Back to the future

January 4, 2013

It’s been a rough couple of years since my last “love” post. Ministry friends have come and gone, relationships have become strained and had to be worked on. Struggle has become a semi-permanent friend. The entire experience has led to me doubt my calling and want to move into a pew-sitting role with no expectations and no worries. 

But then I remember the moment when the Holy Ghost light bulb went on when I was just a pew-sitter and I realize I can never go back to that. As the apostle Paul tells us, I must press on toward the goal that Christ has set before me.

So how do I do that when I all too often shrink away?

Go back to the beginning. What were the activities I was doing when I most felt empowered by the Holy Spirit?

  • Larger amounts of time praying and reading God’s word;
  • Reading others thoughts about God revealing Himself;
  • Studying theology
  • Putting my own thoughts down to process my own theology.

I must go back to go forward.

The more I read scripture and minister at TRCC, the more I see that I (and my fellow pastor/elders) need to become the CLO for our assembly. What is CLO? Chief Love Officer. We need to be chief among the brethren in showing love for one another!

Now, that sounds all well and good on a conceptual level, but how does that play out in the gospel assembly?

In my IT career, I have had to learn how to wear several different hats at one time to handle the complexity of the tasks at hand.  When you wear multiple hats, you can easily become distracted from your primary role.

To become the CLO we first have to take off any other hats that we may have grabbed on to, like CEO, COO, or CFO. What do those hats look like in the church?

The CEO pastor learns to value vision over loving people extravagantly. The COO pastor values operational excellence over loving people extravagantly. The CFO looks to resources instead of loving people extravagantly. All of those hats are fine in and of themselves as long as they are secondary roles subject to the CLO.

There are going to be times that people “get in the way” of vision, excellence and resources. Our response to those situations will tell us very clearly how we, those who have received extravagant love from Christ, really feel about love for the brethren. Just as the Father does not value us for what we can do or bring to the table, we as pastors cannot either.

We are to model the scandal of the gospel by loving extravagantly.

Pastors, are you the CLO of your church?

When we switched our group to a new host and facilitator, I had some expectations that the entire group would stick together during the transition. That assumption proved to be false. There were several reasons why only half of our “old” group stuck together to form the “new” group and they can mostly be synthesized to the concept of culture.

Our old group had developed routines and patterns that developed into a group cultural expectation. When we moved the new group to a new locale, those routines were changed. The group dynamic that kept us together even when we sometimes did not feel like attending was removed. In essence, we had permission to stop.

It has been 6 months since that change and I feel that the new group is just now hitting its stride. It makes me wonder if the concept of changing groups every year (as some practitioners suggest) is such a good idea.

Two Years!

July 13, 2010

I can’t believe it has been over two years since my last post. I guess I’m just another statistic in the reality that blogs are fading while other social media are ascending. Who has time to write more than 140 coherent characters at one sitting?

Small group update just for grins…I’ve outsourced my group! We are no longer hosting or facilitating our group. We had someone want to start a group and tried (in vain) to recruit a group for them. When this did not work out, I suggested we move some of my group to his group and let the other pastor in my group start another group. It’s been nice to attend a lifegroup and not have to scrub the house and have an extensive lesson prepared. We get to enjoy the people!

Small Group Victory!

July 11, 2008

After many months of recruiting for our Family Integrated Small Group, we have finally hit pay dirt! Only 1 of my original core families is still with us, but two of the other families are relatively new to the church, and the other family has not been well connected.

We’re working through the Parental Guidance Required curriculum from Andy Stanley, and reading the Gospel of John together through the week as our homage to Neil Cole’s LTGs…

We start with a 10 minute devotional with parents and children, followed by prayer time together. We’re trying to model (and do) family worship in our small group to encourage each family to make this a practice.

While we listen to Andy Stanley, the kids watch a Nest video with activities. We now have about 15 kids (2 – 13 yr olds, 3 – 12 yr olds), so we’re going to have to ramp up the curriculum for kids during the adult
time. We’re wanting to leverage the 12 and 13 year olds as leaders.
Sounds like I need to do some research!

…because if you already struggle with time to keep up with the discipline of devotional reading, you will not have the time to blog about it. Duh.

Besides that disclaimer, I’m really enjoying the Gospel of Matthew!

I should have mentioned that I have a specific methodology to my reading. I use the ESV Literary Study Bible my wonderful wife got me for Christmas to read Scripture. This helps me to approach the text without relying on study notes, as well as my own highlighting/comments, that seem to draw me down the exact same path of determining how God is speaking to me. I also like the organization of this bible, in that it puts notes about the literary style of the specific text in a block before the text. I usually read a couple of chapters, then close my eyes to picture the text. This always seems to help me meditate on the narrative.

The most important thing I’ve found is that “just doing it” always cause me to “just do it” more.

Ain’t discipline a great thing?

I really am. I’m just not blogging.

Perhaps I should start with the concept of 1 post per week. Since I’m writing primarily for myself, this should help me develop a “discipline’ of blogging.

Anyway, back to Matthew.

It’s always exciting to have God’s word come alive from a text you’ve read many times. I’ve found it best for me to read a small unified section of scripture many times to let it “stew”. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to show me new application every time I read.

I think the most surprising section(so far) was Matthew 1:1-17, the genealogy of Christ. Yes, you read the section and you see that several “lowly” people were included, showing that God can use anyone for his purposes. What surprised me was that the list included many enemies of God. Sure, on some level I know and believe that what God purposes always comes to pass, but I thought it interesting to see that he doesn’t <b>always</b> use humble, obedient and righteous folk for his purposes.

Well, I’m in Matthew 8 now. I finished the Sermon on the Mount very slowly, as I was afraid I would blow past it without meditating on what Christ himself had to say.

I’ll come back to Matthew 5-7 at a later date…

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