Wednesday, September 29, 2010

mature youth ministers rule!

Just finished a meeting with Fred Nimmon and David Cordle. These guys are emerging as leaders for the growing group of young teens coming to our church. I feel so blessed to have mature, level-headed men wanting to invest into our teens. God seems to be positioning us to reach kids much earlier in the life of our church than I had anticipated. Just last Sunday they had 11 teens at "Blueprint", which I think is a great name for their group. God is very cool and and I feel so grateful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

weekends required

I've heard Ed Young Jr. say it a thousand times. "It's all about the weekend." It's true. Those of us in church ministry have said "yes" to working weekends. It's not for everybody, but it certainly is the job.

As I strive to create a leadership culture at our brand new church that will serve the needs of the un-churched and de-churched people of our area for decades to come, this feels like a huge issue.

If you serve on a church staff or ever hope to someday, here are a few things to consider:
  • You will work weekends . . . and you will often get what feel like "better offers" on some of those weekends.
  • You will work some of the major holidays . . . and your extended family will not like it, nor will many of them understand. Christmas and Easter are two of the biggest "family" holidays our country observes. They also happen to be two of the biggest times of the year when people will give church (and God) another try. Is that when we want our best and brightest leaders sitting at home sipping eggnog or hunting for plastic eggs?
  • Your attitude about all this makes a 100% difference. Do I have to work weekends or do I get to work weekends? Do I have to work holiday weekends or do I get to work holiday weekends?
I'm ashamed to say it, but I served on a church staff for years before I began to really get this concept. Church leaders, the world is not sliding toward a better position and our job is not going to get easier. It will require us to set ourselves aside at times. In short, it will require a cross that is heavy to bear at times. Are you willing?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How we "fixed" our subwoofer

Well, just a few weeks in, we're having some equipment issues . . . kind of. This morning one of our sub-woofers was rattling around like crazy. It sounded like crap. So, like any good audiophiles, we tore it apart this evening (who needs an authorized service center) and looked for what was rattling around. We just refused to believe that we blew the drivers out already. Well, we couldn't find anything. Our (my) conclusion? Blown drivers.

But thank God for Jake Lewis. He refused to believe it. He still thought something was stuck inside the speaker making the awful sound. Guess what? He finally found the small steel marble that my 2-year-old son Jude probably dropped in there on Saturday when that speaker was sitting in my garage during some maintenance on other equipment. As it turns out, that little marble will stick to the magnet on the back of the driver and once the bass tones hit, it rattles and makes the loudest, most horrific sound you can imagine. Lesson learned. Don't insert steel marbles into the air ports on your sub-woofer. Wow, you sure do learn a lot when you plant churches :)

Hey, know what else? We had 96 people at church this morning and 5 people began a new relationship with Jesus! Too cool.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

margin makes life more enjoyable

I've learned so much from Matt Keller over the last year or so. His teaching about "taming the monster of Sunday" has helped me so much and since our church launched a few weeks ago, I've been able to operate with a good amount of margin in my schedule.

I've asked all our leaders to operate by the "Thursday Midnight Principle". Very simply, if we all went to sleep Thursday night and somehow slept until Sunday morning (sounds good, huh :), we would still be ready to have church. By Thursday at midnight (or before) the service and worship order is set, the band has rehearsed, the sermon is written and rehearsed. In short, we're ready on Thursday for church on Sunday.

It's not a fool-proof plan because the unexpected things in life happen, but generally speaking, it sure makes Friday and Saturday a whole lot more enjoyable and flexible.

Margin . . . with your time, finances, relationships, anything you can think of . . .. makes life so much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Original Lie (re-post)

This is so good, I just need to re-post it. This came from Mark Batterson. You can read his blog here. I was deeply challenged by this and God is teaching me so much right now through it. Enjoy . . .

I asked our entire congregation to memorize Psalm 84:11 this past weekend. "No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly before Him." That is the heart of God. That is the will of God. God wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed. And while many of us believe that in our mind. I'm not sure we believe it in our gut. And you've got to get it into your gut.

We talk a lot about original sin, but have you ever stopped to consider the original lie? Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But how did the serpent tempt them? He suggested that God may be holding out on them. Maybe He didn't want them to eat that fruit because then they'd be like him. In other words, the serpent tries to get us to doubt the omni-goodness of God. He plants a seed of doubt. Maybe God is withholding something. And when we doubt God's desire to bless us we believe a lie, the original lie.

Obviously there is a condition. We've got to walk uprightly. But if we do, then we need to rebuke the doubt and believe God for a blessing. No good thing will God withhold. No withholdings!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

best day yet!

Today was the best day yet in the life of Freedom Valley Church in Tulsa! Ok, we do have a short history, but that doesn't make me any less excited by what God did today. Just some highlights . . .
  • plenty of guests with us at church
  • many people who were guests last week were back this week
  • four people decided to start a relationship with Christ and many more responded to other ideas in the message today
  • our team rocked it out today - another week and we're beginning to own areas of ministry!
  • lots of kids and teens in church
Last week, our grand opening week, we had 102 people at church. It is pretty normal for that number to drop by 30-40% the second week, but God really drew people in today. We had 84 people there today! I'm very encouraged by that.

Just feeling really blessed and I want to recognize that God is working something very cool here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You know when you're home

I'm sitting home following HS football scores on twitter and on TV and thinking to myself, "Why do I care so much?" I mean, yeah I went to Union High School . . . through 10th grade. But I moved to PA then. My personal football career was mostly at Littlestown High School in PA. We even won a district championship my Junior year. So, why did I stop following the L-town Bolts the minute I graduated? The same reason I'm following the Union Redskins like I was some all-state football star back in the day . . . because I'm home. My home is Tulsa, Oklahoma. My home was never in PA. I always felt out of place and had a deep down desire to be back here. I'm so thankful that God asked me to come back to Tulsa to start Freedom Valley Church. I'll follow Him wherever He leads me, but I hope He lets me stay here for a good long time.

my boys are turning 7

Seven years ago tonight, Sara and I were excited and nervous as we anticipated the scheduled C-section that would let us meet our twin boys, Colin and Liam Fitch. They were born two months early and spent another month in the hospital before we could bring them home.

Seven years later, they are the healthiest, strongest and most normal little 1st graders I've ever known. I love my guys so much and I'm reminded tonight that they are two little twin miracles from God. Happy Birthday Colin and Liam!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I feel like a real pastor now

For the last 18 months, it's been all about "when our church launches". Well, on Sunday it launched. I feel so excited about being able to go back and do it again on Sunday. I can feel God doing something great here in Tulsa,OK. I'm so honored to pastor Freedom Valley Church. I finally feel like a real pastor now . . . not just a guy who will pastor a church someday. It feels good.