Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Churches could learn from Disney

This past week my family and I spent four "magical" days in the "happiest place on earth." As I took in all the sights and sounds of Walt Disney's creative masterpiece, I started to feel convicted. I realized that Disney World is actually doing a better job of carrying out certain aspects of the Church's G0d-given mission than most churches. Here were my takeaways. Most churches would do well to learn these lessons from Disney:

1.VALUE KIDS. Disney elevates the value of children to the highest levels, and while Jesus raised the value of children more than any person ever (including Walt Disney) most churches see kids as a burden and not as a gift.

2. VALUE CREATIVITY. God is the most creative force in the universe and His Body (the Church) should be the most creative force on earth. There was a time when churches were shaping the creative aspects of culture. Now, most churches are content to sit back and critique culture while not adding anything. Creativity is seen as an enemy of tradition, so most churches choose to worship their tradition in sterile facilities instead of taking risks and creating new things.

3. VALUE EXCELLENCE. Every detail at Disney is executed with excellence. In most churches, we put forth a half-hearted effort and expect God to bless it. Excellence honors God and inspires people.

4. VALUE CHANGE. Disney is always looking to the future while building on their past. Most church are attempting to recreate the past while hiding from the future. Churches should be constantly innovating and changing their methods in how they communicate the unchanging message.

5. VALUE DIVERSITY. God's Kingdom is made up of people from all nations, races and backgrounds; so is Disney World. Most churches are made up of people who act, look and talk alike. We need to value and work to achieve church demographics the represent our communities' demographics.

6. SMILE. If Disney World is the "Happiest Place on Earth" then our churches should be the "Most Joyful Places on Earth". Happiness is based on outward circumstances, but we have the joy of the LORD which nobody can take away. The tragedy is that most churches are filled with people who don't seem to have any joy at all. Maybe this is one of the many reasons why an unbelieving world feels so much more comfortable at Disney World than they do at Church.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Be Yourself

We live in a world where we face constant pressure to look, dress, talk and act a certain way. It's easy to succomb to the social pressures and consequently lose our own unique, God-given identity in the process.

I love to story in 1 Samuel chapter 17 where a scrawny adolescent named David is preparing to go and fight a Giant named Goliath. The regal King Saul tried to persuade David to dress and prepare a certain way for the battle. In essence, Saul was saying, YOU can't win! Take MY armor, look, dress, and act like ME. David gave it an honest try, but ultimately he said, "I can't be you. I have to be myself."

That young shephard boy walked onto the battlefield without armor, but he defeated the giant. When God calls you to face an obstacle, He will never call you to be someone else to do it. Be the person He created you to be and know that you plus God is always enough for victory.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Choose your Advisors Carefully

Every day, life throws many choices our way. To make wise choices (especially on big and difficult decisions) we should always seek wisdom from trusted advisors. The Bible says clearly that "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)" Obviously, having good "advisors" is important, but how do we go about finding trusted advisors?

1. Listen to those with AGE & EXPERIENCE: 1 Kings Chapter 12 tells the story of Rehoboam who succeeded his father Solomon as King of Israel. Rehoboam made the fatal mistake of only listening to his young peers and neglecting the wisdom of the elders. His defiance and poor leadership split the nation in two. His passion was misguided, because he neglected the wisdom of the generation that had gone before.

2. Listen to those with YOUTH & PASSION: You need the wisdom of the old, but you also need the passion of the young. Jesus spoke often about how God has exclusively revealed certain wisdom to "children". The perspective of those who are young and full of vision and vitality will often challenge you to leave your comfort zone and pursue new challenges. Wisdom without action is pointless and young advisors will often push you towards action.

3. Listen to ENCOURAGERS: We all need a "Barnabus" in our lives; we need someone to come alongside and encourage us on the journey. This world has a desperate shortage of encouragement, so be an encourager and surround yourself with people who will be an encouragement to you. They will be like Caffeine for your Soul.

4. Listen to CRITICS: Nobody wants to hear this, but we should listen to criticism. Give the most attention to constructive criticism from those who love and support you, but also consider the grain of truth that might be found in hostile criticism. As Rick Warren says, "Even a broken clock is right twice per day!" Abraham Lincoln surrounded himself with critical advisors who challenged him and very often disagreed with him, and that dynamic created one of the most successful presidencies in our nation's history.

5. Listen to those who LOVE YOU: The best advice will usually come from those who have no agenda other than loving you and wanting what is best for you. They're the ones praying for you and the ones there for you in life's ups and downs. Your spouse, parents, children, siblings and closest friends will usually hold this place of honor as your most trusted advisors.

Take all the advice you receive, pray over it, see how it lines up with the unchanging Truth of God's Word, and then take the best course of action. If you succeed, Great! If you fail, then you'll just have some good, hard-earned advice to share with someone someday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Power of "THANK YOU"

Yesterday in church, we brought up several dozen of our several hundred stellar volunteers at Christ's Church just to say, "Thanks"! I was convicted by the fact that I don't say "Thank You" nearly enough. So often, I just assume that people know how much they mean to me and how much I appreciate all they do, but one thousand silent thoughts of appreciation aren't worth as much as one sincere "Thank You."

Gratitude has power and when we communicate our thanks, we will affirm, encourage and validate the faithful service of those around us. I want to be more intentional about voicing my appreciation and I encourage you to do the same. Let's never be too busy to stop and say, "Thanks." It always means a lot to those who hear it.

P.S. THANK YOU for reading this. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Lost and Hurting

Last Sunday, our church services ended powerfully as scores of people wrote down hundreds of names on the back wall of our auditorium. The wall simply says, "PRAY FOR THE LOST AND HURTING." I've walked past that wall every day this week and paused to pray for some of the names written there. It's humbling and overwhelming to think about the thousands of people right here in our own community (and even our own church) who are in pain. The good news is that we serve a God who is near to the brokenhearted and He is able to bring healing and peace in any situatin.

I'm proud of our church for thinking beyond ourselves. I am so thankful to be a part of a church that realizes that our mission cannot be contained by the church walls. We are called to be a light in the darkness and to bring hope and healing to the Lost and Hurting. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, so let us never lose sight of of our Mission. As we move forward as a church, I pray that we would be a community of faith that provides healing to the broken, hope to the hopeless and help to all who need it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Checklist for Change

CHANGE is a constant part of life and leadership. Any type of change can be tough, so we must always navigate the waters of change carefully. I'm in a new ministry and a new season of life, so "change" is all around me. As I'm making decisions that will impact the future of my family and my church, I'm relying on the process below to make the wisest choices possible.

Checklist for implementing a Change:

1. Get buy-in from those most directly impacted. The change you're making will be taken personally by someone, and getting their insight and buy-in before pulling the trigger on a decision could make all the difference.

2. Do what is in the best interests of the most people. The needs of the few can't outweigh the needs of the many (I think that may be a Star Trek quote from Spock). Remember that you can't always please everyone, but you can always value everyone.

3. Seek wise counsel. The Bible (particularly the Book of Proverbs) has great insight on how to make tough choices the right way and one of the most consistent Biblical lessons is that we should surround ourselves with wise and Godly people and seek their wisdom. As it says in Proverbs...Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, you will succeed.

4. Pull the Trigger. One of the most important jobs of a leader is to make decisions. When you make a bad one, own up to it and then make it right, but don't let the "paralysis of analysis" keep you from pulling the trigger and making the call. In leadership, a bad decision is often better than indecision.

5. PRAY! I'm spending a lot of time begging God for wisdom and guidance. The more we seek Him and His Will, the better off we will be. Apart from Christ, no amount of "change" really changes anything.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Adventure Begins!

Things are in full swing here in Fleming Island, and I am so excited to see what God is going to do next! Christ's Church is a remarkable, loving and life-giving community of faith and I believe that God has HUGE things in store for us in the months and years ahead. It is my prayer that He uses this church to reach the thousands in our community who are disconnected from God. I pray that we would be a light in the darkness and a source of hope and healing to a world that so desperately needs the life-saving power of Jesus.

I believe that we will see marriages restored, addictions broken, souls saved, families strengthened and lives changed as we unite to love people and lift up the name of our Savior. I'm truly honored to have the opportunity to serve alongside such amazing people as we take our next steps towards Christ. It's going to be a great ride!