Thursday, December 4, 2008

REGGIE MCNEAL CONFERENCE

Seven pastors and lay leaders from our church attended a day-long conference at the Lexington Baptist Association office to hear Reggie McNeal. Reggie has spoken at our church on several occasions. His talks always challenge me to re-think how we do church and how I live the Christian life. Today was no exception. His talk was based on his newest book The New Missional Renaissance which will be released late next month. Here are some takeaways.

  • Henry Blackaby was right. We need to join God in what He's already doing. God is having a great time out there. The question is whether we want to play.
  • 3 convergences that are creating a missional renaissance: the rise of an altruism economy, the desire for personal growth, and spiritual awakening.
  • We're in a culture that wants to talk God and not church.
  • Three shifts needed: from internal to external focus in ministry; from program-driven to people development; from church-based leadership to kingdom-focused leadership.
  • The church needs to be like the connecting hub of an airport. The hub is not the destination. We've made the church the destination place instead of the hub that sends us into the world with the gospel.
  • Churches need to reconfigure the scorecard. Instead of counting heads who show up on Sunday mornings, we need to count how many aren't present. We need to count how many are outside the walls incarnating the gospel.
  • Evangelism should never be a program; it should be a way of life. Quoted a pastor in India where the church is exploding: "Our church is growing so fast that we don't have time for evangelism."
  • We live in a pre-Christian world, not a post-Christian world.
  • The church is not the hope for the world (ouch!). Jesus is.
  • We must teach our people to become a blessing to the world. And then we must tell their stories.
  • The emerging model of church will not focus on church as being the big event on Sundays but worship through service to the community.
  • The new missional model of church will require a reallocation of prayer (how to deploy prayer in the streets), time (for staff: why are we in the office and not in the streets?), money (how much are we giving away?), facilities (how can we open our doors to the community), technology (websites that become a means of helping people plug into community ministries), and people (how many community leaders are we developing?)
  • Churches must learn how to customize their discipleship strategies to fit the needs of individuals. 5 questions to ask every member: What do you enjoy doing? Where do you see God at work in your life right now? What would you like to see God do in the next six months? How can you serve other people? How can we pray for you?

I could go on and on. Bottom-line--excellent day of learning. I encourage you to read Reggie's book when it comes out next month.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH JOB (PART 3)

The word processor for the blogging site is not too user friendly. I can't figure out how to start with a number different from 1. So let's go with bullets as I continue to share with you some learnings from my recent read through Job in the Message Bible.

  • 22. Eliphaz--Round 3--Basically he says, "Job, get right with God and He will make things right with you."
  • 23. I love how Job expresses his obedience to God. He didn't just obey. He treasured God's advice.
  • 24. The evildoings in Job's day sounds like what's going on today.
  • 25. Bildad--Round 3--He reminds Job that no one, no matter how righteous he is, can stand before God perfectly innocent (that is, except through Christ).
  • 26. Job's sarcasm toward his "helpful" friends adds a little humor. By the way, laughter is good therapy when things aren't going well.
  • 27. One thing that bothers me about Job is his reluctance to admit that he's a sinner. This is probably due to a concept of sin in his day as external behavior and not matters of the heart.
  • 28. How does someone gain wisdom? By fearing the Lord. How does one gain insight? By shunning evil.
  • 29. Job recalled the good days when everything was great. All of us are just one phone call or one doctor's report away from things drastically changing.
  • 30. We criticize how Job's friends counseled him. But how would you have counseled him?
  • 31. Oh, that we all would hate sin and refrain from ungodly living like Job did.
  • 32. Elihu, a fourth friend, is younger than the other three. The custom in those days was that the young, out of respect for the wisdom of their elders, never spoke before the older men were done speaking.
  • 33. Elihu makes a lot of sense. He says God always answers one way or another.
  • 34. God can never do wrong. We need to remember that when trials come and disaster rages.
  • 35. Elihu asks Job, "No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?" No, sin doesn't change God. But, yes, sin does matter to Him.
  • 36. When we suffer, it is critical that we learn from it (v. 15).
  • 37. Bottom line for Elihu is that he thinks Job was out of line for accusing God of being unfair to him. God is unfair to no one.
  • 38 and 39. God speaks now. Great, great, great chapters for anyone who nees to be reminded who is in charge of everything.
  • 40. If you want to expand your knowledge of the mountain goat, deer, donkey buffalo, ostrich, horse, and hawk, read this chapter (seriously).
  • 41. God uses sarcastic humor to get His point across to Job. He invites Job to swap places with Him since it sounded like he knew everything.
  • 42. Honest confession before God starts the healing process and restores one's relationship with God.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH JOB (PART 2)

In the last blog I shared some introductory insights into this great Old Testament book. Now let me share a gleaning from each of the chapters.

  1. Verse 21 is one of the greatest proclamations of faith in the Bible. After losing everything, Job's first words were, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

  2. I wonder how many spouses have been successful in leading their mates to turn away from the Lord.

  3. Job asks a question that is still prominent today: What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense?

  4. The first speech by Eliphaz suggests that Job must have done something wrong to have gone through the losses he did.

  5. "If I were in your shoes...." People suffering like Job usually don't need advice. They just need friendship and compassion.

  6. Job is brutally honest in expressing his disappointment in his friends.

  7. He is also brutally honest with God--"Don't you have better things to do than pick on me?"

  8. Bildad's turn--full of advice. He believed Job's woes had to come about as a result of sin.

  9. Job asks one of the most pertinent and profound questions ever asked: "How can mere mortals get right with God?"

  10. Job, why don't you tell us how you really feel?

  11. Job's friends meant well, even though a comfort, they really weren't.

  12. Job speaks tons of wisdom when he can say in the midst of his suffering that God is sovereign over the universe.

  13. Job has two requests for God: God, back off the trials. God, give me an audience so I can ask you some questions.

  14. One of his questions is still being asked today--one of life's ultimate questions: If we humans die, will we ever live again?

  15. Much of what Job's friends say is accurate. It's just that they act like they have life all figured out.

  16. Job relentlessly gives his friends, God, and the earth a tongue lashing.

  17. Job's mood seems to move from anger to desperate brokenness: "My spirit is broken, my days used up."

  18. Bildad, Round 2--He's a bottom-line kind of guy. Very simply, he says, "It is the wicked who go down."

  19. Even though Job has suffered pain, rejection, and hopelessness, he makes one of the most profound statements in the book--"Still, I know that God lives."

  20. Zophar's speech reminds me of someone who is more hipped up on analyzing a crisis instead of being a friend to one in a crisis.

  21. Job raises the age-old question: Why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


JOURNEY THROUGH JOB

I'll spend a few blogs talking about some of my learnings from my recent read through the book of Job out of The Message Bible. Before blogging chapter by chapter, here are some initial thoughts I gleaned from Eugene Peterson's introductory comments.

Why is this book so important to us? First, because Job suffered in the same areas we do--family, personal health, and material things. Second, because he took his questions to the top--to God Himself. It is suffering when we are trying to do everything right that angers us and causes us to question God.

It is important to remember that Job does not seek to get rid of the problem by getting rid of God. Nor does he explain suffering. Nor does he tell us how to live to avoid suffering. It is a mystery, and he comes to respect the mystery. Job finds himself in a greater mystery--the mystery of God--and how suffering can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship--full of wonder, love, and praise. Real faith can't be reduced to spiritual platitudes. It is refined in the fires and storms of pain and suffering.

When dealing with and ministering to friends going through suffering, we must not try to fix them or provide "simple" answers to their "why" questions. We must keep in mind that we don't really fully understand their problems. They may not want our advice. Followers of Christ may actually suffer more. So instead of trying to prevent suffering (which we can't anyway), we should enter the suffering as much as we are able and look around for God. We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and join them in protest and prayer. Shared suffering can be life-changing. Reading Job prayerfully helps us face the questions that arise when things don't turn out as we planned or hoped for.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MEGA CHURCH IN CHAPIN?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

The term "megachurch" has become a new vocabulary word that most people recognize. I'm not sure what qualifies a church to be a mega one--but I believe the most recent definition refers to churches that average at least 5,000 for weekend worship. Over the last year or so, I've had people ask me, "Are we trying to become a megachurch?" Actually when the questions come my way, I know they mostly stem from hall talk with the notion that "Ken is just trying to make our church a megachurch."

So are we trying to be a megachurch? First of all, get real. I'm not saying it can't happen. God can do anything. But to move from 600 to 5000 in a small town like Chapin--WOW! Second of all, man, that would be awesome because if we ever became a megachurch, it certainly wouldn't be me doing it. Only God could do something like that.

Here's the deal. I want our church to reach as many people for Christ as possible. I want us to reach as many new families moving into the community as possible. I want to reach as many people in the surrounding areas of Little Mountain,Prosperity, Newberry and Irmo as possible. I want our church to make as many disciples as possible. I want our church to begin as many new ministries as possible. I want our student ministry to reach as many high schoolers from Chapin Mid Carolina, Newberry, and Dutch Fork as possible. I want our children's ministry to be so ablaze that we attract young families by the hundreds. I want our senior adult ministry to be so contagious that older adults are coming by the droves. It doesn't matter what they look like, how they dress, what their past was like, how much money they make, where they live, what color they are, or how many piercings they have over their body, I want our church to reach as many as possible.

There is a huge myth out there about megachurches that they are weak in doctrine, that they water down the gospel, and that they are impersonal and do very little outside the walls. Simply not true. If interested, why not purchase a recent book called Beyond Megachurch Myths? Check out the facts. One of the things that really impresses me about megachurches is that most plant other churches. And as they plant other churches, their church continues to explode with growth as well.

When it comes to church growth, don't ever limit what God wants to do. How large will Chapin Baptist ever become? I don't have a clue. But I want to be as faithful to God as I possibly can to allow Him to use me to grow the church as large as He wants it. And should we decide to plant additional churches in the future, I think that is awesome.

Why would anyone want to limit the size of a church? Do we grow to 1,000 and then say no more? No, we keep doing all we can to reach as many as we can. And then we do all we can to help every person grow deep in his/her faith and to equip them to become fellow servants of the gospel. That is my prayer...not just for Chapin Baptist, but for every local congregation in Chapin.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH TITUS

Here are some gleanings from my recent read through the book of Titus from The Message Bible.

  • 1:3--God has entrusted the gospel to me. Am I being a faithful steward of what He has entrusted?

  • 1:5-9--After 2000 years this is still a relevant checklist by which to measure church leaders.

  • 1:15-16--Hypocrites in the church is not a new thing. There were folks in Paul's day who claimed to know God but whose actions demonstrated otherwise.

  • 2:1-6--Great picture of a discipleship process with desirable outcomes, covering male and female and young and old.

  • 2:1-6--I believe churches today, including CBC, would be healthier if older couples mentored younger ones.

  • 2:11-14--God calls each of us to pull away from a godless, indulgent life to a God-filled and God-honoring life.

  • 3:3-8--What a difference it makes when Jesus steps into our lives.

  • 3:14--Paul made sure that providing for the needy was a central focus of his ministry.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


THOUGHTS FROM ELECTION DAY

My presidential candidate didn't win Saturday. With the economy in the shape that it is in, I don't think any Republican candidate could have been victorious. The people of America have spoken, and we have a new president. History happened on Tuesday night with the election of our first Black president.

I know that what I'm about to say may not be popular with some folks, but it's how I feel. I'm not one of those in the camp that believes our whole country is going to fall apart now. If I'm not mistaken, our country has been on a slippery slope for some time. The United States is still my country, and I will love it and support it till the day I die. And, yes, Barak Obama is MY new president. And because he is MY president, I will pray for him like the Bible teaches me to. Why wouldn't I?

At 11:00 on election night I don't believe God was up in heaven saying, "Oh, no! What happened? How did this slip under My radar screen?" No, God is in control of the universe. He oversees who sits on thrones and who rules the nations. Nothing surprises Him. Daniel 4:32 says, "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."

To me, the most important question is not what will happen to our country under the leadership of a new president. I'm more concerned with what the church of Jesus Christ is going to do to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (regardless of who's in the White House). No matter what happens on the political scene, we followers of Christ have an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives by sharing the love of Jesus Christ. I wonder what our nation would be like if everyone who claimed to be a Christ-follower allowed God to break his/her heart for the spiritual condition of our nation. What if every believer knelt before God and pleaded with Him for spiritual awakening? That's when we will really see a difference.

Bottom line--politics and government don't provide the hope and answers we're looking for. Only Jesus does.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH ESTHER

Here are some thoughts I gleaned in my recent read through Esther in The Message Bible.

This story reminds us that the people of God can never be killed off. Did you know that Esther is the only book of the Bible that never mentions the name of God? This fact almost kept it from being accepted in the canon of Scripture.

  1. The "law of the Medes and Persians" has made it into our English vernacular. It means a law or rule that must never be broken. By the way, have you ever wondered why King Xerxes never tried to talk things out with Vashti his wife?
  2. The first recorded beauty pageant? Now that we already know the whole story of Esther, it is amazing to see how God used the events as part of His plan to save the Jews from extinction.
  3. What a contrast of human qualities: Mordecai and Haman. Mordecai secure in his moral principles and unwilling to compromise them. Haman insecure and willing to lead an effort of Jewish genocide because one man wouldn't bow to him.
  4. 4:12-14--Best-known verses of Esther. I love Mordecai's faith that God will always work out a plan to spare the Jewish people. His challenge to Esther is awesome--stressing that maybe she was made queen "for just such a time as this."
  5. Haman was about as arrogant as they come. But it crawled deep under his skin that Mordecai would not bow to him. Is there some type of thorn that keeps me from enjoying life?
  6. Haman's arrogance reminds me of the Proverb, "Pride goes before destruction." The book of Esther is filled with ironic events.
  7. Haman's theme song had to be "Bad Day". Evil actions will eventually come back to haunt you.
  8. Isn't it amazing how God can use one person to accomplish such extraordinary things? A humble Jewish woman becomes queen and is responsible for saving her people from extinction.
  9. Without the Book of Esther we would never know the roots of the annual Jewish feast of Purim.
  10. Just goes to show you that faithfulness to God and consistent moral character will lead to great rewards.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 TIMOTHY

Here are some takeaways from my recent read through 2 Timothy.

1:1--Like Paul, I have a special assignment for Christ. Am I living it out?

1:3--One essential trait of a mentor is that he prays "all the time" for the one he is discipling.

1:6-7--God has given each of us gifts for ministry. It is up to us to keep those gifts active and aflame.

1:9-10--God has saved us and called us--all because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1:13-14--God's calling in my life is precioius. I must guard it from anything that would compromise it and make it impotent.

2:1-2--Campus Crusade for Christ drilled these two verses in me as a college student. I'm still passionate about the importance of making disciples.

2:10-13--Whatever my prison may be, I must not let God's Word be in prison. I must use my prison as a platform for witness.

2:14-16--Stay away from Christian nitpicking. Just do the best you can for God.

3:1-5--The characteristics Paul lists describing people in the last days sure sounds like the American people of 2008.

3:12--The one who lives all out for Christ will face trouble for sure.

3:16-17--Why should we read the Bible daily? Look no further than these two verses for an answer.

4:6-8--Paul's famous words at the end of his life--"I've run hard right to the finish." All of us should long to finish well.

4:14-15--Everywhere you go there will be opponents to the work of the Gospel.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MORE THOUGHTS ON CATALYST CONFERENCE

Here is a synopsis of the other speakers at this year’s Catalyst Conference.



  • Seth Godin (marketing expert)--very interesting talk about tribes. He's has great insight into future marketing trends.

  • Craig Groeschel (pastor Lifechurch.tv)--From Joel 2, three prayers we need to pray in order to get "IT" restored in our lives: Stretch me, heal me, ruin me.

  • Tim Sanders (best-selling author)--talked about saving the world at work and three laws: law of abundance, law of interdependence, and law of compassionate reciprocity.

  • Dave Ramsey (author, TV host)--what a great communicator. His main talk was on leadership. He talked about five enemies of unity (poor communication, gossip, unresolved disagreements, lack of shared purpose, sanctioned incompetence).

  • Franklin Graham--on behalf of his dad, received a Lifetime Achievement Award and spoke about the gospel in action.

  • Andy Crouch (Director of Christianity Today's Chrisitan Vision Project)--he talked about the many ways people respond to and react to culture. He stressed how we need to cultivate culture (take what is good and keep it good) and create culture. Creating culture is a thought-provoking idea.

  • Matt Chandler (pastor, Village Church, Texas)--first time I had heard him. Great communicator. Fresh, relevant message straight from God's word.

  • Andy Stanley wrapped up the conference with a talk on "Random Thoughts on Leadership". He took the following statements and talked a while on each one.
    "To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing."
    "The Next Generation" product almost never comes from the previous generation."
    "What do I believe is impossible to do in my field...but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?"
    "If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?"
    "When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near."


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Thoughts on Catalyst Conference

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I try to write a blog weekly; but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Last week several of us went to Atlanta for a couple of days for the Catalyst Conference. That conference is one of my favorites because it keeps me abreast with the culture of emerging generations. (It used to be open to those 40 and under. I guess us old folks complained enough that they are letting us in now.)

The worship was exceptional. The creativity always blows me away. And the speakers were outstanding. Here are a few takeaways.

  • Andy Stanley--the power of moral authority needs to be restored among church leaders and members. How? Forgiveness, family, and finances.
  • William Paul Young (author of The Shack)--interviewed by Ernie Johnson. Fresh insights into the huge success of this book and how he has handled the critics.]
  • Jim Collins (Good to Great)--Wow! This man knows his leadership stuff. Questions he raised: How many of the key seats in your church are filled with the right people? What are we doing to make it 100%? Get the right young people involved. Then he suggested that his (and my) generation of Boomers need to get out of the way. How much time do I spend in quietness (white space days)? Am I committed to the pain involved in becoming a "Level 5" leader?
  • Steven Furtick (orig. from Moncks Corner, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte)--What a breath of fresh air. 28 years old I believe, new church running 5,000 weekly. His message from Elijah was a great encouragement. He focused on 1 Kings 18 and the "cloud like a small hand."
  • Brenda Salter McNeil (author, thought leader)--she talked about how God shakes things up, how the disciples got shaken up so that they could shake up the world. Awesome message.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Have You Read "The Shack"?

If you haven't read The Shack yet, what are you waiting on? You better hurry or you will be the last person alive to read it. The book is being talked about everywhere I go.
The book is a fictional story about a man who goes through an extreme family tragedy, goes through the painful process of grief and bitterness, and ends up meeting the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The four talk and do things together like one would hang out with friends. Through their conversations the man is able to work through his grief. And in the process he learns a whole lot about God and is able to view Him from a completely new perspective.
It is amazing how successful the book has been. Author William Young was turned down by the major publishers; so he decided to self-publish the book. And it is selling like hot cakes. Today, it ranks #3 on Amazon's bestsellers.
The book has raised the ire of some Christian pastors and leaders. The loudest complaints I have heard is that the story emphasizes the immanence (taking place within the mind of the subject and having no effect outside of it) of God to the neglect of the transcendence (being above and independent of the material universe) of God. In other words, some feel the book goes to the extreme of over-humanizing God. There were a couple of parts that made me uneasy, especially the author's take on what happened when Jesus cried from the cross, "Why have you forsaken me?"
I've heard others claim that Young is teaching universalism--that all people end up going to heaven. I recently heard an interview with him where he point blank said such notions are untrue.
Sometimes I think people just need to chill out and get a life. I found nothing in the book that would remotely lead me down a heretical path. And I found nothing that would keep me from recommending the book to others. I can see especially how it can help those who are trying to deal with painful pasts. Read it for yourself. But, remember, it is fiction and not a theological treatise of the doctrines of our faith.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH NEHEMIAH

Nehemiah is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It is filled with principles for becoming an effective kingdom leader. Here are some takeways from each chapter.

  1. Nehemiah had a great burden for the city of Jerusalem. Do I have a similar burden for Chapin? He also interceded to God on behalf of his people. How often do I do the same?
  2. Nehemiah was a great visionary. He developed his strategy first behind the scenes. Then he went public. He reminded the people of the terrible condition the city was in, painted a picture of a brighter future, then motivated them to join him in the work. Whenever a solid vision is cast, there will be opposition.
  3. It's easy to read through the long list of names in chapter 3 and miss a very important truth--the fact that every family played a role in the rebuilding project. That's why the project was a huge success.
  4. How Nehemiah handled criticism is remarkable: he faced it head on; he took it to God in prayer; he kept the vision alive; he encouraged the workers; he defended himself and all the workers. Every viable work of the kingdom will produce a realm of critics.
  5. More great qualities of Nehemiah, the leader--confronted and corrected oppression; extremely generous; didn't seek financial gain from his endeavors.
  6. Two more leadership insights. Effective leaders turn to God in prayer when criticized or intimidated. Criticism dies out when critics see that the vision keeps moving forward and becomes successful.
  7. {Disclaimer: I wrote these thoughts a few months ago, but am just now posting the blog. I'm not riding a soap box...just posting how God spoke to me on this particular day.} What if the best fit for a position is a family member? Nehemiah put his own brother in a prominent role. I wonder if the people complained of nepotism.
  8. Nehemiah's great leadership wasn't just in the construction project. When the wall was done, he prioritized celebration, worship, and the public reading of God's Word.
  9. Are Christians today any different from the Hebrews of old who chose to wander far from God? Where would we be without the patience and steadfast love of God?
  10. Although we mostly remember the book of Nehemiah as the story of the rebuilding of the wall, it is also a story of genuine national spiritual revival.
  11. Thank the Lord for volunteers. They are heroes and should be applauded.
  12. I love the description of the exuberant celebration of worship. The verses state the quality would have made David and Solomon proud.
  13. Nehemiah had gone back to Babylon but asked for permission to return. Upon return, he discovered the people had backslidden. He confronted the problems head-on.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who Stole My Church?

I read 30-40+ books every year. Sometimes I'll give a strong recommendation; other times a "don't bother" recommendation. And then there are times I state that every member ought to head down to Lifeway or to the Amazon website and make a purchase. That's the thrust of my recommendation for Gordon MacDonald's Who Stole My Church?
In light of the major transitions we have gone through this year, I wish every single member of our church would take the time to read this one. I wish I had read it twelve months ago. My thanks to Pastor Steve Little for starting the spark to get the message of this book out to the church family.
Who Stole My Church? is a fictional story about a church trying to address all the changes going on in the world and how those changes affect how we do church. The subtitle is What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century. During a series of discovery-type meetings led by the pastor of this New England church, participants raise questions about whatever happened to singing from the hymn book, Sunday night services, revivals...and the list goes on and on. Finally, during this initial meeting one of the participants remarks, "I'd like to know who stole my church?" That's the sentiment of many church members all across America (Chapin included).
The book helped me understand the hearts of people and why change is so difficult. It also gave me hope that transitioning a church to reach emerging generations is indeed possible. It also convinced me how important it is to bring people to the table to listen and to talk.
Yes, the book is a made-up story. And the way things pan out in the New England church may seem like storyland material. But every long-time member of any church, any teenager, any pastor, or any newer member can find himself/herself in the story. The parable is that accurate and powerful.
So, go NOW and get the book and start reading. Many of our members have read the book. It could be you could borrow one. But beware, if read with an open mind, God might decide to mess with you a little. That's what makes it a great book. What are you waiting on? Go get a copy.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."



Thursday, September 11, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 TIMOTHY

Here are some learnings from my recent read through The Message Bible from 1 Timothy. In 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul is mentoring Timothy and Titus on how to be effective leaders for Jesus.

  • 1:1--Just like Paul, God has given each of us a "special assignment".
  • 1:2--Timothy was Paul's son in the faith. How many children in the faith do I/you have?
  • 1:12--God went out on a limb when He entrusted to me the ministry of Chapin Baptist Church.
  • 1:15--Jesus came to this world to save sinners. If that was His focus, what should be the focus of CBC? Of my life?
  • 2:1--First things first--PRAY!
  • 2:4--I know Calvinists have an answer for 2:4. But how can God want everyone to be saved and then not give him/her the freedom to choose to be saved?
  • 2:7--Recently I preached that Jesus' main focus was reaching the lost. What was Paul's main focus? The same--getting the gospel to the lost. Obviously, the church should have the same focus as Jesus and Paul.
  • 3:1-7--A great list of qualities every church leader should model.
  • 3:12--If a leader in the church is having marriage problems, he/she should focus on making the marriage stronger and consider the church position as second-level priority.
  • 4:4--Everything God created is good. However, I must admit I wonder about roach bugs.
  • 4:7-9--My workouts at Crooked Creek Park are helpful. But a disciplined life is much better. It equips me for today and for eternity.
  • 4:11--God values young leaders.
  • 4:12--Teach other believers by the way you live.
  • 4:14--Whatever gifts God has given me, I need to keep sharp and fresh.
  • 4:16--I should never let anything divert me from what God has called me to do.
  • 5:8--How well do I care for the needs of my family? Paul says neglecting family is worse than not being a believer.
  • 5:9-10--Very interesting--the qualifications Paul puts on which widows to assist--those over 60, married once, and a reputation of helping others. Helping out with children is listed. Great verse for children's ministry.
  • 5:16--If a church member falls into sin, the church not only has the right to confront but is exhorted to do so in the Scriptures.
  • 5:17--Be careful of putting people in leadership positions too soon.
  • 6:9-10--Focusing too much on money will negatively impact your walk with Christ.
  • 6:18--Instead of going after wealth, we should go after God.
  • 6:18-19--Generosity is the pathway to true riches.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Monday, September 8, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH EZRA

Here are some takeaways from my recent read through Ezra in The Message Bible.

The story line--After the fall of the nation and the destruction of Jerusalem and years of living as a dispersed people, the king of Persia allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation. They were led by Ezra. This was one of the several times in history that the people of God almost became extinct. Ezra brought revival by two primary means: worship and the Word of God.

  1. Another evidence that God oversees even pagan rulers. He prodded Cyrus, king of Persia, to let the Jews return to Judah to rebuild the Temple.
  2. Among the thousands returning to Jerusalem, the list includes a few names we will hear more about as we read through the Bible--Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Mordecai.
  3. First things first--the returned Jews set up an altar for worship before they laid the foundation for the new Temple. Some people believe they can't worship unless they are inside a sanctuary building.
  4. Criticism and antagonism can easily destroy morale and hinder the work of God.
  5. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah preached during this part of Jewish history--during the days of the rebuilding of the Temple.
  6. It is amazing how meticulously governments kept written records of business decisions.
  7. Ezra was an awesome, influential leader of God's people. Three things summarize his success--the studied the Word of God; he lived the Word of God; and he taught the Word of God.
  8. Fasting played a major role among the people of God, especially before major events and key decisions.
  9. Ezra's brokenness and shame about his people's sin should serve as an example for any leader.
  10. It is music to a discouraged leader's ears when he hears his people say to him, "Get up. Take charge. We're behind you. Don't back down."

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

TAKE THE RISK


I just finished reading and doing a summary for Christian Book Summaries of Dr. Ben Carson's newest book Take the Risk. It's an excellent read. It's not a dig-in study type book; but there are enough takeaways to make it worth your read.


Carson is a world-renown brain surgeon out of Johns Hopkins. The book is filled with personal stories of risky surgeries he has performed and how he decides whether or not to take certain cases. His faith in God is apparent throughout the book.

He has developed a formula called the Best/Worst Analysis (B/WA) to help him make decisions. Here is the formula in a nutshell:

  • What is the best that can happen if I do it?

  • What is the worst that can happen if I do it?

  • What is the best that can happen if I don't do it?

  • What is the worst that can happen if I don't do it?

All of life is filled with risk. We are entralled to read stories and watch TV programs where people risk their lives doing things. On the other hand, we are obsessed with risk and are afraid to do anything that involves risk. Carson makes a strong case that all of life is filled with risk; and we will never accomplish anything significant unless we are willing to move forward with calculated risk.

The famous doctor ventures into other arenas to demonstrate how the B/WA can be helpful in making decisions. He gives examples in the arena of parenting, the workplace, government, etc. His ideas of curing the national debt were mouth-opening. Let me just say that his idea involves completely doing away with money and establishing a non-cash based sytem and a flat-rate taxation of every citizen. It's wild! He has spoken with the President and Congressmen, and they all agree that his idea would probably work. Buy the book and read this section for yourself.

The book is not just for ministers. Anyone would do well to make the purchase and jump in.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 THESSALONIANS

Here are some takeaways from my recent read in the Message Bible from 2 Thessalonians.

1:2--Two great things about God: He gives me everything I need and He makes me everything I am to be.

1:3-4--Paul was a good encourager.

1:5--All the troubles we go through now are designed to make us fit for the kingdom.

1:5-10--We must never forget that our existence on earth is temporary and that one day God will settle up.

1:11--What a great prayer! "God, fill my good ideas and acts of faith with your energy so that it all amounts to something."

2:3--The Message refers to the "man of Lawlessness" as the "Anarchist".

2:6-8--Today the Anarchist (same as Antichrist) works behind the scenes. One day he will be let loose fully.

2:6-8--It's comforting to know that God is always in control. The Anarchist "will be let loose"; don't forget that it is God who will be letting him loose.

2:15-17--Another great prayer to pray for others (or for yourself): "May God put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, and enliven your speech."

3:1-2--Paul had two prayer requests: that there would be a huge response to the gospel and resuce from those trying to destroy them.

3:2--Not all so-called "believers" are truly believers

3:3--Great promise--God is faithful and He will protect us from evil

3:6-9--All leaders should lead by example. Moreover, every believer has a role to play and should do it.

3:14-15---All of us would do well to follow Paul's instructions to talk to people face-to-face when there are problems. Instead, we tend to gossip or do nothing because we are afraid to confront.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CLOTHE A CHILD 2008

Last Saturday a ton of Chapin Baptist volunteers showed up before daybreak at Kohl's on Harbison to participate in our third annual Clothe a Child. After a deluge of rain earlier in the week, God cleared out the clouds and brought a beautiful, cool, breezy morning.


Clothe a Child was birthed out of a student leadership class that Anita and I led for a couple of years. The students wanted to raise enough money to go to the Student Leadership University for a week in D.C. I thought it was a great idea as long as they were willing to raise twice that amount and use the other half for a local missions project. They accepted the challenge. We sold barbecue after church; we served fancy meal at a Valentine's Banquet; and we did a lot of "high-level" begging. When it was all said and done, the dozen high schoolers had raised more than $20,000, enough to go to D.C. and enough to buy $100 worth of new school clothes for 100 elementary-aged children.

I believe Clothe a Child has caught on. And I hope we can do it each year for many years to come. One of the primary reasons CAC has been so successful is because of the leadership of Sonja Hollis. Talk about a high energy go-getter. She is awesome. She does all the negotiating with the local department store, mobilizes all the volunteers, and then makes it all happen. Of course, she has folks helping her along the way. But it is Sonja's leadership and energy that makes CAC a memorable event each year.

This year we moved from Goody's to Kohl's (since Goody's is no longer around and since Kohl's thankfully opened a store in Harbison). Joni, the store manager was great to work with. Some of her employees donated their time to make the event happen. Because of their volunteer hours, Kohl's will be making a donation of $500 for next year's CAC. When the last family went through the checkout line, we had purchased new school clothes for 122 kids. Awesome!

Here are a few shots taken at last Saturday's event. A big thanks to Larry Russell for his camera work.

















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For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."






Sunday, August 24, 2008

GREAT DAY IN GOD'S HOUSE

Today was the first day of our long-awaited and much talked about transition. It was a wonderful day of worship. There are still many kinks to work out. But all-in-all it was a great day. One of our concerns was how well the 10:45 service would be attended. 50-75 would not have surprised us. But, oh me of little faith. We had 150!!!

The prayer time in each service was moving. I about lost it in one of the services. The only thing that allowed me to keep my composure was another person coming forward requesting prayer. Pray with me that we can build a culture in our times of worship where people freely move forward for prayer or for significant spiritual decisions. What we saw today should become an every-week occurrence.

The fellowship time is wonderful. My friend Don Brock at Gateway Baptist shared with me recently that they built in a fellowship time when they moved into their new facilities. He said many resisted the idea at first. But now everyone loves it. I believe the same thing will happen here. However, I've got to find my new groove. I was enjoying the mingling today and it was 10:40. I thought I would casually work my way up to the worship center since I had 20 more minutes. Then it dawned on me that worship started in five minutes. Oh, well, I'll adjust soon.

Just as I'm praying for a culture of prayer in our worship services, I'm praying for a culture of hungering for God's Word in our small group times. I'm praying that whether classes meet for an hour, for the designated 80 minutes, or for two hours in some of our night time groups--that as God's Word is taught, people will hunger to become more and more like Jesus. I'm praying that genuine community will result.

God is at work. Lives are being transformed. Potential is unlimited. Come next Sunday expecting great things.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Is Church

Today was a long day. Someone asked me if I could tell a difference between my usual preaching three times a Sunday versus the one time today. My answer was that I was just as exhausted. Even though I preached just once, the fact that we had a completely different schedule today threw me out of sync. But actually that's a good thing (beware of ruts!). Video feeding the messaage was a first for me--weird feeling. But I hear things went very well for the first Sunday. All the audio/video snafus will be worked out over the next several weeks.

As I think back over the day, I recall an axiom that Bill Hybels talked about at the recent Leadership Summit. His axiom says, "This is church." That's how I feel about what happened today. The fellowship time was super. The remodeled fellowship hall looks fantastic, thanks to James Clonts' oversight and to the church family for your REACH contributions. It was great seeing people mingle, old and young alike. I'm told our new expresso machine should be up and running next Sunday.

Now, back to the "This is church" axiom. In addition to the fellowship time, it was a moving experience for me to see our people circled around the worship center as we prayed for our church, community, and country. This is church.

And then the picnic and worship service...man, that's what church is all about. The outing required a large volunteer force. Seeing everyone pitch in...this is church. 26 were baptized in the lake. I was so pumped after the baptisms that the leeches crawling all over my feet when I came out of the water didn't bother me (I'm serious!). It's awesome when families are baptized together. One of our members, after we baptized five from one family at the same time, wondered if we were trying to match Michael Phelps record of 8 (gold medals). What can I say? This is church.

I'm looking forward to our next series of messages that begins next Sunday. "One Verse Wonders." We're going to take a look at six or seven of some of the greatest verses in the Bible. I know...they're all great. But you know what I mean. Don't forget the new schedule begins next Sunday.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 SUMMIT (2)



Bill George currently is professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School. He is author of True North and Authentic Leadership. The main part of his talk dealt with six things a leader must do to move from "me" to "we".

1. Understand the purpose of your leadership. Why would people want to follow me? You must travel to your true north.

2. Gain self-awareness. Get feedback.

3. Practice values. What happens to your values when everything is about to go down the drain?

4. Lead with your motivating capabilities. Doing so leads to your sweet spot.

5. Build a support team around you. Prayer groups, one person, etc.

6. Lead and integrate into your life. Be the same person always.

Why do senior leaders fail? Because they fail to lead themselves.



Wendy Kopp is founder and CEO of Teach for America, an organization dedicated to eliminating educational inequity in our nation by enlisting the most promising future leaders in the effort. Earlier this year she was named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

All I can say is WOW! This just shows what one person can do who has a dream and then spends the energy to make it happen. I have ordered the Summit DVD. This interview is worth watching, folks. She leads a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors, who commit to teach two years in urban and rural public schools. The results have been outstanding. These are graduates who are giving up lucrative job opportunities to accept meager salaries. But they are making a huge difference. Ten percent of this year's graduating class at Yale (all majors) applied for a position with Teach for America.

Kopp believes that regardless of environment, all children can excel and succeed in the classroom if quality leaders are providing a quality education. It is amazing to hear her share the two-year results from the children.

For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."



Sunday, August 10, 2008

LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

What a great subject for my 100th blog posting--the annual Leadership Summit. This year due to economic factors we all decided to attend the one at CIU. The conference, as usual, was tremendous. I'm thankful that Willow Creek sets aside these couple of days every August. The sessions provide renewed energy and fresh vision. However, I confess that I missed the couple of days away in Charlotte. Getting away, I believe, is a great investment of time and dollars. It provides opportunities to hang out more with our Chapin Baptist leaders, especially in the hotel after the sessions are over. Hopefully, next year, we can "get away" again.

I'll use two or three blogs to give you some of my takeaways from the conference.

Bill Hybels--"The High Drama of Decision Making"--Most of his talk focused on some axioms that have had a great impact on how he does ministry. His talk, was a home run--worth the price of admission. Here are some of his axioms.

  • Vision leaks--Therefore, it must be repeated over and over and over and......
  • Get the right people around the table. God wants every church to prevail. Therefore, if there are issues, get the right people together to talk through the challenges. These people are looking for you to lead.
  • Facts are your friends. Bill spent a good bit of time talking about their REVEAL study which helped Willow recognize their shortcomings. The facts may hurt; but they are essential for moving forward.
  • Leaders call, "Foul." In meetings, the leader must maintain control or things can get heated. Sometimes, he must call a time out to get the group refocused.
  • Take a flyer--Do something big for the kingdom along the way; maybe, something global. Challenge people to do something BIG!
  • This is church--Church is not meetings and visioning and strategizing. When the people of God come together to serve the needy or the grieving--that's church.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

PASTORAL TRANSITIONS

During my first couple of years as pastor of Chapin Baptist, I set a goal of visiting in the home of every church member. As the church grew, it didn't take long to realize that there would be no way I could manage that goal and invest the time needed for study and leading other aspects of church life.

That observation represents one of the many things I've learned about ministry. To lead a church with 200 attending requires a different skill set than it takes to lead a church with 600 attending. Overseeing a budget of $300,000 is much different than overseeing a budget of $1.5 million.

Needless to say, as the church has grown through the years, so has my need to keep learning. As the church has journeyed through various stages of growth, I have had to acquire new skills. The most obvious is the need to expand my leadership capabililties. This really hit home back in the early 90's when I attended my first John Maxwell conference. That was a pivotal time for me. For the first time I recognized that I must not just be a pastor of people but also a leader of people.

As a church grows, it becomes imperative that the pastor be an equipper of people. Actually, from a purely biblical perspective, equipping believers is the primary job description of any pastor regardless of the size of the church (Eph. 4:11-12). Helping people discover their gifts and then helping them find meaningful ways to use those gifts for the kingdom is one of the most fulfilling parts of ministry. But to equip others requires skills that most seminaries don't teach.

As the church continues to grow, so must my ability to lead grow. The skills and gifts that got us to where we are today will not be the same skills and gifts that will lead us to new horizons. I must always be willing for God to stretch me and equip me with what it takes to move to new levels of growth. I'm ready and I'm eager for whatever God has in store.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 CHRONICLES (PART 2)

This wraps up my recent read through 2 Chronicles from The Message Bible.

19. Be careful, be bold, be diligent--great instructions for any leader.

20. This story about Jehoshophat reminds us that the battles we face are God's battles.

21. How sad when a nation's/church's leader dies and no one sheds a tear.

22. How sad when a mother trains her son in evil ways.

23. Praise God for leaders who courageously make the tough decisions in order to implement godly reforms.

24. We all need spiritual mentors in our lives. When Jehoiada, King Joash's priest, died, things in the country fell apart.

25. I wonder if archaeologists will ever discover the various historical record books mentioned throughout Kings-Chronicles.

26. King Uzziah had difficulty in the one area that almost every effective leader battles--pride.

27. King Jotham is an example of a godly leader who obeyed God; but his people did not follow his godly ways.

28. Talk about unwise moves for a king--Ahaz sacrificed children on pagan altars and he boarded up the doors of the Temple.

29. Thank the Lord for leaders like Hezekiah. They are difference makers for the kingdom.

30. Worship ought to be a huge celebration every Sunday.

31. I'm not a big fan of job descriptions. But the priests and Levites had them in the area of worship renewal under Hezekiah. Two listed duties were: oversee the offerings and make sure thanks and praise were included in the worship.

32. Great leaders are able to build morale when people are discouraged.

33. Manasseh reminds us that no matter how wicked we may be, God still receives a repentant heart.

34. Josiah led the nation to follow God "believingly and obediently"--two great adverbs.

35. What will be said of you after you die? Josiah's life was described as exemplary and devout.

36. This massive historical section comes to an end, squeezing major historical events into a few verses: destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Babylonian exile, Persia overtaking Babylon, and Jews urged by Persia to return to their homeland.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


JOURNEY THROUGH 2 CHRONICLES

Here is part one of my learnings from 2 Chronicles (by chapter).

  1. Leading God's people is a staggering task.
  2. Something else staggering is the size of the workforce building the Temple. Add the numbers from verse 2 = 153,600. Wonder if they had workman's comp.
  3. I also wonder if anyone has figured out how much Solomon's Temple would cost to construct and furnish in today's dollars. Gold nails weighing a little over a pound each?
  4. Even the tongs, lamps, bowls, ladles, and wick trimmers were made of gold.
  5. Man, I would have loved to have been a part of this worship experience. There is nothing greater than to experience times of worship when it is evident that God has shown up.
  6. Solomon knew how to pray--a pertinent reminder how leaders must make sure prayer is a prominent part of worship in God's house.
  7. As glorious a celebration as the Temple dedication was, it was tempered with stern warnings about what would happen if they turned away from God.
  8. Verse 6--a forewarning of Solomon's downfall. He built impulsively and extravagantly.
  9. With today's value of gold ($870/oz when I first wrote this), the Queen of Sheba's gift to Solomon (9 tons of gold) would have a street value of more than $125 million. Just 1% of that would cover the $1 million we were targeting for the REACH campaign.
  10. Verse 7--although the elders' advice was not followed, their wisdom was right on target. If you want people to follow, be a servant, consider their needs, be compassionate, and work things out.
  11. We need more Shemaiahs in our churches, holy men who are in tune with God and willing to speak up for God.
  12. God honors repentance but repentance doesn't necessarily eliminate the consequences of God's judgment.
  13. Plotting and fighting against God is not a wise thing to do.
  14. Chronicles and Kings tell many of the same stories. One difference is that Chronicles describes the kings of Judah in a more favorable way.
  15. Asa is to be commended for leading people to a renewed covenant with God. However, to kill those not willing to get right with God? I think that may have been Asa's doing more than God's.
  16. God is always looking for people fully committed to Him.
  17. Amasiah was a "volunteer for God." May every volunteer at CBC see himself/herself as a "volunteer for God."
  18. Like Micaiah, am I willing to speak what I believe God is saying even if I'm the only one speaking out?


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 THESSALONIANS

I may have a reputation for remembering people's names. But I confess I can't remember movie titles. Anita pointed out to me that the movie I recommended in the last blog was "The Bucket List" not "The List Bucket." Oh, well. I still recommend it regardless of what you call it.

I'm still way behind blogging about my reading through The Message Bible. Here are some takeaways from 1 Thessalonians.

  • If our sense of the future is weak, we live with no hope.
  • If our future is dominated by belief in the second coming, there is no need for the present to be filled with anxieties.
  • 1:2--Every time someone comes across your mind, pray for that person.
  • 1:5--If someone imitates your life, would they be imitating the Master?
  • 1:7-10--My longing for Chapin Baptist--that the news of our faith would be widespread around the world
  • 2:1-2--I pray that I will always have the courage of Paul--not to let criticism and attacks slow me down. The key--Paul was sure of himself in God.
  • 2:7--Great question for me (and for any pastor): Do I care for my members like a mother cares for her children?
  • 2:16--Paul talks about pagans who have "made a career of opposing God." Unfortunately, there are many Christians who have made a career of criticizing their church.
  • 3:8--What keeps me going is transformed lives.
  • 3:11-13--great example of praying the Scriptures for someone
  • 4:10--We should strive to get better and better at loving one another.
  • 5:1--Beware of those who have figured out when Jesus is coming back. Jesus Himself said He didn't know. Paul reminds us that God will not call ahead of time; so we better be ready.
  • 5:6--Do you know someone who is "sleepwalking" through life?
  • 5:16-18--Some of my favorite verses. Short and to the point commands. My favorite: "Pray all the time."
  • 5:24--God called me into the ministry. He is completely dependable in fulfilling His promises to me.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

MY RECENT STAYCATION

One of the new buzzwords floating around these days is staycation. With the economy making it difficult to travel, staycation means taking vacation days and spending them close to home versus going to the beach or taking a cruise. Anita and I took last week off; and we enjoyed our staycation. We've had a number of them in the past; we just didn't know what they were called.

We made this decision some months back. We're trying to pay off a couple of weddings and other debts; so we decided to stay close to home. Who wouldn't rather be at the beach or on a cruise ship? We were tempted to change our minds. But we stayed true to our plans.

We did travel up on Tuesday to Clemson where we spent some time with Kevin and Erin and had our first overnighter in their home. On Wednesday we spent several hours with my mom and sister in Anderson.

So, what else do you do on a staycation? Watch movies, do yard work, do house work, sleep late, and just hang out together as a family. When you have a wife like I do, staycations and vacations are very enjoyable. I love hanging out with Anita.

Oh--one other thing we did--you've heard me mention that I'm selling books on Amazon to raise some extra cash to help our pledge to the REACH campaign and to help pay off debts. I never thought I'd see the day that Anita and I would hit every Thrift store around hunting for re-sellable books. I even hit a few garage sales (and met some very interesting people along the way).

As far as movies we saw (DVD, not the big screen. Remember, we're saving money!), the only one of the bunch that I'd highly recommend is "The List Bucket." I gave it four stars (Anita, 3.5). I thought Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman were super. They're both dying of cancer and decide to fulfill all the things on their list bucket--the things they want to do before they die. Actually, if I were to see it again, I'd have my pen and paper handy because the movie was filled with good sermon material. Check it out!

I still vote for vacations. And, I know, those days will come again. But staycations aren't that bad. In fact, it was a very enjoyable week.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

COMING BACK TO "COMEBACK CHURCHES"

When I read a good book that will help me spiritually/professionally, I mark it up big time for future reference. However, most of the time I never pick up the book again. Not good. On the other hand, I did pick up Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer and read through some of my notes. Here are some standout quotes.

  • The wrong question is whether your church is "traditional" or "contemporary" and which is better. The real issue is whether your church is biblically faithful, acting as the presence of Christ in the community at large, able to relate Christ to people in culture, and is on mission. In short, is your church "missional"?
  • Missional churches are deeply entrenched in their communities. They are not focused on their facilities, but on living, demonstrating, and offering biblical community to a lost world.
  • Many churches never experience a comeback because they want the community to change while they remain the same. But comeback churches are different. They realize that no one remains the same when they've experienced a fresh touch from God.
  • Churches that were once outwardly focused eventually become worried about the wrong things. They become more concerned about a well-used policy manual than a well-used baptistry.
  • Loving Christ and not loving the church is like telling a friend you love him, but you couldn't care less about his wife.
  • Most American churches today are well suited for mnistry in a different era. All churches are culturally relevant; the question is whether they are relevant to a culture that currently exists in their community or to one that disappeared generations ago.
  • Almost all comeback churches identified their mood of worship as celebrative and orderly with a significant emphasis on being informal, contemporary, and expressive.
  • Comeback churches know that the whole church has to embrace the mandate for evangelism. Everyone can be involved as a prayer, bringer, and/or teller, and should be trained and mobilized in one or more of these areas.
  • New Christians are likely to leave the church within the first six months if they don't develop at least seven significant relationships in the congregation during that time.

The underlying theme with all these quotes and the underlying message in Stetzer's book is that comeback churches mobilizes its members to get outside the walls of the church.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

IN A PIT WITH A LION...(PART 2)





Here are some more great quotes taken from Mark Batterson's In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

  • Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done, but did not do. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  • We need to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting some candles (old aphorism)
  • One courageous choice may be the only thing between you and your dream becoming reality.
  • Think of every opportunity as a gift from God. What you do with that opportunity is your gift to God.
  • One of our greatest spiritual shortcomings is low expectations. We don't expect much from God because we aren't asking for much.
  • I honestly wonder if we've totally missed what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I'm afraid our version of Christlikeness is way too civilized and sanitized.
  • Part of spiritual maturity is caring less and less about what people think about you and more and more about what God thinks about you.
  • Christ followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. To be like Jesus is to be consumed with passion.
  • As long as I pursue God's calling on my life, then God is ultimately responsible for getting me where He wants me to go.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."




Wednesday, July 2, 2008

IN A PIT WITH A LION...

I just finished reading "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in D.C. It's a great devotional read, based on the story of Benaiah in 2 Samuel 23. The whole book is geared toward the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity even though risks might be high. It was a timely read for me and I recommend it highly. I feel a couple of sermons coming soon based on my learnings.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

  • The most important choice you make every day is your attitude. Your internal attitudes are far more important than your external circumstances. Joy is mind over matter.
  • There are basically two types of people in the world: compainers and worshipers....Complainers will always find something to complain about. Worshipers will always find something to praise God about. They simply have different default settings.
  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)
  • Lion chasers are risk takers. They have learned that playing it safe is risky. They recognize that the best you can do if you run away from a lion is break even. You might save your skin, but you won't have a lion skin hanging on your wall either. No risk equals no reward.
  • I'm convinced that the only thing between you and your destiny is one small act of courage. One courageous choice may be the only thing between you and your dream becoming reality.
  • Lion chasers have the courage to overcome inaction inertia. Their fear of missing out is greater than their fear of messing up.
  • Generally speaking, you are probably never going to be more than 80 percent certain. Waiting for greater certainty may cause you to miss an opportunity. (Andy Stanley)
  • Most of us want absolute certainty before we step out in faith...But the problem with that is this: It takes faith out of the equation. There is no such thing as risk-free faith. And you can't experience success without risking failure.
  • I think there are two kinds of people in the world: creators and criticizers. There are people who get out of the boat and walk on water. And there are people who sit in the boat and criticize water walkers.

I can't help it. This stuff is so good, I'll have to do a part two on it next time.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 CHRONICLES (CONT'D)

Here are the rest of my takeaways from 1 Chronicles.

15. "Worship wars" is not a new phenomenon.

16. If you want a great example of a prayer of praise, check out chapter 16.

17. No matter how far one may run from God or how deep one may fall into sin, God never removes His gracious love.

18. It is important to give all the credit to God when victories come.

19. We give wedgies today. Back then they cut robes "halfway up their buttocks."

20. David faced more giants than Goliath--one had 24 fingers and toes (6 on each limb).

21. David was in the numbers game for all the wrong reasons. He substitued statistics for trust.

22. I love David's charge to Solomon regarding the building of the Temple: "Courage! Take charge! Don't be timid; don't hold back."

23. Verse 31 has a phrase that "jumped out" at me. The Levites were on "regular duty to serve God." This should be true for all of us.

24. Evidently the role of the worship leader was prominent in Old Testament days.

25. Names and more names of those who served in the worship department.

26. It looks like the Old Testament church had greeters teams and budget/stewardship teams.

27. Maybe one of the reasons David had so many family problems is that he hired others to rear his children (verse 32).

28. David was not an effective father; but he did give great words of wisdom to his son Solomon as he handed him the throne--"Get to know well your father's God."

29. Great chapter--filled with applications. Maybe the best passage in the Bible on sacrificial giving and generosity.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Monday, June 30, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 CHRONICLES

Here are some takeaways from my recent read through 1 Chronicles (each number relates to that particular chapter). Chronicles actually tells the same story as Samuel-Kings. It is told 100+ years later and from a different perspective. One of the major things I noticed is that the book reminds us of the primary place worship should hold in our lives.

  1. The list of names reminds us of the importance of individual people in the community of faith.
  2. Names and more names
  3. Little wonder David's family was always in a mess. While living in Hebron for 7 1/2 years, he had six sons. Each of the six had a different mother.
  4. Lately, I've heard preachers make fun of the "Prayer of Jabez" craze. I see nothing wrong with making the prayer my personal prayer if I so choose. The verses DO standout in the midst of long lists of names.
  5. Another gem tucked away amongst the scores of names: "God answered their prayers because they trusted Him." (5:20)
  6. Worship leaders and ministers of music are not a modern phenomenon. Roots go back at least to King David.
  7. How would you like to be named Beriah which means "unlucky"?
  8. The Bible has teachings throughout on divorce, but I don't recall reading of specific names of people who divorced. But here it is. In 8:8, Shaharaim divorced his wives Hushin and Baara.
  9. Verse 1 states the reason the people of God were sent into exile--unbelief and disobedience.
  10. How do I want to finish my life? King Saul provides a negative example. He died in disobedience to God.
  11. Mark Batterson, pastor in D.C., has written a popular book based on 11:22--In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. I'm reading it right now--great read!
  12. I love the words of Amasai who was moved by the Holy Spirit--words that any leader loves to hear: "We're on your side....we're committed."
  13. The falling ark is a classic story that sometimes the best of motives will backfire on us.
  14. When believers obey God, non-believers begin to fear God.

(part 2 of 1 Chronicles next time)

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

VBS--A HUGE SUCCESS!!

God answered a ton of prayers this week with Vacation Bible School. What an awesome week it was. Here are some stats:

  • 282 students registered
  • 168 total volunteers
  • 25 average attendance for the adult Bible study
  • 347 average nightly attendance
  • 475 total registered students and volunteers
  • Most important of all--29 boys and girls made decisions to invite Jesus into their hearts. Heaven is rejoicing. And so am I.

Here are a few other comments and observations:

  • Virginia shared with the staff a couple of weeks ago that her children's staff are as pumped as she has ever seen. Morale is high. When morale is high, God does amazing things.
  • Look what happens when that many volunteers come together to work on a single assignment.
  • You should have seen the stage set as well as the room set-ups. Our volunteers are extremely creative.
  • We are all grateful for the food service volunteers. The fact that some contribute the money for all the meals and then prepare, serve, and clean-up each night--what does that tell you?
  • I think it is fantabulous that the children look to Virginia, Troy, and Crystal as their pastors. They are the ones pouring their lives into these children. Pastor Ken? Who is that?
  • Many of those who accepted Jesus were not previously connected with Chapin Baptist.
  • It is still a thrill that I look forward to every summer to sit down one-on-one with some of the boys and girls and lead them to a decision to follow Christ.
  • To set the stage for the week, one young man gave his heart to Jesus on the very first night.
  • I was able to meet a whole bunch of new families and invite them to church.
  • One final note--Troy Crump challenged the children to give $1500 in the offering this week (all of which goes to the We Care Center). If they met the goal, he would become a human banana split. Unfortunately, when the final totals were announced, we were $258 short. But, praise God, someone wrote a check on the spot for $258. Troy will become a human banana split on Sunday, 6/29, at 9:45.

God is at work. Let's keep the "mo" growing.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH COLOSSIANS

I'm still trying to catch up on my journey posts. Here are some takeaways from my recent read through Colossians.

  • Colossians makes it convincingly clear that Jesus is in a completely different camp from Moses, Socrates, Buddha, Mohammed, etc.
  • Every believer, just like Paul, is on a special assignment from God.
  • Our churches are filled with people, just like Epaphras, not welll-known, but reliable servants of Christ.
  • Great question to ponder: Is God proud of me for my work for the kingdom?
  • Do you have any doubts that Jesus is God? Meditate on 1:15-20.
  • Jesus actually died for me.
  • A great way to measure the value of any sermon: does it preach Christ?
  • I wonder how many accept Jesus as Savior and then don't live for Him?
  • Eugene Peterson strikes agains in 2:7--"School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it."
  • Praise God that my sins are forgiven, the slate wiped clean--all because of the cross.
  • We need to wear the wardrobe God has picked out: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.
  • Chapin Baptist is my employer; but the ultimate Master I serve is Jesus Christ.
  • How do I want people to pray for me? That God will open many doors for proclaiming Christ to lost people.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FIVE KINDS OF CHRISTIANS

Christianity Today and Zondervan Publishers linked up with a research firm to determine the attitude and behaviors of U.S. Christians. More than 1,000 Christians over age 18 were surveyed. The results revealed five significant differences among the religious beliefs and practices among Americans who call themselves Christians.

First, Active Christians (19%)

  • Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  • Committed church goers
  • Bible readers
  • Accept leadership positions
  • Invest in personal faith development through the church
  • Feel obligated to share faith (79% do so)

Second, Professing Christians (20%)

  • Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  • Focus on personal relationship with God and Jesus
  • Simimlar beliefs to Active Christians, different actions
  • Less involved in church, both attending and serving
  • Less commitment to Bible reading or sharing faith

Third, Ligurgical Christians (16%)

  • Predominantly Catholic and Lutheran
  • Regular churchgoers
  • High level of spiritual activity, mostly expressed by serving in church and/or community
  • Recognize authority of the church

Fourth, Private Christians (24%)

  • Largest and youngest segment
  • Believe in God and doing good things
  • Own a Bible, but don't read it
  • Spiritual interest, but not within chuch context
  • Only about a third attend church at all
  • Almost none are church leaders

Fifth, Cultural Christians (21%)

  • Little outward religious behavior or attitudes
  • God aware, but little personal involvement with God
  • Do not view Jesus as essential to salvation
  • Affirm many ways to God
  • Favor universality theology (my note--all go to heaven)

Wouldn't it be interesting to know what the breakdown of the CBC membership would be? Which kind of Christian are you? Particularly alarming is the Private Christian. All the more reason we must pour energies and money into children and student ministries.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 KINGS (CONT'D)

Starting with chapter 14, here are some gleanings from my journey through 2 Kings.

14. These were probably the darkest days in the history of Israel and Judah. All were bent on fighting and promoting immorality and false religion.

15. Some kings implemented reforms but held on to the sex-religion practices. Are there any parallels today to the luring appeal of sex and how it destroys even Christians?

16. Ahaz, another wicked king, compromised by doing away with many of the religious symbols of the Temple in order to appease a foreign king.


17. This chapter is a humbing account of God's judgment on a people who consistently disobeyed Him.

18. Finally, a good king--Hezekiah. In God's opinion he was a "good" king. Am I a good pastor? Are you a "good" teacher, salesman, lawyer, business owner? Whose opinion really matters? (By the way, you've got to read 2 Kings 18:27 in the Message Bible. I couldn't believe it when I read it.)

19. We can learn a lot from Hezekiah who poured out his heart to God in prayer.

20. Hezekiah lived to please God, but he made a foolish error when he gave Babylonian guests a tour that showed them where EVERYTHING was (including weapons). Later Babylon destroyed Judah.

21. Manasseh's legacy. He turned Judah into a nation of sinners.

22. It is still beyond me that a high priest "discovered" the Word of God in the Temple. For years/generations people and even the priests did not know that there was a Word of God.

23. Thank God for leaders like Josiah who are passionate about obeying God and ridding the land of everything ungodly.

24. A sober reminder that wickedness does not go unpunished. God's judgment is never by accident.

25. The lengthy historical accounts in 1-2 Kings ends with the people of God defeated and scattered--orphans. But, remember, God always has a remnant.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 KINGS

Writing down my thoughts after reading the Scriptures has been a good discipline for me to do day-by-day. Here are some of my gleanings from 2 Kings (by chapters).

  1. Beware of getting counsel from others to the neglect of seeking guidance from the True Counselor.
  2. Elisha's request was that he wanted to be holy just like his mentor Elijah. Could anyone say that he or she wants to be holy just like you?
  3. A common thread in 2 Kings--some kings did some good things; BUT they held on to the wicked ways of their fathers. God expects a clean break. Only total obedience and holiness please Him.
  4. We all know the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Did you know that Elisha performed a similar miracle with bread and apples?
  5. Naaman, like many people today, thought his money and prestige would be enough to heal him.
  6. The king's anger toward God is typical of many today, especially when disaster strikes. God gets blamed. When bad times come, we have a choice--become bitter or better.
  7. The true prophet of God--his prophecies are completely accurate.
  8. The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (Israel) are mentioned over and over. These are lost books. Wouldn't it be great to get a hold of these books to learn more of the history of these times? I wonder how much one of those books would go for on Ebay.
  9. Jehu was one cold-blooded dude. He trampled Jezebel under his horse's hooves. Immediately afterwards he went inside and ate lunch.
  10. Jehu had a divided heart. He followed God in some areas but not all areas.
  11. Joash was a fairly decent king. This gives credence to the positive values of being raised in church. He was literally raised in the Temple for six years.
  12. The had counting committees even back then. This committee of honest men was formed because priests were absconding with the money designated for refurbishing the Temple.
  13. Jehoahaz--what an awful life description--"He lived an evil life before God."

I'll do the next half of 2 Kings in the next blog. What are you reading in the Bible these days? What is God saying to you?


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

3 WAYS TO RESTORE EVANGELISTIC FOCUS

Last Sunday, from the story of Zaccheus I preached my one prayer sermon. If I could pray one prayer for Chapin Baptist Church and for churches across America, it would be, "Lord, make us focused." Focused on reaching people for Christ and helping believers become fully devoted followers of Christ.

How can we restore that focus. Ed Stetzer in his widely-read book Comeback Churches notes that every member of the church should be involved in three ways. All should be involved in all three. But if everyone just did one of the three, that's a great place to start.

  1. Every member should be a pray-er. Everyone can pray. You can pray for the lost to be saved. You can pray for the growth of the church. You can pray for key outreach events like Vacation Bible School. So, before you read further, close your eyes and pray for a couple of minutes.
  2. Every member should be a bring-er. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was a bringer. He loved bringing people to Jesus. When is the last time you brought someone to church with you? When is the last time you invited someone to church? It doesn't have to be a worship service that you invite people to. It could be VBS. It could be a small group fellowship. It could be a ministry project your group is doing. In fact, I read recently that this strategy has become an extremely effective way of helping the unchurched to connect. The next time your class does an "outside the walls" project, invite a friend to join you.
  3. Every member should be a tell-er. Chapin Baptist certainly has some tell-ers. But we need to become a church of tell-ers, a church where every members confidently and earnestly tells others about Jesus.

Lord, make us focused. The church that is focused on reaching people is the church that is filled with members who are focused. And, yes, I must lead the way.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

WEDDING BELLS AGAIN

The answers are "no" and "no". First, no, we aren't pros at this wedding planning stuff. Even though two of our three sons got married within an eight-week period, we are far from pros. Pros at wedding planning can't let emotions interfere. So I prefer to stay an amateur and let the emotions do their thing. I wasn't an emotional mush like I was in early April. Actually, I thought I had it all together until the first words of the ceremony came out of my mouth. I came close to losing it. Thankfully, as always, the Lord rallied to my side.
The second "no" is no, we aren't planning a wedding for the third one yet. Praying for his future mate? You bet. But we're counting on a fairly long reprieve from the wedding planning business.
This weekend was another super-special occasion. Kevin and Erin make a great couple. Can't you tell? Here is the grand entrance into The Pointe, which served as the location for the reception. A special part of both weddings was that the grooms escorted their mom out for the recessional. Something tells me that Anita's heart was swelling with joy and pride.


After their honeymoon to St. John's in the Virgin Islands, Kevin and Erin will move into a rental home in Clemson. They plan to move back to the Chapin area in January after Erin graduates with her nursing degree. Kevin's employer wants him to set up an office in Chapin. I'm not going to argue with that at all.
They won't be settled long before they will have the joy of seeing Jade, their German Short-Haired Pointer, have puppies. Welcome to marriage.
Anita and I count our blessings daily that our three boys all love Jesus and desire to serve Him. And now we have the extra blessings of two daughters-in-law who both love Jesus as well.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."