Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where are we?

One of the workshops that I attended at my conference in Kansas City last week dealt a little with life cycles of churches. I have heard some of the material before but it is powerful and really hit me this time. They are basically begining/growth, built/plateaued and dying. Or Stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3. In stage 1 a church is future oriented, you are willing to take risks, your vision dominates your thinking, planning and decisions and your growth is manily through conversions. In stage 2 your church is present oriented, you take few risks, your goal is to keep things going and your growth, if any, is transfer growth. In stage 3 your church is past oriented, you are reactive instead of proactive, there is no growth, you are dominated by a core and the most common phrase is "I remember...". One of the statements that the presenter made was that "you never go up naturally off a plateau, you go down naturally, but you must reinvent to go up from there".

I know that we are not in stage 1, the church went through a split a few months before I arrived which I guess but it danger of being in stage 3, but I believe we are in stage 2. We are really beginning to "reinvent" ourselves which means we have the opportunity to return to stage 1. But I have to be honest as I evaluate things and that means admitting that at best we are in stage 2 right now.

I have been sensing, and so have a few others, that God was building up to something in our church and community. I am praying that Sunday was a glimpse of that something and we can really start moving back toward stage 1.

I have been processing a message on my, hopefully from the Lord, vision for this church. I am anticipating preaching it on Sunday March 25. If you already pray, for me please pray that I will correctly discern God's vision and presnt it clearly and powerfully. If you don't pray for me, now would be a great time to start.

Here's hoping that we will return to being a stage 1 church soon. Here's hoping that the church you attend is in stage 1, or that you can pray and work to help it reinvent to get off the plateau or decline.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Morning Musings ...

As I wrote yesterday, Wow! We had a great day in the Lord. First, understand that we were under a winter storm advisory, or something like that, we awoke to seeing the streets, sidewalks and driveways covered in ice. But the ice was a bumpy surface that really wasn't that slippery and it broke up with any type of ice melt or salt on it, but nearly every other church in our town canceled services. We forged ahead and by the end of services the streets were nearly clear. We only 11 fewer in attendance than the Sunday before. The Spirit was great in the morning service. You could just tell that people were receptive and that God was working. Right after I prayed someone stood and gave a great testimony, then another, then another, then another and then another. Now this is not the norm for us, we are always open to this but it is not the norm. The testimonies led me right into the message. People were more attentive than I have ever seen at this church. I had an invitation to respond to God's moving as the service closed and the altars were nearly full and then an equal number of people came to pray with and encourage those who had come forward. The prayer time was powerful and the conversations afterward were uplifting. Wow!

God is really doing something in our midst. I made sure I thanked that first person, who stood and testified, for their obedience to the Lord's leading. On top of all that we had a strong offering which we desperately needed. As you might imagine I was really flying, stoked, pumped up, jacked up, or insert your own favorite phrase for someone who is really fired up.

In the evening we had a service planned that was to be a community service of singing. Where the other churches joined together, with some special numbers from several churches and times of congregational singing. But with churches canceling there morning services only 10 people from other churches attended and only one special number came from outside our church. We had more of our own people than normally on a Sunday evening and we had a great time in the Lord. Then to top it off, we got out earlier than people expected since we short a few special numbers.

All in all, Sunday was a great day. I can't wait to see what God is going to do this week. I am anticipating another great time with Lord. Isn't that part of the key to having a great day in the Lord?

Here's hoping that you recognize God's presence today and see what He is doing around you. Wow!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Wow! That is the best word I can think to use to describe our worship service this morning. I have been feeling for some time that God is up to something in our church and this morning He showed some of what He is doing. I will write more about this tomorrow. Understand that this took place on a day when at least 3 of the churches in our little community canceled their service because of weather.

I am stoked about what we experienced today! See ya tomorrow.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Is it just me?

Is it just me or does anybody else get ticked, I mean irritated, when attending a seminar and someone in the audience tries to teach the material in addition to the presenter? I was fortunate at my conference in KC, none of the workshops I attended had this problem however, today was different. Today was a unified training day with the 3 districts we have in our state. My first two workshops went fine, nothing to make me jump up and down (don't laugh I do that periodically) but they were good, the third one however was not like the first two. To start the presenter didn't really want to be doing the workshop, secondly he was lingering on his points way too long and then it happened. Someone made a comment, someone else followed that up with a story of their own and before you knew it twenty minutes later the attendees were attempting to teach, but couldn't agree on what they were teaching. The presenter didn't help it, instead of cutting it off with an answer and moving on he mistakenly thought they were trying to dialog, when in fact they were trying to be the presenter.

I responded to one such person after a while and then realized I was not helping so I just shut up! Trust me that was not easy to do given the direction the discussion was taking. When the presenter finally moved the discussion on were 50 minutes into a 60 minute session and had completed 3 of his 15 items. So let me ask again is it just me, or does anyone else have trouble with this type of thing?

The day had some good points, my first two workshops, one other person from my church learned much from all three workshops he attended. The four of us who went had some nice discussions on the way home and I expect to see some positive results from the day.

Gotta finish getting ready for tomorrow. Here's hoping you have a great day on Sunday. (They are calling for some nasty weather tomorrow, I am praying that it at least delays.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back Again ...

I left on Sunday evening after church to sleep for a few hours at my son's and then take both of us to the airport early Monday morning as we flew out to Kansas City for a large conference. So I missed doing my Monday morning musings.

Let me touch on the happenings of this past Sunday. We had another good Sunday, that is becoming a theme that I am certainly enjoying. Our attendance was fair, but the spirit in the services was very good. No brand new people but a couple who attended for the second time. There was a powerful time of prayer around the altar during the service and people seemed attentive and receptive of the message. The message was not a warm fuzzy one, but was on shedding our desire to be comfortable. It stomped on my toes while preparing it and preaching it. Sunday evening I have been leading a study on what we believe and this past Sunday evening was on sanctification. There was discussion and we will continue it on Sunday night March 4. (we have a community service this Sunday night)

The conference I attended in K.C. was good. Some of it was superb, some of it was not good at all and some of it was okay, in my book that makes it a good conference. There were a couple of sessions that were very memorable and I am sure I will be sharing about some of those in later posts. It was good to spent some extended time with my son, I got to see my Dad and stepmom briefly and see some old friends as well. The weather in KC was incredible, it was in the 50's-60's each day, a far cry from the 6 degrees of home when I left Sunday evening.

The bad part of the week was missing my wife while I was at the conference.

I better get back to things I need to catch up on here and getting ready for Sunday.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts ...

It is late afternoon on Saturday and just got back from29 hour trip out of town. The wife and I left yesterday and stopped in to see the grandkids (still just 4) for a few minutes (we also saw our son and daughter-in-law, but you understand the emphasis right?) on our way to our daughter Kin's. She is the one who is expecting she and our son-in-law's first child in 2 weeks. The wife, our daughter Kris and daughter in law Nic were putting on a baby shower this afternoon. We spent the night at Kin's and then I drove home when they began to get things together for the shower. The wife will return home tomorrow afternoon or evening, depending on the weather. They were have a bit of a snow storm at our daughter's when I left. I haven't heard a report yet on the shower, though I suppose it is still going on at the moment. It was not something I was invited to, nor did I really want to go to be honest, but I sent a gift for our 5th grandchild. I got him, that's right they know and it will be a boy, a pair of tennis shoes. Hey, we have to have this kid understand reality right away.

I am so glad that my wife is getting a Sunday away from all her responsibilities,I always miss her whenever she is gone, but especially on Sundays. I always know I can look over at her when I am preaching and be encouraged, trust me that is important, and really, really important on certain Sundays. Those Sundays when either I am struggling with the message or the ones where there is resistance from the congregation as I preach.

The weight loss has been a struggle recently. I was down 9 pounds beginning this week, but was up a pound for the week a couple of days ago. The most encouraging thing is that I am down one notch on my belt and really am eating less and trying to make better choices. I am concerned about next week because I fly out to Kansas City on Monday morning and return Thursday evening. I will be a conference while I am there, and it is so much harder to eat better while on the road. What I am really doing is setting up my excuse for not losing anything next week.

We have certainly had some real winter in the last several days. Between cold and snow, we are paying for having such a mild December and January. Hopefully this will stop once we hit March. I don't know about you but I am ready for some golf, or at least weather that allows me to play golf. Fishing, not the ice kind, would be nice to do soon as well.

Oh well, I better get mind back on things for tomorrow. Here's hoping you have a great Sunday and that we all see God move in mighty ways. He will if we are prepared and allow Him to work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Worthwhile ...

Today I helped serve at a community event. Our local Kiwanis Club, of which I am a member, sponsors a special scholarship fund. Every year we have a "Soup and Pie" supper/lunch/dinner. We have 5 different kinds of soup available and at least that many different kinds of pie. For $5 you can come and eat as much soup and pie as you desire, the cost also includes a beverage. We award scholarships of $1,000 or $1,500, I can't remember which to 7 of our high schools graduating seniors each year. The fund is continuing to grow, when the program began I believe there were on 3 scholarships given each year and they were for less money.

The community, and surrounding areas, really come out to support this cause. Each member of our club donates money to offset the cost of most of the food so the fund receives more money. Several hundred people attend each year and there is advertising sold in a booklet that explains the scholarship and its history. I worked at the event for 3 1/2 hours or so. Helping get set up and then serving soup. It was so much fun to help with something so worthy and to work with the other members of the club.

It was also fun to serve soup with a fellow pastor and see people seem surprised that pastors were working at the event. I love to mess with people's perception of a pastor. The reason I enjoy that is I believe most people's perception is off base. Pastors should be attending, supporting and working at these events, even to the exclusion of some of their church duties. Because after all, that is the kind of thing that Jesus did. I also enjoy it because maybe it will encourage a non-believer to give church a try when they see that Pastors are real people who do real stuff in the real community.

The soup was wonderfu, and I was so good I stayed away from the pie.

Here's hoping you have something to invest yourself into, in and out of the church.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Unbelievable ...

Now remember what week this is, Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I called a florist in the area yesterday to order some flowers, these are actually for something at church, I had already ordered some for wife the week before. (How good am I?) I called the florist and got a recording saying the shop was not open, I thought I am surprised, but they must be closed on Mondays. Just before I hung up I heard the rest of the message which said, "we are closed all week, on vacation, be back on Feb. 19". Are you kidding me? A florist closed the entire week of Valentine's? I still can't quite believe it.

I tried to think of an analogy of some kind, came up with this, that would be like me, a pastor, deciding to take a few days off Easter week and Easter Sunday. What do you think would happen? If I still had a position at my church when I returned there would certainly be some consequences awaiting me. So another florist got the business. I sure hope that is one whale of a vacation.

We are having a true winter storm today. They are predicting anywhere from 3-12 inches in the next 24 hours. All schools are closed today and I am guessing they will be tomorrow as well. The weather people on TV are smiling from ear to ear, they finally have some real weather to report. Of course that means you can't turn on the TV without seeing the warnings and having the program interrupted with an update.

Here's hoping you remembered that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Let someone know that they are appreciated.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Musings ...

God is good! In case you didn't realize it, I thought I would remind you of that fact today. I was reminded of that fact yesterday. As I reflected on the events of Sunday I thought, it is true God is good, and as my Dad always says "God is still God". He is alive, He is still working in the hearts of people and He is working in our church and community. There is much for which to praise the Lord today. We had a good Spirit in both the morning and evening services. There were several people who made commitments to open the door of their hearts and allow God to work in their lives. They were responding to the message about shedding "Hard hearts and Apathetic attitudes". We had a decent attendance. We had new people again this week and a family that was back for the third time. People are really reaching out to invite people to church and they are responding well in welcoming newcomers when they attend.

Sunday evening we had a piano duet by a third grader and a fifth grader, (they are sisters) and they have only been taking piano lessons for a month. How is that for courage? They did well, and added some good sisterly giggles as a part of the song. Then we had a trio of children (all from the same family) who sang and did very well. I continued teaching series on what we believe and people were very responsive. Our evening attendance was strong and people hung around and talked with each other for a long time. That after service time of talking is very positive. It is not a good sign for a church when people hustle out quickly without much conversation with each other.

God really is up to something special. My wife got a phone call today from someone wanted to talk about spiritual matters and I had someone stop by to talk who had a great suggestion for something encouraging we could do. Yes, God is good. I know that he is good all the time but sometimes it is great to experience a reminder of that fact.

Here's hoping you realize and are reminded this week that God is good.

19 days until the due date for grandchild number 5.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Which Superhero are you quiz ...

Your results:You are Superman
The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

My wife's quiz said she was "The Hulk", not sure what that means for us, but after 31 years of marriage I am not worried about it.

So who are you?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

False Alarm

Monday and Tuesday we had a family drama that could best be labeled a False Alarm. I was at a meeting a little over an hour from home, when I headed home I saw that I had a voice mail from my wife on the cell phone. I called her and she said that our youngest daughter Ki had called and was having some "leakage", she is 8 months pregnant to put it in perspective. I got home and the wife said that Ki was going to her doctor. I went into the office and awaited an appointment as I took care of some paperwork. Just before my appointment arrived the wife called and said that our daughter had just been admitted to the hospital because the doctor said her water had broken and was now on track to deliver the baby within hours. The wife also said that she was packing and taking of things to head to the hospital. We live 3 hours or so away and to add to the drama our daughter's due was March 3. I had my appointment, then as I was finishing my wife came in and said she was packed and on her way, she just wanted to know if I wanted to go as well.

I did a quick assessment and said I was going too. We went home and 6 or 7 minutes later we were on the road. We arrived at the hopital around 8pm. Our daughter was doing great. They had started her on some medicine to induce contractions and all the monitors were hooked up. We could hear and see a graph of our soon to be grandson's heartbeat. That was way cool. Our daughter Kr was there, our son T was there and our son-in-law was enroute from a run to their home to get all the things Ki would need. About 12:30 am we left the hospital and checked into a motel to sleep for about 5 hours, headed back to the hospital to hear that things were not progressing. Their was talk of them doing a C-section if things weren't progressing by 11am. Another doctor came in about 8:30am and said he didn't think her water had broken, was going to do a test. An hour later he returned and said her water had not broken and they turned off the medicine, unhooked Ki and told her she could go home.

Everyone was okay, just tired, and in the case of Ki also sore. So we are all back on the assumption that March 3 is the likely time, but are well aware that it could be anytime. We are hoping that Ki and hubby get caught up on rest from this ordeal and that they take this time to finish up things they need to do before the baby arrives, such as settle on a name. I am still hoping that my son-in-law wins with ESPN, our other grandkids have made their votes known, but I think Seth and I will lose this battle. Oh well, all I really care about at this point is a safe delivery and a healthy baby and mother and father.

I am sure that my daughter's account of this experience will be much more detailed and entertaining when she writes about the ordeal.

Of course the question that I have from all of this that has yet to be answered is, "So what was that stuff that leaked out anyway?"

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Morning Musings...

It is a frigid Monday morning, our local school district has cancelled school for the day, the temp is around -2 and wind chill -20. Actually a little warmer than Sunday morning. Yesterday was an encouraging day. With the very cold temperatures we had decent attendance and most of our newer people were present. A person who just had a knee replacement on Monday was in Worship. The spirit during the musical part of worship was very good. A special song by an ensemble was very good. The sermon was fair, people were very attentive during the sermon and there was a lot of good conversation after the service.

Last night we had a Super Bowl gathering at our home and invited our young adults and seniors in High School. We had about 12 or 13 show up. Amazingly everyone stayed until the game was over and everyone was sitting and watching the last quarter and a half. Oh yeah, the best part was the Colts won!!!! We had some very good conversation during the evening and learned some unknown things about people. All in all it was a tremendous day.

Here's hoping you are able to stay warm today and that you remember you are loved.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Even Colder ...

The thermostat in my car read -4 degrees as I pulled up to the church this morning at 5:30. That was real temp not counting wind chill. There was very little wind but -4 is beyond nose nippin cold. Here's hoping it warms up a bunch before time for worship. Hey, a guy can hope can't he?

Stay warm. As for this evening I will stay plenty warm eating some chili and cheering the Colts to victory.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's Cold ...

We are finally having some "real winter". Today it is blowing, it is snowing a little, and the temperature is around 10 and dropping. The wind chill is well below zero. The weather people have issued a weather advisory because of the wind chill and chance for whiteouts with the blowing snow. It is supposed to get even colder tomorrow. I am not enjoying it, but it is February 3 so it is to be expected.

I imagine that this weather will keep many people from church tomorrow, especially considering I got a call already today asking if there was any chance we might cancel church tomorrow. My answer was "no, I cannot imagine cancelling, as long as I can get to church and the furnaces are at least keeping the building from freezing."

I really wish we had a fireplace this weekend. That is one of the few things I would change about the parsonage here if that was possible. But this is a great home and the wife and I love it.

The weather should add to the Super Bowl viewing experience. It will make the chili taste better, the nachos more comforting and the Colts victory that much sweeter. We are having many of our young adults over to watch the game. I am sure many will play other games and just check in on the game, some will end up battling on my Xbox and then a couple will stick with me and actually watch the game.

I am anticipating a good time in worship tomorrow. God has been doing great things in our church recently and I don't think God is going to be put off by the cold. The only thing that could put Him off is if we are ready to worship and not obedient as we worship. Here's hoping you can stay warm tomorrow, but more importantly that you will be warmed by your obedient worship.