Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lately I've heard a lot of the term "successful ministry".

Interesting term.

What does that mean?

Depends who you ask actually. Some would define it as 'you have so many bodies on average in a room at a particular time'. Others would say 'did they have fun?' or 'were they entertained'? We live in a time where success is measured by immediate results or physical aesthetics. In church, I have seen more often then not that success is measured in how large your group is...how many church buildings you have. It is often denied...but ministers...leaders...elders...teachers are filled with pride over their large buildings. The buildings become almost like objects of worship. The size of our congregations become the litmus test for success.

I'm pretty happy that we don't have roadblocks like big expensive buildings here at RCC. Big buildings are nice...and they certainly have their purpose, but I think they often get in the way. They put us into the mindset that we (collectively us as the local church) are more important and we need to take care of our WANTS first.

But buildings wasn't the purpose of this post.

It's about ministry.

Successful ministry...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:27

Physical needs are met. Spiritual needs are met. God is glorified.

Wordly success vs. Godly success

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words cannot express my shear frustration.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I have to share this.

I came across one of the greatest things I have ever seen.


Its a multicampus/internet church. The preaching that I listened to this morning is just incredible and they have TONS AND TONS of FREE resources for churches. Basically, whatever they do and produce and write is available for any church to use. Wow...imagine that! If you want 30 minutes of video for $99 you can go here (you're basically payign for Doug Fields' name), or you can go to a place that offers it free online with no fine print.

But this stuff at lifechurch is good and its free!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Things have been crazy lately. I just haven't had time to post anything or even play my World of Warcraft! This past weekend was "Work on the wedding" weekend. The tuxedos are picked out. Our invitation list is nearly complete. We finished our gift registry (Walmart, Kohls and Target...just look on their website and look up either one of us or our date July 14th). Basically all we have left to do thats crucial at this moment is find a photographer. All of the other 'main stuff' is done.

I got involved in "Enter His Courts". For those of you that don't know, EHC is an area basketball ministry. Now...I know nothing about basketball, so when Bill asked me to help coach his 2nd and 3rd graders team, I was a little reluctant but wanted to get involved somehow so I agreed. My first practice was a little sketchy. Bill asked me to help half the team work on defense. Thats like asking a dog to fly. But apparently I did something right because on our last game, our defense was amazing! I rock. Just kidding. But it's been fun thus far and we got some great kids.

Ministry has been interesting. I say interesting because lots of things are really good and there are a few frustrations. We're really at a critical moment in this congregation's life. We are at that size of a church where you either grow, or slowly die. I think our leaders have a great vision and a keen sense as to where God is calling, but this is so critical a time that if anything is done for "selfish ambition" or "vain conceit" it is going to fall flat and utterly fail. I am convinced that this is what happened to my home church. They made what I now call "medecisions". "Let us serve ourselves first." The church split into factions and the membership dropped 50+%.

Thats what happens when people take their eyes off of Christ. They start to slip into the water that they were previously walking on.

But like I said, overall I am confident that we are going to do everything we can to seek God's will and give him ALL the glory in all of it. But continue to pray for us. Pray for our leaders. Pray that we continue to seek His face in all of this. This decisions and plans are critical. We don't want to sit around and just become stagnant. We want and desire to bring people to Christ...not to just put on a show and hope people come and see it, but to actively GO OUT and seek the lost.

Wow...completely didn't expect to go off on that tangent!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It could be completely possible that I'm reading too much into the text. But in my trek thru the Gospels I came across a familiar passage:

"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." - Mark 8:31-33

Did you see it?

It's in that last verse:

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

The other synoptic Gospels omit this small section. Matthew gives greater detail to what Peter said and Luke omits the rebuking completely. Which I can understand, because the major point of the passage is the cost of being a disciple.

This struck me that for a moment, Jesus considered it. He thought to himself that maybe he didn't have to go to a cross and die. We know and remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethesmane asked the Father to take the cup from him if at all possible. But after looking at his disciples, he remembered the mission. He remembered that these were the people he loved, and they represented all of humanity. Twelve men, including a betrayer, at that moment became the symbol for all of humanity. Me. You. Your neighbor.

You get to a point in your Walk where you become increasingly aware of your wretchedness. The "vomit you return to". I needed this passage this morning, and I'm thankful that My Father gave it to me as an encouragement. That no matter how bad or sinful I am, he still loves me. And in that moment when he looked at his disciples, he remembered me.

He remembered the mission to save me.

And you.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Plastic Jesus

Church was good yesterday. When you work in the church...Sunday is often more of a workday then a day or worship and rest. Yesterday was different though and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The discussion from Sunday school got me thinking about how we market Jesus. I read a lot every day. Not so much books, but blogs. I like to read what other people in ministry are writing about and thinking about on a daily basis. I read a lot of Mark Oestricher from Youth Specialties. I read a couple of professor blogs from various Christian colleges. But I read one that is interesting. Church Marketing Sucks has me divided a lot of the time. Sometimes they say a lot of good stuff that I agree with and think "Wow! That's cutting edge and I think thats what the church needs!" and there are times when I'm like "What? You might as well call yourself Wal-mart Christian Church!"

Their most recent article didn't set well with me and of course I was compelled to comment.

The problem with church marketing today is too broad of a topic to cover in just one short post. But one thing that sticks out to me is that it makes Christians lazy. A statistic that I heard over and over again in Bible College: 90% of the work done at a church is done by 10% of the people. Why? I think a couple of reasons. 1) because they are used to having their ministers and other paid staff do it 2) lack of spiritual maturity and 3) the church "markets" stuff so people don't have to do it!

I'm all about trying to make our church more visitor accessible, but not to the point where we are abstaining from our personal responsibility as Christians to bring the Gospel to other people! When we "market Jesus", we are making things easier to the point that it encourages laziness and we don't even know it!

Let me give a fictional example. Let's say that Easyroad Christian Church says "We want to bring more people into the church" so their answer is "Let's have a Christmas Musical! We can have a big complicated program and bring the unchurched in that way!" So they do, and they have an altar call and 10 people come and accept the Lord! A couple of questions: How committed are those people that came to know Christ? They're in a mass of people they don't know. No relationships to keep them grounded, committed and accountable. How are those people going to be taught and discipled? Most of the time what happens is "Hey! You're a Christian! There's a party going on in heaven! See you on Sunday!" and thats it!

No individual had to come and form a relationship with that person. That baby Christian has no foundation.

We need personal responsibility in each Christian to fulfill Matthew 28. It is not the "church's" job to evangelize, but the individual Christian.

Did Jesus say "Go into all the earth, bringing people to church" ? No. He said "Go and make disciples".