Friday Discussion: Spiritual Growth

It’s Friday discussion time!

Let’s discuss spiritual growth…specifically yours.

I’m always interested in spiritual growth, because…well…that’s kind of what I do!

Help me by telling me some of your spiritual growth process.

To help you think, consider answering some or all of these questions:

  • Are you closer to God today than you were a year ago?
  • If not, what changed?
  • Is yes, what did you do differently?
  • What helps you most to grow spiritually?
  • Was there a time in your life where you felt the closest to God?
  • Who is mostly responsible, in your opinion, for your spiritual growth?
  • Do you practice any spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, prayer, fasting, tithing, etc.? If so, what do you do?
  • What changes would you need to make to grow more spiritually?

Help me out…tell me about your spiritual growth…

Discuss…engage…Go!

The Life of an Idea on a Healthy Team

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live…

The healthiest teams don’t contain an idea killer…

Healthy teams:

  • Brainstorm
  • Analyze
  • Test drive
  • Push back
  • Critique
  • Debate
  • Challenge

Every idea…

But healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea…

It could be a short process or a long process…

But healthy teams give every idea a chance to live…

Knowing that…

There is value in the collection of ideas on a healthy team…

And…

Some of the best ideas are killed before they have a chance to shine…

Have you ever worked with an idea killer?

Are you one?

(This post contains a main idea…feel free to Brainstorm, Analyze, Test drive, Push back, Critique, Debate, or Challenge.)

A Much Needed Encouragement for the Pastor

It’s Monday morning…

I have spoken with many pastors who share a common struggle with each other. If it was a good Sunday…one where God’s Spirit was at work…during the 24-hour period from Sunday noon and Monday noon…they face doubt and frustration.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I knew I was speaking truth. I knew God was working, but I was teaching on God’s purposes for marriage to many who are undergoing tough times in their own marriages. It was difficult and I felt as though I was adding insult to injury to many. I left feeling down and I allowed the enemy to discourage me.

I am blessed to have several in our church sensitive to this issue…or sensitive to God’s Spirit in their own life. Yesterday afternoon I received this email from someone in our church:

Ron,

I cannot imagine how tough it had to be to deliver today’s (that desperately needed to be done) message. Thank you for being God’s “Good and Faithful Servant”. I feel as though you will (or may have already been) challenged and attacked for speaking the Truth!

Just want to remind you that the people that might not have liked it, needed to hear it the most! You know how the Devil gets when you hit a nerve. You get my vote for delivering a very difficult message that needed to be delivered.

Love you Brother!
Jay

I’m not too proud to say I needed this email. The stress of ministry is huge at times and I’m thankful for those who serve the body by building up others.

I received my encouragement this week, so I’m good.

Do you need to encourage your pastor this morning?

Scripture Memorization, Week 10

Here is this week’s memory verse:

I wonder if we thought about this verse this week, instead about what we do or don’t do as believers, if we’d feel better about our walk with Christ and more willing to follow Him wherever He leads. I have a feeling it would free us from some legalism and help us live by grace.

What do you think?

3 Places to Find New Leaders

I was working with a church recently that is facing a growth barrier. They have experienced rapid growth and now the staff is stretched beyond what they can do. There are holes of responsibilities not being filled. My opinion…and they agree…is that they can’t continue growing unless something changes.

The “genius” suggestion I gave them is that they must rise up new leaders, empower them with authority, and spread the load of responsibility. The obvious question: Where do we find these people?

Great question!

I suggested they look for three types of people:

People who are currently “doing” who need to be leading. These are people who are consistently serving. They are the reliable ones you couldn’t do without. They have been given responsibility, but never been tapped for authority. Not all “doers” have the capability of being leaders, but many do if given the opportunity.

People serving in one area, who could lead in another area. These are people who are serving in the children’s ministry, for example, who could be leading in the parking ministry…or vice-versa. Many times people are serving in one area, because there is a need, but they could easily be stellar leaders in another area.

People leading outside the church. There are often people in the church who are tremendous leaders in the secular world, but they’ve never been given an opportunity to lead in the church.

People come to your church and see things working. They don’t know you need help, because everything appears to be working. There doesn’t seem to be a place for them. In my experience, you’ll have to ask the best leaders to join your team.

How do you find new leaders?  What would you add to my list?

Silence Can Be Deadly

You’ve heard silence is golden…and that’s true…

…but sometimes silence can also be deadly…

Especially in a team environment…organizational structure…relationship setting…

When working on a project, implementing change, planning for the future…

Keep people updated with what you know…

Even if you don’t have all the answers…

When people don’t have information, they tend to invent their own scenarios…

Silence can fuel rumors…

Fear, tension, and frustrations rise…

Those invested often become discouraged…

Morale is injured and enthusiasm wanes…

All emotionally driven reactions fueled by the unknown…

People will be more patient if they receive adequate communication while they wait for the final details…

If you want to keep progress moving forward…

Break the silence and share information, as you know it…

Have you experienced the pain of silence in a team, organizational, or relationship setting?

Share your story to improve this post.

7 Things We’ve Learned about Reaching Today’s Youth

The statistics are staggering. The older a child gets today, the greater his or her chances are of disappearing from the church. The church must intentionally plan to reverse this trend.

Grace Community Church is built around a desire to reach people who may not have previously been interested in church. We love when people bring their friends. This vision extends to reaching the youth of our community. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

If the church wants to reach young people these days, here are 7 things we must do:

Love them – Young people today seem to crave genuine, no strings attached, healthy love from other adults…and they want it to be unconditional love…through the good times of their life and the times they mess up.

Be biblically true – Young people today don’t seem to want fluff. They want an authentic, honest approach to the Bible. Whether they believe all of it yet or not, they want people who say they believe it to teach what they believe…and be willing to discuss it with them if needed.

Be culturally relevant – Young people today have been exposed to the problems, challenges, and changes in the world today. They are more socially conscious than in years past. They want the church to be addressing the needs they see in the world around them.

Give them a place to serve and support them in their pursuits – Young people today want to make a difference. They want to be a part of change. They want to serve somewhere they believe is doing good work and makes a positive impact on the world and they may even want to help lead the effort.

Value their ideas and input - You have to allow young people to do things their way…with technology…within groups of friends…sometimes unscripted…etc. A church that is bent on protecting the past over creating the future turns young people away from the church.

Be genuine/transparent with them - Young people today want to learn from the mistakes of those older than them. Pretending as if we’ve always been wonderful doesn’t help them deal with the issues they are dealing with today. They need living examples of battling life’s temptations, struggles, and fears.

Guide them - Young people today want direction. They want help making life’s decisions, but they want it done in a way that helps them understand wise choices, but gives them freedom to choose their own path. Young people today need adults who will walk with them through the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

What would you add to my list? How is your church reaching the youth of today?

BTW, notice I didn’t say anything about music. It’s a bonus if you give them worship styles they enjoy, but I’m not convinced it’s a necessity if the others on this list are kept.

Overreacting to Correct a Problem

We recently sold our house and purchased a new condo.  It’s been over 10 years since we made a real estate transaction, so this was quite an experience.  Apparently much has changed in the housing market, since we were last participants. (Understatement!)  We learned that purchasing any real estate is more difficult now.  We learned that purchasing a new condo can be especially difficult.  Along the way, we continued to hear from real estate agents, bankers, attorneys and appraisers that the amount of regulations added to real estate transactions has tremendously increased the potential for difficulty in the process.

My question: Has the government overreacted to correct a problem…to the point that they have made it unnecessarily difficult to purchase a new home?  Could this be one of the reasons for a continuous sagging real estate market?

I realize there was a problem…banks were giving loans they shouldn’t have given….something needed to be done…but the problem wasn’t as much in my city.

I wonder though, if this reaction…or overreaction…isn’t representative of what we do as churches, organizations, and individuals.

Sometimes one person is the problem, so we create a policy that impacts everyone. One department may be the problem, but we change the rules for everyone.  Often there is one complaint raised, so we change our structure to appease an individual.  Sometimes we have a couple of bad months…or even one unusual Sunday…and we react…or overreact…like the trend is permanent.  Our children make one mistake and we react like it’s who they are…rather than like it’s a mistake…one they can learn from…

Have you ever overreacted to correct a problem?  Do you have any examples to share with me of when you’ve seen this?  When is a time we tend to overreact in the church or as individuals?

(I realize some will be far more schooled on the housing issue than I am, so feel free to educate me.  I simply know what I experienced and what I was told along the way.)

Common Struggles

The first sermon of the new year at Grace Community Church was a difficult one, because I encouraged our people to let go of some of the burdens they had been carrying in 2010. We wanted to start 2011 with a clean slate and make it a better year. I challenged people to write the one issue they wanted to leave behind on an index card. We captured those, and though they didn’t have names on them, we recorded the general issue to see what people in our church were dealing with this year. For me personally this is helping to shape the way I preach.

Here is a graph of the over 1,000 cards we collected:


You can view the sermon from that day here:

What would you have written on that card? Does this graph represent some of your struggles?