Discipline Yourself To Dream

We have had a busy season at Grace Community Church.  Fall is the time of year when most churches ramp up their ministries, which tracks with back-to-school schedules and the change to cooler weather.  Our church has been in a fast growth mode since day one, but we seem to be in a unique place of extraordinary growth right now.  In addition to this growth we are launching new small groups, a college ministry, gearing up for our annual community outreach ministry, and adding a third service, along with numerous other changes occurring this fall, some that we are not ready to talk about yet.  Some days it seems we have just enough energy to get through another week and all our time is focused on the next Sunday.

At our most recent staff meeting, in the midst of making plans for our new third service, I reminded the staff of an important principle. (I hope they were listening.)  During times of significant growth, planning or workload, it is always important to…

…DISIPLINE YOURSELF TO DREAM….

During the busiest times in an organization, when all the team’s energies are focused on getting through a specific project or season, if the team is not disciplined otherwise, because habits form quickly, there is a tendency to continue operating in the day-to-day mode even after the busy season passes. I expanded on that idea in a previous post.  Read that post HERE.

Teams that want to experience long-term growth have to discipline themselves to build dreaming into the system.  Leaders should model innovative thinking during stressful periods within the organization.  Individual team members need to consciously pick their head up from the routines and strategically think further down the road for the organization.

Dreaming keeps momentum flowing forward.  The next great decisions made by the Grace Community Church staff will likely come from our time set aside to dream.

Do you need to set aside time this week just to dream?

Finishing Well/Leaving a Legacy (A Tribute to my Dad)

My dad has a lot in common with someone famous.

I watched the last couple minutes of a 60 Minutes interview with Ted Kennedy’s son, Ted Kennedy Jr.  I was impressed with one statement he made.  He said, ”My dad was not a perfect man. He made lots of mistakes, but he spent the last days of his life trying to right the wrongs he had made.”  (Paraphrased)

When I saw the interview, I couldn’t help but think about my dad’s story. Without giving all the details, my dad would readily admit that he has made a lot of mistakes in his life. We could pretend those days never happened, but the fact is that his alcoholism and the times of separation from my mom and his children caused scars in the life of his family.

Today my dad is a new man.  He has been sober for many years and he and my mother are now very happily married.  He loves his children and wants nothing more than to be with them and his grandchildren just think of him as Pa Pa, with no personal knowledge of years gone by.  He is active in church, loves to share Scripture with others, and would help anyone who needed a hand.

Perhaps that is what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant in Chapter 7, verse 1, which says, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” I learn from watching my dad’s life that finishing is better than starting and that finishing well by loving God and others is the end goal of life.

When I meet with people who have made mistakes in life in my role as a pastor, I am always less concerned with where they have been or what they have done wrong.  I am always more concerned with where they want to go in life and how dedicated they are to get there.  My dad is an example of someone that wants to end well.  I believe his legacy will prove he achieved his goal.

Love you dad!  Thanks for paving a good path for others to follow.

Why Another Church Plant? (Happy Birthday Grace Community Church!)

theGbwGrace Community Church was four years old yesterday (September 11).   Happy Birthday!  We will celebrate it tomorrow by asking our people to sacrifice more and serve the city of Clarksville by adding to our morning schedule with a third service.  If you do not have a church home join us at 8:30, 10:00 or 11:30 AM at Rossview High School.  You can find directions HERE.

There is often a huge misunderstanding about church planting that needs to be understood.  For four years I have heard phrases and questions from churched people, offered in a well-meaning desire to know or put a meaning behind why a new church was needed in Clarksville, even after hundreds have come to know Christ as their personal Savior who had never given church a chance.  The real truth is that I was not upset with any church.  In fact, I actually love tradition and I ran from pursuing this vision for years because I didn’t want to leave my church or start another one.  My family and many friends still attend the church I grew up in. I love that church even today and I am most thankful for the impact the church had on my life and still has in our city today.  This was the story of most every churched person who chose to attend our church plant.

The misunderstanding people often have about church planting is this:

Most of the time church planting is NOT about what people are running from, but about what people are running to.

That is certainly my story.  Our heart was then and is today to reach people no one else is reaching by creating environments no one else is creating.  Our church is unique.  We tell the same story of God’s love and  Christ’s redemption in a different way.  Is it for everyone?  Absolutely not!   Is it for some…absolutely!  God has amazed us with how many!

Happy Birthday Grace and may your best days be still to come!

Help For Ministry Wives (Interview with Rachel Lovingood)

005183353_lOne of the toughest jobs in the church must be the role of pastor or minister’s spouse. Recently Cheryl (my spouse) completed a Bible study on her own that she felt was very helpful to her. She believes it will be helpful for other ministry spouses. If her schedule will ever allow it she would love to lead a group of area wives through this study. I decided since it was valuable enough for my wife that I would like to interview one of the authors.

Rachel Lovingood and Jennifer Landrith wrote the study called “In Our Shoes…Real Life Issues for Ministers’ Wives by Ministers’ Wives”. Recently I was able to interview Rachel to find out a little more about this study and the ministry behind it.

Here is that interview:

Ron: Rachel, tell me a little about your background. Did you grow up in church? When did you become a believer?

Rachel: Yes I was a typical good church girl who knew so much about God and even how to live like a Christian…I went on mission trips and youth camps etc., but when I was a sophomore in college one night in my dorm room I suddenly realized that although I had plenty of head knowledge about God I really didn’t have the heart knowledge I needed and so I surrendered my life to Christ and asked HIm to save me.

Ron: That’s a great story and one I am sure many share with you. Was there a time when you sensed a call to ministry, or did you just happen to marry someone in the ministry?

Rachel: I started dating my husband, Jeff, and he was called to ministry so my calling went from following God with my life to being called to marry Jeff who “happened” to be going into the ministry

Ron: What prompted you to write “In Your Shoes”?

Rachel: My pastor’s wife, Jennifer, and I have been friends a long time. She and David, her husband, grew up in the same town and church as Jeff and I did. As a matter of fact our hubby’s have been best friends since like 8th grade. As we have been serving on the same staff for the past several years, Jen and I noticed a common thread among our own staff wives as well as ones we had other opportunities to spend time with–that they are hurting, lonely, feel frustrated, feel inadequate and so on…we both looked and really didn’t find any resources that got to the heart of the matter for ministers’ wives. Although there have been a few resources out there that are good, we didn’t see any that we could use to help equip and enable the wives serving with us–so we decided to write something it and ourselves became “In Our Shoes”.

Ron: Well, it’s a great resource and helped my wife. It is obvious you have a special heart for ministry spouses. If you had one word of encouragement to say to them what would it be?

Rachel: Relax, trust that God knows you and where you are and He has you there for a reason…you are not alone!

Ron: Have you heard from any of the ministry wives who have completed or are working through the Bible study? What has the reaction been to your work?

Rachel: We have been overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the responses we have gotten…some have said “I felt like quitting and my husband walked in from a trip where he bought me your book, I sat down and the first thing I read was like God speaking to me Himself”. Hearing stories like that is the most awesome thing–to know that God really is using this work for His glory is what it’s all about–it also reinforces that there are so many hurting and struggling spouses out there in the world of ministry…

Ron: Are there any other resources for minister wives?

Rachel: We set up a blog for the book so that wives can comment and ask questions or just network about issues that relate to our lives in ministry. (You can find that blog HERE.)

Ron: Thanks so much for your time Rachel. Any closing thoughts?

Rachel: It breaks my heart when I hear of ministry couples divorcing or leaving the ministry because of marriage issues and I always wonder, “What could have been done to save this marriage or protect this ministry?” I am convinced that we will have healthier churches when we have healthier ministries and our ministries will be healthier when our marriages are healthier and our marriages will be healthier when we are healthier…so In Our Shoes is our offering to the church.

Consider buying one of these study books for your minister’s wife. I agree with Rachel. Many times the health of the minister’s family determines the health of the church and ministry.

Everlast Series Begins This Week at Grace Community Church

Is there anything these days that lasts forever? We think so. This Sunday at Grace Community Church, in addition to adding a third service, we are launching a new series called “Everlast”. If you have ever wondered if anything is for keeps, this is the series for you.

Here’s the series description:
We are willing to sacrifice so much for things that are temporary and seem to be quick fixes. But we expect God to just give us the things
that are going to last. In the series Everlast, we explore what it would be like to live life in reverse. To sacrifice for things that have lasting value and trust God to meet our immediate needs.

EVERLAST

Don’t forget our times have changed this week. We will be at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 this week.  Pick your best time and let’s have another great week together!

Invite a friend to join you.

For more information check out the Grace website at www.gcomchurch.com.

God’s Patient Love (A Quick Reminder)

iStock_000002309744XSmall“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”  Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love… Joel 2:12-13

I love this passage.  I am told this passage has sparked revival in people’s hearts. It certainly does mine.  It did this morning, for example.

I was reminded that God is slow to anger.

He’s not on edge.  He’s not grumpy. He’s not impatient like I am at times.

Human relationships may be like that.  Sometimes we have the shortest tempers with people we love most.

All of us have days when due to stress, illness, worry…we are on edge….

…Sadly, others around us quickly know when we are having a bad day…

God is not like that…

God is gracious and merciful….he abounds in a steady, unchanging, unconditional love…

Today, maybe even for just a couple moments, I am reminded that I can take God all my burdens…He can handle them without fret, with complete patience, and without getting angry at my insufficiencies.

And best of all…He wants me too, because He cares.

Do you have a burden(s) you need to cast His way?

Three Services Sunday at Grace Community Church!

On our fourth anniversary, Grace Community Church will take another giant step of faith.  This Sunday we move add a third service.  Everyone has to change times!

8:30 OR 10:00 OR 11:30  (3 identical services)

Join us at Rossview High School as we kick off a new series, celebrate 4 years, get ready for Operation Serve, and have a great time doing it!

Invite a friend to join you.  We’ll have plenty of seats!

New-Times

Leadership Perception Survey

lpsurveyI am conducting a leadership perception survey.  I have been in leadership positions for over 20 years, but in the early part of this time I also had a leader to whom I reported.  Recently I have been working with some churches and businesses facing leadership issues and problems.  From my observation, many times the problem is the different perception between leaders and followers of what leadership is and how one should lead.  It makes it difficult to lead in an environment where the leader and follow do not even agree on the principles of leadership.  I decided to illustrate this diverse thought through a blog survey.

Please understand, I am not trying to make a statement by any of these questions.  I realize some of the questions may seem odd and on some of them you will wish for more options, but I am trying to gather opinions that are diverse and get more general feedback rather than specific, to make some general observations about leadership perceptions.  On yes and no questions where you feel there is an in between answer, either pick the one you lean closer to or skip that question. According to the results of my recent blog reader survey, some respondents will be in leadership positions and some will not. It will be interesting to read the various opinions.

Click here to take the LEADERSHIP PERCEPTION SURVEY.

All responses will be anonymous of course, but I will post results in weeks to come.

Lessons in Wisdom From Rehoboam (1 Kings 12)

In the midst of an incredibly huge decision recently I happened one morning to read 1 Kings 12.  I love when God points me to the exact Scripture I need at the moment.

In this passage Rehoboam refused to listen to wise counsel and instead listened to the “wisdom of the day”.  As you can read for yourself, his decision to ignore healthy advice cost him far more than he could afford to pay.

There are 5 principles I can learn or be reminded of from Rehoboam’s experience:

  • Servant leadership is the model we need to follow and exhibit.  (It was also the model of Jesus.)
  • We need to make sure we are getting our wisdom from the right sources. Who are you listening to these days?  (Read a similar post HERE.)
  • Doing what is right may not always be popular, but it is right.
  • The consequences for failure to follow wisdom are huge.
  • There is natural wisdom that comes from age. (Read a similar post HERE.)

What other lessons do you get from this passage?  Which of these do you need to read most?