Wearing Jeans In Church
October 12, 2010, 10:56 pm
Filed under: church life, communications, community | Tags: , , , , ,

Not to long ago, while heading to work, a radio ad for a church came on. The ad gave special focus (about 4 separate mentions) to the fact that you could wear jeans in church. Statements like: “wear jeans to church? No way!” and “the pastor will have his jeans on.”

Let me say up front, I’m cool with jeans in church. In fact, personally, give me a latte, pair of jeans and my flip-flops (or my TOMS depending on how super cool I’m feeling) and I’m completely comfortable in a worship service. But, the message of the radio ad really misses the mark.

I think often, like the ad, we have short opportunities to communicate with our neighbors, friends, and gas station attendants about the local church we are connected to. Probably many times, we have less than 60 seconds. And, we often focus our message on style over substance.

I’m convinced that the “unchurched” public at-large has little thought about the “bells and whistles” that make for easy talking points about the way we do ministry.

With your 60 seconds, make the message clear and make it powerful. The Gospel and the life of Jesus flowing through the church changes lives.

Jeans in church are cool. Life change is cooler.


Cold Souls
August 17, 2010, 8:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I watched a movie over the weekend entitled “Cold Souls”. The setting was a world where individuals could extract their souls and store them in safe deposit boxes. The idea being, that the soul was what caused the inner turmoil, guilt, and stress in their lives, so why not just remove it. You also had people selling their souls for money on the Russian black market. The movie was not dark, but comical. At the end of the day, everyone was realizing that the benefits of exchanging their souls for something else were very short-lived.

Although the movie did not explicitly address any spiritual themes, I couldn’t help but agree with the premise, that we often make decisions that exchange the fullness of life we were meant to live for something short-sighted, immediately gratifying and temporary.

I encountered a similar theme at a concert I attended over the weekend. Switchfoot, a Southern California-based band, had a hit song called “Meant To Live.” A few lyrics in the song sum up the point:

“We want more than this world’s got to offer…..And everything inside screams for second life…We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?”

Gifts That Serve Not Compete
August 1, 2010, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I shared a thought this morning with my small group; I decided I would post here as well.

Paul, in I Corinthians, is teaching the church about spiritual gifts. Apparently, there was an issue about how or why they were using them. Toward the end of one chapter, in concluding thoughts about using their gifts, Paul challenges them to stop thinking like children and begin to think like adults.

I have a two year old son and a four year old sister (that is not a misprint). At Christmas time, the way they think about their gifts is very competitive. It’s all about who has the most, the biggest and the best presents. They get a lot of satisfaction out of how their gifts benefit themselves.

As a dad, I look at gifts completely differently. I want to use my gifts to give away and make someone else feel special and loved. I get satisfaction out of how much my gifts benefit others. (I’m sure all parents can relate to this feeling)

We have each been given spiritual gifts, talents, resources, time, etc. Use what you have been given to serve, not compete.

A More Excellent Way
July 26, 2010, 5:56 pm
Filed under: church life

Occasionally, when I’m reading, a phrase or idea will really stick out to me. That happened to me this morning while I was doing some devotional reading In I Corinthians.

In chapter 12 Paul is teaching about how the church functions together as one body. He describes the talents, gifts, and positions that God had blessed the church with. About the time we’re beginning to think that the success of the local church relies on our individual contributions and giftedness, Paul throws a major curve ball  into the conversation and begins to layout what he calls “a more excellent way.”

The “more excellent way” is Love. In chapter 13, Paul begins to wreak havoc on those who would turn church life into an analytical collection of spiritual one-liners, lifeless theology and religious action-steps.

Our message without Love is just noise, our theology without Love has no purpose, and our religious actions without love are taking us nowhere fast.

After thinking about this today, it drives me crazy that the “more excellent way” is not a simple action step to check off of the list. It is an idea, it is open-ended, it applies to everything, it changes everything, and I guess that is exactly the point.

Processes and Systems
July 20, 2010, 8:39 am
Filed under: leadership | Tags: , ,

Efficiency is a good thing. Whether at our jobs, in ministry, or in our personal lives, having systems or processes that work for you (and not the other way around) make life much more enjoyable and productive.

If you’re like me, there are processes or systems for things that I routinely do that frustrate me. They don’t work for me. Because of the frustration, I typically procrastinate or do a less than an excellent job at the task. Often, because a process doesn’t work for me, not only does it frustrate me, but it often costs me. Let me give you a quick example.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Redbox. It’s a fantastic idea that has revolutionized the DVD rental business. They have rental kiosks at locations all around town and for only 99 cents per night, you can rent a movie. Compared to traditional rental stores like Blockbuster, this is an amazing benefit for the customer. DVD rentals for only 99 cents!

There is only one problem, the process just doesn’t work for me. My last Redbox rental cost me over $7. The one before that, over $14. I could give you example after example of how I have over paid because the process apparently doesn’t fit me well. Basically, I have a hard time remembering to return the DVD’s the next day, or I’ll forget about them completely.

My solution: a different process called Netflix. I pay one flat fee per month for Netflix and DVD’s are sent to me in the mail. When I’m done with them, I return them at my convenience. Whether I kept the movie for 1 day or 20 days, it costs me the same. Netflix is the perfect process and system for me.

Admittedly, what I mentioned above is not a process change that has radically altered my life (although it is probably saving me a few dollars each month). But, it is a process and system that works for me. As I begin to examine different areas of my life (at work, at home, in ministry) I am seeing more and more that I can do one of two things.  I can keep “beating my head against a wall” with processes and systems that limit me, frustrate me or cost me – Or – I can change things. I can do things differently. I can search for, ask help for, or invent a process that works for me.

In the comments below, I would love to hear about processes or systems that you’ve changed to work for you.

Normal Church
July 15, 2010, 8:39 pm
Filed under: church life, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

One of my Lead Yourself decisions (previous post) that I’ve made is to begin working through a reading list. I’ve got a list a mile long and I’m a slow reader, but I know that consistent reading needs to be a part of my life.

I popped in a LifeWay over the weekend and picked up Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer. I’m about 40 pages into it, and so far, so good. I came across a thought that really resonated with me. While describing the expectations the reader should have about the book, they make this statement:

“…we recognize that for some, this book will be too connected to the existing church. They will want something more avant-garde that throws off the old shackles and ideas. This book may seem to be focused on churches as they are rather than how they theoretically should be. And, we are OK with that.

…So, it has fewer buzzwords found in cutting-edge writing. But it is about how God is working and how your ‘normal’ church [emphasis is mine] can be a Transformational Church…”

Let me be honest with you, I’m in my mid-twenties, I’ve been around church my entire life, and the idea of “normal church” doesn’t immediately energize me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the “church bashing” bandwagon. I love the church. I have the opportunity to serve at an awesome church on a great staff. Maybe because I’m so surrounded with the church, between what I read in blogs, on Twitter and in the Sword of the Lord (the last one was a joke), I find myself looking for things that are different, trendy and innovative.

I think innovation in ministry is awesome. I want more innovation in church. I think it is obvious God is moving in dynamic ways that are completely different. That being said, “normal” churches are the ones that the majority of us worship in, and to me, that’s where the opportunity is.

I’m young, and It’s easy for me to think that the latest trend in church life is going to usher in the kingdom of God. I’m learning that the greatest opportunities we have at the present time are to plant new churches; and to work with, pray for and to encourage the thousands upon thousands of “normal churches” to join God on His mission. I’m praying that a great move of God comes from within what is currently the “status-quo.”

Lead Yourself
July 13, 2010, 10:37 pm
Filed under: leadership | Tags: ,

I watch a few TV shows regularly. It is common for the show to be anchored by a strong personality who leads courageously. As the series progresses, we discover that the lead character, who appears to have it all together in public, is conflicted in his personal life, and struggles with what seem to be the most basic of self disciplines and personal responsibilities. To keep the show interesting, both his courage and personal turmoil tend to be greatly exaggerated. It makes for great TV.

I had the opportunity recently, along with several of our staff, to take part in an in-depth survey and study about, ourselves, and the way God made us as individuals. Our moderator over the course of several sessions convinced me of one thing: If I wasn’t leading myself, it was crazy to think I would be effective at leading others.

I was recently challenged again about this. What were some specific steps I was taking (or going to take) for self-leadership? I won’t detail the personal steps I’m taking, but I will share the 3 areas I focused on and the rationale for each:

  • Personal
    This might include self-disciplines that need accountability, needs that aren’t being met, goals you never accomplished, or a hobby that you haven’t made time for.
  • Professional
    Evaluate the meaningful impact and influence you are having on those around you. Are there steps in education or training that you haven’t come around to? You might consider evaluating your schedule to determine if you are reaching maximum effectiveness.
  • Public
    Are you actively sharing with others what you are learning? You might consider exploring opportunities in your community that could benefit from your unique giftedness. Do those around you think you are completely self-sufficient or on a journey?

Give me your thoughts on “leading yourself” in the comments below.