November 30, 2006

Developing Great Follow-up

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the process of making people feel welcome and following-up on their visit; especially as it applies to a small church or church plant. I have been reading the Church Hop Blog, (I blogged about them here.) and I attended the Church Planting For Dummies Conference in Indianapolis. I have also been inspired by Seth Godin's post of follow-up.

I believe that smaller churches and church plants have to build on their strength which is relationships. So here are some things I want to include in my follow-up procedure for the new church I will be planting:

1. Follow-up begins with a good welcome and a great atmosphere. I plant to create a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Coffee, good music, casual dress, but also a welcoming team that treats people like they are being welcomed into their home. I also want to provide adequate information about the church so that people don't have to search for the information they need. This also means having an informative and constantly updated webpage.

2. An opportunity to meet the pastor. This goes to a commitment to building relationships and being approachable as the pastor. At the end of the service I want to invite people to the front (or some where else in the facility) to meet me on a personal basis. I will have to work on remembering names.

3. A handwritten note. No form letters. I know this may be tough as we grow, but I think this adds a personal touch that they will not get anywhere else. If I met them following the service, I will try to include anything we spoke about.

4. A gift card. I would like to include a gift card as a special thank you. Our church will be a church that exhibits generosity, and this extends to our visitors.

5. An invitation to a visitor's welcome meeting. Every month or every-other month we will hold a reception for visitors to check out the vision and direction of our church. We will hold this off-site (being offsite gives us the opportunity to build relationships with local vendors as well) and food will be included. At this meeting they will also learn about our membership meeting, opportunities for serving, and small groups.

6. A personal phone call. This will be visitor-focused, and will not address anything we do.

I am sure there is more than can be done. Do you have any additional steps that could help with follow-up? What do you do for follow-up in your church?

Conversations with a Future Church Planter pt. 3

Here is part 3 in the series: Conversations with a Future Church Planter. This is an e-mail conversation that a friend and I had over the past week or so. I thought it would be good as it begins with one model of ministry, but turns to something deeper and more focused. This is a developing, growing conversation. Please read the rest of the series. Here is the rest of the series. My Friend responded:

I agree with everything you said, but have a slightly stronger stance against multi-site. It seems to be sweeping the country these days, and as someone who would like to plant a church (a real church) someday, I find the idea of being a non-preaching “campus” pastor who supports a one-size-fits-all model extremely distasteful. What is incarnational about a video feed? Why should church be “branded” like Starbucks or McDonalds? You may not know what you’re getting when you visit a local church… it could be a real loser… or it could be innovative, and focused on people in the community… rather than being a slick and professional presentation of God, Inc.

That, to me, is freaking boring… and I’d gladly take my chances with the local flavor!

That may not be entirely true for coffee… but I’ll tell you this much…visiting a town is one thing (Starbucks), but once I find a really good local, innovative coffeehouse, I’ll forsake the Green Mermaid any day…As much as I support Starbucks in my town, it’s only because there are no good locals (yet).

And what happens when another “brand” of church moves into town, and it has a better flavor (better music, slicker preaching) than the multi-site church you dumped thousands of dollars into (rather than birthing a church plant)? The overly-entertained, consumeristic “customers” are going to bail on you, dropping you like a bad habit. In the business world, you’re only popular if you’re the coolest thing in town. New churches have to deal with that too, at least on some level, but not nearly as much as the franchised church movement.

November 29, 2006

EPIC Evangelism


Steve Bowen has a great post about how he uses Len Sweets EPIC Lens to prepare outreach events for the church. Check it out here.

I get to work in a place that reaches out to the lost all the time. I had a great day the other day. Check it out here.

Conversations with a Future Church Planter pt. 2


Yesterday, I began this series with this post.

Here is the rest of the series.

Here is my response to my friend's e-mail.

I have never been a proponent of the multi-site movement. I think it has its benefits, but I have reasons other than "brand" identity.

My reason revolve around the "calling" of the pastor and the personal interaction. In multi-site arrangements, the preaching is via video, and makes preaching a "professional" event. God uses un-professional people, speaking from their hearts about God's work to change lives. Glossy preachers, even though they are very good, remove the personal aspect. They also remove the life experience and all that god has done in the "pastors" life from the environment.

I don't totally disagree with it. I think there are times and places, but as a brand-promotion thing, I don't like it.

I once thought of using a satellite type thing when I was in my first church plant. But I wasn't going to use video preaching. I was going to plant multiple sites as the planter/preacher for each site, and then eventually turn them over to someone else.

Despite people's dislike for the Starbuck's brand, they certainly haven't stopped buying the coffee. They may not be blogging from Starbucks because they charge for WIFI. But if you are traveling across country, most people stop at Starbucks because they know there is a standard of excellence.

What do you think?

November 28, 2006

Conversations with a Future Church Planter

A few days ago a friend of mine e-mailed me an article. The discussion stimulated from the article led us from the multi-mega church discussion to issues of competency, vision, adequacy, calling, and church planting. I asked permission to share these discussions because I feel they address some issues that many church planters/pastors face. My responses are given humbly, knowing that I do not have all the answers.

Over the next few days, I will be posting this conversation.

Here is the rest of the series.

Here is the first e-mail from my friend:

This article mixes two of my biggest passions in life (effective church and good coffee), while illustrating a potential weakness of the multi-site church model. Let me know what you think. I’d love get your feedback.

Here is the article.


November 26, 2006

Waiting for the Next Loser

The Buckeyes have a few weeks of waiting to see who will be leaving the field as the loser of the national championship while the Buckeyes raise the trophy in victory. USC, Michigan (it would be nice to beat them twice in one year!), or Florida...Doesn't matter! With one loss, none of them really deserve to be there anyway!

November 22, 2006

I Love My Job!!!!

Some days are so awesome, they remind me why I do what I do. When I was called into the ministry, God used the passage of the Lost Sheep from Matthew for the call. I knew that reaching the lost was what pastors were supposed to do, but most of them didn't. The shepherd left the 99 sheep in the fold, and went out in search of the one lost sheep. Today, I got to help one of those lost sheep into the fold.

I arrived at the church around 8am for a meeting. There was a gentleman standing there waiting to speak with someone...anyone. None of the senior pastors were there yet, so I sat down with him for awhile. He shared about the hard times he was facing, and eventually I realized that his deepest need was a relationship with God. I did not blow off the other problems, I just sensed God was saying that his deeper need was spiritual. He wanted to change, but couldn't. He wanted things to improve, but he needed to focus on getting himself healthy; especially spiritually.

I asked if he had ever made a faith commitment to Jesus Christ. I told him how he needed to give the leadership of his life over to God and about God's promise of forgiveness and leadership. He said, "I have been wanting to do that for some time. I grew up Catholic, but I never went to church. I want a relationship with God."

I asked him if he wanted to pray and ask God to take control of his life and lead him. He said, "Yes, but I don't know how." I led him in a short prayer of surrender and confession, and it was written all over his face that something was different. Awesome!!!!!

Then tonight the church gathered and gave out Thanksgiving to more than 250 families in the Dayton area. We come together for a short time of worship and instruction, and then go out an deliver the meals. Our first delivery didn't realize we were coming. Somehow she missed the message and thought she just wasn't approved (we are only able to go to certain zip codes in our area because of the vastness of the need). She was shocked when we showed up. It made her night that she was not able to give her family Thanksgiving. Awesome!!!!!

November 21, 2006

Cool Time Waster

Not that having ADD isn't distraction enough. I found this. To see what others have done with this go here.

See you all in about 10 hours.

10 Keys to Developing Your Vision

Being a leader requires vision. Not necessarily physical vision, but definitely the ability to dream a better future and get people excited about that vision.

I don't see vision as the end all of leadership. There are things that are more important for a leader to have than just vision: integrity, a radical pursuit of God, leadership ability, etc. The ability to visionize is part of the leadership process, but only part. And, the vision must be God's vision for the community you are in, or else it simply your own desires.

How do you know if a vision is from God? It burns. It burns inside you to see it accomplished.

So how do you develop vision?

1. Have a consistent time with God. I believe that regular time spent with God is essential to the Christian life. I also think that spending concentrated amounts of time with God in search of a vision without a regular relationship is like going to God only when things go wrong. If the leader is not spending regular time with God, it also reveals deeper problems in the leader's spiritual life.

2. Spend concentrated periods of time in prayer, fasting, silence, and solitude. Once the leader has a consistent time with God, the concentrated periods of time are more effective. Prayer and fasting place the responsibility of the vision on God. It is His vision working in the leader He has called that will accomplish the vision. When fasting, we put aside our desires (in the form of food, noise, and company) and seek the will of God.

3. Do your research. Know the who, what, when, where, and why of the area you are going to and the people you going to lead. God gave us brains, and often, while researching the area, God will give insight as you study the raw numbers.

4. Have an eraser. God-given vision often does not have all the details. It is a general direction. Sometimes the details are crystal clear. But often along the way, changes have to be made and course corrections have to be made.

5. Write stuff down. Take the time to write things down in a way that helps it become more understandable. Be precise, be clear, use bullet points to help you get the main points. After you have the basic structure and outline, then learn to tell it as a story. One activity that helps you tell your vision as a story is to write one. Try this: imagine you visited your visionary church for the first time, and you are writing an E-mail to a friend to tell them what you saw and experienced.

6. Know what is NOT PART of the vision. Vision is as much about what you are going to do as it is to know what you are NOT going to do.

7. Create Various Versions. You need to have a 30 second version, a 2 minute version, a 10 minute version, and a 30-40 minute version of your vision.

8. Have a mantra rather than a mission statement. I have been influenced away from mission statements in the last few years. They are often inspiring only to person who created it, and they are often redundant of the vision. I think, instead, we should have a mantra-a memorable statement that encompasses the essential message of the vision.

9. Ask others to help. As the primary leader, you need to know where you want to take church, but this does not preclude the inclusion of other leaders in your organization. Have people help you write stuff down. Ask them how they would explain your points. I would also include in this the need for a mentor and coach. You need people who have been there and done that.

10. Have it burn. If your vision doesn't burn inside you like a fire, you may not have found the vision. God-given vision is more like a calling. As a counter balance to this point, I think there are times when God gives visions that don't burn, or that were not meant to be fulfilled at the current ministry location; especially if you are a young leader. God often puts young leaders in positions that test and prepare them for something later in their life.

What would you add? How does God help you formulate your vision?

Read some of my other posts on vision: go here, here, and here.

November 20, 2006

Chchchchchanges


Today, I have spent some time changing the formatting on this blog. I am not an html expert, but if you see any problems, please let me know.

November 17, 2006

Religious Atheism


I found this article a week or so ago, but haven't had time to read it.

There is a new breed of aggressive atheism that is taking on flavors of a religious fundamentalism. Men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett (pictured at left, watch his talk at TEDs or download it here.) are looking to call out their fence-walking atheist brothers and sisters as enablers in their battle against religion and belief in God.

Unfortunately, one of the things making their argument so strong is that the church has often spoken without a full understanding of the facts. It also demonstrates that many people, speaking on behalf of the Church, have not worked with the utmost integrity. They have set up the proverbial straw men and proceeded to easily defeat their arguments.

Probably the most interesting thing about this whole thing is that the Church continues to do battle on the grounds of Science. Science has a very important role and purpose, but we often argue our support of the Bible from scientific grounds. Most of the stuff in the Bible will never be proven "beyond a shadow of a doubt." I don't mean that science, archeology, and history have nothing to prove in regards to the Bible, but nothing will be proven to the point where there is no doubt.

I found the paragraph of the article interesting,

The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there's always a chance we could turn out to be wrong.


What do you think about the article? How should we approach discussion with those who hold diametrically opposed views and opinions? When presenting a point-of-view that we disagree with, what standards should be used to ensure that the point-of-view is represented fairly?

November 16, 2006

8 People Who Have Influenced My Theology

Theologically speaking, I am a mixed bag. There have been numerous influences, and I am the better for it. Here are some people, in no particular order, who have greatly influenced my theology:

My daughter. In the few short minutes following her birth, I realized more about the love of God for me than in any theology class I had ever taken. (The picture if from a couple years ago...it doesn't seem possible that it goes that fast!)

Dr. David Cubie. Dr. Cubie was one of my theology professors in college, and he challenged me with his theological understanding of John Wesley. He made me more Wesleyan and Christian than Nazarene (when I was with that denomination).

John Wesley
. I have been continually challenged by his commitment to solid theology, social concern, ecclesiastical organization, and holiness.

Dallas Willard. Through his writing I have regained a proper understanding of holiness and the pursuit of God.

Richard Foster
. His book The Celebration of Discipline while not directly changing my theology did so by pushing me to make the pursuit of God priority over everything else. That, indirectly, changed my theology.

Brian McLaren. His commitment to missional Christianity and ability to question without losing faith challenges me. He asked questions I had harbored.

Steve Sjogren and Doug Roe. These two guys, one through his writing and the other through a personal relationship, have reiterated the power of serving others and the need to love others as part of the Gospel. This is another "indirect" change in my theology. Through the practice of service others, I have been changed.

Who are your influences?

November 15, 2006

A McMakeover


This morning my wife was watching the news. In the short time it took me to put on my shoes, I learned that McDonald's is undergoing a makeover. Large, cushy chairs, flat screen monitors, WIFI access, and fireplaces are going to replace the hard plastic chairs and brown floor tiles.

Businessweek.com has this to say. "After 30 years without a major design overhaul, the 51-year-old fast-food giant is adopting a hip new look. The world's largest hamburger chain is redesigning its 30,000 eateries around the globe in a 21st century makeover of unprecedented scale."

They will have three "zones." The "linger" zone, with soft chairs, sofas and WIFI, is for young adults and teenagers who want to hang out. The "grab and go" area is for those who eat alone. It will have raised stools and flat screen tv's with news, weather, and sports. The "flexible" zone has bench seating for families.

Nowhere, however, did I see an "edible food" zone. I like what I saw on television, but no change in look will help the food taste any better. Of course, I may be jaded after six years (note this amount of time is equal to the age of my daughter) of eating way too much McDonald's food.

November 14, 2006

Crazy Ebay Stuff


Every year our church holds a huge party for underprivileged children. The meal is catered, each child receives a gift...this thing is huge. More than 500 volunteers...the works.

In an attempt to raise money for this project, our Assistant Pastor, Scott Sliver is auctioning off a picture of himself on E-bay.

In a counter-move, the Youth and Young Adult Worship leader is auctioning off his picture.

Writing Better


Just finished reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

This book is a phenomenal read for those who want to write better. It is as good as On Writing by Stephen King

November 13, 2006

Rich Nathan


Rich Nathan is the pastor of the Columbus Vineyard Church and a leader in the Vineyard Board.

God's Politics blog has recently posted a transcript of an address Rich Nathan gave at "Voting our Values" Rally in Columbus, Ohio.

This is a good read, and you can listen to it here.

It is a good reminder that we should be careful in equating the political language with the language of the Kingdom of God. We must continually seek to bring about God's vision for our world, and to seek His face. We, as the church, have a calling to transform the world, and the political realm, while an important part of what we do, is not the Savior of the world-Jesus is.

Church Planting For Dummies: Day 3 Pt. 2


I need to post this before it gets too far removed from my mind. I came back from the conference on Saturday, and went right to work on the three services at the Church. I didn't post yesterday because I finally got to see my family.

Anyway...

Greg Dostal spoke at Saturday morning's session. Greg is in the middle of planting his first church, Act1 Vineyard, and came to speak as "someone in the trenches right now." Often when attending one of these conferences, as I have said before, you get the vision, leadership, blah, blah, blah stuff. All of that is good, but they often use that stuff to hide the fact that church planting is hard and painful.

When planting a church there are times of great joy and there are times of great pain. There are two or three who seem to launch and never look back on their way to 1,000+. But then there is everyone else. And even if they do skyrocket, they have to deal with being nomadic, personnel issues, people leaving, people getting angry, etc. just the same as everyone else.

Here are some of the notes I took:

Greg referenced Jeremiah 20:7-18 as part of his call and how he has experienced church planting. There is a tension between pain and joy in this passage. (Personally, I would be a little worried if my call came from the book of Jeremiah. They don't call him the Weeping Prophet for nothing!).

1. You have to have a call. Don't plant because you are unhappy with your church experiences or because you can't plug in anywhere else. More than half of the time, the call is the only thing to hold on to.

2.You must have a vision. You must be flexible. Vision development takes time to see come to fruition. God has an eraser, and while you may have in mind what you want to do, God may change and tweak that along the way.

3. Your spouse and your family needs to be completely into it. Satan always attacks your priorities and your family.

4. Pray. This may seem basic, but with the busy-ness of planting this can become easy to forget. Find time to spend with God-Pre-schedule this time.

5. Don't settle and Be exceptional. Do your best to bring excellence to whatever you do: preaching, music, gatherings, outreaches, BUT don't pretend you are a big church if you are not. If you pretend you are something you are not, you will be compared (like it or not) to those churches and you won't measure up.

6. No one will be as committed as you to the mission. There are people who will come close. But you are the one on whom God has placed the call for that church.

7. The percentage of people who will show up for your outreaches (by outreaches I mean mostly Servant Evangelism) will be LOW!! Just expect to be the only ones sometimes.

8. Go after the unchurched. Pluck people from the fire. Get close enough to smell like smoke.

The two most powerful things you as a church planter has to share is:
1. The Blood of Jesus
2. Your own story

Find creative ways to tell His story and your story. No matter how much you are communicating, you are never communicating your story or the vision enough.

November 12, 2006

This May Be Stupid to Some...

I finally discovered what the word is for that "after-the-rain" smell: Petrichor

Being a writer and a person who loves words, I knew there had to be a word for it, but could never find it.

Kind of anticlimactic!

November 11, 2006

Church Planting For Dummies: Day 3 Pt. 1

I just returned from Indianapolis, Indiana and the Church Planting for Dummies Conference.

I have much more to say, but I thought this needed to be said: Church planters and church planting conferences HAVE to be more honest with those looking to plant a church.

I remember the church planting conferences I went to before planting my first church. They emphasized vision, evangelism, being a leader, blah, blah, blah... All of that is good, but none of them were honest enough to say, "You are going to want to quite almost every day!" "People you trust while planting the church are going to leave you, and this will likely happen at the least opportune time." "You will have scars."

They said these things plus all the vision, evangelism, leadership stuff, and I think they are the better for it.

Church Planting For Dummies: Day 2


Jim Bricker gave a great session last night. Jim and his wife planted the Vineyard Community Church in Greenwood, Indiana.

The Heart and Soul of a Church Planter: Seven Characteristics of a Church Planter

1. They have had a significant encounter with Jesus. This counter convinces them that Jesus is for everybody.

2. They have a consuming call of God on their life. They know they are called to serve God and often feel like then could not get away from it without great harm.

3. They are passionate about people. They fall in love with the people in their community, and are concerned about them even when no one else see a reason to be.

4. They are visionaries. They see things that other people don't. This creates a tension between great excitement at what could be and great frustrations at how things really are.

5. They overcome odds. Church planters never have enough of what it takes. There is never enough time, money, resources, and the church planter is never fully "qualified" to do what they are doing.

6. They are able to see potential in people. Not only do they love the people, but they are able to see their potential, and they desire to bring that potential out.

7. They don't see failure as final. Failure is a stepping stone to the future, and they are able to help others get past their failures.

November 10, 2006

Church Planting For Dummies: Day 1


Here are some quotes from the first day of the conference:

Persecution for the pastor comes from inside the church. No pastor says, "I am quiting because I can't take the pagans!"

There are three ways to view people: Family, Machinery, or Scenery

People always confess the misdemeanor before the felony. They confess to the point where you feel uncomfortable, and that is where they stop. That is point of your religiosity.

As a leader/coach you have to be able to hear what the person is NOT saying as much as what they ARE saying.

November 8, 2006

Church Hop


If you are in the Cincinnati area or you want some insight into how "outsiders" view the church, you really need to check out this blog: Church Hopping.

I posted a comment on the blog, and got a response. I also spoke with Erica via e-mail.

Many times people have an ax to grind or something, but Erica and Brad don't seem to have that. I plan to keep reading their journey. I have recommended CincyVineyard. And, if I had my church up and running would love to have them visit.

I am learning a lot. Several things to note: services that are too long, not receiving a follow-up letter (personal and handwritten seem to be more noticed), good music, avoiding hot button issues or at least (I think) presenting a fair appraisal of other views, and solid preaching are some of the things that have received the highest marks of appreciation. Overly friendly and unfriendly (no duh!) are instant turn-offs.

Church Planting for Dummies

Tomorrow, I am supposed to be going to a conference titled: Church Planting for Dummies.

I have planted a church and plan on planting another church.

I am also fit the dummy part.

Now I have to finalize the plans, pack, and go.

November 7, 2006

Mark Batterson Quotes


In one of today's posts, Mark Batterson has some great quotes.

Grace means I'll love you no matter what.
Truth means I'll be honest with you no matter.

and

Grace without truth is Christianity without a backbone.
Truth without grace is Christianity without a heart.

Church Planters Working From Home


The face of the church office is changing. One pastor I worked for told me, "Even if you live next door to the church, drive your car over and park it in the parking lot." I understand where he is coming from, people need to see your car there to know someone is there, but I also know the leash this places on the pastor.

Many church planters and pastor work from home while their staff handles the office matters. I think this is a good thing, but there must still be a level of accountability and professionalism offered to those we serve and those we meet.

Matthew Stibbe has a great post about setting up a home office for work-at-home businesses. This post is a reminder that even though many church planters work out of their homes by necessity, there is still a level of professionalism and accountability required.

I worked out of my home for many years while planting my last church. Here are some things I learned:

1. Get out of the house on a regular basis. I made the mistake of spending too much time at the house. Being a people-person, I about went stir-crazy. Find ways to get out and involved in the community. I got out, but not as often as I could have.

2. Hold to a strict schedule. If we are not vigilant about our time things just slip away. If we do not force ourselves to hold sometime in a home office, have meetings at lunch and in the afternoon, and discipline our time--then really nothing gets done. Whatever your schedule, be consistent and disciplined in its implementation.

3. Have a separate area. Matthew Stibe notes this in his post, but it is worth reiterating. Have a separate area apart from the rest of your home-life. If possible have a separate room for your office or a place in the attic or something. A desk in the corner of the family room is not good for two reasons: you never really leave the office and there are way too many distractions in an area not separated from the rest of the house.

I think working from home is a strong test of a person's self-discipline and self-leadership. It took me quite some time before I could work at home efficiently. I still struggle to work from home (now more than ever because there is no separate area for my office) because of the distractions and because I like to be around people. Essentially you have to take the principles offered, integrate what you can, and do what works for you to get things done.

November 6, 2006

Sin and the Pastorate

I wasn't going to post about Ted Haggard, but, in my area, there is another high profile pastor who did something (the stories are all different) but refused to step down and now that he has is starting his own church.

Scot McKnight
has a good post, and so too does Gordon MacDonald. Todd Rhoades is discussing this as well.

I have thought about this over the last few days as I am sure many others have as well. Here are some of the things I am thinking about:

1. We are all susceptible to sin. There is never a time we are immune to temptation. Did Ted Haggard or any of the other who have fallen HAVE to sin? No, but temptation attacks us all.

2. We must take every step possible to avoid sin. This is true of all Christians, but especially ministers. Like it or not, as a minister we are held to a higher standard; there are greater expectations of us. Are we capable of failing? Yes. Do we fail? Yes. But, despite our "all sins are equal in God's eyes" mentality, all sins are not equal. I don't believe they are, and I don't believe the Bible teaches that either. What I see is that Grace is offered to all no matter what they have done.

We must take every step to avoid pride, privilege, and the trappings of success if and when they come. Sin and temptation must be resisted and fled from at all costs. Jesus may have been partially speaking tongue-in-cheek when He said, "If you right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away," but there is also a lot of truth in that statement. Sin begins in the heart, but we must be extremely careful not to put ourselves in the physical locations that foster those heart troubles.

3. My sin affects more than just me. The truthfulness of this statement is VERY apparent in Ted Haggard's case, but not always in mine and yours. But the reality of it is true. Every time we sin it has an affect on the community (both the spiritual community and the community as a whole).

4. Be grace-filled from the start. It always seems that those who fall the hardest are the most outspoken. This is a sharp reminder that we should temper everything we say with humility. Often we mix God's message to us up with our own personal crusade and begin bashing and slashing everyone around us guilty of our sin pet-peeve. God offers grace, so too should we. I would rather be known for being too forgiving than too judgmental.

5. That last statement may seem in conflict with this one, but I believe that forgiveness and grace giving happen in a moment, restoration takes a whole lot longer. I can't imagine the tragedy this event is causing Ted Haggard, his wife, children, and all those who trusted him. I believe that we must offer grace, respect, and forgiveness to him for his actions. But I do have to ask the question, "Is there ever an action that disqualifies us from the professional Christian ministry?" Maybe after a long period of counseling, spiritual work, and humility, God can restore a person to the ministry. I don't know, to be honest.

6. If you are caught, be completely honest from the first word you say. This is extremely difficult and not very likely. I have found myself having to fess up to things in the past, and it is a person's first reaction to defend and make excuses for what they have done. We have to fight that urge. Like it or not, the whole truth will be known.

7. We need to create an environment, some how, where people and pastors can feel safe enough to reveal, discuss, and heal from their hurts and temptations before they make it to this level. This does not happen anywhere, as far as I can tell. There are moments and times, but lets be honest, our reaction to our deepest sins are the same as Adam and Eve's to God--we run and hide because we realize we are naked.

Let's keep Ted Haggard in our prayers.

November 3, 2006

Conference Tonight


I have taken several classes from the Equipping Ministry International repertoire. Tonight I am taking their Renewing the Mind class. If this class is as good as their other courses, I will learn a great deal and be challenged to live my life more fully for God.

If you are a pastor, you might want to check out having one of these conference for the people in your area. Listening for Heaven's Sake and Speaking the Truth in Love are great classes to help you as pastor and leader communicate in interpersonal settings more effectively.

November 2, 2006

Welcome to the Blogging World

Over the next few months, I have the privilege of helping my mentor and senior pastor enter the blogging world. After more than 20 years of ministry experience, 6 church plants, an international ministry, and being the founding pastor of the Dayton Vineyard with more than 2,300 people over the weekend Doug Roe is entering the blogosphere.

You will not want to miss his insight and what he has to say about life, church planting, leadership, and reaching the lost. I have never met a more humble man in my life. If you have read Jim Collin's book Good to Great you will recognize his description of a Level 5 Leader. Doug is the supreme example of and fits Collin's description to a "T." Doug leads by example, and never asks anyone to do anything he would not be willing to do.

Tony Campolo


Here is an article by Tony Campolo that is challenging and inspiring. I remember the first time I read a Tony Campolo book, I was forever changed and grateful to finally hear a Christian talk about the Church's responsibility in helping the poor.

Thanks to Todd for the link.

What We Stand For

Theresa Hoeft is guest blogging at Tony Morgan's blog. She has a great post about watching as some friends visit her church for the first time, and the question that was the foundation for everything they thought about the church.

I remember the first time I walked into the Dayton Vineyard. I was overwhelmed by the size (at more than 2,300 people a weekend), but I was overwhelmed by the smallness (it doesn't seem that big). The casual atmosphere, the great worship band, and even better coffee was definitely a mark in the plus column. The Children's Ministry was great and very focused on helping kids experience God in their own way.

But the thing I remember most was knowing, without having to ask, what this church was about. I knew they were about serving the poor and broken and reaching the lost.

Servant Evangelism is a foundation for what they do. Wrong motives can follow anything. Serving to make myself look better is wrong. Serving to grow my church bigger is wrong. But the thing that attracted me most was the fact that serving was meant to show God's love to others; nothing more. Our evangelism pastor calls it Visibility Evangelism. It could be considered marketing (but we all know that term sometimes has negative connotations). If you boil it down, it is marketing, but I think his term is an attempt to demonstrate that for us it is more than marketing. We are attempting to change the world by demonstrating God's love for people through very practical means, and people don't know you are there unless they are told.

People who use Servant Evangelism will tell you that very few people come to your church because of Servant Evangelism, but everyone comes to your church because of Servant Evangelism. In other words, there will be the occasional person who comes because you gave them a cold drink on a street corner, but they are few and far between. But most people come because they recognize that the church is focused on serving others, that it is not focused on itself, and because they recognize the change that comes over a person's life while they are serving. (Read the FAQ page for Servant Evangelism to get a better understanding of the why.)

If you come to the church, you know where the money is going. It is going to reach lost people, and it is going to serve the poor and hurting. You don't have to wonder.