Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Group

Sundays in the fall are about competition. You see football teams plan each week to out do each other. They plan, they scheme and at the end of the day one of the teams have to go home as a loser. Serious competition.

There is another huge competion on Sundays. It is the Church.

Mark 9:38, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone using Your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn't in our group." "Don't stop him," Jesus said.... Anyone who is not against us is for us.

We all have "our groups." Maybe it is your denomination. Maybe it is your church. Maybe it is your friends. Jesus made it clear that if someone is serving under the banner of Him, then they are on our team. Sadly, we see other churches as a competition. If they grow and are successful that must mean that we cannot be successful.

I see this all the time. Denominations building their kingdoms. Pastors building their kingdoms. Church people building their own kingdoms.

I am blessed and privileged to be a part of a group of pastors and leaders called, "PSL UNITED." We are the City Church. There are about 8-10 churches who are a part of this. We don't preach at meetings. We don't talk numbers. We don't talk theology. We pray for each other. We encourage each other and we give to each other. Billy Mitchell started this before he took another assignment outside of Port Saint Lucie. Now Tim O'Carroll and Paul Phipps help champion the cause. I am very thankful for their friendship. Our ministry has been enhanced and I have been strengthened.

Leaders, remember, movements are not about you. You are not starting a movement, but rather you have joined the movement Jesus started over 2,000 years ago called the Church. He prayed in John 17 that we may be one as He and the Father are one. We often spend our whole lives asking God to answer our prayers, but we never take time to answer his prayer.

Take time to cultivate unity in your city. God sees the church of ____________(insert your city).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review- "Outliers"

Okay, I am going to add a book review to the blog from time to time. I love to read and analyze what I am reading.

This week's book review is, "Outliers," by Malcom Gladwell. I am a huge Gladwell fan. I heard him at Catalyst in 2005. I read "The Tipping Point" as well. Wonderful book.

This book is very interesting. Gladwell does a great job, as he did in "The Tipping Point," at studying facts of culture through intense research and revealing those principles to us. "Outliers" is all about extreme stories of success and failure, and the principles behind it. Gladwell studies some of the richest people in history, the success of pro hockey players and plane crashes. He gives you transferrable principles of success and failure.

The Good Stuff:

This book is not one of thoughts and opinions, but facts. From the research on the Beatles to the Plane Crashes of Seoul, it is tethered in facts. I would read through, write down the principle and memorize it. These principles have given me a new perspective on ministry.

-If you hear of a phenomenal success story; study the principles of how it happened. There are advantages and opportunities that the person had that another person will not have. Success stories are WAY MUCH MORE than hard work and determination. They have breaks. They have support. They have advantages that another person in their situation may have not had. (Pastors- please here that. Don't go to a conference and hear this crazy success story and then put that as your goal.) It is phenomenal for a reason.

The Okay Stuff (don't want to say bad):

This book is a hard read. It is very involved and you cannot skim read it. You cannot zone out and still get it. You have to hunker down and read it. Sometimes Gladwell belabors the point. At points there is too much information.

'The Tipping Point" was a little more interesting to me than "Outliers," but Gladwell's style is: A lot of research and information; then a small principle to cap it off.

I would recommend any leader to read this book for the fact that we have a warped view on how people reach successful statuses. As a pastor, it freed me up. Our denominational leaders bring in these talking heads with the same story; started with no people, no money in the account, did not know how to read the Bible, everyone in the town were atheists, they had a vision and boom----- 5 years later, 16,000 people. We go with these stories of non-sense and are not told the "unseen" factors that contributed to their success. They had advantages. They had key relationships with important people. They had financial support. The stories are tainted.

Gladwell shows you the story behind the story.

*All commentary is Kevin's opinion and does not really count in the scheme of things.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Fire and In Order

I was talking with a mentor recently and he gave me a great perspective on the role of every leader, especially those in pastoral roles. He said that God has given him a mandate to strive every day to progress his ministry to a place where it is increasing in two areas: 1)On fire and 2) In Order.

He was quoting the pastoral espistles where Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift inside of him and Paul told Titus to "set things in order at Crete." I believe these are two areas that must give us perspective of a bigger picture of daily activities.

As leaders, we can ask ourselves every day, "Is this ministry fervent with a fire and love for God and is it increasingly having more order? Did the tasks and appointments today work toward that or against that?"

The Two Goals:
1) On Fire: As leaders we must make sure daily we are stoking the flames of love for Christ. Without a relentless love for Jesus and what we call "fire," we are nothing more than whitewashed tombs and talking heads. People desire to follow a leader who is full of God's presence and power. Are you projecting that on your people? Are you congregants more on fire for God than when you first met them? Or are they just working harder, giving more and doing more stuff? That is not on fire.

2) In Order: Paul told Titus that the reason he left him in Crete was to set things in order. People may not like structure, but they sure appreciate what it produces- order. Our job as leaders is to continually raise up leaders and set systems in place so the ministy can out live us. If you left today would it fall apart, or are setting things in order? What did you do today to "set things in order?"

Thanks to Pastor, Dr. and Awesome Guy- Brett Cooper.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

In South FL we are in the height of "hurricane season." We know that this season brings a possibility for hurricanes. Because of this season we have seminars and workshops in the area for hurricane preparedness. They give you a list of what you need and all the tips of what you need to know. Pretty cool.

Even with all these seminars, workshops and information, some people still get caught by surprise. Some of the reasons is because they did not know and are new to the area. Others underestimate the power of a hurricane. Some are just lazy and don't take time.

How does this apply to you? Maybe you live in the midwest and you are like "hurri-what?" Maybe you don't have to worry about hurricanes. But we do here in FL. No matter where you live, this can be used a spiritual principle of life: There are seasons when strong storms are likely to hit you and you have to have your "preparedness kit." Storms, strong storms, will pummel the coast of your life and ministry. There will be seasons when you wonder if you will be able to survive the beating of that storm. Afterwards there is plenty of debris left from the storm and damage to fix.

Here are some thoughts on storms and hurricanes:

1) You have to be prepared. Emotionally prepare yourself before the Lord. Ask God to fill you with His power to withstand the storms that will come. Don't be blindsided. Some theology tells you that if you are doing God's will- everything will be perfect. That is not the case for any of our examples from the Bible. Be prepared that if you are doing God's will- storms will it.

2) You have to "wait it out." When hurricanes hit, you have to wait for them to pass. Even if you evacuate, you still have to wait the allotted time. You cannot rush a hurricane. There is the initial impact, the stillness of the eye and then finally the last bands. When spiritual storms hit, you have to just make it through them. Just buckle down until they pass.

3) Finally, you have to fix the damage and clean up the debris. There will be debris of all sorts. When you first see your yard after the storm, you will be overwhelmed. You may even have damage to your home. It's okay. It happens. Start the process of picking up debris and fixing the damages.

No one will escape storms and spiritually speaking- EVERYONE will get hit at some point and time. Don't buy into the lie that you are all alone. Don't think that this season will last forever, because it won't.

Be prepared.