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."