Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

Archive for the category “Success”

Pastor Appreciation Month: Brad Kendall

My time was nearly complete. I had reached that place that many 20-somethings dream of: I was in my final semester of college. In looking over my graduation requirements, it turned out that I needed to complete not only the courses I had signed up for, but I also needed one more community service project. Yes, the private Christian college I attended had each of us serve somewhere around 15 hours a semester for six semesters of our enrollment as a graduation requirement. In looking over my records, it turned out that I had satisfactorially completed the requirments of level II and level III service projects, but I was only half way there on a level I project. For those of you who were there during that time or who have known me, I know you are struggling to imagine that I had only partially fulfilled the level I type project. After all, level I is the observation level. I am quick to move from observation to action and this proved true during my years at Mid-America Bible College (now Mid-America Christian Universtiy).I was a senior, what was there left for me to observe? Hadn’t I seen it all already? After 21 hours of college credit under Cliff Sanders; multiple hours with professors Greg Robertson and Marvin Middlebrooks; countless hours volunteering on campus; working with a small congregation 20 miles from the college; hadn’t I served and learned enough? What more was there for me to see? Yes, I can be a bit over-confident in my abilities and knowledge.

Fortunately, my good friend, Shannon Smith, was short on the same type of service that I was. We both needed a level I observation style community service project. Shannon was older and smart enough to know when to sit back and take an easier path. He was married and had three kids. The last thing Shannon was looking for was a service project that would eat up too much of his time. So, I signed on board with Shannon and the two of us began our semester of community service level I: observation.

The question remained, what would we observe? We both knew we would be graduating soon and that meant we would be potentially entering into ministry employment, church work. What would it look like to start a new role at a church? What would it be like to be a new pastor? What would some of the transition issues be like? How would a pastor shape his staff? How would the congregation respond? These questions led us to the newest Church of God pastor in Oklahoma City: Brad Kendall.

 

Brad and Kristel Kendall

Brad and Kristel Kendall (picture from Facebook)

Brad was in his first months of serving as the new senior pastor for Shartel Church of God. He had come from Indiana after serving as senior pastor there. Brad was well connected in the Church of God. His father, Paul, had been a Church of God pastor. His brother, Gary, and his brother-in-law, Rolland Daniels, were each well respected pastors in the movement. Brad and his wife Kristel had the right pedigree of Church of God heritage and connections.

Shannon and I chose to observe Brad.

We met multiple time throughout that semester trying to get a behind the scenes look at what the transition looked like. We heard about the meetings with the board memebers. We witnessed the hiring of staff and the stuggle of what to do with exisiting staff who were well loved but not fully in alignement with Brad’s style of leadership. We began to grasp how a family would be welcomed into a congregation as its leader.

Brad had a unique style of humor and was big on smiling. He was not quick to dismiss others and really wrestled through the struggle of trying to bring people together. Brad worked long and hard to please others while being faithful to his calling as a minister.

After my semester of community service, my wife and I stayed a part of Shartel and Brad was our pastor. As I wrestled through my search for a place of ministry, Brad was there. He prayed and encouraged us in the process. He knew how hard it was to find a congregation. He knew the challenges before us. As we announced our impending move to Odessa, Texas, Brad celebrated with us. As we packed up, Brad and the Shartel Church, blessed us with a baby shower for our first born who wouldn’t arrive for another 6 months.

Brad was the last pastor I sat under week to week, voluntarily, for 12 years. Since then I have only chosen to sit week to week under two other pastors. Both of those proved to be temporary in arrangement as I would soon be employed in church ministry after listening to each of those men for a short season of six months or less.

Brad is now a chaplian in Texas. I am looking forward to the days where our paths cross in this great state.

One of the things I learned from observing Brad was that there is still more to learn, even when you think you’ve reached the end.

Pastor Appreciation Month: Gene Lanham

I grew up in a typical American family. My parents divorced when I was five. My dad remarried when I was 10. I have two younger siblings, a brother nearly 3 years younger and a sister just over 14 years younger. My Dad served in the Army, was a part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. My moms worked. My parents had grown up with a bit of church in their lives, but as a family we didn’t go to church, pray, or even really talk much about God and faith. We went about our business of work, school, and living life.

As a high schooler in the early 90’s I was introduced to the theology of Garth Brooks. His music had a way of capturing my imagination and my thoughts of the time. I won’t forget how true I believed the song “Unanswered Prayers” to be. Probably more than any other thing I had heard up to to that point, Garth Brooks was shaping my theology.In my Junior year, my best friend got a bug to try out a church in town. I tagged along, because that’s what friends do. I was probably a bit too pious in my Brooks theology and nearly created a fight in Sunday School when I asserted the wisdom of “Unanswered Prayers” to a class of seasoned church goers. Needless to say, we didn’t go back.

Nearly a year later, I went with the same friend to a different church. He had been attending there for a few months without me. The church’s building was located close to a mile from my house. One day my friend invited me to join him for a Friday night movie at the church. I went; mostly because I didn’t have anything else going on. 

After that night, I found myself returning to the church Wednesdays and Sundays. The 200 or so member church was led by Bro. Lanham. He was a distinguished looking guy with his finely trimmed mustache and silver hair. He would wear short sleeve button up shirts with a tie and a jacket on Sundays. I can’t recall ever seeing him wear a pair of blue jeans. He would preach every Sunday and often sing. He liked a country and western styled Gospel music. His wife, Sister Lanham, was the church secretary and leader of the women’s ministry. She was often found wearing a dress and a big welcoming smile.

On Easter Sunday, 1993, I went forward in the church and prayed. It is that day that I accepted Jesus’ work on my behalf and asked him to change my life.

In June of ’93, Bro. Lanham baptized me, my best friend, and our classmate who had led my best friend to attending that church.

 

picture of the Lanhams

Bro. and Sis. Lanham


Bro. Lanham was my first pastor. 

I can’t recall anything special about what he preached. Nor is there anything special about the way he preached. He made it all seem pretty simple. He would remind us to love and serve God and be holy. Looking back, I think he extended a simple plea for us to be saved and sanctified, week after week. Bro. Lanham was never overly stern. He was gracious and humble. 

Bro. Lanham was brave enough to let me cut my teeth in ministry. It started with mowing the church lawn. I’m sure it was really hard for him to give up that responsibility. Then I asked if I could change the marquee sign. When our youth leader left, I volunteered to teach the lessons on Wednesday. All the time, Bro. Lanham said “yes.” I am sure there is more to these simple memories on his side, but for me that is how it seemed. He even let me “sing” solos and gave me my first opportunity to preach. 

Bro. Lanham had a first name. It was a long time before I knew it. Turns out, he didn’t even go by his first name. My guess is I learned his first name, not long after I learned the name he went by. But for me, his first name was “Brother.”

I am honored to have had Leslie Eugene “Gene” Lanham as my first pastor. His ministry at the First Church of God in Clarksville, Tennessee, shaped me in my earliest days. Like a baby learning to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, and run, Bro. Lanham was like a parent in my faith.

Today, as I sit here typing this out, I am still impacted by his life. You see, what I didn’t mention is that Bro. Lanham began praying for me before we even met.

One Christmas season, Bro. Lanham was working at the mall as Santa Claus. One of the ladies working as Santa’s Helper was a mom to two teen aged boys and a toddler girl. He prayed for that family and the oldest son wandered into the Church of God and moved out of the Brooks school of theology because God answers prayer.

I Love a Good Fight!

I’ll admit it, I love a good fight!

Sometimes my wife doesn’t appreciate my passion for this. Sometimes my kids find this exasperating. I’ve been known to wear out my colleagues in a meeting because of this. What can I say, I’m a passionate guy. 

Sometimes, I get carried away. I remember chaperoning a trip to Six Flags with some teenagers. The boys wanted to ride the “Tea Cups” and see how fast we could go. It’s hard for me to back down. I made sure we went as fast as I could get us. I was on the brink of throwing up, but I wasn’t going to quit. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was feeling queazy. On the next ride, one of the boys tossed his cookies because of the fight at the Tea Cups.

sf_goodFight_03

Simon Sinek recently tweeted:

Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love.

Wow! I’m not sure it could be said any better.

I recently read a blog about all the things the church is doing wrong. Ok, I’ve read several of those blogs (too many to link to). Without a doubt, these bloggers are right about almost everything they post. Some are posting out of their disgust of the church, others are posting out of their disgust for how off track the church has become. There are even a few that are posting as prophetic voices for the church. My favorites are those who are clearly posting because they love the church. Let’s fight for the church!

I along with many others have retweeted, blogged, and posted about #Ferguson and the racial challenges in our society. The fights displayed on this issues have stirred us. What we need to ask ourselves is have we stirred one another to know what we love or what we hate? I want to fight for equality!

I took the #IceBucketChallenge and didn’t fight against the negative sides of the trend. I fought for those need awareness raised about ALS.

Over the past two years, I spent a great deal of my time fighting in a struggling school district. The school district my family was a part of had a huge gap in parental and community involvement. I believe this greatly influenced the struggling test scores and overall impression of the school district. I fought for greater participation and involvement. I entered this fight with the PTA of our school, county, and state. Why did I fight? Because I believe in education and I believe in bettering things. I fought because I love seeing things get better.

In a couple of months, I plan to attend Fight Night with my wife. This marriage enrichment session with Les & Leslie Parrott should be fun. I will fight for my marriage.

This fall, I will enter into a fight with 9 others as we fight to award grants designed to help change the world.

Throughout my life, I want to be known as someone who fights, who loves a good fight! I want my fights to be for things, not against things. I want to be remembered for loving not hating.

Where are you fighting? Is it against something? Are you helping people hate? Or have you chosen to fight for something? Have you inspired them to love?

Go on, jump out there! Start a fight! But make it a good one!

(Think Mel Gibson, Braveheart, “I’m gonna pick a fight!”)

Share your thoughts in the comments. Tell me where you are fighting. Maybe I can encourage you in your fight.

Change the World | Jesus is the Subject

Have you heard? Church of God Ministries wants to help you live out your dream of changing the world! Through the contributions of an anonymous donor, General Director Jim Lyon has formed the Innovation Trustees to award grants (up to $20,000) to new and engaging projects across the North America that help change the world.

The Innovation Trustees are looking to empower individuals and small groups to try the bold ideas God has given them. For many of us, all we need is to know someone else believes in us. The Innovation Trustees believe in you. This belief is grounded in the words of Jesus, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the works I have done and even greater….” (John 14:12).

Watch this video by Geremy Dixon announcing what is going on.
Why would I promote this? First and foremost, I believe in finding new ways of equipping everyday people to make a difference in our world, particularly in the name of Jesus. Second, I’m one of the Innovation Trustees.
This second video is from McDowell Mountain Church as an example of a video application submission.
To apply for the grant, go to www.jesusisthesubject.org/change-the-world. Submit your grant application today! You can even do it via video. The deadline for submissions is September 15. Don’t miss this opportunity to change the world you live in! Share this news with your family, church, and community. This grant is not restricted to pastors, ministers, or clergy. The grant is open to all.

Don’t delay, apply today!

Change the World | Jesus is the Subject.

3 Key Relationships Critical to Your Life’s Journey

It has been said that life is a journey, I’m just curious where’s it headed?

Regardless if your life’s travels will take you around the world or just across town, the journey of emotions and growth along the way is something you need to be intentional about. With social media allowing us to connect to each other in a number of different ways, it is clear to me that many of us don’t know where our journeys are taking us. Like Forrest Gump, too many of us are just running!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Forrest! I just think we need to be more intentional about where our journey is headed. I’ve met too many people who don’t know where they are headed in life and can’t seem to break out. They lack a sense of purpose in their living.

More than a decade ago, Rick Warren released the book The Purpose Driven Life. If you’ve not read it, maybe you should pick it up. It’s still a great read. There are many other resources out there to help you determine you life’s purpose. Rick’s book is just one you can start with.

In addition to knowing where you are headed, there are 3 key relationships critical to your life journey. These relationships will help you or hurt you in your efforts to achieve your desired goals.

Key Relationship 1: The person you are sleeping with

I probably should be more specific, this key relationship is really the person you are having sex with. Sex is an amazing experience. It serves as an outlet for our emotions as well as a bonding experience for the couple. It rages within us and can be extremely productive or destructive. Sex is like fire. The intimacy of sex is just one of the reasons why we should be aware of how it affects our life journey. 

My wife plucking my eyebrow

My wife plucking my eyebrow

The person you are sleeping with has the ability to influence you. He or she impacts your sense of self worth. The person you are sleeping with is a key voice in your dreams and aspirations. 

I love what the poet writes:

“Promise me…not to awaken love until the time is right.”

(Song of Songs 2:7 and 3:5).

The person you are sleeping with will carry an incredible influence in your life. Choose wisely and keep that relationship sacred. Like fire, it can warm you or burn.

Key Relationship 2: The people you are running with

There is an African proverb that goes something like this:

“If you want to run fast, go alone. If you want to run far, go with friends.”

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a runner. When I do run, I’m tempted to run fast versus run far. I guess it’s the side of me that just wants to get it over with. How about you?

I see running relating to our friendships because our friends are key encouragers for our journey. If you hang with those who are slow to move, your journey may go slow. If you run with those moving fast, you may feel overwhelmed. Finding the right peer group is critical. 

Some of my running buddies from Odessa

Some of my running buddies from Odessa

In your peer group, you’ll need some who are ahead of you. It will also be important that you have some that are slower than you. Those ahead of you will challenge you to keep going. Those slower than you will remind you to help others.

It will also be important to have those like you in your peer group. I don’t mean these folks need to look like you. Folks like you are those at the same pace, who share the same desires.

If we hope to move ahead in life’s journey, who we run with will influence our efforts.

Key Relationship 3: The community you commit to

In the United States, we see life from a very individual perspective. We tend to think that we are “self made” and we can do whatever “so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.” Can I just say, that’s nonsense! Our individual actions carry forth implications onto others.

You may want to argue with me on this, but think about it for just a moment. What you are doing right now may not immediately impact someone else, but it is laying the foundation for effecting someone down the line. There are many solo activities that we can engage in, but each of them will influence something in us that will influence the relationships around us.

Here’s an example: I might choose to drink water with lime at the restaurant instead of a soda. This choice is made out of financial and/or health reasons. While eating with others, someone observes my drink selection and chooses to do the same. I made the choice on my own sometime ago, but now it is influencing someone else.

Each of us has an affinity for certain groups and communities. I have a friend who likes to ride Harleys so, he is in a Harley Biker club. Some of my friends like trying different types of beers, so they have their community of taste testing. Some like to sing and play music. Some… you get the point. The community around us allows us to explore and discover new aspects of the journey.

Yet, the community we surround ourselves with has a limited influence on our lives. Community can only influence us to the degree to which we’ve committed to it. 

Think about that die hard sports fan in your life. They’re committed to the community. They attend the game or watch it on TV faithfully. They spend money to be identified with team. They may even go so far as to use the language “we won/lose.” They are a part of the community even if they’re not a part of the team.

The community we commit to shapes our lifestyle. Choose carefully.

Summation

Each of us is influenced by others in our life’s journey. The people we allow into our lives will help us experience life in rich and full ways, but they can also cause chaos and heartache for us. We should be very aware of those we allow into our lives, especially as it relates to the community we commit to, the friends we run with, and the person we are sleeping with. We don’t go through life on our own. 

12 years in 12 days (part 11)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa, Texas.

Moving into the summer of 2012, I was leading Grace Point into a potential opportunity that would secure a headquarters for our ministry operations. After a series of conversations over nearly three years, we were officially making an offer on the old fire station located across the street from Jordan Elementary in the new subdivision with more than 500 home being built in the three year span of time. Much to our surprise in June, we discovered that we did not win the auction, even more surprising, the city of Odessa leaders chose to keep the property to convert it into a community center.

OFS8.South

At the time, I did not realize the impact of the loss of the property. We had talked about it for nearly three years. It had become a key piece in our ministry vision. Additionally, the years of being portable were beginning to wear on our team members. The loss of the opportunity to transform the building into our ministry headquarters was a significant blow to our morale.

There was little time to grieve for me as I was quickly on to another adventure. This time I was headed to Denver, Colorado, for the International Youth Convention of the Church of God with teens from GP. We had a great time white water rafting, rock climbing, and camping along with the Convention program.

To help prepare Jordan Elementary for the new school year, our team took a Saturday and painted the cafeteria.

IMG_1265 IMG_1275 IMG_1276

Als that summer, my friend Brent gave me some flying lessons. He allowed me to pilot his plane from the DFW area to Midland-Odessa and then later from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Odessa. It was fun learning from a pro like Brent.

IMG_1254

In August, Christy surprised me with an amazing birthday gift! She had been working since May to arrange for me to go skydiving with other guys from GP. She caught me completely off guard with this gift. Though none of the other GPers joined in the adventure, I had a great time skydiving!

School started up, with another change to our routine. As the 11-12 year came to a close, we decided that Christy would step away from teaching. Though she enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the students, the educational system had changed and Christy felt it was time to step away. She returned to being a stay at home mom.

IMG_1649

As for me, I was now serving as the PTA president for Jordan and our district’s council. The two proved to be very challenging yet rewarding. The district council needed to be restarted and so I was tasked with leading that charge. Thanks to the help of the district administration, principals, and parents we were able to reestablish the PTAs presence in the district’s operations.

IMG_2586

I also began working full time with the Sewell Team that fall. This was a tremendous opportunity to work alongside a faith based company committed to leadership growth. I served as the Learning and Development Coordinator through May.

As you can imagine, my schedule was pretty full between Sewell, PTA at Jordan, PTA for the city, and Grace Point. I was loving it!

Out of nowhere, Grace Point began to see our strongest ministry season in the late winter and early spring. As we approached Easter for 2013, we knew this was a prime opportunity to reach our neighbors and coworkers. It was also during this season that Christy stepped up to lead the worship band.

IMG_2637

On Easter we had 149 people in attendance. That was two times the size of our normal attendance at the time. We shared in baptisms and had fired up the grill for lunch while the kids hunted eggs and played. We also held a balloon launch reminding us of the resurrection.

IMG_2470

The spring had been a great season of ministry and now it was time to move into summer. Big changes were on the way for our family.

IMG_2618

12 years in 12 days (part 7)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa, Texas.

Coming into the summer of 2008, I really believed we were ready to soar!

IMG_0022

Things at Grace Point were coming along great. We were developing a great band. We had a good influx of visitors. We had found a rhythm for scheduling team members. We were beginning a ministry for teens. Everything seemed like it was coming together.

100_1964

Added to all the great things happening, I finally got an iPhone! Could things get any better?

Earlier in the year, one of our neighbors had roped Christy back into the classroom. For the final few months of the school year, Christy served as a tutor for Jr. High Students in the AVID program. We realized that if she was going to work, we should maximize her income potential. So in the fall of 08, Christy returned to the classroom full time as a 6th Grade Teacher.

Before Christy head off to work, we made a quick trip to the Smoky Mountains for a Robinson Family Reunion. This would be a special trip for all as it was the first time nearly the whole clan had been together in years, and the last time too as Aunt Linda’s health was declining quickly.

101_3760

As Christy entered back into teacher, Caitlyn started Kindergarten. So each morning, the girls would leave the house to just the boys!

IMG_0115

IMG_0119

To give me a break, we enrolled Andrew in a local Mothers’ Day Out program. Caitlyn had attended the year before and had a fabulous experience. Andrew began going on Mondays and Wednesdays and soon he had won the hearts of his teachers, Ms. Lori and Ms. Kim, who would become a part of our family over the next few years.

Christy was hard at work helping 6th graders achieve more everyday. She was paired up with Janet Miller. The two rotated their students and shared life. Janet was Christy’s mentor in returning to the classroom.

DSCF7222

As we moved into 2009, we were getting ready to see Christy’s parents move to Odessa from Missouri. We also began exploring building a new home for us too. Meanwhile, Christy was working hard and Grace Point was doing good.

IMG_0264

DSCF8006

As was my training. we ramped up for Easter! Through the help of a grant from Church of God Ministries, we rented the city’s outdoor stage and hosted a huge Easter Egg Hunt and Resurrection Celebration. This year, the weather was fabulous! The only thing that went wrong that day was me! I was running a fever and sick to my stomach Easter morning.easter 181

easter 204

By our best estimate there were nearly 200 people in attendance for the event. It was a big win for the team!

The school year was coming to a close and big changes were on the way. The beginning of our eighth year would be one  filled with sorrows and joys.

DSCF8002

DSCF8004

DSCF8005

DSCF8009

 

 

 

Busy or Purposeful? 4 Questions to Clarify Your Activities

Too often we’ve measured success by how busy we are.

The challenge is we can be busy without purpose.

Clarifying what you want to achieve is the way to move from busyness to purposefulness.

So whether it’s in business, ministry, parenting, volunteering, or whatever, clarify your purpose and you’ll achieve more than just being busy. Additionally, you won’t feel busy as much as you’ll feel fulfilled.

Here are 4 questions to ask to clarify your activities so you can fulfill your purpose:

1. 5 years from now how do I want my life to look?

2. What are my 5 to 7 core values?

3. What am I doing that I need to stop doing in order to live within my values and my vision for my life?

4. What will I start doing to achieve purpose and not just be busy?

20140515-101436.jpg

End of a Season: The Closure of Grace Point

 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Image

Sunday, March 23, 2014, is Grace Point’s Finale. After 390 weeks, the experiment is coming to a close.

In early February, I sat and watched this year’s Super Bowl contest as the Seattle Seahawks overpowered the Denver Broncos, I was disappointed. The Broncos season was filled with so many highlights that it almost seemed inevitable that they would win the big game. Yet, as more than 111 million people watched, it became evident that the league’s best offense was struggling to produce any positive momentum. One could argue that it was the efficiency of Seattle’s Defense that stymied Peyton Manning and the high scoring Broncos. It could also be said, they just had a bad game. Either way, the game is over and a new season of football is in the waiting. Yet, it is still tough to go out on a defeat.

Football is one of the most popular things in our culture today. As NFL games continue to draw tens of thousands to stadiums and millions through TV audiences, it makes for an easier illustration. From the flag football games for grade schoolers, to Pop Warner Tackle for those in late elementary and middle school, to the JV and Varsity squads of High School, to the ranks of college, semi-pro, and elite levels of the NFL, football is all around us. Living in Odessa, Texas, home of “Friday Night Lights” it is even more apparent that football is everywhere.

The expectations to win are huge. Every player, coach, management team, and fan wants their team to walk away with the championship. We know these expectations will leave most of us disappointed. After all, not every team will win the championship. Some players won’t finish the season. Coaches will be let go. Teams will dissolve. Players will be traded. Fans will find new teams to rut for. Not every play leads to a touchdown and you don’t win every game or every season.

Needless to say, there is a lot we can learn about life by playing and watching football.

As a pastor and church planter, I struggle with the expectation to win. I feel like I am playing for the greatest reasons – the Kingdom of God. Sometimes my zeal can be a bit over the top, but I love what I do. Yet, just like a football game, not every situation leads to a score or victory and at some point you need a rest or a season to end.

Eight years ago, I experienced the end of a season of leadership in a struggling congregation. As pastor, I had poured myself into the efforts of turn around and seeking for a win. After 42 months, the management team of the congregation felt it was time to go different directions. I was let go. My season was over.

Within six months, I was on board with a new team. This was a start up team. In many ways it was a research and development group or experimental program. I was leading an effort to plant a new congregation.

In the effort to be new, we worked hard to not get caught in the patterns of “the way things had always been done.” We created an atmosphere of acceptance, casualness, and inspiration that attracted a lot of people from our city. We tested the boundaries of what could be done and experienced moments of impact. Over seven and a half years, we sought to be a group that would make a difference.

Today, it is hard to say, but it needs to be said, the season for Grace Point Church has come to an end.  Like the many teams, this is not how we had hoped our season would come to an end. As the founder and pastor, I had hoped we would have a longer and fuller legacy, but I know the time has come to move on.

For just a moment I want to applaud the amazing group of people who were willing to experiment with us. Through the years, on a meager budget of less than $80,000 a year, our team accomplished a number of good things.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Beautifying local school campuses
  • Inspiring other congregations in efforts of community engagement
  • Training worship leaders
  • Engaging children into the life of the church
  • Providing backpacks to school children in need
  • Serving the community through partnerships with local non-profits
  • Empowering international missionaries to translate the scriptures and raise up indigenous leaders
  • Assisting in planting other churches across the United States
  • Supporting orphans through child sponsorships and special projects
  • Providing curriculum to other congregations unable to purchase it for themselves
  • Offering cups of hot chocolate to families out on cold, windy days at the park and stores
  • Equipping people with the necessary skills to manage their finances
  • Allowing people to explore their faith
  • Introducing children and teens to Christian principles
  • Teaching people how to understand the Bible as it relates to how to live
  • Celebrating with one another as babies are born, marriages restored, and victories won
  • Mourning with one another as loved ones passed, marriages failed, and defeats were experienced
  • Baptizing new believers in swimming pools, hot tubs, and water troughs
  • Exposing people to the message of Christ that reminds us he loves less than perfect people
  • Loving one another, regardless of background or life choices

There are a variety of things that led to this decision to disband. Some of the challenges included:

  • An overemphasis of the worship gathering
  • An underemphasis of mentorships
  • An inability to fully create a shared “3rd place”
  • A demanding economic environment which leaves little margin in personal schedules
  • A limited number of core members
  • A sense of “if we preach the right message, God will bring the right people”
  • An assumption that we knew how to disciple
  • A failure to develop deeper friendships beyond the casual Sunday greetings
  • A lack of emphasis on stewardship

There are other things that we might add to the list, but I don’t believe it is necessary to list each of them today. Over time, I hope to explore each of the successes and failures and extrapolate lessons learned from each. For now, it is fair to say we got off the sidelines and did the best with what we knew and what we had.

There are a multitude of people who have made this season of my life possible. I could not list all who were involved without forgetting someone. Let me mention a few. First, Christy, Caitlyn, and Andrew. Their willingness to open up our home, chase after me because I forgot something, and release me to meetings, events, trainings, and more, have been overlooked. They have allowed Grace Point to be a part of our family and it will be hard to not have this a part of us any longer. Second, the Gregg family. This family is now more than one family, but to me, they’ll always be one I treasurer. The Greggs have walked with me throughout this season. The truth is I’ve run so fast at times, I’ve taken for granted that they would catch up. They’ve filled the gaps for me on so many occasions. Third, my Tuesday Lunch Crew. The conversations that I have had with a group of five other pastors in my city have allowed me to sustain and thrive. I can’t express how much they have “normalized” my feelings and fears. Finally, to the countless others who have prayed, supported, encouraged, and fought for and with us! This is where the list gets really long! Thank you to each of you. I know your names, I see your faces. I know this season of life was possible because of you.

Now, some of you maybe wondering what is in store for my next season. Outside of being a husband to Christy, father to Caitlyn, Andrew, and now Breanna, and a faithful follower of Christ who serves the church and loves the people of this world, I don’t know. We are waiting for our next appointment/assignment.

Thank you for taking the time to read this note. Thank you for the investment you’ve made in us. Thank you for this season of life.

“Now, all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Buzz Words and Idols – Jesus is the Subject

Observation: in our attempts to get our corner on the market of the Christian subculture, we lift up phrases like “the gospel” or “the anointing” like they’re what faith is about.

2nd Observation: we seem to be obsessed in Christianity with creating leaders as if that’s what Jesus, the apostles, and Paul focused on.

20140308-070130.jpg

When we pause for a second, it’s easy to see how “the gospel” and “the anointing ” are significant. It’s also important for leaders to be raised up with in the church. Yet, these things are buzz words and focal points for our various subgroups within the church, along with many others. These buzz words can quickly become our idols.

We need to check our language as words have significance and meaning. If we are talking about “the gospel” more than Jesus we are missing the subject of the good news. If we are focused on “the anointing” we can quickly miss the anointed one (Christ). If we assume we are to only raise up leaders, we will quickly miss the one we are called to follow.

It’s a slippery slope to worshipping an idol. Many of us don’t intend to end up a few degrees off course. Sin is like that. Sin is subtle, it’s just a slight deviation from the truth.

So, let’s make Jesus the subject. He is the Christ. May our lives reflect our desires to follow him!

Post Navigation