Today I was sitting in a coffee shop working on church systems and I overheard a conversation.

A young lady was talking to an older man who she had “slept with” and now he was basically “dumping” her.

I tried not to listen but I couldn’t help but hear her heart breaking as she said, “You told me you loved me.”

I wanted so bad to go hug her. I wanted to share love with her. I wanted to let her know that she is lovely and that just because her “lover” is walking away from her does not mean that she is no longer lovely!  I wanted to tell her that the Creator of the universe loves her and finds her beautiful. I wanted to bring her home to my family so that she could experience the warmth and acceptance of a family. I wanted to but how do you interrupt that kind of a conversation?

Here’s what I know… she is not the only person being “dumped” today. 

We live our lives surrounded by people who have been dumped. They are hurting. They feel alone. They are breaking inside while presenting to the world a fake “I’ve got it all together” act.

Oh my gosh… we, Christians, are called to show the love of God to hurting, dumped, lonely people.

Please hear the silent screams of the hurting around you and extend your love! You may be the ray of hope that keeps them alive.

The “stuff” that matters

Last night we sat down and played Memory with “The Ladies” and then had a little snack around their table… on their plates, sang some songs, read a story, asked them questions about the story, prayed together, and then tucked them into bed.

It was one of the most awesome nights I’ve had in a long time!

I feel such a deep fulfillment when I spend quality time with my family like this!

And yet I find it’s often hard for me to initiate this. I love my job! It’s difficult for me to disconnect.

I ate lunch with a friend this week who is pretty “Type A“. I asked him if he ever feels like he’s getting “an A+” at home and at work… at the same time. He said “No.”

Crap! I often feel like when I’m getting an “A+” at home that I’m not getting a good grade at work, and when I feel like I’m getting an “A+” at work I feel like I’m not getting it at home. Have you ever felt this way?

I have a hard time balancing between the two… and yet I know I must! I have to because there are other people who can do my job, but no one else can be the husband of my wife or the father of my children.

I really do love my family… A LOT! And yet I have a hard time disconnecting from what I do to spend simple time on the floor with a plastic tea cup in my hand!

The crazy thing is that I’ve read, taught, and listened to those who wished they had done it differently…

Do you struggle with disconnecting so that you can connect with the “stuff” that matters?

Have you found what works?

Women leaders

In a time when Hillary Clinton is running for President; Condoleeza Rice is the Secretary of State; Oprah Winfrey is a formative voice in social affairs; Stacy Snider is the chairman of Universal Pictures; and Joyce Meyer is a leading preacher of the gospel… women still seem to have a tough time finding their place at the leadership table. We continue to hear talk of the “glass ceiling“.

While there are plenty of advocates for women in leadership (e.g. Tom Peters; Free Methodist Church – see here) the struggle continues. (For a current illustration of what I mean see this story)

Right now I’m reading a great book on leadership by Frances Hesselbein – Hesselbein on Leadership.

Hesselbein is the former CEO of the Girls Scouts of America and the chairman and founding president of the Peter Drucker Foundation.

In a chapter entitled “Focus on the Task” I believe Hesselbein gets to the heart of the matter!

She writes…

“For seven years I served on the board of a large electric utility with eleven directors who were men. I served as this company was building two nuclear power plants. There is nothing more macho than a nucleur power plant. Yet in all those meetings – ten times a year for seven years – I never walked into the board room thinking ‘I am a Woman.’ I participated because I had something to contribute beyond gender. I never thought of myself as the woman on the board (though indeed I was); rather, I knew I brought a special perspective to the deliberations and the decisions.” (Bold print = my emphasis)

(Me speaking here) There is something comfortable about a woman leader who is comfortable with who she is and what she brings to the table! Believe me women leaders – you bring more to the table than just your gender!

On the other hand, there is nothing more uncomfortable than a woman leader who is awkwardly aware of gender and is on a crusade to make everyone else aware too. To all women leaders who do this… STOP!

If the foremost thought on your mind at the leadership table is gender then you may as well excuse yourself and leave the responsibility of leadership to others who are focused on the task.

A couple of other worthwhile quotes from Hesselbein:

– “Focus on task, not on gender.”

– “For me management is like money – it has no gender.”

– “As we focus on task, we move beyond the old assumptions, practices, and language that
can be barriers to equal access. One barrier is placing women in a special category of
gender. If we see and describe ourselves as a ‘woman vice president,’ we may remain in
a category never to be considered for the chief executive position.”

I love what Hesselbein says! I weary quickly of any leader who has “something to prove” and particularly if it has to do with gender, race, or age.

Here’s the scoop… if God has gifted you with leadership abilities then take it seriously and lead (see Romans 12:8).

In time, regardless of gender, race, or age, if your leadership is authentic and results-oriented, people will see and acknowledge you as one gifted to lead.

In a world desperate for effective leadership I raise my glass to GREAT women leaders! Lead on and don’t apologize for who God has made you!

Do Numbers Matter? (A continuing conversation)

“Do numbers matter?” People regularly ask why large churches are so “into numbers.” While I can’t speak for all churches, I can speak for Northgate and I’ll tell you why we’re “into numbers.”

We’re “into numbers” because behind every number there’s a name, a story, an eternal destiny! Behind every number there’s a person that God created, loves, and sent His Son to die for!

We care about numbers because if we go for three years and no one is saved as a result of our church then we’re not accomplishing our mission of “Bringing people to Jesus and building them up in that relationship” and therefore something MUST change!

We care about numbers because if we go for three years and no new discipleship connections (e.g. groups) are established then we are not accomplishing our mission and that means something MUST change!

I contend that it is irresponsible to not be “into numbers.” There are two ways to measure effectiveness: quantitatively (numbers) and qualitatively (stories). In my opinion the best way to measure ministry effectiveness is to have LOTS (quantitative) of stories (qualitative) about life change! If we aren’t tracking numbers then all we can rely on is “hearsay” or “hope so” and that’s not good enough when it comes to issues of eternal destiny!

The more people we “Bring to Jesus” the more people we save from Hell. The more people we “Build in this new relationship” the more marriages are saved; the more addicts are freed; the more people are freed from financial chaos;  the more people get to enjoy God and enage in purpose-driven living!

OK, there’s my take on it, but today I read a post that says it WAY better than I could! (click here to read the post)!

Click here to read my previous post on numbers.

Some links worth checking out

In case you haven’t heard… I am a fan of blogging and those who blog! Here are some of the highlights for this week…

1) Bob Franquiz – a great post on how to many churches try to do to many things and end
    up in trouble. A key quote of his = “Most churches increase ministry and lower
    their effectiveness as they grow
. We have sought to do the opposite. We have
    narrowed the focus as we’ve grown and it has made all the
(click here for the “rest of the story”)

2) Seth Godin – a compact but nevertheless powerful insight into leadership (click here).

3) Craig Groeschel – a funny commentary on why people come to church. It is also a
    reminder to us of why we do what we do! (click here)

Have fun!

How should we do church?

In the church world there is an ongoing debate about how to “do church right.” Is it loud music or quiet music? Is it bright lights or no lights? Is it suits and ties or jeans and t-shirts?

This debate rages among denominations, pastors, churched, and unchurched! No one is excluded from this grand free-for-all!

Think about it… everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion about how church should “be done.” Even people that don’t go to church have opinions about how it should be done.

Books are written about how church should be done. New denominations are started with an idea of how church should be done. Strategies, structures, methods, etc… all of these nip at the heels of the church that is committed to its mission of life-change!

Sometimes it’s so crazy that the other day I looked at Sherri and said, “When did church become so complicated?”

Well, I think I have a response to that… church became complicated when culture became complicated! Let me just list a few “complications”:

technology (e.g. sound systems; financial software; powerpoint; etc.)

sexuality (e.g. sexuality didn’t used to be such common theme – for instance compare
   Leave it to Beaver with Desperate Housewives)

ethics (e.g. abortion; stem cell research; internet addictions; etc.)

liberal theology (e.g. ordination of homosexual clergy; the position that the Bible is 
   not the authoritative word of God)

Secular “competition” for the weekend (e.g. work; sports; etc.)

People’s busy lives (e.g. the very common 60+ hour work week is a chief competitor 
   for the church… people want their weekends off!)

The reality is that church is not as simple as it used to be! In my opinion, the church can respond in one of two ways…

1) It can rub its hands in dismay and lament the current shape of things, or

2) It can pray like missional effectiveness depends on God and work like missional
     effectiveness depends on us!

Perry Noble, a blogger that I read frequently, has a post in which he discusses this topic further (click here).

As for me… I’m ready to fight! I believe that God has given us a great group of people in a great location and I’m ready to wage war against our enemy… Satan, and push back His boundaries! I want to be a part of an army that does exactly what Jesus said we would do… push back the gates of Hell (Matthew 16:18)!

OK… vent’s over… 🙂

Some really great links

Here are some really cool posts from blogs I regularly read…

1) Ten Propositions on Worship – a thoughtful commentary on worship at a great new
    blog I’ve recently discovered (Thanks Ethan) called “Faith and Theology“).

2) Vulnerability: Strength or Weakness? – a great post by my friend Rindy in which she
    explores the whole idea of being vulnerable and discusses it from a personal experience

3) Leadership interviews – over 60 interviews with pastors and other spiritual leaders. It
    is amazing the similarities in their answers to similar questions! It is a great study on
    leadership from a great blogger.