Leadership Development

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Today I spoke at a workshop about leadership development and mentoring.  It was a great experience because I was talking about something that I am passionate about.  about 15 years ago I went through a time of searching for meaning in my life.  I turned to God and went deeper in my faith.  At the time I started asking myself what kind of person do I want to be remembered for.  I started praying and questioning myself.  After a long process I came up with a personal mission statement for my life:  Growing myself and others in Faith, Character and Leadership.  Those three areas of my life have been the main focus for me over the last 15 years.  It has helped to keep me focused on the right things and to say no to the things that distract me from those three areas of my life.

Here are the things I shared with the group today at the Equip2Serve conference in Canton Ohio at Malone University.

Leading yourself is always the hardest thing to do.  We spend more time with ourselves than anyone else, yet most of us don’t take the time to be intentional about our own development.  Here are some practical things you can do to work on yourself.

  1. Develop a Personal Growth Plan or Life Plan - This is a powerful exercise that can transform your life.  To think about the highest priority areas of your life like, Faith, Family, Marriage, Finances, Health, Work.  Then to go beyond just thinking to actually developing a vision for each of those areas and then setting specific goals to help you get closer to that vision.  The last step is to put those goals on your calendar and actually do the things you wrote down.
  2. Get Accountable – It’s good to do a life plan and set goals for your life, it’s another to share those goals with trusted people in your life and ask them to hold you accountable.  It’s also important for your character to have some accountability in your life.  Confessing to God and talking to him about our issues is one thing, but it’s a whole new level if you can confess to a trusted friend and ask them to ask you about it every week.  Accountability only is effective if you are completely honest and trustworthy.  Start praying right now for a few people that you can trust enough to share every area of your life, and talk about the dark things in your life.
  3. Ease up on Yourself – Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  We can be our own worst enemy sometimes by thinking negatively about ourselves and putting ourselves down.  It’s OK to put pressure on yourself, but not to the point where you feel defeated or depressed.  It’s important to remember that God made you, He loves you and He believes in you.
  4. Plan some Solitude Time -  This won’t happen on it’s own so you need to get it on your calendar.  Block off some time and take a personal retreat.  You might need to take a vacation day to do this but it will be worth it.  Solitude means getting away from the people and things that distract us from connecting with God.  This is necessary mainly for your emotional and spiritual health.  Solitude allows you to have God moments where you connect with Him in ways you could never experience when your running your normal life pace.
  5. Take a Risk – This is huge in leading yourself.  When you take a risk and push through the fear that holds you back there is great freedom on the other side of that.  The danger in self-leadership is that we become content with who we are and don’t push beyond what we think is possible.  IN what area of your life do you need to take a risk?

Leading yourself is not easy and will be something you have to do the rest of your life.  We never arrive and get it all figured out.  Once we make one break through in life there is always another obstacle and other opportunities that will come up.  Make sure your carving out time to lead and develop yourself.  The more time you spend on yourself, the more you can pour into others.

Examining the Condition of Your Walls

 

One of my heroes is Nehemiah.  His story is found in the Bible and it’s loaded with leadership and spiritual principles. Nehemiah was a Jewish man living in Persia after the Persian empire had taken over Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people.  Slowly over a 90 year period the Jewish people were traveling the 800 miles back to Jerusalem and were trying to rebuild that great city.

Nehemiah had an important and prestigious job as the cup bearer to the king.  He found out that the rebuilding process in Jerusalem was not going well and they were struggling to make it.  Mainly it was because the walls around the city had been torn down and that left them vulnerable to the people around them.  Nehemiah had a great concern about the walls of his beloved city.  The rest of the story is how he went about rebuilding the walls.

Here are some of my takeaways:

Wall rebuilding then…. Wall rebuilding now:

Ancient walls served many purposes. They offered Protection, Security, and reflected the strength of the people.

Likewise, today the walls of spiritual disciplines that we build around our lives are vital for our Protection and for building our relationship with God.

We need to examine the condition of our walls.

Are some gates open for the enemy to slip in?
Has neglect allowed a loose piece of stone or mortar to become a hole or a gap?
Have weeds of compromise overrun certain sections until those toppled walls have become a main entrance for sin?

If your walls are in need of repair lets take a look at some principles from Nehemiah.

First: Develop a genuine concern for the condition of the walls.

Is it a burden on your heart? We must have a genuine concern for the condition of our spiritual lives.  If spiritual growth is not important it will take a back seat to all the more important stuff in our lives.  The spiritual walls we have in our lives keep us focused on the best things and growing in our trust of God.

Second: Express direct prayer for guidance and protection.

Nehemiah started 800 miles away in prayer before the Lord. Prayer tends to be an afterthought many times. It should be the first thing we do. Get into the habit of acting on your burdens only after you have given them a firm foundation in prayer.  Prayer is a privilege and God is available at all times.  We have access to the only one that controls everything.

Third: Face the situation honestly and with determination until the task is finished.

If we are upfront and honest about a problem we usually can get more of a commitment from the people around us. An honest appraisal of your own spiritual walls will help you stay determined to fill the gaps.  We all know were we tend to struggle and where we are allowing things to influence us in a negative way.  If your unsure then ask the people that are closest to you for honest feedback.

Fourth: Recognize that we cannot correct the condition alone.

No amount of experience can overcome sin’s power to crumble our walls. It is only when we are willing to live in dependence on God that we have the power to fix and build the spiritual walls we need for survival.  If we are serious about making changes in our spiritual lives then allowing other people to speak into our lives is vital.  Pray for someone that can hold you accountable by asking tough questions and then pray for courage to be open and honest.

Breezes instead of wind gusts usually knock us down. We get lulled into neglecting our walls.  We drift from God and allow other things to take priority in our lives.  Slowly we stray away and can find ourselves lost, stuck or alone.

Pray for God’s help in recognizing those subtle breezes in your life that are causing you to drift into moral compromises.

What area of your spiritual wall needs repairs or strengthened?

Are you faithful in all areas of your life? At work, At home, At play?

Take some time soon to think about the condition of your own walls and then follow Nehemiahs example and rebuild them as needed.

10 Points of Emphasis

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Over the past 12 years I’ve been working at NewPointe Community Church is various leadership positions.  NewPointe is a multi-site church meaning it is one church in multiple locations.  Currently there are four locations and we are working on locations five and six to be launched in 2015.  Over the years there has been a lot of change at NewPointe.  The strategy has been a constantly moving thing but the vision has always been steady.  Our vision is to lead people to realize and reach their full potential in Jesus Christ. With millions of people in Ohio, which is where we are located, we have to keep growing in order to continue reach more people to help them grow spiritually.

Recently I went over some points of emphasis with my staff at the Millersburg Campus.  These are areas that all of us as leaders need to pay attention to and constantly be working on.  These points lead to a healthy organizational culture and to steady growth.  These points are all transferable to any business or organization.  These are leadership issues that I have found to be important in building a healthy organization.

10 Points of Emphasis at NewPointe Community Church:

1. First Impressions matter – So remove all distractions and create wow moments of service.  You only have one opportunity to make a positive first impression.  Make someone’s day and then keep building on that positive first impression.
2. Lasting Impressions matter – So follow-up is essential.  Once a person comes to your organization it’s important to connect with them so that they keep coming back – write notes, send emails, texts and calls – meet with as many people as possible – Each touch matters in building relationships.  You don’t want to bombard people, but they need to know that you value them as a customer or client.
3. Lead by example – People are watching and listening so make sure your healthy emotionally, physically, mentally and especially spiritually, so that you can be positive and passionate about the vision. Sometimes you need to do things that are not your job, to show people that you are willing to do whatever it takes to move the organization forward.
4. Focus on the individual – Be fully present with people. When you are talking with someone focus on them and not what’s going on around you.  Work at listening and not thinking about everything else you need to do or what you are going to say to respond.  When you make the person you are talking to feel like they are the most important person in the room they feel valued, heard and cared for.
5. Do for one what you wish you could do for all – You can’t help everyone, but you can help someone.  When you come across a person in need and you can help do all you can to help and serve that person.  It might be providing a needed piece of equipment to an employee or finding a way to help during a difficult time.
6. Always try to make it better – 1% improvements over time make a big difference. Have a mindset of how can I improve this.  Constantly ask for feedback and give people permission to be negative and honest.  When you get negative feedback be grateful and don’t get defensive.
7. Be good stewards of all our resources – Pay attention to details and don’t waste resources.  This forces you to be creative and responsible.  Work within your budget and spend money as if it’s your own, not the organizations.
8. Don’t just care about your team, care for them – When the people around you know you care because of your actions it builds loyalty, healthy community and a positive culture. You care for people by taking the time to listen to them, serve them, follow up quickly if they have questions, be flexible and give them open honest feedback.
9. Be clear when you communicate – Make sure you clarify the win and the expectations and then repeat and follow up. Repetition is important especially when it comes to values, guiding principles and vision.  Don’t make people guess at what you mean.  Most people appreciate clear direct communication.
10. Keep it simple – Take the complex and make it simple for people. This is hard the bigger you organization gets.  You have to be very intentional about keeping things simple and easy.  Remove as much red tape as you can.  Systems are good but can become too complex if you as the leader don’t keep pushing for simple.

These are things I think about and try to do on an everyday basis as a leader.  Leadership means you are out in front and yet walking behind and with your team.  Serving the people you lead is vital in leadership.

Hard Leadership

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Leadership is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.  It is also one of the most rewarding things you can do.  Whether your leading your children, your family, your department, your company or your team, leadership can be challenging.

Leadership is hard because if you want to lead well it takes time, energy, intentionality and confidence.  To lead well a person has to constantly be thinking ahead and also dealing with the present reality.  The ability to influence others in a positive way starts with the way a person leads themselves.

Leading yourself is probably the most challenging part of leadership.  You know yourself better than anyone and so you tend to be harder on yourself than on others.  You can also talk yourself into things that are not good for you and justify bad behavior.  Unless you have some accountability in your life leading yourself can be a loosing battle.

So here are some tips on how to lead yourself better, so that you can lead others better:

  1. Develop a Personal Growth Plan or Life Plan – This is a powerful exercise that should be done once a year and then followed throughout the year.  Pick the important large areas of your life like; Faith, Family, Marriage, Finances, Work, Health.  Once you’ve settled on 3-5 main areas then write a one paragraph description of what you want that area of your life to be like.  Once you’ve done that, set 3-5 specific goals that can help you move closer to that ideal that you just described.  Once you have that done then transfer those goals to your to-do list or calendar so that you start working on it.
  2. Get Accountable – It’s on thing to set some goals and work on achieving those things, it’s another to share those goals with someone else and ask them to hold you accountable.  Accountability only works if you are honest and completely open.  It also takes a person that cares about you and that can be trusted to hold you accountable and ask the tough questions.  If you have that kind of relationship or relationships in your life it can accelerate your growth and development.  If you don’t have that start working on developing that kind of a relationship with someone.
  3. Ease up – What I mean by that is it’s important to ease up on yourself and not be too negative about yourself.  We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to change or personal growth.  Cut yourself some slack and look for the positive things that your doing and don’t always focus on the negative.  It’s OK to put pressure on yourself, but be careful it’s not too much.
  4. Take a Risk – This is huge when leading yourself.  When you take a risk and try something new or push yourself to do something in spite of your fears, real growth happens.  The danger in self-leadership is to get comfortable and not push yourself to get better.  When that happens your influence with others will start to go down.  If your not stretching and growing you can’t ask others to stretch and grow.

Leadership is hard and rewarding.  It’s either increasing or decreasing and you decide which direction it’s going.

Spiritual Fitness

 

 

Race (12)Recently I ran races on back to back weekends.  First it was a race called Rough & Rugged which was a 5k cross country, trail, mud kind of race.  I finished but was exhausted and struggled along the way.  Then the next weekend I ran a 10k on a flat course.  Again I finished but struggled and had to reach deep to keep pushing myself. After I finished that second race I made the comment that these races are much harder when you don’t train properly.

You see I had been running once a twice a week in preparation for both of these races.  I also did nothing between the two races and I felt it on race day.  I know this because at one time I did train hard and went into similar races in much better physical condition.  I ran better times and felt better after the races.  The preparation I put in made a difference on race day.  I was both mentally and physically ready.  That was not the case with these last two races.

It is similar in our spiritual lives, when we are staying connected to God and feeding our minds the truth, it is much easier to recognize lies and deal with the difficulties of life.  It’s the things we do day in and day out that prepare us for those big moments in life and those small moments that make a big difference.  Those crucial conversations, the big decisions, the temptation that comes out of no where or the unexpected tragedy.  When we are not training spiritually those things can knock us down and take us out.

So here are some spiritual exercises we can all do to keep fit both spiritually and emotionally.

  1. Pray – This is a very powerful way to train.  It has been proven to reduce stress and it’s a great way to express your heart to God.  How incredible to know that the God of this universe wants to listen to what is going on in your life right now.  Short prayers throughout the day or longer prayer times when you able are great ways to stay spiritually fit.  I like to use ACTS when I pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
  2. Reading the Bible – For some this is a challenge, because they tried it and didn’t understand what they were reading so they gave up.  Keep trying, try a different translation, try listening to it, but keep trying.  the translation I’ve been reading lately is the New Century Version.  I just read through the New Testament in 30 days and am now reading through Psalms in 30 days.  You might not be able to read that much so set a goal that works for you.  Find a time that you can read for 5-10 minutes and try to stay consistent  When you miss a day, just pick it up the next.  Pray before you read and ask God to help you understand and to pick something up that he wants to tell you or teach you.
  3. Go to Church – I know that sounds simple, but unless you make that a priority in your life you will only go when it suits your schedule.  Today many people only go to church once or twice a month.  That’s good but your missing a lot by not going every week.  I know life happens and I don’t expect people to be in church every time there is a service, but it should be high on your priority list if you want to be fit spiritually.  Find a church that challenges you to grow and get involved.  Don’t settle for comfortable, because it’s hard to grow and train and get better when your comfortable.
  4. Volunteer at your Church and in the Community – When you make a commitment to volunteer it gets you out of your comfort zone and into making a difference through the local church and through good local organizations.  This is one of the best ways you can grow spiritually.  It will help you to serve others and be part of something bigger than yourself.  Serving increases your responsibility and develops your character.  It also allows you to use your gifts and abilities to make a difference.
  5. Get involved in a group – When you meet with other people to build relationships, learn, and care for each other it stretches you and pushes you to grow spiritually, relationally and emotionally.  When you open your life to some other people it brings a new level of accountability and connection that often leads to growth.  Find some other men or women or couples that you can get to know better, have fun with, have spiritual conversations and pray with.
  6. Listen to Messages – There is incredible communicators out there.  Find someone you connect with and start listening to there messages.  Several that I like a lot are Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Jon Weese.
  7. Read – I already mentioned reading the Bible, here I’m talking about reading blogs, articles and books.  Some people avoid reading because they hated in in school. I’m not saying you have to read every day, but try to start reading because it’s a great way to get fit spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  There are great resources out there that can help you improve your marriage, parenting, finances, work life and build your faith, develop your character and grow your leadership.  Here are three books I’m currently reading.
  • The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hans Finzel
  • The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick
  • The Cure by John Lynch

I encourage you to pick one or two of the areas I mentioned and start incorporating it into your everyday life.  If you do all of those on a regular basis you will grow and become more fit spiritually.

Letter From God

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What if you received a letter with a return address of Christ: The Universe? We may be afraid, concerned, excited or all of the above. In any case I am sure we would be riveted to the text of this letter. We need to be riveted to the text of the letter Christ wrote through John to the church of Laodicea in Rev. 3:14-22.

It is intensely personal and highly relevant to our search for intimacy. It could have been written to us. Near the end of the letter there is a compelling invitation:

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my father. That’s my gift to the conquerors! Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22 (Msg.)

Although many times we have taken this passage as being about salvation, the context dictates that it’s actually about a relationship with Christ for those who have already come to know Him.

Christ is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking. The metaphor is powerful. It means that Christ is intentionally, aggressively, passionately pursuing us. There are no qualifiers here. He isn’t speaking to a few select people, but to all the Laodiceans: the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, those with disabilities and those that are forgotten. Christ portrays Himself as intentionally pursuing intimacy with us.

If Christ makes Himself so accessible, why is it that we don’t open the door? There are at least three reasons for our hesitation:

The First Reason: Fear

Though God does pursue us and though Christ is there knocking, some of us may be afraid to open the door. Many of us have longed for intimacy in human relationships-with our father, mother, or someone else- only to find that our hopes for intimacy were not only dashed and broken but that as we made ourselves vulnerable, we were wounded in the process. We are afraid. We just don’t know if we can trust again.

Thomas Keating, in his book INTIMACY WITH GOD, speaks to this problem:

The Christian’s spiritual path is based on a deepening trust in God. It is trust that first allows us to take that initial leap into the dark, to encounter God at deeper levels of ourselves. And it is trust that guides the intimate refashioning of our being, the transformation of our pain, woundedness, and unconscious motivation into the person that God intended us to be.

Because trust is so important, our spiritual journey may be blocked if we carry negative attitudes toward God from early childhood. If we are afraid of God or see God as an angry father-figure, a suspicious policeman, or a harsh judge, it will be hard to develop enthusiasm, or even an interest , in the journey.

We need to pray , “Lord I want to trust You, Help me to trust you. We need to grasp the truth that God will not disappoint us. He will not abuse us. He will not use us. No one who as ever trusted God and moved toward intimacy has ever ultimately been disappointed – ever.

The Second Reason: Self-Sufficiency

Some of us have the same problem that the Laodiceans had. They were neither hot nor cold, but luke-warm. They were rich and had no material needs, so they thought they didn’t need God. They relied on what they consumed from the material world in order to satisfy, sustain, and secure themselves. Many of us don’t think it is so bad to be self-sufficient, it’s not like being self-centered or self-serving. But it is a big issue to God. Christ said to the Laodiceans that though they had all the stuff, comforts, companions, commodities, they were wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Wow. God wants us to be rich in the right ways. He wants to fill our lives with truly valuable treasures. He wants us to have His peace, comfort, presence, and power.

The Third Reason: Discontentment

“More. If there is a single word that summarizes American hopes and obsessions, that’s it. More success. More luxuries and gizmos. We live for more-for our next raise, our next house; and the things we already have, however wonderful they are, tend to pale in comparison with the things we might still get.” Laurence Shames

There is that ever-present craving for all that is more, bigger, or better.

He goes on to say this:

“During the past decade, many people came to believe there didn’t have to be a purpose. The mechanism didn’t require it. Consumption kept workers working, which kept the paychecks coming, which kept the people spending, which kept inventors inventing and investors investing, which meant there was more to consume. The system, properly understood, was independent of values and needed no philosophy to prop it up. It was a perfect circle, complete in itself-and empty in the middle.

The Biblical word for satisfaction is the word contentment. We are called to be content with what we have since we have God-and He is fully sufficient. That doesn’t mean we don’t ever want something or that we don’t enjoy a purchase here and there. It means that we are not controlled by the passion to consume. Having Him, we have it all. Anything extra is a bonus.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had learned both how to have plenty and how to have little and in both cases to be content. Contentment is not just a reflected in our relationship to things. We can be discontent with our spouse, our job, our place in life, our education, or a long list of other things. Sometimes discontentment can motivate us to righteousness or a zealous commitment to God. This is a healthy kind of discontentment. The kind of discontentment, however, that seeks personal satisfaction and security in “just one more thing, one more experience, one more friendship.” Leads to the emptiness and aloneness.

When we hear Him knocking, it is the trusting, God-sufficient, contented heart that hurries to answer. Opening the door generates the pleasure of experiencing His promise, “I will come right in and have supper with you.”

 

 

 

Church Drift

EVERY church struggles with the tension of reaching new people and taking care of the ones already there. Churches and the people in them can drift and lose sight of the important things.  There is no perfect church or perfect way of doing church.  But every church can drift and become isolated from the world around us and lose it’s effectiveness.

When you are drifting you don’t even notice. You just wake up one day and you are in a different place

  • Relationships can be that way
  • Work can be that way
  • Finances can be that way
  • Values and character can be that way

So here are 3 things that we as a church need to fight against drifting toward:

  1. The drift toward insiders and away from outsiders.
  • Every church drifts toward this way of thinking and it’s dangerous:

o   We know our favorite songs and complain when they aren’t played – My preferences instead of what is effective in reaching other people.

o   These are our people, we take care of our own at the expense of reaching out and caring for others.

o   I have been in the same small group for 10 years instead of thinking about how to include some others in building close community and stretching myself by starting a new group.

o   We complain that we don’t know everyone anymore when the church grows, instead of celebrating that more people are connecting with God.

o   We focus on the people who are here and don’t have a passion for the people not yet here.

o   We focus on church programs or activities and not people.

o   We try to please the insiders and turn off outsiders.

o   We think we have the best children’s programs, the Best student program, the Best preaching and we stop trying to improve or innovate.

o   We stop learning and improving or changing.

How do we fight this drift?

Let’s focus more on who we want to reach, rather than who we are trying to keep.  That does not mean we don’t care about the people already here, it’s important to help everyone grow.  It’s about the main focus always being to reach more people that do not know Christ.

  • We all need to remember that Everyone spends forever somewhere, either in the presence of God in heaven or separated from him forever.
  • We have the most important mission in the world!  Therefore we should be promoting the church more than anything else.
  • The local church really is the hope of the world living and teaching the truth of Jesus Christ.
  • There are over 11 million people in Ohio and millions of them don’t go to church!
  • We can never be big enough as long there are people that don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  1. The drift toward law and away from grace
  • The natural drift of a church and people is to have a lot of rules or policies.
  • We like to have a set of rules to follow, because it helps us to know if we are winning, improving.
  • Following the rules makes us feel good, but can also cause us to be judgmental.
  • If we are not careful our focus can become more about gaining knowledge and less about loving people.

How do we fight this Drift?

We always err on the side of Grace

  • Jesus was a perfect example for us to follow:

o   Jesus spent time with Sinners and called the religious people hypocrites.

o   Matthew was a tax collector, which was a despised position, cheating people and taking their money. Jesus asking him to follow me, he didn’t ask him to clean up his act first.

o   Jesus said in Mark 2:17, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

  • Following rules and rituals at church is easy & comfortable.
  • Having crucial conversations, building healthy relationships and extending grace are messy, hard and uncomfortable but it’s what Jesus did.
  • We need to speak the truth in love and yet extend grace – The church should be about both truth and grace.
  • The church should be irresistible, because Jesus was irresistible.
  1. The drift toward preserving rather than advancing
  • Example: business owner…when he starts out he risks because there’s nothing to lose. The bigger the company grows the more risk-adverse he becomes.

o   Churches are the same way

o   In the beginning we had nothing but a vision, but then as we grew there is more to lose and so we become more conservative and fearful of losing what we have.

o   Jews: “we have to PRESERVE the law!”

  • But they forgot to advance the kingdom

How do we fight this drift?

Let’s remain openhanded in our attempts to advance the message of Jesus Christ

Open handed means giving freely and generously

  • So the question is what are we risking to advance the Kingdom? What are we praying for as a church? What are you praying for in your life?
  • What are we trying to preserve?  Our history?  Our traditions?  Our rituals?
  • What are we trying to advance? The Good news about Jesus Christ?
  • What are we afraid of losing?  What fears are keeping us inward focused instead of outward focused?
  • Are we comfortable in our own world or church and not concerned or passionate about those that don’t know Christ or are stuck in their faith?
  • Are we content with where we are at spiritually or hungry to advance and grow spiritually?
  • Are we as a church trying to keep what we have instead of reaching un-churched people or people that have given up on church?
  • If the local church is the hope of the world, then I want to invite you to fully participate in advancing the church.  Find a church where you can:

o   Attend, volunteer, give, connect, pray and take responsibility for all your relationships.  Find a place where your challenged, and encouraged to grow and be a part of something bigger than yourself.  Find a place where your children love going and are learning and growing and connecting with God and helping you as a parent to teach them about faith.

o   Commit to be both deep by doing what God tells us to do, loving well and wide by investing in people.

That Church

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Recently I had a conversation with some people that attend and volunteer at the church that I work at.  As we talked about some of the conversations they had at work and in the community, I heard several times that many of the people they talk to about church say “Oh you go to That Church”.  Now I’m guessing that the comment comes from people that are either already going to a church or grew up in church.  The reason I say that is because people that are familiar with church tend to have a picture of what a church should be like.  I know that I had those same thoughts when I first heard about NewPointe over 17 years ago. I questioned why they did certain things and why they didn’t do certain things.  But then I tried it and was changed forever, my picture of church was wrecked in a good way.

When a church comes along that doesn’t line up with our picture of the church we grew up with or currently attend, we will question the validity of that church.  Most people’s natural tendency is to poke fun or shoot holes in something they don’t understand.

I actually love that people would say you go to “That Church”.  That means that we are getting noticed and people are actually talking about church, maybe in a way that they have not talked before.  It leads to spiritual conversations and gets people thinking.  There is no perfect church, because there are no perfect people.  As a church leader I don’t claim to know it all or have the best way of doing things.  I want to create a place where people can connect with God and other people.

So here are some things I love about That Church, otherwise known as NewPointe Community Church:

  • I love that we accept and love everyone, no matter how they look, act or where they come from.
  • I love that we speak the truth openly and often and also extend grace openly and often.
  • I love that we are trying to be a church that unchurched  people love to attend.
  • I love that we are outward focused, wanting to reach as many people as possible.
  • I love that we try to lead people to take their next step spiritually no matter where they are at spiritually.  So no matter where someone is at with God, we want them to take another step closer.
  • I love that we partner with parents to help children and students grow spiritually.
  • I love that we are a generous church, giving our time, talent and treasure for God’s work.
  • I love that our messages are relevant, real and practical.
  • I love that we focus more on people than on programs.
  • I love that we use technology to reach people more effectively.
  • I love that we have a vision to reach Ohio and beyond with the Good News about Jesus Christ.
  • I love that we are creative and willing to try new and different things to reach and connect with people.
  • I love that we emphasize leadership and taking responsibility for all our relationships.
  • I love that we don’t need to put on a mask when we go to church and can be real.
  • I love that we use music to worship God and that we play it loud.
  • I love that we are willing to serve our community in practical ways to meet the needs of people and local organizations.
  • I love that we are willing to partner with other churches and organizations to make a difference in the world around us.
  • I love that we can laugh in church.
  • I love that we can drink coffee in church.
  • I love that we emphasize connecting in small groups and doing life with others.
  • I love that we deal with conflict directly and speak the truth in love to resolve conflicts.
  • I love that we know we don’t have all the answers and are willing to learn from others.
  • I love that people can come and worship God together from all walks of life.
  • I love my church – That Church!

 

Top Ten Relational Needs

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This week I taught a class entitled “The Top Ten Relational Needs”.  It is based on a workbook by that title from Great Commandment Network. 

God made us with needs, and God promised to meet those needs.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Paul is telling us that God is willing and able to meet all of our needs. It also acknowledges that we all have needs as human beings

Neediness is a characteristic of our God-given identities.

Physical needs:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Sleep
  • Oxygen

Spiritual needs:

  • To experience God’s love
  • To experience God’s forgiveness
  • To experience God’s peace
  • Only God Moments

Here are the Top Ten Relational Needs:

  • Acceptance
  • Affection
  • Appreciation
  • Approval
  • Attention
  • Comfort
  • Encouragement
  • Respect
  • Security
  • Support

These needs are the same for anyone, no matter where your from, no matter how young or old you are.

It’s OK to have needs, it doesn’t mean your weak.  When we understand our needs, it humbles us and builds our character.

Only God and other people can meet our needs.  Why did God create us this way?

  1. Our neediness Encourages us to depend on God and look to him to meet our needs
  2. Our neediness encourages interdependence – We are not robots, we have feelings and emotions and our neediness requires us to have healthy human relationships. We are here to serve one another.
  3. Accepting the reality of our needs helps us to develop a heart filled with compassion for others
  4. Admitting our needs frees us to receive and give care.
  5. Meeting the needs of others expresses care and produces unity in the body of Christ

My question for you is this.  Of the top ten relational needs listed above, which three are most important to you and which three are most important to your spouse or significant person in your life?  If you can figure that out and then communicate clearly to each other about it, your relationship will begin to improve.  You can control whether or not you are meeting these needs with others, you cannot control whether others will meet your needs.  However, if you are loving and serving the other person the likelihood of them meeting your needs goes way up.  If your too needy, that pushes everyone away from you.  You have to first meet the needs of others and show that you can do it in a healthy way.

Lessons Learned at Eight Days of Hope

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Last week I went on a mission trip to Tupelo MS with the organization Eight Days of Hope.  This was the second time I’ve gone on one of these trips with 8DOH.  Back in late April of 2014 Tupelo was hit with a devastating tornado.  The damage was far reaching and the city is still trying to rebuild and regroup.

Basically 8DOH goes into a community and works with local churches, non-profits and the government officials.  They only go to communities that want the help and are open to a Christian organization.  They focus on homeowners that are uninsured, under insured or that need help beyond what insurance will pay.

3,023 volunteers from 37 states served at Eight Days of Hope XI. There were around 60 people from NewPointe Community Church that went.  We worked on 235 homes, multiple churches and multiple parks. We finished 451 jobs with 159 homes being completed. Three homes were built from the ground up. Total amount of work done exceeded $4.4 million dollars. BUT…the most important thing was we had a chance to share the joy, the hope the love of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Here are some lesson’s from this trip:

  • Team work is vital in accomplishing big things – This trip showed me once again how important teamwork and unity are in getting a lot of work done.  It takes humility, patience and trust to make it all happen. It takes multiple leaders, taking responsibility and working toward the same goal.
  • When planning and hard work meet up with God amazing things happen – A lot of planning and preparation happened before and during those eight days, but God was invited into the process and He accomplished more than anyone would have expected. God moments happened every day.
  • Every job is important – I was reminded that every project was important because it touched a person or a family.  Whether it was cleaning up a yard, building a fence, roofing a house, building a deck or fixing a door, it’s all important. No job was too small or too big, it all mattered, because it was an expression of love.
  • It’s important to serve the volunteers and minister to them as well – 8DOH did a great job of serving the 3,000 volunteers and focusing on ministry to the many people that were giving such a significant amount of time and energy.  They had programmed times for worship, fellowship, entertainment and free time.
  • People love to tell their story – I heard several stories from the local people about how this storm had impacted their lives and how 8DOH brought hope back to them and their families.  Talking about their story helped the people to move forward and get past the tragic event of the past. I also got to hear stories from other volunteers and got to know them better.  Ask questions and find out more about the people around you.
  • You get to know people much better when you work along side them – on a trip like this you get to see the real person.  You get to see them when they are tired, frustrated hungry and uncertain.  You also get to see the fun side of people when they let down their defenses and be themselves. I encourage everyone to consider going on a mission trip at some time in their life.  Here is a picture of the group from Millersburg:10559719_10202362331839757_1586175141656029044_n
  • It’s all because of Jesus – The reason people give up their vacation or personal time to go on a trip like this is because they love Jesus and want to help other people. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and this is one way we as followers of Christ can show love to other people.

I’ve been on many mission trips and every time I have been deeply impacted in a positive way.  I have gotten to know other cultures and other people in different parts of the world.  I gotten to talk with people I would never have met, if I wouldn’t have taken the risk and decided to go.  Maybe God has been nudging you to consider go on a trip like 8DOH or maybe another mission trip.  But the cool thing is we don’t need to go on a mission trip to love and serve people.  There are many people in our own communities that are in need that we can serve and love and help.  All it takes is a willingness to give some time and talent and muscle or to listen and encourage.

If you would like to get involved in changing your local community or want to go on a mission trip, please contact me via email – cstutzman@newpointe.org