Thursday, May 29, 2008

Some more links for the PD Summit and PEACE

Lots more good notes and reports from various bloggers on the recent purpose driven summit. Learnings at Leadership Network have a particularly good set of links to notes from the conference.

One such link highlights Session 12 on the global PEACE plan. Interesting reading there.

On a totally unrelated note, a shout out today to our drummer, Tim "the Sandman"! He's hit a big milestone birthday - hard to imagine given his energy in the cage. (Now I'm not the only old man working the kit :) I love how Tim really puts his heart into it every time, even when he's feeling down or sick.

Rock on, Tim!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Album Review - Not Afraid by Stephanie Smith

I just bought a copy of Stephanie Smith's debut album, "Not Afraid". (I got it a few days early from a friend of mine... her mom.) She is a new Christian rock artist living in Nashville. It's fantastic! I've loved the song "Superstar" since I first heard it, and it's become one of my kids favorites. You should hear my oldest daughter and youngest son (!) wail out the lyrics when we play it in the van. It was quite a treat for them to hear her perform it live at Calvary at few months ago. At the time she also performed "Not Afraid", the title single of her upcoming album. Wow! It's such a powerful song. New songs from the album I had not heard before include "Waitin' on You" and "First Words". The songs span from highly energetic pumping rock songs to quiet ballads straight from her heart. (I can personally recommend the former songs as excellent to blast when you're playing volleyball.)

Stephanie's story is itself quite amazing, and the ups and downs of her life experience come through not only in her music, but in her ministry of encouragement to women. Find out more about her at http://www.shoutlife.com/stephaniesmith - and be sure to check out some of her songs (Superstar, Not Afraid and Renew Me) at Stephanie's MySpace page, or read more about her new album at Crosswalk.



The album is available as of today (May 27th) on iTunes.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Observed

My thanks for a debt that can never be repaid, to those gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Take a moment today to remember those who came before us...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 10) - Conclusion

That wraps up the ten-part series on the Vision Path for Calvary Baptist Church for 2008-2010. The strategic priorities are as follows:

Vision Path Overview
1: Sabbatical for Pastor Chuck in 2009
2: Becoming a Community of Groups
3: Intentional Leadership Development
4: Build a Strong Financial Base
5: Maximization of Facilities
6: Communication Improved at all Levels
7: Strengthen First Impressions Ministry
8: Strategic Staff Development


What's the next step? For each strategic priority we've identified champions on the Strategic Leadership Team who will assemble a Ministry (Support) Team to implement that focus. These teams will be empowered and equipped to carry out their priority, and we'll try to have a mixture of people currently active in the ministry area with new potential leaders. The implementation process itself is part of one of our priorities: Leadership Development. The timeframe for these activities is fairly aggressive - some are already in progress, and some will lay the foundations for what will be a longer term effort. We will need a lot of prayer, and a lot of people excited about the impact God can have on our church and our community, to carry us through to a higher level of impact, transforming lives.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 9) - Strategic Staff Development

Vision Path Strategic Priority #8 - Strategic Staff Development

Calvary is led by its pastor. He is assisted by a ministerial staff that serves at his discretion. Together, this pastoral team encourages, equips, and empowers the members of Calvary to serve the ministry of the church as fully devoted followers of Christ. We currently have a full-time senior pastor and office administrator and several part-time staff in ministerial and admin positions.

Key Convictions & Principles:
  • The Biblical model for church leadership is pastoral leadership.
  • Healthy, growing churches are led by pastors, who equip, encourage, and empower congregational members to do ministry.
  • Ministerial staff members should serve from a sense of calling, and a covenant relationship should exist between the church and staff members.
  • The best predictor of future performance/behavior is past performance/behavior.
  • Calling, Character, Competency - look for these in considering a hire.
Specific Goals:
  • Identify gifted potential staff that God might wish to bring to the church
  • Develop existing staff members by providing staff members opportunities for both professional and personal growth
  • Increase staff focus on personnel development for ministry
Resources, Responsibilities: Requirements for our strategic priority of “Build a strong financial base” must be met.There will inevitably be pressure to abandon the priority of establishing a strong financial base, and the accompanying goals, but the long term health of the church requires rigor in pursuing this goal. This priority will be overseen by the senior pastor with the assistance of the personnal team.

Key Outcome Targets: Eventually provide full-time staff for each of the five purposes; Worship, ministry, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship; and administration; provide other program and support staff as needed.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when current staff are developed to their full potential in character and competency, with any new staff hire in response to much prayer, careful evaluation, and in good stewardship.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 8) - Strengthen First Impressions Ministry

Vision Path Strategic Priority #7 - Strengthen First Impressions Ministry

The First Impressions Ministry plays a vital role in our church, a visible demonstration that we love and welcome every person, that they matter to God and matter to us. As we continue to grow it will become more difficult to maintain an inviting atmosphere.

Key Convictions and Principles:
  • Every person who steps foot on the Calvary Campus is dearly loved by God
  • First Impressions Ministry Team members are partners with the people who pray for and invite their friends to visit
  • Good stewardship requires us to do our absolute best with everything that God entrusts to us, and this includes guests He has brought here
  • Guests will likely have a strong impression of us (positive or negative) within the first ten minutes of driving onto our grounds
  • We want guests to have a 'Wow!' experience on visiting Calvary that leads them to tell and invite their friends, family and neighbors.
Specific Goals:

  • Form a First Impressions Ministry Support Team
  • Develop First Impressions Ministry Coordinators for each aspect
  • Coordinate with new Facilities and Grounds Team
  • Improve responsiveness and accountability for visitor requests and responses
Resources, Responsibilities: Potential budget items include grounds maintenance, landscaping, signage; maintenance and repair issue tracking system; First Impressions Ministry Team and Facilities and Grouds Team will have responsibilities, overseen by Pastor Chuck.

Key Outcomes: First Impressions Ministry Support Team will be commissioned; Team leaders identified and coordinated to consider all key aspects of First Impressions, including Greeters, Ushers, Hospitality, Information Desk; Training activities and documents will be developed for all aspects of First Impressions Ministry.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when the environment for everyone is welcoming, friendly, clean, and non-stressful, when first-time visitors feel at-home, and when there are no external distractions preventing God from speaking to their hearts.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 7) - Improved Communications

Vision Path Strategic Priority #6 - Improve Communications

Calvary will develop a process for intentional communication between the staff, church leadership, church family, and community.

Key Areas of Communication:

  • Communication between Leadership (Staff and Volunteer Ministry Leaders)
  • Communication between the Leadership and the Members/Attenders
  • Communication within the Church Family
  • Communication Between the Church and the Community
Specific Goals:

  • Coordinated master calendar with high visibility
  • Continually cast vision
  • Improve communication of events within congregation
  • Form a communications / marketing team
Resources, Responsibilities: Will need appropriate software and hardware. Communications Team will coordinate with office staff; staff leader will be Amy.

Key Outcome Targets: Improved Communications on all levels; Information sharing between all church leadership so that events and activities complement and not compete with each other; Marketing that will increase church recognition in the community; Website that is current, accurate, user friendly, and reflects our commitment to excellence.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when staff and congregation alike feel like communication is promoting, not hindering, ministry or fellowship, and when the community is aware of the vision and events of Calvary.

PEACE and Love

What's coming out of the Purpose Driven Network Summit? Lots! Rick Warren had a press conference today talking about several things. (You can watch it on ustream or in a few weeks, on Pastors.com) Rick Ferguson has a great early set of notes on Rick's talk today on PEACE.

The PEACE Coalition is a network of networks. Not a new association competing for energy with existing organizations, but a loose network that looks to improve communication and networking between existing organizations. Along with that is 'Purpose Driven Network', which aims to make available many churches across the country at a wide range of sizes, and encourage them to help other churches at a younger/smaller stage. (That would be a huge help for us! It's been a struggle to find good examples in the one-step-smaller-than-small category.)

P.E.A.C.E. is an acronym that originally stood for:
Planting churches, Equipping leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, Educating the next generation. Last year apparently the P changed to Partner with Local Churches. With PEACE 2.0, that 'P' has morphed to "Promote Reconciliation". Hmm... that's quite a departure from Plant Churches... details on the web site still talk about it being church-to-church. No shortage of sites attacking him for this, of course. Will need to follow-up on this aspect of change.

The mission/vision of PEACE: "Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference together wherever they are". For more info on the PEACE plan visit http://www.thepeaceplan.com/. I need to find out more about it myself at some point, but at present I tend to agree with Pastor Louis, quoted by Fox News: "I like Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan better than the naysayers lack of a plan. Warren may reach for the stars and only get the moon, but you can be sure that if you reach for nothing, that is exactly what you will get."

Lots of good things going on with PEACE in Rwanda. Something in the press conference that really caught my attention was what Saddleback quietly has been doing in India is developing over a half a million small groups (!?!)

Somehow I missed this - I don't think it's "news", but there is a third campaign - "40 Days of Love", the first new campaign from them in three years. It focuses on relational renewal, much like 40 Days of Purpose was about personal renewal. Their website says: "Unearth the core of Jesus’ ministry in how we show love to the people God has placed in our lives here on earth. This campaign covers every aspect of what matters most. How can we communicate more like Jesus? How do we love our creator, our neighbors, and ourselves? We invite you to embark on this new journey with us this Fall."

Whiteboard brings the heat

Quite a week for conferences. First the Purpose Driven Network Summit and today, a powerful conference called "Whiteboard" - One Day. Eight Influential Leaders. Thirty minutes each. That was going on in Reston, Virginia but several talks and interviews were streamed lived on the web via ConferenceChannel.Org. Vince Antonucci, Mark Batterson, John Burke, Mark Dever, Perry Noble, Darrin Patrick, Ed Stetzer, Tim Stevens.

I caught part of the talk by Vince Antonucci, author of "I Became a Christian and All I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt". His story of coming to Christ was amazing. Mark Dever (interviewed by Ed Stetzer, also SBC) had the most contrasting view on several subjects, but the diversity of viewpoints was quite interesting, and all had excellent points to make out of what they're passionate about - for example Tim Stevens on Leveraging Pop Culture to reach people for Christ ('Pop Goes the Church' which I reviewed recently).

Tony Morgan has posted some excellent notes from Whiteboard. (edit: also some very good comments from Perry Noble)
Check out the Whiteboard website if you want to watch any of the video clips.

Tragedy strikes the family of Steven Curtis Chapman

Very sad news to share from yesterday. The Tennessean reports: "Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest child died Wednesday evening after being struck by a car driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Williamson County home." The child was Maria, one of the Christian singer’s six children. The scenario was an SUV in the driveway with several children playing in the area, and the driver did not see his sister.

Maria joined the Chapman family via an international adoption from China. The Chapmans are tremendous supporters of adoption, and have brought three girls from China into their family. They're so active in this cause that they had founded an organization to aid families wanting to adopt, called Shaohannah's Hope. On his latest music tour Chapman has been asking audience members to bring spare change to the concert, which is collected and given to a local family to aid in their own adoption process.

For those vague on the name, Steven Curtis Chapman is an extremely talented Christian singer. Thinking about his latest song "Cindarella", and the key phrase "All too soon, the clock will strike midnight... and she'll be gone" I can't help but cry over the pain that he and his whole family must be going through right now. Please pray for them!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 6) - Maximization of Facilities

Vision Path Strategic Priority #5 - Maximization of Facilities

Calvary will maximize its use of current facilities and carefully consider needs for the future. We've been in our current building for eight years. At present there is no team in charge of building maintenance and much of the responsibility for urgent repairs falls upon our senior pastor. There is a need to maintain our building and grounds with excellence that is on par with the community in which we live. As Calvary has grown, and adult classrooms have been transitioned into the Connection CafĂ© and additional children’s classrooms, we now lack adequate space for our small groups and Sunday morning Life Development Classes, and this is hindering our growth. In addition, our junior and senior high youth groups have not had their own meeting space for a year and will need a youth friendly space that allows for worship with a youth band, activities, Bible study, and “hang out” time.


Key Convictions & Principles:

  • Buildings and properties are never more important than people
  • The first impression that our guests have when coming on to our property should be welcoming and communicate to them our commitment to excellence
  • Our children, youth, and adults need space that is created just for them that shows that they are important to us
  • Our campus should be the place where the community comes to do life together
Specific Goals:

  • Consider existing space usage strategically
  • Complete Connection Center (3,168 sq ft building, volunteer labor)
  • Form a team to consider future building projects
  • Form a Facilities and Grounds Team to oversee all maintenance and repairs
Resources, Responsibilities: The new Facilities and Grounds Team will be responsible for maintenance and repairs, a Facilities Expansion Team will consider new buildings, and the staff leader will be our Senior Pastor, Chuck Grant.

Key Outcomes: Completion of Connection Center in time for use by Summer Camp this June; Current Properties are well maintained and reflect our commitment to excellence; High participation in classes and activities offered in the connection Fall 2008 / Spring 2009; Proposal for future building projects by the end of 2009.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when we are excellent stewards of what God has entrusted to us, when adults, students, youth and children have adequate space that does not hinder fellowship, growth or outreach, and when plans for expansion are carefully considered both from a strategic and financial viewpoint.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perry Noble on Leadership Development

After work today I was able to check back in with the Purpose Driven Network Summit - for the ongoing live webcast. Tony Morgan and Carlos Whittaker were interviewing Perry Noble. Perry is the Senior Pastor and Tony is Chief Strategic Officer of New Spring Church in Anderson, SC.

The webcast is available as a recording which may be viewed online at ustream.tv. The fun part for me in watching it was that I actually got to ask a question that Perry spent some time answering! The question was: "How do you develop leaders at your church?" (This is a key strategic initiative for us at Calvary Baptist Church.) If you get a chance, please watch the video between 14:00 and 18:45 for his answer to this question and a related question - how do you motivate and share vision with leaders?

I'm not quite sure what answer I was expecting, but was rather surprised by what he said! If you don't know Perry, he's got a heart and passion the size of Texas for evangelism, and he's an incredible energetic and fired up preacher. His opening sentence in response to how to develop leaders was his philosophy...

"If you have to spend a lot of time developing your leaders, then you don't have leaders."
Ok, not quite the intentional plan for leadership development I was hoping for! :) He soon followed up by pointing out that he is a very self-motivated guy, so no one needs to put a book on his desk and tell him he needs to read it. He's going to go seek it out. If he doesn't see that hunger in staff members, if they're depending on him "to teach them everything about leadership they don't belong on staff or they belong in a position where they don't have to lead anything."

One thing he has been doing lately to develop leaders is to pour his life into some younger guys. Most recently God has been impressing on his heart "I need to spend more time pouring into my staff." Once a month or so he gets a group of folks on staff, that are not Senior Management Team level, and he buys 'em lunch and they can ask him anything they want about leadership (no theology, no movies, just leadership). They've sat there for two hours asking questions. What's cool is within a month or so he'll go into a second phase of that, reminding them what they asked about previously and seeing how/what they are doing on that aspect of leadership.

I'm going to need to ask more people this question about leadership development, especially in the context of volunteer leaders! Perry made some good points, but they seem to fit more for a larger church. I love how his closing comments in this section cut right to the chase --

"If I have someone on staff that I constantly need to motivate, they just gotta go.

Hell is too hot and life is too short for me to walk around and be everyone's cheerleader!"

Purpose Driven Network Summit 2008

Today through Thursday, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church will be gathering 35 pastors to share some powerful messages on best practices for ministry today. It's the Purpose Driven Network Summit 2008 - a rare invitation only conference for about 1500 ministry leaders and pastors. Bloggers and blog-readers were in for a treat as Rick invited DJ Chuang, Carlos Whittaker, Josh Griffin, and Tony Morgan to webcast/blog the event. The webcast and intereviews were hosted at UStream. I'm glad that I saw Tony's blog about this and that Rick's opening message was lunch time for us on the East Coast!

Saddleback was able to share Rick's opening message and first session as streaming video over the internet. It was quite an excellent message from the heart, as Rick poured out his desire to help pastors run a strong race and avoid discouragement. I took a lot of notes to share but found some really excellent notes/thoughts from Perry Noble (one of the attenders/speakers) as well as Dave Ferguson at his blog Velocity. Both Perry and Dave followed up with equally good notes on the next session.

Some assorted nuggets that caught my attention...

- A while back Rick asked God what did He want him to do next. The answer: "Shut up!" "Listen!" John 3:30 He has not taught a conference in the past two years, but has been listening: a lot. Talking to a lot of pastors. Trying out some amazing ministry experiments. We'll hear soon about some big upcoming news on his P.E.A.C.E. initiative to battle some major social and spiritual evils in the world.

- Rick reminds us that Purpose Driven is a framework and an informal network, not a church, not an asoociation.It's a coat hanger with five hooks. Pick what you put on each, he's not into programs, but simply that you need balance to have health, and that your church and ministry focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. There are many such networks, but they tend to be silos - don't communicate, dont' cooperate. That's something he would like to start addressing, via a 'PEACE coalition.' -- Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the Sick, Educate the Next Generation.

The main part of his talk discussed how renewal has occurred through history, following five steps:
  1. Personal renewal
  2. Relational renewal
  3. Missional renewal
  4. Cultural renewal
  5. Structural renewal
There's also a sixth at a higher level, institutional renewal. Institutions never institute, rather they preserve the change of the previous generation. Growth is always on the new limbs, institutions are the trunk, which provides stability.

I liked what he shared for several 'telltale signs' of these aspects of renewal.
- With personal renewal, the singing gets better :)
- With relational renewal, people hang-out longer after church is over.
- With missional renewal, the church starts to get a clue, we're here for a purpose beyond ourselves. Also, when these three line up, you can't stop a church from growing.
- The next stage, structural renewal, is a reflection that you can't but new wine in old wineskins. He stressed there is no perfect structure, which is why structure is never really discussed in the bible.

See the other blogs for info on staying strong in minsitry, but a takeaway suggestion I really liked was:
"Divert daily. Withdraw weekly. Abandon annually."

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 5) - Build a Strong Financial Base

Vision Path Strategic Priority #4 -Build a Strong Financial Base

Another term for this priority is "Financial Freedom in Christ." The Calvary family both wants to be faithful stewards of the financial resources that God has entrusted to us in order to further His Kingdom, and to be a model encouraging the development of financial freedom in Christ to its members. Establishing a strong financial base will allow us to respond effectively when the Lord leads, will allow us to staff and expand strategically as opportunities arise, and will allow us to be more faithful in stewardship of His resources.

Key Convictions & Principles:
  • God is the primary owner of all wealth
  • God entrusts resources to His Body for faithful stewardship
  • Calvary will model financial health to its members
  • Tithing is a spiritual discipline emphasizing our dependence on God’s provision
Specific Goals:
  • Maintain three months’ operating expenses in reserve
  • Budget 1.5% of structural value per year for maintenance and repairs
  • Encourage financial freedom in Christ for church members
  • Prepare for next staff strategic hire by saving up six months' salary
  • Aim for income to exceed operating expenses by 10% before any new building
Resources, Responsibilities: The Treasurer and the Finance Team are the key people involved in overseeing this priority, though it has implications throughout the church. We have recently started a series of small group bible studies based on the Crown Financial Ministries and will continue to expand the impact of this excellent study.

Key Outcomes: Build up emergency reserve by one month of expenses per year for the next three years; introduce proper maintenance allocation starting in 2009 budget; by Fall 2010 we will have a half-year salary reserve in advance of a strategic staff hire; by 2010 our income should exceed operating expenses by 10% in advance of any new building; by end of 2010, 10% of church membership will have had the Crown financial Bible study.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when we as a church model the wise financial stewardship practices that we teach to our members, including having in place a prudent level of emergency reserves as well as saving in advance for expanding staff or facilities, and when our creativity and volunteer spirit allows us to do this without negatively impacting ministry or missions.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 4) - Intentional Leadership Development

Vision Path Strategic Priority #3 -Intentional Leadership Development

The upcoming sabbatical and ongoing growth at Calvary require us to complete the transition of a pastor-does-the-ministry model appropriate for small churches (<150>become more intentional about leadership development. There are three key needs for improving volunteer ministry: i) caring more for volunteers as people; ii) an intentional leadership development process; iii) improved strategic and operational planning for ministry. Addressing these needs together will help develop new leaders and strengthen existing leaders, prevent burnout, provide a greater level of satisfaction for those serving, and increase the overall effectiveness of ministry at Calvary.


Key Convictions and Principles:

  • Biblical Leadership must reflect integrity, trust, passion, and a servant's heart
  • Leadership begins with a clear and compelling vision, and influences others to a change in heart, priorities or actions towards that vision.
  • Leadership development is best learned when it is taught within the context in which it will be practiced, and is strategic when aligned with the vision path.
  • Leaders develop leaders – modeling, mentoring, and motivating.
  • The most strategic thing a leader can do is to develop potential leaders
  • The best environment for learning to lead is one where people are cared for as people, encouraged, equipped, and empowered.
  • Current leaders must become more intentional in mentoring others, and must increasingly delegate authority, not just responsibility.
The goals below address our needs at the organizational level, in large groups, small groups, and one-on-one. They also provide some practical venues to leadership training to be put in practice.


Specific Goals:
  • New Strategic Leadership Team to help broaden base of leadership
  • Provide Servanthood And Leadership Training (SALT)
  • One-on-one leadership training and coaching
  • Leadership development in small groups
  • Implementation of Vision Path itself will be a training opportunity for new leaders and ministry teams
Resources, Responsibilities: The greatest resource investment will be time, but we really do see leadership development as an investment that in the long-term will help free up a small number of overworked ministry leaders as well as increase overall passion and effectiveness of ministry. Pastor Chuck will lead the effort on this priority, supported by the new Strategic Leadership Team.

Key Outcomes: Strategic Leadership Team formed at the May business meeting; Regular SALT meetings aimed at equipping the Core; Every supported ministry has a leader and apprentice who can clearly communicate the purpose and vision of their ministry, and who understand the need to reproduce themselves; Deacons and Ministry Area Leaders will be accountable for one-on-one mentoring of other leaders; a 50-100% increase in the number of identifiable ministry leaders and apprentice leaders

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when the number of people actively leading a ministry or actively participating in its direction increases at least two-fold, when these leaders are enthusiastic and empowered in their ministry areas, and when they rate the training as useful and encouraging rather than a time sink.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 3) - Small Groups

Vision Path Strategic Priority #2 -Becoming a Community of Groups

Calvary will transition from a church with groups to a community of groups, where the vision of Calvary - the development of fully-devoted followers of Christ - is accomplished primarily within group life. As Calvary grows in size, the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of our church family and the community cannot be met solely by the staff. In addition, we believe that life change happens as personal relationships are developed and people participate in a close knit small group that is providing encouragement, discipleship, and accountability.

Key Convictions and Principles:
  • Life-change happens best in small groups
  • Strong relationships are built when people “do life” together in a small group
  • People’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs are best met by those who know them and love them
  • Every group deserves a shepherd leader who loves them, and is equipped to help them grow
Specific Goals:
  • Form Small Group Support Team to oversee all Small Group Ministry
  • Develop a team of small group coaches
  • Develop shepherd leaders within small groups
  • A small group for every person at Calvary
  • All church leadership participating in a small group
Resources, Responsibilities: The emphasis on being a church of groups will require a significant time commitment from the Small Group Coaches and the Small Group Leaders as they move from a “facilitator” role to a “shepherd” role. Amy will be the staff leader of the Small Group Support Team.

Key Outcomes: There will be a small group available for every one who wants to participate (e.g. increase number until we have one group per 10 members/attenders); primary pastoral care will come from within small groups (supported by staff, not done by staff); measurable growth in personal commitments to discipleship, ministry, missions, worship, and fellowship within the Small Groups and within the church body.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be a "win" when exciting life change is occurring in small groups, when people are drawn into a group by the good things happening there, when members feel loved and equipped by their leaders, and when leaders fell loved and equipped by their coaches.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 2) - Sabbatical

Vision Path Strategic Priority #1 - Sabbatical for Pastor Chuck in 2009

Next summer Chuck and his wife Janis will take a 3-4 month sabbatical. We're only about six years overdue in doing this, so it's well deserved indeed. As you can imagine, this will have a pretty significant impact on the life of the church. What we don't want it to be is a time to just 'endure' and 'cover' the things needed to get done so he can return to the same situation as before. Rather, we want this to be a catalyst that highlights the need and benefit for an essential transition in our church - from being a small church where pastor-does-the-ministry to a growing church where pastor-equips-for-ministry. We've left the small church stage (under 150-200) but have not crossed the next growth barrier (of 400-500 attendance) into a smoothly run operation led by several experienced full time pastors. Technically, it's called the "awkward size" stage of church life. The second key transition that needs to be made is within Chuck and his leadership style - from an overworked involved-in-everything personal style focused on ministry to a much more coaching and developing style focused on the people who will do and lead ministry. To be clear, Chuck knows this and is looking forward to it (mostly!)

Specific Goals:

  • Raise the vision of the congregation to step up to ministry
  • Extend the influence of our pastor by leadership development
  • Renewal (spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally)
  • Position the church to break through the 500 growth barrier
Resources, Responsibilities: We've applied for a Clergy renewal grant and should hear back on that around July. A Sabbatical Planning team will be formed to work out the details of the sabbatical, the pre-sabbatical preparation, mid-sabbatical preaching and duties, and post-sabbatical reintegration and sharing of vision. The Strategic Leadership Team will in some ways function as the staff would in a larger church in terms of support.

Key Outcomes: Chuck and Janis will enjoy a great sabbatical; Chuck will return with a clearer sense of vision and how he can best lead us in the future; the congregation will fully understand the biblical model of ministry and will have successfully stretched itself in 2009.

Clarifying the "Win": This priority will be accomplished if Pastor Chuck and the congregation are together eager and equipped for every member to serve in ministry according to their SHAPE and led by a shepherd who loves them and trusts them to do the things God has prepared in advance for us to do.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Calvary Baptist Vision Path (Part 1) - Overview

Over the past several months we've been taking a close look at our vision and doing some strategic planning to be more intentional about our ministry priorities and choices at Calvary Baptist. Senior Pastor Chuck Grant has led the process, with heavy involvement and support by a new Strategic Leadership Team as well as the core group that attends our Wednesday evening service. It's our third 'long range plan' since his arrival in 1997. Then as now, our focus is on the fulfillment of the Great Commandment and Great commission. In Chuck's words:

"Healthy churches are purpose driven, culturally relevant, kingdom oriented, and intentionally strategic. The driving purpose behind the ministry of Calvary is the development of fully devoted followers of Christ. Our business is to encourage people to become like Jesus and our product is changed lives. In order to fulfill our purpose we must be both culturally relevant and kingdom oriented. The strategic plan, or “Vision Path: 2008-2010” will help us to focus on our most important priorities, allocate resources accordingly, and evaluate our progress continually."
The Vision Path then is a roadmap. It's an imperfect one, but useful. Not static, but subject to change as God directs. It represents our best thoughts on how to proceed based on what we perceive God to be doing, and is a useful tool to monitor progress and provide accountability.

Key “Strategic Priorities” on the Vision Path for 2008-2010
  1. Sabbatical for Pastor Chuck in 2009
  2. Becoming a Community of Groups
  3. Intentional Leadership Development
  4. Build a Strong Financial Base
  5. Maximization of Facilities
  6. Communication Improved at all Levels
  7. Strengthen First Impressions Ministry
  8. Strategic Staff Development
This overview is the first part in a series that will present our Vision Path. I hope it's useful for small group leaders and other members of Calvary, but I also hope it might provide some ideas for other medium churches in a situation similar to ours (not they would find these priorities useful, but that by layout out our process from mission to vision to vision path they may find it a useful example of the strategic planning process). Send me an email if you would like a PDF copy, or have any questions on the Vision Path or our strategic planning process.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Impact, Influence, or Transform?

I've been thinking about the effect of other people on my life and it struck me just how disproportionate these effects have been.

There have been many people who have had an impact on my life, having some effect, making some impression, but primarily in an external way. I remember them, but they didn't change who I am or what I do.

A smaller but significant number of people have had definite influence on my life. These people, through their character or deeds, lived in such a way that they changed me. Typically, they've led me to change beliefs or behaviors, or have provided a concrete and compelling example of how to live (or with negative influences, how not to live).

But very few people have had the level of influence where I can say they really did transform my life - changed it in a way that would never have happened apart from them. My parents, my wife, a dear friend who displayed such Christ-like behavior that it drew me to Jesus, and a small handful of others...

What kind of effect do you want to have on those around you? On those you most care about? What type of people do your surround yourself with? Who do you entrust to influence the lives of your children? If you think about the big influences in your life - what made them so? As I think about my friends, coaches, advisors, teachers, there are some characteristics that show up in every one with a strong influence...
  • They loved me unconditionally
  • They chose to invest themselves in my life
  • They believed in me, at times when others did not
  • They challenged me, and spoke truth into my life
  • They helped me see strengths I didn't know I had
  • They went the extra mile
You know what's exciting about that list? There's nothing in there about skills, intelligence, experience, or charisma. They intentionally chose to do the things above, to be an influence, in the life of a person with whom they had built a relationship of trust.

Do you want to be a positive influence for other people? The choice is yours!

Random thoughts for the day

Today was an "in-the-zone" day (all by grace, nothing I did!) Finished something I promised a while ago for a client with three minutes to spare. Boss says he's scared for the first time in a while that new sales prospects are so good we may get swamped with work. Friend got a book I've been dying to see as an advance review copy. Installation of new software on my machine went flawlessly. Dinner was off-the-charts good (BBQ ribs), with cheesecake for dessert. Got to meet and talk to some new folks for dinner and they seem like wonderful people. Then a Q&A session on our recent vision presentation that went very well, and people asked questions. The day just couldn't have gone much better - thanks Lord!!

Two tidbits - first is one from recent reading though I wish I could remember the source:
"What is the difference between a committee and a team? A committee sits around and plans what other people are supposed to do. A team gets stuff done."

Second, the '7-second rule', used by Amy A. in our question and answer session tonight. "After asking a question, or opening up the floor for questions, close your mouth and keep in closed for at least seven seconds. Smile, but don't say anything." To us up front it seemed quite long, but to my shock, someone would finally ask a question. It was always a good question, but never came until after a good 6-7 seconds. That little tip kept our session going, and helped us not close early with a 'few closing songs.' I think time like that is important, to help as many people as possible understand the why behind things, not just the what.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Review - "S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life"

My amazing wife had the brilliant idea of combining some family time and service time this weekend. So we got on our helmets and went for a family bike ride over to church. There the kids got to hang out in the playground, mom got to hop on the riding mower and take care of the 'fields white for harvest', and I got to relax in the library and do some more reading :) (Going to Denny's after the bike ride back home and playing more with the kids was fun too.)

"S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life" is a book by Erik Rees, a Pastor at Saddleback Church who helps people discover their SHAPE for ministry. Our church (via a special "301 Discovering your SHAPE" class) and many others use the SHAPE approach: helping people understand their...

Spiritiual Gifts
Heart
Abilities
Personality
Experiences

Each of these aspects not only makes us who we are, but reveals what God has in store for us in ministry. I always think of Ephesians 2:10 when I think about SHAPE. I see now that this verse is listed right at the front of the book:
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)"
There were two things that made this book different and interesting, besides a nice explanation of each aspect of your SHAPE. First was the practical information for applying what you learn about your SHAPE. It talks about having a Training Partner and a Training Group if you're serious about understanding what God put you here for. The second was the chapter specifically on Kingdom Purpose - learning more about your unique assignment. He quoted from Olympic runner Eric Liddel (Chariots of Fire) - "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." Then he challenges us to consider this sentence:

God made me ______. And when I ________, I feel His pleasure.

The first blank, Erik would suggest, is our SHAPE. The second blank is our kingdom purpose. Being "called" to ministry is not something God has to beat you over the head with, not grab your attention to force you to do something you don't want to do. Rather that Kingdom Purpose is the very thing that God has created you to do and be, and you feel both God's pleasure and your own when you live a life that puts Him first.

He describes in practical terms how to explore this, and uses an acronym:
Get with God
Realize your Kingdom Dream
Activating your Serving Sweet Spot
Seek Wisdom
Plan your Test Drive

I think this issue of Kingdom Purpose is critical. I'm praying that it is something God will clarify for me. He made me 'a lot of things', and I feel like I'm making an impact for Him in a lot of (small) ways. The question is, which of those are merely 'good activities' instead of a God-sized dream that will transform lives. That is the purpose I'm trying to discover.

(For more info on the book, you can download a sample chapter, read excerpts from Google Books, or see reviews at Amazon. The end of the book also mentions a title due out in Spring 2008 by ZonderKidz - Only You Can Be You: Finding Your Serving Sweet Spot, by Erik Rees, which is written especially for children ages 8-12. He's also co-author on a book for teens "Congratulations! You're Gifted!")

Monday, May 12, 2008

Review - "The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer"

"The New Breed: Understanding And Equipping The 21st Century Volunteer"
by Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee. I was delighted to see a recent shipment of books in the church office include this relatively new book. Published last November, it looked like an interesting title but the complete lack of reviews on Amazon kept me from ordering it. (Well, I'll go fix that right now.)

Short review: Great book!! Buy a copy for your pastor! :)

Longer review: Let's start with a bit more context and why this book is so relevant for the church and my ministry right now. I'm getting more involved in our Small Groups Ministry, as a coach, and have been praying for my leaders and getting prepared to kick things off (we're redoing the way we do groups and many aspects including coaching are brand new for us). I began trying to find out some dates/times when we could have our first huddle, hopefully within the week. After a full week with no replies, I get back my lone reply: "Would sometime in July be ok?" Eek! This is going to be harder than I thought!

I'm not quite a "Boomer", but was born right at the tail end of that era and identify quite a bit with the values and traditions of my Dad. I've also made a life transition that I've not seen many of my friends or peers make. I deliberately cut my work hours way down, and chose to make family, ministry and relationships more of a priority. I moved away from the crazy pace of life at Harvard Medical School in Boston and now live and work in Indiana. (Commute time cut from an hour to two minutes!) I'm busy, but nothing like I was before. I don't really feel that constrained about my free time when it comes to using it for a kingdom purpose. Having chosen to "step off" the rat race treadmill and found an amazing sense of joy in the priority of putting God first, I feel sad sometimes when people I care about don't have seem to have time to breath, or need to schedule lunch together a month in advance. Oops, I digress, back to the book...

This book was really an eye-opener for me in understanding how my younger friends and colleagues view work, commitments, relationships, and the search for significance. The 'Boomer' view of commitment was a world apart from how it's viewed by Geneation @ (as the authors call them).

The book has three parts: The Volunteer Recruiter, the Volunteer Manager and the Volunteer Leader. The Volunteer Recruiter looks at this new breed of volunteer, painting a profile of the 21st Century volunteer. They talk about the need for providing easy on-ramps, and treating recruiting more like a courting relationship. The goal is not all that different - this new breed is quite capable and interested in committing, but it's going to be more on their terms, out of passion, and will come after they see themselves making a difference - it won't be signing on "up front" for long-term commitment out of someone else's 'need.' The first part also looks at two great sources of volunteers - retired Boomers and young professionals. It has a great discussion of seven "sins" of recruiting efforts:

Sin 1 - Expecting announcements to work
Sin 2 - Go it alone
Sin 3 - Recruit only those able to make long-term commitments
Sin 4 - Assume "No" means "Never"
Sin 5 - Recruit any BIC (Body In Chair)
Sin 6 - Ask busy people to do busy work
Sin 7 - Recruit professionals who know nothing about volunteer management

Part two gets into managing a new breed of volunteers. The increased need for understanding their individual needs and motivation, feedback, perks, and understanding role of relationships. There's more to having a "huddle" than just a fancy new name for a "Team Meeting." Chapter six has a good discussion on 'Empowerment' and how that differs from 'Delegation'. Chapters 7 and 8 were good inclusions in the book as well: Managing the Virtual Volunteer; and Managing (or Canning) High-Maintenance Volunteers.

The final part of the book is on the Volunteer Leader, with discussion and a case study on successfully leading a volunteer organization. (The book is about any kind of volunteer organization and has broad application, not just in church or ministry settings.)

Overall, the book is a must-read for anyone new to recruiting or managing volunteers, or anyone from the old school working with volunteers who wonders why 'these kids nowadays are so afraid of commitment!'

My Gardener

There was a funny TV show, a comedy about marriage that sometimes hit fairly close to home - 'Til Death, starring Brad Garrett. One particular episode talked about how in marriage there is often one spouse who is the "gardener". That spouse is constantly thinking about the other person, and does so much for the 'plant' - often unnoticed. In the show, Brad realized with a touch of horror, that his wife was the gardener, and realized what a lucky man he was.

Today, on Mother's Day, it's time to head home from church and I'm hanging out in the lobby, with the kids running around nearby. Hmm, where's Dawn? She must be talking to someone... boy she sure can gab...

Next thing I know, I see her pulling up in front with my car - and that after already getting the van for the kids. She knows how much I hate getting wet and even on her special day, walked through the rain thinking of me.

She's the gardener. And I love her very much. Indeed, I'm a very lucky man!

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gotta love the nerf

Kids came home with a nerf football today.

Oh my, guys, I had one of those when I was your age. I think that's the kind I used to learn how to throw a football. Hey! Any of you want to go outside and learn how to throw a football?

Four hands quickly shot up along with choruses of "Me! Me!" I soon found out that throwing a football is not as intuitive as you might think, and it's easier to just do it than to actually teach someone else. (Hmm, that sums up a major issue I'm wrestling with as I try to better understand the process of developing leaders, but I'll leave that for another day) Laces, proper grip, stance, transferring the weight, elbow and arm motion, aiming high...

We had a blast! Despite the fact that it was about as soft an object as you could imagine, they found it almost impossible not to close their eyes and look away in fear as the ball was thrown to them. The youngest and the oldest had better arms than I expected - good accuracy and speed. The middle two boys enjoyed seeing the nerf ball bounce off someone, even themselves.

I think what they liked best was "Go long! Run!!" They would sprint like the wind down the field and watch as the ball was thrown an almost unimaginable distance. They never managed to catch it, but they liked running it back while the other three tried to stop them. My girl outran them as all three boys ran straight at her. Our youngest pulled a super cut-back move and faked everyone out for a touchdown. Of course, that meant I had to pick him up on my shoulders for the victory dance.

All that, beautiful weather, some time biking all together as a family, and a special Mother's day dinner out...
Definitely a fun and memorable day for Daddy and the family:)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Clarifying the Vision of the Church

As we have been seeking to better understand what God is calling us to be and to do, we needed to pause briefly in our strategic planning process. Herrington describes that the "vision path is the next level of detail... It explains the meaning and implications of the vision. Vision describes the big picture of where the church is going, and visionpath begins to fill in details of how the church will get there." So first we just wanted to spell out some key aspects of the vision that would guide the development of the vision path. Though we have a ways to go in describing a clear, shared, compelling vision of the future to which God is calling us, the follow are definitely important pieces of this framework:

  • Biblically Sound – Culturally Relevant

  • We will communicate a passionate message of God’s love which is culturally relevant, uncompromised and biblical.

  • Accepting Environment

  • We will enthusiastically welcome all people at Calvary and provide a contagiously friendly environment where all are accepted and loved.

  • Living Life on Purpose

  • We will encourage living an abundant and intentional life, never ceasing to grow, as we yearn to see all become fully devoted followers of Christ.

  • Active in the Community

  • We strive to become vitally involved in our community, agents of transformation helping those who are hurt, and sharing God’s love with all around us.

  • Nurturing Families

  • We are urgently committed to excellence in all aspects of ministry to families, radically devoted to serving the children and youth of our community.

  • Connecting in Groups

  • We are not just a church with groups; we are a church of groups. We rely on small groups as a primary way to develop authentic relationships and to grow spiritually.

  • Every Member a Minister

  • We will empower, encourage and equip every person to serve God according to their SHAPE as an expression of our radical devotion to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vision of the Church

I like Jim Herrington's definition of vision - "Vision is a clear, shared, and compelling picture of the preferred future to which God is calling the congregation." Clear – so that people understand it. Shared or it leads to disunity. Compelling so it motivates the congregation to action. To be honest, we've been less clear on the vision for our church than on our purpose or values. When we say that we are encouraging the development of fully-devoted followers of Christ, what does that look like in practice? How does Calvary do that any different than other churches?

As part of our recent processing developing a strategic plan for priorities over the next two years, we've had some excellent discussion on our strengths and weaknesses, as well as some opportunities we have at this time, as well as some threats that must be guarded against. These discussions at our Wednesday evening services have included a broad cross-section of the congregation. A key benefit of doing this has been a better understanding of some things we could be doing better. From a high-level perspective, it was encouraging to see that there was strong unity among the congregation and a set of top priorities for improvement were identified. At the same time, there was not consensus on what 'success' in our mission would actually look like in the future. We could definitely benefit from a vision that was a bit more clear, shared, and more compelling to action. Fortunately, doing just that is one of the top hopes for our Pastor on his sabbatical next year. One thing we know is that we God is able and willing to do amazing things in our community and in our hearts - and we long to be used by Him to make a tremendous positive impact on our community. Next time I'll share some aspects of our vision that seemed to be clear.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Core Values of the Church

The mission of our church is not subject to change, as Christ's mission is unchanging. Our understanding of it may (should) improve, and the words we use to discuss it may vary, but we're looking to encourage people to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. What that looks like from one church to another may vary somewhat. In the same way God makes each of us unique as individuals, our churches and communities are also unique. Core Values are those things that help define a church, and express some of the heart of what God has called our particular congregation to be. Last year we spent some time discussing our Core Values, and the following expresses what we feel is most important at Calvary.

Christ-Centered Lives
Agents of Change
Loving Relationships
Volunteer Ministry
Authentic Leadership
Relevant Preaching
You are Loved

These core values are consistent both with our mission and who we are. We want to put Christ first in all things, and make sure that all we say and do communicates His love for all people. We want to share and live a clear biblical message, spoken not only in words but also in deeds. Calvary is a place for family, friends, and faith. Each one of us is called to serve, and has been uniquely shaped by God to do the good works He has prepared for us to do. It's important for us to accept and meet people where they are, but to encourage them to take a next step towards or in a relationship with Jesus Christ - to transform not only ourselves but our community.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mission of the Church

Any biblical consideration of the mission of our church, of any church, must consider Christ's mission. Two tremendous passages that provide insight into this are the Great Commandment and the Great Commission:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV)

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

Bottom line - we want to be who God wants us to be and do what He wants us to do. Our mission is to live out the commandments of Jesus Christ. What does this involve? Looking at these two passages, we are to worship God with all that we are, fellowship with other believers, evangelize and disciple people, and serve others. Based on these biblical passages, this is how we see the mission of our church:

"Calvary Baptist Church is a is a community of faith encouraging the development of fully devoted followers of Christ through commitments to church membership, spiritual maturity, personal ministry and world missions."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Transitions

For the past several months our church has been spending a lot of time in prayer and discussion as we've sought to be more intentional in strategic planning - both to clarify the vision and to focus efforts on our next steps in pursuing the vision. The urgency of this stems from two significant transitions we're facing. The long-term transition is that of shifting the mindset from a pastor-does-the-ministry small church to a pastor-equips-for-ministry growing church. Through our senior pastor's leadership over the past eight years we have broken out of the big 100-150 attendance barrier and have shifted away from the comfort of a place where you know everybody. But we've not yet reached the point where we have a well-trained experienced staff equipping dozens of volunteer leaders for ministry, nor are we likely to see fully see that mindset for volunteer ministry before we break through the next growth barrier of 500 or so. The second important transition is short-term, with Pastor Chuck planning to take a long-overdue sabbatical next year.

Pastor Chuck has pulled together a Strategic Leadership Team, both to start a more formal planning process and to form an advisory group and sounding board that will help in some aspects that would be covered by the staff in a larger church. The process we've been following has been to start with our mission and values, clarify our vision, and put together a 'vision path' of priorities or major goals to focus on over the next two years. One book that has been helpful in doing this has been "Leading Congregational Change - A practical guide for the transformational journey," by Jim Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James Furr. The book covers several important areas including preparation of the heart, a cohert planning sequence for change, as well as essential attitudes for leaders shepherding the change. Fortunately, we're starting from a fairly strong and unified position, looking to establish focus and elevate the vision, rather than navigate a turnaround or overcome great internal resistance.

During this process I've learned a lot about myself, my co-laborers in Christ, and have grown in awe and wonder of God and the love He has for all people. I'm very excited about our growing emphasis on helping people better connect to God and to each other in relationships, growing in Christ-likeness, developing faithful leaders with a heart to serve others, towards a goal of becoming better equipped to share God's love with those in our community who don't yet know Him. I'll be sharing more about our vision and vision path in upcoming posts.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Baptizing my Children

Today was an amazing day! It's been a great weekend overall, but the highlight by far was that today I was blessed to be able to baptize my four children at our church. Their ages range from 7 to 10. They were all very excited about it, although the boys are not big fans of water, and it didn't help that the baptismal was filled to almost neck level. Sierra's comment after breakfast summed up their attitude nicely - "Dad, my stomach is telling me I'm a little nervous, but my heart is telling me I'm very excited and happy!" The oldest, she was the first to accept Christ, followed by Christian and Justin, and just recently our middle child David chose to ask Jesus to be his savior as well. When she found out she started dancing for joy, hugged David then told mom and dad - "This is fantastic, the boys and I have been praying for him for years!" I found out recently that her previous hesitation about getting baptized wasn't really fear, but came from a desire to do it together as a family with her brothers. As she explained it, there was a mix of "leave no man behind" as well as "I just know David will ask Jesus into his heart someday soon. He can see all around here that Jesus loves him so much!" It was her last comment that really touched me. Not just from mom and dad, but from brothers and sister, from our friends, from his Sunday School teachers, David could see in the lives (not just the words) of others what it means to follow Jesus, to pray from the heart, to forgive, and to worship. God is in heaven, but he's ever-present in our home and church. Today was also special because it was 'Vision Sunday' and I was one of several people sharing our focus for the next year or so. On setting the date for the baptism I was hoping it wouldn't cut into time for the service. Pastor Chuck laughed and said "Are you kidding? Seeing people become followers of Christ is the vision!" I've never been prouder of my Church family than today - and I'm joyous that God has barely begun His work of transforming lives, and that He will do a great thing in our community and in the hearts of His people. Calvary Baptist Church... thank you so much for loving my family!