Archive for August, 2010

Last Year of the Thirties

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

Today is my 39th birthday.  One more year until the big 4 – 0! Do you know what I’m doing today?…whatever I want.  Because that is how I roll (Kelly would say, “Why should today be any different from any other day?”) 🙂

I’m Keeping My Day Job

Posted: August 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Brilliance of Jackie Chan…

Just a reminder that we are having a HUGE picnic this Sunday @ 4:00 p.m. at Rum Village Park.  We have reserved all three of the pavilions at the park and plan on having a BLAST!

We will have icebreaker games that are sure to make you laugh (like last year’s picnic where we discovered how many LSCers have been arrested), food, games, relays!!

Bring everyone you know!

In addition, bring either a main dish and a 2 liter or two side dishes and a 2 liter.  FOOD IS IMPORTANT AT PICNICS so bring enough in quantity that seems like it could feed your family and we will enjoy a great bounty of food!!!

Other things to bring:  bug spray, lawn chair/blankets, any recreational items you might want – bikes, frisbees, baseball glove, etc.

See you there!!

A few shots from last years picnic:

Greg Ranous just hooked the church’s internet up with Comcast Business.  Oh my goodness what a world of difference.  Our internet speed with AT&T was so bad we couldn’t upload messages without difficulty (and hours of time), it wouldn’t download images, videos…websites took forever.  We’ve had who knows how many AT&T tech people come out and tell us we need to do this and do that.  Nothing worked!

And just like that – switched to Comcast business and our computers are singing – “Hallelujah!!!

Thank you Greg!!!  Thank you Comcast business.

If you missed Sunday’s message STOP what you are doing and go right here right now and listen to it!!

This past Sunday we began a two-week message series entitled The End:  Exploring Life after Death.  I believe there are two great acts involved in the afterlife.  Week one was about Act 1 – what happens immediately after death (including a conversation about hell, purgatory, communicating with the dead, the confusion among religions…and especially the confusion that exists just among Bible-believing Christians).  This Sunday is Act 2 – Life…after life after death.  I’m excited!  I’m talking resurrection, glorification, new bodily existence, new heaven/new earth, and the affirmation that what we are doing HERE AND NOW for God is not in vain but will continue on for eternity!!

So…if you ever wanted to know what happens after death.  Listen to the podcast and show up Sunday and I’ll tell you!  All of your questions answered and the great mysteries of the afterlife solved!! Yea…I’m a genius like that! 🙂

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” – Matthew 6:33a

I’ve noticed in my life that what I allow to dominate my mind (thoughts), will also take over my passions.  I will get most excited about what it is that I’ve been thinking about.  For good or bad.  And my thoughts are often guided by things that I give space and time to – T.V., movies, podcasts, conversations, talk radio, books, etc.  And from these things I can get very passionate about different topics and issues.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It is a normal thing.  But what is difficult as a follower of Jesus is if my thoughts are dominated by everything BUT the things of Jesus.  And I see that all the time.

Throw out a topic or an issue in regards to Jesus, church, the Kingdom of God, the movement of the Holy Spirit…and it can elicit very little by way of response – even from followers of Jesus.  No passion.  No excitement.  No affection.  No enthusiasm.

BUT – if you throw out the following topics or issues – a mosque near ground zero, whether Obama is a Muslim or not, health care plans, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Republicans, Democrats, Rush Limbaugh, etc. you’ll see people light up and speak with such passion, conviction (sometimes it’s just anger disguised as conviction), and enthusiasm you can’t get them to calm down.  They write blog posts about it.  They post links to Facebook pages.  They share their passionate opinion with anyone who will listen, etc.

[this principle can also apply to things like – American Idol, Survivor, UFC, Outback cheese fries, Notre Dame football, Pawn Stars, Cubs baseball, Seinfeld, Apple computers, Lost, The Biggest Loser (I’m just sayin’) 🙂 Then again…I think these are some of Jesus’ favorite things.]

But talk about the things of Jesus.  Nothing.

If you listen to Rush Limbaugh for three hours every afternoon but listen to Jesus for just five minutes (if that) on your drive to work, Rush Limbaugh will probably dominate your thoughts.  Over time you will look more like Rush’s disciple than Jesus’.

If you read several books a week on the evils of the Obama administration (or Bush administration) but read nothing from the Bible (or other literature devoted to discipleship and spiritual growth) – it will be reflected in what it is you are most passionate and excited about.

What has captured your thoughts?  What are you giving your best energy and passion to?

“…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8b

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2

Do not be conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2

Go here and read this post.

Then…what do you think?  Do you feel more like a “why” or a “how?”

I just can’t get into exhibition NFL football.  The game doesn’t mean anything.  They take out the starters very quickly (which I totally understand).  It just bores me.  BUT…

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH @ 8:30 P.M.

That all changes.  Now…it’s on.  For real.  Vikings vs. Saints!!!

And, to help you focus (and get to know other NFL enthusiasts at the church) – we at the Living Stones Church are starting a fantasy football league.  It is open to everyone 14 and over.  The cost is $5 per person (to help finance the brand new car we purchased for the winner & refreshments).

The draft will be Wednesday, September 1st @ 6:30 p.m. in the Quarry.  If you are interested email Jeff Gritton to register.

Winner this year will get a 1-year term as an elder and a 15 passenger church van. 🙂

I wrote this in February of 2007.  It was only two months into my blog.  I tease my fellow Pastors often when they have to deal with the issue of voting…and it’s subsequent fallout! 🙂  So…I thought I would share once again – my humble opinions on this matter 🙂

[First, let me say that I don’t believe that there is one congregational structure that the Bible mandates that everyone has to follow.  Having said that, I can at least say that the Democratic / Congregational model has the least amount of support within the Scriptures.  But, I think it is no sin for churches to opt for such a structure.  Second, we at the Living Stones Church do not have the perfect structure and we are continually re-thinking through issues of polity and congregational decision making (read…”this is my qualifier to say I know I don’t know everything”no reallyI really do believe that!…why do you keep looking at me like that?)]

…BUT… (you knew that had to be coming)

I have a lot of pastor friends who serve in churches that have as a part of their constitutions and by-laws the mandate to approve or affirm leaders based on a congregational majority vote (or some agreed upon percentage set up by the by-laws).  In my conversations with these pastors, and hearing all of the stories that come out of such a process, let me share with you some things that I have NEVER heard them say after a congregational vote:

  • “I have never been more encouraged about our future as a church than I was after we voted last night.”
  • “I think those who lost the vote last night will get over it in no time.”
  • “I don’t think Joe’s [insert name] feelings were hurt at all last night by being rejected by the majority of the church.”
  • “I think politicking before the vote was a really healthy thing for our church.”
  • “I can’t wait for next year’s vote.”
  • “I think it’s wonderful that these congregational votes bring ‘members’ out of the wood-work that we haven’t seen in months.”
  • “The Spirit of God was really at work when Deloris [wife of ex-elder who was voted out at last year’s vote] stood up to speak.”

I totally get the motive behind the whole voting thing.  Really, churches are trying to do one of two things with the whole voting thing:  1)  Avoid the – “once appointed – you are there for life!” proposition. Who hasn’t experienced a leader who was effective two decades ago, but now…not so much?  And I understand that voting to affirm leaders gives a church an opportunity to say, “we no longer recognize that individual as a leader.”  2)  Voting also deals with leaders who have become abusive or mean.  Is it uncommon for churches to ask “so-and-so” who is so kind and compassionate to serve as a leader and once they get the official title all of a sudden people are heard saying, “He/She wasn’t like that before we asked them to…”

But my question is – Aren’t there more effective ways to deal with those two situations than a congregational vote?

Voting, in my always humble opinion, is a bad idea because:

  1. In all voting, you have “winners” and “losers.” Do you want “losers” in the church?  And how do the “losers” respond within the congregational system after losing?  What if they seem to perpetually lose?
  2. In spite of everyone’s best intentions, natural voting blocks and politicking always precedes congregational votes.  If your able to, try to secure phone records of your members and see who is calling who and measure that up to the voting results.  I think you’ll be surprised!
  3. It gives an equal say to every person in the church no matter their involvement or character.  Do you really want someone who has the most nominal investment in your church to have an equal say in direction and vision as someone who is “full of the Spirit” and has committed their whole life to the church?  I don’t know about you, but it was always interesting that some of the most vocal members during a vote are the ones who have the least investment in the life and work of the church (except for their participation in those basement meetings that began when they heard there was going to be a vote).
  4. It rarely is effective in dealing with the above two problems.  Most people (especially church people) just want to be nice and wouldn’t dare vote against a leader if 1) it will hurt someone’s feelings or 2) [and most probable] the negative vote only counts if they attach their name to the objection.  Anyone out there…?  Hello!  Sound familiar?  How many “no” votes get thrown away because it was “anonymous” (see by-laws).  Doesn’t that just set up conflict after conflict?  “I don’t like you”…”well I don’t like you”…”please pass the communion.”
  5. Even if the vote is quite impressively in favor, say – 85% – yes; 15% no – what does the newly elected, or affirmed leader leave thinking?  [Try…”I wonder who the other 15% is?”  Now watch theparanoia set in by next Sunday.
  6. One of two things almost always happens in these votes:  1) a record number of individuals show up to see the “brew-ha-ha” to follow; or 2) only a handful of people who wants to make sure “so-and-so” doesn’t get reelected shows up and they become the majority that night, but hardly represent the wishes of the majority of the church.
  7. Can we say…congregational humiliation and embarrassment possibilities galore that leave no recourse but trying to find another community of faith to participate in.
  8. Is popular vote the best way to identify leaders?  Maybe in America, but isn’t there another New Testament process that is somewhat mentioned in the book of Acts?  (e.g., prayer and fasting).
  9. What happens to a leadership that is annually (if not more frequently) shifting?  Even if additions or subtractions are viewed as largely positive, with every new change in the leadership comes a change in its dynamic and the group has to start all over again knowing how to relate to one another given the new dynamic.  Sometimes this could take months.  Or worse, what if because of self-imposed term limits – the church’s most effective and pastoral leader has to step down?
  10. Voting, while maybe being great American democracy in action, can serve as as institutational method that enables churches to never deal with individual difficulties according to Matthew 18 or Matthew 5.  Where do you even find voting in the Bible as the paradigm for selecting leaders?

If someone is ineffective as a leader, or has become abusive or mean-spirited, are they the only leader?  Are there not other leaders around them…other elders/shepherds, staff, deacons, ministry leaders, small group leaders, pastors, etc.  who can open an honest but gentle conversation about how they are serving?  Can a leadership team/body not be accountable to each other for how they are leading?  Do we believe that Matthew 18 & Matthew 5 (going to an individually one-on-one and, if not successful, followed by 2-3 others) can’t work within leadership?  I believe there are more effective, and MORE BIBLICAL ways to deal with poor leadership than the process of voting.

I never hear the success stories of voting.  Maybe they are out there.  If you have one, feel free to share it.  But over and over, what I hear is story after story of hurt feelings, terrible processes, and a trail of destruction by allowing by-laws to trump what spiritually-minded individuals (in and out of leadership) know to be best for the church.

While I’m afraid this little blog falls short of providing THE congregational answer, I hope that those churches who keep voting would reconsider and begin to adopt more biblical alternatives.  In other words, (in once again my most humble of voice)…STOP VOTING!

P.S.  If you do vote, make sure you know the congregation well enough that the result of any vote would not be a surprise.  Second, if you need more time to communicate, don’t hesitate to postpone a vote.