Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We believe in training our leaders!

Steve Lizzio and me

This past weekend our adult ministries equipping staff (Erin Bird, Pat Reick, James Wartian, Kim Pagel and me) was privileged to provide an awesome training for all our ABF leaders. There were 45 of us in attendance Saturday morning and it was a total success.

First of all, Steve just oozes with passion for discipleship and ABF communities as well as small groups. He shared with us tons of illustrations about ABFs that were successful and some of the over-the-top things they had done to celebrate community. The last session he talked about the 10 deadly sins of ABFs.

It was cool to collaborate with the leadership team of my ABF Parents With Teens. In fact, we have already implemented something that came out of the conference.

I am so excited that I am part of a church that values its leaders and we put our money where our hearts are. Personally, it was a joy to get to know another servant-leader who lives his life for others and Jesus. He was an open-book for us and I'm glad he came!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Kaufman's stopped by!

(L-R) Mackenzie, Wes, Natalie, and Gina

We love it when folks drop in on us and tonight Wes, Gina, and Natalie Kaufman stopped by tonight for a few minutes. Gina is the administrative person for our small group and now she is the new ice breaker queen! Well, the Kaufman's have never been featured on my blog so ladies and gentleman, may I introduce to you - THE KAUFMAN'S!!!

We love you guys!

Pee Wee's Big Adventure comes true!

Help! Someone stole my mountain bike right out of our garage. A friend told me that their neighbor had the same thing happen to them in broad daylight! The really bad part is that I had just received it as a gift from a friend and I was going to give my old mountain bike to some deserving individual. hmmm.

Cedar Rapids is a great town and I love it! This in no way changes my attitude about this town, but I will keep the garage door closed from now on. :)

P.S. For those who don't know about Pee Wee's Big Adventure, it is a story about his attempt to recover his stolen bike.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Leadership Summit - part 2

Here we are at Leadership Summit at the satelite site in Peoria, IL at Northwoods Community Church. What a cool church with a wonderful plan for ministry. They have been awesome hosts and it has been wonderful being here.

This morning we had the privilege of hearing three interviews conducted by Bill Hybels. Here is my brief summation before we head to supper.

Ashish Nanda - associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Bottom line? Take care of your people. Serve the people who serve you and the company. Also, hiring "stars" is risky business. It almost never works for a failing (or non-growing) company to hire a "star" performer. They simply cannot "work their magic" in the new setting simply because their support network is gone.

Moral of the story? If you hire a "star" then you better hire his entire staff. I feel bad for churches that attract and hire "stars" and expect them to produce growth. It's a mistake of huge magnitude. Often churches hire a new senior pastor who is a star and when he shows up he gets rid of the current staff. This simply doesn't work and the research bears this up.

Jim Collins - author of Built to Last and Good to Great. I read Good to Great and it strengthened my resolve to serve those around me and to pour my life into the lives of those with whom I serve. It also affirmed my desire to collaborate with teams and to work together. Jim was enthusiastic and engaging. Interestingly enough, Jim is not a believer and a couple of times Bill Hybels actually kinda challenged him about his faith journey. It was cool seeing Bill reaching out to Jim in front of of 80k people!!!

Bono - lead singer of rock band U2. Ok, Bono is prob not my fav theologian. But the guy apparently loves God but has had some issues with God's church. I have to confess that I too have had issues with the church. Us musicians and artists in general were rejected by the church years ago so a lot of us went out and did our own thing. (a little rant there - I'm ok now)

Bono is in the halftime of his life and has been wildly successful but wants to leverage his influence to make a difference in the name of the Lord. So, meeting the needs of the poor and especially helping make a difference in the AIDS crisis. You see Bono can't understand why the church is following Jesus' command to feed the poor and meet the needs of the needy. I can't either, but I guess I've gotten comfortable in my 4 bedroom house and nice cars we drive. I have a nice office will lots of cool tools. (or is that toys). I am glad to see that he is desiring to make an eternal impact.

For more info on his endeavor go to www.one.org

After lunch we were treated to a private tour of the building.

Arts and Worship (or Arts are worship) - an artist performed sand art on a lighted glass as an act of worship and it was awesome! (why has the church - and me for years - said no to artists other than piano and organists and classically trained vocalists?) After lunch we were envigorated by the ministry of Nicole C. Mullin. She was better than ever and by the end many of us were in tears, including Nancy Beach one of teaching pastors at Willow Creek!

The last session featured Patrick Lencioni author of Death by Meeting, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide, and Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars. Buy his books and read them. Here are some sound bytes: (it's late and I'm tired)

  • If everything is important, then nothing is important.
  • We have to choose between what is better and best - not good or bad.
  • Don't make perfect the enemy of the good. (This is my problem)
  • Our ability to work together is a testimony of our relationship with God .

I'll be talking about this stuff for a while. Stay tuned. I'm out.

P.S. Thank God I am finally in a church that values leadership development and puts its money where its mouth is. Thanks New Covenant for investing in me. I love this place!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The doctrine of Hairology

Ok, let's have some fun. I subscribe to Monday Morning Insight and this is one I have to pass on. I don't know where they got this "sermon" on the doctrine of "Hairology." I laughed harder this morning than I have in a long time. So, here is what MMI (mondaymorninginsight.com) had on their site: (Click here to go to MMI's page)

As a public service to our Friday audience at MMI, I thought I would pass on this from our sermon archive. This one is by famous evangelist Dr. G. I. Barber. For many of you who grew up (like I did) in a strict theological setting, I'm sure Dr. Barber's "Doctrine of Hairology" will bring back some memories. Listen, enjoy, and be convicted (if need be)...

Click here to listen. It will take a little bit to fully download. Please be patient (it’s worth it).

I hope you enjoyed it!

Leadership Summit - Peoria, IL

(See the badge? Proof I'm at
Leadership Summit!)

I'm writing from Leadership Summit at the Peoria Illinois. Our church is a member of the Willow Creek Association and this is one of the highlights of our year here - actually it's my first year! Today we heard from Bill Hybels who motivated us to spend our time developing leaders and gave us a great pathway concept for doing just that.

Next up was James Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist in Chicago's Roseland's neighborhood. He said that "everything that is planted is supported is supposed to grow." In other words, the church is supposed to grow. Like the weeds among the wheat, there are enemies of church growth:

1. Lack of faith
2. Lack of Knowledge
3. Failure to realize that God is no respector of persons (God loves Bill Hybels and Rick Warren just as much as he loves me)
4. Growth is ALWAYS the goal of a NT church
5. An unsure pastor
6. Failure to build upon small victories
7. Failure to preach the announcements (ask me)
8. Lack of corporate prayer and fasting
9. Getting started - analysis paralysis
10. Motive (check this out...)
Are we building the church for our sake, or the kingdom sake?

Next up was one of my favorite pastors, Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point in Atlanta, GA. The title of his talk was "The Best Leadership Decision I've ever Made." He challenged us that if we were going to cheat someone (because of the demands of ministry and family) that we choose to cheat the ministry. Here's why:

  • Jesus promised us that he would build his church.
  • He then commanded us (husbands) to love our wives as Christ loved the church.

The problem? We think that Jesus is supposed to care for our family while we are busy building the church. This is wrong.

Andy only works 45 hours per week. As senior pastor he encourages his people that if they need to cheat somewhere on their time, cheat on the ministry and not their families. His church actually takes off the week of Christmas - no services at all! Now THAT is a commitment to the families of the church!

It all boils down to focus. Leaders must be focused!

The last speaker was Peg Neuhauser who talked on Tribal Warfare. She talked about the anatomy of a conversation and gave us some cool tips on conflict resolution.

It was an awesome day and I have a lot to think about. I capped the day off with a 10 mile bike ride.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Relationship Reality Check

Ever wander if God loves you? I mean, REALLY loves you? Part of our issue surrounds the fact that we have a skewed definition of love. We think that when someone is loving us then good things are happening, harmony exists in the relationship, and we are safe from hurt. This is simply not true.

Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. Psalm 4:3 NIV

I underlined "the godly" but go back and reread that line and put your name in the blank. (I'll wait) Now, let it soak in. Read it again. Again. One more time.

You see, the Lord has set you apart for himself in a sovereign act apart from you. Are you godly? Are you following him today? Then you are godly. If you are living in rebellion to God and have known unconfessed sin why not stop right now, confess it, and be free from the weight of that sin in your life. You see, he has set you apart and you have the privilege of praying and having your prayers answered. When you pray, he hears, and forgives! It's that simple! Then, commit to turning away (repenting) from that sin with God's help. (doesn't' that feel better!)

All relationships, including your relationship with God is going to be put to the test, and here are some practical steps on how to deal with trying times in any relationship:

v4 In your anger do not sin - you see, there are times for anger and we should be careful not to sin by attempting to make things right. Let God handle that part.

v4 search your hearts - you can't search someone else's heart. We've got a fight on our hands just dealing with our own hearts.

v4 be silent - Whoah! That is not easy advice, but it is good advice. When we are silent God can talk to us.

v5 offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord - Keep your focus on the Lord. When we start to look around at others we have a tendency to blame them.

What are the results of living life according to this plan? (glad you asked)

Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when the grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety. Ps 4:6-8 NIV

Let me know what you think!