5 Reasons I Need Coaching and You Do Too

coaching1I’ve got to just come right out and say it. It’s become a major conviction in my life over the years, and it is too important to stay quiet about any longer. So here goes, “I need coaching and you do too!” It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a career, hobby or life in general, coaching is critical no matter what stage of life or ministry we are in. If we are going to fulfill the purpose and plan God created each of us for, from time to time, we must reach out and get some coaching. Without coaching, each of us are doomed to be underachievers in this life! Here are “5 Reasons I need Coaching and You Do Too”:

1. Coaching keeps us learning.  When we stop learning, we stop growing. Period.

2. Coaching reveals our blind spots. You and I need trusted people in our life to challenge our false assumptions, foolish decisions, wrong emotions and opinions. The more influence and responsibility we have, the less likely people are to challenge these things in us. Therefore, it’s important to intentionally invite others in and give them the freedom to do so.

3. Coaching reminds us we don’t know it all. Nothing gives us a greater “reality check” like hearing from someone a little further down the road, with a little more experience, wisdom and expertise.

4. Coaching confronts our tendency to “coast”. It’s all too easy to hit some magical place where we believe we have all we need to continue on for the foreseeable future. A good shot of coaching reminds us, there is always room for improvement.

5. Coaching causes us to humble ourselves. This is probably the biggest need for and greatest reward of receiving coaching. Why? Because, God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (James 4:6b). It just doesn’t get any clearer than that. If we want God’s favor (grace) in our life, we must intentionally place ourselves in a place of humility. Opening our life up to a coach does this in a practical and tangible way.

So how about you? What area of your life are you coasting in? Where do you want to improve? Maybe it’s time to find a coach to “Coach you up”. You’ll be glad you did!

5 Signs Your Church Is Reaching The Unchurched

Familyshutterstock_14597167Recently, in a conversation in our staff meeting, we were sharing some awesome stories about what God is doing in our church. We’ve seen 97 people receive Christ in their heart for the first time, in a period of less than 18 months and are thanking God for every one. So, the staff at VALLEY Christian Church and I, came up with a list of “5 Signs Your Church Is Reaching The Unchurched” from our experiences. Check out the list below:
1. Use of “Four Letter” Language

This is kind of crazy, but I’ve learned not to get all flustered when someone’s thinks nothing of dropping words in a conversation that “church people” would never say. A couple of weeks ago, someone actually told one of the leaders in our church after the service, “What a &%$#ing great message! It really kicked my @##!” The truth is, this is refreshing on many levels. That’s not to say that we don’t expect to see people grow past this stage, but it’s great to see people truly ‘come as they are’ and be themselves when experiencing Christ for the first time ever or in a very long time.

2. Okay With Change

You hardly ever hear unchurched folks say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”. This mentality cripples many churches today. The unchurched seem to say, “Why not” a whole lot more than “Why”. It’s really amazing how passionate people are about change in order to reach others, when they were one of those “others” just a few short years or months before.

3. Shorter Services (and Sermons)

That person who came to church looking for a way to connect with God or explore who Jesus really is, wasn’t expecting they would have to give up the better part of Sunday just to find out. A three hour service is fine for Christians, but the unchurched will simply never come back again. When you think about it, it’s rare to find a feature film that is even more than two and a half hours long. We’ve seen the closer we keep our Sunday services to one hour, the more our church has reached the unchurched. A shorter service takes much more leadership, discipline, planning and focus than one that just goes on and on. It’s a challenge, but well worth it. The unchurched also don’t understand the whole “singing for 45 minutes” thing either, but that’s for another post.

4. Kids Dragging Parents to Church (Adult Children too)

So many times we’ve heard parents tell us that they really wanted to stay home, but their children started pitching a fit because they were going to miss out on our Children’s Ministry. This thrills me to no end to hear as a pastor. Also, it’s been wild to see parents of adult children (in their 20s and 30s) begin to attend our church after seeing their adult children’s lives transformed since beginning a relationship with Christ. As a result, not only are we reaching 20 & 30 somethings, but also 50 & 60 somethings who come to check out what has happened to their kids. That is just plain AWESOME, seeing generations growing in their relationship to Christ together!

5. Lots of Men

I never saw this one coming, but unlike most churches in America where the make-up of the church is almost 65/35% women to men, we’re seeing unchurched couples (and single men) coming to explore faith in Jesus Christ. The net result is our church is almost a perfect 50/50 split between women and men. There’s been lots of great books written addressing the strange ratio of women to men in most churches that are well worth the read. If you’re interested, check HERE, HERE and HERE. It’s been said, “If you reach the man, you reach the whole family” and we are definitely experiencing that reaching the unchurched in our community.

Do these 5 signs make you uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s time to rethink what churches are doing with our time and to retool to reach the unreached right outside of our door. It’s a challenge, but I really wouldn’t want it any other way!

8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Attendance Mark

churchTRADITIONALMany pastors struggle with the question, “Why is the church that I pastor not growing?” This is especially the case in churches under 200 in weekly attendance (Nearly 70% of Protestant churches in America). The answers are NOT: a lack of desire, lack of prayer, lack of love, lack of facility or lack of technology.

If you’re looking for the right answers to your question, check out the excellent and insightful post, “8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Mark” by Carey Niewhof. You’ll be glad you did!

While social media and even traditional media are still preoccupied with mega churches and multi-site churches, the reality is that most churches in North America are quite small.

The Barna group pegs the average Protestant church size in America at 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.

- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/09/8-reasons-most-churches-never-break-the-200-attendance-mark/?utm_content=buffer747a8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.yRAE0lC7.dpuf

While social media and even traditional media are still preoccupied with mega churches and multi-site churches, the reality is that most churches in North America are quite small.

The Barna group pegs the average Protestant church size in America at 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.

- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/09/8-reasons-most-churches-never-break-the-200-attendance-mark/?utm_content=buffer747a8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.yRAE0lC7.dpuf

Ready 2 TRANSFORM?

TRANSFORMEDlogoSo excited about this week’s message at VALLEY Christian Church, “7 Habits for Spiritual Health“. It’s part of our “TRANSFORMED” series. Click on the highlighted link to see the bumper and to learn more. I hope to see you this Sunday at 8:30, 10:15 or 12:00!

Here’s a brief overview from last week “Setting Personal Goals By Faith”:

Romans 12:2a (NIV)

Why are goals important to changing my life?

1. Goal Setting Is A Spiritual Responsibility – Philippians 3:12-15a (ERV)

2. Goals Are Statements Of Faith – Ephesians 3:20 (The Message), Matthew 9:29b (NIV)

3. Goals Focus My Energy – 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT)

4. Goals Keep Me Going – Job 6:11 (NLT)

5. Goals Build My Character

6. Good Goals Will Be Rewarded – Proverbs 11:27 (GNT), 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)

Will this goal honor God?

Is this goal motivated by love?

Will this goal require depending on God?

Proverbs 16:9 (The Message)

God provides three helps for change:
1. I need God’s spirit to empower me
2. I need God’s word to guide me
3. I need God’s people to support me

(If you’d like to view this entire message click HERE.)

 

This Week Has Power

Easter14John Cassetto, Pastor of Worship at Saddleback Church wrote this. I could not have said it better myself Valley Christian Church Family!

“It has been my joy to have many friends who have begun their journey of faith at an Easter weekend church service. Right now, local churches all over the world are in the process of preparing great music, Spring cleaning to make sure the house is in order to receive guests, laboring over word choices in sermons, printed materials and songs with the hopes that people everywhere would know that there is a God who loves them and has a plan and a purpose for their life.

This week holds long evenings and early mornings, budgets and nerves will be stretched to the limit, fingers and voices grow weary from rehearsing to get it just right. But we do it because it matters.

People matter.
Love matters.

This symphony of ushers, guitar players, lighting technicians, singers and Sunday School teachers playing their individual part to make one beautiful song. Together.

I’m so thankful for you, church person. The one who still believes in the power of the gathering. The one who labors over each cue. The one preparing the best lesson, snacks and crafts for kids. The one practicing that refrain repeatedly. I’m honored to be with you, by your side, and one of you.

This week has power. Let’s claim it. Together.”

Why Good Friday Is So Important

There seems to be a knee-jerk response on the part of some Christians to the idea of remembering or even acknowledging Good Friday. It usually sounds something like this:

“Why do we need to designate a day to remember the cross? We do it every week on Sunday when we gather as a church, right? We should be remembering Christ’s death as we read the Bible as individuals and families, right? After all, He’s not dead, He’s ALIVE!”

Sure.

But God gave his people celebrations, feasts, days of mourning and days of remembrance for a reason. While we may think that we’re really good at appreciating things consistently on a day-to-day basis, we really aren’t. We are creatures of habit and people of comfort who deem the day doomed if deprived of morning coffee/morning paper/morning whatever. We need holidays to break us from our routines. I never stop appreciating the cross, just as I never stop loving my wife. But on our anniversary, my wife and I take special time to remember the greatest day of our lives. We remember how much we mean to each other and mark the day as a celebration, not because we have been discounting our marriage all year, but because our marriage is worth celebrating.

In the same way, Good Friday isn’t about forgetting the cross all year until Easter weekend. It’s a declaration that the day of our atonement is a day worthy of special remembrance.

Here are some things to keep in mind as we come together this Friday.

Good Friday is Really, Really Good

The term “Good Friday” is a bit dated in that the word “good” used to have a definition more closely associated with “holy” in the English language. Now, while it seems almost irreverent to call the day our savior died “good”, it’s more like the biggest understatement of all time. Jesus went to the cross as the final and perfect sacrifice, taking our sins upon himself, so we could be could be clean and presentable before a holy God. That’s the greatest good that anyone has every done.

Good Friday is Really, Really Old

Christians have been celebrating this day since at least the fourth century. As we join together, we join with them and all other brothers and sisters in Christ throughout history and today who take time to worship and remember the reason why we have grace.

Good Friday Gets Us Ready for Easter

The Resurrection is the zenith of our faith, without it our belief is in vain. The excitement of Easter, though, is superficial without an understanding of the cross. Before Jesus conquered Death, he had to die and suffer in our place. We live out the Gospel when we worship together on Friday and Sunday.

Consider What The Scripture Tells Us

And I, when I came to you, brothers,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Interesting how the Holy Spirit doesn’t inspire Paul to squeeze in “He’s not dead, He’s alive” in his words here. Also, when explaining the reason and importance of The Lord’s Supper, Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

All Christians agree on the importance of Communion as an ordinance or sacrament of the church. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul makes it clear, The Lord’s Supper is meant to celebrate and “proclaim” Christ’s death! These are just two of the many examples throughout the New Testament that speak to the importance of focusing on Christ’s death on the cross.

So, join us Friday, April 18th at 6:00 or 7:30pm @ VALLEY Christian Church as we obey God’s Word and celebrate Christ’s crucifixion, death and sacrifice for our sins!


Singles and Sexual Atheism

Dating-Couple-800x600“In a recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18 to 59 were asked, “Would you have sex before marriage?” The response? Sixty-three percent of the single Christian respondents indicated yes. In my 30 years of youth and adult ministry experience, this is as unfiltered, direct and honest as a question and answer can be.

It is equally honest to say that nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practicesexual atheists. In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least, anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct. It is the ultimate oxymoron. A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually. It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV). There is disconnect between identity and activity.”

Shocked? Read more of Kenny Luck‘s eye-opening post  HERE

PROJECT Main Street

MainStreetUSAAs I write this post, the smell of fresh paint fills the air of my office. It’s a familiar smell in our church almost every week. “Weekly” you ask? Yes, we like to call it, “PROJECT Main Street”. The Williamson family are huge Disney fans. We love to take vacations in Orlando at the Disney Resort as often as we can. On one trip, we discovered what Disney calls, “PROJECT Main Street”. Every night, when the park closes, Main Street USA, that leads the way to Cinderella’s castle, is repainted! Yes, every night! That’s why it looks almost exactly the way it did when I first saw it as a little boy in 1976!

Disney has always set the bar high for excellence, and it seems to me churches shouldn’t have lower standards than an entertainment corporation. And yet, we all know the reality is, most churches have much lower standards. Church facilities are old, outdated, rundown and dirty. Sadly, for a lot of my life, the smell of mildew always reminded me of God, because that was what our church smelt like when I was a child!

I’m not saying we should have people in character costumes greeting guests on Sunday (although that would be cool). But what about budgeting a can of paint or two each month just to cover up all those hand prints, smudges and random marks all over the walls of your facility? At VALLEY Christian Church, we utilize volunteers for painting, so it literally costs just about $20-30 for the can of paint to make things look fresh and new. Rather, than scheduling a HUGE work day once or twice a year, we’ve discovered “a little bit goes a long way” to keeping things looking like a Barbarian horde didn’t descend upon the church last Sunday!

Recently, a new family came to our church and asked us how old is our building. When we told them almost 30 years old, they almost left because they thought we were lying to them! Then they told us, they thought is was less that 5 years old based on how everything looks. Needless to say, it seems like for them, the smell of mildew will NOT be a lasting memory of their experience of Jesus Christ in our church :)

(If you’re interested in learning more leadership lessons churches can learn from Disney, I highly recommend a book my friend, Christopher W. Perry wrote called, “The Church Mouse“. You can order it through Amazon HERE.)

 

Why You Should Know Who St. Patrick Was

patrick_shamrock_0Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

-St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Patrick of Ireland was one of the greatest Christian missionaries in history. March 17th is the date of his death, when we celebrate his life and impact on not only Ireland, but Christianity as a whole. To find out the truth about who St. Patrick was and why he is such an important figure in Christian history check HERE, HERE, or HERE