Archive for March, 2011

My mentor Dr. Steve Wilkes has a mission’s heart as big as the world. He was my church growth professor while attending Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He also became my friend and mentor. His passion for starting new churches is contagious. I think one of the reasons we got together was my passion for missions, evangelism and church planting almost matched his. Dr Wilkes taught me several truths and I want to share with you a couple that are part of my DNA. First, go to the harvest area. Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God said it this way ‘go where you see God at work’. Jesus Said (Matt 9:37-38) “The harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few: Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” My heart is to work and take others into the harvest field. My experiences include 14 international mission trips. All trips were to harvest areas except two. We need people to go to pioneer areas however God has bent my heart toward the harvest. Second, is that new churches are the most effective evangelistic tools on planet earth.

God has blessed me with the privilege to be involved in many church plants nationally and globally. Obviously, I have a strong passion for church planting. New churches grow faster than existing churches. New churches are more effective in reaching the unchurched. New churches are not hindered by traditions and mindsets that are not biblical or effective. New churches can be cultural relevant to the people they are trying to reach. I believe every city and town should have a new, relevant, modern and life-giving community of faith that focuses on the unchurched. Please understand that new churches are better than existing ones. New churches are not for everyone and thank God for the established churches, however in reality new churches can reach people the established churches cannot. That is the reason I have a passion for new churches. People need Jesus! Without Christ people have no hope. I want to make it hard for people to go to hell and new churches are the most effective tool I know.

A Heart for the People

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

This past week God has really broken my heart for the people I pastor, along with their friends and family. Every week we send out an email with people’s prayer request from the communication cards on Sunday and the ones taken during our life groups. I see the many prayer needs listed and know of many others that are not made public and sometimes it is overwhelming. So many people are hurting and it weighs very heavy on my heart. Monday when Carolyn sent the prayer list God broke my heart for the many needs and I wept asking God to intervene. All week it is like I have been carrying a heavy load, a solemn attitude has come over me and I have not been able to figure out what it was until just now. I thought maybe it was because of the financial responsibility of the children’s ministry expansion, or because I am behind on a few projects after being gone a week or possibly due to my being involved in something almost every night for over a month and not much change in sight. Though these things are on my heart and mind these are not the cause. The weight is because of the many burdens and hurts people are facing. Many good people are going through a hard time.

My prayer is for God to intervene. I would change things if I could but we all know I cannot. Where there are hurts God ease the pain, sickness God heal, sin God forgive, please God show up mighty and strong. From day one at Riverwoods church God has given me a pastor’s heart for the people more than anywhere I have served. In the Old Testament, the priest wore a multi-stoned breastplate and an ephod both of which had the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them (Exodus 28:5-30). These represented that the priest was to keep the people on his heart as he went before the Lord. It is an awesome privilege and huge responsibility to be the shepherd of a group of people. Please know that at Riverwoods we take your prayer requests serious and carry them on our hearts.

I used to be so growth oriented that I forgot about the people God had already put in my life. As a church planter and pastor it is easy to use people to help us reach our own goals and dreams. A healthy balance between reaching new people and caring for the ones God has already placed in our life is vital to sustained influence as a leader. As pastor, if people get the idea we’re just using them to make ourselves look good, or reach our own goals, they will be gone. Church leaders must have a heart for the people.

Mentoring

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Relationships, Uncategorized

I have been thinking a lot about masters, novices and learning. One of the best ways to improve your skills is being mentored by someone who has skills and knowledge in the areas you want to improve. I have a personal mentor what some would call a coach. The professional athlete uses private coaches to help sharpen their skills. In today’s business world many people use professional coaches to help them move to another level. If you want to improve some area of your life simply find someone a little further down the road than you are and ask them to mentor (coach) you. Paul said it this way in (1: Cor 11:1) “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”

We should always have two people in our life. A mentor who is a little further down the road as a disciple and someone we are helping come along behind us. Sometimes the church acts as if someone has to be fully mature and knowledgeable to lead others. No, you just have to be one step ahead of the person being mentored. The key is to emphasize follow me as I follow Christ. If you are following Christ you don’t have to worry about leading someone astray. Who are you following as they follow Christ. When you follow someone it is important to keep your eyes on Jesus because you will see the weaknesses of the one you are following. The one you follow is human, so it is important to follow them as they follow Christ. Ask God to put someone in your life who is a little further down who can be your mentor, who can coach you through life.

Honest Awareness

Posted: March 20, 2011 in Coaching

In my last post I wrote about learning from masters and others. Recently I was reminded that before we can learn we must have an honest awareness of our own capabilities. We must first be teachable before we can learn. Have you ever watched someone who is clearly a novice at something but thought they knew what they were doing? When you try to give them advice it is almost like they take offense at your suggestions. I am not sure why they have an unrealistic view of their capabilities, maybe pride or false sense of ability. Often it is hard to realize our own limitations. It is easy for a master to spot a novice. There are two kinds of novice’s. The first is a novice who knows he is a novice and the second one is a novice who thinks he is more capable than his abilities reveal. I have noticed those who think they are more capable than actuality, are hard to teach. It is hard to fill something that is already full.

Part of maturity is realizing your strengths and having a clear understanding of your limitations or what some call weaknesses. If we don’t know where we need growth it is hard to work on those areas that need help. If you want to grow don’t only focus on your strengths. By having a honest awareness of weaknesses and targeting them growth will result but it all starts with honest awareness.

Learning from others

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

I went fishing with Dad today and it became apparent he had been doing a lot of fishing on Lake Okeechobee this winter. It’s always good to go with a master who knows what they are doing. The learning curve of how, where, and what technique was almost nonexistent this morning. I simply had to learn the presentation of the bait. I appreciate his ability to find, locate and catch fish. We had a great time.

At some point in life I came to the understanding that the more I learn, the less I know. One thing I have learned is the principle that I can always learn something from a master. This goes for any area of life. I now rely on the wisdom and experience of others more than I ever have. In almost every important situation I seek advice, counsel and knowledge from one or more people I respect, who has been down the road before me. While gaining understanding and the wisdom of others I diligently search the scriptures and seek God’s face. I don’t want to make the mistake of forgetting the real Master. God’s word is true and He is our Master.

I can learn something from almost everyone. Every person is a 10 in some area. I am thankful how God builds the body of Christ in the local church. My life is enriched through the many relationships God continues to bring into my life. My greatest friend and teacher has been my wife. Just a few thoughts from a blessed pastor!