Why not Wednesday? Expanding the mission in hard times…

For success to happen God needs to show up. But the vessels that carry God’s presence is people. In challenging times we can focus on what we lack, or we can embrace constraints by being creative. In being creative you need to get back to basics. The key for expanding the mission is people.

The Y factor
Early on in my ministry I attended “The Leadership Summit” put on by Willow Creek. Bill Hybels discussed what he called “The Y Factor.” You can read about it here. In dealing with a resource crunch, a member on his team wrote X (paid staff) + Y (volunteers) = Z (bearing fruit). Their focus was to double Y.

Y>X= expanding the mission
Expanding on that idea, the Y factor should be exponential. Truthfully, our “volunteers” support the church, serve in it, and more importantly, they’re the missionaries in all parts of our community. The church reaches its missions best when Y (volunteer staff) is greater than X (paid staff). Paid staff is important and vital- think of them as the coaching and support teams. But, paid staff are not the players- that’s the members. The better our members are equipped and mobilized, the greater our ministry impact.

Church is family
Pastor Mark Driscoll describes church as family. Church is extended family. You can hear him describe this here. There are no consumers in church. (At least, there shouldn’t be.) There are two kinds of people: family and guests. One of the marks of being in the Spirit is hospitality. One of the marks of being dialed into God is love. We’re family, and we should be an inviting one.

Free people up to serve
I blogged about a conversation I had with Pastor Pasma, found here. In that conversation he walked me through significant ministries that developed at the church I grew up in- powered by the people. He invested much time in the conversation talking about how to free people up to serve. “Staff to meet essentials… work to free people to serve.” Pastor pointedly stated how the people serving in the church is the truest mark of health and growth.

The Bottom line:
The church is people. The church success rests on people. Church growth is about people. While in hard, difficult or crazy times, the solution is your people. God’s power is evident in three things: Prayer. Bible. People. Loving God gives us a foundation for expanding the mission. Loving people gives us the means to make it happen.

Why not Wednesday? Family life

Some of the best ideas and clarity of ideas comes from family life. Abnormally, let me give the bottom line on top.

The bottom line:
Don’t get so busy and distracted that you cannot hear and listen to your family. You might just miss something.

Night time prayers
I put my boyz down to bed. We wrestle, read, share Schnickle Fritz stories. They realize bed time is for real when we pray. Setting them down I perform the most important duty of a dad: just listen. These times can be funny to epic proportions (stalling tactic I think) or incredible serious. They’re the best times. Here is why…

Toy churches
Jadon, my oldest, pulls his nana (blanket) from his face, turns his chin ever so slightly and squints. He’s curious and about to ask a question. (I didn’t think I was quirky until I had kids.)

Jadon: Daddy, why aren’t there toy churches?
Daddy: Because the church is people.
Jadon: What kind?
Daddy: Church is people who follow Jesus.
Jadon: Jesus loves me!

Reminders are creative lessons
His response was pretty cool. I would have sung that song for him, but my boyz made it clear that singing is off-limits for me. Last night brought clarity. Other times brought creativity. Family life is a huge resource. Here is the creative reminders Jadon gave me:

  • Church isn’t some game, it’s a real important thing.
  • Church is people who follow (active verb) Jesus.
  • Church is also about loving and serving people, even if they can do nothing in return, like children.

Manic Monday: Love, exciting and true…

Translation 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, not bragging, not being conceited, not behaving improperly, not seeking its own, not being provoked, not calculating evil, not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but rejoicing the truth: [love] puts up with all, believes all, hopes all, bears all.

Thoughts on the passage
Paul describes the actions that love involves. Interestingly, these actions are of an emotional and attitude verbiage. Of the fifteen verbal descriptions of love, seven are stated positively, eight are described in a negative format: this is what love does, this is what love does not. More than giving a definition, Paul gives a picture of what the “fruit” of love looks like.

Each of the verbs Paul uses to describe love carries the idea of something that is ongoing, and not complete. Viewing love as a process denotes work and consistent focus. The words are fairly self-explanatory. The interesting thing is they are profoundly lacking in the Corinthian church. If “the list” is absent from one’s church or life, then love is also lacking. The verbal actions of love boil down the very definition of love: to prize, to hold as precious. If love were truly ingrained in the church, then 1 Corinthians would have been a very different book. If I prize people, if I hold God’s people as precious, it will actively demonstrated in how I interact with them. Paul defines love via its actions.

The bottom line:
Show some love

(especially on Monday)

A few of my favorite things…

The past few months I’ve been reflecting on thankfulness. I’m not Oprah bashing…Well… Maybe…So, in the spirit of the holidays, here is a few of my favorite things in no particular order:

The Coffee Shoppe Experience
This is a simple pleasure that a lady must enjoy to marry me. Kelly passed the test with flying colors! It’s simple. A bistro table, favorite warm beverage, and someone to enjoy a good conversation with. For a few dollars, a priceless experience. It works for discussing life, romancing, strategic planning, dreaming, discussing theology, and listening to jazz music.

Classic Classical Compositions
The most thorough enjoyment of music is classical. Like any genre, there is great compositions, good compositions, and the rest. Classical music is best listened to live, and best with a friend, followed or preceded by a coffee shoppe experience. The most brilliant thing about classical music is how much can be said by saying nothing at all.

The Bible
Good for multiple things, it’s main focus is on describing who God is and who we are in light of that. Many describe the Bible in many analogies. I like none of them. The Bible stands on its own, and without it we’d lack a fuller knowledge of who God is. To engage in a relationship with God, the Bible is essential. Not as a legalistic endeavor, an archeological dig, or some self-help guru gig. It’s a fine balance of devotion and study. The Bible is like a spouse. It takes fine tuned listening, observing and study for the purpose of knowing and engaging, not for sordid gain.

The Moleskin
Pen on paper will likely not go away. There is something about the immediacy of drafting ideas on paper that a technological device just cannot match. The Moleskin is a simple device to capture whims, ideas, dreams quotes, and recipes.

The Sunday Drive
Hop in the car, and just drive for driving’s sake. This is also a good time to enjoy oldies music, or depending on the road traveled and car driven- the symphony of the car engine. It is also a good time for conversation with a friend or romance with a mate. While some may prefer walking, driving requires horsepower, and I’m a guy. Fall and spring are the best seasons for the drive.

Writing
I think this one is self-explanatory.

Playtime
My boyz take me on many adventures, and I do the same for them. The joy of having children is you get to rediscover much of life that you knew but forgot. It speaks to why undervaluing children is so dangerous. They allow us to see the world with fresh eyes with the added benefit of the wisdom and experience we’ve hopefully gained. Children are just as good teachers as anyone.

BBQ
Ribs, steak, ribs, chicken, ribs, pork, ribs, beef briquette, more ribs… Enjoying BBQ requires people. It’s not a solo experience, it’s a fun one. BBQ involves conversation, messiness, artery clogging goodness. Well, the artery business can be avoided, but you get my point. Did I mention ribs? Yeah, those are best.

The bottom line:
My favorite things in life center on this: People and God. Without them, nothing else really matters. Eat, drink and enjoy the fruit of your labor, for this too is a gift from God.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saved by the bell

Mercy is not giving something one does deserve. We often speak of grace, but not often of mercy. Likely this is because mercy recognizes what we deserve. God demonstrated mercy by not giving us what we deserve because of what He gave us in His son. Do we live by  mercy as much as we live by grace?

Tradition! Tradition!
At my college the tradition engaged couples would ring the bell on the tower. The soon to be groom would then run for his life as his dorm mates, well… The soon to be bride would tell her tale to a chorus of amen’s, oops, I mean awww’s. This auspicious ceremony performed numerous times had a wake.

For those not engaged, desiring to be engaged, wondering if they’ll ever be engaged, each time the bell rang was painful. For those who recently broke up, it was even worse. The Bible says we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. Engagements were to be celebrated, and rightfully so.

The gift of silence
The Bible also describes mercy, grace, compassion and humility. While we had the right 10 years ago to celebrate in a way many have before us, we also had the ability to let that right go. The issue, for us, wasn’t we thought someone might suffer through it. We knew people who would suffer. There were other ways to celebrate, this one tradition we let slide.

Having the right to something doesn’t always mean you should exercise that right. Mercy, grace, compassion and humility often need us to give up rights. Not a legalistic jail of hypothetical maybe’s, but such is a knowledgeable act of compassion to people you know.

The choice
The question comes down to how much do you value people. It is easy to push people away for something you have a right to. It is easy to force your rights, and while entitled, may cause damage.In this lessons about God, the leadership in Israel missed; not just walk justly, but also show mercy and walk in humility. People matter.

The bottom line:
An act of mercy is often withholding something that we know may cause pain or suffering to someone else. Mercy is just as potent as grace, and the two are definite cousins. It may not be the fair thing to do, but it is the compassionate one.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~ Micah 6:8

God not so angry in the OT: The Law

Jesus summed up the Torah in two statements: Love God, Love people… I took the time to read Leviticus and Deuteronomy back to back… The theme? Love God, Love people.

Thinking on Jesus fulfilling the law
One aspect of Jesus fulfilling the law the law we often miss is Love God, Love people. Seriously. Jesus made it his mission to point people to God the Father, not himself. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so we might, through him, have a relationship with God and better relationships with each other. Love God, Love people. The law is more that the 600+ commands. It boils down to the big 2….

Write your own law
Write or think through your own law… What are the non-negotiables? What are the annoyances? What are the paths of reconciliation? What are the deal-breakers? How do you show and actively help the dis-advantaged? How do you show hospitality? While we may gawk and the huge 600+ some odd commands, the number doesn’t seem so huge when you start adding up your own decrees. Now that you have your own law written down, who does it serve: you or others?

Absolute perfection and absolute holiness
The law points to the necessity of Christ and the reality of what God being holy means. For example: I have an eye defect at birth. Based on this one defect, if I were a Levite, I would not be permitted to sacrifice. My youngest son has eczema, he would not be able to sacrifice either. God did not want any imperfection in His presence. With that in view, how significant is Jesus touching and healing the lame, blind, lepers, and prostitutes? Jesus fulfilled the absolutes and provided for the imperfects like you and I!

The bottom line:
I think we misunderstand God in the Old Testament. In looking at the 600+ commands, it made provision for the disadvantage, for mistakes, and for evil. It deals much with human conflict and depravity. Perhaps it is not so much that God is vindictive as it is people are depraved and do not want to repent. Take a look at your own “law.” Who does it serve, yourself, or focus on others? God rooted the Law in His nature  and the service of others. Love God, Love people.

Book Review: Switch by Chip & Dan Heath

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, writers of Made To Stick, deal with “how to change things when change is hard.” The book shares encouraging stories and a helpful process for change.

Humanity not process
Switch develops a process around the most obvious fact: we’re human! Many change books view change from the perspective of process vs the perspective of people. Reality is, people make or break change more than a process. The greatest benefit of Switch is its process places our humanity into the equation.

Think holistically
The book takes a holistic view to the change process. Too often people like to segment things, avoiding how things connect. Left brain types (stereotypically men) fall into this category. If you’re an left brain type this book will greatly benefit how you enact change.

Elephant riding
Having a change process is more important than no process at all. The book has an interesting intersection of modern psychology and philosophy in is use of the Rider & Elephant metaphor. The metaphor is the foundation for the book and very helpful. Each section has helpful exercises to develop your elephant riding skills.

Style
While the content is solid and helpful, the style of the book is frustrating at best. There are no topic heading in each chapter, just numbers. If you want to use the book as a reference, mark it well. The stories read like a stream of conscious. It is good training and helpful to left brain bullet pointed types, but you will find it frustrating. Being a right brain stream of conscious type, it slightly annoyed me as well. For a book focused on a process of change, the layout and style is not helpful, almost to the extent of being a hindrance.

The stories are inspirational. They are worth reading through and will help you process how change. One thing I struggle with is whether or not the process is really a change process vs the book being about people who were creative in making change happen. This is a broader philosophical discussion but worth noting.

The Bottom line:
If you are left brained analytical type, Switch is a must read. If you are a right-brained creative type, a more analytical book would benefit you more. The book is solid and a change process is better than no process. The greatest strength Switch; it’s holistic. Too often humanity is left out of the equation. Change is as much art as it is science. In fact, I’d say its more art. We are human.