Daddy Daughter Date #1

10993093_574540825214_4904338544151371394_n


It will be best for my daughter’s future boyfriend if someone hides this picture from me, because if I should happen to see it on the night that he comes to fetch her for their first date, I’m not sure what will happen….. Just kidding. I think. 

Kenzie and I had our first Daddy & Daughter Date night tonight at Chick-Fil-A. An10991414_574541648564_4831700078677014613_nd I loved every second of it!  As I sat there and had small talk with my 1 year old daughter. She danced, looked at the flowers on the table, knocked over my sweet tea, screamed when I didn’t get the oreo shake in her mouth quick enough and then just started laughing so randomly that everyone sitting around us was in tears from laugher at the little kid so full of life and laughter. 

I just sat there and took it all in. I know she won’t remember this night. But, I will. I will remember the nothingness of our conversation, it was the best conversation I had in a day full of meetings. As we sat there part of my heart was happy but hurting all in the same moment … because it occurred to me, as I was carrying her from my car to the Chick-Fil-A, that she will someday (possibly) go on a date with a boy, and when that day comes, she will likely remember very little, if anything, about the night that her Daddy and her had their first little date.

But that’s OK … because I’ll never forget it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye.

6 Ways to Lead a Church When You Don’t Get To Preach

I read this Blog today at gavinadams.com Gavin is the Lead Pastor of Watermarke Church, a campus location of North Point Ministries in Georgia.

How do you publicly lead a church when you’re a Campus Pastor, not the Senior Pastor?

That’s an ever increasing question. With the rise of multi-site churches, more Campus Pastors are added to leadership circles every day. But leading as a Campus Pastor presents unique challenges. I want to address one of these challenges in this post:

How do you cast vision for your church when you do not preach weekly?

As a Senior Pastor or primary Teaching Pastor, there is a 30+ minute segment each and every week to cast vision, set direction, and encourage missional engagement. But without the sermon spot, it becomes much more difficult to be an out-front leader. A good Senior Pastor will fill in some of these gaps with his leadership, but each campus location presents unique challenges that require unique leadership solutions. A Senior Pastor can cast a compelling organization-wide vision, but it is often up to the Campus Pastor to localize and conceptualize the mission and vision.

So how can a Campus Pastor publicly lead outside of the weekly sermon? Here are a few ways I try to lead at Watermarke Church:

1. Leverage the weekly communication opportunities.

Every week in our services, we have two opportunities to lead during the service outside of the sermon. The first is the welcome segment. I posted how we structure the welcome here, including an example. The welcome is more of a navigational spot than a vision casting spot, but it still presents a great opportunity to be the point leader over the location.

Second, we have a weekly offering segment, which is a perfect moment to engage our audience with vision. Whether we follow the worship set or a baptism, this spot allows me the opportunity to connect the dots between our engagement and our mission.

Side Note: As a Campus Pastor, I typically leverage both of these segments every week. It is very rare that I am in the building and not communicating these segments. And at times, I’ll even dismiss the service to add a final leadership moment.

2. Join volunteer orientations and regular meetings.

As often as I can, I drop into our new volunteer orientations and ongoing, regular volunteer meetings just to share a win or thank the volunteers. It’s a great way to stay connected to the people on the front lines of our ministry environments and presents a perfect opportunity to keep the vision out front.

3. Walk slowly down the isles.

I have the pleasure (and complications) of leading a pretty large church, so it isn’t often I get to meet with our average attendees. That provides an important opportunity for me on Sunday mornings when our auditorium is full. Since I am not preaching most weeks, I can spend time in the auditorium rather than secluded in preparation. I try to walk slowly down the isle. I look for people holding a first time guest gift. Engaging in conversations before and after the service is a great way to lead out front in a campus location.

4. Walk around DURING the service.

We have hundreds of volunteers serving during each service, and since I’m not preaching most weeks, I leverage this time to walk around and connect. Again, when you do not have the luxury of casting vision or setting direction during a sermon, leverage the sermon time to connect with those not in the auditorium is a simple solution.

5. Preach every time you can.

Ironically, I love to preach. I hope to one day do it a lot more. But for now, I leverage every open date in the message calendar to preach at my local campus.

This is important for our church. I know what is happening in our location and community. I understand our people and their needs. As I publish this post, I’m in the middle of a four-week message series we created just for our campus.

I believe preaching at least 10 sermons each year helps our church and allows me a larger platform from which to lead.

6. Write “thank you” notes.

This is a discipline, and I’m not always disciplined to do it, but sending hand-written thank you notes to our contributors and insiders provides a great option for vision casting and encouragement. Not to mention everyone loves getting a thank you note! Almost every time I send a note, the person thanks me the following Sunday. It’s meaningful – and easy.

I’m sure there are many other ways to effectively lead when you are not the primary preacher. What other ideas have worked for you? I’d love to hear so I can be better, too. Leave a comment below and feel free to share this post so others can join the conversation.

They Call me “DAD”

1966689_566884693164_7211316030486187823_n

It’s 8 days before Christmas. 12:24am. and finally everyone is asleep! We have traveled up to Nashville to meet my sister-in-law who is flying in to meet us to make the rest of the 10 hour drive with Kym and the kids to TX were we will spend Christmas this year with her family. I’ll be flying to Dallas on Monday as I’ve gotta work the rest of the week.

As I lay here in the Baymont Inn in Nashville, TN with two kids in my twin bed and two in Kym’s twin bed and I can’t help but get a little emotional.

Yes, It’s been a absolutely HORRIBLE night. As one could imagine. 6 Groves in 1 hotel room = Insanity! 20 min in the room and the phone was broken, toilet had a slice of pizza put in it that caused it to over flow and I decided the best place to stick the boys, because their sister was screaming her head off and Kym was out trying to find a microwave to warm a bottle up was of course, in the bathtub. (probably hasn’t been cleaned in who knows how long) And the only thing I could find for them to play with was three recycled paper cups. After ten min it looked like a dadgum paper-mache project on the bathroom wall. (Recycled paper cups dont really last long in the water)

After the screaming, jumping from bed to bed calmed down we all laid on the bed and watched a youtube video cartoon called “The story of Christmas” as I laid there watching my little kids (4, 3, 2 & 1) take it in I thought to myself “Take a mental picture of this” these are the moments that matter. These are the moments that I will think back to and say were some good times. These are the moments I don’t want to forget. And then my little Bubba, Corbin (2) got within a inch of my face and said in his not so clear speech “Lobe uo daddy” and then goes to sleep on my chest. It’s that moment I want to remember.

You see before I became a dad I placed a high value on my time. I had my hobbies and my vices, the things I liked to do — mine.

4 years ago when we learned that Kym was expecting our first kid, I was initially resistant for all the obvious, “how will I afford/manage/handle this?” reasons and also because if kids require anything, they require TIME.  Not only do they require it, they deserve it! I was faced with having to give up that which I consider very personal.

However, now that I’m a dad with some years on me, I can barely remember what I was doing with all the time I had as a kid-free man.

I don’t regret the “freedom” and “my time” that I’ve traded for becoming a dad. If anything being a dad is what makes up “My time” now.

In losing my time, I’ve experienced the following:

  • Being a protector, teacher and provider to your kids it way more rewarding than anything else you can achive
  • Hearing “Daddy!” screamed with excitement when I come home each day and being the recipient and giver of the most genuine hugs in the world. (Money can’t buy that)
  • Hearing the word “Daddy”, and knowing the different meanings behind it based on the tone when it’s being said and knowing how to respond accordingly.
  • The excitement that comes with watching my kids grow and learn and the outlook on life they gain every day.
  • The particular strength and tenacity gained from becoming Dad that no trainer, gym nor any other life experience would have been able to teach or provide.
  • Being blessed with the opportunity to continue the cycle: to pour wisdom into my boys as they quickly grow and will approach manhood before I know it, just as my father poured his wisdom into me often.
  • Relearning to appreciate the little things, just as my kids do.
  • Realizing that the “big things” aren’t really all that big because some of the biggest things in life are the little ones who call you Dad.

These are just a few of the unexpected joys that have come my way since I became a father. They make the hard work of being a parent feel like a cakewalk most days. And on those challenging days when it’s not so great or easy I think of the joy, privilege and honor of it all, and that really makes it okay. Because I get to be DAD to four awesome humans.

I read this blog post (Click link to read) PerryNoble.com a few years ago before I had kids and I remember thinking “wonder if that is true” Well. 4 kids later I cant honestly say…. It is.

You will have a lot of titles put on you in your life. The best title any man can ever have is to be called DAD. So if you are a Dad stop and enjoy the moments. The little moments, the big moments. Don’t get consumed trying to capture it. Just live in it. Take it all in and enjoy the fact that there is child who calls you dad.

Goodnight.

 

Oh, You are a “Campus Pastor” what do you actually do?

735200_534971856744_1913656736_n

After 10 years in Full time Student Ministry God moved me into a new role. The position I gladly stepped into a little over two years ago is that of a Campus Pastor at Rock Bridge Community Church Ringgold Campus. I LOVE MY JOB! However, when I tell people I’m a Campus pastor they always seem to ask the question “So, what do you actually do” Because I don’t preach every week it seems like a strange roll. What I’ve learned is that because I don’t preach every week it frees me up to pastor and live life with people that I normally wouldn’t have time to. Also, communication happens in relationship and not just using the sermon to preach at people! 

I was reading some blogs this morning I came across paulalexanderblog.com he had this post called “What is a Campus Pastor? Hopefully this will help you understand a little better just exactly “what” we that call ourselves “Campus Pastors” actually do!

In August, 2012, Leadership Network released a report stating that over 5,000 churches are now multi-site churches (churches that meet in more than one location for worship) It’s a growing trend that first began with mega-churches, but has now expanded to churches of all sizes. With this new trend a new staff role has emerged, that of “Campus Pastor.” While a lot churches are still trying to figure out this new role, here are 6 things that great Campus Pastors do:

1. Reproduce Culture

In a multi-site setting you’re not building culture as so much as you are reproducing it. Somewhere along the line there was a decision made that the church had a culture worth replicating. That’s a big reason you’re multi-siting in the first place. Great Campus Pastors know how to reproduce culture in the context of the community of the new campus location.

2. Build Organizational Alignment

A Campus Pastor doesn’t have to come up with the mission, vision, values, spiritual maturity pathway, leadership distinctive, campus constants, and doctrinal statement. Again, those things already exist. But they do need to know how to build alignment around them and through them.

3. Big “I” Implementer

A great Campus Pastor makes things happen. They know how to see ideas through from concept to completion. They know how to set the staff up to succeed in the implementation of the goals, calendars and budgets of all ministries on their Campus in a manner that moves the campus towards the vision.

4. Cooperation

Great Campus Pastors know how to work with others. They know how to work with “Central Services” such as a centralized Business or Creative Arts Department to get the right things done.

5. Build a Leadership Culture

They know how to recruit, train, coach and mentor a Staff Team. They provide leadership and oversight to the Campus Staff and in so doing create a healthy staff team environment and leadership culture.

6. Shepherd the Congregation

At the end of the day great Campus Pastors love the local church. They have a shepherding gift and care about people becoming what God has dreamed up for them to look like. They know how to problem solve and shepherd through congregational matters.

Summer Camp is over.

This Summer has been awesome being able to travel and speak at a few youth camps. I LOVE Student Ministry! The 11 years I spent working as a full time Student pastor were some of the best years of my life. I was reflecting this morning over the time spent at youth camps this summer and I came across this blog on Eric Geiger’s blog

That I wanted to share with you!

1) Many students want the truth

They don’t need talks completely designed around funny illustrations. They don’t need sermonettes that presume they can only handle truth in small doses. They can understand the Bible and the deep truths discovered in God’s Word. They respond well when someone respects them and their minds enough not to pamper them and talk to them like children. Several of the student pastors I interacted with that week shared their belief that “many student ministries and churches underestimate students.” I sat in on a church group time after one of the worship services, and the students were discussing and applying the Word in their context.

2) Students are searching for an identity

The students in my first youth ministry are in or approaching their thirties now, but though time is passing, I see a lot of the same struggles/searching in students. There are still kids trying to impress others, still hurting students who cut themselves, still students who seek an identity in a relationship, and others in an accomplishment like what they can do on a field or court. Some are rejoicing in Christ and enjoying the identity found in Him.

In the 1960s, a social psychologist named Erik Erikson developed a theory of human development. While not a theologian, he did study one aspect of God’s general revelation: humanity, God’s crowning work of creation. In Erikson’s model, teenagers reach a point of developmental crisis called “role confusion versus identity.” Teenagers are searching for an identity, a reputation. They experiment with their dress, music, friends, and hobbies to help form the version of who they are, the person they want to be.

Jesus provides students with the greatest identity one can ever find. They are His, loved by God, forgiven and free. Erikson believed that if teenagers did not leave adolescence with a deep sense of their identity, they would struggle throughout adulthood with issues related to their identity. Erikson’s theory confirms the conviction that a student’s identity must be grounded in Christ. Belonging to God, because of the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus, is the only identity that is secure. All the other identities discovered in middle school (athlete, honor student, boyfriend, in-crowd, etc.) will quickly fade. No identity other than the identity found in Christ will last.

3) Students are deeply relational

The wrestling with identity, for students, is a relational wrestling. Student ministry author Richard Dunn stated that for students “the question of ‘Who am I?’ is most often answered ‘Whose am I?’” meaning students will search out their identities in relationship, seeking to understand where they belong. Because students are so relational, effective student ministry is relational. Thus, the Christ-centered college students, moms and dads, young couples, and older adults who invest relationally in students, who are there for teenagers, who lead student small groups, who open their homes for hang-out times—all to point them to Jesus—these people are absolute heroes. It takes a team, a community of leaders, to lead effective youth ministry…not a sole youth pastor feverishly attempting to reach every student.

God bless

In the last week alone I’ve had two churches ask me if I knew any good prospects for a youth pastor position. I’ve had another five ask me in the last month or two. Each of these conversations always led to the question: “what would you look for in a youth pastor?”

That’s a great question, and you’ll find a variety of scales and measures people use in their quest for someone to lead young people. Some are generic guidelines for ministry. For example, Bill Hybels “4 C’s” (Character, Competence, Chemistry, Culture) prove effective for many people, with an emphasis on ‘character,’ a quality that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

But I find that the search for a youth minister has several qualities unique to the position, something I might not search for in every ministry position. So my list, in total, is unique to a youth pastor.

Let me start with a “given.” This won’t even count as part of my seven; it’s the foundation, which the other seven rest.

GIVEN: The person demonstrates a strong walk with God through a growing personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1. Tell us about your relationship with Christ and how it’s grown recently?

2. What are some areas you need to work on in your relationship with Christ? What are you doing daily/weekly to work on these areas?

Again, if the person can’t answer these questions… the interview is over.

Should always look for Humility/Teachability

Watch out for the youth pastor that always says, “I got this,” or “I got that covered.” That’s a red flag, a siren wailing that this person doesn’t want any help and thinks that he can do it by himself.

You want a youth pastor who is teachable. This as the delicate balance of self-confidence and humility (a tough balance). This person is a learner and isn’t intimidated by having to be teachable. The result is a youth pastor who is confident in their abilities, but completely aware where he got those abilities, giving God credit. “humility combined with conviction.”

This person will be a sponge, trying to learn from every situation. They want to be mentored and learn at every opportunity. They are self-assured, but welcome and truly consider suggestions.

The humble person also strives to understand his or her own strengths and weaknesses. As they grow, they’ll learn to focus on their gifts and allow others to step in where needed. Self-awareness goes hand in hand with humility. I’ve heard Doug Fields say, “You never lose with humility.” Yep, but pride kills.

Watch out for these red flags evident in the life of the “unteachable” youth pastor:
•Has trouble delegating and empowering. Wants to do everything himself.
•Is quick to dismiss certain methodologies that are contrary to what he has done.
•He won’t let a lot of others speak or be up front. Always in the center of any programs or videos.
•Doesn’t always recruit a lot of volunteers because he wants more control.
•When a supervisor asks him about certain methodologies, he’s quick to claim, “I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work.”
•Sometimes this person doesn’t use any resources from others, but insists on writing and creating their own. (Writing your own curriculum is not a bad thing. But some leaders are compulsive about this and don’t want to use anything else but their own. This person often wastes valuable time re-inventing the wheel.)

 

10009861_554862625484_327746066312094282_n

Found this on Pastor Perry Nobles blog today:
#1 – Do not say “NO” for that someone that keeps popping into your head. You never know what is going on in their life and right now may be the BEST time to ask them.

#2 – Offer to buy them a meal either before or after the service. Who doesn’t love a good meal?

#3 – If they are single, tell them they might meet someone cute! (It has absolutely happened in the past).

#4 – Seriously spend time in prayer asking God who you need to specifically reach out to and invite to an Easter service.

#5 – Don’t feel like you have to be a theological expert and know all of the answers to all of the hypothetical questions you have imagined them asking you. You don’t have to know it all! You just have to know that Jesus saves and that’s what we’re going to talk about at church this weekend.

#6 – Don’t tell yourself you will just pray for them without pursuing them. YES…we should pray for people far from God, but we should also be willing to pursue them like Jesus pursued us.

#7 – Read John 1:43-51 and see that “Found People Find People” really is true.

#8 – Give yourself permission to be excited about church! If people can get excited about the Instagram picture of their microwave dinner then WE can get excited about people crossing over from death to life.

#9 – Understand that everyone really does spend eternity somewhere.

#10 – Realize that fear doesn’t come from the Lord (II Timothy 1:7)! If HE has placed someone on your heart to invite then He has gone before you and prepared them for the invite as well.

SEE YOU SUNDAY!

So You Want To Be A Pastor?

20140128_so-you-want-to-be-a-pastor_banner_img

 

This is a great blog post that I read today at Marshill.com

So you want to be a pastor, huh? Congratulations! According to 1 Timothy 3:1, you desire a “noble task.” But maybe you also know that this is something that won’t happen for a while. You need time to grow into the role. So what can you do today to prepare for tomorrow?

Tell someone who can help

The first step towards becoming a pastor someday is to let someone know today who is already a pastor. Scripture makes it clear (2 Tim. 2:2) that pastors are responsible for developing other pastors. And one of the best things I get to do as a pastor is helping other men move toward serving the church in the same way. Your request for help and guidance won’t be an imposition. It will be a blessing to the man who is responsible for developing you.

Start serving

One of the greatest myths among young men aspiring to be pastors is that there is a second conversion in which you transform instantaneously from being a guy to a pastor guy. The truth is that Jesus makes men into pastors over time. So there are ways in which you can avail yourself to his plan today. Pastor is an office as well as a function. So you can pastor others, within biblical parameters, without holding the office today. Teach a kid’s class. Lead a small group. Offer your volunteer services to assist your pastor so that he can better focus on the things only he must do.

Start studying

The best tool on the belt of pastoral ministry is the Bible. It’s what the rifle is to the infantryman. So master Scripture. Read it, study it, listen to it being preached, memorize it and meditate on it. Make it your goal to gospel the people you serve rather than sharing from your personal experiences or insights. Let the Bible speak through you to others and their lives will be impacted.

Start evangelizing

I believe this is the most unrealized aspect of pastoral ministry today. There are many, many pastors. But evangelistic pastors are few and far between. Maybe this is why the Apostle Paul exhorts young Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” While you aren’t yet qualified to preach, you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus. Go for it!

Keep repenting

Pastors don’t become pastors through their own blood, sweat, and tears. They become pastors through the blood, sweat, and tears of Jesus. And the best way to experience Jesus’ transforming work is through the repetitive act of repentance. Turn from your sin openly and definitively. Trust in him completely. And do this over and over again. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then be useful in his hands by serving his people.