A Question

It’s been a little over a week since my last post.

Posting weekly is the goal and would love to have something new at least twice a week. There are several ideas rattling around in my head but all of them take time to research and I’ve had precious little time for that this week. So in lieu of a post I’m asking a question.

Essentially I’m asking you to help, (how lazy is that?)

Here’s the question, which is really more of a challenge.

Can you make a scriptural case for

“Raising up the next generation”?

Not commentary, though your certainly welcome to comment on your facts. I want scriptural stories, scriptural principles, or out-and-out commands from God. I won’t let the cat out of the bag on my thoughts just yet. That will come next week.

I look forward to your thoughts.

And thanks for the help.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Leadership, 2 comments

The Friends of Job

What immediately springs to mind when you hear, “the friends of Job”?

It’s not positive is it?

We think of the misdiagnosis of Jobs problem and the subsequent bad advice. However it started out in a way we can learn from.

In Chapter 2 verse 11 it says they made an appointment together to “come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.”

In trying to be a friend I know that I have not always been as helpful as the friends of Job.

In Verse 13 “they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him.”

It was Job who finally spoke. I wonder how long the friends would have sat in silence. How long would I?

Several years ago a good friend of mine lost a child very unexpectedly  I didn’t want to call. I had no idea what to say. I had never been through anything like this but as a pastor I felt I had to say something. So I said…

“There are no words, if there were, I would say them.” And then we wept together.

Being a friend doesn’t always mean knowing what to say. It often means we mourn with those who mourn and we rejoice with those who rejoice. It means making an appointment with other friends or just making a decision to go, sit on the ground, and weep.

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I love the church. I love everything about church.

From Monday to Sunday there should be a vibrant expression of the church. The Sunday gatherings are great and I think God likes Sunday morning the best as well. The Bible says He loves the gates more than the tents. The gates are where the people gather. I have this picture in my mind of an excited expectant King anticipating the gathering of His people.

I also am a fan of small groups as they relate to your context. There should be a place for us to fellowship during the week in a way that is not possible on Sunday morning. A place where we unpack the scripture and work out real life in the context of relationship.

But there must be more than this.

There are 8760 hours in a year. Listening to one 20 minute sermon each week only accounts for .002% of those hours. When you add a small group you get to .011% of the total. Both of these expressions are critical but not sufficient.

When you compare those totals to the amount of media bombardment we receive each day it’s no wonder we are a defeated church.

We are a people called and created to live life in the context of community. Walking together, encouraging one another, learning from one another. We try to systematize discipleship which can be helpful but often the relationship aspect of discipleship suffers.

It’s time to rethink every paradigm we have as it relates to church life. I’m interested in what you think.

What does authentic community look like?
If you could design the church just for you what would it look like?

Insanity is doing what you’ve always done expecting a different result. It’s time for new wine, a fresh revelation. I don’t think we need a reformation rather a return to principles placed in a modern context.

What are those from your perspective?

I will be on top of the comment moderation and hopefully we can have a lively conversation. Please weigh in. I look forward to your thoughts.

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A Different Perspective on Excellence.

I ran across this quote from Rev. Thomas Fuller from the 17th century and thought I would add this for context when talking about excellence. I’ve spoken here before of my definition of excellence which is: To offer the best I have, something above and beyond or different from the norm. Something costly.

Please consider this as an example:

Lord, my voice is by nature harsh and untunable, and it is vain to lavish any art to better it. Can my singing of psalms be pleasing to thy ears, which is unpleasant to my own? Yet though I cannot chant with the nightingale, or chirp with the blackbird, I had rather chatter with the swallow, yea, rather croak with the raven, than be altogether silent. Hadst though given me a better voice, I would have praised thee with a better voice. Now what my music wants in sweetness, let it have in sense, singing praises with understanding. Yea, Lord, create in me a new heart (therein to make melody), and I will be contented with my old voice, until in thy due time, being admitted into the choir of heaven, I have another more harmonious bestowed upon me.

Granted if his voice is harsh and untunable we probably don’t want him “leading” worship but I hope this provides a little balance to the Excellence conversation.

What are your thoughts?

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Post-Election Post

If you know me, you know I have many thoughts and many opinions about politics and about the election outcome specifically. I will however keep them to myself.

4 years ago I was very vocal and very engaged on social media and on this blog and I fear it accomplished nothing but animosity. These spaces are too small to contextualize and communicate in a way that reflects my heart. So I made a decision. The only things I posted relating to politics, save maybe one or two, have been related to how our republic works and the big picture ideas I hoped would inform those who stumble across what I have to say. Along with that I decided to put all of my energy into building that which is dear to the heart of God.

God is passionate about his prize creation. God created man in His image and desires and pursues relationship with us relentlessly. I also believe God’s chosen vehicle to reach the lost in these last days is the local church. So Kim and I have made a decision to focus our energy there.

Earlier this year we established a ministry under the covering of Life in Christ Church in Limon CO we are calling, for now, Trobee Ministry Partners. Our heart is to partner with those who build the local church. We feel like we have a calling like Nehemiah to stand beside and encourage pastors and leaders of smaller churches. Sometimes leading a church can be the loneliest place on earth and we want to come alongside leaders and walk with them.

We hope to do that in several ways. I will continue to do worship team retreats focusing on helping people understand their role in the church is to be a ministry of helps. We have a vision to come to smaller churches and facilitate a sabbatical for their pastor while teaching the congregation about rest and stewardship, among other things, while the pastor is being refreshed.

Our vision is still developing but we are very excited about what God is doing in the local church and excited for opportunities to build new relationships with leaders.

If you would like to know more or ask how we can partner with your church give us a shout.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Personal, Politics, Practical, Worship, 0 comments

How To “Cause” Growth Of The Body

Over several years I have spoken with dozens of church leaders about how to measure growth in the church and it is universally agreed among them numbers are a poor reflection of health and growth. Don’t misunderstand I think numbers are important but how do we really know if the body is growing?

Did you know the Bible tells us exactly what we need to be doing in order to “cause” growth of the body?

In economics we know exactly what happens when we institute certain policies. A baker knows exactly what will happen when he adds a certain ingredient to bread. The same is true in the church.

Evangelism is one of the purposes of the church but I’ve noticed something; when we make evangelism the end rather than the beginning and make everyone an evangelist we de-emphasize the other gifts. Ephesians 4:11 says He gave some to be evangelists. I’m not saying only those with the gift of evangelism should share the gospel. We must always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. I have no problem sharing my faith or leading someone to faith in Christ but my primary gifting is not evangelism. What I’m saying is we must recognize all the gifting entrusted to the church.

One of my closest friends thinks he’s a policeman. His vocation is policeman but he’s really an evangelist. Every time I talk to him he tells me about someone he has talked with about faith in Jesus. When we go into a coffee shop he starts looking around for who he might share the gospel with. It’s natural for him like breathing.

I remember feeling guilty when missionaries would come to our church and say things like “you’re either called to go or you’re called to send”. Their passion is admirable but my reading of the New Testament lists 16-18 gifts, depending how you read them. Giving and evangelism are only two. It’s critical that we recognize and value the other 14-16 gifts.

Ephesians 4:15-16 says when we all grow up in:

 “Christ who is the head from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Emphasis mine.

Paraphrase: When we are all walking in the fullness of our gifts and calling the church will grow.

It’s not magic. It’s recognizing, calling out, equipping, and releasing gifting back into the body that causes the church to grow. This is a leadership principle. We cannot blame the sheep for not walking in their gifting. We must create a culture where all the gifts can flourish.

As always leave your comments below. What do you think?

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Who Should Lead Your Teams

You don’t have to look far to see how the church is losing its respect and priority in people’s lives. Just this morning two articles came into my news aggregator.

“19 Numbers Which Prove That America is Turning Away From Christianity”
“The Inevitable Collapse of Organized Religion in America”

I see articles like this every day. A couple of weeks ago I asked the question
“What Happened?”
There is no silver bullet but I would like to begin answering that question today from my perspective.

The church is dead, dying, and irrelevant partly because we have promoted high capacity doers over equippers.

Let me explain by using a football analogy.

We’ll use football, mostly because I love it, but also because stats are easy to get and evaluate.

After a very quick Google search I found:

There are just over 1 million high school football players in America.
About 67,000 of them go on to play in college.
There are currently 1,696 players in the NFL.
.166% of high school players will go on to play in the NFL.
.003% of high school players will go on to be head coaches in the NFL.

These 32 coaches must be pretty talented football players right? Let’s take a look.

Of the 32 coaches only 9 played in the NFL. The top 15 have a winning percentage over .500 and only 3 of them played a single snap in the NFL and only 5 played at a division one level. The old adage “if you can’t play coach” is true but for different reasons than we thought.

Leading/equipping and doing are different skillsets. There are a very few who can do both. Art Shell and Mike Ditka are among the 100 greatest football players of all time and were also pretty good coaches but they are the only two in the top 100.

When you’re looking for leaders do you go looking for the best “doers” or the best “equippers”? Do you look for Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? We definitely want Tom Brady on our staff but we want Bill Belichick to lead the team.

More on this later but today I leave you with this.

If we want the church to become vibrant again there are many things we need to focus on however; from a leadership perspective a top priority must be to put equippers in places of leadership.

Your thoughts?

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Seek out from “Among You”

Where did the idea of search committees come from?

I understand in some instances it works; however it shouldn’t be the norm.

The closest thing to a search committee I see in the New Testament is Acts 6:3 where it says;

“Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom”.

We pour over resumes’ until we find the qualifications we’re looking for and hope the person we choose is of good character and will catch our heart, vision, and culture once they arrive.

What would our church’s look like if we were to create an environment where we prayerfully evaluate those who’ve been entrusted to us, recognize their gifting, call out those gifts, encourage them, equip them, and release them? Giving them permission to operate in their gift?

We are called to be world changers. Our leaders must be equippers not just the best doers. (more on this next time)

Leaders must equip. We are given a ministry for the purpose of stewardship until we pass it on to the one we have raised up. We need to build leaders who go to their leaders and say “ I’ve worked myself out of a job. What else do you have for me?”

Is your organization a safe place for leaders to tell you they’ve worked themselves out of a job? Are you prayerfully recognizing, calling out, equipping, and releasing the gifting entrusted to you? It’s a slower process but grows deep roots.

As always would love to hear your thoughts.

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The Sheep Are Not At Fault

The sheep are getting a bad rap. Articles and conversations everywhere talk about a lack of commitment from church people.

Recently a friend called and said “I’ve been asked to sign a contract to be on the worship team”. A conversation on a social networking site was titled “How do I get commitment from my worship team?” One solution was to “fire” them and make them re-audition every year.

The sheep are accused of not having the proper priorities or they don’t have a heart for the lost or they’re too materialistic or have a consumer mentality. Though these things may be true on some level please consider this:

We have the church we’ve planted.

I believe every problem on earth is a leadership problem. I don’t believe it’s a heart issue for most pastors and leaders. I’m confident of your desire to see the saints equipped and the world changed. What I’m suggesting is a re-evaluation of the process we have embraced as a church to get there.

People will prepare themselves to the level of their perceived opportunity.

I’ll never forget the first time I came early to a men’s meeting in Bible College. When I arrived the Men’s pastor met me at the door and asked if I would give a quick encouraging word to the leaders. I immediately began to scramble for something relevant and encouraging to share. I promise you I never came unprepared again. Knowing I had an opportunity to bless and encourage those leaders caused me to always come prepared to share.

We must create a culture of opportunity for people to serve and flourish in their gifts. We must be actively looking for the gifting in those entrusted to us and give them opportunities to step out in a safe place where they have the freedom to fail. It’s critical then to let them know how they did and how to improve. Encouragement goes a long way.

The quickest way to get people planted is to get them serving in their gifting. Not using people to meet needs and serve events but allowing them to operate in their gifting.

I have much more to say on this. That’s enough for today. What are your thoughts?

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