Wednesday, October 28, 2009
VALUES - PART 3 - CORPORATE VALUES
Well, "a big snow storm is moving in"...and who knows what's going to happen to the hours just ahead. So here is a pre-blizzard blog. (The next entry will be November 4 - after Jackie and I return from a Chi Alpha/Campus Ministries trip to California.)
Incidentally, in the last two days, this site has been hit almost 60 times.
Hey everybody.....your zeal and commitment in this is wonderfully heartening to me.!
You're going to keep me going, and going, and going..... :)
(Actually....more and more I sense God's Presence in all of this and I feel in the process I am actually discovering an important part of myself for this season of life.)
...and now, back again, to stuff about Corporate Values.
The Seven Corporate Values that served us so well were/are:
Creedal unity of faith anchors our fellowship together. (See last Blog)
Interdependence with other churches of like faith is valued over independence competition, and absolute congregational sovereignty.
*Always seeking to be a unifying presence wherever we went.
*No pride trips privately or publicly.
*Instead, humility of heart and action...and looking out for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ....and the community at large.
*Staying with the creedal, bullseye, (see last blog) unless the relationship is far enough along to begin little debates...:)..."speaking the truth in love" and growing in Christ.
Lengthy times of both worship and teaching are essential in the formation of a people of God - as against - brief and culturally-bound programs.
*At the start, our services would go nearly 2 hours.
*No pigeonholed piety...or conveyor belt Christianity.
*As we grew, into the hundreds of people and multiple services, even then, we refused to push worship and teaching into smaller and smaller boxes. We kept having a strong offering of christian ed stuff...and leadership development stuff.
*Worship, we discovered, enters the realm of reality best when there is time for everyone to catch up in spirit, when there are non-structured moments, time to "be still" together, and time for the Spirit to breath His unique dimensions of life into the gatherings.
Informality, approachability and creativity are valued
over formality, propriety (got a dictionary?), distance and predictability.
*Chairs in arked formations....staff seated with the congregation....no one seated on a platform....time to linger after with one another and talk and pray.
*Staff mixing freely with people all day vv programmed into move faster and faster
*Almost as much space in the foyer as in the auditorium - with coffee ++
*Lots of people late coming into worship because of so many in the foyer?..could be sign of revival!
Volunteerism and wide participation (even by the "untested") is valued
over professionalism, spectatorism, and hiring for ministry.
*Our first staff hire was a family life coordinator....who wrote activities for families to learn together each week and helped us with our parenting and spiritual leadership with the very young. Children and the young do need special care. (That first staff person is now one of the city's best educators.)
*But, we refused to go pro with much else...weighing in on the end of trusting the Spirit with His choices and gifting.....and we conciously chose to go with less quality and more reality and accessability
Pastorally overseen spiritual gift expression and (often) consequent ministry development and formation is valued above top-down program construction, recruitment and slick organization.
*Every Sunday (virtually) was a time for listening and responding to the Spirit's prompts.
*Time and a clear and orderly process was allowed to facilitate naturally freedom with order.
As that came into place, we found that some people drove up to 50 miles (one way), because they sensed their lives so addressed by the Spirit of God.
(This is a whole other process which we will hopefully get to address here at some point. If you can't wait call 719-339-7746)
Personal uniqueness and freely chosen commitments are valued and to be protected from the natural pressures of corporate institutionalization. We will seek to stay as clear as possible from overt or covert manipulation.
*"What I sense God is calling me to do," must be kept ahead of "what we need you to do is."
* What are your gifts and joys?, where do you sense God's presence in your life? - ahead of - going on and on with a fading sense of purpose, and non-fruitful ministries perpetuated, thus "you must."
(This led us at times to stop ministries, just not start them, and feel affirmation and peace when a long-term leader said "enough for now:")
* It also led us to stumble into letting things be experimented with "that just might be God."
And now beginneth the practice.
Remember, Values are only of value (sorry!) if they are kept before a church as living ideas.
This can be done we found, if they are put in written form with occasional bulletin insert or handout.
They are only of value if the pastor/leaders take them in hand and periodically ask the hard questions - where are they clearly in play in what we are actually deciding and doing?
So what are the actual values of your fellowhip right now?
And what is reading this blog and listening to the Spirit pushing you towards?
Hope you engage seriously in these questions as a christian leader.
And that you will sense as you do that you are being led in the process to fresh life and strength.
May your values be His....and may every bit of your energy be focused well.
Feedback welcomed. firstname.lastname@example.org
See you again on the 4th.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Values - Part 2
In the last blog entry we focused on the Foundational Values:
the work of the Holy Spirit and
I recommend that before you read today's entry...you go back and read that blog.
They are intended to go in together.
The church that I am using to illustrate these truths was begun on the campus of the University of Nebraska and always had a strong representation of students/faculty from there. That naturally pushed us to lay the kind of foundation I am describing briefly here....with a clear set of values that we considered frequently to sort out corporate and even very practical decisions. They kept us on track when discouragement or success could have tended to push us off course.
Here are the Corporate values we lived with.
(Corporate values are local church-held values - while
foundational values are more universal Church-wide values.)
Corporate Value #1
Creedal unity of faith is the truth formulation that anchors our fellowship.
This value helped us navigate with openness and clarity in a thoughtful environment.
Here's a quick explanation.
Imagine a bullseye with three rings.
(I draw this on a scrap of paper in a coffee shop setting frequently....and label it "Truth 101."
I recommend you try this out even as you read.)
The center of the bullseye I label: "Creeds"...and refer to the 2nd century Nicene Creed as a great point of illustration. In that center circle I also write "Jesus is Lord" - the simplest confession of faith always in the New Testament and in the early church.
In the second ring I write: "Doctrines" - which is important contemporary church formulations of truth - like, how, when, who and by whom do you baptize? How, when, who takes communion?
In the third ring I write: "Convictions" - like, what does it mean to live a holy life?
All the rings represent truth to be held with integrity, but all levels of truth are not of equal ly strategic importance.
Then, I write three other words about how I hope to manage those levels of truth on a corporate level. On the third ring: "dialog." On the second ring: "debate." And on the center - the truth of Jesus Lordship - "die" - it is refusal to flinch on this level of truth that has through the centuries produced a great number of martyrs. It is at this level of truth that we are members of God's Family, or not.
This helped us keep truth more clearly in view...keeping a firm grasp on what is truly critical truth, respecting each other's convictions, genuinely loving and accepting people no matter where they are on the journey towards life-giving faith. And not "killing" people for what is not credal truth itself.
Hope so. This diagram is truly part of the truth that "sets me free."
I'll resume with Corprate Values number 2 and beyond - next time.
For deeper absorption...
1. Draw the diagram and then try to place in it where you are in much more detail.
2. Share the diagram with someone - see how you do explaining it and what questions they have. 3. Look up the Nicene Creed and study it briefly noting how it handles the Trinity.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
With a core group of people, years ago, I helped to start a church.
Though so many of the excellent church-planting stuff that is available was not around then, we were a collegiate group that wanted it to go well....and so we did a lot of the stuff naturally that is taught today as a good way to plant.
The church began public meetings in an Episcopal chapel, moved within months to a nearby bingo hall and then on to a Seventh Day Adventist church. We had outgrown three facilities in just a few years.
Quite a ride!
(I'll bet you can tell that one of our core values was not "to have a contemporary, well-located building!")
All the while it grew and grew until we had gone through three building programs, and were into three services each weekend with over 1300 people attending on average.
(I'll bet you can tell that one of our core values was that people matter to God...and we should do everything reasonable to reach them.)
Actually, though, as we began, we could sense the great need to be clear about our values. It really is the best way to be good stewards of time and resources, to avoid conflicts, and to spend your time welcoming people and developing strong teamwork.
This blog and next....at least.....I want to briefly set forth what those values were/are.
They helped us greatly....and perhaps in some way they will help you as well.
You are welcome to incororate or adopt these as seems best, and I encourage you to give me a call so we can talk about them together and I can coach you as to how you might best proceed. 719-339-7746 - cell
Value #1 - The Bible
"What the Bible says is the most essential single ingredient to the description of values, personal and corporate."
A key to finding the answer to any question for us was finding out what the Bible says.
A large focus of every gathering was to study the Bible together.
A large amount of time on the part of teaching staff was spent in study.
And wherever possible we wrote out study materials, outline sheets and papers to make clear what the Bible says about various matters of special interest to our church.
You could not be around us for many days, till you sensed: the Bible really matters here.
Value #2 - Jesus Christ
"Jesus Christ is the most important personal model to emulate in living out values."
Though our times and cultures have changed greatly, we concluded that Jesus came "in the fullness of time" - the time carefully chosen by the Father to teach us "everything pertaining to godliness," and that the way He lived within time was for us a key model to how we should live. The pace, the attitudes, the love, the relationships of Jesus - and much, much more are a model for us to study and absorb as ours.
Value #3 - The Holy Spirit
"The work of the Holy Spirit in His gifting and power is the key to being equipped so as to value what God values and actualize the same."
Getting filled full of the Spirit and living that way, we sensed is the key to responding well to life's challenges. Stuff just changes when a full dose of the Spirit is applied. So we made teaching about the Spirit, Life in the Spirit Seminars, Sunday school classes on everything we could think of about the Spirit, and regular Sunday laboratories of the Spirit a regular part of our life. We taught new members about the Spirit and made books on the Spirit required reading for leaders.
Value #4 - Prayer
"Prayer is integral to any meaningful progress being made in any area of our life together."
So we were always strongly in prayer when as a church we gathered. Our services had much focus on prayer, corporate and individual. Our altars were always active. We had a prayer line by phone where people could call and receive immediate prayer and prayer teams and special times of fasting and prayer. And frequently there were testimonies given about answered prayer.
I have always been better at praying without ceasing than praying for an hour at a time (get it? :)....so my strength or weakness there became a cue to the whole church. We had occasional all-night prayer meetings, but those were rare...and fighting the fight against sleep seemed to be a prominent as the fight of faith. However, when you came among us, you heard people in prayer, saw people in prayer and were drawn into prayer actively. Some gatherings seemed to become almost an extended conversation of us all with God Himself.
We called these first four values our FOUNDATIONAL VALUES because they simply were a part of everything we were and did....they were the stuff of every recipe....like flour, and water, and salt.
Are these the values of your life? your ministry? Or have they become givens but tack-ons in what you are doing or who you are. Are they flour or frosting in your recipe called church?
I urge you to strengthen up by refocusing on these Foundational Values and watching God begin to take over your life more and more - corporately and personally.
More next time when we focus on CORPORATE VALUES.
These were what we called our Foundational Values.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
THE JESUS STYLE
I've been reading John's story of Jesus lately.
It is amazing - and strengthening -and clarifying - and challenging - to keep reading and keep picking up insights. I don't think I will ever get enough of the Gospels.
As I read I am using a dark brown pencil :) to underline phrases and expressions that tell me something of the timing Jesus lived with. And the pace and the processes of His life. This is easily seen in lots of the text, but often "hides" due to our traditional points of emphasis on other things. Sometimes I have been very guilty of looking only for doctrine and not life. Words, and concepts rather than behavior and relationships.
For instance, picking it up in John 4:40 - "So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed...After the two days he departed for Galilee....so he came again to Cana in Galilee.....and after this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." John 4:40-5:1 - excerpted.
What is clear if the text is looked at carefully is that during these brief verses, about 130 miles is travelled......and all of it on foot. With no motels, no cars or fast transport, no McDs, no support systems of almost any kind. No bottled water or hamburger stands. No phones. No computers. No highways. No.....(keep going - and see how many things you can think of.....)
So what do you do when you have to go 130 miles in that environment?
In a 24 time frame this weekend....Jackie and I went about 300 miles. And that was just the front and back ends of that commitment to ministry. We didn't even think about it as we zoomed down Highway 71.
Join the Jesus group and the 130 would take you days. All done by foot.
All done in dependence on people....foraging for food, and a place to sleep. You made friends everywhere because they were the support system on which you depended. And with Jesus it was a 24/7 deal....
And so what do you process in that kind of schedule?
Everything. Everything that matters at all. Everything that comes to mind as important at all. All the questions that have ever bugged you. All the fears that have ever tried to stop you. Everything.
Doesn't this line of thinking make you yearn for just one of those walks with Jesus?
And somehow, lots of us (me too) have often got our spirituality reduced to a big gathering, for :90 on a weekend.....all put together by polished people....with greeters at the doors and all the words spoken with careful thought. Often it can be a group of very independent people meeting like porcupines all in reverse. (sorry!)
And then it is panicsville for the rest of the week....and we drive ourselves and everyone else around us crazy!
Hmm. Not quite the Jesus style.
So, how do we move more into the Jesus style?
No one can shift styles very quickly or without some pain....so if you are a pastor reading this, go slow. You make the shifts personally first and then pray a lot about what to lead your people in.
As one voice, I think the Jesus style would move more into our lives if...
1. we took more walks...literally - hey, how about creating a neighborhood walking club? (I saw a wonderful church campus this weekend and encouraged them to closely measure the perimeter of their beautiful property and make it available as a walking path to seniors.)
We would move more into the Jesus style if...
2. we turned off the noise more and more - TV, radio, IPods..whatever is dulling the precious silence out of which we can "be still and know" the voice of God.
We would move more into the Jesus style if...
3. we made eating together a more community and more relaxed quality time of conversation (and food) - and not the Bronco's (ok...don't quit reading now!)
We would move into the Jesus style if...
4. if we found a hill near our home and climbed it to pray for awhile
5. if we prayed for those needing God's intervention wherever we found them - the Jesus style includes His delight in doing big stuff in popular places like Safeway and Target.
6. Can you keep adding to this list?......
What the world needs is Jesus. Living in us, and speaking rescue and life into the panicy stuff that is often around us.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I thought about where I am.
At this point I continually have to watch for horizontally growing hairs, and unseen uglies. At the dentists I learned that I need to floss daily and mouthwash twice per day, along with brushing. Ah that makes the list of morning rituals long enough to stretch towards 10 - not really, but is it ever a trip, learning to travel through the stages and journeys of life.
All this (and more!) led me to scribble this down.
(Pardon, the very few minutes I spent on it.)
(And how is your journey going??!!)
Ah....sleep on, sleep on.
No day no night
No meals, no worry.
No cold or harshness
All is soft and warm
Is there any? It's just all blurry.
Hey man...stay up, stay up.
Enjoy the night...not up early.
Eat a lot and often...and live in flurry.
Scant clothes, rough edges.
All's exciting and in a hurry.
Who knows? Its just all scurry
Press on, press on.....and often into the night.
Sleep in fits and worry.
Eat too much and starve to make up...
Cover unkempt places...and scaley traces.
All's business and unbroken fury.
Never enough...to get er done.
Slower and slower...looking for meaning.
What is day?...nap and puzzle time.
Nothing tastes good. Snacks and pills to make it all up.
Disappearing comely places...freckled traces.
Looking for business in measured paces.
More and more...to get what done?
And I thought too of this verse:
"He's God, our God, in charge of the whole earth.
And He remembers, remembers His covenant -
For a thousand generations, He's been as good as His word."
Psalm 105 - The Message
Whatever your place in the journey.
Invite God to be in charge each day.
Monday, October 12, 2009
We travelled in the mountains for a bit this weekend, and twice I saw something truly breathtaking.
First a kestrel...a smallish, orange and blue hawk with round dark ovals on the sides. The size of a dove, and hovering probably 30 feet off the ground.
Then much later, a hawk...much larger, white and dark brown - streaked boldly....with very dark tips on wing.
Both doing the same thing - hovering.
When a bird hovers it is because it wants to stay in one place and has spotted something that might satisfy its hunger right below. So it hovers...wings going back and forth, rather than up and down....in a very constricted pattern, designed to move air just the right way to keep it in one place (even in the wind). And all the time, it's head is bent over tightly with fixed gaze at the ground.
It will hold that pattern for a number of seconds and then perhaps turn quickly into a dive to the ground below to lay hold of its vision.
It is an amazing moment of flight....and a God-designed process in the cycle of need and supply and overall balance in nature.
And I thought about the first hovering
....of the Spirit of God over a formless earth, dark and watery and lifeless.
"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light..." Genesis 1:2-3 -
Ah, so the Spirit of God was hovering when it was all chaotic darkness....waiting to bring forth light, life, order, people, process, meaning.
He did not wait until everything was in order before He began His presence process.
He appeared in the darkness and turned it into light...into the formlessness and gave it intricate meaning and design.
Hovering over....intently watching, astonishingly purposeful.
Holy Spirit, would you hover over me today?
Would you dive into my day, over and over, to satisfy the hungers of my heart?
When my attempts at form result in void, would you change it all and make it God-like?
Only when You are hovering, Lord, do I truly experience life.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
October 7, 2009
"Come see this, hon. It's the biggest snake in the world."
Jackie was sitting with her Apple (selah! :))...viewing a short clip someone had sent her on Facebook.
I approached, bent over and peered into the screen....hmm...a fat smoothe body on a very long ledge, long, long, long......looks like an anaconda, I thought....and the camera kept moving until it got to the head....beady eyes, retractible jaw.....and suddenly it hissed loudly and lunged at the camera, no...it was lunging at ME.
I jumped back, literally, startled....heart racing, prayers of repentance coming from my lips (just kidding).
"You've got to see it again," Jackie said.
I said, "OK." and leaned over again, telling myself, this time I'm cool. This isn't real...I know where this is going. Not to fear.
And once again this huge serpent passed before my eyes. And lunged again at the camera....and again I leaped backwards, now thoroughly embarrased at my instincts.
Instincts deeply ingrained by too many National Geographics and TV Amazon trips.
Instincts deeply ingrained in me - by God.
It was that way in century one. Paul, shaking off a serpent that had biten him. Power given to believers to withstand the attacks of serpents. The snake in the first garden - with his bite translated into an apple. The snake on the pole, prefiguring Christ, Whose only ever death and resurrection would forever offer the snake threat and snake-bite cure to all of us.
And I remember the time I literally drew breath and jumped back...as though it was a snake I was facing.....but this time it was venom on the screen -sexually corrupting images - intended to poison the sex-life and moral purity of anyone who would linger and be mesmerized by its steady evil gaze. Any person, if not "jumping back," would be wraped up, coil by coil intil the breath of life would leave them....and the final bite would be eternal death.
So thank God if/when you jump back. Praise God for the racing heart when evil looms large in front of you. And get out of there. Turn it off, turn away, run.
Stay clear of the snakes....they are under a lot of rocks along the pathways we travel.
With you in the racing-heart-and-jumping-back club.
Monday, October 5, 2009
21 WAYS TO RELIEVE STRESS
I did it again this morning….took a reading of my blood pressure. Ah, below 140/80…sign of a good weekend just enjoyed. Not always the case…then I take one of those oblong white things….just to be sure.
Cause…stress is "the silent killer."…..and I don't want to go, and if I have to, I don't think I would prefer silently.
Do you get stressed?
When you are experiencing tension or anger or stress, here are some suggestions for seeking relief. Try them all. Note the ones that work for you and use them over and over. Above all, avoid popping pills to reduce stress.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise dissipates life's tensions well. The threshold for aerobic value and overall wellbeing is :20 minutes of vigorous walking – the kind that ends up putting a glistening on your forehead.
- Give yourself permission to express your feelings with crying, or forceful speech. You'll usually feel better after letting it out.
Talk it out. Discuss the tensions with a friend or family member.
Breathe very slowly and more deeply. Concentrate on slow, deep breathing patterns counting to ten each time as you inhale & exhale completely.
Get a massage. This helps to relieve partial muscle contractions and induces relaxation. What a gift to give and receive to/from your married partner. Ask me about foot rubs.
Take a hot bath and just linger lazily in it.
Redirect your mind. Practice the art of pondering, thinking carefully, meditating on something of beauty.
Get in touch with friends. Relational time helps to buffer or alleviate stresses.
Take up a hobby that occupies your mind & takes you to new places.
If you are overweight, start to daily reduce your level of body fat.
Cut back on sugars and get your diet focused on healthy eating.
Practice relaxing. One by one, focus on systematically tensing and then deeply relaxing your muscles. 10-15 minutes will do wonders.
Worship. Put on some uplifting music, or if you can, play an instrument, and open up your soul to the greatness and sovereignty of God.
Reduce the noise all around you (turning stuff off?), slow down (if you keep up this scramble and rush you will arrive all of 2 minutes earlier) and let a quieter, softer, lights-down environment soothe your soul.
Journal to think a bit more clearly and treasure your day. Just this morning I wrote down all the good things that happened this weekend. It was a treasure in so many ways and I did not want to forget. If it is tension-producing stuff, I have found that just writing things down often helps with feeling a bit more in control and less panicked.
Make a list of all the things you are thankful for, big and small, distant and nearby, personal and global, recent and a long time ago. Review & add to often.
Soak yourself in Jesus…read the gospels a lot. He said: "I will give you rest." And what mental peace comes when we have scripture deeply enough within to be able to whisper it and let its security put arms around our hearts.
Affirm and give thanks to people – notes, cards, e-mails, gifts. Giving lifts the heaviness and tensions. "It IS better to give than to receive."
If you are tense because of a hurt or wrong done to you, be radical – just forgive them from your heart – not because you have to or want to but because "Christ has forgiven you" freely and completely. Give it completely to God. Hands off.
Read/watch/tell something funny. Push away the tensions with laughter… because the world is a lot bigger and God is a lot more loving and in control, than your tensions were trying to make you believe.
And the #1 choice of married men – make love to your wife!