Friday, April 27, 2012

Check out the new post on the new blog:

And, don't forget to subscribe to for automatic updates.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving Part II - Blogger glitch

The last post (and resulting email) had some HTML inserted by Blogger that will prevent you from reaching the new site by clicking on the link. Here's the proper link:

Moving Time - please read

We've been meaning to move this site over to Wordpress for some time now and with Blogger's recent redesign, I figured instead of taking the time to learn all the nuances of the new Blogger dashboard, we might as well take the time to move the site.

So, we'd love for you to check out:

the new home for my Proverbs Blog and eventually the home of the Man Up! ministry and other endeavors.

For those of you who are subscribed to this blog by email, you'll need to navigate to the new site and re-subscribe. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

Thanks & God bless,

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Calling to Kids

It’s really amazing to look back and see how God places all the puzzle pieces in order throughout our lives to work His will in and through us. Things we suffer through, God uses for the good. Physical, mental and spiritual pain is all used by Him. The enemy attacks and causes harm, then God uses that to do something wonderful, turning all bad to good as long as we get out of the way and let Him work.

In my life, there’s been a lot of pain revolving around my childhood, parents, and living situations. Through all that, however, God has raised up within me a huge love of children and a deep-seeded need to help them. I’ve felt drawn to children and youth ministry for many years and can thankfully say that God has used me to encourage more young lives than I can count, in more ways than I’ll ever know.

And, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I believe He has in store.
In examining this “calling” through meditation, communion and years of sub-surface contemplation, a few things have really come together just in the last few weeks in my mind that I’d like to bring out into the open and see what you think.

While these are in no specific order other than the way God has laid them down in my thoughts, each point is a foundation stone to the building of ministry.

1) Youth and Children’s Ministry is not a stepping stone or a means to an end. It’s not a way station along the way or a pit stop on the road of a pastoral career.

This jumped out at me the other day when Angie and I were watching a video clip from The Elephant Room about Young Pastors. To paraphrase one of the Pastors, your calling is not necessarily your career. I think when some view being a Pastor as a career path, they view it through worldly eyes, as if it’s a corporate ladder to climb. First, you get a job as a volunteer leader, “interning” as it were. Then, you move on to a perceived lesser role as a Small Group Pastor, Child Pastor or Youth Pastor. Then, if you work hard enough and pray for God’s blessings, you can get “promoted” to adult teaching Pastor, and eventually CEO, err – I mean, Lead Pastor.

Worse still, some Churches view Youth and Children’s Ministries  as not nearly as worthy as the adult ministries, short funding it, marginalizing it, and in general treating the kid and youth leaders and pastors as if they’re second-class citizens. 

While many may disagree, I think the enemy is at work here in many ways. Children and Youth are not a pit stop. This leads me to the second point:

2) Children’s eternal souls are not less important that those of adults. In fact, from what I’ve come to understand in the bible, they’re MORE important than adults.
I’m guessing many of you don’t agree with that, but I’ll stand by it to the end.
In fact, if you don't understand how important the little ones are to God, you don't understand God.

Mark 10:14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

In order to prove my point, I’ll try to disprove it first. Consider this, if children were of lesser value than adults, would the enemy make any effort whatsoever to harm them, derail them, battle for their very souls to keep them from God? Of course not. But, the enemy knows better.

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.

Look around our world and see how children are under attack, every single day. Abduction, abuse and neglect are the overt ways that seem to get very little public attention. The food that’s marketed to them is harmful to their physical health. The food they're given in public schools is even worse. The toys and games marketed to them increasingly have a poor effect on their spiritual lives. Adults routinely ignore their needs, leaving them dying of starvation in third world nations, shriveling from neglect in second world nations, and targeted with poor education, poor nutrition and billions in greed driven advertising in first world nations. Meanwhile, the enemy does more and more to distract adults from the needs of children, even in our churches!

If kids weren’t important to God, the enemy wouldn’t care. Cigarette companies wouldn’t have spent billions throughout history to market cigarettes to children. McDonalds and many of the other fast food chains that bring on obesity, diabetes and a whole world of physical harm wouldn’t aim their products at kids. An entire industry of “energy drinks” that cause no end of harm to growing bodies has sprung up recently and is being marketed almost entirely at teenagers!

If God didn’t value them so much, there would be no child abuse, no neglect, no starvation. Kids would simply sit on the sidelines in our spiritual war until they came of age and entered the fray.

And, Jesus never would have taught on how much He and the Father value the little ones.
Matthew 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Those are pretty strong words coming from the creator and originator of love. For those of you who don’t know what a millstone is, check out this picture:

I don’t know from personal experience, but I’d guess if you hung that around anyone’s neck and dumped them in the sea, they’d do nothing but die painfully. Jesus must think a lot of kids for him to say it’d better to die painfully than to be caught causing little ones to sin.

He also says those who do right by kids do right by Him:

Mark 9:37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

So, for those of you considering youth or kid ministry, please understand how important the work is, how much God values it, and know this isn’t stepping stone or a career, it’s a calling.

Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Examining a Green Thumb, Part Two

In my last post, I mentioned having some additional thoughts that jumped out at me while reading the list from Joe Sangl. I'm going to detail them here and would love to read your thoughts on it as well.

1. No Vision
Communicate your vision to the congregation! No one wants to follow a leader who treats their mission like it's classified. I've seen one too many churches that play their cards close to the vest. It's hard to inspire people to follow you if they have no clue where you're going.

4. Never Asking People To Give
I think this also rings true with serving, joining a small group and doing outreach. If the leader of the church doesn't communicate how important it is to give of your time, talents and treasures, people will be content to remain motionless.

One underlying theme that jumps out at me as well is communication. Transparent, sincere communication is the universal salve to all relationships. If the congregation knows exactly where the church is headed, what the goals are, what everyone must do to achieve those goals, and they get regular updates of the triumphs and speed bumps, they'll take ownership. Everyone has a need God placed in us to be part of something larger than ourselves, but the enemy can quickly turn that need into a sensitive issue if people feel left in the dark. Great leaders don't keep secrets, intentionally or thoughtlessly. Doing so quickly opens the door for #7, breached trust. Don't open that door.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Examing a Green Thumb

After taking my Pastoral Leadership 450 class at Liberty, my eyes were opened to all the myriad challenges of leading in a church, as well as growing one. Being a "people person" more than a "numbers person" I mainly focused on team building, praying for your staff, nourishing the congregation and those things that are imperative for relational leadership.

Now that we're growing roots in the garden of Uncommon Church, I'm learning more and more about the other areas, particularly fueling resources, which is something God has seriously laid on mine and Angie's hearts more and more over the past year.

As no surprise to me (or anyone else who's seen God move) right as this topic really began to dominate our conversations, Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church posted a great resource on his blog about Church finances written by Joe Sangl. While I'll never be a number crunching wizard, like my beautiful wife, the theory behind Joe's words is something I believe anyone with a heart for growing a church can grasp.

I have some additional thoughts I'd like to add, but before doing so, I'll let the post stand on its own. 

Here's Joe's list:

Top Ten Financial Mistakes A Church Makes April 12, 2012 

1.  No Vision
The Bible states in Proverbs 29:18 that “Where there is no vision, the people perish …”  This is absolute truth.  Churches that lack clear direction and vision are poorly funded because attenders have no clarity on how their sacrificial giving dollars will be used to accomplish the vision and build the Kingdom.  Dr. John C. Maxwell has shared this incredible wisdom regarding this subject – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.  And where there are no financial resources, the vision perishes.
2.  No Margin
Churches that operate on the basis of “the miracle of the weekly offering” cannot prosper.  The leadership must constantly have conversations focused on who is and who is not being paid and determining which projects can no longer be funded.  Additionally, churches that operate with zero savings are highly susceptible to “God only knows” expenses.  A church that operates with no margin can be completely derailed simply because the air conditional unit fails.  Churches with a minimum of six week’s offerings in the bank will simply fix or replace the unit, and ministry efforts are unaffected
3.  Too Many Designated Giving Options
When churches offer the opportunity to contribute to fifteen different designated “buckets”, it can lead to confusion for members and frustration for the leaders.  A church could have thousands of dollars available in one fund while another important ministry objective barely survives – and it all happens because of stringent guidelines.  Remember this one fact – “In the presence of many options, the consumer will usually choose none.”
4.  Never Asking People To Give
Many people have been guilted into giving in the past or have attended a church where it was all about the money.  As a result, many pastors choose to not ask for money at all.  Neither approach is correct.  Jesus spoke of money or possessions in almost half of the parables.  He spoke of money via the subjects of giving, stewardship, and sacrifice.
5.  Failing To Equip People To Win With Their Money
Many leaders who are facing an under-funded vision do teach about money, but only from the perspective of giving.  While it is extremely important to put God first, it is not the only key to winning with money God’s way.  It is important to teach people that God is the owner (Psalm 24:1) and that we are managers (Matthew 25:14-30).  Teach them that we are to have a plan for our money and diligently follow it (Proverbs 21:5), and that we are to aspire to leave an inheritance for our grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22).
6.  Making Too Many Financial Asks
Some churches provide the opportunity to give to 15 to 20 different initiatives each year.  While all of these represent a great aspect of the ministry, it prevents maximum giving and limits ongoing giving to the general fund.  Why not consolidate all of the ministry initiatives into a single major offering?  This prevents “donor-fatigue” and leads to a more fully funded vision.
7.  Breaching Trust
A breach of trust is created when money has been collected for an initiative, but then the money is used for something entirely different without that reason being clearly communicated to the church.  Some churches have had multiple collections for the same project, yet there is no money in that account because it has been used for something different.  Without trust, nothing can stand for long.  If this has happened in your church ,be certain to clearly communicate WHY it happened.  Apologize as necessary and move forward to establish a new foundation of trust.
8.  Failing To Have A Regular Financial Review/Audit
Obviously, embezzlement is not helpful toward ensuring a fully funded vision!  A regular financial review or audit can ensure that your church finances are being managed well and with full integrity.
9.  Acquiring Unmanageable Debt
Over the past several years, many churches made the mistake of borrowing everything a bank was willing to lend them.  As a result, many ministries are facing the strangling hold of lenders and interest payments.  Seek to restructure the debt to obtain the lowest interest rates possible and resolve to never again borrow an amount of money that would jeopardize the ministry.
10. Allowing the biggest giver to dictate what will and will not be funded
Sometimes a large donor will attempt to abscond with the vision by threatening to withhold their giving unless their “pet project” is funded – event when the leader knows that the project is not part of the vision.  When a leader has a clear vision from God, it will give them the confidence to “offend man rather than offend God.”
BONUS: Asking for equal giving instead of equal sacrifice
Some leaders have looked at a major project – say it costs $1,000,000 – and then looked at their 500 members and did the math.  “If every family would give $2,000, we would have a fully funded project,” the leader will proclaim.  The math is correct, but the approach is not.  The leader is asking for equal giving, not equal sacrifice.  Consider the individual who possesses the gift of giving who would willingly give $50,000.  If they were asked to give only $2,000, they might make the decision to only give $2,000.  Be sure to ask for equal sacrifice, not equal giving.
You can read these posts in their original form, as well as other great bits of wisdom here:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday's Here!

Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.

Sure you can say that about any day, but this isn't just any day. Today is the first Sunday in a long line of Sundays marked by services at Uncommon Church. It's not often you hear about the very first service at a church, but today is one of those days.

And it's going to be dangerous, so beware.

The enemy has tried to stop this church in so many ways I don't have the time to chronicle them all, but next time you see me ask and I'll give you enough stories to make the hair on the back of your neck salute.

Through all the trials, God has turned it to the good.

This church has already overcome things that would end most start up businesses, close the doors of most new restaurants and end the days of most neophyte organizations before they even began. The roadblocks and derailments quite possibly would have seemed impossible to overcome if brought up in foresight, making most decide never to try.

But with God all things are possible.

Thanks to the prayers of so many, including you, God is planting this church on this day in history.

Just as storm clouds swirled over the cross before our savior was overcome, today's forecast calls for severe thunderstorms. And, just like what happened that fateful day over 2000 years ago, God's light will shine through.