Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Informing or inviting?

i was reading something today and this guy made a good point about the difference between informing someone about the church you are a part of...and inviting someone to come and join the experience.

most of us are pretty willing to inform. when asked, we will generously admit that we attend a church. sometimes, we are even willing to inform them of the church we attend. "i go to north point", we say..."we're located on the corner of mill and college in old town"...but seldom going much deeper with the conversation. unfortunately.

on the other hand, an invitation is something totally different. an invitation is informative and personal. it's interactive. it communicates interest and care and that church matters. and the cool thing about invitations is that people, especially friends, seldom say no!

to invite someone to north point this coming weekend might sound something like this:

"hey, i go to this really cool church in old town. it's been around for a while, but it's like we're a brand new church. it's not huge, but there are all kinds of people who come...young and old, christians, people who are far from god, and people who are nothing at all! our sunday morning meeting is pretty simple and understandable and the best part is...it only lasts an hour! why don't you meet me there at 11:00 this sunday...and then we could grab some lunch afterwards?"

now that's inviting...and i promise you, it's almost impossible to turn down!

any takers this week?

Friday, January 18, 2008

On being thoughtful

one of the biggest shortcomings that most of us wrestle with is that we are not thoughtful enough. i don't mean that we are not nice people that do nice things. hopefully, we are are. if you aren't, you probably need a short course in basic human interaction.

no, by thoughtful i mean that we don't think enough. not about life. not about people. not about ourselves. not about much of anything...that's really important. i'm afraid that our thinking is seldom deep enough, profound enough, challenging enough, or risky enough.

to that end, here are some questions to ask yourself as you stumble along the beginning of your journey in this new year:
  • What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  • What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  • What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  • In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  • What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  • What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  • For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  • What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  • What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  • What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

happy thinking...

Monday, January 14, 2008


it's a great day to be living in texas...
as a charger fan!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


let the countdown begin...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brain cramp

the well is dry.
the cupboard is bare.
creativity has vanished.
the mind is preoccupied.
the slurpee has done it's deed.
the thinking mechanism is completely frozen.
elvis has left the building.
the return is forthcoming.
joy comes in the morning.
it's friday...but sunday's coming.
you can't keep a good man down.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday attendance

i don't know exactly how to say this without appearing ungrateful, but here goes. as a pastor, two of the most difficult sundays of the year for me to face are the sundays on either side of thanksgiving. they usually represent two of the lowest attended sundays of the year because people leave to visit their families.

don't get me wrong. i'm not a family killjoy. i love my big thanksgiving dinner and sitting around watching bad football on television with the best of you. even though loading up the fam in the minivan to visit grandma and grandpa has never been my thing, i know the holidays wouldn't be the same without it for many. but the sundays? they are usually weak, a little depressing and...let's just say the offerings are less than stellar. (for the record, things were a little better around here than most years.)

that's not my issue. here's my monday morning insight... i was pretty stunned yesterday. the sunday after the thanksgiving sundays had fewer people than the holidays! i know there were as many different reasons as there were people missing, but it was still a little shocking.

the good news? church attendance does not punch our ticket to heaven. it's not even a healthy way to evaluate our commitment to christ. it's a horrible way to get rid of guilt. i'm so grateful we don't live by rules, traditions, laws and requirements. it's a awesome reality to know that following the master is so much more than coming to a building on sunday mornings.

with that said, i wonder if people really have any idea how pumped i am when the building is full and the excitement in worship is ready to bust the walls out? i wonder if people knew how inspired and motivated i am when i see the house full and the looks of expectation...would it make a difference on saturday nights or sunday mornings when they are deciding whether or not to join us? i wonder if people realize how much their simple presence makes in the lives of people they are sitting next to in worship?

why not give someone a call and have them join you next sunday?

Monday, November 26, 2007

A moment of thanks...a few days late

here's a story that moved me today:

Several years ago I ran into a pastor at a store while shopping. I had preached for him a decade earlier and asked how his church was doing. Here is the conversation that followed.

“Well Clayton, I really can’t say how the church is doing because they fired me 2 years ago and I have not been back, or even heard from anyone since I left. I was there for 13 years. Attendance doubled, we built a new sanctuary and added 4 new staff positions. But what I did not realize is that I let church work become my life. It came before time with my family and it even became more important to me than Jesus.”

“I figured out who the power players were in the church, and a deacon told me to make sure I did not make any of them mad because they had the 2 things that mattered most; family and money. So I made every decision based on them. I preached for them, made sure I did not offend them, and made special efforts to cater to them and their families. This brought short-term success, but I was burning out. I had no passion left. I was just working for a paycheck and health insurance for my family.”

“I did not realize how much I had neglected my kids until one became a drug addict and the other one slipped into deep physical sin. I did not even know my own children, and it was my fault. Then one day I came home from a deacon’s meeting, and my wife had taken all of her stuff and left a note on the table that said she was tired of it. She hated me for ignoring my family and she blamed me for everything, for putting the church before them.”

You can imagine the lump in my throat as I stood there and listened to this grown man choke back tears over the family he lost. He was broken; a ghost of the leader, pastor, and shepherd I had met 10 years earlier. Then the saddest words to ever leave his lips landed on my ears.

“So what did my church do when all of this happened? The people I had served and pastored called a business meeting and they fired me. They said they could not have a divorced pastor with rebellious kids leading their congregation. They gave me 2 months salary and wished me luck.”

No grace. No counseling. No support. Maybe they felt he was unable to lead them any further. Fine. But not even a reception with cupcakes and coffee to say thanks for 13 years? This is way too common. I see it more than most anyone else because my calling carries me so many places, and when I hear these stories, I cry out to God to protect pastors, and the churches they serve, from shooting our own wounded. Of course not every church is like this and not every pastor suffers such a fate, but this man did. God help him, his wife, and his kids. And God help the Body of Christ to offer mercy and compassion to our own wounded who lay on the side of the road, in a ditch, waiting on anyone, even a Samaritan, to come to our aid.

i am so grateful to serve in a church that treats me like a friend and not an employee...a church that values my time with my wife and my family...a church that supports and encourages and forgives me and does not place unrealistic expectations on me...a church that has patiently waited for me to grow into the position that i hold...a church that holds to the biblical model of a pastor and not one that has been unfairly and unspiritually created by church tradition and modern culture...

we may not be the biggest or baddest church in the city, but i wouldn't trade places with anybody.

hope you are continuing to experience a life that is worth being grateful for.