Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Excellence and Change

Our August newsletter came out on Sunday and will be mailed to those who were absent today (and there were many!) We are making some changes in our schedule and the way we do discipleship. We (and by that I mean the church council) have renewed our commitment to do everything we do with excellence. If we cannot do it with greatness we shouldn't waste our resources. So we have decided to suspend Sunday School on Sunday mornings.

There are many reasons. We do not have enough teachers. Visitors rarely if ever bring their children to Sunday School. We have limited resources to purchase curriculum. Because of these reasons and a couple of others we are going to invest in a better Kids Church. Visitors will send their kids to Kids Church. We have limited volunteers who want to work with kids. If we invest in a better Kids Church it will be easier for the people ministering to the kids to do it with excellence.

We are going to continue to work on how we make disciples. This is our primary purpose. (Re)connecting people to God! This is done by making disciples who make disciples. Everything that we do will revolve around this mission (music, preaching, scheduling, resources, etc.) We are excited to see what God will do through our church as we reach out to people that no one else wants to reach. We are in process to becoming a different kind of church that is no longer inwardly focused but instead is a church that is working hard for the people who are not yet a part of our church.

We are very excited about our baptism on Sunday! This is why we do what we do!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Last night we had a a combined service with the Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This is the second time we have gotten together with them. The plan is to alternate church buildings every fifth Sunday evening. It was a great time of worshipping together. Their worship team led worship with me and then Pastor Kevin preached. Kevin contiues to improve as a preacher. It is fun to watch him grow in this way.

Kevin has become one of my best friends since he moved to Bethany. He gave up running a body shop with his dad to go into ministry full time. He will be ordained by the CP church in October. It is exciting to see the growth in his ministry life and in their church. Even though it is curious to me that he joined the CP denomination after being in leadership at Glad Tidings Assembly in Decatur. It has been really cool to be able to get to know his family.

I know that God is pleased when His children worship Him together!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sports Media

Is anyone else sick of the Michael Vick coverage? I imagine it will be wall to wall until his trial or until some other athlete does or says something stupid. Frankly I am not interested in the ongoing drama. Nothing has changed since the indictment was handed down. But much like their counterparts who cover politics or any other news the reporters will keep digging hoping that someone will say something damaging so that they will have their scoop. It's the same approach they take to Terrel Owens, Pacman Jones, and any other story. Enough already. I don't watch Sports Center as much as I used to because ESPN has become in many cases the sports equivalent of CNN.

I want to know the scores. I want to see the highlights. I want some experts to bloviate about strategy. I will watch the NFL draft for goodness sake! But enough with the 24 hours news cycle coverage. We know Vick went to court. Now let's get back to our real lives until the trial. Then report the verdict and move on. Is that too much to hope for? Probably.

Monday, July 23, 2007


When I think about why I am an ordained Assemblies of God pastor it goes beyond doctrine. I believe and agree with all 16 fundamental truths, otherwise I wouldn't be a part of this fellowship. To me it is about heritage and relationship. My great grandparents were members of an AG church. My grandfather was a pastor for more than 50 years. My uncle and my father are both pastors with long ministries. So there is a great heritage. But it is more than just family roots.

There are relationships. I have friends in China, South Africa, the Sudan, Nepal and other parts of the world. I also have friends in Shelbyville and Mattoon and Decatur. I know they will pray for me as I pray for them. Beyond that we are a fellowship that gave in excess of $200 million to world missions last year. I love that one of the purposes of forming the fellowship was to organize in order to help missionaries. The goal has been to bring the gospel to the world. But those pioneers didn't just send people they went into cities and into rural communities with the full gospel message. They preached and prayed and saw miracles. Lives were changed. My great grandmother who was an alcoholic was transformed by the gospel. She started bringing her grandchildren to church, one of which was my dad. He was saved and filled with the Spirit transforming his life. An evangelist named Sam Mayo came to Pana, Illinois and my grandparents were saved. Some thirty years later I was sitting at District Council and saw a gentleman sitting in front of me. On his name tag it said Sam Mayo. I introduced myself and relayed how thirty years earlier, before I was born, he had a part in changing my life. Those connections are a part of why I am an Assemblies of God pastor.

I also read the stories of the early pioneers in the fellowship. They believed that if the scripture said it was possible then it was. I know of mighty revivals that took place. But my generation hasn't seen a great move of the Spirit that changed the church and renewed it. As we pray about who will replace brother Trask I am reminded of the word of the prophet Habakkuk
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

Lord, lead us. Help us to rely upon you. Put into place a leader who will be a prophetic voice calling us to repentance. A leader who will be full of the Spirit. A man of God who believe that if it says it is possible in the Bible than it is possible!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I took this Sunday off from preaching. My dad preached for me instead and I still led worship. I think I have preached 27 out of 30 Sunday mornings thus far this year. It is a heavier load than most pastors recommend but I enjoy it and when I get tired I take a week off and have someone else preach. There seems to have been a demon in the sound system. It was awful. It would be nice to be able to get better equipment but we make do with what we have. We are striving for excellence in everything we do but with some things it takes time and money. It will get better.

It was nice to have my grandma in church with my aunt and uncle from North Dakota. We will squeeze some time in with them this week. It is always nice to have them visit. We haven't been up there for three years I think.

I am looking forward to digging back into James this week unless God leads me elsewhere. All in all it was a tough Sunday but God is good and we are starting to see fruit. Looking forward to baptisms in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Holiness and the future

I was talking to my uncle last night. He has been an AG pastor for more than thirty years. We were talking about the future of the fellowship. He feels that it important that our new leader be a man of prayer, a person who can relate to the culture but who models Pentecostal leadership in our culture. I agree. We are Pentecostal. We need to keep that distinctive. And while exgeting our culture we need stay connected to our roots as a holiness movement.

There is a lot of talk about having a local pastor assume leadership while still pastoring. That, I think would be a huge burden to carry for someone. I am not saying it cannot be done but I wouldn't want to carry that load.

Another question I have is whether or not it is proper to campaign for the position?
Keep praying for wisdom and guidance. I pray that there will be a clear leading of the Spirit in the meetings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

General Council

The news that our current superintendent of the Assemblies of God Tom Trask is going to resign has made the upcoming general council potentially a watershed event in our fellowship. I wasn't going to go even though it is very close this year in Indianapolis but now I will at least drive over for the business sessions. It will be interesting to see how the voting is approached. I hope that there will be a significant turnout by young credential holders. This is an opportunity to shape the direction that the fellowship will go in the next 10 years and more. I feel like there are a lot of challenges ahead. I also will be praying for whoever is selected because the weight of the leadership burden will be very great and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit it may well be an impossible job.

I think some of the challenges include:
1. A continued need to plant churches. The decade of harvest was not an unqualified success. We need to find more planters and put some financial resources behind them. I know that a great emphasis has been made on this need but we need to continue to make a growing number of church plants a reality.
2. We need to have a greater presence on college and university campuses. It is not enough to just tell the parents in our fellowship to send there children to one of our schools. We must be in this mission field.
3. We need to continue to see a growth in our cultural diversity. This must include the freedom for different expressions of what it means to do church. We need to continue to see Hispanic growth as well as other minorities. It would be wonderful to see young minority pastors in growing numbers.
4. We need more pastors. We need to continue to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers. But we must also connect with young people and sell them on their need for community and relationship. Our fellowship is based upon this and it is vital to future growth.

I'll post more thoughts as they come in the next three weeks. Mean while some guys have started a blog to further the conversation leading up to General Council.