Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spiritual Survey

This past Sunday we conducted our annual church wide survey. You can download a copy of the survey here or go online and complete the survey if you are a member/attender of PCC.

Here are a few reasons why we do this survey:

1. It helps us learn more about who is attending our church - their likes, dislikes, personality, demographics, etc.

2. It helps us learn if we are reaching the unchurched or if we are just ministering to those already saved.

3. The demographic information and preferences information will let us know if we are being effective in our outreach and marketing strategies (i.e., newspaper ads, radio, events, etc.)

4. The survey gives me invaluable information for preparing my 2008 Preaching Calendar. When I ask the question about specific struggles people are having it will give me good insight for upcoming series.

5. It gives people an opportunity to express their opinion in a constructive form. Church is a team sport and this collaborative effort gives everyone a chance to offer some input.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Leadership Blog

Recently I was asked to be a blog contributor for a group of pastors that are passionate about reaching this world for Christ. Yesterday I made a post where I shared some thoughts about reaching the lost.

Check out the post, "Reflections of a Consumer" by clicking here.

I feel humbled to contribute and hopefully add value to other pastors as we partner together to depopulate hell and populate heaven.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend Reflections

1. The services went really well this weekend. The fall series, Disciple, is challenging a lot of people to give up being a "Christian" and start being a "Disciple." Unfortunately, we had a problem with our digital recording yesterday and I will need to rerecord the message in the studio this afternoon. It should be posted by late tonight.

2. Our attendance was off by about 30% yesterday due to a major stomach virus that is affecting our entire community. We've had half our staff get the virus too - myself included. I'll be praying for everyone to recover quickly. Don't forget to wash your hands regularly.

3. Over 100 new volunteers signed up to start serving in ministry in the past 2 weeks - 17 of which were in the children's ministry area. That's awesome.

4. Grammy Award winning artists, Take 6, is going to be with us for Christmas on December 1st. You don't want to miss this great opportunity to bring your unchurched friends to a cool Christmas concert where they can hear about Christ.

6. Results from our annual spiritual life survey are being compiled this week. I'm really interested in learning the results so that we can discover new and improved ways as a church to partner with you in your spiritual growth.

6. The pain from the Penn State loss on Saturday was eased by the Steeler's beating up on Cincinnati yesterday. Go Big Ben!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Setting Goals

This week the staff at PCC is getting together for our annual staff retreat to set goals, discuss strategies, develop the budget and plan the master calendar of ministry events for 2008.

Here are a few thoughts I have regarding goal setting:

1) Goals are good. They are statements of faith.

2) We should dream big when setting goals. Jesus said, "According to your faith (goals) it will be done unto you."

3) Don't make your goals into gods. Sometimes you hit them and sometimes you miss. Brett Farve just broke the NFL league record for all-time touchdown passes. He also holds the record for most interceptions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Throw it up there and see what happens.

4) Put your faith in God, not your goals. If you have a big God, you should have big goals.

5) God gives goals to leaders.

6) Goals help you build structure. Structure helps you determine what you need to accomplish your goals. You might have to ask, "What do I need to change, add, or do differently both personally or organizationally to achieve this goal?"

7) Be careful who you share your goals with. Not everyone will agree with your goals.

8) Goals should be out of reach, but not out of reality. Set big goals, but not too big that you demoralize your team if they can't conceive it or achieve it.

9) Goals are good for your soul. The motivate you to go for it.

10) Big goals makes us depend more on God. I've got BIG goals for PCC in 2008. Some people may say, "Dave, who do you think you are?" I say, "who do you think God is?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out of it

Sorry for dropping off the radar screen for the past week or so, but I've been out of it. I started feeling sick about a week ago and it finally caught up with me on Tuesday around 2 am. Oh well.

I've actually started feeling like a human being again about 3 hours ago. I've missed two days in the office this week. BUT, I've been getting a lot done from home.

Tomorrow morning the staff and I are headed for our annual staff retreat. Please pray for us as we dream together and set goals for PCC in 2008.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Practice #2 - Stay Humble

Disciples practice humility. Humility is necessary for a thriving relationship with Jesus because we only walk this walk of faith by the gift of God's grace. Grace, the Bible says, is reserved for the humble. If there's anything I need more of on a daily basis, it's the grace of God.

It's so easy to rely on yourself. We do this unintentionally all the time in the our marriages, work, ministry or any area in our life that requires specific abilities. I heard one preacher describe pride as having a big ego. The ego he was referring to was not defined by a Freudian pop-psychology. Rather it was an acrostic that defined EGO as Edging God Out.

Disciples keep Jesus at the front and center of their lives. Don't push God to the periphery of your life. Stay humble every day and put your trust in Him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Disciples Recalibrate Daily

It's a known fact that before something becomes a habit, it first must become a daily discipline. These disciplines or daily practices will be the foundation upon which life-changing habits will be built.

This week I want to share some practices that will help you develop a closer walk with God.

Practice #1 - Get Alone With God

Life is noisy. Kids. Work. House chores. Ministry. And the list goes on. You've got to develop the practice of solitude or getting alone with God each day to quiet your spirit and reflect on your life. The most healthy and mature disciples I've met find time each day to get alone with God and contemplate where they are in relationship to God, their faith, their family, friends, etc.

Jesus daily recalibrate his life and ministry. Reach Luke 6:12, Mark 1:35 or Matthew 14:23 and notice what Jesus did to help him find focus and clarity in order to accomplish the mission of his heavenly father.

What can you do today to get alone with God? How would that impact your life?

Friday, October 12, 2007

It was a "First"

My son, David, got his first hair cut today. He was so cute sitting there in the chair. He never cried once. I must admit that I was a very proud dad. David turns two in just a few weeks. The older you become, the faster time moves.

I started to think about all the "firsts" that my son is going to have:
*first tooth under his pillow
*first day at school
*first encounter with a bully
*first broken heart

Of course, the biggest first ever will be the day he decides to be a Christ follower. As a parent, I want to be there for every "first". I want to be there to give a "high five" or a "hug". There is no substitute for the power of your presence in the life of your child or family. Spend time with your family and loved ones every day. You'll never regret it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Creating "Wow" Experiences

One of our goals here at PCC is to create 52 unforgettable experiences in an effort to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We call it the "Wow" factor. Each weekend we purpose to go well beyond our guests expectations of what Church can and should be. This not only demonstrates that people matter to us, but more importantly, that people matter to God. It shows that we value everyone that makes an effort to draw nearer to God.

Here are just a few ideas to create "Wow" factors:
  • Parking lot attendants who greet guests, help them with umbrellas if it is raining, assist the elderly, special parking for expecting moms and first time guests
  • All first time guest receive a personal note from the lead Pastor and a $5 gift card to Dunkin Donuts and a follow up call from a staff member
  • Provide clear internal signage in the lobby for guests
  • Greeters at all doors welcoming guests into the facility
  • Hosts in the lobby attentive to needs of first time guest who "look lost" or others that may need assistance
  • Volunteer central / Information Kiosk staffed with a friendly volunteer who can answer questions and provide direction
  • Upbeat music in the lobby and parking lot for guests as they arrive
  • Exciting children programs with activities such as: multimedia, story telling, bounce houses, games, crafts and more
  • Uplifting music to begin the adult service with multimedia
  • Practical teaching with life applicable points

These are just a few ideas. If you are not in the ministry, perhaps you can think of creating some "wow" factors in your own home or at work.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Distrub Me!

Last week my friend went to Catalyst, an innovative conference for next generational leaders. One of his favorite speakers was Craig Groeschel who spoke on the issue of practical atheism. I thought it was so powerful that I needed to share his notes on the talk.

Practical Atheism in the ministry is...Believing that God exists and yet behaving as if everything depends on me.

I was told in Seminary to protect my image, specifically to 'guard the pastor's mystique.' The idea is that pastor's should not share their weaknesses, struggles, or deal with their issues. The former generation thought that this was too risky.

Therefore, I began playing the pastor's role', buy my heart drifted from God. I began to serve with my lips but not with my heart. I had become a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ. I began to think that my ministry was dependent on my efforts, my creativity, and my ability to get it done.

Here were the signs of my condition:

I started to believe that my efforts were more important than God's power.

I began believing that my private life did not affect my public ministry. I started neglecting the condition of my heart.

I was believing that it was more important to please people than to please God.

What did God do to deal with me? HE DISTURBED ME! I became bothered by my lack of compassion, my pride, my shallowness, and my lack of real tangible result.

We need to pray this regularly...God Disturb Me! Awaken me to the condition of my heart. Awaken me to condition of the world around me. Make me a full-time follower of Christ.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Weekend Update

This past weekend was phenomenal. Here are some of the highlights:

1. We had an all-time, non-holiday record attendance with 991 people.

2. We had 52 salvations.

3. We could account for 70 first-time guest adults.

4. We had over 130 volunteers serving in ministry.

5. Last Wednesday night, we had 265 people attend "The Gathering" - our new monthly night of prayer and worship.

5. The worship team did a great job leading us into God's presence.

6. It was almost as if a "holy hush" came over the people during both services during the message where I challenged the church to give up nominal Christianity and start being authentic disciples of Christ.

7. Community Groups kick off this week with dozens of groups meeting through the Pocono area.

God is doing great things in and through us at PCC this fall. We thank God for the opportunity to be part of this unfolding miracle in this mountain. Let's continue to ask God for his help as we humbly do His work.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Why Pastors Fall

In H.B. London's address yesterday, he discussed several reasons for moral failure in a pastors life. Recent statistics show that 1500 pastors leave the ministry each week. Over 50% of new pastors resign within the first 5 years of ministry. Yet, others leave the ministry because of a moral failure.

Here are some reasons why great men fall.

1. Fatigue and Burn-out.

When you are depleted of energy, you need something to fill you up. Many pastors fall prey to carelessness. They allow themselves to slip in very subtle areas.

Three things observed in every pastoral moral failure –
  • Very limited time alone with God.
  • Unresolved conflicts at home.
  • No one holding them accountable.

A second observation noted in pastoral failure include:

2. An over-abundance of pastoral counseling.

Pastors must have a good referral system – people who you can refer your parishioners to who are better than you are at counseling. This is no indication of weakness on your part. An overabundance of pastoral counseling can lead to spiritual burn-out. When you see the same people, saying the same things, with the same problems, and you begin to wonder if anything ever will change. You keep getting beat down, and you spiritually burn out.

3. Loneliness and isolation.

Pastors and/or their spouses feel isolated and under appreciated. You seek affirmation in other places, and this leaves you vulnerable.

Ephesians 5:3 – let there not even be a hint of immorality. We need to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6)·

4. The inability or unwillingness to identify areas of weakness.

We need to do everything we can to avoid all areas of personal weakness. You need to have someone to whom you are personally accountable. Someone who you allow to ask you the hard questions. Build safeguards into your life.

If there are unresolved issues from the past, they must be resolved, or they will come back to haunt us.

What is the solution to these things?
1. Intimacy with God
2. Right relationships
3. Adequate rest
4. Honest accountability
5. Meaningful ministry
6. An attitude of joy and thanksgiving
7. A vigilant spirit

Guard your heart, stay pure, love your family, stay very close to God.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Joy Suckers

One of the most memorable things H.B. said last night was that every church has joy suckers. Joy Suckers maintain the uncanny ability to find something wrong with just about everything. Nothing is every good enough. They constantly complain to the pastor and are always finding fault.

If you are not careful and spend too much time around the joy suckers, you start to buy into their negative perceptions and ideology. Pastors must intentionally surround themselves with positive people who are full of faith. It's not that you want to live in a bubble, but you must choose to think positive thoughts. Paul said "whatever is noble, pure right ... think on these things."

Paul also said, "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." It's hard to rejoice when you are walking around with your head down. You can't smile with a frown on your face. You can't rejoice when you are being critical of others. Paul said, chose to be positive. Don't let your circumstances, regardless of how negative or difficult they may be, determine your outlook. When you walk into a room, you should light it up not empty it out. Don't be a joy sucker. Be a joy giver. Thanks H.B.

Monday, October 01, 2007

H.B. London

Today I am at a conference with a special guest speaker H.B. London. H.B. has become a pastor to pastors across the nation. It's so important to find time to be renewed in your mind, body and spirit. I'm actually sitting in the session right now and I'm really looking forward to what H.B. has to say.

I look forward to sharing some of his thoughts with you this week. Please pray for me as I find some time to get away with God this week in preparation for an amazing season of ministry this fall. I'm so looking forward to what God is doing in and through PCC.