Archive for the 'Ministry' Category

17
Oct
10

Refuse to Do Nothing

This Saturday, hundreds of people from First Church will be heading out into the River Valley to touch lives with the love of Jesus.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus by making sure that our faith is a loving, practical, active faith (James 2:18).  We’re calling this Servolution Saturday, but our desire is to adopt a Servolution Lifestyle.

If you are a follower of Christ, how are you demonstrating your faith?  What is the difference you’re making?  Whose life has been impacted for good because you cared and you stepped up to get involved?  It is easier to look the other way and not be bothered.  It is easier to think, “Someone else will do it.”  Let’s quit taking the easy way.

Josh Wilson, singer/songwriter, has written a song that says, “I refuse to do nothing.”  He produced the video below after experiencing Nashville’s 1000-year flood and being convicted about his involvement to help the victims.  I hope as you view this, you will be inspired to ask how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

How are you inspired to serve?  Where do you make a footprint for the Kingdom?

15
Oct
10

An Easy Way to Make a Difference

The focus verse for Hydrate this week is James 2:18.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Faith and works are inseparable for the true believer.  If we are the recipients of the tremendous grace of God through salvation, how can we help but want to share that grace with others?  Real salvation will result in real concern and love for others because we have experienced real love from the author of love:  God Himself!

We need to ask ourselves, “How am I expressing the love of God to those around me?”  Is there a way to make a difference in both the eternity and present  life of people with whom I have influence?  The love of Christ motivates us, the Spirit of Christ guides us to be intentional.  How will you let Him use you?

Look around you and pray for God to show you the needs of the community in which you live and the world beyond your locale.  Submit yourself to be used by God to meet these needs and open doors to share the life of Christ through the gospel.

If you want to take an easy first step of making a practical difference, click on the Blood:Water Mission link on my page and complete the activity.  The sponsoring business will make a donation to the organization which provides clean drinking water and AIDS care for people in Africa.  Let that activity then be the first step in a long list of ways you become involved in touching the world with the love of Christ and His gospel.

Celebrate!  Comment and share the ways and ministries through which you are making a difference.  I would love to hear all the ways God is at work through you.

09
Oct
10

Next Gen Motivation Connects with Biblical Truth

Daniel Pink, noted business leader and speaker, points out that there are three basic motives for behavior.  Specifically, he speaks of motivating behavior in the business world.  Studies and observation of human behavior tell us that we are motivated by…
1.    Biological Motives – food, sleep, sex.
2.    Reward Motives – greater productivity brings greater reward.
3.    Purpose Motives – understanding that what one does has a greater purpose and contributes to a greater cause (involving ownership).

We know biblically, as well as scientifically, that biological motives are very powerful in controlling behavior.  However, when it comes to problem solving, they are not very effective beyond simply taking care of one’s biological needs.  Unmanaged, they can even become enslaving and lead to less productivity in life.

Reward, as research indicates, is effective for relatively low-level cognitive problem-solving situations.  And, actually, when creativity and innovation are needed for more complex problem solving, productivity actually decreases when reward is increased.  This is certainly counter-intuitive, but proven to be true.

However, when an individual gains an understanding of purpose behind their problem solving and are encouraged to take ownership of the overall purpose, their creativity and productivity increases.   This is even more pronounced when they are given “authority” or freedom in their activity rather than being delegated tasks.

So What?

So how does this apply to life and the church beyond the business world?  I think there is a very significant application in regard to the cultural relevance of the gospel.

Thirty-plus years ago, American culture was primarily a reward motivated culture.  If you do these tasks, you’ll receive this reward.  Do more tasks and you’ll receive more reward.

The “Next Gen” culture is not motivated merely by simple reward.  The bigger picture motivates them.  They want to know there is a cause bigger than them and want to become a part of something that will make a difference in their world.

Place that dynamic over our spiritual journey and it looks like this.

Past generations have been concerned primarily with the gospel redemption that gets a person saved so as to gain the reward of heaven.  After that, they wanted to enlist as many as they could to join them.  Great goal, but I would argue–incomplete.

This alone is not a motivator to the Next Gen’ers.  They want to know that they are changing the “here and now” of people AS WELL AS their eternity.

For the church to reach the Next Generation we must be focused on engaging and reforming the culture as a natural outcome of the redemption process of the gospel.  We can call it a means to an end, the ultimate step in the discipleship process, or just the other piece of the puzzle.  However, we label it, we know that the Bible speaks prolifically about the people of God caring about the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the broken and the forgotten.  For us to embrace the gospel of redemption, and not embrace the responsibility to bring healing and physical restoration to these, is to fail to fully embrace the gospel.  I speak not of a “social gospel” that tosses aside the message of salvation in favor of only addressing a physical or emotional need.  I do reject the notion that we only focus on bringing people face-to-face with the opportunity for salvation with no concern for their physical needs.

This is not just a Next Gen issue.  It is a biblical truth issue.  Can we possibly look at the life of Jesus and all that the Scripture teaches about caring for the needy and think that addressing social injustice is not an integral part of the gospel?  The only answer in my mind is reflected in the words of Jesus.

“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19

What are your thoughts about the connection between the gospel and social injustice?  How have you involved yourself in connecting the two?


09
Oct
10

S T R E T C H E D

I’m attending the Catalyst Conference this week and the theme is “The Tension is Good.”  We’ve heard some phenomenal speakers and information that has challenged, affirmed and inspired me in my journey and my ministry.  The whole idea of managing, maneuvering and embracing tension in life and ministry is completely relevant…and biblical.

Does that mean that everything I have heard so far is readily applicable to my situation?  No.  The various presenters and perspectives serve to begin dialogue and spark thinking that is innovative and, well, catalyzing!  For example, are there applications in the business model describing “motive” that Daniel Pink presented which apply to ministry?  Some say “no.”  I say, “More than meets the eye.”  (I’ll expand on that in another blog).  Are there things that I’ve heard and will hear that I will say….”Eh, ok, but not much application to where I am or what I’m doing?”  Yes.  But even those things can serve a purpose.  All of this information serves to S T R E T C H us.  When we listen with a broader mind we allow ourselves to begin to think and apply principles outside the box.  We see possibilities rather than limitations.  My creativity expands and I allow the tension between where I am and where I could be to S T R E T C H me.

Our staff spent Wednesday, the day before the start of the conference proper, in planning retreat and dialogue.  The majority of our interaction centered around being S T R E T C H E D in ways and directions that reflect a demand for cultural awareness and ministry transformation.  It was time well spent as we S T R E T C H E D one another, S T R E T C H E D our paradigm and let the power of Scriptural application to culture S T R E T C H us.   The tension truly is good and our intention is that we see God’s hand at work as we emerge from that process with fresh passion for what He’s called us to do.

Like after a tense physical workout, my spiritual muscles may be a little sore, but “no pain, no gain, right?”

How are you being stretched in life and ministry?  Do you have one or more people around you who stretch you?  Do you need to find someone?

06
Oct
10

Not What We Do; It’s Our DNA – 24/7 FAITH

The church is notorious for the development of never-ending programs.  In an effort to relate to culture, and to be on the cutting edge, we are in constant search of the newest, the latest, and the most attention-grabbing methods.  While that is to some extent necessary so that we can reach the current generation, we stand in danger of missing the most important method of ministry—inter-generational discipleship.

The Faith-at-Home movement is gaining great momentum as people and organizations like Mark Holmen, Randall House Publications, Blaine Rogers, Rob Reinow and the D6 Conference call us back home with our faith.  This isn’t a fad, a program or a new method coming down the pike.  Instead it is a realization that we have strayed from the foundational teaching of Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  It is applicable to all ages, all life phases and all circumstances, because everyone has a home and is a disciple (or needs to become one).  As I have written before, it isn’t rocket science.

But what does this mean for our ministry?  How should it look in our churches?

The answer to that is probably going to look a little different for every church, but there are certain principles that will be constant across the spectrum.

1.    Discipleship is primarily the responsibility of the home.
2.    The church is responsible for equipping parents to transfer their faith to their children.
3.    Everything that we do in programming in the church should contribute to driving an active faith into the home.
4.    Discipleship can basically be boiled down to three categories:  Individual, Generational, and Relational (More explanation of these is fodder for a future post)

The benefits if we return to this fundamental paradigm?

1.    Strengthened families and marriages
2.    Stronger churches (if families are spiritually stronger, the church will be as well)
3.    Focused ministry that is effective
4.    A filter for ministry/budgeting decisions
5.    Decreased exodus of young adults from the church

What does this look like for our church?  This year it was Hydrate, next year Engage.  The DNA of our ministry transforms into 24/7 FAITH.  This becomes who we are, not just what we do.

(More on the details of this will be given in future posts.  My intention is to post at least once each week on the topic of “Faith-at-Home.”  Check back for more.)

So…how has the faith of your parents (or lack of) impacted the disciple you are now?  How are you intentionally passing along your faith to the next generation?  Where are you in the process of being a 24/7 Disciple?

05
Oct
10

Catalytic Adventure

In 2008 I attended my first and only Catalyst Conference. As a lead pastor, my youth pastor and I made the trek from middle Tennessee to Atlanta to experience what would be a pivotal point in my ministry. I was in a transition phase of ministry and life-journey, the full impact of which I did not fully understand at that point. I would have to characterize Catalyst that year for me as, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The speakers that I remember being impactful to me were…

Steven Furtick

Andy Stanley

Jim Collins

Craig Groeschel

Dave Ramsey

Seth Godin

Coming out of that event, I was prepared for the next “phase” of life and ministry into which God was moving me. It was only a few months until I received an invitation to join a ministry where my vision, dreams and gifting would be more completely utilized in the Kingdom. Looking back, I see clearly how God was orchestrating everything for that transition. Catalyst was a part of that process.

Now, as I anticipate attending my second Catalyst Conference in 2010, I do so with great expectation for the experience. This time I am in community with 5 other pastors from our church as well as an intern. We will spend Wednesday in a planning retreat and then experience Catalyst together as a staff. What do I hope to gain?

1. Enriched relationships with those I labor alongside in our ministry

2. Vision casting and practical planning for what God wants to do in us, and through us, in 2011

3. Inspiration for my ministry, leadership and life journey.

4. Great worship

5. Ideas for sharpening my leadership skills

In short…to be catalyzed by the Spirit for seeing even greater things accomplished for the Kingdom.

Are you attending Catalyst? What are your expectations? What are some past experiences to which you can point that were impactful?

28
Sep
10

Unclogging the Stagnant Pool

I was in a resort area a month or so ago and passed by a motel that touted its great rates and nice accommodations.  As I glanced into the outdoor pool, I noticed that the water was a very gross greenish brown color.  It was obviously NOT in a condition to be used.  As much as this place of lodging wanted to promote its value, the message of the stagnant pool said “Don’t stay here.  You’ll be disappointed.”

This morning I met Steve.  He’s a mild-mannered guy who has spent the past 20 years as a contractor, building homes and working with the skills of his hands.  About a year ago, he came upon hard times and hit “rock bottom.”  Remembering the faith of his childhood from which he had strayed, Steve turned to God in despair and God responded with love and forgiveness.  Steve proceeded to find a church to attend, devour the Scripture and look for opportunities to fill his life with worship, study and growth.  He became so engrossed in pursuing his spiritual journey that family and friends cautioned him not to burn himself out…find a balance.

It seems God was already at work to address this concern in Steve’s life.  In his walk with God and God’s pursuit of him, Steve began to feel that something was missing.  It became apparent that the missing part was service.  “I want to do some kind of mission work where I can use my skills,” Steve said.  He has found the key to the “balance” that he needs…a “drain.”

What I mean is this.  The Dead Sea cannot sustain marine life because the salt content is too high.  Although fresh water enters the sea, there is no outlet.  The lack of an outlet makes the body of water lifeless and stagnant.  With the best of intentions, we may become students of God’s Word.  We may soak in everything we can from study, worship, preaching, etc.   However, if there is no outlet for serving, sharing and dispensing what we have gained, we can become spiritually stagnant.  Steve has found a way to unclog his stagnant pool of knowledge and growth.  Fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not only spiritually necessary, it is practically beneficial.  It keeps the stream flowing well.

Have you experienced spiritual stagnation?  Is there a nudge of the Holy Spirit calling you to serve in a particular way?  Where have you found an outlet for serving?




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