Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “The Foundation of Formation” #IAmChurch

I love our church. In fact, I think that you love our church too – otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

But what is it exactly that we love about our church community? Why do we gather every Sunday here? Why do we volunteer here? Why don’t we see the people, not the building, as the church? We believe when the Church is working right, there is nothing like it. The Church is not an organization. It’s an organism designed to live, move, and have being. January is all about celebrating what Christ established. In Matthew 16, Jesus gave us this promise that He would build His Church, and that nothing could prevail against it. So, we don’t just attend a church and we don’t just tolerate the Church — we celebrate it, because we are part of that Church that Jesus is building! This month, we celebrate everything that God has done, while looking forward to the future. We have a rich history here at Kfirst, but we believe that the best is yet to come.

Check out the service yesterday from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • God, search our hearts and remove anything that doesn’t align with Your heart.
  • Myths of Spiritual Growth:
    • 1 – Spiritual growth is about finding the right formula.
    • 2 – Spiritual growth is optional.
    • 3 – The goal is to attract more of God’s love and the attention of people.
    • 4 – The test of spiritual formation is how much I know.
  • Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” M. Robert Mulholland
  • There’s nothing I can do to make God love me more and there’s nothing I can do to make him love me less.“ Philip Yancey
  • You and I have a choice of becoming more like Jesus or less like Jesus every day.
  • Partnership with God is doing what I can do while God does what only he can do.
  • Repentance: Aligning your life in the direction of Jesus.
  • Are my thoughts leading me, toward life (toward the best version of me) or in the other direction?
  • Why Repentance?
    • 1 – It causes me to take responsibility for my sin.
    • 2 – It is an act of humility that reconnects my heart to His.
    • 3 – It shows I’m relying on God’s strength to help me change.
    • 4 – It allows me to be continually healed.
    • 5 – Repentance sustains growth in my relationship with God.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s the new song we used from the last two weeks…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “A ‘Yes’ Church” #IAmChurch

I love our church. In fact, I think that you love our church too – otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

But what is it exactly that we love about our church community? Why do we gather every Sunday here? Why do we volunteer here? Why don’t we see the people, not the building, as the church? We believe when the Church is working right, there is nothing like it. The Church is not an organization. It’s an organism designed to live, move, and have being. January is all about celebrating what Christ established. In Matthew 16, Jesus gave us this promise that He would build His Church, and that nothing could prevail against it. So, we don’t just attend a church and we don’t just tolerate the Church — we celebrate it, because we are part of that Church that Jesus is building! This month, we celebrate everything that God has done, while looking forward to the future. We have a rich history here at Kfirst, but we believe that the best is yet to come.

Check out the service yesterday from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • God never asks for my perfection; He only wants my “yes.”
  • When we say yes to God, we open ourselves up to receiving the good things He wants to do in and through us.
  • Church isn’t supposed to be perfect, it’s supposed to be home—that’s why we all fit in.
  • Jesus does not ask for people to clean up the lives before following him.
  • I wonder how many times I’ve missed God’s “yes” because I didn’t push through someone else’s “no.”
  • Life is messy. Church is messy. Faith is messy. Let’s get over it, and get on with helping people experience God’s grace.
  • “Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.” Brendan Manning ‘The Ragamuffin Gospel’
  • It’s a dangerous prayer to ask “God, what do you want me to say yes to today?” But it’s even more dangerous not to.

Love you all. Have an amazing week.

BTW: Here’s the new song we used yesterday…

Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “The Warm-Up”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we kicked off our new series “The Collective” at Kfirst. We are taking a few weeks to cast vision for a shift in our church community. We are desiring to move from “Membership” to “Partnership.”

We are using Paul’s letter to Philemon to help be the launch point as Paul uses the word, Koinonia twice to emphasis his heart for for the church (v. 6 & v.17). This wonderful Greek word means

  • fellowship, a collection, community, communion, joint participation, a proof of fellowship
    • Of business: it was a partnering or merging
    • Of the Church: it was sharing issues, sharing the load

This is the heart of the shift. We want to see ourselves as partnering (Koinonia) with God and each other to further His Kingdom.

As we launched out, we settled in Zechariah 4:1-9 as we looked at the commitments to a healthy church. The four commitments are:

  1. I will wake up to reality of what needs to be built. V. 1
    • We see don’t ignore the mess, we view it was an opportunity for God to move.
  2. I will seek God, not my preferences. V. 6
    • It’s all about seeking His presence before our preference.
  3. I will believe God can overcome all obstacles. V. 7
    • Obstacles are opportunities for God to perform miracles.
  4. I will work until completion. V. 9
    • What we do is position our church to move forward into what makes Jesus shine best.

We desire to build a unified church. Because if we partner together, we’ll be a better example of Christ to the world around us.

https://twitter.com/DawnHause/status/919575709483401216

This week, how can you partner with what God would like to do in your sphere of influence? First, spend some time in prayer and see how the Holy Spirit would challenge you to reach out. Ask God to reveal some ways you can be bold with your witness. Second, spend time in prayer praying over your church community. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring all of us boldness in love as we, together, shine our light to the greater Kalamazoo area.

Love you all. Praying for you this week.

Pastoral Team Chemistry: 10 Elements that have shaped our pastoral staff.

I randomly blog to pastors.  There’s usually no agenda driving it but a passion to do what so many pastors have done for me: give me help and encouragement by sharing what they’re doing.

Over the past 6-7 months, several pastors have requested I blog on a specific subject.  Last week, it came up again.

“What does your leadership team chemistry look like? How do you hire?”

What we have here at Kfirst, is by no means perfect, but it is a team.

I’m very passionate about them and I don’t tell them enough how much I love and appreciate their hard work and sacrifice.  They love Jesus and they’re passionate about seeing people touched by the presence of God.  Every action they have is centered around making it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.  I love them so much.

Each one has their own quirks.  We all have good days and bad days. If someone steps out of line in a staff meeting, someone close to the whiteboard will write their name and put a “check” next to it (yep…just like elementary school) as a way of lightening up the meeting. We’ll yell, laugh, and challenge each other.

I’ve learned quite a bit in the past 6 1/2 years.  So I thought I’d give you some elements I used to build our pastoral team.

1 – I work through networks. If you don’t have any ministry friends/relationships, you’re already behind. The Church exists in community. You expect your congregation to operate in community. You should live that. When I need a staff member, I don’t hit websites; I call up friends. Make phone calls. Get coffee. Use social media.  Get some friendships and network.

2 – Unity reigns. Two thoughts: First, sticking with staff just because you inherited them is not healthy.  As I experienced here, inherited staff is an opportunity to grow. Thus you need a season of time to see if you gel together. If you gel…great (I got a great one). If not…that’s fine too. Transitions don’t mean someone was wrong. Sometimes it means it wasn’t a fit, and that’s okay. But sticking with a dis-unified staff just because you’re afraid of transition isn’t healthy for you, your team, or the congregation. 

Secondly, I hire based upon unity and team fit instead of resumé. The final part of my interview process is to bring the candidates in front of the staff for questions and interaction. I’m not really looking for great answers.  I’m looking for “team.” Just because someone is qualified for a position, doesn’t mean they fit on the team. I would gladly sacrifice talent (which I haven’t had to do) for a fit. Psalms 133: Where there’s unity, God commands his blessing. 

3 – It’s not about age, it’s about the peace.  A younger team has its perks as does a veteran team.   But hiring based upon a person’s vintage (or lack thereof) isn’t going to equate to growing a vibrant, relevant church.  If you have a congregation who doesn’t like change, they’re going to complain whether the leadership team member is their age or not. The team is all about the vision and the fit. If you don’t have the peace in hiring the person, don’t do it. The presence of Christ brings the presence of peace.  Don’t embrace age over peace…in fact, don’t embrace anything over the peace that Christ gives. If the peace is only 90% there, then complete peace isn’t there. Follow the complete peace

4 – We keep a heart not a clock. I hire hard workers. They recognize that ministry is beyond 9-5. They put in the hours needed to do ministry beyond the “work day” while maintaining a balanced family life.  The time they put in AND the heart they wield accomplishes more than strict office hours can contain.  

5 – I don’t hire “me.” A staff of other “Davids” doesn’t do me or the church any good.  Leadership teams need all sorts of personalities, backgrounds, and viewpoints. Different means good. Hire staff that has a tough hide, a tender heart, and can be strong in who God made them to be.  If not, the congregation and/or staff will eat them alive.

6 – Communication is key. We do weekly staff meetings. Asana helps keep us organized and together on projects. I make sure my door is always open to the staff and their spouses. Not only is my door open to staff, their door is open to each other. If someone is offended by another, I don’t need to be referee and have to step in. I’ll see him/her walk into the other team member’s office to make things right. If someone from the congregation is offended with a staff member, I direct them to communicate that to that specific staff member (Matthew 18) instead of me. Again, we value the element of unity in our staff and in our church and healthy communication fosters it.

7 – No “yes men” (or “yes women) allowed. As much as I think my ideas are great, a great team knows how to have great discussion and even debate. The key is the humble attitude and teachable heart. Ideas are sought. Healthy disagreements are welcomed. All voices matter (including spouses).

8 – Coffee matters…meals matter. Talking over coffee (good coffee) instead of talking over a desk brings a relational element to the team.  To me, relationship is everything with staff. That’s why breaking bread is a part of our weekly staff meeting.  Jesus did a lot of ministry at a table. Why shouldn’t we?  I believe longevity is connected to relationship. Perhaps less of our staff pastors would want to leave if they felt connect to their Lead Pastor.

9 – Family is priority.  I expect my staff to have family time.  I have no issue voicing concern if their schedule is getting out of whack.  I expect them to take their spouse on dates. And if I expect that, I need to help.  Anne and I will gladly watch the PKs while their parents have a night out.  They need to take us up on that more often. Our PKs are stinkin’ fun and hilarious. 

10 – Evolution is expected. We shouldn’t remain the same.  Personal growth creates team growth.  Our staff has different tastes in the books we read and those differences help create well-rounded views.  We love to look at other churches (inside and outside our denomination) and engage in conversations with other pastors.  We to know what the Holy Spirit is doing in other churches and let that challenge us. 

Again, we are not perfect in the least.  We may make mistakes individually and collectively, but I have their backs.  You can misunderstand our methods, but you cannot mistake our hearts. Our goal is to see the Kingdom accomplished and we love doing that together.  

This is who we are.  This is part of how God is growing us. And I can’t wait to see what God has next for us. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Permission Granted: 4 Reasons Why Unity in Your Marriage is Better than Permission

Permission is a funny thing. Permission, defined, is authorization or consent. Sadly enough, this is how a lot of marriages work. The reason why marriages work that way, is there is a misunderstanding of unity and Lordship. One of my favorite scriptures comes out of Acts 17:28.,
“in him (Jesus) we live and move and have our being.”
It’s through Jesus’ provision and authority that we live our lives as well as our marriages.  
This is where we screw it up. This is where we like to take authority that belongs to him, and exercise that over our spouse. Instead of working with our spouse, we want to lord over her spouse.  It rips apart our oneness, and places us in the seat of a dictator.  We make our spouse seek permission to spend money, to travel, to spend free time, or anything that they desire to do. The “permission thing” might seem healthy to you, but it’s caging up your spouse and making them live in concern and or fear of you and your opinion. Fear has nothing to do with love. In fact fear wants to drive out love. 
I want the two of you to stop asking for permission. I want the two of you to get the mindset out that you would need permission from your spouse to do anything.  It doesn’t mean we go and do everything that we desire to do regardless of how our spouse feels. Means we communicate out of a desire to get a unified heart. 
When I ask Anne about spending money, hanging out with friends, or to simply go out to a store, it’s not about permission. 
It’s about unity. 
I don’t need my wife’s permission for anything. I do want her unity. When I look in Psalms 133,  spells out 4 blessings that come from unity. 
1 – Psalm 133 says unity is “wonderful and pleasant.” What a great description for the atmosphere you bring to your home in marriage. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into a very awkward home or place, but if you have you want to leave it immediately.  Homes with atmospheres where you must have “permission” is everything but “wonderful and pleasant.”  It’s constructive, painful, and awkward.  A unified heart between a husband and wife creates an atmosphere where the marriage can grow and where children can be raised because it is “wonderful and pleasant.” Needing permission stinks up the room.  Unity clears it up. 
2 – Unity makes your marriage “precious” (verse 2).  This speaks of value.  The greater unity you foster the more value you bring to your marriage and your spouse. Working in unity will bring value to your parenting. Your kids will see the family as valued. Is unity easy? Absolutely not. But the hard work and focus of unity continues to shape your marriage to make it precious and of extreme value.  You want to show your spouse how valuable they are? Show that you want to walk in unity with him/her.  Want to lose value, remove freedom and demand permission.
3 – Psalms 133 says that unity is “refreshing.”  There is enough of this world that wants to suck the life, joy, and love out of your life.  When you come home, you should experience refreshing. Having to seek permission steals the joy from marriage away. Constantly having to ask for authorization, rips away the freedom Jesus desires you to have. Fostering a unified hard between the two of you gives a place of refreshing. Conflict is not avoided, struggles are not bottled up, and issues I’ve never ignored because the two of you choose to walk in unity. Please note this: unity does it mean there’s never a disagreement.  It just means you choose to walk in unity regardless of opinion.  
4 – Psalms 133 says where there is unity God “commands His blessing.”  I think one of the biggest reasons here is because we’ve left the Lordship up to Jesus. We leave the “permission” thing up to him. We allow Jesus to have the authority.  And when we walk in unity with each other and with Jesus, his blessing continues to rest upon our lives. This helps remove worry and exciting from marriage. When we go through rough patches and storms, when the season of life is treating us to well, we don’t have to wring our hands in a worry. We know that the command and blessing of God will be upon us cause were choosing to walk through it together in unity.  
Unity thing works in every aspect. Even if your spouse is broken trust with you, The accountability he/she needs nothing to do with them asking for “permission.”  Has everything to do with communication for the sake of “unity.”
If you been exercising Lordship over your spouse, today is the day to relinquish that to Jesus. Today is the day to ask for forgiveness from your spouse. Today is a new day for you to walk in unity in to see amazing results of God’s blessings on your marriage. 
Thanks for letting me ramble…

What my parents didn’t teach me about marriage – Part 2

Last week, we started this new blog series that focused upon the things my parents didn’t teach me based upon some of the issues we see today.  Again, please don’t take any of the following blogs as a guilt trip to those who have struggled or have made mistakes.  I do not elevate anyone above Christ. But I do obey scripture to “give honor to whom honor is due.”

To catch up, read Part 1 of the series here.

Part 2…what didn’t my parents teach me?  They didn’t teach me to operate separate from my spouse.  They showed a unified front

When I think of the definition of “oneness”, I think of my parents.  As stated in Part 1, I don’t think they’re perfect in the least bit, but I’m grateful for them NOT teaching me certain things.

One of things they NEVER taught me was “disunity.”

When I saw them make decisions, I heard discussions.  They both gave input.  Sometimes they asked us kids what we thought (even thought our opinions probably had no baring on a decision). But nevertheless, we (Rach and I) felt a part of things.  When dad and mom made the decision to go into ministry, tons of changes were coming to our lives.  They told me of the news together.

To take this unity thing further, never once did I feel they vied for the position of “favorite parent.”  I never heard language or saw actions in which one was trying to be the “nice parent” and the other would be the “disciplinarian.”  It wasn’t about “wait till ___________ gets home.”  When it came to encouragement AND discipline, both parents shared the roles and walked in unity with those roles.   If they disagreed on how the other one parented (which probably happened as I know it happens to me and Anne), I, as their child, never saw it and assumed it happened out of earshot of us kids.

Let’s go another step deeper: When dad and mom had disagreements, we (Rach and I) were not pawns in the midst of conflict.  Our heads were not filled with parents wanting us to take sides.  We were not in the awkward position of hearing information that kids should hear.  Our young minds didn’t go through the agonizing conflict that so many parents put their kids through pressuring them to “side with mom/dad”.  We were spared from being a part of the conflict. They kept it between them.

One of my favorite scriptures to quote when talking marriage is Psalm 133.  For where there is unity,

“…there the Lord commands His blessing.”

There wasn’t perfection in our home.  There wasn’t a world with rose-colored glasses (idealism). We lived modestly.  We lived real.  There was laughter and tears;  excitement and disappointment. It was just a real home, with real issues, but approached by a marriage in a unified manner.

And for that reason, I believe the blessing of God was on us.

For that reason, I thank you mom and dad for “one”.

Till next week when we look at Part 3.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

2 Minute Devo: What are you thinking Day 10

We’re focusing on what the Bible says about the “mind” and how that affects us.  Spend time on the devo and take a minute or two to ponder what the Word is challenging you to do.

Philippians 2:1-4

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.