Archive for January 5, 2007

I’m in Big Trouble!

Posted: January 5, 2007 in Uncategorized

angry.jpgI got my January 2007 issue of Christianity: then & now today.   I get it every month.  It is a little journal authored by a guy name John Waddey that is sent to (I think) most of the acappella Churches of Christ in the nation.  I usually flip through it skimming the main headings just to see what the latest controversy might be, and there it was…a blurb about us!  It read:

“The Donmoyer Avenue Church of Christ, long time sponsor of John Clayton’s “Does God Exist?” outreach, has abandoned the old paths of scripture.  They are now the Living Stones Church.  They have incorporated instrumental music into their worship, and women are now assisting in public worship.  As John the Apostle put it, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us…'(1 John 2:19).  What a sad and tragic fact this is to report.  But in the years ahead, we can expect many more similar cases as the virus of change does its destructive work in the lives of our people.  JHW”

I couldn’t believe it.  I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be upset or proud.  I’m afraid to confess that I think I’m more proud than upset.  The only thing that concerned me was that Mr. John Waddey, whether he intended to or not, seemed to imply that John Clayton (A.K.A. Man in the Middle) was involved or may be involved.  So I sent Mr. John Waddey an e-mail to assure him and his readers that John Clayton hasn’t attended the Donmoyer Church of Christ since July 2003 and is still true to the old paths of scripture attending an acappella, women-not-assisting-in-worship Church of Christ in Dowagiac, MI.

I’m sure in reponse to John Waddey’s publication, I got this delightful e-mail today Gayle McPherson, an elder of a Church of Christ in Taylor, TX:

“As a faithful member and an Elder of the Lord’s church, I would like to thank you for removing Christ’s name from your group.  What I’ve read about you says you no longer worship the Lord as directed in the New Testament.  We are not to cater to what the world wants, but to do the Lord’s will.  Again I say thank you and hope that at some point before it’s too late you will see the error of your way and repent.”

As you can see from the above, I don’t know why anyone would want to get out of the Churches of Christ?

God is good!

From – “the change-virus” infected pastor of the Living Stones Church (may I never recover)

img_1452.jpgmatt-lauer.jpgMost people probably think Matt Laurer and I have in common things like looks, charm, charisma, talent…the list could go on and on.  But the truth is, we are both celebrating our 10 year anniversary in our respective employments.

Ten years ago today – January 4th, 1997 – I began my ministry at the Donmoyer Avenue Church of Christ (now the Living Stones Church).  I was a 25 year old with a lot more hair and a few less kids.  Kelly, Isaac (who at the time was only six months old), and myself pulled into South Bend with our Ryder truck from Abilene, TX (fresh out of graduate school) to begin our work and ministry.  I can’t believe it has been 10 years!! 

As in any ministry, there are ups and downs.  I have learned a ton over the past ten years (even as the Lord is still trying to drill into my thick head some lessons the point of wish is difficult for me to grasp).  I have had experiences of pastoral leadership I would never have dreamed of. 

But at this moment, as I reflect on where I am today, and where I have been, with all of its ups and downs (really – a lot of downs), I can say this with great sincerity – I WOULDN’T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE!!!

Although it has taken awhile, I am now having the time of my life!!  I absolutely love the Living Stones Church and if God will permit me I want to remain here for the rest of my life!  God has proven himself so good and so faithful that it is incredible.  If I knew ten years ago what I knew now; and if I were given the choice of clepping out of a good seven years of difficulty; I’m telling you, I would walk through it all over again to be where I am today.  To have enjoyed the past three years as much as I have with each passing year better than the one before!

Nothing is more thrilling than to see God actually accomplishing what He said he would (I’m embarrassed to admit that for awhile I was starting to think that he wouldn’t).  Nothing has been more rewarding than to see a church turn so dramatically outward, so emphatically missional (I mean at the very core of its DNA), and to see it so united in a common mission and vision!!!!!  Thank you God – thank you!!!!!  What an honor and priviledge for me to say that I am both your servant and friend.

Here is my short list of things I have learned in 10 years of ministry in this place:

  1. No one is as bad as you think; and no one is as good as you think (this is especially true for you).
  2. Good people – I mean really good, godly people, when anxious and scared can say and do crazy things (this is especially true for you).
  3. There is nothing like doing ministry out of a very clear calling and word from the Lord.
  4. It isn’t always a bad thing for people to leave and find another church.  Never be anxious in it, pray, and trust that God has bigger Kingdom purposes for both of you then keeping you in the same building.
  5. When you think you have communicated something adequately, double what you have just done.
  6. Some people don’t want to be appeased.  If you begin to make the effort to appease them, it will consume you.
  7. Never send an e-mail to someone if as you type, your heart is racing.  Wait until the morning, and have your wife read it first.  If she thinks it is a good idea send it.  If she hesitates when you ask, “what do you think?”  Don’t send it – ever!
  8. Your wife and children walk through what you walk through in ministry.  Tend to them first.
  9. It is possible to transition a church.  The cost in doing so is great.  Count the cost. 
  10. If God has given you a specific calling, the cost of not following it is even greater.
  11. Nothing beats elders/leaders who love you unconditionally and speak freely their thoughts about your work and ministry.
  12. Your wife is right.  Listen to her advice.
  13. Surround yourself in ministry with people who are smarter, better, and more spiritual than you. 
  14. If you do not commit intentional and regular time to go into solitude to pray and fast, you will likely miss what God wants to reveal to you about your own heart.
  15. When God reveals sin in your heart, it is a sign of his mercy and grace.  The only alternative is that he never reveals it to you.  That would be the worst fate of all.
  16. Never listen to or give authority to someone in the church who doesn’t have the charater of Jesus and contributes nothing to the life of the church but criticism and negativity.
  17. A church full of children is one of the greatest things ever.
  18. Know what your strengths are.  Your strengths will also be accompanied by negatives – they will be your greatest weaknesses.
  19. I have never regretted responding in gentleness or kindness.  My greatest regrets have been responding in anger.
  20. Reactive leadership is the worst kind of leadership. 
  21. If God tells you you have wronged someone, apologize, ask forgiveness, and make it right, or God won’t tell you anything else until you do.
  22. You are not above any sin.  When you hear about the sins of others, remember that given the right conditions, circumstances, and choices – you could find yourself in the exact same place.  Know that you have been kept from some sins, not because you weren’t capable or that it wasn’t in your heart, but rather because God had his hands around your heart protecting you and others from letting out what was inside.
  23. Just because God is calling you to something doesn’t mean it will be easy or without pain.
  24. If your wife cautions you about imbalance in your time spent with church vs. children/marriage/God – fix it immediately.
  25. God is infinitely good.  Who can comprehend such a thing? 
  26. (and perhaps most importantly) Sometimes when people say, “That was a good sermon,” they are just being nice.