Friday, July 31, 2009

Stewardship Seminar Reflections

Had a great time yesterday at the Stewardship and Activate (Small Group) seminar with Kerrick Thomas of ChurchLeaderInsights and Journey Church. We had almost 100 pastors and staff members in attendance between the two seminars. What a great opportunity to use our new facility to host other pastors and churches in an effort to expand the Kingdom.

Although I had been through this material many times before, I still learned something new. In fact, I wrote down 39 thoughts and action items from the Stewardship seminar alone.

Here are a few:

1. Stewardship is discipleship. You can't be a successful disciple if you don't have a successful stewardship plan.

2. My giving begins after my tithe. The Bible says I bring the tithe out of obedience and to stay out from under the curse (Mal.3:10).

3. Stewardship involves so much more than money. It's about honoring God with my whole life.

4. Offer multiple options for giving. The more convenient you make it for people to honor God on a systematic basis the better. Here are some options: the weekend service, mail it in, online giving, and auto debit. Journey Church only receives 28% of their weekly giving in their weekend service. Over 50% of their giving is given online and through the auto debit.

5. My heart follows my money, not the other way around. So, whatever I care about or love, that's where my money goes.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Update

We had an amazing day yesterday at PCC. This summer we are studying the Beatitudes in our series, "Life on the B List." I'm learning so much more about what Jesus wants for me and expects of me as a radically devoted disciple. If you want to listen to any of the messages, you can go here.

The worship team did an excellent job yesterday too. Our special guest, Stephanie Peters, was here all weekend leading a worship workshop for the team. I spent a little time with the team, sitting in on some of the sessions and yesterday I could sense a difference among our team as it relates to a deeper passion and sensitivity to the work of the Holy Spirit in our services. Thanks guys. You are awesome.

As a reminder from yesterday's message, Celebrate Recovery meets tonight at 7pm in the multipurpose room. I would encourage anyone who is going through a season of grief, addiction, or heartache to come and let God comfort your through other people, His Word and the Spirit. It's a safe place to get the help you need.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Explaining Why Staff Leave

I recently read an article in Rev! Magazine which gave some practical insight on explaining why staff leave. I've had more than my share of staff transitions in the past 6 years and while each change was unique, there are some similarities I've discovered over the years. Here are some of my notes from the article which best summarizes what I've discovered:
There are all sorts of reasons why staff leave, but here are some positive ones:
A Stage in Life
Sometimes staff leave because they have to take care of an aging parent, the desire to go back to school, marriage or even retirement.
A Stirring of God
Sometimes staff change ministry venues because God simply calls them to another mission field. 20 percent of Americans move every year. It's no wonder that pastors will often make transitions too.
A Season of Healing
Sometimes staff have to take a break from ministry in order to focus on their family, a marriage or even a wayward child. That's biblical. Ministry can be grueling. It can overtake a persons life and leave them drained. Some times staff need to take a break because of physical or emotional issues.
A Situation of Privacy
On rare occasions, some staff leave ministry due to private matters. In those cases, I've tried to protect their privacy and not publicize why someone is leaving.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Small Groups and Stewardship Seminar

PCC is hosting a Small Groups & Stewardship Seminar next Thursday, July 30th with my good friends from Church Leader Insights. You don't want to miss this! Here's what will be covered. To register, click here.

"The Stewardship Seminar" - 9am - 12:00pm
- The 5 types of givers in your church
- How to cultivate first time givers
- How to develop an ongoing stewardship system
- How to motivate people to tithe
- How to challenge people to go deeper in stewardship
- How to teach on money
- How to increase giving in your church
- How to help your congregation understand the connection between financial stewardship and spiritual growth
- How to help first time givers realize the significance of their gift
- Understanding stewardship as discipleship

"The Activate Seminar" 1:30pm - 4:30pm
(based on the new book "Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups")
- How do I get 100% of my church involved in small groups?
- What are the basic elements of an effective small groups system?
- How do I recruit and train enough small-group leaders?
- What are the myths that are holding back my small groups?
- What is a good structure for small-group ministry?
- How do I get small groups involved in serving and evangelism?
- How do I get started?

To sign up, click

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hope Dispenser

Everybody needs encouragement. I know I do. That's why Paul says in Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." That verse lifts my joy level.

People need to a daily dose of good news. People get enough bad news in the world. When they come to church, they should hear the good news! One of the main roles of the preacher is to remind people that God is a God of hope, not a God of mope. Yes, we need the hutzpah to call a spade a spade in the pulpit. I have no problem talking about sin, the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, the precious blood of Jesus and so on.

But at the end of the day, preachers must be hope dispensers. We need to encourage people that God can and will fill your life with joy and peace as you put your trust in him.

Pastors need encouragement too. One of the biggest reasons that pastors leave the ministry today (BTW, over 1,000 bail on God's call each week) is discouragement. Pastors get discouraged. The deal with depression and fear and all sorts of spiritual battles.

I just spent the day with a group of pastors in my area and I was reminded of how much we can all use a positive word of encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 says "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today."

So, to all my blog readers, be encouraged. Today is a brand new day. God is still in control. He hasn't left you or forgotten where you live or what you are going through. Call on him in your time of need. He has a fresh supply of hope for you each day. For his grace and mercy is new every morning.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Life on the B List

Join me this weekend as we continue our new summer teaching series, Life on the B List with Part 2 of the message, "Less is More".
This is an in-depth, verse by verse study on The Beattitudes.
I can't wait to share with you what God has laid on my heart for this message. I've changed a few things in my message this week as God has given me even deeper insight on the direction for this series.
Can't wait to see you this weekend. Bring a friend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

5 Things You Need to Do with Your Money

Check out this short video by Dave Ramsey. This fall we are going to do a sermon series using some of Ramsey's material. Can't wait because it's going to help so many people get financial freedom during some difficult financial times. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Things You Don't Know about Pastors

Leadership Network recently conducted a survey of 232 pastors of churches with an average weekend worship attendance of at least 2,000. The following ten statements are taken from a full-length report which can be downloaded HERE.

1. They think of themselves more as teachers and directional leaders than as pastors.

Sure, their business cards may say pastor and their congregants may call them Pastor Smith -- but when these leaders are asked which phrase best describes how they see themselves and their role, the phrase "pastor, shepherd or spiritual guide" ranks a distant fourth.

Which words do today's senior leaders resonate with? When presented with nine options, more than 80% select "preacher/teacher." Half choose the term "directional leader," and slightly more than a third select the word "visionary."

2. Preaching tops the list of things they do best.

Jesus spent a lot of time healing people, but only 1% of senior pastors surveyed say visiting members, the sick and shut in is something they personally do best. Only 7% say they're great at converting others to the faith, and only 10% identify pastoral counseling and spiritual direction as an area of significant strength. These results may seem problematic, but with a high value on lay involvement and an average reported staff of 55, it's likely that others at the church excel in these areas.

So where do senior pastors believe their strengths lie? Seventy nine percent say they're best at "preaching" followed by "thinking about and promoting a vision and goals for the future."

3. They haven't always worked in churches.

Although most attended church regularly at the age of 16, 42% of them spent five or more years working in another field before entering the pastorate. The most popular prior career choice? Business. Meanwhile, a third of senior pastors' spouses work both outside the home and outside the church.

4. Being an extrovert isn't mandatory.

Yes, their role demands that they be comfortable standing on a platform and speaking in front of large crowds. But nearly half of them say they're somewhat or very introverted.

5. Family stays at the top of mind when it comes to prayers.

In a 53-hour work week, megachurch senior pastors spend a full 19 hours in and preparing for preaching, teaching and worship, 9 hours in meetings--and 5 hours in intentional prayer and meditation.

When they pray, who do they pray for? Their family (94%) and themselves (84%) primarily, followed by church staff (76%) and other individuals at church (64%). Almost two-thirds say they seldom pray for political leaders and roughly 20% say they never do. Similarly, only 19% regularly pray for their neighbors.

6. They usually like the people they work with.

Megachurch pastors report low levels of conflict in their churches, and high levels of satisfaction with the individuals they work with. Only 5% of pastors report being "somewhat dissatisfied" with the church board; the remaining 95% of pastors gave satisfactory ratings. Worship directors got the lowest rating of "very dissatisfied" but only among a mere 2% of the pastors surveyed.

7. They believe their top gift is leadership.

According to our survey, the spiritual gifts most often possessed by large-church senior pastors are leadership (77%) and teaching (67%), distantly followed by exhortation (21%).

8. They are actively involved in sports.

When asked "in which of these areas outside your church community would you describe yourself as ‘currently active'," the most common answer was not a school-related activity, a social service or hobby group; it was a parachurch group (37%), followed by a sports league (34%) and denominational activities (32%). As was found to be the case in Leadership Network's recent executive pastor survey, the top non-church involvement for senior pastors in large churches is sports leagues. In fact "sports" is also the most frequently mentioned way megachurch pastors say they maintain their sanity during crazy or stressful moments of ministry.

9. They find worship at their church helpful for personal spiritual growth.

One might think that working at a church could hinder full engagement in the worship experience, however 41% of pastors surveyed said that worship services were extremely helpful for them. On the flip-side, only 27% of senior pastors report finding small groups extremely helpful to their spiritual growth, and 11% went on record to say they're not very helpful at all. Personal time with God still tops the list with 79% saying that reading the Bible, prayer or solitude is "extremely helpful" to spiritual growth. This finding also parallels the responses of executive pastors.

10. They're not thinking about quitting.

In today's world, people tend to switch careers a lot. But what about pastors? Just under half of large church senior pastors surveyed admit they've thought about leaving their church to enter a different occupation in the last five years, although on the upside, most say it's only "once in a while." Furthermore, when asked about their plans to retire, on average senior pastors expect to be in their position for 17 more years (until age 68) – on top of the 15 they've already put into their role.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kids Camp

This morning a bunch of excited kids boarded the buss for summer kids camp. I'm not sure who was happier, the kids going to camp or their parents waving goodbye. Too funny.
Summer camp is a great opportunity to meet new friends, have lots of fun and hear from the Lord. In fact, the Lord called me into ministry when I was only 8 years old while attending camp at Cherry Tree Lane. I'll never forget sitting towards the back of that open air tabernacle on the wooden benches and responding to the preaches invitation to the altar call for those that wanted to dedicated the rest of their lives to full time ministry service. I almost ran to the altar that night was prayed for and also received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. What a memory! What a night!
Statistics show that most of those in full time ministry today, especially missionaries, received the call to ministry prior to the age of eleven. Think about that. That's pretty amazing.
As a parent, I need to recognize the sensitivity that my children have for the Lord and intentionally create opportunities for them to develop their faith - like sending them to camp.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Principle of C.A.N.E.I.

Every Monday our team gets together and evaluates the previous Sunday experience. Someone once told me that the process of evaluation is what separates amateurs from professionals. Amateur athletes don't sit in the dark room for hours and pour over tape from the previous game. Professionals do. Amateur musicians don't sit and listen to tracks they laid down in the studio ad infinitum and make minor tweaks to make the song that much better. Professionals do. Amateur communicators don't write, rewrite, rehearse and then rewrite their messages. Professionals do.
The point is that evaluation makes you better. My coach taught me the Principle of C.A.N.E.I., which is Constant And Never Ending Improvement.
So each week our teams evaluates our weekend and asks four simple questions, What was Right, Wrong, Missing and Confusing. We draw a quadrant and put each category in a box. It's a great tool to help you celebrate your successes and improve on your weaknesses.
As pastors and ministry team leaders, we certainly aren't "professionals" in the sense of the secular term. But we should approach our calling with even great passion and intensity than those who labor in the marketplace. After all, we are called to do everything "as unto the Lord." He expects our best effort. And that will take evaluation.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It's A Boy!

Today we found out that we are having another BOY! How cool is that ... I never thought in a million years that we would have 4 kids - let alone 3 sons. Crazy! 

We are all very excited. My daughter, Kate, was a tad disappointed initially, but once the news sunk in that she was Daddy's ONLY girl, the future got just a little brighter.

Bekah is feeling well and totally ecstatic about the news. We feel so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity of a lifetime to parent such precious little ones. Our only desire is to love them unconditionally and to teach them to love God, each other, and those that are far from God.

Here's to another little Crosby boy! 

Monday, July 06, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

Real Freedom

This weekend we celebrate the freedom of our nation. Hopefully, in the midst of your July 4th festivities and barbecues, you will take some time to thank God for the men and women who gave their lives so that we could be "a free nation, under God."

Also, this weekend I will be speaking about "Real Freedom." Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we could be free. But what is real freedom? I'll give you a hint ... it's more than a worry-free, debt-free and problem-free life. To reduce freedom to that definition is to have a shallow understanding of what Jesus came to do when he quoted the prophet Isaiah in his inaugural sermon, "I have come to proclaim freedom to the captives." So, what is real freedom? Come this weekend and find out. Until then.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Beginnings

Yesterday was my son David's first day at New Beginnings Day Care. He absolutely loved it! He is growing up way too fast.  I was so proud of David for doing such a great job on his first day of school. 

As a parent, I take comfort in knowing my son is attending a Christian day care where he will be cared for by highly qualified, Godly teachers. What a bonus to also have the school meeting in our churches brand new facility. 

I want to personally thank Dr. Shelton and her entire staff at New Beginnings for developing a first-class day care that will no doubt minister to the lives many families and children here in the Poconos. 

By the way, if you are looking for a day care or know someone who is, please check out New Beginnings. There are open enrollment spots, but they are filling up fast. To enroll or for more information click here or call 570-839-8362. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Take The Plunge

Last weeks water baptism service was amazing. After the service I had the opportunity to meet Bob Wells. Bob has recently started attending PCC and he followed Christ's example in water baptism Sunday night. In speaking with Bob, I realized he had a passion for writing.  So I asked him to put into words the events that transpired that night. Here it is. Great stuff, Bob. Thanks for capturing that night for us and more importantly - I'm proud of you for Taking The Plunge. Look forward to reading more...

When most people attempt to try something significant in their lives for the first time it is usually with a great degree of apprehension. For some people it might be getting married. For others it might be taking a new job or still for others it might be moving away from a city you’ve lived in your whole life because circumstances dictate that you need to relocate.

It’s called “Taking the Plunge.”

When it comes to Christ, taking the plunge takes on a whole new meaning. Taking the plunge refers to being baptized in water and baptism is a sign of identification with Christ. Being baptized in water also demonstrates obedience to God as illustrated in Acts 2:38a: Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ…”

On Sunday June 27, the chance to give back to God was presented to us with the opportunity to be baptized.  But being baptized also means that those taking the plunge need to have faith because once they were prayed upon by Pastor Dave and immersed, their old life was gone and they were ready to start anew with everything old washed away.

Approximately 67 believers of faith decided to take the plunge. Some had been baptized as babies but never as adults and they wanted their baptism to be their choice. Others were looking at their water baptismal to be the next step in their walk of faith with God. One uplifting testimony came from a gentleman who said God had delivered him through a medical operation which was followed by a layoff from his job after 20 years and yet nonetheless he came here to be baptized to reaffirm his faith in God.

If there was any apprehension in God’s house, I think it quickly evaporated with the spirit-filled atmosphere. It was an inspiration-filled evening. Taking the plunge has taken on a whole new meaning. 

How The Mighty Fall

I'm currently reading Collins' latest work, "How the Mighty Fall." In a world of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Bernie Madoff, this is a must read for any leader.

One of my favorite quotes dons the back cover, "Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more one what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you." 

Although this is a best practices business book on how to avoid personal and corporate implosion - if one would read and apply this book with spiritual eyes - many mistakes can and will be avoided, especially for those in ministry leadership positions.