Coffee with the Preacher

Life Decisions

Exodus 2:12-15 (KJV)
12  And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
13  And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14  And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
15  Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Decision making is sometimes a hard difficult process.

One decision can change the course of your life and that of your family for every.

There are choices that we are force to make and there are choices that we choose to make by a given situation.

In my first pastoral charge I was forced to leave but the second one I prayed about moving to a place where I believed I could do more ministries.

The decision I made to retire from my day job and go into full time ministry affected my family livelihood and well being.

That decision also affect me spiritually for I believed that God was calling me to full time ministry and the other factors weigh less than being obedient to God.

Well since we are that road let’s talk about the decision to retire wow. That was a big one. I had to seek God for timing and permission.

I had a deep feeling that my time for pastoral ministries was done. I had completed 47 years and three churches with hundreds of revivals.

I had witness 53 young ministers called to serve but a voice was saying it was time to step aside.

What was important about walking away?

  1. I didn’t want to be stuck in a bad place.
  2. I didn’t want to live with a bad attitude.
  3. I did want to be responsible for a toxic situation.

How did I know it was time to make the decision?

  1. When sometime causes you to compromise your faith.
  2. When your integrity is at stake.
  3. When you have lost the fire/passion.
  4. When you hear the inner voice.
  5. When it is confirmed by the voice of the Lord.

7 Steps to Effective Decision Making

Decision making is the process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternatives resolutions.

Using a step-by-step decision-making process can help you make more deliberate, thoughtful, and defining alternatives for life that you will feel align with God and your best future.

There was a time you could take forever to resolve a life matter but the world today changes by the hour and not by the years.

We had the opportunity to listen to four young pastors on Saturday and they all agreed that these new times with new norms.

The challenges of the new norms will make separate leaders.

The greatest of these new times is we all are being forced to make Quicker decisions and Good decisions.

Now how do we accomplish just that? By developing a Process to making decisions.

Step one, Identify the Decision you need to make.

Step Two, Gather information only related to the decision.

Step Three,  Identify alternatives to the decision

Step Four, Weigh the facts and not your feeling.

Step Five, Choose among the alternatives.

Step Six, Take action.

Step Seven, Review and not be afraid to change

Are you ready for the new norms?

Are you prepared for the new norms?

Are you prepared to keep up with the new norms?

Are you prepared to change for the world has already changed?

Ok the text this morning is about a prince in Egypt named Moses. Moses was born a Hebrew but raised an Egyptian.

The voice in him told him he had to do something to make a difference in the lives of His birth people.

Moses held a high position in the court of Pharaoh.

But the inner voice was press him to do something.

The inner voice had spoken, but remember I said God needed to confirm what the inner voice was saying.

Moses acted out of the plan and timing of God by killing an Egyptian and burying him in the sand.

Moses was out of the will and plan of God.

Here is where God is leading me to today.

Moses is now faced with new norms and new decision with time being sensitive to his survival.

Ya’ll need to pray with me.

We don’t always have all the information needed to make that just right decision so we have to evaluate what we have.

Moses is not the only person in the scriptures who had to make a quick decision to Flee.

Genesis 16:6 (KJV)
6  But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Genesis 27:41-42 (KJV)
41  And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
42  And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.

Hosea 12:12 (KJV)
12  And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.

Genesis 31:24-26 (KJV)
24  And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
25  Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.
26  And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?

Genesis 39:12 (KJV)
12  And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Judges 11:3 (KJV)
3  Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.

2 Chronicles 10:2 (KJV)
2  And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was in Egypt, whither he had fled from the presence of Solomon the king, heard it, that Jeroboam returned out of Egypt.

Acts 7:29 (KJV)
29  Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.

Matthew 2:13 (KJV)
13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Matthew 24:16 (KJV)
16  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Each of these moves required a change in new norms.

Are you preparing to think new thoughts?

Are you preparing to choose new words?

Are you preparing to make new alternative?

Are you preparing to take new actions?

Are you preparing to have new habits?

Are you preparing to reach a new destiny?

Moses went to Midian and fitted in. Moses got married; Moses didn’t mourn the lost but embraced the new!

Coffee with the Preacher, Uncategorized

Why a digital church makes sense to me?

WAYS THE CURRENT APPROACH TO CHURCH SEEMS BADLY OUTDATED TO ME

You open the doors to your church every weekend hoping more people will come (or in some cases, hoping somebody comes) only to discover that, with few exceptions, more people rarely do.

That appears to be especially true as churches reopen in the midst of the coronavirus.

It can get discouraging, and many leaders wring their hands over what to do and how to respond.

Even once-growing churches hit plateaus and stumble into decline, and we wonder why it’s so hard to gain traction.

One of the reasons so many churches struggle these days is that the way we do church is badly outdated.

Culture is changing rapidly, which means people are changing rapidly. If you want to reach people, that probably also means you need to change your approach rapidly.

There’s a huge difference between changing the message and changing the method.

In the church’s case, the historic message doesn’t change. But the methods have to.

Here’s why: if you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

I have a sinking feeling if we sat down with young adults and asked them why we do things the way we do, we’d hear an earful.

As the pace of change accelerates around us with every passing month, here are ways the way we do church appears ever-more outdated.

If you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

1. MAKING PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH

The idea of only doing church in a ‘box’ on Sundays is an increasingly stale idea.

In the (very near) future, people won’t go to church. The church will go to people.

As desperately as church leaders are trying to encourage people to return to church, the disruption of 2020 has only accelerated that trend.

Not sure what that means?

Think about how much your life has changed in the last 15 years.

Quick example: Let’s say I want to buy a specific wooden monitor stand for my LAPTOP (which I do). I have two options.

Option 1: Travel to store after store looking for what feels like a needle in a haystack (I want a walnut one), realizing, in the end, I likely need to go to a major city to find it) I like, b) fits my particular computer size and c) is in my price range. (Not factoring in, of course, a lot of phone calls, a day of lost travel time and tons of gas money).

Option 2: Browse Amazon and walmart.com from my phone, order the monitor and have it shipped to my house next day.

Which would you choose?

Exactly.

Despite a welcome and thoughtful backlash against technology and what it’s doing to our minds (and souls), the internet is still not going away anytime soon.

There was a day when going to church was the only option you had if you wanted to be part of a local church.

A century or more ago, you lived in a village or city or on a farm, and you made the trek into town or over a few blocks to hear the local preacher. It was also a chance to connect relationally and socially. Honestly, for many people a century ago it was a highlight of their week.

The car gave people mobility, so we created bigger suburban churches to which people drove.

As a result, our entire model for the last century or more has been built on people going to church as though it was a destination and physical place.

But back up the timeline earlier than that, and you realize that the church going to people is not that innovative. Entire denominations and movements were premised on bringing the church to people (think circuit preachers or even the Apostle Paul).

Now, of course, we have the internet. Which most church leaders still seem to ignore as a serious tool for ministry.

So many churches remain stuck in the idea that the only way you can access the Gospel is to come to our building at a set hour every week.

Want access beyond that? Not sure how to help you.

Too many churches operate an analog model in a digital world.

Churches that want to reach people will bring the church to people, through:

This made me smile!

A great social media presence

Messages available anytime, anywhere in multiple formats (web, social, podcast)

In-home gatherings

Practical help/advice/encouragement for everyday life (like the Parenting strategy, spiritual growth, singles, marriage, etc)

Partnerships in the community with other organizations that are making a difference (which not only does good, but takes you out of your box and into where the people you’re trying to reach gather)

Ironically, when churches begin to go to people, it makes people also want to go to church.

Because you went to them, they will want to come to you.

It creates a reciprocal, daily relationship. Whatever you do during the week builds on what happened on the weekend. And whatever you do on the weekend built on what happened during the week.

But most churches still only want people to come to them. That clock is ticking…fast.

When churches begin to go to people, it makes people also want to go to church.

2. SEPARATING THE ANALOGUE AND DIGITAL WORLDS

If 2020 is the year where (finally) the digital becomes real for church leaders, the question becomes what to do with it.

Strangely, most churches still separate what they do digitally and what they do in the real world.

Most of us weave seamlessly between our digital and real lives, texting someone one minute and sitting down for coffee with them the next, emailing someone to follow up on the meeting we just had, and video chatting someone we’re hanging out with Friday night.

Too many church leaders still think of their:

  • Email list as a ‘newsletter’
  • Social media as an announcement and PR venue
  • The physical world as the ‘real thing’

You know what the digital world is? It’s relationship.

It’s a friendship. And like all good friendships, it doesn’t fit in a programmatic box.

your guest services team should take noticed as to a huge shift in the last year where almost everyone visits in person has watched online for weeks or months before they set foot in a building.

I go to places and people who never set foot in a church tell me they watch messages online.

They don’t see it as separate.

Church leaders who do, lose.

Conversely, leaders who see the analog/digital life as seamless will be in much a better position to reach people who live like it’s seamless, because it is.

As a leader, start to see the analog/digital life as seamless, because for more people.

3. IGNORING TRUE COMMUNITY

Is there any irony in the digital explosion around us? Of course there is.

The more connected we become, the more disconnected we feel.

The church should embrace technology as a way to connect, but also realize that as people connect more digitally, they feel increasingly isolated and removed from each other.

What people hunger for most is community. And no one should be better at community than the local church.

The challenge, of course, is that we’re not all that great at community.

Too often our ‘fellowship’ is shallow, or we fight a lot.

What’s missing in far too many churches is love. The very thing for which we should be known.

Churches that become great at cultivating true community will have a long line of people wanting to be part of it.

The more connected people become, the more disconnected people feel.

4. CREATING A 100% DOWNLOADABLE OR FORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE

Yes, the church will become more digital, more location independent, more remote. Sermons can be consumed on a run, on a commute and while cooking dinner. I get that. That’s a good thing. You should be able to download snippets of what your church does so you can be present in peoples lives.

But you need to facilitate experiences that go beyond that.

If your entire church experience is 100% downloadable, why would you gather? It’s often in the gathering when people move beyond themselves and experience something transcendent and life-changing.

Ironically, the constant consumption of content leaves people hungering for greater community, greater experience and greater transcendence.

Churches that facilitate those kinds of experiences are seeing momentum. Churches that don’t find it far harder to gain momentum.

One of the best questions you can ask as a church leader is “If people show up on a Sunday, have we left enough room for them to encounter God?” That can be done through music, through prayer, through silence and even through the way you preach. It’s a posture as much as it’s programming.

Too often, people show up at church hoping to find God. Instead, they find us.

Don’t let people show up to your church only to find you.

This is one of the highest value points of a church that gathers: you share in something far bigger and far better than any of us and all of us.

And of course, you can create a similar outcome digitally.

5. BEING MEDIOCRE

One of the challenges most leaders face is trying to do a great ministry on limited resources.

Since we’re all hyper-connected, it means many churches try to imitate larger churches in what they do, often with limited success.

While you just don’t have the talent, skill or ability to pull off what a church 10 or 100x your size does, that doesn’t stop many from trying.

The result is usually mediocrity. Add the restrictions in with social distancing, masks and the challenges of coronavirus and that complicates things even more.

Years ago Jim Collins asked a great question that should still haunt every leader: what can you be best in the world at?

How would you answer that?

Just because you can’t be great at everything doesn’t mean you can’t be great at anything.

The key is to isolate the principles or points that resonate most.

You may not be the best preacher in the world, but what aspect of your preaching connects best?

Your stories?

The way you make the complex simple?

How you handle scripture?

Your relatability?

The personal connection you create with your audience?

Discover what connects best and develop that. 

Musically, you may not have a great band…but do you have a

Fantastic vocalist?

Great keyboardist?

Solid guitar player?

Good DJ?

Focus on what makes you great.

And no, you don’t have an unlimited budget, but meaningful connection with other people is free. So is kindness. So is hope.

Stop being mediocre at everything.

Pick a lane, and go deep.

You can branch out from there.

In an age where people create amazing art, design, products and services from home-based businesses, mediocrity is no longer an effective strategy.

If you found this interesting give me shout out as to how we can growth together.