Archive for the ‘Church leadership’ Category

My first experience with pastoral care

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I just finished this brief article for our Stephen’s MInistry newsletter and I thought I would share it here. It’s a reflection on my first experience of Pastoral care.

I had received many calls from individuals in the church who needed to talk to my Dad; so many that I could often tell when the call would require my Dad to leave to see someone who had suffered an accident or was experiencing a medical emergency. I sensed the fear in George’s voice that day when he called. Jackie had been rushed to the hospital. She was in critical condition. George was scared, and I was as well.

Dad wasn’t home, and Mom was out of town. He didn’t have a cell phone number to call, and I wasn’t sure when he was going to be home. About the only thing I knew at that moment was that George was scared. His wife was very ill, possibly near death, and nobody was there to help me help George. So I did the only thing my 17 year old mind could think of to do. I left my Dad a note, and I got in my car and drove to the hospital in town that was only a few miles from my house. I had no idea what to expect. I was scared. I didn’t know what to say or do. I knew where I could find George but once I found him, I didn’t know what would come next.

When I arrived at the hospital, George was sitting in the emergency room hallway all alone. He had brought his bible with him and he was reading through the Psalms. When I sat down, he started to share with me the passage from Psalms that he and Jackie had read together that morning. I remember him saying to me again and again, “She’s got to be OK. She’s got to be OK. She’s got to be OK.”

But Jackie wasn’t OK.

Jackie never made it out of ICU. She had suffered a massive stroke, and it was quickly apparent to the doctors that they would not be able to save her. I was sitting there with George when the doctor brought him the news that his wife had passed away. I held him as tight as I could and I cried with him. I cried because I didn’t know what else to do, and even though I knew I couldn’t really understand the depth of the emotion that George was experiencing, my heart hurt because I knew George was hurting too.

It wasn’t too much longer before my Dad showed up to the hospital. I remember feeling a great sense of relief because I knew that Dad would know what to say and what to do. At the same time, I remember thinking that I had in some ways failed because I had said very little at all. I had gone to the hospital to help. As I left the emergency room that night, I couldn’t help but wonder if my presence had made any difference at all.

But it was in this very raw experience of unqualified care that I learned the incredible power of being present in the midst of another’s pain. When we had the chance to talk that evening, my Dad helped me see the gift that I had shared that night. When George called me the next day to thank me for sitting with him and asked me to participate in Jackie’s funeral, I felt a sense of affirmation that maybe my presence had made a difference.

It certainly wasn’t my words. It wasn’t because of any training or skill. I hadn’t been to seminary yet and the call that God had placed my life was still undefined for me at that time. It was simply being present in the midst of another’s pain.

Experiences like that night with George remind me that words are overrated, that in many cases, the greatest gift we offer to one another is the gift of our attention, our empathy, our presence, our time, and even our tears.

Jesus said it this way. “Where two are more gathered, I am there.”

Maybe that’s what makes the gift of our presence so remarkable.

A great night

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

I wish my emotions weren’t so tied to how Saturday night worship went each week. Some nights when I come home after a night where I felt like the message was a bit off or the attendance was down, I feel way too low. But on nights like tonight, I wonder if I’m going to be able to go to bed because it went so well.

Our music tonight was fantastic, I felt good about the message, and we had a great crowd. We broke 200 for the first time on a regular Saturday night. We’ve had more for “special” events, but with nothing unique on the calendar, this was a first. Our energy was great, and we continue to see a ton of visitors. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over the ups and downs of each week. I guess I should just be grateful for nights like tonight.

I must admit though…

I’m really starting to think we’ve put something special together.

Saturday Postcard

Friday, January 25th, 2008

In a few weeks, we will be sending out a postcard to our community to advertise our Saturday Night worship service. I’ve been working with Josh Brown of Red Cowboy Designs on this project and I thought I’d share his work. If you’re a church worker looking for a great graphic design company, I highly recommend Josh. If you give him a call, let him know we sent you his way.

If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Sn Postcard-1

Sn Postcardback-1

Color scheme

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

We are currently in the development stages of a new church logo and color scheme. Logo is still on the way, but here is the color scheme. Any feedback?

Color Scheme-1

Book Recommendation: Sacred Marriage

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

41Q2Gjcy7HlOver the Holidays, I did read a couple of books in preparation for our upcoming messages series, “Biblical Perspectives on Love & Marriage.” One of those resources was Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, which I really enjoyed. Rather than your normal “here’s how to have a great marriage” books, Gary looks at marriage from the perspective of, “how can the marriage relationship help us to grow in our relationship with God.”

On the cover, the question is posed, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Here’s a brief excerpt that lifts up one of the fundamental ideas raised in this book; that marriage forces us to deal with our own brokenness, weaknesses, and sin.

Kathleen & Thomas Hart write, “Sometimes what is hard to take in the first years of marriage is not what we find out about our partners, but what we find out about ourselves. As one young woman who had been married for a year said, ‘I always thought of myself as a patient and forgiving person. Then I began to wonder if that was just because I had never before gotten close to anyone. In marriage, when John and I began… dealing with differences, I saw how small and unforgiving I could be. I discovered a hardness in me I had never experienced before’.”

Pick up your copy today from the Bucket bookstore: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Wrapping up before Christmas

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Today I finished my last major project before the end of the year. I had to preach all four services again this weekend which was my last sermon on 2007. I find myself tonight with a heart full of gratitude. 2007 has been a great year for me personally, professionally, and in pretty much every other category I can think of. I feel a great sense of blessing this Christmas to have a wonderful family, a great job, and I get to share life with a great group of church members, staff, and friends. I’ll be away for a few days next week, but I probably try to blog some while I’m out. Thank you to each of you who enrich my life in ways beyond explanation.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

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This is a pic of several of our staff at a dinner to honor one of our staff who is leaving us. One of the great joys of my life is sharing ministry with such a talented and dedicated group of lay people who love God and have a deep commitment to serving him in all areas of their life.

Thanks for a great year Dana! We will miss you more than you know!

Another speaking tour

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I hope you already have purchased your tickets to see Rob Bell at Nokia here in a few weeks. Another great speaker is coming our way in February. Brian McLaren will be leading the “Everything Must Change” speaking tour which is actually a two day conference based on his latest book that shares the same title. Cost is reasonable and it’s being held in Dallas, February 22nd – 23rd. Many disagree and I don’t buy everything, but I would argue that McLaren is one of the most important theologians of our time.

Here’s the website for more info.

Book info:



“Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope” (Brian McLaren)

Church Mission Statements

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Building a Christian community where people are becoming deeply committed followers of Jesus.

What do you think?

Are you buying it?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Seth Godin is one of my favorite bloggers for two reasons.

  1. He always has something great to share.
  2. The thoughts that he shares are applicable in almost any working environment.

If you haven’t seen his latest post about responsibility, take some time to check that out. If you are a church leader, I think It’s a great word to share with your team of leaders or just to read yourself and consider whether your community is “buying what you are selling.” I think it would be a great lead-in to pondering some questions like…

What are the things that we believe in and want to communicate to our community?

In what ways are we responsibly nurturing and growing our congregation for long term health?

In what ways might we be compromising long term health in order to address short term issues?

What are our ethical and moral responsibilities are leaders of our community?

Are we buying what we’re selling?

Or if you are looking for something different, check out his post on the importance of vibe. I think we are going to take his advice and recruit some leaders for our Saturday night service to focus strictly on this.