My random, sometimes insightful thoughts on life, God, family, and everything else

Church

“You’re all going to die today…”

By now I’m sure that you’ve heard about the incredibly tragic events that took place in Las Vegas. Not only is this deeply disturbing to us as a nation, it should be even more so to us as Christians. Many people, including the shooter, entered into eternity. The Bible tells us:

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment – Hebrews 9:27 NLT

Events like this shatter our personal feelings of immortality and safety. We tend to walk around in a cocoon of embraced ignorance believing that every day will end the same way it always has, and that each morning we will wake up to go through our daily routines. But, that is simply a facade, the reality is that it takes very little for these fragile bodies of our to cease functioning properly, or functioning at all.

Reports on the scene of the massacre say that a woman was walking around in the crowd just prior to the shooting telling anyone who would listen, ‘You’re going to die to today, you’re all going to die.’ I don’t know about you but that is just plain sick…but that could be true for anyone of us today as well. Today could very well be our last day on this earth, will you live it well? It could also be the last day for someone you love, do they know you love them? More importantly do they know that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them?

I am in no way trying to be morbid or emotionalize something horrific, instead I’m hoping to stir your mind to action. If we can each begin to remove the blindfolds from our eyes and if we each begin to realize that our time on this planet is short and start making the most of every day then this tragedy doesn’t go without a positive outcome. We, by how we allow this to change our actions, can give some sense of meaning to an otherwise meaningless and evil event. Evil in our world isn’t new, and it isn’t going to end until Christ’s return. But, if we can take the Apostle Paul’s words to heart we can make a difference in the world around us:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV

Dave


Free Agency and Church Staff!

colts-movingI am an unabashed fan of the NFL.  Since the day that the Mayflower trucks rolled out of the ingrate city of Baltimore (yeah, I said it!) to the current day I have been a Colts fan.  When we lived outside of the state of Indiana and the Colts weren’t particularly good I would often frequent sports bars so I could catch the game.  Then in year 5 of my absence from the greatest state in the world, came this new fangled thing called NFL Sunday Ticket (insert hallelujah chorus)!  I was now able to watch my team play each and every week, albeit with terrible announcers because quite frankly the Colts were fairly terrible.

So, when the NFL season is over, like all rabid fans, I begin to wonder what my beloved Colts will do during the off-season.  Today, March 10th, is the official beginning of what is called Free Agency, I’ll explain that knowing that some people reading this post have no idea to which I am referring to.  Free Agency is when veteran players contracts with their current team are up, they become a ‘free agent’, in essence they are now free to sign with whatever team will pay them the money they want.  Some teams (I’m looking at you Oakland) are typically overspending on players that are flashy and fancy, and they never quite work out.  Each and every year teams are lauded for making the ‘bold move’, for signing the ‘difference maker’, for catching the one person who could make them Super Bowl contenders.  The problem is, it RARELY works out that way.  Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report wrote a fantastic article yesterday that chronicled the teams that ‘won’ free agency the last several years and balanced that against their resulting record.  Suffice to say, it isn’t pretty (Winning Free Agency Hardly Equates To Winning Games).

Now, you might be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the church?”…well I’m so glad you asked!  For years and years the American church has been participating in it’s own brand of free agency.  One church signs another churches ‘star’ player and plugs them into their programs expecting blazing results and championship caliber play.  What happens more often than not is terrible friction, mediocre results, and an overall discomfort for the whole team.  If the senior leader is worth his salt then he can usually rectify the situation but it takes precious time and valuable energy to do so and it ends up being the church and the other staff who pays the price.  I’m not saying that it is never worth it to bring someone in from the outside, but you had better make sure it’s the right person you’re bringing in.  Otherwise, you will at best move sideways for a while and at worst your ministry may regress.

Many years ago I heard Rick Warren, pastor/founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, say something like this, “Building your staff from within is always preferred when possible.”  That statement has resonated with me over the years and as I have thought about it more and more, it just makes sense!  The people in your church are already passionate about what you are doing.  They get your vision, they hear you talk each and every week, they are already known commodities.  You may be thinking about the ‘professional training’ that outside ‘free agents’ may have, and there is some truth to that.  But if I’ve learned anything about hiring staff over the last 20 years it’s this, you can teach people the ins and outs of ministry, but you can’t teach passion, you can’t force them to get the vision, and you can’t know someone you’ve never worked alongside of.

Of the 5 additional full/part time staff we have at Friendship all but one of them are homegrown.  This doesn’t mean that we will never hire from outside, in fact at some points you’ll need to, but I will say that when you hire from the inside the learning curve is much less steep and the failure rate is infinitesimal in comparison.

I thank God almost daily for the staff he has allowed us to assemble at Friendship.  They make what I do easier and a whole lot more fun.  Pastors, your staff can either make you or break you, make sure you choose wisely!

I’d love to hear back from you on this, even if you are not hiring in the ‘church’ world.  What has been your experience with this?

Dave


Soul Alignment

SoulAlignment_WebThis coming Sunday, March 8th, 2015, I’ll begin teaching a series that has been 20+ years in the making.  I have had the privilege of being a pastor for just over 20 years and during that time I’ve counseled hundreds, if not thousands of people.  If there is one common thread among them all, it’s that they all, in fact, we all are looking for satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace in this life.  For most of humanity this search seems endless, we look for it in every person we meet, in every job we take, in every day that we live, and the majority of us walk away, unfulfilled.

It wasn’t always this way; in the beginning things were perfect, and then sin came in and destroyed it all.  But, what if there was a way to experience that fullness, that peace, that joy once again?  What if, say our Creator, actually had a plan in place to connect us to those things that would fill our hearts with peace, our lives with meaning, and our relationships with joy? Jesus, in fact, promises as much when he says in John 10:10:

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

The process isn’t some 10 step program, or a list of rules or regulations.  No, it’s something far more profound, you see our souls are out of alignment with the purposes and plan of God for our life.  And, because of this, just like when a car is out of alignment, there is all sorts of vibration, chaos, and unsettledness in our soul.  It doesn’t matter how much we have, how many relationships we engage in, or how much accomplishment we can find, there will always be something that’s “off” and we feel it.  But, when our souls become aligned with Him, the world around us can be spinning out of control and we will be in absolute peace.

If you want to discover how you can get your soul back in line with God’s, I’d like to invite you to come to Friendship Church this weekend, or listen online at experiencefriendship.com.

I’ll see you then!

Dave


Husband Vs Wife Pt5

we had to cancel on Sunday because of weather, but we wanted to finish our series, so here Ya go! Grab your spouse, fiancé, or significant other and watch it together!

https://vimeo.com/121094438


Building Update #10!

Hey Friendship!building-render

Well, if you’ve been to church at all over the last month you know that all sorts of things are happening. Our construction crew has finished the demolition portion of our redesign and repair of our exterior, and are in the beginning phases of the reconstruction.

As I’m sure you have seen by now, not only are we getting a new drive through for the kids and teens area, but we also have new windows (that don’t leak or allow ants to bore through) that allow a tremendous more amount of light in and really open up the front of the building. They say that windows and doors are the eyes of a building, so I guess our building is getting an eye transplant…sounded better in my head!

Our construction crew also has the entire North side of the building resided, is beginning on the backside, and have started laying the brick on the front. Once the brick is completed then they’ll be able to finish of the front exterior and the drive through, and our facelift of what is becoming our teen and kid’s center, will be complete.

This week the crews have marked out the areas that will be excavated and the big beefy machines should be on site later this week as well. Our hope is that when you arrive on Sunday you’ll see piles of dirt all over the place and the beginnings of Lake Friendship…seriously, it’s gonna be like an acre and a half!

Our goal for the MOMENTUM giving is to be at 50% by December 31st, right now we are siting at 47%. I know that some of you have been giving consistently over the last year and I want to thank you and congratulate you for helping us get this far! I also know that some of you have only given a small percentage of your commitment, and I’d like to challenge you to get caught up in the month of December. Help us celebrate reaching 50%, push us over that mark so that we can start the new year right on track! The exciting thing is, you don’t even have to wait till Sunday to do it, you can jump online right here: Online Giving, and get things rolling.

See ya Sunday!
Dave


Building Update #9

building-render

We finally have some movement beginning to take place (and the people rejoiced)!  I’m sure most of you noticed that the pavement on Emerson was about 90% done on Sunday, and as of today (Tuesday, Sep 9) it is completely done and ready for marking.

What you may not realize is that under that road we have laid our new sanitary line hookup and our new storm water line hookup.  These two accomplishments will allow us to begin moving forward on the creation of our new retention pond.  If you are not familiar with where the pond will sit on the property, take a detour over to our plans on the wall next to the Nursery to get familiar with where you will begin to see a huge hole in the ground in the next month or so.  I know that the retention pond isn’t something that most people get super excited about, but it will allow us to detain all of the rain water run-off of all our new hard surface areas, and should prevent any type of flooding.  Again, not exciting, but essential for us to keep moving forward.

We’ve also been able to work out an agreement with the City that will allow us to do work on our current building exterior and some interior, while we are waiting on the final approval for our full project financing by using the monies already given to the MOMENTUM Project by people like you who have so graciously and generously sacrificed!  This will allow us to build our new drive through and resurface the exterior to match the new building, replace our leaking wood framed windows, and expand our infant nursery (and all the infant nursery volunteer rejoiced)!  These things will have a direct impact on how we do ministry and the way our building is seen by the community.

So, to wrap this all up in a profound, intellectually stimulating way…“Stuff is happening people!”

 

Dave


6 Positive Habits That Keep You Spiritually Healthy! PT 3

So far in our little series we’ve talked about Reading Your Bible and Prayer.  Two personal and often private habits that help develop our faith and bolster our spiritual health.  Positive Habit #3 however, is anything but private, in fact, it is one of the most public of the habits, Celebrating Community. This habit has many different names or verbiage attached to it: Corporate Worship, Services, Worship Services, Small Group, Life Group, Connection Group, going to church, etc…  So, it would stand to reason that there are a lot of opinions as to what it is supposed to be and look like.  The truth is there are about as many opinions as there are churches on the way “It’s supposed to be done”.  So, I am going to make a WIDE circle around the methods of Celebrating Community and veer straight into the why’s.

As I begin sharing the why’s allow me to first address a statement that I’ve heard many, many times, “You don’t have to go to a church to be a Christian.”  This statement is 100% true, salvation is not found inside a church, salvation is found in accepting Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as your substitute for your sinfulness.  Just as true is the statement, “You don’t have to go to a Colts game to be a fan.”  Interestingly though, if you were given free tickets to a Colts game, with free parking, and free food and you instead chose to sit at home and watch women’s golf (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I would have every right to question the authenticity and passion of your fandom!  The same is true of those who claim to follow Christ but rarely find the need or desire to actually join in with others who have the same passion and love to celebrate the one they claim to follow.  You certainly can be a Christian without going to church, but you won’t be a growing one, a passionate one, a knowledgable one, or an obedient one. So, here are some reasons why being a part of a local church body is absolutely essential to becoming Spiritually healthy:

  • It’s a clear instruction in the Bible.  I find it interesting that the first church did not have to be told to Celebrate Community, it was something that they did naturally.  They gravitated towards one another and enjoy developing those essential relationship that not only created accountability, but unity.  However, as the church began to spread around the world, it became evident that some of the people groups, more than likely because of their cultural backgrounds, had to be taught the necessity of Celebrating Community.  So, the writer of Hebrews lays it out in chapter 10, verse 24:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

  • It is a sign that I truly know and love Christ.  Yes, you read that correctly, being an active part of a local church is something that identifies or marks you as a genuine believer.  Now, again, I emphasize, being a church member/attender doesn’t save you (Eph 2:8:9), but it is evidence to the fact that you are a believer.  Look at what the Apostle John, half-brother of Christ, has to say about it:

But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all our sin. – 1 John 1:7

  • It is essential for my spiritual growth and development. The New Testament writers list multiple benefits for those who obey this command and engage within a local body of Christ.  Here are just a few:
    • We experience genuine love (1 Jn 4:12)
    • We are held accountable for our behavior (Gal 6:1-2)
    • We are challenged to grow more (Heb 3:13)
    • We learn from each other and our spiritual teachers (Col 3:16)
  • The body is incomplete without me! You are absolutely essential to the growth and success to the local church.  Your gifts are not only wanted, they are needed.  Just like you as a believer will never reach your full potential on your own, your church will never reach it’s full potential without you completely engaged.  Paul says that each and every part of the church is necessary, that no one part is more important than the others, and that only when all of the parts are doing their part, will the church truly thrive:

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. – I Corinthians 12:22-27

You matter, you are needed, and what you have to offer is valuable to the Kingdom of God!  Invest your time into something that literally has the capability of changing your world…your church!

 

I’ll see you on Sunday,

Dave