fear of being disliked - it is a fear of losing parishioners which means the church is less "successful" and the pastors earning power lessened.
This, then, speaks to several important issues. We need to restore a higher bar to church leadership and especially paid leadership. We need the kind of people that are mature enough to overcome such temptation to fear. We also need leadership that is deft enough to register objection to political correctness in a loving manner - no small matter that.
We need to change how we measure success - tempting though it is to think so, it is not butts in pews and dollars in the plate. Yes, success will likely result in those things, but using them as metrics makes it to easy to shoot for the metrics instead of what underlies them. Indirect measurement of anything is a tricky thing.
Thirdly, we have to raise up lay leadership. It is my considered opinion that if all discover their sense of ministry and calling and understands that such is not unique nor tied to remuneration that those who do get paid will have their burden eased considerable and the temptation to shoot for numbers will be reduced.
As Orsi makes plain here there is more at stake than simply the church. As the church dies, society becomes less.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
What's A Church?
After overcoming a lifelong drug addiction, I came to God and started a church with my wife. It’s called the River City Recovery Ministries in Cambridge, Minn., and includes a church called The Fish House and homes for recovering addicts. I currently serve as the senior pastor and executive director. We do a lot of ministry to addicts and their families and saw 400% growth during the first year.That's ministry, but that is NOT church. That's even good ministry, but it is not church.
A community of believers must have diversity - narrow focus like that is decidedly not diverse. This is a gateway to church, but not church. This confuses solving a problem in one's life, a big huge problem, but just one, with a life of commitment to Christ.
In the course of becoming the person God wants us to be, our problems, big and small are fixed - but it is only one aspect of the transformation that Christ intends in our lives. Focusing on that one aspect robs us of the full richness that a life with Christ offers.
I know too may people for whom being a Christian measn simply -"I got off drugs" or "I found happiness." That is selling Christianity so short - and it is so wrong in its focus. Christianity does so much more than just solve those issues - it remakes us into the people that were were created to be - wholly and completely.
All we really have to do is quit focusing on our needs and start focusing on His gifts.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Strong Enough To Bore Yourself
There's no better way to propogate your vision for your church than to repeat it. Often. Until you're blue in the face.This is a communication discipline that I sadly lack. As the communicator - it's boring, really, really boring. My intellect wants to move on.
Don't be obnoxious, but do work your main points into your messages, your meetings, and your one-on-one conversations.
Repetition is key.
Repetition is key.
But I think that fact points out the deeper issue. Communication of this type is not about what I wan tto say, but about what the listener needs to hear. It is a form of service.
I wonder how many preachers understand that? SO often I listen to sermons and hear the intellectual wanderings of they that fill the pulpit. They preach to themselves.
But that is not the point, is it? The point is what the congregation needs to hear. Even if that means saying the same thing, albeit a bit differently, week after week, after week.
One more point, more confession really. People who need hear things over and over and not stupid - inattentive perhaps, overwhelmed in other areas, but not stupid.
Monday, February 21, 2011
We Need Silence
Silence is a form of prayer that most of us (except my Quaker friends), know very little about and yet God so often comes to us in the quiet whisper that can only be heard in the midst of silence. I wonder how often we miss what God is wanting to say to us because our lives are always so surrounded by noise.As I write this I am sitting in a hotel room in the upper west side of Manhattan. I have been here for two days and all I can say is "AMEN!"
Last ngiht for exercise I walked from my clients at 18th and 7th to my hotel at 75th and Broadway - about 3 miles which is the same distance I walk almost every day at home for exercise. But at home I am generally with my wife and we tend to walk side streets where there is little traffic - or when we have daylight we walk a park where there is near wilderness. We talk, but we also enjoy companionable silence. I find the walks refreshing sometime even energizing.
But walking the streets of Manhattan is just wearing and tearing and exhausting. It's noisy, crowded and a constant negotiation, not with God but with the thousands of others on the sidewalks. Normally I would walk in Central Park, but this time of year the short daylight makes that difficult. Last night I got my exercise, but I did not get my refreshment. Who could turn a thought to God - my mind both conscious and unconscious had to address the realities of just getting down the street.
Every time I come to New York I crave silence. Even a hotel room cannot totally isolate one from the noise of the city. I am not a person that likes a lot of silence. Usually I have a radio on or something. But not here - I want quiet - I want rest - in this crowd I feel more isolated than in a park alone.
I think there is a lesson there.