Thursday, June 23, 2011


Why I love my church...

Four reminders from last night about why I love Southern Hills.

Sitting with another elder and his wife helping a couple work on restoring and healing their marriage.

Having one our members bringing a friend to church whose marriage is in trouble. She told her friend that our elders would pray for her. We did.

Being part of our regular elder/minister Bible study after services. We were studying the kind of men God expects us to be. The main thing we determined is that we are to be men of character with families that reflect that. Others should see us as Godly men of faith, and we should be able to teach, counsel, preach, and speak from a deep knowledge of God's Word. Rich and humbling.

Being called to the hospital at 1:00 this morning. Two of our families were with people whose son had been critically injured in an accident. Most of these people evidently did not have a shepherd, preacher, or church home. So our people stepped up. We prayed, talked, and spoke Jesus into a hurting group. Loved hearing our people respond to questions about why we would do that by saying we are God's people at Southern Hills. This is who we are and what we do.

Love nights like that. Wounded, healed and healing believers being the face and hands of Jesus in our world.

That is who we are and that is what we do.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Changing a church...

How do you change a church? One way is to brand the new image everywhere. Get signage up proclaiming the kind of church you want to be known as. Repeat often from the pulpit that you are that kind of church. Remodel or build facilities that look like that kind of church. Form focus groups to center in on the clear vision. Have as many meetings as needed to get everyone on the same page.

Remind everyone that your worship style is to facilitate the new emphasis, especially if you want to change something.

With strong marketing, you can grow your membership by attracting members from elsewhere who want to belong to a church like that. It is very possible your staff will soon be holding workshops and lectureship classes on how to remake a church.

All of this will require lots of resources in time, money, and energy. It may consume your staff and eldership. Members may exhaust themselves to accomplish this rebranding.

But someday, your church image will be rebranded and you -- and the church world -- will all be convinced you are what your new image says.

Of course, changing an image doesn't change a church. Having an image does not mean you are what your image says. Ask the church in Sardis (Revelation 3): they had the reputation of being alive and Jesus said they were dead.

So if you want to change a church ... forget all the above.

Start doing. And soon your image and reputation will reflect that. Forget rebranding. Try recommiting.

When the church is really bought in and doing the new emphasis, then see if any of the things above need to be done.

In other words, change the reality first -- then the image.

But most churches I know work much more on the image. It's easier than real change.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Changing churches: image vs. reality

I want my church to be better. I think that is true with most people. I think that is true with the majority of people in the churches I visit. And I think, pray, and wrestle with the best way to lead God's people in accomplishing this. But I think we generally go about this the wrong way.

Our answer to being a better church seems to always center on the same ideas. Get a better program, build something, adopt a better organizational model, change the ministerial staff.

Individually, those who want to lead this change seem to have the same approach. Criticize the results and methods now in place. Create a task force, committee, focus group, vision team, or ministry team. Ask to be lead the group, or at least be in the group. Spend lots of time and energy to come up the the right program, building, model, or staff.

Repeat as often as possible. If you do not get a lead voice in this process, threaten to leave. If you are in an area with lots of churches, go to the one that "gets" it. When you find out they are not everything they could be (because none are), repeat again. If you don't have other options, split -- oops, I mean start -- another congregation.

I wonder what would happen if we all decided to change by doing. What if we just got out in the world and talked about Jesus. Got invested in the lives of your spiritual family to the point where true accountiblity is practiced. Heal, restore, disciple, grow.

But it is easier to talk, plan, and organize than to do. Always has been. Always will be. I used to wonder if it was just where I worship, but in meeting with Christians and church leaders all over the United States and the world I see the same thing.

So I am trying to make sure I act, not just talk about it. Lead by example. If no one follows, I will still be making a difference in this world and in the kingdom of God. Sure beats talking about making a difference.

And just maybe the way to change the church ... is to change me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Julie's birthday

Today is my daughter's birthday. I remember when these were family events with proud grandparents, cake and ice cream. Then they became occassions for slumber parties and trips with friends. And now she is a grown woman with a husband and two kids of her own. I love Julie so much and am very proud of her. So I reflected today on why I am happy to be her Dad. Maybe these thoughts will help you realize what matters with your kids.

She still loves her family. She talks to her Mom every day. Of course, Marsha talks to her Mom every day too. And I guess Avery will always talk to Julie every day. Maybe that's a good pattern. She is intentional about her marriage to Bobby and about raising Jake and Avery.

She loves Jesus. She is intense about her faith. She helped Bobby to know Jesus. The most important thing she wants to give to her kids is faith in Jesus. It was the most important thing we wanted to give her. That's another good pattern.

She loves her church. They don't just show up, they are involved. She loves her church friends, she loves her extended church family, she loves her nursery class, and she invites people to come visit.

Her job is an extension of her heart. She is a nurse. She loves helping people. Her students are not part of her job, they are part of her life.

She is a good wife who loves her husband and brought him to Jesus. She is a good Mom who loves her kids and is teaching them to love Jesus.

She is a good daughter who loves her Mom and Dad -- tho now we are Mimi and Pops. I love that we get to sit together at church with our four generations.

But above all, she is not just my daughter. She is the daughter of the King. And I think I am most proud of that. And in truth, that's about the only thing I care about. That she is faithful. Not perfect -- another pattern there -- but faithful. Faithful daughter, faithful wife, faithful Mom. Everything else is just a bonus.

Love you Jules. Proud of you and yours.

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