Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When a Church Is at Its Best


For those in our Chapin family, we all are stricken with grief this week over the tragic automobile accident that took two young lives from us. For those outside our CBC family who read my blog--Craig and Crystal Hewitt, a beautiful young couple in our church, model husband-wife, model mom-dad, are grieving the loss of their two precious children--Parker (5) and Haley (3), both killed instantly on Monday morning.


I've been in Augusta most of the week ministering to the family. Not a one of us can imagine the pain they must be going through. I've always had a high respect and fond love for Craig and Crystal. But I'm telling you this week has increased that love and respect a thousand-fold. Only God could be giving Craig the strength and level-headedness he is displaying as he makes decisions while caring for his wife who is still hospitalized and will be having spinal surgery on Wednesday morning.


Crises always bring out the best in us. Not that we ever want to face tragedy. But I'm telling you that the people of Chapin Baptist Church are shining brightly during this tragedy. I am very proud of our church family. I'm very proud of our church staff. The road of healing for the Hewitts will be long and hard. But I am confident they will make it because of their faith, because of their family bonds, and because of their spiritual family at Chapin Baptist.


Funeral arrangements are still pending. But most likely we are looking at early next week to conduct services at our church. Debbie is doing a great job keeping us informed via email. Pray. Pray. Pray.


One lesson I think we all learn in tragedy--we are shocked into reality of the things that matter most in life and the things that really don't matter much at all.


Pray for me. This has to be one of the toughest assignments in all my years of ministry. But I know my assignment pales in comparison to the assignment God has given Craig and Crystal. Cover them with your prayers.


I love 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."


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH ECCLESIASTES

Here is my chapter-by-chapter journal through Ecclesiastes that I wrote at the end of 2008. This is a book about trying to find meaning to life through money, sex, power, adventure, and knowledge. Sounds like a recent publishing release, doesn't it? Apart from God we are totally incapable of finding meaning to life

  1. It is humbling to know that I can strive to be successful; but when I'm gone, I won't be remembered.
  2. Reminds me of the bumper sticker-"I'm out spending my children's inheritance." Solomon wonders about the validity of hard work and making lots of money if all you're doing is leaving it to others after you die.
  3. This chapter reminds me of a common way people mishandle the Scriptures. Just because Solomon says something doesn't mean he's right--just because "it's in the Bible." He says everyone--man and animal alike end up as dust; so we should just live it up. I don't think that's the philosophy of life God intended for us.
  4. One life principle Solomon had a great grasp on--the importance and value of meaningful relationships.
  5. Don't worry about how long you will live. Just live every day to the fullest with great joy. Every day is a gift.
  6. If you need an encouraging word, stay away from Chapter 6. Solomon must have eaten too many tacos the night before. He may have been a wise man. But I wouldn't want him counseling my children at this stage of his journey.
  7. What did Solomon mean by, "Crying is better than laughing"? We learn more about life, and our spiritual roots go deeper in life's trials versus life's pleasures.
  8. I disagree with Solomon's assessment that you can never figure out the meaning of what God is doing. Certainly His ways are beyond mine. But I believe we can understand and even join Him in what He is doing.
  9. Seize life! These are great words of exhortation. How do we seize life? One way is to relish life with your marriage partner. I'm eternally blessed by a wife that I enjoy doing life with.
  10. Here's a great rule for life: Never use your tongue to degrade people.
  11. I love this chapter. Enjoy every day to the fullest. Follow the impulses of your heart. Be a blessing to others.
  12. Although Solomon has presented some questionable statements, his final analysis hits the bull's eye: "Fear God. Do what he tells 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."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Leading Children to Christ

Last week Virginia Wallace, our Director of Children's Ministry, shared some exciting news with me. We have about 25 kids that have made spiritual decisions recently and want to take the next steps of baptism. That's awesome news. But she really got me pumped up when she told me about a new ministry she is implementing to counsel with these children.


When a child makes a decision for Christ, Virginia and her staff will plan a meeting of the children with their parents. The parents will be trained a very simple way that they can lead their children to Christ. The training materials have proven to be successful in many other churches. Sometimes the parents themselves end up receiving Christ through this process.


As I shared in my sermon on Father's Day...there is no higher calling of a Dad than to disciple his children. What our children's ministry is implementing is a giant step forward in helping dads and moms assume responsibility for their children's faith journey. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE talking to children about Jesus and leading them to a decision to accept Him into their hearts. But what excites me more is the ability to equip parents to lead their children to Christ. Can you think of anything more moving than to hear someone say, "My dad/mom led me to Christ"?


Way to go, Virginia! As we implement this process, let's pray that every parent will respond and that families can be spiritually transformed as a result.



"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 18, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JAMES (PART 2)

Here are the rest of my journal entries in my read through the book of James.

  • 2:18--2008 Chapin translation--"You take care of the GoodWorks project, I'll go to the Bible study--not good. It's all about application."

  • 2:18--Faith is not faith unless it is working. Separate faith from works and you get a corpse.

  • Ch. 3 (sorry, I didn't write down the specific verses from here on out)--

  • Those who teach are held to higher standards.

  • How I use my tongue is my choice. Will I use it to edify, encourage, and bless, or will I use it to tear down, gossip, and curse?

  • What does it take to be a man/woman of wisdom? Holy living, getting along with others, gentle spirit.

  • Ch. 4 and 5--Quarrels start because people want their own way.

  • Flirt with the world and you'll become God's enemy.

  • The best way to get on your feet is to get down on your knees before the Master.

  • Dabbling in sin will destroy you.

  • When Christians argue and fight, God is the one who takes a beating.

  • If you know the right thing to do and don't do it, it's sin.

  • I must be cautious of complaining against someone because a far greater complaint could be lodged against me.

  • Make it a habit to always speak the truth. That way you never have to remember what you said.

  • Pray, pray, pray.

  • Don't ever give up on someone who has wandered from 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."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JAMES

Here are some thing God taught me in my recent reading through the book of James. This book is a brutal reminder that churches are filled with sinful people. Pastor James deals openly and honestly with the issues. Known as "camel knees" for the calluses formed on his knees for his many hours/years of praying, James teaches that prayer is foundational to wisdom.

  • 1:2-4--Trials from every side are gifts from God. I need to let God do the shaping in my life that He wants to do.

  • 1:9-11--Great insights on prosperity, especially in light of the economic downturn. Prosperity can disappear overnight.

  • 1:13-15--Interesting take on temptation. Doesn't come from God. According to these verses, the temptation comes from within us. We become victims of our own lust.

  • 1:19-21--Key to spiritual growth and maturity. Let God landscape you with His Word.

  • 1:22-24--Another key--applying the Word.

  • 1:26-27--True religion--reaching out to the poor and rejected and staying clean from the corrupt world.

  • 2:1-7--Racial prejudice and neglecting the poor are two things God hates. We should too.

  • 2:8-13--I'm grateful God is sending Black and bi-racial families to our church. And I am grateful that we have built (not completely there yet) a culture of love and acceptance.

  • 2:8-13--If I don't commit adultery but I do show favoritism to the rich, I'm crazy if I think the two balance out. No, I'm a man guilty before God.

  • 2:17--"God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense." In other words, it's all about application.



"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 16, 2009

People Who Have Mentored Me (2)

In my last post I listed the people who have mentored me through the years. I'm eternally grateful to each one. In my years of ministry there are well-known leaders who have had great influence on how I think and do ministry. Some of these I've met. Some I've never met. Only one do I know on a personal level. But through their writings and conferencing, they have made me a more effective pastor/teacher/leader.


Leading the list is John Maxwell. I had never heard of John. But back in the mid 90s when I was going through a ministry crisis, a brochure "happened" to appear on my desk advertising a leadership conference in Atlanta he was leading. I jumped on it. And it was a life-changing experience. No one has helped me more in the realm of being a leader than Maxwell. And I'm still learning from him.


Rick Warren has become known as America's pastor. Years ago I attended a 3-4 day Purpose Driven Church conference sponsored by the SC Baptist Convention that Rick taught. My only claim to fame with Rick is that he was in one of my evangelism classes in seminary. Rick has helped me (and tens of thousands of pastors) understand the importance of building a church around the five purposes of the church.


Through the teachings of Bill Hybels God has helped me believe that the local church still is the hope for this world. He has helped me to see that worship can be done with excellence and that a church can become "mega" without watering down the gospel.


Reggie McNeal is another influencer in my life. Reggie is a personal friend. We graduated with our Ph.D. side by side way back in 1986. Reggie has challenged me to think outside the box. He has helped me to understand that God's idea of a church is not necessarily counting heads and dollars on Sunday morning. Instead, God has called us to be missional.


Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring in Anderson, has helped me to see that God can grow a huge church even in a small town atmosphere, like my hometown of Anderson. His bold preaching and down-to-earth personality can serve as a model to every pastor.


Well, these are a handful of mentors. There are others such as Erwin McManus, Andy Stanley, Bill Easum, and Leith Anderson. By God's design I am a learner. I try to soak up everything I can from these guys to become the man of God and leader for God that He has called me to be.



"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 15, 2009

People Who Have Mentored Me

One of the leaders of Campus Crusade at Clemson back in the 60s started a Clemson Campus Crusade for Christ Facebook group. What a great way to re-connect. Howard, the guy who got this thing going, asked how we found our way to CCC while in school. Who influenced us? Who mentored us. His question got me reminiscing about those who have been great mentors to me. So, let me take a couple of blogs and tell you about friends and family who have mentored me and then well-known leaders/authors who have mentored me.


I would be remiss if I didn't start by talking about my mother and grandmother. They both had a huge godly influence in my formative years. My mom who made sure I was fully engaged in church and who modeled how to get along with people. My grandmother who taught me the importance of prayer and digging in the Word. It was my grandmother who, after I publicly announced my call to ministry, informed me that she had prayed every day of my life that God would call me to preach. (I didn't have a chance!)


Charlie Edmonds was my Royal Ambassador teacher for years. He would pick me up every Thursday evening to take me to RAs. He'd pick up several guys along the way. We all rode in the back of his pickup truck (it was safe back then). He modeled patience and consistency.


Lee Taylor is a fellow I grew up with in Anderson. We both went to Clemson. He got his life in spiritual order before I did. He invited me to a CCC Bible study that he led. That was a key turning point in my life. Lee discipled me faithfully.


Charles Fant was my best friend in high school. We were roommates for four years at Clemson. He actually is the one who talked me in joining him by going to Lee's Bible study. He has been a great influence in my life for many years.


And then there was C.W. Farrar. He pastored FBC of Landrum, SC, for many years. I'm not sure where his passion began, but he took a lot of interest in many of the Clemson Crusaders and mentored us. I was on the path to becoming a career staff person with CCC. But I remember C.W. very vividly planting the seed in my mind, "You know, Ken, the world needs some good pastors." The second sermon I ever preached was in his church on a Sunday night. It was on 1 Timothy 4. Later that night I remember him sitting down with me and critiquing the message. The next day he took me to Columbia where we stayed a couple of days for the state evangelism conference. He was one of the two pastors who officiated our wedding back in 1976.


Who has mentored you through the years? Maybe a better question is: Who are you mentoring?



"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 7, 2009

Graduation Day



Hallelujah! What a great day Saturday was as our whole family gathered at Carolina Coliseum (no Gamecock snides, please) for Tyler's graduation. Needless to say Anita and I are very proud of our honor graduate. Tyler will be attending Midlands Tech next year as he continues to explore God's calling in his life. He certainly wants to stay in the area right now because he's excited about being a part of the REFUGE band. Here are some shots from Saturday. (As you can tell I haven't invested a lot of money into camera equipment. Mine is the kind you carry in your pocket)


T-Man with his two beautiful parents



My mom Doris, Anita, Tyler, me, my sister Bess, and my nephew Ross






Tyler and his girlfried Laurel


We enjoyed a trip to Texas Roadhouse after the ceremony.

My how the time does fly. It seems only yesterday that we were trekking down to Baptist Hospital where Tyler was born about fifteen minutes after arrival. Enjoy your family to the fullest.

"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 3, 2009

Church Vitality

The most recent issue of Outreach magazine focuses on church health and vitality. One of my favorite writers, Bill Easum (Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers; Go Big: Leading Your Church to Explosive Growth) wrote an article called "Vital Signs." I try to read anything Bill writes. Whether he's writing a book or a brief article, he never sugar coats stuff. That's why I like him.


He states that church health boils down to six traits: biblically grounded, culturally relevant, exists to transform lives, mobilizes and equips the laity; a community built on trust; structured to grow disciples.


Ouch! The problem, he cites, in most churches is that one or more of these traits is lacking or absent. Or it could be that the church doesn't know how to measure these traits. Easum takes each trait and offers a brief synopsis of how a church can measure it. Ouch again!


I'll mention the first two in this blog, then finish it up in a second one.


1. Biblically grounded: I thought of the six that maybe we did pretty good on this one. But the measuring question Easum poses got me wondering if we do a good job of this or not. He says the way this trait is measured is by observing how decisions are made. Here is the measuring rod: "Do prayer, discernment, and the scriptures guide your leaders in their decision making?"


2. Culturally relevant: CBC tries to be. But then again do we? Easum talks about the importance of exegeting the community and then making sure that all ministries evolve out of that exegesis. Here is the measuring rod for this trait: "Do all of your ministries have their origin in the hopes, dreams and needs of the surrounding community of nonbelievers?"


3-6 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."

Church Vitality (2)

Bill Easum states that good church health boils down to six traits. I posted the first two in a previous blog (biblically grounded, culturally relevant). Here is the continuation of his thoughts.


3. Exists to transform lives: Easum notes that this is the easiest trait to measure. How many adults are getting baptized, and how many spiritual giants are being discipled and sent into significant arenas of ministry? Also, are leaders disappointed if a week goes by without someone giving his/her life to Christ?


4. Mobilizes and equips the laity: Is 80 percent of the congregation engaged in some type of weekly or monthly ministry? And, is the staff's role primarily to equip others for ministry versus doing ministry? Then Easum asks a couple of probing questions. "Who does most of the ministry at your church--the staff or the laity? When people need their spiritual needs met, do they go to their small group instead of the pastor?"


5. A community built on trust: To measure this trait, observe how quickly, without much fuss, decisions can be made; new ministries can be established; and the expected behavior of the leadership. "Can any one or two people in the congregation derail something that most people want to see happen? Do you trust your leaders when they make a decision, even if it is controversial?" (Admittedly, we have digressed in this trait. And our staff pastors are determined to regain a high level of trust with the congregation.)


6. Structured to grow disciples: Mormons grow so rapidly because they are structured for growth. "Does your church eat, sleep, and dream about making disciples?"


I firmly believe we are in the beginning stages of a new day. We all long for a vitally, healthy church. These six traits provide us with a helpful measuring stick as we move forward.



"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 1, 2009

More Dog Stories Coming

Last weekend was filled with key events. It started with our trip to Chapin High School for Class Day--the day where the seniors leave their last will and testaments. Back in 2002 Kevin SURPRISED us with a Boston Terrier puppy we named Bruno. Bruno has provided me with a wealth of sermon illustrations. I still have a scar to prove it.

Friday, Tyler willed us another brand new puppy--a Golden Retriever. The boys had already given him a name. So I look forward to including Jimbo in some upcoming sermons. Maybe I can blog some pictures.

Later that Friday we were able to surprise Tyler (he knew it was coming but didn't know when) with a 2004 Tacoma pickup to replace the beat up 1994 truck that got him through high school. (We've got the old one for sale if you know anyone interested.)

On Saturday evening Anita and I came to the Southern Gospel concert at the church. Man, our people have talent! How humbling, however...after it was over. I had about 15 people with the gift of encouragement (including Anita) remind me that I am the odd man out when it comes to pastors being able to sing. I hate to admit it; but I agree.

Sunday was eventful as well. If you missed our worship, you missed a great experience as our student ministry led the services. Stuart's message was powerful; and the students who prayed, sang, played in the band...were exceptional.

While we were worshipping, REFUGE (the church Kenny is planting) was having a red-letter day. They had their first baptism service (13 baptized I believe) and their highest attendance ever (88)! God's hand is upon them.

Sunday afternoon was Kevin and Erin's first wedding anniversary. And we also celebrated Doug's 24th birthday.

And one final highlight was the Baccalaureate service at the Methodist Church. I had the assignment of preaching. I chose a text in Acts 17 in which I challenged the graduates to become "troublemakers" for Jesus. Spasmo Kelly, on his way to the platform to introduce Cadie Lee, who shared her testimony, tripped over the first platform step and fell flat on my face. Check with Mayor Stan if you want a picture of that to use against me in the future. Anyway we had a good laugh and moved on. (But oh the damaged pride.)

A lot of excitement for one weekend. But what a great one it was!

"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."