EAT, PRAY, LOVE--Three Ingredients of Biblical Community

You probably thought this blog post was something about the recent Julia Roberts movie of the same name ( I haven't seen it, but I'd like to--maybe tonight with my bride).

I was thinking this morning as I listened to this sermon about biblical community that the essence of this thing called community can be boiled down to these three things.

EAT--- there is something inherently special about sharing a meal together.  Other than the relationship between a man and a wife (those intimate moments), breaking bread is the most sacred thing you can do together with other believers. The sad reality is that we don't do this very often.  Due to our busyness and overscheduled lives, we do good just to cram some food down our throats on the way to the next event and the thought of having conversation and life exchange over a meal is dropped by the wayside.  What a shame that we don't take one of the easiest things to build community and just do it.

PRAY---Whew! This is another one that hit me this morning.  We just don't do this.  Oh, yes, when there is a crisis or there is trouble we circle the prayer wagons and go to town, but eventually we head back into our own self-centered lives and become internally driven instead of eternally driven.  I'm not talking about some over spiritual exercise, but the act of praying with someone else is also an intimate connection that cannot help but make the heart grow closer.  There is no pretense in a heart felt prayer.  It is the window to the soul.   Why don't we do this---is it that it just feels awkward and weird?

LOVE--Hold on now--this is the hardest one of all.  I'm a failure at this one big time and the sermon this morning talked about why we don't do this.  We are failures as human trying to love out of our own flesh and self-centered lives.  We don't become vulnerable with one another because we're afraid.  We don't share intimately because we don't trust.  We don't have deep community because we'd rather have "a gathering of convenient relationships"(not my quote--listen to the sermon) instead of an authentic biblical community that shares joys, pains and life on life experiences.  We'd rather settle for the "gathering of convenient relationships" than doing the hard work of "community"(speaking truth in love)  Believe me, I'm pointing the finger at myself this morning,but it sure explains a lot of what I've been feeling lately.  We (the Body of Christ) lack so much in this area.  Can we ever have true biblical community?

As Pete said " we were all created for community, for deep relationships and if we don't have those things we will find other things in our lives to take it's place"  We all know how that turns out.

We Will Remember (Tommy Walker)

I've been asked several times this morning about the song that we sang yesterday just before the message about Remembrance.  This is a Tommy Walker song that I learned about a year ago and just now has come back on my radar.  You have to know as a Worship Pastor you are exposed to so many new songs and there are only so many "new" songs you can teach in a year.

I find good ones like this and just wait for the spirit to say "now". Yesterday was the "now" moment for this song in our midst.

It's just a hopeful song and I hope that it continues to bless as we sing it.

What new songs are you singing?

Worship Confessional, August 29, 2010

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on The Worship Community Blog.  It's where worship leaders worldwide post their weekly worship experiences.

This was Communion Day for us. Originally scheduled for the first Sunday in August, it was delayed because of our Pastor coming in view of a call that Sunday. So, we pushed it back to today.  Add on top of that Baptisms and other church events and it was a full day with not a moment to spare.

Set List:

Walk In Music--Hear Our Praises (Hillsong)  This worked well last week and today too as it got people moving into the Worship Center sooner. That's our goal to get everyone gathered more quickly.
Glory To God Forever (Fee) This has been our song of the summer.
Offertory Prayer
The Wonderful Cross (Tomlin)
We Will Remember (Tommy Walker)  This song was new to us but it's been on my radar for a year now.  We just love Tommy's music.  It's so soulful and fun to sing. This one will stay with us for a while.
Morning Message: Re-member (Clayton Griggs)
Lord's Supper (with Remembrance (The Communion Song) (Redman)
Closing Remarks
New Doxology (Gateway)

How was your Sunday?

Chick-Fil-A, O How I Love You

I thought this Tim Hawkins videos were priceless and expressed my love of CHICK-FIL-A.    Just something funny for a Friday.  Enjoy

Friday Night Lights--Let The Games Begin

Tonight begins the local football season as Snyder takes on Monahans here to kick off the largest social gathering in our town each year--HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL.

I'll be in the booth again (5th year) doing the message board and announcing for the band.  Doesn't seem like I've been doing it that long, but it has.

There's a buzz in the air this week as we anticipate seeing the team and the band and making it through all of the unfinished improvements to the stadium.  Truth is, there's no other place I'd rather be on Friday night.

All of my family is involved with this.  Kids are in organizations and Mom/Dad are tagging along to see what needs to be done for Band/Choir boosters etc.  It's a pretty grand place to be.

Where will you be during FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS this year?

Katrina--5 Years Later

This weekend will mark the 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which was one of the first events that I can remember after we arrived here in Snyder in July of 2005.

That weekend we were planning as a staff to get away for a staff retreat.  I had been the last staff member to come on board and so we needed some time away to plan.  When we arrived late Sunday night to our destination we were riveted to the TV to see what was happening.  Over the next three days we couldn't believe what we saw happening and wondered what our response needed to be.
By the next Sunday we had been contacted by another church (through that church members staff) that two whole families had landed in Arlington, Tx with nothing and could we help furnish 2 apartments.  We immediately said yes!

By Tuesday we had packed a trailer full of supplies and furniture along with thousands of dollars in funds to accomplish the task.  We did it in one day and came home very tired but filling satisfied that we had helped.  I remember sitting there talking to the mother of the families and I couldn't say anything but "I'm sorry" and gave her my card and told her to call if they needed anything else.

Do you know to this date I still hear from her at Christmas telling me all about her family (they've since returned to New Orleans) and I keep her posted on those that came from our church to help her.

As a side note, tomorrow I will attend the funeral of the lady who was responsible for putting us in touch with these Katrina Families.  Mrs. Pauline Strickland, who was a cancer patient from our church was in Arlington for a treatment and ran into these families at a hotel.  There she heard their stories and told her daughter "we've got to do something"  The rest is history.   I just find such sweet irony that she returned to her heavenly home 5 years after helping these helpless families.

You never know in the span of time what one act of service for Christ will mean.  For these New Orleans families, and for countless others, it meant the world.

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Performer or Worship Leader?

This is an excellent video by Paul Baloche, one of my favorite writer/leaders, as he talks about worship leadership and the claim that sometimes it's performance and not leadership.

I get that response from time to time and I tell people that if I'm performing for you then you need to ask me for a refund.  I'm not a performer  but listen to Paul say that there is a performance "element" of playing an instrument or singing.  That's just inherent.

I like what he says about practicing your "craft" privately during the week.  I do that as I go into the worship center to play through and think through the flow of worship.  It's some of the sweetest times during my week as I sing through and imagine what God is going to do in that service.

So, do you think it's performance or worship leadership? I'm dying to know.

I-Phone Worship

I found this video this morning and thought it was fascinating.  These guys are really creative.

Now for the purist it will seem like a sell out, but to me it's taking technology that we have today and saying "how can we use this in worship?"  Think about the possibilities for this:
Small Groups
Mission Groups
Personal Worship
Composing New Music (gasp!)
Teaching a song

You can take it with you wherever you go-(ok admit it, it already goes wherever you go!)

Can this be worship?

Change and Be Changed

This is a rotary phone kids!

Take a look at the piece of technology to the left.  Yes, that is a phone.  Archaic as it may look, it was the groundbreaking piece of technology that launched a revolution among teens in the 60's-70's (it was hip to have your own Princess or Rotary phone in your room!)  Ok, it's today's equivalent to having a cell phone. Does that make it easier to understand?

We were talking the other day about a "voice prompt" from a company on the phone.  There was an actual prompt that if you were calling from a rotary phone to follow this or that procedure.  The question came, "who still has a rotary phone?" to which one of our staff said, "My mom does"

It's all around us.  I'm sure that there are people (not many) who still play an old LP turn table for their music (if you know someone like that be sure and take the kids by to see that technology).  There might even be someone who still watches Black and White TV (even rarer) or who (gasp!) still writes letters by hand.

The point to all of this is that CHANGE, the dreaded C word, is happening all of the time to us and we adapt when we like it and we complain when we don't.  Believe me, as adapatable as I am, there are times when I like some things the way they are and when they change I don't like it but for the most part I role with the flow and just realize that's the way it is.

I think it's naive for us to think that the world will stay the same, the way we like it forever, and be our picture of utopia.  It's never going to be like that.

So just get ready. Future generations will look at our revolutionary changes right now and say "how primitive is that" (remember the clunky car bag phone--uh huh, yeah you know you wanted or had one of those!).  It's all going to change and you have to decided to change and be changed.  The only thing that won't is God!

When Leadership Hits You.......

Ok, to be honest I wanted to title this blog post "John Maxwell Hit Me" to get generate some visitors that wouldn't usually stop by and read, but then I thought that it might cause some pain or sort with John and then he'd really hit me.

What I meant to say that sometimes when you read something about leadership that is so true it's as if someone came up and punched you right in the gut.  That happened to me last night.

Already tired from a day at work and managing and leading in my ministry I headed to a school function where parents had gathered and leadership was being called out and the honest truth is I wanted to say "NO WAY, I'm sitting this one out"  Haven't you said that?

But you know that leaders can't sit by and watch it just happen--they need to lead and so eventually I jumped in the game after I thought about the implications of this organization without leaders.  "Leaders lead" as John would say.

I get home and get a few pages of 360Degree Leader digested and John states that sometimes leaders work without recognition and honor and honestly, they sometimes feel like they do it all for everyone and nothing comes back to them.  That's the way I was feeling last night.  Everyone had a piece of me and wanted even more of me and I just wanted someone to see that, but nobody could or would.

John stated that being a leader in the middle or midst of something is sometimes "unrecognized and unrewarded, but to take heart as those who lead well don't go unrecognized".  Now all of that sounds pretty self serving, but after a day of giving and giving and giving and wondering what's the use of it all, those words hit me.  I shut the book right there and closed my eyes and just thanked the Lord that he could use a word written by another leader to speak to my "leadership need".

This morning when I awoke and walked, those words were still fresh with me ( and so was the sucker punch that I got from the book)

Thanks John for the hit, but can you warn me the next time it's coming?

Clergy Burnout---Even "The Times " Is Taking Note!

Even more articles were published last week in the New York Times talking about the issues of clergy burnout and it's impact on churches.

No Rest For The Clergy

Soul Care for Clergy

Taking A Break From The Lord's Work

Interesting to note in one of the articles that expectations on clergy changed in the 1920's when the "factory-output" mindset became prevalent among our society as we "counted widgets and output" as the source of work validation.  Ever thought about that in church work? Sure you have (offerings, attendance, growth) are the same thing just with a different name.

Also interesting to me is the "curate" or the "curer" title that was placed on clergy prior to this period (1920's).  What does that mean?  Well, it means that great value was placed upon the minister taking time to feed himself before he feeds his sheep.  That  is somehow has lost today as the demands of ministry have changed.  There needs to be a return to "soul care" for the clergy.  Perhaps every clergy needs a SPIRITUAL director to help them tend to their souls.

So, what are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear them.

School Days, School Days...

The 2010 school year has officially begun and we've taken the official photograph for the year (see left).

Our tradition is to wake up early and head to the donut shop for first morning celebration.  We started this with Taylor 12 years ago in Sweetwater when we would head to Doris' Sweet Shop before dropping them off.  We've continued it in every city that we've lived in.

Although school officially started yesterday, in reality we have been in school mode since the beginning of August with summer band, football practices, officer meetings and such.  Where did the dog days of summer go when we used to go to school the day after Labor Day.  These last few days of August used to be the most relaxing.

Not so anymore. Yesterday evening was Band Rehearsal and Band Booster meeting. Tonight is Choir Booster meeting and Thursday are tryouts for the Fall Musical.  Then we top it all off on Friday night with our first football game (and oh yeah--Choir Fundraiser supper)  See what I mean.

School days... school days..

Life Cycle of Leadership

I'm so thankful for what Willow Creek Leadership Summit has meant to my life.  These have been some of the most life changing moments for me ( I've not been able to attend for 3 years now and I really miss the re-charge that I used to get about early August to be ready for the next season of ministry)

While digging through some papers the other day I found my manual from 2006 and the first session was on THE LIFE CYCLE OF LEADERSHIP.(see Tony Morgan's notes from this session)  I must have taken pretty good notes because I could immediately recall the teaching from that session and I guess it must have stuck because in my post yesterday I mentioned the life cycle of an organization and it was directly drawn from this talk where Bill talked about the life cycle of a product.

Bill used the analogy of music products --from LP's to 8 tracks to Cassette to CD to IPOD and how over time the method and delivery of the product changed and evolved.  He theorized that leadership changes over time as leaders are exposed to experience and more information.

Here are some gems from that talk that I think are important:

1). Leader should start leading at the earliest age possible.  I believe this. I'm constantly watching for younger leaders and trying to encourage them.  Hybels says that the more experience you have at leading the more seasoned you are.

2). Followers can only take so much height and heat---meaning that a seasoned leader will know when to press and pull back on the organization.  There are optimal times of leadership and a season leader will read those seasons well.

Hybels suggested these things for leaders to do to perpetuate the Life Cycle of Leadership:
1)  Read everything you can---boy do I try to do that.  I have a stack of about 6-8 books beside my bed that I'm working on, have finished or want to start.  I've found that using AMAZON'S Wish list and Shelfari have helped me keep track of the books that I want and am reading.  I try to read broadly to gain as much from as many voices and experiences as I can (Business, Spiritual, Recreation, Travel, Education, Technology, etc)

2)Go where leadership is taught.  This is why I went to Leadership Summit.  It was the best soaking experience of leadership in 2-3 days.

3) Get around other leaders who are better than you--ask questions. That's the reason I love now to go to RECREATE Conference where there are so many more leaders who are doing things that I would love to do or love to know how to do.  This energizes me.

4) Keep leading something--if not you'll lose your edge.  Every leader needs to be utilized and there are organizations that are constantly in need of leadership.  If you can't do it one place there are going to be instances that will need leadership and leaders just naturally lead.

5) Leaders develop other leaders---it's a natural cycle.  For me its not only a necessity but a passion to see other leaders rise up and take their place.  It didn't start with me and it won't end with me (Leadership) but I must do my part to raise up the next generation of leaders.  If not, then I fail in this respect of leadership.

6) Leaders develop a constellation of colleagues (this is huge!)  Leadership is shared power.  Power in leadership is derived from the permission granted the leader by the followers.  As such, when the leader leads he develops those around him that are colleagues with whom he can share the power.  Ultimately these are the ones that the leader must be unafraid to share and even empower to lead beyond and to the next level.

The life cycle of leadership is important to keep a leader fresh, alive and productive in the organization.

Beginning 40th Year of Teaching--Way To Go Sister!

Today is the official start of school and while we're all waxing and wailing (some of you are wailing that your kids are growing up way to fast!) I'd like to highlight a teacher who is beginning her 40th year of teaching, and that would be my sister, Karen Holt.

Karen has been teaching at Frenship Junior High (now middle school--I wonder how the school song sounds now with "the school that we all sing to is Frenship Middle school--it used to say Junior high) since 1971.  She is now teaching second generation kids (kids of kids she first taught in the 1970/80's) and says that when one of them comes up and says "you taught my grandmother" she'll know that it's time to hang it up.

If you look at her room, it has always been this colorful and warm and inviting (wonder where I get my love for atmosphere in my office, and lamps---right here is proof).  She has always had these colorful brick book cases ( I think I helped her paint her first set when I was a boy) and once upon a time she had a star gallery where she would hang pictures of celebrities that would write back to her English class and send autograph pictures. She even got a call from David Hartman (used to be on GOOD MORNING AMERICA) when she wrote for his autograph for the class.

Today's AJ highlights her career and so I just wanted to jump in and say " WAY TO GO KAREN!" Your family is proud of you and all that you have accomplished and taught in these 40 years!

Managing Decline--When Organizations Fail To Evolve

A buddy of mine sent this article from the Wall Street Journal to me and I found it very interesting.

You see once upon a time I was a business management major, studying all the principles of organizations and business and what did and didn't make them tick.  Just to tell you how long ago that was IBM was "Big Blue" and Microsoft and Apple were just infants in the cradle of business culture.

I was always fascinated on why some businesses thrived and grew and why others seemed to falter and fail rather quickly. What I learned was that there was a host of factors, both internal and external, that led to the demise or success of a business.  Sometimes it was just poor management (in an environment where others can flourish this one didn't) or vice versa.

In Barnes and Nobles case, it seems that they were conflicted as to the future of books and the internet.  Instead of embracing a strategy that acknowledges change, they clung to the model of "print books are forever" (and unfortunately they are not).  They waged their future on this model without even an exit door to jettison themselves into the future realm of books.  And for that they are paying for it.  The article even says they "chose to manage decline"

So, I have to ask all leaders out there, is your organization choosing to manage decline rather that position your company for the possibilities of models and paradigms changing?  I know it's hard for organizations to change, but it takes leadership with vision and motivation to keep the organization on the life cycle and somewhere about the time that the organization is evidencing maturity, something needs to take place to return the organization to those early days of "start up" when risks are "risky" and the unknowns are "truly dangerous" to the organization.

It is at this point that the organization begins to "EVOLVE again and finds new life and new meaning.  Otherwise you can look at the model above and see where this organization is headed..DECLINE!

A friend of mine regularly quotes "The older an organization becomes the greater the tendency to turn inward to its on wants and needs rather than the outsider".   This is too true when you choose to manage decline.

NEW YORK TIMES:Best selling author to no longer publish books traditionally

Worship Confessional, August 22, 2010

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on The Worship Community Blog.  It's where worship leaders from all over the country (and world) share their Sunday experiences.

Today was our Sr. Pastor's first day.  Welcome Clayton, Tammy and Haley Griggs.  He finished up our series BECOMING A HEALTHY CHURCH.

Clayton preached on the four pillars of health:
1)Participation --"they were all together"
2)Proclamation ---"proclaiming Christ"
3)Preservation ----
4)Propagation --only something that healthy will grow "and numbers were added daily"

Over these 12 weeks we've looked at the characteristics of a healthy church.  I pray that we have learned and practiced these things so that we can a HEALTHY CHURCH.

Opening Song--Let Everything That Has Breath (Redman)
  --Ok, how many of you do a throw-away song (gathering song, opening song.).  Our people have become increasingly late to worship and they usually only come in once they hear the music.  So this week--this was our throw-away song to get people in.  We'll see how that works.  We have to start at 10:40 because of radio, and sometimes that means playing to a half-empty room.
Because of Your Love (Baloche)
I Stand Amazed In The Presence (G3Worship)
Offertory Prayer/Music
A Mighty Fortress (Nockles)
Your Name (Baloche)
Morning Message--Clayton Griggs--Becoming A Healthy Church: Acts 2
God of This City (G3 Worship)

How was your Sunday?

A Different Way of Doing Church?

I was intrigued by a FB posting by a friend of mine (thanks Chris for the link) at a Church in the Fort Worth area that seems to be doing church a little differently than most (and yes, it's a church affiliated with Baptist (Tarrant))

City Church in Fort Worth is a 6 month old church plant that seeks to do church biblically. Here are some different things they are trying:

  • Church is organized around VILLAGES (local communities spread across the city)  This is their weekly gathering in homes, coffee houses, etc where they share a meal, prayer, fellowship and worship together. It is multi-generational
  • Church does not gather corporately every week. They meet every other week but not always to worship. They have some Sunday's designated as SERVE Week, where they go out to the community to serve.
  • All-Church Gatherings are held to a minimum for special occasions and emphasis
  • The Church calendar is intentionally left "with margin" so that church members are not constantly busy with "church events".  They encourage members to "do life" within their villages (fellowship, serve, pray, evangelize) with little or no emphasis on coming to a building or place (in fact they constantly move their meetings all across the city)

So what do you think?  Is this church?  Can we even fathom doing church this way?  What are your absolute musts in church life?

My Women of Faith

Today four of the most important women in my life are attending WOMEN OF FAITH in Dallas, Texas. We were blessed by WOMEN OF FAITH and by RECREATE CONFERENCE with some tickets. Since I didn't qualify, Diane decided to make this a girls weekend for her, our daughters and her mom.  What a blessing.

I know that they will have an inspirational time. We only got a glimpse of WOF at Recreate this last February.  And if what I saw was only a slice, oh boy, these girls are going to have a blast.

I'm praying that they will have an awesome time together and that they will make memories that last a lifetime as they sing, worship, pray, fellowship and enjoy the time God has gifted them.

As they say--"You go girl (s)"   We love you!

P.S.--in the meantime, the boys are at home eating pizza, watching TV and doing NO LAUNDRY!


I do this from time to time because I want to know who is reading this blog.  I can see from the Feedjit column that I have visitors from all over the world (some I know and some I don't)


I'd love to know who you are and what you like to read on this blog.

Monitoring Your Well-Being

I've just finished reading Tom Rath's latest book in the STRENGTHS series called WELL BEING.  Like the STRENGTHS FINDER book, it gives you the chance to take an online test that gauges where you are in the areas of CAREER, FINANCES, SOCIAL, PHYSICAL,  and COMMUNITY.  It is Rath's theory that monitoring these 5 areas of your life will fulfill your life and give you great pleasure.  He even has a daily tracker that asks you questions about these areas and lets you see how you are doing.

I've been doing this for a month, and I'd say that the daily tracker thing is pretty accurate.  On the days that I focus on healthy habits (eating,excercise) and tending to the things of my soul, my numbers are high (vacation was like a 10 on the scale!) and then days when I feel emotionally spent because of something negative, then the score is low (like a 3 on one day--must have been a bad day)

Now, not that I buy into everything that Rath says about these areas, most of the value of the book comes in being very intentional about your life and keeping a balance in all of these areas.  With that I whole-heartedly agree that in this day and age of constant "go, go, go" we let the things in our lives slip into a mush of activities.   This constant busy nature has left our soul wanting so much more and Rath believes that by paying attention to these areas we will restore some balance there.

So, how is your Well-being?

Well-Being Site

Well-Being Index 

The Boys of Fall--One Week To Go! Snyder Tiger Football

This video is finding lots of play time these days.  It's only one week away from the start of TIGER FOOTBALL.

For those of you that don't understand Friday Night Football in Texas, it's the stuff of legends. Mostly I would say that in a small Texas town it's the social event of the week.  You must be seen at the game and more than likely you wouldn't want to miss it because it is the largest social gathering in the town.

I joke with our people its the largest worship gathering in our small town as people come their to "worship" and enjoy "fellowship" with each other.  I just wish some of the enthusiasm on Friday night would spill over into Sunday mornings.

Let me know what you think about the video. I think it accurately catches the spirit of Friday night football.
Go Tigers... Believe!

Fan or Follower of Jesus Christ?

Are you a fan or follower of Jesus Christ? Listening to Pete Wilson this morning in this sermon, he mentioned Glenn Timmermann, the world's largest Chicago bear fan who decorates his yard (and his body) in support of his team.

Glenn knows the history, the players, the drama and the emotions of the Chicago Bears, but as Pete pointed out in the sermon, would Glenn be able to execute a play on the field if called upon?  My hunch is that he could give it his best try, but he's probably going to get hurt.  There is a difference between knowledge and execution.

Using this analogy, Pete emphasized that knowledge isn't the only qualifier of spiritual maturity and that perhaps we as the church have placed such great emphasis on knowledge, that we have forgotten what Jesus said to follow him. "Love the Lord with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself"

Do we as believers have a "fan" mentality of Jesus or are we followers.  It's easily said that one is more difficult than the other.

Which are you?  Thanks Pete for the challenge.

Towering Inferno, Posideon Adventure and Airport--Now Those Were Some Movies

While working at our local Community Theater last weekend on this show (movie), we got to laughing about a certain genre of movies in the mid-to-late 70's that had you scared to be on a boat, ride on an airplane or be in a large office tower. These were some really scary movies (for that time) and I don't know that today's generation would really understand our infatuation with these kind of movies in that time.

I bet you remember each of them?  I do and they scared the pants off of me (so much so that last year when I went on a cruise I began to sing "There's got to be a morning after (the theme song from the Posideon Adventure) and I was certain to spot the Shelly Winters on board who would lead us to the bow of the boat when it tipped over (from the wave and not from her)

Airport had me terrified that every person who ran to the bathroom was the kooky old man who had taken out the insurance at the airport and forgot to tell his wife what he was doing and Helen Hayes was just one of the stow aways on the plane!

Towering Inferno had me creeped out to go above the second floor in any building and had me constantly looking for the fire escape.

What movies pop into your mind from the mid-to-late 70's?  This is grand material for a lot of discussion.

Clergy Killers-- Forced Terminations Gone Wild

It was not a text that I was looking for... but it came anyway.  At the end of rehearsal today when I was thanking God for all that he had provided a buddy of mine wrote that he had been terminated at his church.

My heart immediately sank and my thoughts quickly traveled across the country to him and his family.  As quickly as I could get away to my office I called to see how he was doing.

I know how he feels.  In January of 2005 this happened to me.  It was not our idea and to be frankly honest it was not even on my radar that this could happen..but it did.  It happens to one in four ministers.

While talking to my friend today, I remember the night that I had to tell my kids what had happened. My youngest, now 13, was just a boy and I remember his little head bowed and tears running down his face as he looked up and said "why don't they want us anymore?"  It was the beginning of many lessons in church life for him.

One in three congregations has a a history of terminating pastors.  Some of them have the reputations of "clergy killers" or "staff eaters".  Now isn't that a nice thing to be said about the local body of Christ.

As far as I can tell, my friend was the victim of an "unhealthy culture" at this church and as a therapist once said to me "the dysfunctional system will either try to change you or reject you." I reminded my friend of that today--that he had been kicked out of a dysfunctional system.

A Baptist help line volunteer put it this way about forced terminations for pastors: Barney Self said this in a Baptist Press article.
Self said. "[T]hey don't just lose a job like you or I would. They don't just lose their ministries; they lose their house, their church, their friends. Often their families are uprooted."
I promised this friend that we would not forget him.  In fact the next 15 minutes after my call was spent in texting and twittering a network of friends who know him to begin praying for him and his family.  And we will do what we always do when one of our own is fallen. We surround them with love and care, and we activate our networks (which are older than social media itself) to help this man find a place where he can be healed and restored.  Isn't that what the body of Christ is suppose to do?

Pastors Wives--Help For Forced Termination

Healing Place

Personality---Leaders,You Have One!

 The germ of this blog post came late at night (in fact early early in the morning as I was watching my 13 year old son's friend creatively play "games" at his sleep over and I, the ever watchful adult, had one eye open and one eye on a Google search for LEADERSHIP TRAITS.  It led me to this inventory and the Myer's Briggs test, which I had taken several times before.

Before I bog you down in all of the trivial details that led up to this post, the next day I couldn't get it out of my mind the connection between personality and leadership, and in particular the meaning of being an I (introvert) or E (extrovert)

So, I conducted a very unscientific poll of my friends (through FB and Twitter) to see what their personality types were. I asked Church leaders, teachers, moms, coaches, bankers and more to give me their personality scores from MBIT and let me see where they fell on the scale of "normal" and "above normal" (my friends are anything but normal.

Here's what I found:  It didn't matter what career you were in, or what skills you had, or what experiences you brought to the table, leadership was not dependent upon personality.  There... I said it! You don't have to have a personality to be a leader (Roar from the crowd who have been waiting for validation of this fact)  But, what you do have to have as a leader is a good understanding of yourself and how you react in certain situations.

In some of my friends I found that their personality types were "solid"--never changing; while others found themselves adapting their personality types to the given situations or moments in which they had to exert their leadership.

What I found in digging through the MBIT test is this--we need LEADERS, all kinds of leaders.  We don't just need extroverts but we need introverts; we don't need just sensing leaders but intuiative leaders; we don't need just judging leaders but we need feeling leaders too.  Finally we don't just need factual people, we need perceptive people too.

Introverts (according to MB) think first and then act.  They need time to reflect.  We need leadership like that that will count the cost of decisions.  But we don't need leaders who do just that--reflect.  There must be action.

Extroverts (according to MB) act first and then think.  They reflect after the fact.  We need leaders who will take action and get the ball rolling, but at the same time we don't need action all of the time.

Sensing (according to MB) is the rational considerations of facts, while at the same time we need not discount the unknown in decisions in leadership

I(N)tuition is the ability to think beyond the facts (to the probablity of) and we need leaders who do this (take risks) but not to the detriment of solid evidence.

Thinking- we need leaders who think and ponder great things, but as I said before--don't just Think!
Feeling- we need leaders who can sense the emotion of the moment and seize the day and capture the experience, but if all we get are experiences then we are left hollow.
Judging- we need leaders who will come to a conclusion and give a final closure to a moment, and yet we need them to not be so "rock solid" that they close down the show before it's over. There might be one more "moment"
Perception- we need leaders who can see "beyond" the box and keep us reaching for possibilities. But, if we never achieve something in the now we are left in the land of tomorrows.

This seems like a really heavy post and I may have lost some of the readers in the first bit, but felt like I needed to work through these things and ponder the mysteries of leadership. Whether we realize it or not we all have the potential and opportunity to be leaders ("Leadership is influence") in all of our daily activities and relationships.  What will we do with what we know will determine the kind of leaders that we will become.

The Sixteen Types
US Population Breakdown
The table organizing the sixteen types was created by Isabel Myers (an INFP).
Estimated percentages of the 16 types in the U.S. population.[29]
Generalizations of the MBIT Personality Types

Myers Briggs Web Site

Worship Confessional, August 15, 2010

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on The Worship Community Blog.  It's where Worship leaders from all over share their Sunday experiences.

Today we focused on Spiritual Disciplines.  We're coming to the end of this series next week and we wanted to reinforce the importance of spiritual growth and maturity in a healthy church.

Instead of doing an overview of the disciplines, Robbie chose CONFESSION and ACCOUNTABILITY to focus on this morning.

Hosanna (Baloche)
Baptist Church Builders of Texas Wrap Up (Video)--This is a group from our church that has been going for 30+ years each summer to give a week to a church to help them build

Church Builders 2010 from Jim Drake on Vimeo. (Yes, I know I misspelled Summer in the video..oops)
Mission Focus--Egypt--We did a Skype Video call to my friend Mark Jaffrey in Cairo, Egypt.  He's serving a church there as worship pastor.  Talked to him about life in Egypt and how we can pray for them. (Wish the video had worked--it did in pratice at 9:40! Oh well, the joys of technology)  But it was really cool to hear his voice and to say "howdy" to him.  He gave us some specific things to pray for Egypt this week (and I can't wait to see him again in February at RECREATE)
Bless The Lord (Story)
Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King (Gateway)
Worship Rises (Vacher)
Morning Message:  Becoming A Healthy Church- Spiritual Disciplines
Change My Heart O God/Here And Now--married together an old praise song and a newer song of commitment. Went great!

So how was your Sunday?

Support The Arts! Lubbock Moonlight Musicals "WILLY WONKA"

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This is the third year that we have attended LUBBOCK MOONLIGHT MUSICALS at the Wells Fargo Theater.  We've seen Singing In The Rain, Buddy Holly and last night Willy Wonka.

LMN is an open air theater that allows you to bring your picnic supper and lawn chairs and gives you an evening of entertainment for the whole family.  We love going each year.  It reminded us of the Zilker Theater performance of Annie that we saw earlier this month.  Zilker has been going for 52 years (LMN has about 5 under their belt) and I can see where the experience of doing it summer after summer will help LMN to grow and be better each year.

However, it won't go anywhere if the public doesn't support it.  Last night the theater was full and the director said that this was the largest crowd of the season (disappointing that Lubbock hasn't sold this thing out every performance).  The city has got to come out and support things like this or it has no excuse when it complains "there's nothing to do here".

When we go to a new city, we always try to find something going on there and support the arts (museum, play, exhibit, etc).  We think it's the best way to get to know a community.

So, what are you doing to support the arts in your place?

Teens Tell Church "Keep Your Pizza" (USA TODAY)

This article yesterday in USA TODAY caught my attention because it's something that I've observed and seen for awhile now.

It seems that Teen attendance in church peaked in 1999 and the figures ever since have been lagging or dropping.  Only 1 in 4 teens (according to Barna) attends church and some have said that "church is irrelevant" to my life.

What does this mean?

We can sit here and say some of the reasons that they don't attend:
  • Kids have more to do now than they ever have:  Elite teams in baseball, soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, Dance, art, cheer squads (outside of school squads) and so on and so on.
  • Parents aren't coming with kids anymore. The old saying was--get the kid and you'll get their parents.  That just isn't true anymore and if you do get a kid who comes without his parents it's doubly hard to keep them
  • Kids have more options now (socially--through Facebook/Twitter/MySpace)  All of that can be taken care of online
  • Youth ministry methods haven't changed much in the last 30-40 years.  Kids have seen it all and done it all by the time they've moved to youth groups (because we've moved some of that down to Children's Ministry)
  • Until they are able to drive, teens are at the mercy of parental transportation and the split-parent weekend is now more of an impact on attendance than ever before.
Now, about the irrelevance part, this is tougher
  • We have to look at the ways we reach and disciple teens.  It's no longer the LARGE GROUP thing that is drawing them.  It's time to get specialized in Youth Ministry which makes it harder for a one stop shop where everyone gets the same thing
  • We need a cadre of adults who have a passion for teens and don't mind being involved in their lives.  It's going to be harder to get inside that circle, but once inside these adults weild great influence in the lives of teens.
  • The church is going to have to acknowledge a place for teens in their current ministries.  We have to include them in the life of worship and the work of the church.  We can no longer relegate them to a department or floor and hope that when they grow up they will be part of the church.  They must learn about service now. (One friend's church has done this and I think it's a great idea)
  • The issues facing today's teens are different from 10 years ago (just ask them)  We must develop resources and methods to speak to these issues, but more importantly we must live from Christ indwelling  and centered lives to show them how Jesus would respond to these issues.
So, have you observed this?  What are your thoughts?

The Spiritual Disciplines

As part of our series, BECOMING A HEALTHY CHURCH, we'll look at Spiritual Disciplines this week in worship.  Beyond just prayer, bible study and such, there are more expressions of spiritual disciplines.

I thought I'd list some here and see if you can help me find and think of some more.  Are there some that you would include:

  • Solitude and Silence

  • Fasting and Frugality

  • Secrecy and Sacrifice

  • Study and Prayer

  • Service and Submission

  • Worship and Celebration

  • Fellowship and Confession

Spiritual Disciplines