Catalysts or Caretakers?
I sat recently with a young church planter who is leading a non-conventional effort to win the unchurched in his community amidst significant spiritual darkness. His burden to reach his community for Christ and to bring hope to those who most need it hope is obvious. During the course of our conversations, it became apparent to me that our Christian church in today’s society is often limited by the “scorecards” which evaluate worth and value based on the “nickels and noses” of a local community of faith. I’m not sure God agrees!
Let me see if I can illustrate…
A local church extends a cup of coffee and a warm place to homeless man who has not connected to his own family in 40 years but lives on the streets in a storage shed across from the local Church of God. The church loves the brother in need and for six months he is around and becomes one of them. Then strangely he is missed and for several days there is no news until the paper reveals, “a homeless man is found dead in nearby location.” The church is devastated. The following week, two visitors show up and the pastor greets them and begins his typical orientation for visitors. The woman...read more
On a bright Sunday morning, I slipped completely unannounced into a small rural church (not in Ohio). I was there to correct a problem that had come to light with some members who were uncomfortable with a growing number of “new” people who were beginning to attend the church. A young, energetic pastor had assumed the responsibility as leader and his vision and enthusiasm had begun to result in people coming who had not been to the church before. It was quite a collection of misfits now coming to this rather staid, elderly church…people with tattoos, former drug addicts, people with questionable reputations and people of ethnic diversity.
Only one thing held them together—a personal love for Jesus Christ!
The group struggled to fit together as one body and some who were older and held leadership positions began to complain that the new people were being used too much and that the church was changing too fast. The young pastor was ill-equipped to handle the sniping and griping that ensued and on one Sunday morning it all erupted when an elderly woman stood up during the message to challenge the pastor and to announce her public judgment that the pastor was not a “man of...read more
I wish life were more predictable without so much uncertainty and free from the kind of pain and suffering that makes us cringe whenever we hear of things like mass killings or devastating events. If life is a journey, then some of us have spent too many days on the treacherous mountain roads that take our collective breath away. And yet, we are still here—alive and living beyond the moments that we once thought would strip us of all that we once were. So, now that we are here—how are we to navigate the next BIG steps of our lives? I’m learning that the movement of God is always forward. There is no going back to moments that we remember fondly or seemed to be less stressful. The reality is this—we cannot linger in the graveyards of our painful past, nor languish in the memories of greater glories. Tomorrow summons us and we must respond. There is a future ahead of us.
Life events can leave us devastated. We are living the human experience and as such, we can expect that life will take some interesting, painful and unexpected turns. Health, finance, relationships--no aspect of our life is immune. It becomes a daily effort to maintain and balance and...read more
The word "calling" rings familiar for almost every person in ministry. It is typically used in a sentence similar to this: "I feel called to full-time ministry" or "At the altar I felt the call to youth ministry". While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, at times we as the church present our calling as some ambiguous target that is floating in the cosmos. We have people in our congregations that think the word "calling" only applies to ministers and that their job in the marketplace hinders them from receiving a calling for their life. Recently I came across a definition that has revolutionized the way that I approach the idea of calling. Allow me to share it with you:
Calling is the place where your talents and passions intersect. Think about it and let it sink in. If we are honest with ourselves, our calling is exactly that! We instinctively are passionate about a specific purpose: leading the next generation, preaching the truth of God's word, growing healthy Godly children, etc. Then we evaluated our skills and the skills needed to accomplish that goal: great communicator, strong organizer, wise counselor, overly optimistic, etc. These two areas intersected
Our 8-year-old son Cooper was asked to work in his class store at the end of church this past Sunday.
While standing there taking kids’ Bible Bucks and exchanging them for small prizes, he ate a Starburst off the table! He was immediately gripped with such conviction that he went and told his teacher. She said it was ok and that she forgave him and appreciated his honesty.
Later when Cooper got in the car with his dad he retold the story to him and said, “daddy I’m so sorry!” Jeremy said, “Buddy its ok, thanks for being honest. What we will do is take some of the money you have saved and buy some new Starburst and turn them in on Sunday to pay back for your decision. I also think you need to tell your mom when we get home.” Cooper was reluctant to get out of the car and when he did he started crying. Then he told me the story, and I responded the same as the others and told him “I appreciated your honesty and your sweet heart for knowing it was wrong to take things that aren’t ours.”
Later that day we all began to watch the pre-game Super Bowl shows. Cooper sat and listened as they told the stories of the recent school shootings and other pretty scary events in the...read more
The movement of God is always forward. We have been made to soar and to embrace our future as God sees it. Forwardleadership is designed to engage leaders who have tomorrow in their hearts. Thank you for visiting.