Monday, May 21, 2007

things that matter

Here are five things that I think really matter in Church world. Please know I am going with the assumption that people and God matter so please don't send me an email saying That I left them out. HA HA

1. Signs Matter- directional, parking, information, children's signs they all matter. Do not assume that guest will know where things are just because you do. You do not want people to say no before they ever say yes. If the have trouble finding you or parking when they get there their experience will start out on the wrong foot. (especially if you are in a temporary or rented space)

2. Greeters Matter- I do not know how to stress this enough. People want someone to say hello to them. I know I have heard all of the stuff that 20 somethings do not want to be talked to well let me be blunt that is CRAP. Our church is 65-70% single and the average age is 26 and they all like it when people say hello to them. This is one area that we cannot afford to screw up on. Guest already feel like outsiders don't magnify it by not talking to them. (with that said don't have them stand and recognize them in your service either. That is just lame. Just be friendly)

3. Quality not Quantity Matters- Just because you have a 45 minute worship set does not mean that I am going to enjoy it or that God is going to show up more there than in a programed out 2o minute quality worship set. People in our culture care about quality so the church should stop settling for mediocrity.

4. Time Matters- if Jack Bower can only keep our attention for 1 hour maybe we should cut back on the Bored of the Rings length services. In other words people should know how long your services last and we should leave them wanting more while honoring the time people give us each week.

5. Clarity Matters- We have the privilege of sharing the greatest story of all time, however we are sharing it with a culture that did not grow up on our religious verbage so why not share His story in their language. Isn't that what Jesus modeled. ( don't assume that people know what to do in your service or that they know what you mean because 9 times out of 10 they do not) I had a wise businessman once tell me Paul when I run my company I tell everyone what I expect and what they need to do but when I come to church I expect you to tell me what to do and what you expect. He said I need you to clearly tell me what it is that you want me to do.

These five things I really think will either make or break a ministry. I can assure you that at Relevant we screw theses things up all of the time. But our goal is to see these five areas at 100% every week. Let's knock it out of the park for God.

weekend reflections

It was so awesome being back at Relevant yesterday. After being away for two weeks it was nice to be lead in worship by the best band in the whole country. I know a lot of people blog about their band and worship leader and maybe as a lead pastor you are supposed to but for me serving with Carl is a joy and honor. Every week he and his team just bring it.
Yesterday was my first service back after attending two other churches this past week for observation. So here is what I have to say. Our volunteer staff is amazing. Yesterday I arrived at the club at about 6:45am Carl was already there getting stuff ready for the day. Can you believe a worship guy who is actually early WOW. Then about 8am the troops started rolling in and by our 9:30am volunteer prayer time there were over 60 people there getting ready for the service. If you serve at Relevant let me just say everything you do matters. For putting out directional signs to filling communion cups, to the kids who place the pens on the chairs every week you all are amazing.
We had an amazing communion service yesterday. It is always incredible for me to watch people take communion who I know have just begun their faith journey. Life change is so awesome. If you are a pastor out there let me tell you we have the most incredible job in the whole world. Be thankful for it and stop whining about not enough people, and not enough money, and not enough volunteers and just start leading. That is what we are called to do. When men called by God lead through the power of God people follow and lives are changed. If we look behind us and do not see anyone following we need to look our leadership not the followers. I cannot wait for next weekend.


Friday, May 4, 2007

criticism and fear

Well another week has come and gone and if you are like me it has been full of so many opportunities to criticize it is scary. Just last night as I arrived home and washed my wife's van I was beginning to sense the critical spirit rise up in me. You know the thoughts: why do you not keep your vehicle cleaner, why do you let the kids tear the van up, why do you.... These thoughts always seem to be fueled by my own since of stress. As Susie and I were heading to Starbucks this morning for coffee, she said you know Paul isn't it strange that on the National Day of Prayer and the day before you have a huge meeting we are fighting rather than praying. WOW!! That hit me right between the eyes. Maybe you have been there? On the days when you should pray you seem to fight. So all I have to say is "Justin I hope you are still praying for me because you were covered last night." (HAHA) Sorry only my buddy Justin will get that.
This weekend we are heading straight into another topic that all of us deal with, FEAR. Yes that is right at some point in all of our lives we all look fear right in the face. Jamie was telling me last week that his son Ethan has just had his first dose of real fear. It was the infamous dragon around the side of the house. Remember when you were 3 and the dragon around the corner existed so you ran and got dad to get rid of the dragon. Well as any good dad would do Jamie went around the corner and took care of the dragon. However, because we dads want to begin the dragon fighting training early, Jamie shared with his son Ethan how to get rid of the dragons for himself. He told him "just say to the dragons in a stern voice BADA-BING!!!" I guess Jamie has been watching a little to much Sopranos . Don't you wish it was that easy with your fears I sure do. Well this week we are going to look at the spiritual BADA-BING and see if we can't get some control of some of our fears.
I look forward to seeing all of you this Sunday.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sharing Your Faith

So I was online the other night and ran across a web site that was pretty interesting. On this site there are several interviews with people who are not Christ followers yet and they begin sharing their stories and opinions about how they feel about born again Christians. I kept hearing this reoccuring theme they said that all of the Christians that they knew always tried to convince them that they were wrong and the Christian was right without ever dialoging with them. So let me share with you my experience. This past Friday night I was speaking at another church to their singles and after the service we all went out to dinner at a local Mexican Restarunt. Well as we were leaving two girls approached us and asked if we knew we were going to heaven. We said yes and she continued with the how did we know to which we responded that we had invited Christ into our lives. Well that did not seem like a good enough answer for her so she continued to probe further and I began to get offended and I am a Christ-follower. So I said well I may not be a Christian because I am a pastor in Ybor City. One of them said oh Ybor that is the best place to go and tell people about Jesus. I wanted to tell her that if that is gong to be her approach the I would prefer if she never came down to Ybor. You see we are down here everyday of the week developing relationships with the people of Ybor we are not rolling in on a Friday night when people are heading out to the clubs telling them they are going to hell for walking into a club. Because last I checked that is where Jesus hung out in the gospels building relationships and sharing good news. Not beating people up with self righteous religion. Here is what one of the people who was not a follower of Christ said about how we label them "LOST". She said "I really do not feel lost, I have direction and purpose, mostly I feel confused". After hearing her comments I thought to myself why do we call people who do not know Christ lost because the term lost assumes that the person had a map or directions and somehow lost their way. But people who do not know Christ for the most part just do not know that there is another way. I think that it is not our job to be the person who convinces people of their need for Christ but to just share with them what having Christ as a part of our lives has done for us. God is the one who draws people.
So here is my final thoughts. All of us want someone to listen to us. So why not begin developing some relationships with people who do not have a relationship with Christ yet and just share with them your story as you listen to theirs. Remember your story includes His story.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Waiting sucks

Sorry if that title offended you but that is the way I feel right now. Waiting is one of those things that God allows us to go through during several times in our life and each of those times are not fun. Now I know the outcome many times is great but the waiting game is not a game I like to play. From the time I was a little kid and opened all of my Christmas Presents early and then re-wrapped them so my parents could not tell I have hated waiting. Well the problem magnifies when you are a church planter because it seems like this gig is full of waiting. Waiting for the people to come, waiting for the finances to grow, waiting for a building to materialize. We are always waiting.
Now please do not get me wrong you cannot say that you want to start a church and have the whole "Field of Dreams" mentality If you build it they will come. Because that is absolutely stupid, you have to work at it and make sure that you have something that people will want to come to. Now I know the first response to this notion is that we must be watering down the gospel if people like what we do. Well I would ask those critiques to look at the life of Jesus He always drew a crowd where ever He went because the message He was teaching was compelling.
OK I will get off o my hobby horse and get back to waiting. During this process of moving into a new building I am learning that waiting can be very liberating and when I wait and do not kick down doors that I want to be opened God starts doing what only HE can do and the doors just start to open. Now I am not saying that everything is a done deal with any of the building that we are looking at but some cool things are happening in on waiting period. I would just ask that if you attend Relevant or are a person who prays for Relevant that you would continue to do so because the leadership team really needs it right now.
The best days of Relevant are still to come. In fact at our elders meeting yesterday we discussed just how much we have grown over the past year and here is what we found out. We are averaging 100 people more per week right now that we were last year at this time. Yeah God that is awesome. So maybe we are not waiting maybe we are riding a wave of God that is amazing.
Our current series "Exposed" has generated more emails that virtually any other series we have done. I think that this is because we are dealing with stuff that we all have problems with. And let me tell you the next two weeks are going to be no different. We are tackling Fear this week and Addiction the week after and let me tell you it is going to be tense but good so make sure you are here both weeks.
Sorry if you have been waiting on the blog on the cussing courtesy driver but after my own message last week I decided not to write about it. But I will have a new post tomorrow on Sharing your faith.