Thursday, December 27, 2012

Challenging my think for 2013!

As pastors, changing how we THINK and ACT is critical to our being successful in LIFE and MINISTRY!

It is our thoughts, beliefs, and attitude – not what happens around us, that cause us to feel a certain way or to do certain things.  The goal of this blog post is help each reader and myself look at our current life and ministry situation and develop an understanding of the causes and objectives for change as we approach the new year.

These are the Simple Questions I’m asking myself this year, and as I move into 2013.

1.                  Do I personally feel that spiritually and practically I’m where God wants me to be in my ministry?
2.                  What has happened in my life to bring me to this point of my life and ministry?
3.                  What problems have I had that were the direct result of my personal attitude, choices, or poor decision making?
4.                  What issues do I feel have been the result of a poor prayer life or lack of prayer?
5.                  Is the way I’m doing ministry giving the results that I believe God is pleased with?

As we approach the NEW YEAR what changes do I feel that I need to make in order for 2013!

  1. In order for me be successful this coming year in my personal relationship with Christ, I need to do what?
  2. In order for me be successful this coming year in my personal ministry, I need to do what differently?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts about the churches response to the next Shooting ….

My heart is breaking along with the rest of America and the world over the senseless violence on Friday. The school shooting that occurred this past Friday is beyond the imagination of anyone. The horribly news, the terrifying description of the pain, anxiety, fear, and depression on the faces of those affected was heart wrenching to watch on T.V.
            As a Christian my heart breaks, and my prayers go up for the family that is suffering through such tragedy of losing a child to this senseless and unexplainable act. I also pray for the minds and hearts of the first responders, the memories that have been formed in their mind from what they found as they went through the doors for the first time, for the children and teachers in the school that survived, but will forever be touched by this event. My prayer is simple “God grant them the presents of your Holy Spirit, and the helping and healing touch of your love, as you minister to their hearts and minds through this time.”
            As the news keeps breaking and as the story continues to unfold, there has been talk and challenges issued by various groups about gun control, mental illness, and even teachers being armed. I’m not sure if any of these debates will mean much, or if the laws had been different there would have been a different outcome. However, I believe that there are two debates that the national media won’t engage in. The first is not the focus of this post but is worth mentioning. Christians often make the argument of how God being removed from the Public School has promoted a different value system among young people and adults over the past 30 years.
The second debate is more for the church than the media. How do we respond if this happens in our community? Newton, Connecticut is a microcosm of hundreds of thousands of small communities across America. On any given day, any school throughout America could face a similar tragedy. As a minister, Christian counselor, professional addiction counselor, and member of a church, there may be a time I’m called on in a time of crisis. My training and background will help me to respond. However, I’m so concerned today there are hundreds or even thousands of pastors that have never had the training or even the desire to learn how to help individuals in a crisis like this.
I believe as a pastor, church member, family member, and friend there are three essentials the church must get into their brain, heart, and ministry plan.
1.      Tragedy is going to hit your church community in some form and at some point (it maybe a shooting, a natural disaster, or the death of a friend or family member). It is our responsibility to be pro-active now (have the training and plans in place to respond), and not re-active (running around the community looking for help) then.

2.      Develop a prayer network that is going to reach across denominational, cultural, school district, city limits, state lines and the nation. Pray that God is going to protect our children, families, and communities.

3.      Develop an ACTION PLAN … In times of crisis what do we do? How do we respond to the individuals effected by this crisis, how do we pray with them, what do we share with them, and where do we get them help? In my mind the ACTION PLAN is simply about the pastor knowing the answers to these questions, and having the tools to help. It is about the body of Christ, stepping up, being trained, and sharing the love of Christ with the hearts and minds of those affected. The church needs to also look at the on-going care of individuals affected by these events. Post-Trauma Stress Disorder is real, and the statement “pray about it” is a great come back but not the sole solution. Helping them to deal with the emotional loss, physical trauma, and haunting memories will take time to heal, and a loving church to assist them.
As we continue to read and hear more about this tragedy, I pray it is a wakeup call for the church to prepare for the worse, and thank God for his continue blessing on our community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How do I determine a successful Men’s Ministry event…

                I have been involved in pastoral ministry for over 30 years, and have been focusing on Ministering to Men for the past eight years.  Over those years I have seen several things work, and I have seen several others fall flat. However, what is interesting is that some ideas I implemented were successful in one place, and a failure somewhere else.  This difference in success from place to place can be found in the attitudes of the attendees and the opinions of the leaders.  As a leader I would sometimes view an event or activity as a failure or unproductive, but this may have been the farthest thing from the truth.
                I have spent a great deal of time looking at the activities and events I have encouraged men to partake in, trying to determine the success and flop of each. The only formula that I have come up with is what the Lord has laid on my heart.
·         Was the activity/event Christ centered?  Personally, this is the most important aspect.  If Christ is not the center of the activity then there is no reason to have it.
o   Did the attendees see Christ lifted up through my actions, and speech, and those that participated in the event?
·         Did the men engage and participate in the activity/event?
·         Do you see a number of the men making changes as the result of their participation?
Planning an activity or event that provides the following principles will help you to answer yes to the questions above.
·         Use a variety of methods that will reach, engage, and challenge men of various ages and cultural groups.
o   Avoid the trap of only ministering to one age group, because that is where we fill most comfortable, and it is the path of least resistance.
·         Ask your men questions, such as what are your men interested in doing? How can you make their interest a successful event?
o   Be willing to think outside the box.
·         Remember … an outcome is simply a matter of someone’s opinion!
·         Continue to try, and improve on those that work.
·         Understand your personal limits and search for help from others that have a special skill that will help you.
o   Example … I love to write, but my grammar is really bad (most editors say I “write like I talk”) So over the years, I have surrounded myself with some awesome editors, that take time to proof read and clean up everything I write (Including this post).
The key to success is simple …
Keep trying and give God the glory!

Reflecting on scripture!

            As I read this morning from Mark 2: 1 – 12; I felt a special sense of urgency.   I was reflecting on the types of people we en...