Friday, April 19, 2013

choosing faith over worry

I got a high-energy call from my wife yesterday at 3:40pm.  "I need you to come home right now.  Our house was robbed.  They kicked the door in and the police are on their way."  It was so unexpected, I asked her if she was joking.  Unfortunately, she wasn't.  Fortunately, no one was home at the time of the break in.  Our family is all safe and that's the most important thing to me.

We lost stuff . . . electronics, jewelry, cash, our front door :) . . . and stuff can be replaced.  It's even a great opportunity for God to bring blessings we never expected.  We're feeling incredibly thankful and believing God's promise in Romans 8:28.

In the meantime, could you pray with us that God does bless us in unexpected ways?  We do have a very good insurance policy, but we had way more cash in the house than any policy covers.  We had just taken it out of the bank for some family stuff coming up.  I feel silly and irresponsible for not keeping it in the bank, but what's done is done.  So, my point is that it won't be as simple as turning in an insurance claim and getting it all back.  But, I believe that is where where God comes in and does cool stuff that we can give him glory for!

Our family is choosing faith over worry today.  We are filled with peace and thankfulness.  Thank you for your prayers today.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An unsustainable plan is not a plan (if you're a church planter or will be, please read this)

It's the truth.  Don't call it faith.  Don't call it calculated risk.  Just call it what it is.  Foolish.  If this helps one church-planter, I would be thrilled.

I read a great post from Seth Godin this morning and it highlights this principle all the more.  He's talking about books and publishing.  I'm talking about church-planting.  It works for either one.  You can read Seth's blog here.

In a nutshell, here's what I did.  I bought into the notion that a big church launch is the biggest key to a successful church.  That a big launch would allow me to bypass a stage or two of development in my church, thus catapulting my new church to higher levels of effectiveness much more quickly.  That sounds great.  And it has been the case for some churches.  There are some very notable cases where this happened, but even in those cases, the launch was not the whole story.  It wasn't even the real story.  The real stories in most of those cases, was that the pastor of those churches was a world-class leader from day one.  Or that his idea of how church should look was brand new to that community.  Or that God just did a serious move in that instance for whatever reason He saw fit.  If it's one of the churches you read about in the church-planting books, it was probably all three.  There's nothing wrong with all that.  But we have to face that this is the exception, not the rule.  

I did not face that.  I thought that it was the launch.  So I built as many strategic partnerships as I could and raised all the money I could and did all the marketing and build up my team and I knew how to do.  In short, we launched a church that required about $10K-$12K per month to run but we only had a plan to sustain that for about six months.  The "plan" was, launch as large as we can and hope that it takes off quickly enough to sustain what we started with.   Can you guess what happened?  Sure.  The wheels fell off, financially, after about six months.  Less than a year in, we were changing locations, changing over to all-volunteer staff and having to face reality.

Before my wife and I got married, a prof at my college (He and his wife were doing pre-marriage counseling with Sara and I) said this to us, "If you live like you're in college while you're in college, then when you get out of college you can live like an adult."  If you don't get that, what it means is that if you live within your means at one stage of life, you will have the freedom to move on to the next stage when it comes.

I lead our church to act like we were much bigger and much more mature than we really were in the early days.  This was unwise for a number of reasons.  I already hit the financial reasons, but it also was unwise from a mission and maturity perspective. It is a good thing to work through the developmental stages, not skip them.  It is a good thing to face reality and embrace it.  In my opinion, you ought not build a grand launch plan, scramble around til you find someone who will front the money to pay for it and then call that faith.  That's what I did.

I hope you don't do that.  Find someone who will coach you through a more realistic and sustainable plan.  If you can't find anyone who will, I will.  An unsustainable plan is not a plan.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4 Signs of Discontent

Do you see yourself in any of these places?  I can tell you I struggle with #4 pretty regularly.  How about you?

Four Signs of Discontentment:
  1. Attempting to "get rich quick."
    You may not fall for the obvious get-rich-quick schemes, but you do find yourself rushing through life, working to get all you think you need. Having it all eventually isn't enough though. You need it now! You're constantly on the move, searching for bigger and better and jumping at new jobs or opportunities without thinking things through. To what end are you headed?
  2. Trying to appear wealthy.
    Hey, most of us go through a phase as a young adult where we care more aboutlooking the part than being the part. But maybe, even though you're old enough to know better, you have trouble facing the real you. It's easier to fake it. You buy what you can't afford in hopes of feeling better. Does going into debt really do that for you?
  3. Feeling anxiety about what you don't have. 
    Your status concerns are so overwhelming that they almost paralyze you. It's hard to make smart money choices because anxiety rules your mind. With a lack of action, your situation doesn't get better and fear gets worse. Contentment and anxiety refuse to live in the same house together. Why are you allowing anxiety to stick around?
  4. Allowing jealousy and envy to creep into your mindset.
    We're human. Wanting what someone else has is normal on occasion. But this is something more. You see the peachy keen family with the white picket fence and shiny new car and you can't help but feel that twinge of jealousy. "Why not me?" you ask. The grass sure does look greener on their side of the street. But how do you know what another person's life is like behind closed doors?
Philippians 4:12–13 says, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength." 

The truth is, the grass is not greener on the other side.  The grass is greener where you water it.

Reposted from Dave Ramsey's Pastor's Resource Newsletter - March 2013