Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Over looked leadership article

A friend of mine from college recently sent me a link from leadershipjournal.net, I want to share it because it resinated with my thinking
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/002/7.32.html

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Made to stick

I have struggled over the past few months with reading. I have started a few books but have not had the dedication or determination to finish them. One of the books that I started reading and have recently picked back up is "Made to stick" by dan heath. This book was not written with pastors specifically in mind but there is a lot of information that could really be of help.
The basic premise of the book is what message are you getting out? Whether someone is a teacher,salesman, pastor, or whatever we all have a message that we are trying to get out. The question is is our message getting to our audience? Is our message delivered in such a way that people are desiring to learn more about what we say? Is our message said in such a way that people are digging for themselves even more than what we are giving them?
Unfortunately I have been in so many church services that do not have a plan or a specific theme for the day. It may have an overarching theme of God or God's love but not something that we could summerize in a sentence. In Bible school as a kid I always remember that their was one specific Bible verse and every thing about that day focused on the lesson that the Bible verse taught. It was focused on teaching one principle. Unfortunately we have listened and possibly preached sermons that afterwards we have may left scratching our heads about was the point of that. As the great line from Billy Madison said "Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it." Is this what more people are thinking when they leave a service ? I highly value pastors and I think that the message we have is so important and I think sometimes we don't realize the importance of how we say it is.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My church isn't deep enough for me

This was a comment that a 20 something told me when he was describing his church during a conversation at the fair last week. This isn’t the first time I have heard this comment nor will it be the last. What does the comment really mean? Is it the lack of knowledge that a church or pastor has? Is it the void of the charismatic aspect of a particular service? Or is it lack of challenge or high expectations of its members?
As I conversed with this young gentleman to find out exactly what he meant his problem was the lack of charismatic elements in his church service. This conversation sparked my own thinking of mainline churches and even seeker sensitive services. The church isn’t deep enough seems to be a criticism that is leveled against these types of churches. There is an argument that can be made that a church is not responsible for each person’s spiritual growth. Which I agree with but I do think that the church can facilitate growth and can create environments where people can change.
Have these types of churches become safe to the point of their own detriment? Is safety a word that needs to describe the church? Yes in the context of children, but in the context of the way we are presented the Christian lifestyle probably not.
When one is looking for adventure, a dangerous lifestyle, or a life-changing mission does one look to Christianity or the church to help fulfill this goal? For those who have these types of goals in life the New Testament church would be a great place for them to fit into. Where would they fit now? I recently had a friend who helped smuggle Bibles into a communist country as part of a group of about 7. What if churches began to offer missions trips that offered the chance to change the world but had the possibility of prison or death what would happen? Our churches would begin to change the type of people who felt comfortable there. Our memberships may go down, but the dedication may go way up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What do kids know?

What do kids know?

My kids make me laugh and amaze me on a regular basis. I took the three of them to a softball game last night and they were asking all sorts of questions about the umpire, for some reason Kyle asked if he could bump the umpire? Ellyse points to the umpire and says who is the old man in the blue?
They have also been asking different spiritual questions of late, I was listening to a pastor one day this week driving to Goshen and he was talking about the Luke 17 passage where Jesus gives warning to those who cause children to stumble. This pastor had a little different take on this passage than most. Most pastors who have talked about this as an issue of sin and us teaching correct theology. Which there is probably a lot of truth for this. What about our teaching about faith and trusting in God? It seems that kids have a much better grasp on this than us adult do. Are we going to be held responsible for trying and teach our kids that we can be self reliant and to be able to do things on our own?
I think that kids may be the better teachers on this subject than us adults are. Yesterday Jill and Kyle were having a discussion in the kitchen and we have a magnet with Jesus on it on the frig. Kyle asked a question about Jesus and Jill was explaining who Jesus was and how he died and saved us from death. We never know how kids will respond to conversations like this we have a formula that we think they will follow but they never do. Kyle’s response to this conversation shocked me, he looked at Jill and said Jesus is saving my muscles. We haven’t had many discussions about muscular dystrophy with him and I don’t really know how much he knows about the disease. He does know one thin though that Jesus can heal his muscles. Kids sometimes don’t need as much from us as we need from them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

new york city missions trip video

This was made by Jeff Chupp.

video

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New York City Trip

I have mixed feelings about missions trips. On the one hand they are expensive, seem to do little to the culture we go into, and a little touristy. The flip side is what happens to the people who go on these trips.
Last week we had our trip to New York City. The question was asked the first night we were there “what do you want God to do on this trip?” My first thought was to get through this week. In a lot of ways we had already accomplished the goal we had gotten these kids to come here. This group of kid’s only months earlier had been scared to death to go Christmas caroling in our church neighborhood. So when the question was asked what do you want God to do? I was trying to be realistic; we knew that we were going to be serving at a soup kitchen, ministering to homeless, prayer walks, and prayer booths. I was trying to think what is possible; if they just participate I will feel this is an accomplishment.
Complaining is a defense mechanism, when we are fearful of the unknown we tend to criticize and make excuses to not participate or avoid the new event. Complaining is a big issue on missions trips for the teens and the leaders alike. As the leader I try and prepare myself as best I can for this attack. If I just allow the complaining to be the focal point we will all leave the trip exactly as we came and not allow ourselves to be changed.
So when we first arrived in New York the complaining stared, the rooms were cramped and hot. We had driven a long way (we did see a dead bear on the side of the road in Penn) and we were starting to get on each other’s nerves. The biggest issue on the trip was the no cell phone during ministry time rule. That is the one I had been preparing them for. I didn’t know if they could handle that one or not. The first night we had a little gripe session and it was challenged to them that if they were going to get something out of this trip that we don’t grumble and complain. To everyone in the groups credit the grumbling and complaining was almost non-existent through the trip.
The group exceeded even my best-case scenarios. The first day we had some change of plans because of too many people at the mission, the group leader asked if we would be willing to pray and pass out fliers with people on the streets. This was our first real test if we could not grumble and complain if we could make it by this then we would be fine. The group passed with flying colors. One of the teen boys came up to me half way through the day beaming and shared how he had made a girl cry. I wanted to know why this was a good thing, he then shared how he had asked her about her life and she was so moved when he asked her to pray that she started crying. I couldn’t believe how quick these kids jumped into to serve and love on people. It was this same story every day of the trip. Teens and adults coming up and sharing how they had prayed and talked to people. I was amazed at what God did in each and everyone of their lives.
We were at a prayer booth one of the days and I was with a teen who has never prayed out loud in the time I have been here and isn’t the most outgoing person. We were standing by the prayer booth when this older woman who had problems with her eyesight approached us. She wanted prayer that God would heal her. I asked if I could pray with her and she looked at the teen I was with and said I want him to pray for me. He then said a simple prayer of healing on this woman’s eyes. I was crying because I could not believe how much God had worked in this teens life to even be willing to do this. Seeing and hearing each teen talk about what God did in them will be a moment that I will never forget, hearing passion where there use to be apathy, courage where there use to be fear, love were there use to be indifference, and faith where there use to be doubt. We may not have changed New York, but New York changed us.