Monday, March 16, 2009

Re: Clarify the Win

I missed a few days because we went to Unleash Conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.  It was amazing!!  I really can't explain it.  If you ever get a chance, go!!!  I think this years main sessions will be online soon, www.newspring.cc/unleash  Once the videos are online, it will be worth your time to watch them!! 

As I continue to take a look at the 7 principles (from Andy Stanley's 7 practices of effective ministry), today we look at Clarify the Win.

This is such a simple concept and it makes me sick to my stomach that churches, by and large, have simply ignored this idea for the sake of laziness or tradition.

It's simple - ask yourself this question - For our church, what is a win?  A baseball team knows what a win is.  A teacher knows what a win is for her students.  A business knows what a win is.  What is a win for the church?

For Cynergy, we have compressed it down to one simple phrase, A win is....That people would realize that there is more to life through Christ!

So, every ministry, everything we do will have to answer to that.  We will ask, does this ministry, does this series of messages, does this outreach accomplish the win that people would realize that there is more to life through Christ?

If the answer is no, we simply won't do it.  We'll talk more about this tomorrow.  But, one of the ways that this will manifest itself is that we won't do a bunch of programs and ministries to meet the needs and wants of the congregation.  Everything will be about accomplishing the win.  

And, as a member of Cynergy, it won't be about what you can get from the church, but about what you can accomplish for King Jesus through Cynergy Church.

Think about that in your church?  Has your church clarified the win?  Your youth ministry? your children's ministry?  What would happen if the whole group got on board with accomplishing the "win"?  We might actually see hell a little less crowded and heaven a little more!! 

I'm done.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Re: Cynergy Church

I'm gonna take a short break from Ecclesiastes.  We have been meeting with the core team of Cynergy Church and we are spending the next 8 days reading through the 7 principles of effective ministry by Andy Stanley.  What we've done, though, is to take a look at the 7 principles through the lens of the vision and values of Cynergy, and it's turned out to be very interesting.  It's also really helped us to develop a very clear picture of what Cynergy is going to look like.

I know that the 7 principles are not a new concept in churches, Andy Stanley has been developing them and sharing them with leaders for a while now.  But, it's new to us and it's exciting to think about the possibility of approaching church in a simple, straightforward way that keeps us focused on the one thing that's most important - to help people realize that there is more to life through Christ!

One of my worries, though, through this entire process is that we'll have the best plan, the best principles, the most amazing theories for church ever thought up, but we won't be able to deliver.  We won't see anything really happen, it'll be a flop!!  

So, what's the IT factor?  What is IT that actually causes life change.  Of course, the answer is that people realize that there's more to life through Christ and they give their lives over to Him!! 
I tend to be very practical, though, and there are 2 main things that I have given a lot of thought to that can be the IT factor:

1.  Be in the business of people.  We can't put ideas, principles or plans ahead of the people who we are trying to reach.  We must give ourselves to developing relationships, to loving people, and only because of what Christ has done in our lives, not because we want a big church of successful ministry.

2.  We must set a clear vision.  The Bible says in Proverbs - where there is no vision the people perish.  Every human being is looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  So, we must set a clear, consistent, powerful and motivating vision of why we're doing this, what we're doing and what we expect to happen.

IT will happen and people will know that there is more to life through Christ!!

I'm done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 9 & 10

9:17 - The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

10:12 - Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.

These verses are as accurate today as they were the day they were originally penned.  I think one of the most frustrating types of people for me to deal with are those who, when you're talking to them, are not listening but trying to think of a good response.

I've noticed this type of personality since I was a kid and it has always driven me crazy.  But, it's also driven me to be a good listener.  There are some times that it takes a while for me to come up with a response, because I'm trying to soak up what the person was saying.

I read somewhere recently, listen to someone as if you really care about what they're saying, and something strange will eventually happen, you will start to care.  I don't know if that's completely true, but I think it's at least a good idea.  

I want to be the type of person that, when I speak, I'm listened to.  And, it's not because of my authority or whatever, it's because I choose my words carefully, I don't speak just to be heard, I speak because their is something to be said.

I'm actually reading a book right now called "Why aren't we better listeners?"  It sheds some interesting light on the whole thing.

Moral for today - You've got 2 ears and one mouth, so you can listen twice as much as you talk.  Be a listener, care about what people say, and when you say something back, don't let it just be empty words, speak from your heart.  One more quote, "People won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care".

I'm done.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 7 & 8

7:14 - When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.

7:1 - A good name is better than fine perfume.

7:21 - Do not pay attention to every word peope say...

Isn't it amazing when we read Scripture, when we faithfully make it a part of our daily lives, it seems like God begins to bring certains texts in front of us on the exact day and time we need them!  

Times are bad.  I won't have a job in t-minus 25 days.  The prospect of me finding another job within that time frame is quickly dwindling.  But, God has made the bad times as well as the good.  And, he is teaching me patience, faith and perserverance, to follow what He's leading, no matter how ridiculous it might seem.

I have been reminded of the importance of having a good name as I have been preparing to step back into the secular work world.  Not that I've been a slacker in my job now, but it is all the more important to be a hard worker, to have integrity and to have a good name.  Again, Scripture affirms what God has been speaking in my heart.

Last thought - I worry about what other people think too much.  In my job search, I recently applied for a job that I was thinking - I would be embarrassed to work there.  But, then God reminded me - "Josh, your first priority is to provide for Tracy and the baby, not to be in a prestigious job somewhere".  

Wow!  That hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am ready and willing to work anywhere.  And, I'll give my all, maintain my integrity and make sure that my name is spoken well of, or at least thought of in connection to a passion for the kingdom of King Jesus!

I'm done!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 5 & 6

As we move closer to planting Cynergy Church, I also am moving closer to stepping down at Macedonia.  My last official day will be March 31st, a day that is too rapidly approaching.  With that day approaching, I find myself crippled with fear and worry about finding a job.  One of the hard parts about planting a church is that there are no jobs at the church to be had, so I've got to find a job somewhere else.  But, in the midst of an economy in the toilet, a guy with a banking degree and 6 years of experience in ministry is not of particular interest to those few people who do have jobs available.

But, as I read in Ecclesiastes this morning, I am somewhat comforted by the words spoken through this text.  One of my favorite songs of all time comes from 5:2 - where it says "God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." 

Later on in chapter 5 I am reminded that in the pursuit and love of wealth, we will find that we will never be satisfied with our income.  Whatever our goal is, when we reach it, we will want more, ALWAYS!

God is so hammering down on this for me, I think, because the pursuit of wealth does tend to be a focus in my heart.  

Perhaps the lack of success in my job hunt is the beginning of God calling on me to rely on him.  I heard someone say the other day - "work like it depends on you, but sleep like it depends on God".   

I won't sit around the house and expect a job to show up, I will go on interviews, submit resume's, keep looking.  But, if I really trust God, I'll go to bed at night confident that God is going to provide for our NEEDS according to His perfect will.

Thank you, LORD, for your promises.

5:7 - Much dreaming and many words are meaningless, THEREFORE STAND IN AWE OF GOD!!!

I'm done.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 3 & 4

This book continues to confuse me and astound me all at the same time.  One of the things that I am quickly realizing is that a life dedicated to Scripture will still be light years away from being able to fathom all that God is.  

Yet, I am excited because of the way God uses His Word to encourage me.  I am also seeing that my daily time in the Word is stockpiling ammunition against the sin that reigns in my mortal body. When I have not been in the Word, I find myself falling deeply into sin and not being able to pull myself out of it.  And, it spills over into the rest of my life, I'm a better husband, I eat healthier, I work out more often, I lose weight.  The Word of God is profitable in all areas of my life.

Today, 3:11 - It says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men.  Wow!!  Just last night, we met for our first meeting with Cynergy Church.  And, a major point of our time together was to point out that we will expend a lot of resources in order to see people come to know Christ.  

This is an encouraging passage, because it tells me that God has already set a recognition of eternity in the hearts of each human being (the word "man" meaning mankind or human).  So, our job with spreading the gospel is that much easier, we're just like traffic cops.  We are just waving our hands, pointing people in the right direction, towards Jesus.  And, when they see Jesus for who He really is and put that together with the eternity that has already been set in their heart - they'll give their lives to Him and His kingdom and His name will be praised!

I'm excited about Chapter 5, it's gonna be sweet.  But, I didn't want to read too much, I want to make sure I digest everything instead of just rolling through it.

I'm done.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 1 & 2

I'm gonna try something new, I'm going to work through sections of Scripture here, both for my personal growth and for anyone who's bored enough to find and read this.

These first 2 chapters of Ecclesiastes are pretty frustrating to me.  Bascially, they say that everything we do in this life is meaningless, it's all a chasing after the sun.

1:8-9 - Especially stands out, the eye never has enough of seeing, the ear never enough of hearing, what has been done will be done again.  

For me, I tend to waste my time filling my eyes with TV, internet, movies, etc. and no matter how many hours of that I watch, I always want to see the new episodes, the new movies, because it never fully satisifies.  Same thing with the ear - music, radio, etc.

It takes a long time to get there, but eventually at the end of chapter 2 we see that God did give us these things for enjoyment (2:24).  God wants us to enjoy life, to eat, drink and find satisfaction in his work.  

Here's the kicker, though:
At the end of it all, it's meaningless, UNLESS.... we live life in an effort to please God, to bring praises to His name, then He returns to us wisdom, knowledge and happiness (notice is does not say riches, safety, etc.)  

But, for the one who ignores God, that person will work all his life for something that he'll have to give away at death...MEANINGLESS!