Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What is it costing you?

Two days ago we had about 10 pastors here for our monthly gathering of church planters. This is always a great time to get together and share ideas, struggles, and just life together. As I was preparing for the meeting and our challenge for the day this idea of cost kept coming up in my head. For weeks now the word cost has just been buzzing around every area of my life. So as I was preparing for my talk I started unpacking this idea of cost and here is what I came up with.

  • What is pastoring or church planting costing you right now?
I really believe that pastoring and church planting cost more than many men and women are willing to pay. And I totally understand that. But I really do get tired of hearing pastors of church plants say "I really hope we can find a place where we do not have to set up anymore" In a perfect world that would be great but I know that Saddleback Church did not have a building for 10 years and grew to over 10,000 people I bet that it cost them some stuff.
We are blessed in the fact that we can store a lot of our stuff at our rented facility but we still have a major set up and tear down on Sunday morning. In some ways I wonder just how we would plug that many people into serving if we did not have those jobs for them. Some of them will never be children's workers or greeters but they are fulfilled when they serve setting up and tearing down and they are awesome.

As a church planter I heard a guy once say that as a church plant pastor, you are the chief, cook and bottle washer. Basically he was letting me know you do everything for a while and then you as a leader enlist other people to join you in serving. Bill Hybels once said that we should never be ashamed to ask people to serve because we are giving them an opportunity to serve the King of Kings and that is so much bigger than any fortune 500 gig they could ever have. The problem happens when after 6 months or a year and you still have the same people helping every week and you have not enlisted anyone else to join you on the journey. We are blessed to have over 100 volunteers serving at Relevant. WOW!!! you volunteers rock my world every week.

Peter Drucker once said "whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision"

That is so true and courageous decisions are not made while counting pennies they are made while spending courageously. Notice I did not say spending foolishly but courageously. There is a huge difference. We can spend foolishly and get no results or spend courageously and watch God show up big.

I was drawn to the story of King David in II Samuel 24 where David was going to build an altar and offering a sacrifice to God. Now the story goes that David went to build an altar to sacrifice a burnt offering to appease the anger of God but when he arrived at the place where he was to build the altar the man there said that he would give him everything to build the altar and he would even give him the animal to offer. Now I know most church planter that I roll wit would see this as an answered prayer and say God this is cool you have provided again just like you did when Abraham was going to offer up Issac. But for some reason David said no and I think his comments are piercing. Here is what he said "No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” I wonder how many times we are offering up to God an offering that does not cost us anything.

I remember as a kid my parent would say just wait until you have to pay for things yourself then you will learn to appreciate them. They were right; now I find myself saying the same things to my kids. You see when things cost us something we work hard at them and we lay ourselves on the line to make sure that they make it but when it cost us nothing then we have nothing to lose.

I know for me this whole idea of church planting has cost Susie and I and our team a great deal; security, relationships, support, sleep, finances and much more but the rewards of lives being changed is so worth it.

My challenge to you today is that if you are a church leader and what you are doing right now is not costing you anything. Take a good hard look at your ministry and you life and ask God what He may be asking you to spend. Remember comfort is the breading ground for complacency and complacency only leads to a critical spirit. If you find yourself criticizing more than creating you may be in the dreaded comfort zone and not in the cost zone. In the cost zone you must create or you will go bankrupt. Think about it.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Birthday Week

I know many of you have had those weeks where someone in your family is having birthday and so you are running around all week making preparations for the big day. Well that is happening for me this week except instead of one birthday in our house this week there are 3 yes that is right three. Ashlyn's (12) was yesterday, Susie's (I am not supposed to say 40) is Friday, and Anthony's (9) is Saturday, so need less to say there is some stress in our house this week. It is kind of cool to have them all so close together because I never forget them but the special day sort of thing is lost a bit because everything is so close together. You know we go from princess stuff. to over the hill stuff, to power rangers, I thought an Old Princess Ranger would be a cool twist but I did not receive any takers on the idea.
So we celebrated our little princess's birthday party on Sunday after church and Ashlyn was thrilled. You know sometimes her being special needs teaches me a ton of things. She received several presents but they were not huge dollar items, however, she just loved the fact that someone got her something and she was able to open gifts. After Susie wrapped one of her gifts Saturday night Ashlyn looked at it she said OH a new puzzle!! How did she know? But she kept it wrapped all night and even took it to church the next day clutching it in her arms because it was her present.
This got me thinking God has given us His son as our gift and many times I decide not to take him anywhere with me. I wonder why that is? Could it be that we do not view Him as being as special as He once was? Could we be treating Him like kids do with many toys "they are great for a while but then we want something different? I am reminded of a verse that maybe we all need to commit to memory.

Heb 4:12 (NLT)
12For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.

The word of God is Living Power that means it should continually satisfy us. Just like in this series we are daily focusing on the intimacy with our spouses we need to be focusing our attention on our relationship with Christ as well.

OK so I have to go now I still have two parties to plan. BTW if anyone has any ideas about what to do for Susie's 40 please leave me some comments. I need some help.