Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Letter to BFWC Family & Friends

Dear BFWC Family & Friends,

We have had some WONDERFUL RAIN – the grass is green, the birds are finding food a little easier, the flowers are happy, the umbrellas are finally getting the attention they desired and the auto store is selling out of windshield wipers.

YOU ARE GREAT! I just wanted to send a thank you to all of our BFWC Family & Friends for your continued support of this ministry. BFWC turns “50” this year and we are thankful for our past victories and for YOU a true FRIEND in the FAITH!

We will accomplish more TOGETHER than by ourselves apart! Perhaps the early disciples knew this best. They spent time TOGETHER fulfilling Acts 2:42-47 and thus they saw great success! I’m also reminded of Paul’s instructions in Hebrews 10:25 NOT FORSAKING the ASSEMBLING of ourselves TOGETHER, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”
  • Don’t agree? Then what do you do with that Scripture?
  • If we weren’t to be in church in a routine manner, why did Apostle Paul establish so many churches?
  • Why were so many letters sent to “the churches” to help them in their living, government, operations and administrations?
  • Is he wrong? Probably not…since he authored the majority of the New Testament.
Truthfully, God doesn’t mind me having fun…living my life…running the race…playing, shopping, laughing, camping, boating, hiking, hunting, bowling, riding bicycles, golfing, swimming, watching movies, enjoying sports, ETC….

BUT…He does mind when those things take His place in a routine manner. HE is #1 and coming together in HIS name is not an OPTION..but an OBLIGATION. It’s the FRUIT of your discipleship…it’s the PASSION of your heart…It’s the EVIDENCE of your transformation. Church attendance don’t save you…but SAVED people go to church…TOGETHER with their brothers and sisters.  TOGETHER we add the missing ingredient to one another’s life!

TOGETHER…doesn’t happen until we unite as one.
The opposite of the word together is = ALONE.

Alone is the place we resort to when we don’t want to see people, spend time with people, be bothered with people or have any expectations put on us. Sure…there’s value in time alone…but it’s NOT HOW WE WERE WIRED in the stretch.

Any Bible Hero that I read about that spent time ISOLATED did so either because they were driven by the Spirit to do so for a season…OR they were depressed, down and out, feeling sorry for themselves or were ON THE RUN from the WILL of GOD!

Our personalities, as odd as they may be, are not geared to spend life ALONE, under a ROCK, hidden in a cave…so we can FIND ourselves in the MAKE BELIEVE world of the internet. Anyone who constantly wants to be “left alone” and desires to avoid gathering together with the church, family, others (in general) …has symptoms of dysfunction, personality disorder and layered issues. (Of course that’s another email for another day)

The banana that leaves
the bunch gets peeled.

I got up this morning thanking the LORD for YOU! Thank you for seeing the value of TOGETHERNESS! Thank you for pushing past any personality issue, lack of confidence, fear of crowds, past hurt and regret or any snare of the enemy…to be FOUND in your rightful place!

  • Thank you for your continual support in time, talent and treasure of BFWC.
  • Thank you for being YOU!
  • Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to modify your personality with His FRUIT (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Thank you for not GIVING up!
  • Thank you for living holy unto the Lord and not yielding to SIN!
  • Thank you for keeping a clean record and running the race with patience.
  • Thank you for not being GOOFY and falling by the wayside.
  • Thank you for raising your families in the Lord and being faithful to church!
  • Thank you for serving the body of Christ.
  • Thank you for giving.
  • Thank you for loving.
  • Thank you for sharing.
  • Thank you for laughing.
  • Thank you for weeping.
  • Thank you for your compassion.
  • Thank you for your passion.
  • Thank you for your perseverance.
  • Thank you for your faith.
  • Thank you for your heart.
  • Thank you for your excellence.
  • Thank you for your careful attention to details.
  • Thank you for reading my emails, blogs, tweets and posts.
  • Thank you for remaining FULL of the Holy Spirit.
  • Thank you for investing in missions/outreach.
  • Thank you for being committed to personal and corporate discipleship.
  • Thank you for saying YES to Jesus.
  • Thank you for being concerned about SOULS!
  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
TOGETHER…wow…what a word!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Your Problem Is Your Harvest

When did you get saved?

Do you remember how it happened?

Were you in a service and heard someone preach Hell so hot that you felt like your seat was on fire?

Or did they preach about the love of God with such passion that you were enveloped in the arms of God?

Did you read about God’s redemption in your hotel room where a Gideon Bible was in reach?

Did you have a neighbor who exemplified the love of God in front of you that made you want to run after the Lord with your whole heart?

Here’s another question…is your example one that would cause other people to want to live for Christ?

We have what the world needs
  • And yet, we can easily become self absorbed with hectic schedules, family commitments, church volunteerism, school events, etc…and FORGET why we’re here on earth for.
Serving as a Pastor of a growing church is very demanding.
  • If I don’t set my schedule it will be set for me with a plethora of activity.
  • Meetings, training, planning, vision casting, administration, counseling, arbitrating, study, devotion, reading, prayer, returning emails, serving my leaders, serving my fellowship, being an available husband and father, etc.
  • I know what I’m called to do…Primary FEEDER, LEADER & VISIONARY
  • Honestly, even though I know what I’m supposed to do, if I do not stay focused I can lose focus very easily.

There is no difference in the church. The church is called to do certain things.
  • We can easily get sidetracked into doing MANY things.
  • If we were to narrow down a list of essentials for the church, this is what it might look like.
1. Reach Up
  • The church is called to reach up to Christ. This is fulfilled when our focus on worship is personally lived.
  • When we live a lifestyle of worship in private it will show up in our public gatherings.
  • There is nothing like being engulfed in private prayer and praise.
  • Reaching up prepares us to reach out.
2. Reach In
  • The church is called to reach in through relational fellowship. In other words, we are to connect with one another through intimate fellowship.
  • Fellowship equips us by building us, renewing us and firing us up for outreach.
3. Reach Out
  • The church is called to reach out and share God’s love.
  • Those three things don’t sound too hard.
Look at Matthew 28:18 18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
  • Jesus speaks these words to a group of leaders He had been training for 3 ½ years.
  • His Disciples.
  • Those He was INVESTING in.
His words “All power is given unto me two places” (Heaven & Earth) set the stage/entrance for what we affectionately refer to today as “The Great Commission.”
  • Heaven & Earth – representing the encompassing power of kingdoms, dominions and worlds that were under His authority.
The THEME of the Great Commission was GO MAKE DISCIPLES of ALL NATIONS!
  • Basically…REACH OUT.
  • But isn’t that just for EVANGELISTS?
  • Isn’t that just for the people who operate in the Grace Gift of Ephesians 4:11-12 with the title “Evangelist?”
Evangelism can be RAW!
  • It can cause you to get nervous…the shear thought of going door-to-door and asking people about their relationship with God or where they are going to spend eternity can cause your palms to sweat and your blood pressure to rise.
  • And yet…Jesus called the church to REACH OUT!
If we’re called to REACH OUT like an Evangelist, than why is the word Evangelist only mentioned twice in Scripture? (Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5)
  • Studies show that only 2-3% of the Body of Christ are evangelists.
Allow me to make this observation: There is a difference between a GIFT and a ROLE.
  • The gift of an evangelist is a gift from God where you’re anointed to BE and DO something.
  • The role of an evangelist requires us to perform an expected function.
With that being said, how do we “do” evangelism? What if my personality isn’t “cut out” for it? Truthfully, we can all perform this role by simply INVESTING and INVITING.
  • Investing our time in others. Spending time with them.
  • Inviting them to do something. Come to church…attend a fellowship event…enjoy a concert together…join a Life Group…etc.
Isn’t that basically what Jesus did?
  • He invested His time into a woman at the well of Samaria.
  • We are doing that every time we offer a sports opportunity, whether it be basketball, football or aerobics.
  • Those types of events have the ability to DRAW people…and people with problems and needs will come.
Our problem
can become our harvest.

Look at the life of Apostle Paul.
  • Before he was ever known as PAUL he was Saul of Tarsus.
  • Persecutor of the church.
  • He was wreaking havoc against the cause of Christ.
  • He was becoming a REAL PROBLEM.
  • Yet he encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus and that ONE ENCOUNTER turned the PROBLEM INTO A HARVEST.
  • Now Paul is doing all he can do mend fences and promote the cause of Christ!
I believe Jesus spent His whole life INVESTING in others.
  • We know for sure that He did in the 3 ½ years of public ministry that has been recorded.
  • Investing in people who aren’t saved yet is what the church is called to do.
  • We each have someone in our life that we can INVEST in.
  • It will take INTENTIONALITY and EFFORT.
  • It will involve our TIME.
Sure…we can do an outreach event once a month or even once a quarter and it may work. But what works the majority of the time is when people find GENUINE love and concern.

  • What would happen if we began to INVEST in the relationships we ALREADY have?
  • You know…the ones that are already pretty good….
  • What would happen if we started paying attention to the people where we LIVE, SHOP, PLAY and EAT?

  • When was the last time you invited someone to church?
  • When was the last time you sat down with someone that doesn’t go to church, had a coffee and mentioned God?
  • Do you even know anyone who doesn’t go to church?
  • Sweating yet?

  • People have to know that they matter.
We have to show people
that we’re NORMAL people…
not crazy Christians who
just stepped off the mother ship.
  • We’re not only normal…we’re building families, having babies, overcoming struggles and just REAL.
  • They have to see it…if they’re going to take us serious.
  • Unfortunately, the world has had to deal with weirdo’s and quacks that have given Christians a bad name.
    • That weirdo at school, or at their job, or in their family, etc.
    • You know those people…they act crazy and in turn their actions are so bizarre that God is not honored and people are not loved in the process.
  • Friends…the world needs to see JESUS!
What made the woman at the well LISTEN to what Jesus had to say?

What made her run back into the city and TELL everyone about this man who had told her everything she ever did?

Her witness of Jesus caused those people to RUN to see Jesus.

John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

  • Jesus tells His disciples in this passage to STOP WAITING.
  • And immediately… John 4:39-40 the Samaritans start running towards them!
    • And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
  • A FLOOD of men running towards them that were enemies of JEWS.
  • Perhaps the DISCIPLES saw them as problems…

In order to SEE OUR HARVEST we have to do what JESUS said to do….”LIFT UP OUR EYES”

Today I want to challenge you to find that person in your life that is
  • HURTING and
Today, lets INVEST & INVITE as we view our potential problems as our HARVEST!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12 Years Ago Today

Twelve years ago today, Beverly, Kaitlyn and I came to Indianapolis to serve as Pastors at Bethel Family Worship Center.

I remember having a conversation with the Lord prior to coming to Indianapolis that sounded something like this..."Lord, I'll do one of three things...1) Start a work from scratch 2) Serve another pastor with a large vision 3) pastor an existing work." 

As if, God is Monty Hall and this is
"let's make a deal!"

I've learned, you don't give God a list of things you WILL do and you WON'T do.  He knows the desires of your heart but He is GOD and He is sovereign enough to keep your feet on the path that leads towards your destiny.

If God has "called you" to pastor a church then He will keep you where He planted you if you're willing to go the distance.

If God is going to do  a work THROUGH you,
He'll have to do a work IN you.

In my humble opinion, churches that exhibit a pattern of growth are pastored by men and women who are committed to longevity. 

Our ministries will either be characterized by a
"WEED MINISTRY" or an "OAK TREE" ministry. 

Weeds shoot up over night and see fast results.  However, they don't have much root and are easily plucked up.  On the other hand, oak trees take a long time to reach maturity.  It's roots run deep and if you look at it's insides you'll see "RINGS" which are actually layers of bark that were added during each season of growth.

Long term pastors will have to pass several tests:

Money Test

I have learned over the years that I must depend on God way more than I depend on people.  God has always been the biggest giver in our church.  We've all heard the cliche "If it's God's will than it's God's bill."   

You can't preach to make people happy.  If you try to design your messages so they don't offend your "big givers" than you're actually "selling" God out.  If your desire is to keep the "big givers" happy than you're no longer're being led.  My vision is not for sale.

Scrutiny Test

Not everyone will celebrate your vision.  Ask Joseph.  Ask Nehemiah.  In fact, Nehemiah had to deal with people who lied about him and spread rumors about his leadership. 

"Look at Nehemiah, he's trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that he can make a name for himself."  Of course, Nehemiah's friends came to him and said, "Nehemiah, you'd better come down off the wall and put out these fires of gossip...they're talking about you down here."  Nehemiah simply responded..."I'm not coming down off the wall to put their fires of gossip out...they'll light them faster than I can put them out...I'm STAYING ON THE WALL and doing a work for God!"

Some people "hate ya, cause they ain't ya!"

Your vision will be scrutinized, criticized and ostracized.  What are you going to do???? GIVE UP????  NO SIR!!!!  If God called you...then God will keep you! 

DO NOT let those who have never actually done anything for God define what they believe you can or can't do in His name!

Belief Test

You have to keep believing no matter what the circumstances look like.  God is the one that called you. 

I remember facing serious challenges early on.  Good people can do some not so good things when they lack teaching and understanding of biblical protocol.

During a particular hard time I remember praying, "God I don't need this headache!  I don't need to put my family through this!  This is nothing but JUNK!  God, I just want to do what You called me to do, but perhaps I should do it somewhere else, these people are obviously not embracing the vision You gave me and it's clear to me that they just want to fight one another and me too."  God specifically told me, "I didn't call you here, to leave tomorrow."

If God has called you ... and I mean GOD....not daddy, mommy or bad pizza you ate before you went to bed which caused you to dream...then HE WILL KEEP YOU THROUGH IT if you simply BELIEVE!  (There is a fine line between faith and stupidity)

After 12 years, I've found that the further I go the more faith it takes to keep going! 


Not everyone that starts with you will stay with you.  There is a difference between people that LIKE you and people who are committed to the vision of the church.  You will not be able to please everyone and still pastor.  Your sermon choices will make some people mad.  Your leadership will draw unwelcomed opposition.  But those who feel called to the vision of the HOUSE will stay with you because they see the vision as their own.

You will have to ask your people to SELL OUT!  Don't be afraid to ask for commitment!  Ask your people to DO what you're willing to do!  I've found that people actually want to be held accountable and pushed towards commitment.  The more you expect from them the more they will rise to meet the expectation.

It is not my job to do all the ministry of the church.  Rather, it is my job to equip the church to the work of the ministry.

Pastor...if you do all the ministry...then you're people will let you do it.  Unfortunately, some pastors feel that they have to maintain the role of "SUPER PASTOR" because they may have an insecurity issue and need to feel needed or because the culture of their particular church dictates that the pastor does everything.

But, if you do it all...then you're people will cling to a climate of "having their needs met" rather than being a vessel that is USED UP for the Lord!  Believe me, you don't want to have a church full of people who just want their needs to be met!  You want a church full of people who want to meet the needs of others!

Ask your people to STEP UP!  Jesus wasn't afraid to ask for people to sell out!  (John 6)  He did lose some, but the ones who stayed with Him were able to see more happen and accomplish more than they could have dreamed!

Perspective Test

Keep the main thing the main thing! 
  • "Pastor, I feel we should do this." 
  • "Pastor, I feel you should do this."
  • "Pastor, I feel we need to start a ___________________ ministry."
  • "Pastor, I feel we're not doing a good job meeting this ______________ need."
  • "Pastor, when are we going to do ________________?"
There are lots of things you could do.  But I don't think you should do EVERYTHING that people bring to you.  Sure, it may be a good idea...but it may not line up with the vision God has called you to.  Remember, everything has a season.  It may be a good idea but the timing is off to implement it now.  If it be of God, hold it, it will still be God later when you have a peace about birthing it or releasing it.

The last thing I need to do is fill my calendar with MORE ACTIVITIES and PROGRAMS.  They can be good but they can also BOG you down and slow your vision.  I'm more concerned about the spiritual health of our people than their busy ministry schedule.  You can get out of balance in this area if you're not careful.

Keep it all in perspective!  Know what God has called you to do BEFORE you do it.  This will free you up from over committing to things that will actually slow you down.  Don't get hijacked by people, programs or productivity

Bethel Family Worship Center .... I love you!  Serving you this past 12 years has been a great privilege!  I've grown and I'm still growing. 
  • Thank you for allowing me the freedom to be creative and experiment with new ideas! 
  • Thank you for loving me unconditionally. 
  • Thank you for overlooking my faults and mistakes! 
  • Thank you for embracing my family and treating us like your own family!
  • Thank you for taking such good care of us!
  • Thank you for honoring us on our birthday's & anniversaries!
  • Thank you for praying for us!
  • Thank you for being faithful & fruitful!
  • Thank you for being real!
  • Thank you for committing to the vision!
  • Thank you for striving for excellence!
  • Thank you for being loyal!
  • Thank you for your enthusiasm!
  • Thank you for your friendship!
  • Thank you for your sense of humor!
  • Thank you for loving your church and community!
  • Thank you for committing to discipleship!
  • Thank you for the wonderful ways in which you SERVE!
  • Thank you for living a Godly lifestyle!
  • Thank you for loving each other!
  • Thank you for the cards, emails, texts, etc., that constantly keep me encouraged!
I also want to express my love to Beverly & Kaitlyn!  I couldn't do what I'm doing without you!  You shoulder the load of our calling with strength, courage and passion.  I'm a better man, husband, father and Christian because of you. 

Most of all...THANK YOU JESUS!  You saved me, called me, equipped me and will sustain me!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

My mother, Carol Hylton

Mother's are teachers.
Mother's are disciplinarians.
Mother's are cleaning ladies.
Some mothers are gardeners & mowers of lawns.
Most mothers understand that baking cookies is more important than washing windows, too.

Mother's are nurses, doctors, psychologists,
counselors, chauffeurs and coaches.
Mothers are developers of personalities, molders of vocabularies and shapers of attitudes.
Mothers are soft voices saying, "I love you."
Mothers are a link to God, a child's first impression of God's love.

Mothers are all of these things and much, much more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What kind of Cheerio are you?

Proctor Gamble has kept one brand of soap on the market for more than 100 years.  In the process they have reformulated it more than 100 times.

Cheerios have been around for over half a century...since 1941.  Since it's creation, it has held true to it's "O" shape and oat taste.  However, in 1979 General Mills began to add varieties:
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
  • Multi grain Cheerios
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • Yogurt Burst Cheerios
  • Chocolate Cheerios
  • Berry Burst Cheerios
Some of the flavors of Cheerios that were introduced, but are no longer on the market include the following:  Team Cheerios, Millenios and Cheerios and X's.

Growth cannot occur without embracing change.

The only thing that is here to stay is change.

If you make a change - you have to be able to tie it to context.  (What's the purpose and reason for the change?)

Change can make people nervous.  One reason is because we feel secure and protected by the way things have always been.

A leader will do 2 things 

1) stick to their core values while
2) incorporating new methods.

Jesus was a world changer.  He brought more change than anyone else in history.  And as a result He was challenged at every turn.  But He met each challenge with a thought out response!

Change takes energy!

Change requires 4 things:

1) Research
2) Revision
3) Responsibility
4) Respect

When should you change your way of thinking?

1. When it violates the Word of God.
2. When the focus is taken off of Jesus.
3. When process and procedures become more important than people and production.
4. When it hinders the advancement of the vision.
5. When it violates the core values of the organization.
6. When other methods would produce greater results.
7. When you have fully counted the cost of change.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Is Best For The Church?

I never dreamed I'd have the privilege to pastor such a great church!  When Beverly, Kaitlyn and I came to Indianapolis 12 years ago (May 11, 1999) we had high hopes and a burning fervor in our heart to run after God's design and desire for our lives.  The dream is still alive in us and the journey still fires me up!!!

We are also blessed to serve with an incredible team!  Last night we honored Darrell & Sue Vincent, our JOY Coordinators...(Just Older Youth 60+) for their stellar volunteerism! 

Darrell & Sue serve as a model of excellence when it comes to servant-leadership. 

They arrive early, stay late, help out, sweep floors, take out the trash, stand in the gap, pray for the sick, encourage their pastors, send cards of encouragement, greet guests, cook meals, minister to others, support the church with their finances, communicate routinely, deliver bread...and they do it all with a smile and you never have to wonder if they're going to be at church. 

For all you pastors reading this, you know full well how valuable a "Darrell & Sue" are to you at your church also.  People like that...REFRESH their pastors!

Can you imagine a church full of people like Darrell & Sue? 

I talk with pastors and leaders all the time who express how refreshing it is to have quality staff and volunteers on their team. 

Apostle Paul was particularly fond of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16-18) whose name means "bringing profit."  Onesiphorus sought out Paul while he was in prison in Rome.  He offered him hospitality, kindness and courage. 

Can you imagine a church full of Onesiphorus's?

If you're going to last in ministry, working with a team is essential.  Each team member will be different and will bring to the table their unique gifts, talents and personalities.  Diversity can add flavor to your team but there are some things that should be a staple amongst all team members.

Each member of the team should SPEAK the SAME LANGUAGE as their LEADER and the VISION of the HOUSE. 

You should NEVER hear the following said from a member of your staff/team:

"That's Not My Job!"
  • If you ask a member of your team to do something and they reply "That's not my job," then rest assured that they do not have a heart that is fully devoted to the ministry.  Your team should walk around with FIRE in their eyes and when they are asked to do something they just make it happen because they are there to SERVE and their answer should always be yes!
"That Can't Be Done!"
  • Sometimes the people who make that statement realize how much work will be required to finish the task, so they just say it can't be done.
  • I don't want to hear it can't be done.  I want to hear someone come up with a solution of how it can be done and their recommendations as it pertains to cost, time and so forth.  That's the attitude I'm looking for.
  • If someone is constantly saying, "It can't be done" they either have a LAZY work ethic or a very small view of who GOD is.  Neither are beneficial for your team.
"I Need More Money & Staff To Make This Happen!"
  • If someone is using resources as an excuse for a stale or declining ministry then you can be sure they are in trouble and have more than likely become spoiled not having to be routinely creative.
"I Want Recognition!"
  • You have to watch out for the team member who is always telling you how much work they do, how many hours they put in and how tired they are.
  • We have to balance ministry with family and everyday life.  But when someone is always demanding attention for the work they've done then you can be sure that either PRIDE or INSECURITY is coming out...and neither are good.
"My ministry needs ________ to...and if we don't get it then..."
  • When a staff/team member begins to focus on his/her ministry more than the church as a whole...then there is a HUGE problem.
  • A good staff/team member will have passion and vision for their particular area of ministry; however, they have an even greater passion for the CHURCH as a WHOLE and will gladly lay aside their plans if it means that it is BEST FOR THE CHURCH.
  • The church will either be a loosely organized group of sub-ministries or ONE BODY with many parts...and if a staff/team member cannot be a part of the BODY then they most likely do not have a KINGDOM MINDSET and will not fit on your team.
Serving in ministry will cost you something! 

There are many people who say they want to be in ministry today but when push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road, they quickly look for the path of least resistance.  Friends, the Lord's work is demanding but is also very REWARDING not only here but in the hereafter.

Determine to give your best! 

Serve WHEREVER, WHENEVER and HOWEVER you're asked to, with a good attitude, humble spirit and a blazing fervor.....and then you'll do what's BEST FOR THE CHURCH. :-)