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Major Transition reality for the Renner Family…

 

It has been around 365 days since I moved into Fountain Hills AZ, and began my new ministry venture at the Church called Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.

I am grateful for the large numbers of people that have been watching, praying, and cheering for the Renner family from a distance.

I want to compare my experience to previous ones.  I have been in some kind of professional ministry for the past 27 years.  The different titles I have been given through those 27 years within the local church have been; Preaching Pastor, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Singles Pastor, First Impressions Pastor, Evangelism Pastor, Church Planter, Merging pastor, Senior Minister, Lead Minister, President of Mission Org, Bible Teacher, and a few titles that I have heard whispered behind closed doors about me.  LOL!

All is good.  I write this blog to the professional pastor out there and I have one purpose and point in this post.  For those who are not a professional pastor, I hope you will read and be challenged to encourage your pastor, who may not always show it in ways you think you need, but he/she loves you and wants to protect you, and prepare you to meet Jesus someday, like nobody else in your life.

Out of all the titles I’ve held over the past 27 years, the current title I hold has been the most challenging and difficult thing I’ve done.  The title is best described in its simplest form as Lead Pastor.  But that title is not the best description of my title.  The real title, in the eyes of those my position has affected the most, is …”Our Next Pastor.”

It is a legitimate title, because I have been called it too many times to count in just the last year. Its not a bad title and in all honesty it really is the most fitting title for the situation.  I’m good with the title.

After 26 years of very successful ministry endeavors, this year 27 has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in what I was doing.  In the past 27 years, I have been more of a church planter type lead pastor than anything else.  So when I transitioned into the role of “our next pastor” to replace a retiring founding pastor who had tenure for 33 years, I really had no idea what I was getting into.  And I got into it thick!  From what I’ve been told or have read about other pastors who have transitioned into the role of “our next pastor”… I’ve had it pretty good.  In fact this isn’t my first rodeo with trying to be the “our next pastor.”  I tried it once in a church in FL and literally quit 7 weeks into it.  It just wouldn’t be right to share the gory details of that hardship my family encountered…but…  all  that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart.  It is not fun, but it is good. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry.  So…what’s my main point here? Keep reading…

Many USA resources are stating that around 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday right here in the good ol USA… and will continue to do so until 2036. Google it, its crazily true.  Calculate that and it equals more than 80 million people retiring in the next 19 years.

I believe it is fair for me to guess, then, that there will be a multitude of founding pastors in that mix of retirees.  Which means there will be multitudes of “our next pastors” stepping into their shoes, picking up their torches, or taking their batons.  For those who are about to step into the shoes of those retiring founding pastors, please heed my words of warning.

There is nothing more leadership intensively difficult, nothing more hazardous to orchestrate, nothing more uncertain in its success, that will leave you feeling isolated and abandoned, than to fill the shoes of a retiring-founding pastor, and be the one who introduces a new era of influence. You, serving as ‘Our Next Pastor’ will have enemies in all those who love the old form, and at best, lukewarm support in all those who will benefit by the new. So, for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for a troubled world’s sake, look forward, move forward, dig deep, for the very reason this situation is happening, is because the current status quo isn’t working anymore. Lead on, O’ leader, lead on!  You only need the solid rock on which you stand, to be your inspiration…Jesus…to remind you that He can do immeasurably more than you dare to ask or hope for! So persist, press on, endure! Let Jesus be your only audience you desire to please, and He alone must be your faith, your hope, and your love.  You are the, ‘our next Pastor’!  You got this! 

If I can personally visit with you over the phone, email, or at a table, with a hot cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper with a wedge of lime squeezed in it, please just ask.  I’ve been taking extremely thorough notes through this adventure. I am seeing success. More time will tell the truth in how I’m doing.  It has become vividly clear to me why churches struggle to produce fruit beyond the 100, 200, & 400 growth barriers. I can help you! I know I will pump you up!! 🙂  And even more, I know I would also learn from you.  I’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories, cry through the heart wrenching experiences our families face as we lead people to experience God, and most of all, I simply want to encourage you, and have you walk away with shining eyes!

This is really, really good work we do.  Of course it is hard. It reminds us how alive we really are.

 

 

 

 


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


PERKS OF AGING…answering mom’s challenge…

Yesterday was my birthday. 46.

Facebook proved to be an amazing tool on my birthday.  I posted today that I received “Happy Birthday!” wishes from Indonesia, Peru, Uganda, Liberia, New Zealand, Israel, Canada, Florida, California, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, and good ol AZ…someone commented quickly and said, “and now from Idaho too!”  The world has definitely gotten smaller…its pretty easy to contact people all over the world!

I ended my Facebook post today with,… “BTW, getting older has its perks!”… My mom responded with,

“What perks does getting older have? List them for all of us.“– Mom

Alright mom…here are many…but not all.

A perk to getting older…agingwine

…is it becomes clearer each day that Heaven is real, the Bible is true and God loves us more than we’ll ever know.

…is we appreciate the laughter of child a bit more than when we were young.

…is we have a deeper appreciation for when somebody experiences positive life change.

…is we now understand that life isn’t going to serve us like we wish it would. In fact we realize that life doesn’t think about us, fulfill us, or give us success…it must be earned and is never guaranteed.

…is we have a better understanding that if we do earn success, it can be gone tomorrow, so we appreciate success a little deeper. A side perk of getting older…we have learned that success doesn’t guarantee happiness.

…is that we realize happiness is never an entitlement.

…is we know for a fact that stuff will never make us happy, but we understand that we will be tempted to think so.

…is, Every year we live, we realize it will go by faster.  The perk…is we are better at slowing down and enjoying each moment a little longer.

…is we know we will never be free from temptation and we have learned to not pray for protection as much as for strength to resist it.

…is we have learned the hard truth that most people in our life will hurt us, but we know we don’t have to hurt back…and no matter what happens, we have learned that bitterness and un-forgiveness are actually worse for us than what the people did to us.

…is the knowledge that forgiveness is mostly for my personal benefit.

…is we have learned that it’s good to care about what people think, but we know better than to allow it to influence our self esteem.

cheese-shelf4…is we have learned that God uses pain to refine us. If we don’t like that fact, we have learned that it won’t do any good to get mad at God about it.

 

…is we have learned that we are going to hurt people. But we don’t ever want to do it on purpose, ever.

 

 

…is we have learned that“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”… is true, they really are just words.

…is we have learned that Hurt people….hurt people. So…when someone hurts us, we have learned to think about what has hurt them that causes them to now hurt us, and it helps us have more compassion and ability to forgive.

…is we have learned that promoting the progress and purpose of others…is truly the good life.

…is we have learned that a majority of people will never win the lottery, or have 15 minutes of fame…and we know for a fact that anything worth having, never come easy.

…is we have learned that If something is worth doing, it is worth doing…even poorly.

…is we know our spouse knows us better than everybody, except God. Listen to them unless they tell us something different than God tells us.

…is we have learned that a secret is the beginning of sin taking over our lives.cropped-happy-old-people

…is we know it is good to Speak the truth even if it makes our voice shake.

…is we know that we will never feel like forgiving someone who hurt us, but we should forgive anyway and often if necessary.

…is we have learned that it is a mental health requirement to have a sense of humor about ourselves because the more we laugh at ourselves, the lighter life can be.

…is we have learned that we all are idiots, just in different areas, se we are getting better at not pointing fingers.

…is we know with confidence that we can’t control anything.

…is our knees/ankles/hips/whole body….hurts because we have lived a full and adventurous life that has worn us down.

…is we know…there’s not much we’d change if we could do it all over again…but the things we would change…would make all the difference!

…is we fully understand that just because someone has aged, it doesn’t mean they have these perks.

…is we fully agree that youth is wasted on the young. 🙂

There are so many more…go ahead, add some in the comments section.

I love growing older and I pray that I am fortunate enough that I will have lived my life to a ripe old age, in such a way, that people will want to care for me when I can’t care for myself.

5-myths-of-hospice-care_0


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


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