Archive for January, 2012


the bigger better ruin

as i continue to work with churches that seem truly interested in a different future, a future that will take them to places they’ve never been, something i keep saying to them is this.

we’re not going to talk about church growth strategies, ways to become attractive to those not connected to the church.  we’re not going to preach about what’s wrong with the world & the sin in their lives anymore than we talk about that problem in our own lives.  we’re not going to have a 5 year plan on growth & new buildings.  we’re simply going to respond to the prompting that God puts in our hearts.

yes, we’re going to do a lot of work & we’re going to look intentionally into the things that God shows us & we will make changes to the things that we’ve held dear…if that’s what God is asking us to do.

i do think there is a great deal of planning/future thought/strategy when it comes to growing God’s church.  but i’m more & more of the thought…maybe the question —- why?  what’s the motivation?  not weather we should or shouldn’t work to grow God’s church, but why are YOU doing it?

is it so you can have the best programming around?  is it so you can have a new building?  is it so you can look good?

in the process of growth there is always death.  when we make something new there are other things that are sacrificed & lost in the process.

this is something that connects to the cross.  Jesus dies so we can live.

so when we build up something new what are the things that die to make way for the new?  and a bigger question, are we ruining of something that didn’t need to die?

certainly, there are things that time has passed by & need to be retired.  worship that is captured by organ & piano alone, the thought of “putting on your sunday best” for church, the big hair of the ’80’s.  but as we strive for the new, the better, the bigger will we run over things that are meaningful & actually minister to people?  and i’m not just talking about the people that go to your local church.

oh that i would not be so obsessed with my own glory, that i would see the ministry happening right in front of me & may i lead [weather holding a title of leadership or simply leading in the circle of my family, friends & co-workers] in ways that bring life…in the same way that Jesus brought life to everything He touched.

may i not be a builder of empty cathedrals & ruined coliseums…

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Seth’s Blog: Learning leadership from Congress.

click the above link & check out some of seth godin’s thoughts on the temporary derailment of the SOPA issue.

QUESTIONS:  what does this mean for the church?

what does this mean for us as we seek to do what God asks of  us [individuals &  the collective body of  the church]?

i’m starting to think of this new year as “a year of preparation & hope”.

that sounds poetic & such [maybe it doesn’t], but the reason i’m thinking in these terms is this: God isn’t letting me alone on some things & those things directly affect the church, God’s church.  and in this year i just know that He’s going to prompt some things to happen & we have to decide what to do with that.

i also know that the stuff that He’s asking me to think about not easy & they are messy.

so as i wrestle with the days to come & toss out the ideas @ hand there is a question that i’ve been handed by gary haugen from the international justice mission.

here’s the question:  are we going to be safe or are we going to be brave?

we can’t do both…

either we’re going to step into that thing God is prompting & asking, with lots of unknowns, lack of funding, difficult people to try and lead or help.  or we’re only going to do the things that we can control & manage.  only do what is measurable & profitable.  only do what nets us fame & respectability.

we cannot do both…

will we be safe?  or will we be brave?

2nd 3rd waves of change

change is a hard thing to grab onto @ times.  it can challenge the way we’ve always done things, it can up-end plans that we’ve put into place, & it can disrupt a future we had in mind.

but, when we accept a change that’s been handed down to us, that is IF we accept said change, it can become incredibly freeing.  the thing about change & shift is that it has a theoretical portion to it & a practical “this is how it’s going to get done” portion.

when we talk about change & say “here it is, this is what we need to do.”  the data is presented, the discussion is had, the pro’s & con’s are weighed, opinions are heard.  here it’s all just talk.

then it takes some “doing”.  we get practical & we figure out schedules & how many hands we’re going to need to make this new thing happen & the wheels start to move.  it’s hard,  but we knew it would be.  there’s been some loss; there always is with new things being born.  but there’s some new life that’s realized too.  that also happens when the “new” is seen.

so none of this is new news to anyone.  this is what we know…

here’s something that we may know as well, that change comes in a couple of waves.  it’s not all instant & we didn’t know [up front] all of the possible shifts that would have to be made.  when one thing changes it will cause ripple affects in multiple places, that much we know.  what we don’t know & can never completely predict, is  how those other ripples will show up & what other things those ripples may reveal.

the question becomes this:

when the leader[s] projected the picture of this “new future/shift/idea/program” &  you decided to get on board…

…what was/is your commitment level to being a part of this new thing?

as a leader, unveiling the new vision…

…what is/was your commitment level to developing & nurturing whats been growing inside you?

the new project that we move toward is going to cause some ripples in places we never expected to see.  it’s going to cause some change in areas other than the one new thing we’re doing.  it will push us toward some people we may not be comfortable with.  it will almost certainly challenge some of our thoughts about God, how church is supposed to be done.  and it may challenge some of our theology.

the question then becomes, are you willing to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?

will you follow in the midst of questions?

will you lead all-the-while questions & doubts are hurled your way?

will you believe that God has brought you to a place where greater trust is needed in Him instead of our carefully laid out plans & schemes?

this sounds risky…

but then again, it probably should.