Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Should Have Been More Specific When I Prayed

I have been praying for a while that we would get a drummer in the church. Well, I figured the odds of someone coming to the church who was a drummer were pretty slim. This past Sunday I mentioned this in passing from the pulpit and after the service a young man approached me and said that he was a drummer and that he would love to help out. I could tell by the kind of person he was that he would be great to work with. As we talked I found out that this was only his second time in church, but he knew that he wanted God to have his life. Then he said there was one problem, he didn't have a drum set right now.

Immediately I thought that I should have prayed for a drummer with a drum set! I should have been more specific when I prayed. Well, now my prayer has changed - I am praying that this young man will meet God through Christ and that we can find a drum set. If you are praying with me, I would prefer an electronic set with digital sound if possible.

Of course, I am kind of joking (and I am kind of not joking). I believe that God has his hand on this young man with or without drums, but I wonder what might have happened if I had had more faith and I had prayed for more. Hmmm.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Renewed and Refocused

I have taken a few weeks away from blogging and I will explain why below. I am going to be writing regularly again. The focus of the blog will be upon the steps and processes God is leading me and the churches through as we seek to become healthy again.

Why did I not blog since early August? Honestly, I was depressed and I did not feel that I had anything worthwhile to say. I hit an emotional lowpoint a couple of weeks ago when I began to question why we had left a very solid church to come to two struggling congregations. It seemed that nothing was working in the churches or in our personal lives. I could hear the evil one saying that these were my options 1) quit, or 2) accept mediocrity and limp along like this. I knew that neither of these options was right but it just seemed like we were banging our heads on a wall over and over again.

I have spent the past couple of weeks seeking what God would have for me to do spiritually, emotionally and physically in relation to the churches. I feel that God has given me a new set of marching orders and I need to be acting up His lead on a daily basis.

1) PREACH THE WORD - regardless of what else happens in a church I can control whether the Bible is being preached each Sunday. I can control whether I am being true to God's word without mixing my personal preferences in. God has made it plain that I must do my very best to present sermons that are interesting, informational and Biblical. I am endeavoring to do that very thing. I am continuing to post my sermons to the seewhatgodisdoing.com website on a weekly basis.

2) STRIVE FOR THE BEST, BUT ACCEPT WHERE WE ARE - I had become accustomed to a certain level of professionalism and possibility in my previous church. I have struggled because there was just no way these two churches could be like the previous church. I kept wishing that we would magically transform into a different kind of church. God has told me in no uncertain terms that these churches will not change overnight and I need to stop living with that expectation. These churches will change gradually (sometimes almost imperceptibly) and I need to rejoice with each step we take. I cannot push us to be more than what we are capable of, but I cannot accept for us to be less than what we can be.

3) WE NEED TO BE HEALTHY - This starts with me. I have to be right before God emotionally, spiritually, physically, etc. Then I can preach and teach with authority about being a healthy church and healthy congregational members. The old saying says 'You cannot lead someone else where you have not been yourself.' So the strange paradox is that as much as the church needs me to help them with their issues, questions and struggles - I have to allow God to help me first and I have to set aside time and energy to be the best I can be as well. This is a challenge but it is worth it for me, my family and the churches.

4) WE MUST BECOME MORE STABLE BY INTRODUCING SUCCESSFUL INSTABILITY - Both churches have been through several different church leaders over the years - pastors, worship leaders and church bosses. As these church leaders have changed the churches have split and fractured repeatedly. Those who remain have been left with a tremendous sense of instability and distrust in new leadership. In fact, several people have not even come back to church since I began ministry there. It seemed as if I was just one change too many for some people.

I really sense that we have to strive to take steps ahead in ministry and facilities, even though these changes inherently bring further instability. But as these steps are well-planned, well-executed and successful the churches will sense greater trust and stability. The basic struggle is to introduce just the right steps forward, at just the right times, so that there is healthy, stabilizing change.

5) THE HOLY SPIRIT - Everything I have written about above comes down to me following the leading of the Holy Spirit, personally and professionally. We cannot afford for me to operate out of my own ideas or my own ego. We can end up being growing, healthy churches that are focused on souls, and the key is whether I am listening to God's leading through the Holy Spirit. To be that kind of leader I have to be in the Word, in prayer and right in my attitudes and actions.

Thank you for taking a few moments to read about where we are and where we are going. I hope that this blog entry will help you to be able to pray for us in an informed way.