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Posts tagged with: elders

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.
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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


In search of a Church where i can best use my strengths…my wish list…

I am in search of a Church that will allow me to lead them in honoring God’s will.

I have a Wish List…If the Church isn’t committed to the point of writing this wish list as its upmost importance, then I must decline leadership in it.  I do not want to just LEAD in it…I want to incarnate it and vice versa.

The Wish List…wishlist

I want my family to be a part of a Church Body that...

1.  …is fully committed to the acknowledgment that there is no difference in our spiritual and secular lives 7 days a week.

2.  …doesn’t rely on a church building, me, or the people up front to be the primary source of growth.

3.  …will disagree well, because our common enemy is the devil, not each other.

4.  …is devoted to the restoration of people who are hungry, thirsty, lonely, or have shattered lives.

5.  …will agree that the Lord is worthy of excellence and only the excellent will be used in public worship gatherings.

6.  …has an aggressive pursuit of Health, Growth, and Love, founded in the Teachings and Commandments of Jesus Christ.

Bonus items…

Will no longer have the Lord’s Supper be a short pause with a little cracker and cup of juice during a worship service, but will meet once a week in homes and have a full supper together.  The Supper is a focused appreciation of common fellowship, Bible Application, prayer, and focus on the Lord’s body and blood.

Every member will be committed to baptizing at least one person a year with whom they have built a trusting and loving relationship with.

Every member will meet regularly with 2 other friends for accountability and prayer.

There is a Church that exists with this focus out there, and they are looking for a leader like me to join them…I just know it.  If not…I’m going to start a brand new one.


A New Renner Life Change is about to Release!!

2011 will forever be an unforgettable year for the Renner family.  Parkway Christian Church had just gone through a merge with Christ’s Church of the Valley and for the first time, the two churches became one Church with 2 locations.

My intent here is not to aggravate old scars, but the merge didn’t go so well.  Its doing fine now. Life moves on.  After 8 months into the merge, it became clear that I had to do something drastic.  It didn’t make sense then, but knowing what I know now…almost 5 years later…it was very necessary for layers of reasons.  (Someday I will write about the necessary reasons…it’ll make a great book, but I think it will have to wait for 20 years or so before it’s written.  Many details and reasons are still unfolding…If I had to write it now, I’d title it, “The God of Founders, Hoarders, and Shepherds”. (Please purchase this book in 2036-ish 🙂 LOL

So back to the date…On August 12, 2011…I was challenged by Bill Hybels, the keynote speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, to write whatever I wanted on a broken shard of clay pot I had chosen from a pile in the auditorium.  The pics below will show the shard, including the infamous date and what I wrote.  As I wrote it, I cried.  I meant what I wrote, and God held me to it.  The pics below show both sides of the clay pot shard…

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“WHATEVER YOU WANT. I WILL NOT BACK OFF.  I WILL NOT HOLD ANYTHING BACK FROM YOU.”

Knowing what I know now…those are very dangerous words in the hands of a God who is more interested in our character than He is our comfort.  I warn you to be careful about what pledges you lay down at the feet of the one who created the Sun, Moon, and Stars.

And so it began.  A move to Florida.  Another move within Florida.  A move back to AZ.  A move within AZ…twice.  Someday I will share the intriguing details of encountering founders, hoarders and shepherds, but for now…the story is just about at its climax and the dramatic ending is about to unfold!

This blog isn’t intended to retell the current motion picture that is about to conclude, but is more like a rough draft of the opening scene of the sequel!

Its about to happen.  I don’t know the timeline…but the Lord does.

So much has happened in the past nearly 5 years, and so many people got stuck in asking why it all happened.  Too many people drown in the question of, “why?”  I’ve taught for 25 years, that asking WHY is the wrong question.  Asking WHAT NOW is the right question.   I’m shocked at how some think that my not being in a leadership position within a church for a couple years is very odd.  Its not odd if you look to the Word of God for similar examples.  The following are four.  There are others too.

King David…after being anointed King of Israel, didn’t positionally lead until about 15 years later.

Joshua… When he was 17,  was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and it wasn’t until 13 years later that he finally got his “stride” back.

The Apostle Paul, according to what he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, was blocked by Satan from being able to continue the work of Jesus for a time.

Jesus… had a pretty good position from Heaven, and then was commanded by His father to leave His comfort zone to take a 33 year detour that left Him for dead.  The story ended well, but we only know that from 20/20 hindsight.

So…the Renner Family 5 year saga…has purpose that is still unfolding.  I’m just writing now to ask you, my friend, to pray for me and my family.

A new beginning is about to happen.  The sequel to this current movie!   I’m so convinced of this that I just purchased a brand new leather journal. (See Pic Below)  It has gold edged pages…it’s new…it’s fresh…it’s excitement yet to be written.   The sequel is about to begin!

Renner Journals

I still have my old journal, the one I’ve been using to write this current feature film…  It’s falling apart and loaded with incredible story, timelines, learnings, founders, hoarders, shepherds, lions-tigers-and-bears…Oh My!  I will continue to write in the old one until it becomes clear the current movie has ended.

I can’t wait to break open the new Journal and begin writing on the crisp pages that thirst for pencil and ink.

The trailer of the new sequel is this.

I am going to be a Lead Pastor again. The where is being wrestled with right now.  If it can’t be in a current Church that is prepared to let go of control and move forward to do whatever is necessary to reach people far from God, then I’ll plant another brand new, fresh, and flexible one. This trailer teases of  a story with incredible life change, spiritual influence, church growth, and… if God wills, a movie about the next 20 years of the Renner Family’s life.  The main characters don’t change.  They are a wonderful trio…The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We Renner’s just have supporting roles in this movie, and with that we hope to win some rewards that make the Oscars seem so temporal.

Stay tuned…


Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability…

I was watching the news over a lunch break just a few moments ago and couldn’t help but notice, through sheer repetition, Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary saying, “The President believes that the Press should have unfettered & balanced freedom to information so as to honor the first amendment rights of the Constitution, anything else would be inappropriate.”

I’m grateful to know that our constitutional rights are being protected and valued by our leaders of this great country. I do worry about its validity though. Why? Not because I may or may not be a fan of this administration…I pray for it daily, but because I believe deeply, that if you or myself have to keep repeating something publicly, the only persons we may be trying to convince is ourselves.

Does Martha Stewart have to publicly say that she is a great cook?
Does Michael Jordan have to publicly say that he is a great basketball player?
Does Billy Graham have to publicly say that he is a great evangelist?
Does Mother Theresa have to publicly say that she is compassionate?
Does the Miami Heat have to say that they will win the 2013 NBA Championship?

The answer is no, to all the questions above. Why? Because it is obvious. Actions speak louder than words.

In the past I have encountered individuals and groups of people who hungered for their personal agendas to be protected. I have worked through forgiveness for these tragic situations and now have the privilege to be able to write about lessons learned and observations made as I look back now with 20/20 hindsight. I am grateful for you, as you read this, for you have granted me such a privilege of writing, because—well, you are reading this. 🙂

In the multiple accounts I am referring to, I have noticed a similar pattern in each. First, an unspoken and obvious desire to have no accountability or responsibility when something goes wrong. Second, a hunger for power. And third, a hunger to pursue selfish ambition. By the way, ambition is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t warn us against ambition. Jesus was ambitious. What the Bible warns us of, is selfish ambition. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” What is the difference between ambition and selfish ambition? One promotes the progress of self at the apathy towards others. Personal agendas are very dangerous. I might add, personal agendas without accountability grow into forms of devastating evil.

Do a self check right now. This is hard to do when you think you do no wrong. I confess that I have had times in my life where I felt I could do no wrong. The ability to confess that fact is the very act that cleanses that sin. So, I say all that to say, those who need to do a self check the most, won’t…because they don’t think they need it.

Self-Check Time. Is there something in your life that you keep telling yourself or publicly declaring? You will notice it by its sheer repetition. I have repeated to myself in the past, “These people will like me”…and I had to keep telling myself such. Why? Because I really didn’t think people would like me for who I was. It was just a deep insecurity that I grew up thinking. I played on a basketball team in college that was lead by a coach who kept saying that we were a united team, while allowing a couple of players to travel on their own on B-ball trips in their own vehicle. (Not coach Rupe…in case some are wondering) It was clear we had unity problems on and off the court. Yet, the coach kept saying we were a united team? He was only trying to convince himself, we all knew better. I have encountered people who believed the best thing that could happen to their company was simply making sure their presence remained in the company for as long as possible. Who were they trying to convince? I have encountered a group of people who kept telling themselves and me, that they had to have the power. Who were they trying to convince and what was their agenda?

When you hear a preacher, continually harp on an issue…it’s is likely that he/she is struggling with it him/herself.
When you hear a Press Secretary repeat something over and over, it is likely that he is trying to convince himself and/or protect a personal agenda.
When you hear a group of people continually debate about who is in charge, it is likely that they are trying to self-preserve.
I am a student of Church world and have noticed some churches keep repeating how they are the biggest church in their town.(I’m not referring to CCV) Why are they repeating that? When you hear a professional athlete repeat how dominant he is, who is he trying to convince and who is he trying to protect?

What is it in your life that you have been vocally repeating? Who are you trying to convince? You don’t have to convince the people who are watching you. We know you by your actions. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 (NASB), “You will know them by their fruit.” When my words do not back up my actions, everybody knows it but me, and how I look foolish. When your words do not back up your actions, everybody knows it and how foolish you look. Once, there was an elder who told me in front of a bunch of other people that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That reason is to talk less and listen more. That was great advice that cut to my core. I learned from that elder. I appreciated the accountability, even though it hurt at the time, it made me sit back and shut up and listen. I am still working on getting better at such. What shocked me, is that specific elder was one who wouldn’t shut up in our private meetings. LOL. Crazy isn’t it? We are imperfect people and the only time that gets us in trouble is when we actually try to make other people live better than we do ourselves. I call that behavioral modification and control. It’s everywhere, but it is at its stinkiest in the church. It is crazy how Christians get very angry at other people for sinning differently than they do themselves.

Bottom line…We all need accountability. We need it of any kind. If someone tells you they don’t need accountability…that is the very person who needs it most. Why? Because they said it! Who are they trying to convince?

As far as the Top of the News is going right now….

We are seeing what happens when power seeking more power goes “unfettered” by a lack of accountability through biased-non-reporting from the press. The press is crying foul at something they actually empowered to happen. I pray it is a lesson learned. This lesson should soak into every fragment of our individual lives, corporate lives, committee lives, elder’s in church’s lives, marriage lives, and friendship lives. Hunger for power and living for self leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the beginning of sin/evil…let it go unchecked by covering up the truth and the truth will build such power that it will eventually blow forth in such a mighty way that it will reveal the culprit in a very naked way.

If you are a Christian and in a healthy Church, you should be able to come forward, confess your sin and be embraced by the loving arms of the body of Jesus Christ. There will still be consequences to covering up the truth and sin, but you will be loved not judged. That is the Church behaving its best.

If you are not in the Church, and are, like in today’s top news stories, the U.S. Government…well… your role, and the hot water that seems to be coming to a boil. I’m afraid more judgment is coming than love. The Government is not like the Church. The Government works for the people, and hell hath no fury than a people scorned, lied to and tricked. Its different for the Church, nobody answers to people, we answer to Jesus. There’s a big difference. I would rather answer to Jesus than to people. People are scary. Jesus is not. People are unpredictable, Jesus is not.

I like to say, “Time tells all things.”
Jesus said it better. “You will be known by your fruit.”
Jesus said it best, when He said, “The truth shall set you free.”
Be truthful now and there is nothing to hide and nothing to blow up in our face and leave us naked before our judges.

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability are very dangerous things.
I’ve never seen a single soul, in all of world history, be able to safely play with power, secrecy, lack of accountability, and not get burnt and thus be left naked and exposed before the whole world.
If you hunger for power, have secrets and a lack of accountability I’ll bet you keep secretly telling yourself that it will all be okay.
Who are you trying to convince?
My advice, if you will accept it, is to take up 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

God is the Power. God knows all secrets. God is the ultimate accountability. AND…God is love. That makes me stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. He is the one and only true King.

In 1905, Charles Gabriel wrote a great Hymn called ‘I stand Amazed in the Presence.” It’s one of my favorite songs. I think when you read the lyrics below, the notes will play in your head. I dare you sing it right from where you sit…who cares who hears you…sing it! 🙂

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

Refrain:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.
(Refrain)

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.
(Refrain)


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