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You mad at the Church, bro?

You mad bro?  

You mad at the imperfect Church?  Mad at the crowd that makes her up?  Mad at how they follow that leader who is imperfect too?  You think to yourself, and verbalize to others around you, “How could they!?…Can’t they see how imperfect it all is!!?”

Most can’t tell how angry you are, but I do. I see you. I hear you. I know you. More importantly…your Creator notices, hears, and whispers into your angry deaf ears. Your anger makes you think you are hearing God’s voice, but your internal screaming is so loud, you miss His gentle whisper. You’re not hearing God’s will, you are hearing your own shrill.

So you have an angry plan. And you love it when a plan comes together!

Your anger drives you to be on your A game.  You feel good!  You are motivated like never before.  You feel so alive, confident, and empowered!  You are good! Your anger hypnotizes you to fall in love with your idea. Your anger cements in your expectations, and your anger has you on a passionate high, assured of your success.

My friend…You aren’t mad at the Church.

You’re just mad.

Unhappy. In actuality, your anger, originated in hurt.

Your hurt isn’t working for you. Forgive. Whoever-Whatever…forgive! I know you don’t feel like forgiving.  Do it anyway.  Be free.  Be smarter because of your hurt, not dumber.  Being dumber will only hurt you more and then you’ll get more angry.  If you’re not careful, you’ll be so hurt, your anger will lead you to find a theology that proves how wrong the Church is, and that downward spiral of death, will have you actually believing someday that Jesus didn’t really raise from the dead, you’ll convince yourself He’s not the Messiah…you end up in hell.

If you’re mad, bro…You’re already in a hell. Don’t force it into eternity.

Stop it!

Repent. Ask God for forgiveness…for being mad at the crowd for following that leader. That leader who hurt you. That Christian who sinned.  That crowd that sheepishly and blindly follows. Ask for forgiveness for thinking you can do it better. Ask for forgiveness for being angry at The Church for her imperfections.

Let it go.

Let joy return.

Jesus is the Hope of the world, NOT the Church.

The local Church is just an imperfect conduit to Jesus.  Love the Church again. Jesus died for her. There’s no greater love than that. Love the…

Imperfect.

Messy.

Beautiful mess!

Church.

You.

 

 

 


What kind of Church are you a part of?

Getting back into the Senior Leadership of a Church has been thrilling.  It is definitely my strength and sweet spot that God designed and called me to do. I love Church world. The good, the bad and the ugly. It makes for an intriguingly interesting life!

I love how The Church around the world comes in many forms and persuasions.  The only thing required to be The Church is obedience to Jesus.

My wife Kelli and I were fortunate years back to be invited into what is called the Mega-Church pastor’s annual conference, where senior leaders of about 60-100 churches all averaging above 1000 in attendance met around round tables to talk Church World stuff.  When Kelli and I attended our first one, we both confess to this day, that we had expectations of what all these Pastors would look and sound like.  We expected them all to look and sound alike.  The reality is that we couldn’t have been further from the truth. These Pastors and spouses were extreme in their differences.  We were both very excited and enlightened that God uses all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people. (duh!)  The local Church is awesome…when it is healthy.  The local Church is disastrous when it is sick.

I was thinking, that albeit the leaders in different churches are all different, the Church itself, when it comes to actual Church Health…has only a few types to choose from.  I think there are 3 typical types of Churches in the world.  By types, I mean, how they are led.  Leadership is everything!  The 3 major kinds of Churches are noted below with my incredible artistic abilities. LOL

Please know…I’m not being dogmatic about this.  I’m open to other types.  Share them with me, and I’ll express them in more fantastic art!   I agree that anomalies exist.  I hate putting God in compartmentalized boxes. (I’m not putting God in a box.  I’m pointing out Churches that are stuck in boxes)

The three diagrams below are considered very typical and are prevalent Churches in the world.  One of the mentalities below is a very healthy Church.  (Note I didn’t say, perfect.)  There is no such thing.  But in the 3 types of Churches…the Staff-Led Church (Pic 3) is by far…BY FAR…the healthiest.  The Pastor as CEO mentality (pic 2) has a lot of health, but also a lot of sickness.  The typical Elder-Led mentality(Pic 1) is overtly sick with small elements of health trying to overpower the sickness.

My point of all this today…  Hierarchies in the Church World do not work in a world that is cursed with sin.  Jesus crushes heirarchy mentalities, because He is at the top of all heirarchies and he washes the feet of his enemy and demands the last shall be first and the top shall be bottom. (I suppose the truth is that…Jesus doesn’t crush hierarchies…He just leaves them.)   So…if your Church is a hierarchy…it is extremely sick.  I suggest pic 3 below as your church of choice.  If you are in a church that is pic 1 or 2… I’m sorry.  Good luck changing it.  You might have to, instead, move to a healthy church instead of change the one you are in.  Insert something here about old dogs and tricks.  Not impossible…but nearly.   I repeat. Heirarchy Churches are sick and they need a serious long term visit from the one who is nicknamed, The Great Physician.  That’s not Dr Oz.  It’s Jesus. 🙂  I’m so grateful to be in a Staff-Led, Elder protected Church.  Boom!  It is incredible!  I freaking love it.

I could break these down and make an entire book out of them.  But…this is all you get today.  Pick which Church you are in.  Decide what you are going to do about it.  Contribute to these thoughts in the comments section.  I’m sure there are a few other styles, but they are very rare.  Below is that fabulous art I promised above…The 3 most typical types of Churches are….

Pic 1 

Pic 2

Pic 3


During my Elders Meeting today…Renner Family Transitions…

Over the last 5 years the Renner Fam has had some head spinning life transitions take place from Arizona to Florida and back to AZ again. These 5 years have given me the ability to encounter many different types of leaders, staff, church members, and leadership teams. It is astonishing to me how different each one of these experiences have been.
.
My most recent is my accepting the lead pastor role with CCFH = Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills. Earlier today, I sat in my 4th meeting with the CCFH Elders, and I am simply blown away at their love, camaraderie, and Kingdom mentality. As I post these thoughts, 7 hours after the meeting, I am still reeling with a heart that is full, and am so encouraged. This kind of team is what I’ve been looking for since the Parkway days.

I’m experienced enough to know it will not always be easy…but the foundation that the Founding Pastor, Don Lawrence has built over the last 32 years has created a church, a staff, and an Elder Board that is humble, hungry for Kingdom growth, and has strong spiritual, social, and emotional health. I ask for your prayers as this journey continues. If you don’t live in Fountain Hills…make the time someday to come out on a Sunday, visit CCFH, and say hello to me! If you live in FH, then it’s a no brainer, come to Church! 🙂 I’d love to see you and introduce you to an unbelievable Church called CCFH. I am grateful and will hit the hay tonight with a full heart.grateful


Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb

EVERYBODY LEADS…

Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny.  There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader.  Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes to intrude our brains the instant we hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post simply states that everybody leads.  I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence.  So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone.  With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which has been given to some and not to others.  The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;  (“Whoomp, there it is!”) 🙂 
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing about this, because it has become personal to me.  By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally.  Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena.  I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader.  They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader.  The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others.  If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in.  Other answers are found in a lack of strategy.  Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how he/she is spiritually gifted.  (In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches.  Have we considered whether or not that parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?”   If you have time for more reading…then read the parable here and transpose the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use the word servants instead of the word talents.)  Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different.  Better or worse?  That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership.  No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.”  Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.


March Madness! 7 Ways Basketball is like Life…

elite basketball

I love March Madness!  I love the game of basketball, but you’ll rarely see me taking the time to watch any games unless it’s my kid’s games or it’s officially March Madness!  March Madness is when the phrase “Game On!” truly incarnates into the 10 young men that step on the NCAA basketball floors all over the USA.  It is the time of year when the Elite players gather in 5’s and live out other vital phrases such as, “Give it your all!” — “No Regrets!” — “No Retreat!” — “Bring it!” — “No do-overs!” — “Go Big or Go Home!” — “Do or Die!”.

With that…it seems Basketball and life have a lot of parallels.  Here are 7.  I’m sure there are more.  If you have another one, write it in the comments section!

Here you go…7 things about March Madness Basketball that relate to real life…

1.  I play better relaxed. 

In life, when I’m frustrated, I live horribly. When relaxed I focus on wise and pro-active choices. When frustrated I tend to argue and fight and that just rarely ends in productivity.

2.  The measure between in-bounds and out-of-bounds is the difference between ASSERTIVE and AGGRESSIVE.

Assertive actions are focused on what is necessary towards what you want. Aggression clouds my focus and causes fouls from a heavy hand. Assertive behavior leads to goals achieved. Aggressive behavior causes pain and harm.

3.  Practice does = Permanent.

Work hard and smart because we all know it will be worth it.  Find what works and repeat until it doesn’t work anymore.  Practice…a lot.

4.  Good Self Esteem = Good Performance.  Performance does NOT = Self Esteem. 

5.  It’s a TEAM game. 

You can’t win basketball or life on your own.  Many Christians mistake the passage of Philippians 4:13 as a passage that means you can do everything on your own.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”  Most people stop with that verse…but verse 14 says, “yet it was good of you to help me.”  

There’s a lot of arguing going on about this in our culture from prominent people such as Barack Obama, Michael Jordan and others.  Somebody told Michael Jordan that there is no “I” in team…His reply was, “But there is in “Win.”  🙂  Makes me smile, but it’s just not true.  Some have discovered that there is actually an “i” found in the word “team.”  See pic below to figure it out yourself.

The-I-in-Team1

My spiritual gift of immaturity causes me to laugh and shake my head at that pictorial proof that there is on occasion “i” in team.

6.  You have to score to win.

Basketball is like life because it is vital to set goals and be assertive in pursuing them.  It is important to understand that great goal achievement in basketball is at between the 50% – 60% success rate.  And…basketball is like life in the fact…The tougher the shot/goal the more satisfaction there is in attempting it and scoring it! Man…some goals can just make the crowd go crazy!!

7.  You cannot hold on to your mistakes for long…

So…you gave the ball away.  You missed a crucial shot.  You tripped and looked silly in the moment.  LET IT GO!  The game of basketball and life is fast.  It moves on with or without you.  Dropping our heads to pout will only be another error.  The best players in the world miss 50% of their 2 pointers and nearly 70% of their 3 pointers.

Philippians 3:13 says, “But one thing I do…forget (let it go) the past and strain (assertive) to what lies ahead.”  

 

Basketball and Life do have a lot of similarities.  There are others…I’ll leave it up to you to add them to the comments section if you’d like.  We could brainstorm many other parallels with basketball and life… Boundaries. Refs. Coaches. Racing the Clock. Strategic plays. Momentum. There’s always a crowd watching. Retaliators get called for the foul. Locker Room talk. Having the right shoes. Dunking! Having the right players on the team.  Making the Cut. Rest and Recovery. Shirts and Skins…etc. etc.

Let’s get our game on!