But It’s My Job…

I am currently sitting in my office (more of a closet really) at our building thinking about the coming year and trying to strategize and plan.  Mostly though, I am sitting staring at the walls.  How do you take a group of people and place them into ministry and put others beside them?

I am really asking…

The reason I am asking is that in churches, most pastors really do want the people to do the work of the ministry.  We understand “gifting tests” and placing people where they fit best.  We understand that we (pastors) cannot do it all alone, and we (pastors) really don’t want to do it alone.  Just the other day I was having the thought running through my head that I was just “putting on church” for everyone to come.

The truth is that I’m not that good to accomplish “putting on church” well, and I’m too human to do it by myself and not get frustrated.  So, I plan and I place people and attempt to make this thing be able to grow bigger than me.  However, one of the issues that I see in churches is this: Once someone is given a job of ministry that they like they tend to hold onto it until it is pried from their cold dead hands.  The principle of multiplication is lost when we refuse to let something go.

How are we attempting to alter the culture of what we do here at City Church?  Well, we are attempting to challenge people not to take ownership of a ministry but to take responsibility.  Everything we do is simply an act of stewardship of what God owns.  It’s (whatever “it” is) is not ours, it belongs to God.  So, in this process of putting people into ministry jobs, I will be starting with a question.

“What can you do?”

Sounds simple enough, but it allows us to help someone know where they fit.  However, we are going to be asking another question…

“Can somebody else do it too?”

If so, we want those in ministry to be able to do two things: 1) Partner with them, and 2) Share with them.

If one working on a project can accomplish something, how much more than 2 or 3 accomplish?  How can we partner with others, both in and outside of our church, to do the work of the ministry that will really change the culture of this city?  That is out goal.

Also, if when we do what we do we feel as if we have stepped into the perfect plan of God, then won’t anyone else with that same gift feel the same way?  We want that good feeling of purpose to be shared by all.  So, we need to realize that others need a chance as well.  We can’t see it as an opportunity to take something from us (remember, we don’t own “it), but as an opportunity to share the blessings of God by seeing others walk in their gifts.

That’s the rope I’m attempting to walk across in my head right now.

Resolve for Discipline

Read something tonight from Tony Dungy’s devotional, “Uncommon Life: Daily Challenge.”

“We commit to learn more about Him and about how we can be better disciples.  It’s not a passive endeavor.  It takes resolve and repetition, consistently working at it for maximum results.”

As I think about what goals I want to reach this coming year (some would call them “resolutions”) I understand at the start that it will take a commitment on my part to make it happen.  However, I also understand that when my commitment is partnered with God’s power and presence, then my goals will become only a small part of what God wants to do in my life.  His ways will overwhelm my ways, and greater things will be accomplished by Him through my endeavors.

I also know that God wants some things accomplished through our church.  My goals, and I think God’s goals, for the part of the body that worships and does life together at CCD (City Church Dayton) are as follows.

- Every Family involved in a ministry team at the local level
- Every Family connected in study with others through our upcoming Connection Groups
- Every Family building relationships with others through the “Stages of Life” events
- Every Family engaged in outreach missions either through giving or short-term trips
- Every Family serving the city in regular iServe1 / Servant Evangelism activities
- Every Family growing through personal and family worship
- Every Family faithful in attendance & giving and receiving the promised blessing of God

Now, imagine what will happen if our commitment joins with the power and presence of God!

Does not being OK mean that you are not OK? A look at the Jason Collins story.

I have been listening for the past couple of days to the story of Jason Collins on sports radio.  For those who don’t know, Jason Collins was featured in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay pro-basketball player.  You can read the article here.  The ironic timing has coincided with the release of Tim Tebow from the Jets, who is much maligned for being liked by people who are Christians.  Sure, there are issues of football and Tim’s perceived inability to play quarterback in the NFL as well as the stories about His personal faith in Jesus Christ that are all a part of the story; but most of the vitriol against Tebow is that the experts in sports media say he can’t play and are appalled that the masses (fans) would not just take their word for it.

Enough about Tebow, because I have been pondering on the “coming out” of Jason Collins.

This has become a huge story.  My 15-yr-old asked me about it, and I hear him talking about it with his cousins while they are playing the same sport in the driveway that Collins plays on the hardwood.  Colin Cowherd has had guests on to discuss being openly gay in the pros and other sports hosts have aired their support for Collins and his courage in sharing his story.  I get it.  However, there are a couple of things that have gone over and over in my mind that I want to address.

It seems the sports radio/tv hosts are focusing on the issue of “locker room.”  The question is asked, “Will other players in the locker room support a gay teammate?”  The answer from the players has been overwhelmingly, “Yes.”  In the end, they say, it is all about results in the field / on the court and nothing else should matter.  Again, I get it.  I agree with that point.  Who someone is privately should not affect how they can shoot a free throw.  I am not sure that it matters who or what that person is.

However, I think there is one point that is not being asked, even though it still pertains to the locker room.  How does that work, having a man or woman in a locker room who is attracted to the ones who are sharing that locker room?  It’s an honest question.  The point could be spoken that just because a man is attracted to men does not mean he will be attracted to the men who are in the room with him.  The point could also be spoken that just as in heterosexual attractions there is more than just the physical going on.

But I still have a problem.  Say you have a completely committed, heterosexual, married man who loves his wife with everything in him and would never, ever cheat on her.  Say this same man has a job that he shares with women, and the women are not people he is attracted to because he is so in love with his wife.  Some of the women are physically attractive, and others are not by physical/phantom/photoshop standards.  He works with them every day and they rely on each other to get their job done, and remember, he is committed to his wife and will not cheat with any of his co-workers.  Now, say this job requires them to share a locker room, meaning open showers, dressing areas, etc.

Pause a moment before you read my question and think honestly about the answer.

How comfortable would the women be in that locker room?

The “locker room” question wouldn’t be so much about being teammates but about being modest.  My thought is that the women would probably have the right to feel uncomfortable showering next to someone who finds their sex attractive, even if he doesn’t find them attractive.  I think this is an issue with Collins.  Am I wrong?

I still have a another problem.  Where the pundits are going with this is not that we should accept that there can be a gay athlete, but that we should be OK with homosexuality.  This is where a troubling issue comes for me.  The media is spending their time under the pretense of getting society in general (or their listeners in specific) to be comfortable with homosexuality.  I think they are wasting their time.  Society, in a very general sense, has decided that they are more and more comfortable with homosexuality and are beginning to accept it as a normal.  I say it is a pretense because in reality they are really attempting to get those who believe their is a sin problem with homosexuality to change their mind on the topic.  Terms such as “inclusion” and “inviting more to the party” are used.  “It’s 2013,” Colin Cowherd said yesterday.

I don’t think that people should be hated for a lifestyle  they follow.  But the issue is not whether society thinks homosexuality is or is not OK.  Homosexuality is a sin that God sent His Son to die for so that we could be set free from.

Going down the same “locker room” and “teammate” road that the media has made the discussion, what if there is a teammate that is a man who is attracted to women.  However, his deal is that he has no scruples.  His moral compass is such that if he finds a woman attractive he will pursue her and lure her, even away from her husband if possible, no matter the relationship he has with that man.  He can hit the free throw, but would you let him pick your wife up from airport if you needed a favor.

Would it matter to you that he was a leech?  Not on the court or field, perhaps.  Not with the team chemistry, perhaps.  But would you be “OK” with the fact that he was a leech?  Would you be wrong to say that it is wrong for Him to try to steal your wife?

Name another sin, either one that society has chosen to be an actual crime or just one that God says is what keeps you from Him.  Do we have to hate the person who has this sin in their life?  No.  Do we have to keep them from being a teammate?  No.  But do we have to be OK with the sin?  Also, no.

The news media is now crying “bigot”, not if you hate or discriminate against a person, but if you don’t think what they do is OK.  You are close minded and living in another century if will not sign off on every action of another as acceptable.  Listen to the discussion.  That is what is being said.

They are making an issue out of this, not because a pro athlete “came out,” but because some might raise an eyebrow.  In fact, they are not even waiting for there to be any backlash, but are vilifying a phantom detractor before they even step forward.  It HAS been a huge story, but only because there is fight against all who would hold a standard against sin and so the story has been about those who could potentially be against Collins.

Its a great way to win an argument when you make up an antagonist to argue against.

Love God.  Love people.  Hate sin.

Don’t forget any of these three.

Passion as Trump Card

I was watching VH1 this morning…

Yup, you read that right.  There was a OneRepublic song, a song by some scraggly looking guy playing a guitar (I actually liked his song), a Dave Matthews Band tune (Mercy) and the song, I Only Like It When It Rains by a band named “Garbage.”  I had good quality time and it made my morning.  Alicia Keys then came on.

Alicia’s video was some sort of live performance and she was singing Girl On Fire.  I have heard Keys sing many time before.  I think she is good, at times very good; but there are other times when I have heard her and though “Eh, that’s ‘ok’”.  In this “live” version that I was listening to, her voice cracked on the power parts of the song.  It wasn’t perfect.

I still watched, and listened.

I’m no critic.  I like a varied type of music, and I also kind of like quirky voices.  I appreciate power voices and those who have a range that comes out of nowhere; and I appreciate the one who doesn’t seem to have a great voice but is clever with what they sing.

However, there are two things about those who sing that jump out at me at all times.  One turns me off from the song/singer and the other draws me in.  The thing that turns me away is “show,” not the idea of a big production because I love all of that.  What I am saying is that I cannot stand it when the singer seems fake.  When it seems like they are putting on something fake to try to sell it I see right through it and I don’t appreciate it.  In fact, I refuse to stay around and listen.

(Insert your own church “homecoming” comments right here…)

What I do love is passion.  Fake passion makes me puke, but your voice can crack and you can not hit it all correctly if you have true passion.  I want you to know when you can’t hit that one note and quit trying it over and over again; however, adapt and work it out as you sing from your heart.  That’s what Alicia seemed to be doing in that song.

Now, understand that the following has nothing to do with music or singing, but living your life.

There are times when you don’t have “it.”  Don’t try to have it, because that would be fake.  Give it your all, adjust and know your limitations, and do it with passion.  Don’t apologize for what you are doing.  Do it well.  Do your best.

If you know you can’t do what is before you, then sit down and save us all some time.  If you are trying to sell me on what you are doing, don’t bother because I probably won’t be buying.  But, step up to the plate with whatever it is you do that you have an ability and a passion to accomplish and I will stand with you all day long.  You have a heart for it?  Go for the high note.  Can’t hit the high note?  Then adjust and change the melody for the moment.  Be real, be you, and blow the roof off.

I’ll stop what I’m doing and listen.

The Greatest of All Time..

In the world of doing things and doing things well, we are generally quick to label someone as the “best ever.”

The reason that we are quick to do this is that our memory is either horrible or limited.

On the horrible memory front, we tend to remember that which has happened recently.  We forget about the good that we have seen before and focus on what we are seeing in the now.  This is a relatively new approach to what we value, by the way, because the way of the past was to fondly remember, well, the “ways of the past.”  The “good ol’ days” was always spoken of as folklore.  The past was the time of legends, and there would never be a generation as the one that was past.  However, today the focus is on the now and the future.  Perhaps it is because we are so transient and are raising a generation with no “home” to speak of or relatives down the street that we don’t focus much on the past and tradition, but that is not the purpose of the post.  The reality is that our memory stinks.

The other reason that we can call what we see now “the greatest ever” is that our knowledge is limited.  The legends that we witness on the courts and fields of the sports world are amazing, however, our comparisons are limited because there are those who played the game that were not on the top ten of ESPN every week for us to view.  There were fields and games that could only be listened to and the beauty of the moment could only be witnessed by a select few.  Those select few had their memories as the only video clip and their recollection at the barber shop the only play by play.  There is no video of the 100 point game by Wilt… only a picture that marked the occasion.

In the world of movie and music, legends that pass on into eternity are declared to be the best there every was at a particular ability.  On Facebook today I have seen that a aged guitar player is in the hospital.  The person who asked for prayers for him and his family declared him to be the “greatest flat-picker ever.”  What a compliment.  It might be true.  However, our memory is limited.

I am convinced that there are those who are great that will never be known by the world.  The measure of ability is not determined by the fame that the ability brings you.  The measure is the ability itself.  Could it be that there is a basketball player greater than Jordan who has either never been seen by a scout or has decided that he would rather do something else with his life than play ball?  Could it be that a guitar player is sitting with friends in his living room blowing their faces off and has absolutely no desire to put himself on YouTube or tweet some random promotional thought about a G minor 7?  Could it be that leaders and writers and singers and actors and others are out there that are the greatest of all time… yet without the notoriety?  I believe yes.

I agree, a talent not seen can be a talent wasted; but that does not negate the talent itself.  My job as a leader is to search out the talent and offer the opportunity to use the gifts for the betterment of all around (and in my context, for the glory of God).  However, I cannot assume that what I know is all there is to know, and what I have seen is the best there is to see.

Value is not determined by followers or hits.  Value is derived from taking what you have and using it for the purpose that God created you for, and let the promotion derive from Him.

A Cat Will Never Act Like An Apple

There is an old saying that I just made up: “A cat will never act like an apple.”  I know, I know, if we had a nickel for every time we heard that one… (finish your own joke about never having a nickel…).  It’s absurd, but it is very true.  They are completely different things.

As a sidebar I will also state the obvious in that blue is blue.

The reason I mention this is because of the recent backlash after the comments on marriage by President Obama.  I don’t care that you backlash, that is your right.  You are correct that the President doesn’t hold a biblical worldview on homosexuality.  I also know that others will complain that Christians are using hate-speech and do not want equal rights for all.  The other reality is that this criticism of those who speak against the President will come from non-Christians and Christians alike.

Here is the reason for the quick post… none of this is new.  The beliefs of the President are not new, just spoken.  That there are sexual sins is true, and not just homosexuality.  That Christians will speak out against sin is not new, as well as the fact that some who want everyone to have their own beliefs will mock, ridicule and chastise those who speak out on their beliefs when they are different from those who are more “open minded.”

A cat will never act like an apple.  It’s not new.

When a person who does not hold a biblical worldview on a variety of issues does not stand for a biblical worldview on another specific issue… do not be shocked.  It is the same as when some would get up in arms about Walmart not saying “Merry Christmas.”  It is a secular company.  If you don’t like it, don’t shop there; just don’t expect a company with secular goals in mind to be the champion for all things biblical.

The point is, we gain nothing from complaining.  We preach to the choir and get reaction from those who are already mad at the singers.  We can do something, but what we cannot do is expect that which is “not” to act like it “is.”

We must believe what we believe.

Never let your convictions be swayed when they are based on the truth.  If the whole world says “2+2=7,” then you give “4″ as your answer and watch the whole world repeat the 1st grade while you advance.

Act with love and prayer.

You can’t change another.  You can love them and pray for them.  In fact, if you find yourself not loving another because of their beliefs or actions, begin to pray for them (if even with gritted teeth) and see how the love will grow in you.

Be proactive and fulfill the void.

What can you do?  Do it.  Come up with a solution, don’t just be the one who proclaims the problem.  We are not called to just “remove” all wicked, we are called to show the Kingdom of God everywhere we go.  We don’t just dispel the darkness, we fill the room with light.

On Hiding Your Hands…

I have long been convinced that those we hold in high esteem as “cutting edge” thinkers or great minds in their field are really just good at marketing themselves.  There is within each one of us the desire to be noticed, a desire to be told that what we are doing matters.  We want others to know that we not only exist, but that we are making a difference.  I struggle with this, however, when it comes to the things of ministry.

I enjoy Facebook (to a point).  I enjoy the funny stories and pictures that those I previously had lost contact with will post.  It is a good way to be connected while still getting to enjoy my little piece of solitude.  (Those that truly know me understand my extrovert/introvert nature.)  However, I don’t enjoy seeing that you reached level 73 on something or being asked for a plant for your new fake aquarium.  Keep that to yourself.  I also enjoy Twitter.  It is for totally different reasons that I enjoy Twitter and it is also for those same reasons that I am becoming a little confused with the process of the tweet.

And when I say confused, I really mean frustrated; and when I say “the process” I really mean people.

In following the teaching of Jesus, we often find ourselves at odds with our own wants and desires.  Paul writes about this in the book of Romans.  But as I read tweets and follow others in ministry, I often find myself working through a conflict (different than the one Paul wrote about) that I cannot quite find the answer to.  What is the line between sharing the stories of ministry to build the faith in others vs. tweeting out an ol’ “atta-boy” to yourself in the Twitterverse?

I believe in stories.  We tell stories at our church constantly to share of the goodness of God and build the faith needed for the obstacles that we might soon face.  The work of God is not about a formula but is revealed to us in story.  I believe that.

However, do we really need to tweet about everything we do in ministry?  In a previous post I wrote about not really doing something if you are tweeting that you are doing it; such as tweeting that you were having a conversation with you wife when in reality you are on your phone tweeting when your wife is sitting next to you.  (Sidebar: I don’t know how you guys get away with tweeting when your wife is talking to you, but I digress.)  In a different way, if I tweet about a conversation and prayer I just went out of my way to have with a wayward sinner am I telling a story to build faith or just wanting you to know my awesomeness?  Not trying to call anyone out but I see tweets like this constantly (and these are made up but similar ones abound):

Saw that my latest book Conflab w/ Jesus Coffee just transformed a village in Botswana #god(reallyme)bepraised

Spoke with @billygraham today… honored to be his mentor #taughthimeverythingheknows

That awesome moment when newcomer to church texts to tell you that you are the best he ever has heard #imwhatwilliswastalkingabout

My struggle is that I sometimes do not know what to tweet.  I get Facebook, but tweeting should be about breaking story and not about self-promotion and name dropping, at least when it comes to the work of Jesus.  Am I wrong on this?

There is a small bit in the Bible where Jesus said to not let one hand know what the other was doing.  I know He is talking about giving, but I think there should be a pause to see if it is about tweeting as well.  Tell your story, promote your product; but realize that there are men and women all around the world too busy praying and giving and raising the dead to stop to tweet about it with a hashtag #shundi.  (My Pentecostal friends will understand that one.)

Ask if you are seen or if Christ is seen through you.  If it is you, keep it to yourself and allow it to build your personal faith.  If Christ… then tweet away and allow the glory and goodness of God to be seen in what He is doing through you!


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