The Power of Momentum

Momentum is a strange thing. If you have it, you are almost unstoppable as a leader. If you don’t have it, there’s almost nothing you can do to get it off the ground. Momentum can make or break you. Getting the power of momentum to work for you is huge. Getting it started is a little like getting a flywheel turning. It takes a lot of effort to get it turning, then once it’s turning, it takes very little effort to keep it going. Think of the old Model T cars that needed to be cranked by hand….

Here’s an example. 7 years ago, my church had a grand total of about 2 small groups (we call them Community Groups). We began to talk about them. But we occasionally added a group here, another one there. After 1 year, we had about 5 groups. After 4 years, we had about 13 groups. That’s not a lot in a church this size. It took 4 years, a lot of hard work, and just a little to show for it. About two months ago, we had about 40 groups. We’ve built the momentum pretty strong. Then we just finished a 4-part message series on small groups shared between my associate pastor and myself. Today, we stand at 51 small groups. That means, if we put on average of 8 people in those groups, we have 100% of our active membership (numbers, not actual people, because there are plenty of guests in these groups – but that’s for another post) in a Community Group.

Momentum works in your favor. When you slowly start to turn the flywheel, it’s hard work, and seems to gain almost no ground. But as you turn it with both hands – a lot of focus, vision casting, planning and hard work, pretty soon it allows you to release one of your hands, and finally it allows you to let go and occasionally turn it as needed. Momentum does the work.

In leadership issues, momentum is your best friend.

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On Racism and Christianity

I did a worship on Sunday for our “camp pitch” here at the Oregon Campmeeting. I was asked to submit similar thoughts for the “Gladstone Gazette” – the Campmeeting newspaper. Below are what I submitted. The words are a summary of what I said. I wish I could do the whole thing but it isn’t possible. 

______________________

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black and white all are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children.” So says the old, familiar children’s song. Yet, why is it just a children’s song? Why isn’t it an adult song as well?

With all the things going on in the world right now, especially the racially charged shootings, deaths, retaliatory shootings in the United states, people are living on the edge. Nothing dominates the news as much as these things. It isn’t welcome relief from the political stories when we hear about another shooting, another killing, another racial problem.

The church needs to be the most loving, the most accepting, and we should be setting the agenda for these things. Yet, we aren’t leading, we’re blindly following the news reports. And we’re taking sides. What about that old song, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”?

The church used to use the term “brother” and “sister” when talking about others in the church. We don’t anymore. Maybe we should start calling each other brother and sister again. I believe we should start leading the way, by reaching across the community to call people who are racially different from us and call them brother or sister as well.

Before my wife and I got married, we used to think we thought a lot alike. We used to joke around by saying, “Stop thinking my thoughts!” Then we got married. We were amazed at how different we were. However, as we’ve realized that we’re different, we also realized that is a good thing. She sees things, I don’t. I can do things she cannot do. Together we are better because of our differences. We can accomplish more because we’re different.

It’s really the same racially. We used to think we should be colorblind and just accept everyone as the same. It seems to me, in retrospect, we aren’t the same. There are racial differences, cultural differences. Asians do different things than Blacks. Blacks do different things than Hispanics. Hispanics do different things than Whites. And that’s a good thing. Yes, it’s a good thing. Together we are better because of our differences.

Our theme at campmeeting is “Called together, as one.” This is crucial to realize. As the church, we are better, together. And God called us together, because of our differences. 1 Corinthians 12-14 are all about the church being different, but working together, as one. Let’s set the pace this week. Walk across the aisle and shake someone’s hand who is not like you. Find someone different and pray with them. Sit somewhere different in the meetings this year and make a new friend. We’re called, together, as one. Let’s set the pace together.

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Here’s link showing Portland as the “whitest major city in the US”

Race relations in Portland, the whitest major city in the U.S.

http://katu.com/news/investigators/race-relations-in-portland-the-whitest-major-city-in-america

Evangelism 2.0, part 2

Yesterday I talked about Evangelism 2.0: Evangelism for the Rest of Us. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to back up and read that one first.

Once when I was presenting this information to my church, a friend and member decided to take me up on this and started making friends. But somehow he missed the “redemptive” but got the friendship stuff right. He was a fairly new Christian and began friending this couple. Then one night, he made the decision to invite this new couple out. My friend and his wife took them out for drinking and dancing. Yes, you read that right…. He was so excited about it when he came back…I had to correct him anyway. I reminded him that you can’t redeem someone if you stay where they are. It’s true that Jesus came down to our level, because we couldn’t get up to his. Yet, he didn’t leave us there. He said, “I don’t condemn you, but go and sin no more.” In other words, our friendships have to be redemptive for Evangelism 2.0 to work.

Another time, a friend would go out and get into all kinds of theological arguments with people, seeking to win them, I guess? Now understand this with me. I believe our theological arguments stand the test. I’m not afraid of proving from scripture what my beliefs are. But I tend to leave that for Evangelism 1.0: Reaping Meetings. This friend was trying to get the redemptive part, but missed the “friendship” part. They must go together.

Soon after we were married, my wife was on a Bible study visit with me. The lady we were studying with talked about her aunt who was in heaven and helped her. I just ignored it and moved on. My wife asked me why I didn’t get into the State of the Dead with her. My response was this: “We’ll get there, but this was an emotional feeling she has. If I would have taken her on today, she would have shut us out. We’ll keep studying with her and she’ll come around, because she’ll learn that we are trustworthy and we are friends.

Trustworthy. Friends. Redemptive Friendships. Don’t forget both parts…. Evangelism 2.0: Evangelism for the Rest of Us.

Evangelism 2.0

I have a friend who coined this term. It was designed to move his church away from evangelism only being an event, and moving it more towards a Christian lifestyle. In other words, evangelism for the rest of us.

It’s a great concept. Roughly 10% or less of any individual congregation has the spiritual gift of evangelism. But God calls every individual Christian to be part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28). How do they do it if they don’t have the public speaking skills of Dwight Nelson, the effective calls of Shawn Boonstra, the big crowds of Mark Finley or the ability to do a backflip like Doug Batchelor?

Enter Evangelism 2.0: Evangelism for the Rest of Us.

This is about building redemptive friendships in the community. Building friendships, relationships, with the hopes of one day sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. This isn’t about being a used car salesman. It’s not about being the one who gets people to bow their knee to the Lord. Rather, this is about being a friend, sharing a testimony, and inviting them to come hear someone who has the actual spiritual gift of evangelism.

What would happen to the evangelism budgets across North America, if the members actually began to invite people? What would happen to the crowds if we really invited them to come hear? What would happen if our relationships were so strong, that once baptized, these members actually mentored their friends in the walk of Christianity also?

WOW!

Right now, we know it takes about $180 to get one person across the front door to listen to an evangelist. It takes about $2,000+ to get a person baptized. What if we really implemented Evangelism 2.0? Those numbers would go way down!

How does it work? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Go on a hike and invite your non-Christian friend to go with you
  2. Invite people over to a barbecue, and say, “You bring what you want grilled and we’ll provide the grills.”
  3. Share a tract
  4. prayer walk your neighborhood and stop and talk to people, introduce yourself
  5. Start a hobby and meet people with that same hobby
  6. Go to the library and meet people who love to read and spend time in a book club
  7. frequent the same gas station and rather than paying outside with your card, go in and learn people’s names at the gas station
  8. Go through the same checkout line in the grocery store – even if it’s longer – just so you can befriend the person running the register.
  9. Learn names – theirs, their kids, their grandkids, their friends, their parents
  10. Invite to dinner at the Olive Garden, Golden Corral, or Applebys.

The point is to be a friend. At some point in time, someone will ask a question about you and church, your spiritual life, a crisis, or something. 1 Peter 3:15 says:

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Pe 3:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

It will get there. I’ve never seen a friendship that doesn’t get there. It always does. Build redemptive friendships — become friends and pray for an opportunity to share your testimony. This isn’t a time to prove them wrong about what happens at death, the Sabbath, or to argue at all with them. It’s not a time to have all the answers. Share your testimony – what your life was like BEFORE Jesus, how you met him, and your life AFTER meeting Jesus.

Evangelism 2.0: Evangelism for the Rest of Us. (to be continued….)

Take Courage. Do What is Right. The Lord is With You.


Do you ever get involved in one of those discussions online that you are sorry you even bothered to enter? I thought I was so over those things…. I had learned to stay out of those conversations because it wasn’t in the  best interests of anyone. Online discussion is SO misunderstood and we are SO inclined to be sharp-tongued in those online discussions. 

Today, I got involved in one via LinkedIn. It was a discussion about hellfire and eternally burning hell. I just couldn’t let it pass. I was prompted to let it pass. I just coudn’t. This is one area of apologetics I’m pretty passionate about. So, I tentatively entered the discussion. The flaming began, because everyone else was inclined to agree with the original author. I, on the other hand, spoke differently. So the author has attacked, accused, and condemned me to hell.

Oh well, I’m done with the discussion. I knew better anyway. Yet, in my devotional time today, I realized that I can take courage, do what is right and God is with me. I didn’t flame back. I didn’t condemn to hell. Rather, I just tried to ask some questions and let it go. I’m not mad. I entered gracefully. I’m trying to leave gracefully….

I’m encouraged though. God is leading. I’m glad. I have courage. I’m seeking to do what is right.

Move away from the Simple Life….


This morning in my devotions, I read through a few chapters of Proverbs as part of my reading in the LIFE Journal. And Solomon makes the case that living without wisdom is the life of the simpleton. But his rallying cry is to grow in wisdom and really begin to live! 

I loved this. I realize that as a person, I’ve had a better life because I’ve learned wisdom relationally, financially, socially, spiritually and in many other ways. It’s one of the reasons I went to college. It’s one of the reasons I took advanced studies and got my doctorate. 

As a pastor, I realize I must leave off the simpleton mindset too. What is that, you ask? It’s that the pastor must be in charge of everything, that the pastor must do everything. It’s lack of planning, flying by the seat of my pants, and it’s not paying attention to the big picture and how to get there. 

To really live life as a pastor, I’ve found, is to make my members part of the team. It’s okay for them to even lead pieces of that team. To create systems so that we know we have success in whatever we do every time we do it. So, in Evangelism, I’ve tried to create systems so we don’t have to recreate the wheel every time we do a seminar. As a pastor, I’ve tried to create those systems to help me write sermons, to prepare for board meetings, to do training events, and to build, support and train teams.

Solomon promises that when we live in wisdom, we truly have life. I’m living the dream right now and I love it! So, let’s get out of the simple life….and truly live!