Wednesday, January 26, 2011

10,000 in 5 years; 500 in 3 Years...What's Going On?

Goals ought to be measurable, right?
I must admit that in ministry that is often tough to do. We plant seeds that others harvest has been the 'wisdom' often passed on to pastors in terms of what ought to be expected in the job. I've certainly heard it, and I understand its point. However, I am re-discovering the joy in casting vision for ministry to my congregation and giving them measurable goals. Even more, what a thrill it is to see believers pick-up the goal and pursue it.
Last year I challenged our church to reach 10,000 unchurched and unconnected to Christ people in a 3-mile circle from our church. (According to the demographic date, that's 25% of those who claim no church affiliation but lean toward being Protestant.) Making disciples of Jesus Christ and changing the world doesn't just happen, and too many churches have been reciting these words as their 'mission purpose' with no goal or plan to actually do it. 10k/5 changed that for our church. We challenged every ministry and every small group and every member to intentionally reach out to someone they already know who is in this 10k and pray for them and plant seeds of hope in their lives that can only be found in Jesus. The year one response has been great! By our count, 2,236 people were reached. The stories are awesome--parents and players praying together prior to a high school soccer game; a father re-connected with his two sons and now reading the Bible together; a small group leader who planted those seeds of hope in the lives of neighbors and friends, and saw her group multiply. 10k/5 is a Kingdom goal. It's not about our church. And please, it's not about the numbers. The numbers represent real people, people whom God loves and for whom he died and rose again that they too might live!
This past week I challenged ourcongregation once again. The challenge is for 500 from our church in the next 3 years to go acorss the street, across town, acorss the nation or across the globe to be hands-on involved in the redeeming work of God. I can't wait to see what God will do with this?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas 2010

A friend told me his grandson was in a short, "Holiday Concert" play at his elementary school. The boy was excited about his part in it. He called his Grandpa to tell him about the play. He was surprised though when his Grandpa asked if the play had any shepherds or a baby in it. Do you this play, the boy asked? It was then that my friend realized his grandson had had no religious education. My friend and his wife stopped going to church long ago (it's a long story and a list of excuses since despite see God's miraculous hand at work in his wife's life), so his children never got to church much; and his grandchildren have never gone. They've never heard about Jesus.
How many children, youth and adults in America 2010, have never really heard the real story of the birth of Jesus? How many really don't know what Christmas means?
Preachers always wonder how they can be fresh or say something significant to their congregation in a Christmas sermon. It's an annual problem. But this year, I'm thinking there is a very obvious solution--simply tell "the greatest story ever told."
Angels announced the GOOD NEWS of Jesus' birth to very ordinary people, shepherds who had little or no religious education, and they heard the message. They no only heard it but they chose to do something about it. They went to Bethlehem, and they found Jesus. Their lives were never the same!
Could it happen again? YES!
Faith comes by hearing. But how will 'they' hear unless somone tells them about the love of God, about Jesus? This is our challenge.
So let's tell the story of Jesus that others might hear it and see Jesus living in us. Let's tell the story and God will lead all who truly hear it to find Jesus, the Savior of the world, who is with us still.

MERY CHRISTMAS you a Savior is born who is Christ the Lord!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What was your WIN this weekend?
That was Reggie Joiner's question on the Orange Leaders web site this Monday morning, and what a marvelous opportunity it provided to review God's faithfulness to Zion Church, to my family and me. Let me list a few of the highlights just in regard to Zion Church.
  • We are still in the first weeks of having launched ORANGE in our Children's Ministry at Zion Church. God has given us a wonderful staff to lead this ministry, starting with our Director of Children's Ministry. The volunteer staff surrounding her, the teachers and parents have embraced this new method of discipling our children. I know the best is yet to be.
  • At last week's end Zion had the opportunity to welcome leaders from Life Tree Cafe to our Church. It was a last minute, surprise visit, but those few minutes will have a lasting impact on our future ministry and the lives of unchurched people in our community. We believe God is opening doors for this ministry and leading us in it. As it is with ORANGE, the lives of people within Zion have been awakened to the new possibilities to reach out to others with this Cafe ministry. God's Spirit is alive and moving people to serve and lead.
  • Sunday we had a visitor who was a visible reminder for us why we are here and why we do what we do. It was her first-time in our Church though she lives near by the church. She said she hasn't been in a church for a very long time, but on Saturday she had hit bottom in her life and knew she had to do something. So she came to church. She came not knowing what to expect. She walked in alone for our 8 AM Worship and instantly was spotted by a church member who invited her to sit with her. Moved, touched, impacted by God's Spirit in awesome ways she left worship with a fresh sense of God's love for her; that her life's mess was the result of her poor choices; nevertheless, God had a WAY for her to change and live a new life following Jesus. Post-worship, she went to a Discipleship class and stayed for a second worship service to hear again the same message. God is at work through us making disciples and transforming lives.

These are WINS but only by God's power at work through us. How good it is to know we are living and walking along God's WAY.

I'm looking forward to what God will do next!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Stepping Stone

If you have never walked along a flagstone path or some trail on which there was a big stone that everyone used to step on to reach a higher level, the concept of a stepping stone might be lost on you. My parents used the concept regularly. They would talk about accomplishing something as a 'stepping stone' or as a means of going higher or getting better or becoming more significant. "His appointment as secretary will be a stepping stone for him to someday be president."

In the course of history the study of the paths or means men have used to become President of the United States is fascinating. However, one of the ironies of history and life itself is that the Presidency itself can be a mere stepping stone to the place where someone can be their true best. For William Howard Taft usethe Office of President was a stepping stone to the job some say he always wanted--Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In more recent times, Jimmy Carter stepped quickly from Governor to President. His status as an ex-President and world figure was the stepping stone he needed to touch the lives of millions through the work of Habitat for Humanity.

Perhaps we are at a point in history when our current President needs to see his present Office as a four-year stepping stone to a job for which he is better suited--the next Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. Again, yesterday, he proved he is more capable of entertaining on a basketball court than he is in leading our Nation. And what an irony this pick-up game was: even on a basketball court our President continues to prove that whatever room he walks into or whatever court he walks on, he's the least qualified. Who do you think the wounded troops really wanted to see play ball, LeBron or the President?

I don't know what David Stern's--the current NBA Commissioner--future plans are, but there is a successor in waiting. One more using the Presidency as a stepping stone to something else.

David, if your reading this, do the Nation a favor, retire in 2011. It could be a win-win for everyone--well, except for the NBA.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero?

The question of building of a Mosque near Ground Zero in New York City is a hot topic. The debate is a good one. However, here's a decision that has to be made beyond zoning requirements and legalities.

Granted, if the shoe was on the other foot, a Christian Cathedral or Jewish Temple would not be allowed to be built near any Islamic holy site. But their inequities and biases are not ours to debate and consider in making this decision. Let's take the higher road.

Should a mosque be allowed to build near Ground Zero? NO.

Sensitivity goes both directions. For moderate Muslims who want to show 'good will,' the sensitivity of their 'peaceful faith,' and build a mosque near Ground Zero to demonstrate it, no. There are other properties in NYC--many no doubt no much further away--where a mosque could be built and send whatever message about their faith they wish to send to whoever might be listening. But building near Ground Zero is deliberate and totally insensitive act to what happened here. It is a slap in the face to all who lost family and friends in the 9/11 act of war that was perpetrated by radical Muslims acting out of faith on all Americans.

The Japanese never sought to repair ill-will against Americans during World War 2 by building a shrine at Pearl Harbor. To my knowledge the USA hasn't built any such shrine to send a message or peace and good will to the people of Japan in or near Hiroshima, either. We certainly did a lot to rebuild Japan post-WW2, but not this.

Building a mosque near Ground Zero is ill-conceived and insensitive. You would think the furor over the idea ought to send a clear message to the Muslim community that this idea is not in any one's best interest--for healing the past or building a future in which we can all live in freedom and peace.

Sensitivity an common sense must rule the day on this.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hey Stripes!

My sixteenth season as a PIAA, high school football referee began last night. Most people never imagine the liability issues that exists involving officials--from dealing with weather but in particular involving player injuries. This season officials can send a player off the field who we think needs attention--that's the standard, our general observation as those who are not offering a medical opinion. Thankfully this is a pretty low standard and its signs are rather easily recognized. Now, if that same player re-enters the game, he does so by a doctor's and/or coach's decision that puts the liability directly on them if some further injury occurs. I'm grateful the Nation Federation made this change.
A new rule this season requires coaches to stay out of the 2 yard box area just on the sidelines. This means coaches are required--during a live ball play--to stay even further off the field than in the past. Good luck with administering this one! But the penalty is severe if an official runs into a coach in the box during a live ball play--15 yards from the succeeding spot for the first offense and 15 yards plus the ejection of head coach on a second offense. Ouch! I think I'll be very careful and be particularly pro-active as a wing official this season with coaches.
We spent a lot to time on these and other issues of concern last night at our officials meeting.
Well, given all the ramifications and rules, I must say I still really enjoy officiating football. It's a great game. There's a lot involved that makes it a great learning tool for life--more than wins and losses. (That is why we play games, right? Football is an extra-curricular activity that is ideally an additional learning tool, right? It'd be nice if players, coaches and fans still saw the game that way.) Anyway, there's a great satisfaction in keeping a game moving, the players hustling, the coaches coaching, making sure the game is played fairly so that, in the end--as an official--no one seemed to know you were there. Now that's the sign of an officiating job well done.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Power of "Story"

I just finished reading Donald Miller's A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. It was a great read through, but now i have to read it again and mine its treasures. Too rarely doesn a book captivate my imagination like this one. It seemed like every few pages I had to put the book down, look away and think about my story, the stories and lives that have impacted and influenced me most. I believe i even gained some insight into the closing chapter of the story of my father's life that ended this past January.
The Bible is itself God's story. We are invited to be part of it.
The greatest story ever told is that of Jesus.
America's favortie story has long been considered to be "The Wizard of Oz."
There is power in "story."
What story is my life living and telling?
As Miller asks, what will our story when the credits roll?