Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There's a Lion in You!

What you have done is NOT all you are capable of doing.  God has purposed the LION in you to let out a ROAR that has the capacity to influence others through inspiration generated by a passion that is ignited by a purpose!

As a LION, you must climb beyond the limitations you have placed on yourself.  Your success is not final...and your failure is not fatal.  God has positioned you for SUCCESS!

Throughout the Scriptures, Christians are compared to as SHEEP.  Notice something about sheep...flocks of sheep never have a leader.  They change their pattern of movement based on WHOEVER is in front of them at the moment.  This is why SHEEP need a SHEPHERD.  

What other animal in the animal kingdom needs a human?

When God created you...He intended for you to "HAVE DOMINION" (Genesis 1:26).  To have dominion means: to govern, to rule, to manage, to control, to lead...and to initiate progress! 

Your PURPOSE is to HAVE DOMINION!  God did not create you to be a SHEEP!  Even though we're compared to sheep throughout the Bible...we weren't created to be one.  We were created to LEAD like a LION!

In Matthew 9, Jesus modeled the type of leadership we are to walk in.  At the end of this chapter, He is MOVED BY COMPASSION for His people.

Compassion will move a person to help...NOT...hinder!  Jesus was moved by compassion  upon the people because of their condition.

Human condition is based on the ABSENCE or PRESENCE of leadership.

An army of sheep led by a lion will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.  The difference between the LION and the SHEEP is ATTITUDE.

Lion's understand the concept of leadership.

  • Your attitude can promote you faster than your degrees.
  • Your attitude can make you more money than hard work.
  • Attitude separates followers from leaders.
  • The source of attitude is BELIEF.
  • You cannot live beyond your convictions - whatever you believe controls your attitude.
  • Whatever you see with your eyes is not interpreted by your eyes but by your belief system.
  • Leadership is BETWEEN YOUR EARS!

We were all born with the LEADERSHIP SPIRIT
but we can't lead unless we have

The LION is the leader because he BELIEVES he is.

What your attitude CANNOT do for you...
  1. It CANNOT substitute for competence.  Confidence shouldn't be confused for competence. Our attitude may or may not be able to improve our ability to do something.  
  2. It CANNOT substitute for experience. A growing business will eventually reach a point where it has to consider hiring people who have experience and don't need to be trained from the ground up.
  3. It CANNOT change the facts. If I'm only 5 feet tall, chances are I'll never be a center in the NBA.  Maya Angelou said, "If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain."
  4. It CANNOT substitute for personal growth.  You'll never be the man you want to be by waiting to become the man you want to be.  You have to start.
  5. It CANNOT stay good automatically. It takes work.  It's like the farmer that said, "The hardest thing about cows is they never stay milked."  Our attitude is just like that.  It just doesn't stay set.
It's tough to keep a good attitude if you don't purpose to display one early in the morning!  Once you get in the traffic on the interstate and people start honking their horns at you and gesturing that you're #1...your attitude will be TESTED!  Friends, it's better to MAINTAIN an attitude than it is to REGAIN an attitude. 

What your attitude CAN do for you...
  1. It CAN make a difference in your approach to life.  Ever hear the phrase, "All's well that ends well?"  Try saying it the other way around..."All's well that BEGINS well."  Ask any coach of a sports team, and they'll tell you the attitude of the players going into the game will be a determining factor in the outcome of the game.
  2. It CAN make a difference in your relationships with people. Often our difficulty with other people is a result of our own attitude. People who fail in relationships almost always fail in the area of attitude toward others.  Your attitude has a tremendous impact upon your relationship skills.
  3. It CAN make a difference in how you face challenges.  Your mindset is what separates you from being successful and unsuccessful.  Your circumstances and situations can prove to be very instrumental in the your development as a GREAT LEADER!

You cannot always choose what happens to you...but you can always choose what happens in you.  Some things in life are beyond your control.  Some things are within it.  CHOOSE to be a LION today and LEAD!

What you have done is NOT all you are capable of doing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Time Guest?

All of us have been a church visitor from one time or another.  A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit a church out of state.  Overall, it was a GREAT experience. 

Since I’m a melancholic personality, my wheels were turning the entire time.  I was being observant of everything that was taking place…from the parking lot, the hallways, the signage, the atmosphere, the lighting, the sound, the congregation, the volunteers, the order of service, the videos, the printed material…you name it…I was checking it out! 

Here’s some of the things I jotted down…
  • Pulled in the parking lot and it was clean and had good directional signage.
  • There was a welcome banner near the entrance that seemed inviting.
  • The sidewalk had several damaged places in it.
  •  People were mingling outside near some benches.  (No one said hello)
  • A gentlemen opened the door and greeted me with a smile.
  • A few steps further I was greeted by the official “Bulletin Distributor.” Again…a big smile.
  • I navigated my way to the Sanctuary…a little uncertain of where I was going…since the Sanctuary was adjacent to another hallway.
  • I loved the d├ęcor of this church!  Very modern and inviting!
  • As I entered the Sanctuary, no one was there to greet me and make me feel comfortable.  So, I found the back row and made myself comfortable.  (After all, I’m a professional church attendee!)
  • A young man, who I later discovered was an usher, walked by and welcomed me with a big smile and a handshake.  He also introduced himself to me…which made me feel welcome.
  • I then met a few more of the members, who also introduced themselves and made me feel welcome.  (Terry, Debra, Rose & Connie) – they appeared to be full of joy and happy to be at church that morning.  (I appreciated the smiles, the handshakes and the friendliness…it made me feel comfortable in my new environment.)
  • Connie proceeded to say, “you have to come back to hear our Pastor…he’s not here today…but when he preaches, God JUMPS out of him!  You’re going to love our Youth Pastor, he’s a good preacher too!” (She spoke highly of her leaders and I appreciated hearing someone speak positive…she represented the heartbeat of her leaders and her church!)
  • The countdown video came to an end and the worship team took off!
  • The worship was upbeat and passionate.  The congregation entered in and there were some real “God” moments where I had to reach for a tissue as the tears came rolling.  (Of course, there weren't any tissues in sight…so I did what anyone else would do.) 
  • As I scanned the crowd, I observed that the congregation appeared to be about 95% Caucasian. (Just an observation from someone who is used to seeing diversity)
  • At one point during the worship time, it was announced for the “healing team” to come forward.  As a Pastor, I knew they were getting ready to pray for the sick and anyone in need.  However, as a first time guest, It felt a little awkward because we weren't given clear instructions on what to do from the person who was leading the service.  Eventually, people started walking forward and receiving prayer on their own.
  • It caused me to think about how we expect everyone who attends our services to somehow FIGURE OUT on their own what our church practices and procedures are.  (We need to do better in communicating.)
  • The Youth Pastor preached a great message!  He spoke very well of the Senior Pastor and was very honoring.  I jotted down…GOOD WORD! GOOD SPIRIT!  GOOD DELIVERY!
  • As honoring as he was to his Pastor, the only thing I wish he would have said is WHERE the Pastor was.  As a first time guest, it would have been informational for me to hear from the pulpit that the Pastor was simply preaching at another church that morning and would be back the following Sunday.  I think first time guests appreciate knowing when things are different and what they can expect when or if they return.
I made a few more notes…
  • If you ask me to fill out a guest card…then please give me something to write with too. 
  • If you shake my hand…please introduce yourself. 
  • Please don’t save seats with Bibles and purses.  It’s embarrassing to get to a row only to find out it’s already saved.  Can you imagine the embarrassment a guest feels when they are half way down the aisle because every row has saved seats?...they have to turn around and walk back with their head down, knowing that everyone in the church is looking at them. 
  • Please limit your intake of Gatorade and Pepsi while sitting in the Sanctuary.  At one point during my visit, I noticed there was a whole lot of Gatorade guzzling going on.  In fact, in my row, the two students who sat to my right, they were using their empty bottles as drum sticks. The worst part was that they were doing that while the Youth Pastor was preaching.  I kept thinking, “imagine if I was a person off the street who had no church understanding…what a hindrance that would be.”  (I’m all for wetting your whistle…but come on…all that slurping, chugging and cap twisting…was a bit much for even a professional church attendee…like myself!) 
  • Also, if you have to get up and go to the restroom…surely the whole row don’t have to go with you???  Perhaps, a gentle statement like “THANK YOU FOR BEING COURTEOUS TO THOSE AROUND YOU” would be a nice way of encouraging etiquette.  (This would apply to parents who also insist on sitting in the front with screaming babies that they have to keep getting up to go to the nursery with.) 
Although I did observe the good and the “could be better”…overall it was a great service and I was glad I was there!  I was helped and I felt God in the house!

Can we all do better?  Sure we can.  It just takes preparation and being intentional on our part.

I read something the other day that I wanted to pass on…

9  Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

1. Our pastor isn't normally this_________.
  • Insert whatever you want in this blank: loud, obnoxious, offensive, long-winded. If you have to explain part of your pastor’s style because you know that outsiders won’t like it or understand, you've got a problem. Talk to God about it…but most definitely don’t talk to other people about it.  Here’s a good idea…talk to your pastor.
2. We’re full. Sorry. 
  • Always have a backup plan. Always. If someone sees that your service is full once, they’ll deal with it. But they probably won’t come back if they don’t see a plan you have in place.
3. What are YOU doing here?
  • Never say this. Never. Your shocked, open mouth reveals your judgmental spirit…at least in the eyes of visitors. When you say this, all they can think is, “God couldn't really love someone like you.”
4. You can’t serve now… you've got to be a member first.
  • Why would someone want to become a member if they've never had the chance to serve?
5. What’s your address? I didn't catch it on the first 6 forms I had you fill out.
  • Try to streamline the “first time visitors check-in process.” Nobody likes to feel like they’re visiting HR on their first church visit.
6. You want to join a new class or small group? You’ll have to wait until next Fall.
  • If you ask people to wait more than a month to join community, they’ll often look elsewhere.
7. Here we just care about the Truth. If you don’t like it, you can leave.
  • I get it. You love the Bible. You love preaching the Truth. But don’t love that more than you love people.
8. Here are the 38 things we do each week as a church.
  • Simplifying is the key, otherwise you’ll give people decision paralysis.
9. Next time, could you make sure to wear _____.
  • Fill that in with “something nicer,” “something more relaxed,” or “something that’s clean,” and you've offended someone unnecessarily. Creating a “come as you are” culture should be our aim, not creating a “come as I am” culture.  Everything in balance.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Take Another Look at the Church (Part 5)

I've wrote about numbers before, (Who Cares About Numbers?) and it's still a legitimate subject when it comes to the church.  I guess the questions we should be asking are...

  • Does shooting for higher numbers sacrifice the INDIVIDUAL impact? Or...
  • Does God want us to reach out to as MANY people as possible?
Francis Chan says, "God is not interested in numbers.  He cares more about the faithfulness, not the size, of His bride."

Steven Furtick, Elevation Church, made a core value of his church, "We are all about the numbers - Tracking metrics measures effectiveness.  We unapologetically set goals and measure progress through all available quantitative means."

Which is correct?  Does God care about NUMBERS...or does He want FAITHFULNESS?  Perhaps God wants both.

Can we cling to both?  Is there a way that we can bring as many people as possible together in His name as well as create smaller group settings at the same time?

Let's build ATTENDANCE and
ATTENDEES at the same time!

If we do both...perhaps we can avoid the PITFALLS that come from doing one without the other. 

Focusing only on ATTENDANCE lends the following...

  1. Personal relationships are sacrificed to religious personality. 
  2. The truth of the Gospel is sacrificed in order to keep the "seeker friendly" crowd comfortable. 
    • Sermons about sin, wrath, justice and even the law become avoided.  Which in turn denies the Bible it's authority.
  3. A solid foundation is lacking due to the truth of the Gospel not being declared which in turn causes the people to suffer because they have nothing stable to stand on.
  4. Pride can enter in causing a judgmental spirit of other churches based on their size.
    • Bigger churches may think, "We have more people and bigger buildings, so we must be more favored by God."
    • However, numbers are no grounds for bragging rights.
Focusing only on ATTENDEES lends the following...
  1. Forgetting that numbers represent souls and statistics.
    • Growth in a church doesn't equal lack of relationship.  Growth in a church should equal more people being exposed to the GOOD NEWS that they need to hear.
  2. The church ends up becoming a private club.
    • Any church can become EXCLUSIVE rather than INCLUSIVE if the people aren't dedicated to inviting new people to come.
    • Honestly, there is more to it than just feeding the people who already attend...our cities are full of people who are slaves to sin and need the Gospel in order to be saved.
    • We must never lose our desire to get more people to come.
    • The church should never become a place for CERTAIN people and it should never be CONTENT with the number of people that come.
  3. More attention is given to the faithful members instead of sacrificing for the Kingdom.
    • If the church doesn't emphasize OUTREACH it can become content catering to the major tithers and those who've been in the church forever.
    • This is just as bad as being a church that is focused only on the "seekers".  The church should never cater to any particular group.  It should be faithful to proclaiming the Gospel to ALL people.
There must be an equal emphasis given to both ATTENDANCE and ATTENDEES.  

Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, has a good philosophy on church numbers.  He emphasizes that the BIGGER his church gets, the SMALLER that they need to make it seem.  They have four campuses of somewhat modest size and do multiple services at each location.  They aim for the SMALL CHURCH FEEL while still impacting thousands of people.

Remember the early church in the book of Acts?  On the Sabbath, they met together in the temple...but during the week, they met in each other's homes.  It provided them a CORPORATE worship setting but then the ACCOUNTABILITY and RELATIONSHIP of a small church and group of believers.

In conclusion...the church should love numbers, yet not sacrifice truth in order to gain them.  Each number represents a SOUL to which the church is ministering.  If a church is focused on numbers alone...then it will not sustain or impact lives with truth.  If a church is focused on feeding truth to a small number of people, but are not willing to reach out to others, then it's excluding the GOOD NEWS that so many around them need.

I hope you've invited someone to join you this Sunday!  We can do it!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Band-Aid of Hope

Romans 8:24  "For we are saved by hope..."  

We are called to be ENCOURAGERS of righteousness MORE than we are called to be CORRECTORS of unrighteousness.   As sons, we yield to the Father's correction in our life because of the HOPE instilled from His loving words to our heart. 

While raising our daughter, at times, we used the rod of correction to point her towards the HOPE of righteousness before God.  If we had been too hard, she might have lost HOPE of ever being able to live right before God or worse yet, depending on the degree of the sensitivity of her heart and soul, she may have succumbed to condemnation. 

Not all of us are able to receive the same degree of correction and maintain the same level of HOPE as perhaps other members of the Body of Christ who may have a more stable self image.

Fathers are to be sensitive to the weaknesses of their sons and seek to speak more to the CHAMPION in them than to the CHUMP!

My earthly father took time to correct me as well as RECONNECT me to HOPE.  After I received correction, he lovingly hugged me and spoke LIFE over me.  

Friends, if we break out our faithful knife to wound like a friend, we should also make sure we break out the bandages to bind the wound for healing.  Just like a doctor who has performed surgery on a patient - don't leave the patient on the operating table still laid open after the cancer has been removed, take the time to stitch them up so that they can begin to heal and have HOPE restored in a clean and sterile environment. 

Also, when you are chastened from a father, don't run from your father.  A father will look you in the eye and tell you the truth in love and then place their arms of love around you.  Correction doesn't have to be punishment.  Correction can be gentle instructions.  

Kaitlyn was very sensitive as a child when she received correction.  She didn't have to have too many spankings, mostly all we had to do was begin to talk to her about what she did wrong and she'd already be crying her eyes out.  That's when we'd kneel down and hug her and kiss her and tell her that we loved her.

Even to this day, I always make sure that she knows that her daddy loves her.  Her POSITION as my daughter is GREATER than what her CONDITION will ever be...no matter what!

To every spiritual father, your children have to know you love them.  Your love for them should never be a question in their hearts.  Give everyone the band-aid of HOPE in everything you do.

"For we are saved by hope..."