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Who is NOT Parkview’s Competition

I was recently reminded of a very sad reality – some pastors and churches view other pastors and churches in their city as their competition. Before I had an opportunity to develop my own philosophy of ministry, I pretty much adopted this smaller philosophy of ministry embraced by others around me. Many of those smaller philosophies within that larger philosophy became my own and have directed many of my steps. A few of those philosophies I altered slightly and a couple of those philosophies I rejected vehemently. One of the rejected philosophies that nears the top of that list is the oxymoronic philosophy that my brother is my competitor. I recall my first exposure to and hence consideration of a new philosophy – my brother is my fellow soldier (no need to realize the biblical premise). I was sitting on the family room floor of my less than modest home on College Street in Jacksonville, FL. Because I was soon to move to a new city, I was desperate for a new friend. So I called a pastor in Palm Coast who had planted a church himself within that year. As I told him of my plans to invade his turf and raid his flock, I was astonished at his overly zealous thrill about my soon arrival. Never had a response from someone been so wrong and felt so right.

The man who I spoke to that summer night of ‘97 was Billy Wight, church-planting pastor of Palm Coast Community Church. In typing this post and reflecting on that phone call, I get choked up just thinking of how my heart felt in that moment. Fast-forward 16 years, and we are the dearest of friends. Countless meals and prayers have been shared, and our friendship has never been stronger. That friendship now also includes several deep and personal friendships with other pastors in our city. I owe the kingdom mindedness of my philosophy of ministry to Billy Wight.

Sixteen years later, my philosophy plays out regularly. Just a few hours ago, I received an email from a couple, and they shared with me how my advice had led them to set the issue aside, stay at their current church and move forward in ministry. Mind you, this couple is dear friends, live closer to my church, would have instant opportunities for ministry and would only have to endure slightly worse preaching at my church. I love my philosophy of ministry even when I don’t like it.

Within the last 2 weeks, I called a ministry friend in town and immediately informed them that one of their close ministry partners had visited our church, and I wanted them to be aware and have a conversation. The guest at our church was a key player in their ministry, and my desire was to not see that change for my benefit. The next week, I received an email from a lady raving about her experience at our church the previous weekend and about how her family would be, after years of faithfulness, leaving their current church home to join our fellowship. I clearly responded with an email that stated that it was not time to leave and cleave, and I asked to have her husband call me on my cell, at which the time of the call, I informed him of my recommended no leave and cleave policy.

You may not understand or agree with my philosophy of ministry, and perhaps that will only fuel it’s outworking just as I intend – you’re staying where you are.

Billy, I can’t thank you enough and may it be a long while before we swap any more sheep!! I will not compete with your church, but would like to compliment your church.

The Pain of Pastoring

For some time I have had some thoughts rolling around on my heart that I am going to articulate for my own processing and also as a way for me to share my heart with you. I am thinking that I will take a couple posts and share a few different parts of pastoring that cause me pain. I also believe that you may be able to easily associate with similar pain in your own lives.

One of the biggest pains of pastoring is when people leave the church! Just earlier today I left a voicemail for a friend who used to attend Parkview. Not only was I close with this guy but so were our families close. I watched the family experience Life Change, in fact, I recall baptizing every member of the family at different times. I also remember when the husband lost his job…I remember walking that road…helping him be ok with being lied about and fired without cause…he moved to another state.  About a week ago I called a friend who used to attend Parkview. He is one of the most godly men I know. I saw incredible leadership potential within this man and prayed we would minister together for years…he moved to another state. On a regular basis I see posts and comments from former Parkview congregants on Facebook. Just today I saw a funny post from a former church leader, they said something about their son, who was friends with my son…they moved…my son cried that day.

Just in case you wonder if the only pain that is felt is when someone moves – that is not the case. On other occasions people have left without moving and that hurts too – sometimes more. Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • they leave and can’t really explain why
  • they leave because God is leading
  • they leave because somebody has hurt them
  • they leave because their spouse is pushing the issue
  • they leave because they quit on God
  • they leave without saying anything
  • they leave and don’t want to meet and discuss
  • they leave because they have other needs
  • I am not sure I care to continue to think of more reasons or situations

I am friends with a number of pastors and some at a very deep level. They all feel the same way and have experienced all of the above…I am not alone. Without crying and whinning I would state that I have something unique that I deal with that many, not all, of my pastor friends do not – I pastor in a city that has an extreme amount of turnover. Palm Coast is transient unlike many other cities – if you live here you know what I mean, if you don’t I will spare you the details.

To be clear, I am not blaming those who leave, nor do I fault them. I am just talking about my feelings – it hurts; if it didn’t then I guess I should get another job. I believe the Lord gives the shepherd a shepherd’s heart. I also greatly appreciate all those who have grieved with me in their departure.

Better to have loved and “lost” than to have never loved at all.

Slick Stinks

I am very committed to the following: our mission, values, top-notch environments, first-class publications, creative stage sets, an inviting campus, cool student activities, media that is engaging, promotion that connects, events that attract, series titles that stick, etc. Not only am I committed to the previous, but I also think that our wonderful staff often delivers on the a fore mentioned. In regards to the list, I also acknowledge that those elements are very business-esque. In other words, many corporations are shooting for the same targets. So I will just go ahead and acknowledge up front that in many ways the church functions like a business. Yet, the church is no a business. Indeed, if we only have the above practices and principles then we might as well just become a business and for one, I am not interested. I am all for the slick, but slick by itself stinks!

What I am even more committed to is: Creator God, Christ the Redeemer, the Guide into all truth, the gospel, salvation, sanctification, soul transformation, genuine repentance, personal holiness, the power of prayer, kingdom expansion, biblically functioning community, global missions, etc. When it comes to this list slick won’t do – what we really need is the super-natural.

I am not asking God for the slick but the super-natural. I am not looking to build something that can be born in my brain, I want to be a part of something that can only be accomplished by the One born in Bethlehem. I am asking for the divine, the unction, the empowerment, the filling, and the super-natural.

I will take the super-natural over slick any day!

Hard Conversations

If you knew anything about my leadership journey you would know that the part in me that has changed the most (and still needs greater change) is my desire for hard conversations. By nature I am conflict averse. For many years I sprinted from conflict – and wasn’t even aware that was what I was doing. My stomach would do gymnastics and my mind would do contortions. My life experiences and my God-wiring move me away from the hard conversations. But now, 21 years after college graduation, the light is starting to come on. Two things have brought the light on and have helped me see the importance of hard conversations – those two things are: EXTREME pain from ignoring things and the MASSIVE benefit from dealing with elephants. As a result, I would like to share my still-in-process learning:

  • Relationships are too important to ruin and too hard to rebuild because something is being ignored.
  • Open and honest communication is biblical.
  • Many of the problems result from our faulty filters and made up stories. Most of the problems, when addressed, turn out not to be problems after all.
  • Things swept under the rug don’t go away and it trips everyone who walks in that area.
  • Not only do relationships suffer from un-dealt with conflict but also so does the organization.
  • Resolved issues and conflict that is closed allows me to use my energy on my life’s mission and not my life’s misery.
  • I feel better!
  • God smiles and winks with a sense of pride.

Just recently I had a hard conversation with a couple people. As I tried to navigate the conversation in a God honoring way here is what I experienced in that moment:

  • They respected my honesty.
  • They knew there was a problem.
  • They were looking for a solution.
  • They also wanted to honor God.
  • I felt the relationship strengthening during the talk.
  • I got emotional and my eyes filled up (hope they didn’t notice) because I cared deeply about them and could sense us moving towards health.
  • My heart was so much closer to them at the end than it was at the beginning.
  • They helped me understand and gave me perspective.
  • We all left energized.
  • God received a gift and that gift was our conversation.
  • The conversation reminded me how “easy” hard conversations are.

What is the Lord teaching you about hard conversations?

Pass Along

One of my favorite authors and bloggers is Michael Hyatt. I wanted to pass on a couple blog posts that can be found at his site. The first post is his and the second is written by a guest – both are excellent!

Post 1 – Why You Aren’t Dead Yet

Post 2 – What I Learned From Tragedy

 

Phenomenal Night

The best way to describe last night is “Grand Slam”!! We had two training events – one at 4 and the other was at 6:30. Let me give you some of the details:

  • Attendance was excellent at both sessions!!
  • Many people who have never served were present!
  • So thankful for all who faithfully serve who came out to prepare for Easter and improve our overall serve.
  • We talked about our responsibility to provide the absolute best environment.
  • With everyone equipped and on the same page we are better prepared for this Easter than at any time in our history.
  • We introduced our process, which is also a brand new print piece – Celebrate, Grow, Serve, Reach
  • The MAJOR announcement that I shared is that we are in discussions with Hammock First Baptist in regards to the possibility of them merging with us. I will probably shoot a video later today and post it on my blog. I will use the video to give similar information as to what I shared with all those in attendance last night.
  • All of our staff and leaders did a tremendous job in preparing for the training event. Thanks!!

Mentored From Afar

To me mentoring is all about seeing the potential in an individual, helping them see it and then calling out the individual to reach that potential. I love being mentored and what I have just described has been my personal experience through being mentored. Several great men have seen what I did not and called that out in me. To those men I am grateful!

Most of the people who have mentored me have done so in an up-close and personal way. On rare occasions I have been mentored from afar. Being mentored from afar has most often been done through books, pod casts, articles, etc. Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting one of the few men who have mentored me from afar.

In the early days of pastoring the church I recall driving to the theater every Sunday morning and listening to Dr. Joseph Stowell, then President of Moody Bible Institute, preach on the radio. His sermons were always encouraging to my heart and were also a primary challenge for me to develop my own preaching. Around that same time I purchased Dr. Stowell’s book, Following Christ. That book still stands out as one of my favorites both for its content and its timing in my life. Several years ago I had the opportunity to take our staff and wives to a conference in Miami at which Dr. Stowell was a keynote speaker. Once again God used him to challenge me and encourage me. Yesterday I was invited to a breakfast where Dr. Stowell would be speaking to pastors. During the morning I had the opportunity to speak with him on two occasions and they were both wonderful conversations.

If you would like to listen to Dr. Stowell you can click here to find some of his resources.

In closing, who is mentoring you and who are you mentoring? Also, who has mentored you from afar?

An Incredible Tool

At Parkview our mission is to guide people to Life Change in Jesus Christ

Life change does not happen in our lives apart from the Gospel.  The Gospel is what changes us.  Our salvation has been accomplished by what God alone has done, not by what we have done.  From cover to cover, the Bible is all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the Gospel that shapes everything about us, producing life change.  We cannot know God or His Gospel without knowing His Word.  As we understand and embrace God’s Word, we find it so dynamic that is begins to define us, sanctify us and motivate us.  This is why one of our values at Parkview is:

Fueled by God’s Word
We believe God’s Word has the answer to all of life’s questions, and therefore, we surrender willingly to its timeless truths.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (NKJV)

In order for each of us to experience life change we must be people of God’s Word.  This means we need to know how to study it and do what it says. As James 1 tells us we must not only be a hearer of the Word but also a doer of the Word.

At Parkview, we have incredible pastors, teachers and leaders, and we desire to help you grow in your faith and in the knowledge of God’s Word.  But more importantly than that, our heart is for you to discover God’s Word for yourself.  We believe God’s Word holds the answers for all of life problems and we know that it brings purpose and meaning to our lives.  God created us for relationship with Him and in His Word is where you will find that relationship.  He made us to respond to Him and it is in the truth of His Word where we are able to respond in obedience by His Grace.

One of the things that have helped me to be able to study the Bible has been Inductive Bible Study.  This is simply a method of study that opens Scripture up to us so that we can discern what God is saying to us as individuals.  Because we believe that it is God’s Word that changes lives and that God longs to meet you in the pages of His love letter to you, on February 16-18 we are bringing a Precept Inductive Bible Study Training Workshop to Parkview.  My wife, Denise, and several of our women leaders have attended this training over the last several years and have grown from the principles and study habits they have learned.  I will be attending this workshop and am looking forward to growing in discovering God’s Word for myself as well.

Click here to find out more information about learning the Inductive Study Method.  I want to encourage you to take a look at the information and giving prayerful consideration to attending. You may attend only one day or all three, but to receive a 25% discount, you need to register before January 23! I know it will be life changing!  If you have any questions in regards to this great training opportunity, please contact Sylvia Shows at (386) 586-2291 she will be glad to help you in any way she can.

Join me as we learn how to effectively study God’s Word and experience life change together!

3peat

I wanted to pass along 3 articles that I read recently – great stuff!

  1. Click here for a good view on when the church disappoints.
  2. Click here for how to speak up when you need to.
  3. Click here to read about effective leaders.

Which article was your favorite and why?

My Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation month and in honor of that I would like to share a few words about my pastor.

My pastor is Tom Messer. Pastor Messer leads Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fl. He has pastored that church for about 19 years and has done a phenomenal job. Let me share a few ways that he has been a blessing to me:

  • He rarely misses an opportunity to tell me he is proud of me.
  • He led Trinity to be our mother church when we launched Parkview
  • They invested several thousand dollars into our ministry in the early years.
  • He still buys my lunch regularly:)
  • Even though our churches are different he has always encouraged me and not tried to change the philosophy I embraced
  • He has taught me more about preaching than anyone else
  • I have benefited from hundreds of his sermons over the years
  • He has stepped in and helped me through some very challenging seasons of my own ministry
  • In recent weeks he stepped up again
  • He brags about me like a proud dad
  • He has trusted me in his pulpit on countless occasions
  • He is a great leader
  • He has faced very difficult times in his own ministry and remained steadfast
  • He has modeled how to love a congregation
  • He has modeled how to shepherd a congregation
  • He is a faithful friend

I can’t think of a finer mentor and friend! You can check him out here and here.

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