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Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between

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Feature Friday (04/12/19)

It was a loud clank. I heard it, but after looking in the rearview mirror quickly dismissed it as unrelated to my car. Then I heard the distinct sound of metal dragging. It was then that I noticed sparks flying from behind my passenger rear tire. That was when I realized what had happened.

A rusted muffler bracket finally gave way, dropping the 8-foot exhaust pipe from under my car to drag on the ground as I drove my son to school. I did not expect to be on my back under my car at 7:45am that morning, trying to MacGyver my muffler back into place until I could get it to my mechanic. The reality was not one I wanted, but it should have been one I saw coming. The warning signs were visible for the past few weeks. I just chose to ignore them.

The same experience can be had in regards to many areas of life. An event happens we “didn’t see coming”, but it is because we ignored or missed all the warning signs. Leadership of any kind is no different, especially in the church. If the mission of the church is to make disciples (and it is – Matthew 28:19-20) and we don’t see that happening, maybe it is because we have missed “The Signs You May Have a Bad Disciple-Making Strategy.”

Warning signs are meant to indicate a problem to us. Just like the rusted clank, sparks, and sounds of my early morning drive. Yet too often we ignore those indicators because it is just easier to do so. But the realization soon hits, that we should have paid attention and addressed those warning signs, not ignored them. And when what is at stake is the mission of the church – we need to take note and do so early and often.

That is why I love Mark Howell’s “5 Signs” in helping us recognize a bad culture within a church. Check it out and as always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Alexandru G. STAVRICĂ on Unsplash

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Feature Friday (03/15/19)

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker is quoted on this statement often. Honestly, I love and hate the quote. Not necessarily because of the quote itself, but because of how frequently it is used, yet infrequently it is lived out. As someone who is constantly trying to grow as a leader (yet failing at it every day), I have realized the importance of culture, yet have so much to learn on how to create or change it.

Culture is one of those curious and nebulous words that packs so much punch, but we often don’t know why. Culture is kind of like love – it’s hard to define and completely wrap the idea up in a few words, yet we know it when we see it. We know when we have been a part of a good family or culture. We equally know when we have been a part of a bad family or work culture. And yet as a leader, I am finding it more and more difficult to put into words how to create, change, and shape the culture in which I find myself and lead.

Into this void steps Vanderbloemen and an article titled “20 Proven Ways to Improve Your Church Staff Culture“. Don’t be fooled, while Vanderbloemen aims the article at shaping church staff culture, the principles are transferable to business, community, or even family living. All you have to do is simply change the nouns a bit.

So enjoy the article, change your culture for the better, and as always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Feature Friday (03/08/19)

Made in China. It seems that most things are made in China these days. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against China. But it does appear that most of the things I have bought that say “made in China” seem to be made, well, rather cheaply. They bend, rip, tear, or break easily. They just don’t seem to measure up to other robust products. But I guess that is what you get when something is cheap…a cheap reality.

The same can be said for things in the church world. If all you want is a one-hour a week experience to check a box or “feel closer to God”, then you can find it. Unfortunately, you can find it far too easily in the American church. What is the cause of this “cheap” reality? While the contributing factors are many there is at least one that I believe adds to the cheapness. A cheap understanding of membership.

Stephen Kneale writes a powerful article where he states, “since we made membership a more stringent affair, we have found it has done nothing but increase the desire of people to join.” His point, people will see membership as whatever you make it out to be as a leader. Stephen’s challenge is this, “Make Your Membership Count for Something“.

Don’t settle for the cheap “as seen on TV” stuff this weekend. Spend the time, energy, and effort to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

Feature Friday (03/01/19)

“I’m done!”

I still remember speaking those words as our coach headed out of the room. The tension and turmoil had been brewing since the middle of July, it was now early September. Our football team was not performing and having the success expected. Guys on the team were getting frustrated. The coaches were frustrated. And a serious divide was about to take place.

One day during school I heard from 3 seniors that they and a number of underclassmen were going to “protest” coach and the antics going on, by skipping practice and meeting up at one guy’s house. I met them in the parking lot after school, we carpooled to the house and began playing pool and talking about all our frustrations. A few minutes later we got a huge surprise.

Our head coach had driven over to the house, came in the basement where we were and told us all that if we wanted to play on the team this year to get back to practice immediately. Two guys walked out immediately, the rest of us stayed and the coach told us to turn in our uniforms and gear tomorrow. And as he walked out I murmured…”I’m done”. I walked out on football that year. I never thought I’d return to play the game.

 

I was bitter, angry, and just plain disgusted with the idea after a horrible experience. 

 

Recalling that ordeal helps me understand the heart and have sympathy for those who have decided to be done with the church as well. However, there is a great difference between leaving a football team and leaving the church, which is why I recommend Carey’s Nieuwhof’s article “A Response to Christians Who Are Done with Church“.

If you are someone who has given up on the church. Someone who was harmed, hurt, or just frustrated by the church in the past. An individual who has totally said, “I’m done” to the church. I encourage you and plead you to take a moment and read the article. If you are someone who knows a few people like this, do yourself a favor and engage the article to love a friend well.

I would love to hear your response and interact with you, so feel free to leave a comment below. And I do hope that you would consider rejoining the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day this weekend.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Feature Friday (02/08/19)

Chocolate or Vanilla? Left-handed or right-handed? Get up early or stay out late? So many situations in life seem like either-or. There are constant battles of values and priorities at play. Yet too often I believe we pit things against each other that may never be meant to be at odds.

As a young athlete in high school, the tension was always which sport are you going to excel at? Which game will you prepare for more? As one who truly enjoyed every sport I played, those types of questions always seemed like a conundrum to me. Why must I choose training for football over running track? I enjoyed both and thus trained, practice, and performed at both. And in my experience, pursuing one made me better at the other. It was not an either-or situation, but a both-and one. The same can be said for many situations in church.

One situation that is often portrayed as an either-or situation is evangelism or discipleship. Often it comes across in preaching: do we preach to the unchurched to reach more people for Jesus or do we preach with the believer in mind to equip the saints? Instead of setting up an either-or situation, I believe it is a both-and situation.

Dave Jensen writes a great article challenging pastors, church leaders, and churches in general to do both-and. His article “Keep Christians in the room: Church attendance at evangelistic courses” is a great argument for a both-and approach rather than an either-or approach.

As always I hope the article encourages and challenges you. Don’t neglect to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day this weekend.

Photo by Greg Jeanneau on Unsplash

Feature Friday (11/09/18)

I have always loved Apple products. It has never been one aspect that drew me to the Mac world, rather a plethora of little things add up. Their design is sleek and beautiful. The ease of use and clear user designed software are killer. Even the feel of the items has always just been more solid and higher quality than other products. But there is one aspect of Apple I never knew about until recently, that actually makes me like them even more…the way they train their employees.

In his article, “What Apple Gets About Disciple Making” Craig Etheredge recalls an interaction with an Apple employee concerning her training experience and process.  As I read the article it became apparent, another reason this company is so great is not just because of the time and energy they put into their product, but more importantly the time and energy they put into their people. This is a reality I believe the church can and must learn from. With so much of the church’s mission being accomplished by “volunteers” it becomes even more vital for training (aka discipleship) to take place strategically, intentionally, and relationally – three ways Apple is killing it at training.

Enjoy the article, and as always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.

Photo by Medhat Dawoud on Unsplash

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