Criss Cross: Our Newest Staff Member at GcomChurch

We have a new staff member at Grace Community Church. His name is Criss Cross. He started in the office this morning (and thankfully I’m out of town).

Criss Cross is our children’s ministries new mascot. We realize churches usually don’t have mascots, but we are passionate about reaching children for Christ. It amazes me to watch children get excited about a mascot at a ballgame. Sometimes they don’t even know a game is in progress if the mascot is nearby. I love watching their excitement interacting with a mascot.

Our goal for children is to get their attention, so we can share with them the love of Christ. Honestly, in a sea of entertainment, that’s much harder to do these days. We are hoping Criss Cross will help us attain our goal.

Welcome to the team Criss Cross! Stay out of my office!

What are you doing creatively to reach people for Christ?

Friday Discussion: Internet Matchmaking

(Last week I started a Friday discussion series to address some gray area issues I have to face continually. I appreciate those willing to discuss these issues here.  Last week I talked about using fear as a motivator in the church.  Read that post HERE.)

Today I want to address the issue of online matchmaking.

In the last few years, a large number of the weddings I have performed have been in relationships that started online. Whether through a paid service such as eHarmony or just through random or blind dates connected through Facebook, the numbers of people meeting for the first time via the Internet increases annually. I have never had a problem with this, but apparently some do from responses and reactions I have seen.

Even though the popularity of these is growing, these types of marriages are still not extremely considered “popular”. When I meet a couple that met online, for example, they appear more hesitant to tell me how they met as a couple.

I’m curious of your opinion. Does it bother you to hear that a couple met online? I even have a couple pastor friends who are single considering this as an option to meet someone. Is that okay? Should there be a stigma against meeting online or is it completely normal these days?

What do you think? Weigh in on the conversation and add to the discussion.

(Is there an issue you think I should cover during this series?)

7 Qualities to Look for in a Pastor’s Wife

I receive dozens of emails from pastors each week. This one caught my attention and I asked permission to use it here.  Hopefully others will benefit from my response and weigh in with their own thoughts. I have changed his name.


I hope all is well with you. I frequent your blogs ever so often via twitter, which I do enjoy. the reason for this email is for some direction. It is my belief that the Lord has called me to be a pastor, however I am presently single. I wanted to find out what are some of the qualities one should look for and how should I go about finding a wife as a future pastor. I have been keeping the issue in prayer.

I would love to hear your thoughts.



Dear Mike,

Most likely you will not be able to pick every expectation or qualification you have for a spouse.  I think is is wise, however, to have a goal. You are more likely to reach a target for which you aim.  With that in mind,

Here are 7 qualities I believe make up the ideal pastor’s wife:

Your biggest supporter. You should be hers too, but as a man in your position it is critical.  People will be less likely to support you if your wife doesn’t. Is she able to respect you in public enough not to criticize you in front of others?  Nothing would be more damaging to your ministry.  Ministry is hard on a marriage. Some days are harder than others. You’ll need to know there is one person always in your corner.

Obedient to the call of God regardless of the costs. Is she willing to walk by faith?  It will be required many times.

Visible and active in the ministry and/or church and looking to partner with you in ministry. I don’t believe the pastor’s wife should be everywhere, especially at the expense of her family, but the church should know she is a real person facing life’s struggles like the rest of the church.  Serving together because of a common love for Christ and a combined vision for ministry will help protect your marriage during difficult days.

Friendly and welcoming personality. Do people like her?  Does she have a genuine love for people, even those who at the time are harder to love?  This will be tested.

Completes you by filling in your weaknesses. Your ministry will be strengthened as “the two become one” and God uses each of your strengths to  blend a stronger team. Do your strengths compliment each other?

Less concerned about the material things of the world and more concerned about things eternal. This is a critical test for the life of a pastor’s wife. It is many times a life of sacrifice. This does not mean you can’t have or even enjoy nice things, but the source of real joy should come from the things money can never buy. There may be seasons of ministry where God calls you to real faith-testing and strengthening experiences with your finances. Will she remain faithful and committed during these times?

Loves Jesus more than you. If you need this one explained you may be in the wrong profession.

The easiest way for me to put this is that you should pick one like mine.  Cheryl is the perfect pastor’s wife. Of course, she is not available, but at least you have my standard for which you can set your ambitions. Praying for you as you have spiritual eyes and discernment.

As to where, that’s a tough one.  I don’t think location is as important as the heart with which you approach the search. When that is right it seems God will be much more willing to be in tune with the process and give you eyes to see. Perhaps my readers will have some suggestions.

Where’s the best place for singles (especially single pastors) to meet people today?

And, do you have any qualities you would add to my list for “Mike”?

Should Pastors Perform Marriages for Couples Living Together?

Drew Snider is a pastor at Gospel Mission in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and a reader of my blog. Recently he asked me a question online about performing marriages for those who are living together and I thought it was worth asking here, so I asked him to guest post about it. Here’s Drew’s post:

Ron very kindly offered me a guest shot here, to get some feedback on a puzzle that’s bugged me for some time.  What does a pastor do when a man and woman who have been Living Together come in and say they want to get married?  I’d been thinking about this ever since my stepdaughter and her fiancé ran into turbulence when his family’s priest balked at doing the ceremony because they were “living in sin”.

Their decision to live together came after they had determined they were committed to each other for life.  Moreover, they had also started taking those delightful, positive steps towards discovering Christ, inspired partly by the young man’s spiritual journey and partly by her mother’s return to the Lord; she’d only been water-baptized in the year before.  But this feeling of rejection nearly put them off Christianity, which is the last thing one should want.  So I started looking through Scripture for the answer to a basic question: where is it specified that the wedding ceremony is required before a couple can live together?

I can’t find it.  Maybe I’m missing something.

We’re not talking fornication here.  As I interpret the word, “fornication” means the wanton pursuit of fleshly satisfaction, not a man and woman who have found their life mate but have not solemnized that union either before God or under civil jurisdiction.  In the absence of Scriptural foundation, are we not dealing with a principle of man, which often works at cross-purposes to God’s word?  Consider:

  • Do we not run the risk of driving away people who may be about to decide that Christ is the way, but feel judged, rejected or unworthy?
  • Does this not go against the principle of Grace?  Shouldn’t we rejoice that they want to bring their union under God, and not impose conditions?
  • Theoretically, a long-time womanizer who suddenly decides to propose to Miss Right Now has a greater chance of being married in a church.
  • In their zeal to find a church, the couple might go “church-shopping” and wind up with a church that makes compromises in other areas that are addressed in Scripture
  • What about an older couple in their 40s or 50s, say (I have one in mind), who are finally coming to the Lord?

Which should be the priority: a principle of man, or God’s will that all should know Him?  As Ron pointed out in his reply to a comment of mine on this blog, many couples opt for civil ceremonies these days and thus deny themselves Christian pre-marital counseling.  I would add that that also denies them the opportunity to learn what their individual roles really are according to the word of God, rather than what they’ve heard second-hand from The World.

So over to you-all: what’s your take on this?

Love at Last Sight (Kerry Shook) Book Review

Authors Kerry and Chris Shook are encouraging a revolution of relationship strengthening in their new book “Love at Last Sight”.  The Shooks, who founded Woodland Church in 1993, and have seen it grow to a mega church of 18,000 per weekend, believe that relationships are in trouble.  The key relationships in our life, such as with our spouse, children and close friends, needs to move from a “love at first sight” mentality, to a “love at last sight mentality.”

Too many people get into relationships by falling madly in love, but then allow the relationship to lose energy over time.  “Love at Last Sight” challenges readers with Biblical principles to find people in our lives whose relationship needs encouraging, and invest in those relationship intentionally for 30 days.

It’s normal for relationships to strain and grow apart over the years.  For relationships to thrive long-term, people must be willing to risk the awkwardness of letting go of schedules, lists, and personal demands to concentrate on the relationship.  This book is practical and has the tools to challenge, strengthen, improve, and save relationships. This is not fluff reading, but anyone who cares about their marriage will enjoy reading this book.  I encourage you to read and apply the principles in this book today!

As a part of this book promotion, Kerry and Chris Shook challenge you to participate in the national Facebook fast on August 25th.  Their hope is that people will spend time off social media building genuine, authentic relationships….with skin on them!  Will you give it a try?

The Power of 7…Popular Blog Posts

I have found 7 to be a popular number with blog posts. This week I even did an experiment. I posted four posts in a row with 7 principles in each. It prove to be a very successful week, with more interaction than usual. Seven is a Biblical number of completion. I’m not suggesting there is something to that trivia here, but I do believe there is something at work here. What do you think?

Here are my 15 most popular “7” posts:

7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Marriage from an Affair

7 Reasons You Need Social Media as a Christian Leader

7 Dangers of Leading in Isolation

7 Actions for the Times God is Silent

7 Pieces of Wisdom for the Disappointments of Life

7 Reactions to Fatigue (What Happens When I’m Tired)

7 Tips for Healthy Marriage Communication

7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

7 Reasons Leaders Quit Your Organization

7 Values Of Brokenness

7 Tips For Surviving The Terrible Threes Of Parenting

7 Ways To Recover After A Major Failure Or Mistake

7 Things I Should Have Taught My Sons

7 Top Needs of a Wife

7 False Beliefs of the Leadership Vacuum

The titles speak for themselves. Which do you need to read or read again?

Do you think there is any significance to the number 7 in a post?

BTW, Thanks so much for being a reader of this blog. You can always help by linking to this post on your site, adding it to your reader, or telling your friends.

Three Easy Parenting Principles

I am asked dozens of questions about what we did or didn’t do as parents. I am amazed that God has allowed us to raise the two young men we have in our house, but there were a few principles we practiced consistently.

Here are three principles for parenting I think all parents should consider:

Be intentional – Parenting is hard work. Don’t try it without a plan. It’s amazing how we tend to plan for everything in life, but seldom for our parenting. I know men who have a plan to improve their golf game, but nothing to help them grow as a father. If you want to be a great parent, you must be intentional about that role. Have an overall plan for your parenting and an individual plan for each child, depending on their needs at the time.

Shape the heart – The Bible is clear that we should “Above all else guard the heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I believe in firm discipline. I also believe in extending much grace. More than anything, however, the parent should learn to know, protect and shape their heart of their child. It is that heart, which will determine the decisions and directions the child eventually makes in life.

Enjoy the ride – Children are children for a very short time. Enjoy those days. Be a fun parent, balancing love with discipline. Laughing together with your children will help relieve the stress of your life and keep them wanting to be close to you well into the difficult teen and early adult years.

For my complete parenting philosophy see THIS POST or read other parenting posts HERE.

Which of these do you most need to improve upon as a parent?

(Speaking of principles, be sure to read my disclaimer post about them from yesterday by clicking HERE.)

Caption This Photo: Winner Gets a Free Book

This is a precious picture from our time in Sierra Leone. I recently returned from teaching pastors in the country and I’m forever changed. You can read a post about the children HERE.

The children wanted to touch us, hold our hands, crawl in our laps, and share love with us. This picture helps share that story.

What caption would you give this picture? Comment on this post with your caption and I’ll pick one of them and send the book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. (This is a great book to help frantic families restore sanity to the most important organization in their life!)

Again, all you have to do is comment a caption for this picture.  I’ll pick the one I think best captures this image. You have until Tuesday, July 27, 2010 to answer.

(Please understand this winner will simply be based on opinion.)

Also, will you say a prayer for the children of Sierra Leone?

The Last Song Movie: Applications

The movie “The Last Song” has a powerful story to tell. Cheryl and I watched it at the theater when it first came out earlier this year, but I watched it again on the plane heading to Africa recently. I encourage you to watch it.

The applications for me are:

  • People make mistakes, even the people we love the most
  • Tragedy brings families together…or further apart…
  • Love is hard, but it’s beautiful
  • Life is short
  • Relationships are worth repairing
  • Forgiveness is a powerful force

Don’t watch it unless you are prepared to shed a tear.

Do any of these applications sound like issues you need to address?

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

Using Your Influence for Good: Lessons from Sierra Leone

Throughout our time in Sierra Leone children swarmed us everywhere we went, especially Daniel and Jesse, the youngest two on the trip. Their energy and enthusiasm with the children was highly contagious. They became almost like celebrities in every village.

At one point Jessie admitted she felt guilty for attracting such a crowd. She didn’t want people to think she was seeking personal attention or fame. Daniel agreed with the sentiment.

That’s when the thought occurred to me. Popularity, wealth and power are not all bad. Being “famous” is not necessarily something to be avoided. It may depend on how and for what purpose it is being used.

What occurred to me is that Daniel and Jessie were attracting crowds of children, entertaining them with games and songs, and then leaving them to go to the next village. What they left behind, however, was their influence. Those children in remote villages in West Africa will never forget the love and attention they were shown by these two young adults. They will be running through the streets of their village singing “Jesus Loves Me” because of the experience they had with Daniel and Jessie. They will do push ups, because Daniel taught them how and they will recite cheers Jessie recited and they will laugh and dance…all because two people used their influence in positive ways.

Don’t shy away from the influence God has given you. If it is being used for His glory, rather than for your own, it can be very positive. If your motive and heart is pure, and the glory is pointed towards God, be thankful for the opportunities he gives you.

How are you allowing God to use the influence He has given you?