Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clarification of Thoughts


A few weeks ago on my blog I made a post talking about the lack of understanding and preaching in the church on communion. I then made a comment about communion meditations and in parenthesis I said … (and lets be honest, most communion meditations are not that good, sorry to all the guys giving them, but for the 16-17 years I have been in “Big Church”, hearing roughly 832 meditations, I have learned very little about communion … Sorry, off my soapbox now … by the way, I feel they do help set the mood, but many of them just do not teach us anything). I want to clarify what I meant by that.

Where I get frustrated with a communion meditation is when I am left scratching my head asking how that tied into communion. Friends, I am sorry to say this happens often. This is where my frustrations lie. When someone speaks and it really ties into what we are doing, when someone shares a thought and it helps lead me in my time with God, when someone speaks and it reminds me of the grace that was poured out at the cross, the meditation has been successful. I am not concerned with how well delivered a meditation is. I am not concerned with whether or not it is structured properly. I am not concerned with the details of the meditation. What I am concerned with is the content, and does the content point us toward the cross? If so, then you have been successful.

So if you are one of the men out there giving communion meditations, please remember that it is a time to point to the cross and the wonderful grace that has been poured out upon us because of it.

P.S. For the most part, the men of West Side do a great job at pointing to the cross and reminding us of what we are there for. Thank you for the many who have worked on this over the past couple of years. 

Lesson’s From a Church Builder

Here at West Side we are currently going through the process of rebuilding the foundation of our congregation. In that process we are trying to secure the foundation by deciding who our target audience is as well as what our mission statement is. We are calling that process our BluePrint.

Blue Print Logo 2

I think this aspect is essential to growing and building the church. I have talked on here that I think there needs to be a paradigm shift in the minds of the people. But what are they shifting to. Are they shifting to being more outward focused? I hope so. Are they shifting to change their style of worship? Only if it needs to be shifted? Whatever the shift that takes place is, there needs to be a common goal that we are all shifting towards.

Right now I have in my head what needs to happen. But that doesn’t mean that is the right direction. What is in my head may not be what is best for this church. That is the beauty of this BluePrint process. It is all of the men on the church board coming together to draw up our BluePrint that we will help to shift the minds of the people towards. Whatever the paradigm shift that needs to take place here, it will be shifting towards the one common goal and mission that will come from the BluePrint meetings.

Please keep these men in your prayers as we push forward and seek God’s leadership and direction for his church here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday @ West Side

Yesterday we finished our up our sermon series “How Can I Make My Membership Matter.” This sermon series has been terrific. I think too many times we undervalue the power of the pulpit. There is great power in the preached word. This sermon series as well as our one of gifts has truly been instrumental in the heart changes we are feeling at West Side.

Membership Matters Logo 3

Yesterday’s sermon focused around the history of the Restoration Movement, and we talked about how the thoughts and ideas of the Restoration Movement are still alive and well today. As I was preaching the message I saw a look on many faces that for some of them this is the first they have heard any teaching on this. Teaching has been done, but typically only in a class setting. It is interesting to see how people respond when they hear a message on a topic that isn’t typically covered in the pulpit. Yesterday was one of those days.

Last night West Side lead services at Mason Christian Village. We had a wonderful time leading worship with the residents. I want to thank Diane McRoberts and Tim Hill for helping to lead worship. I would also like to thank Pete Wall and Greg Fischer for bringing us special music. I think this is a wonderful ministry opportunity that West Side is presented and would love to continue seeing more and more people get involved in the future.

Friends, I want to thank you for making yesterday a great day at West Side. The worship was wonderful. It was also great to see Tony Philippo with us in service, his healing is proof that God hears and listens to our prayers. Let me encourage you to take the next couple of Sunday’s to reach out and invite your friends to our services, you know Easter is less than TWO weeks away!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lessons for a Church Builder

Yesterday at my weekly breakfast with a group of guys from the church we were discussing the future and the direction of the church. I made the comment that I felt like we were starting to see a paradigm shift in the minds of the people. I was then fielded the question something along the lines of … “what type of shift do you think needs to take place?”

In my opinion many churches who have become static or have even dropped off from their former “glory days,” have two things going against them …. 1) for some some reason they have become inward focused, and 2) they have lost their creative edge. I think these things are important to building a church.


I have said many times that I am not about numbers. I don’t care if we are a mega church, a medium sized church, or even a small church. Numbers don’t drive me. What drives me is reaching as many people for Christ that we can. That is what we as a church have been called to do. We have been commissioned by Christ to … “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Did you get that, we are to make disciples, how? by going, baptizing and teaching.

Many churches who have fallen off have some how forgot this message. Sure if you were to ask them what the church should be doing they would respond with many things, but one would be to evangelize. While they understand this, they no longer operate in a way that is going to foster evangelism. This is the first paradigm shift that has to happen in the minds of the people. The church has to stop being inward focused and start being outward focused. Without doing this, you cannot begin to reach people with a life changing encounter with Jesus.

The second paradigm shift supports the first. When churches who have existed for a while start failing one thing that goes is creativity. The church gets caught in a rut, doing the same old things week after week, month after month, and year after year. This is where the sacred cows, the traditions of the church begin to take hold. When they have lost their creativity they begin playing church, and that tends to lose that spirit of evangelism.

So to change these things you have to start rebuilding creativity. You have to start preaching evangelism. You have to start preaching about being outward focused. Before change can take place you have to shift and change the minds and hearts of the people. Once this begins to happen amazing things can begin to occur. This is the process we are now going through at West Side. And you know what … it is beginning to happen. We are beginning to see a change in heart and mind. We are beginning to see the creativity return to many people … and to be honest …. IT IS EXCITING!!!!

The above image was used from the blog Affiliate Marketing Lifestyle and used in the post My 9 Steps to Diet Freedom. Use of image does not support any website content.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Concerns in Christianity

This past Sunday I preached a sermon on Communion. Preaching on things like communion, baptism, grace, eldership, and other “doctrinal” positions can be rather technical. While I recognize the need for technical sermons, I strongly dislike to preach them. I like to creatively weave the technical through a story I am trying to communicate. So when I have a sermon to preach dealing with a technical subject I turn to podcast to see how other preachers have approached the discussion.

As I turned to my podcasts, I pulled up two churches that I love to listen to their ministers preach.  Both churches are doing amazing things in their communities for Christ. Both have astronomical numbers for their weekend worship services. But as I looked through these two mega churches I did not find a single sermon on the topic of communion in the past two years. Now to their credit they may have preached the sermons, and I could have missed them due to their title for the sermon.

But for the sake of this concern let’s say they didn’t. If they didn’t preach on communion in the past two years, and the only thing the people in their churches were hearing about communion was from the meditation before hand (and lets be honest, most communion meditations are not that good, sorry to all the guys giving them, but for the 16-17 years I have been in “Big Church”, hearing roughly 832 meditations, I have learned very little about communion … Sorry, off my soapbox now … by the way, I feel they do help set the mood, but many of them just do not teach us anything), how many people attending their services are in the dark about what this meal is. Both of these churches are Restoration Movement Churches towing the party line of Christian Church/Church of Christ. Both of these churches are churches who practice communion on a weekly basis. Both would say it is an central part of their weekly services. But to go two years+ without preaching on this, that is amazing.

Communion has such a wonderful and spiritual blessing for the Christian. A good sermon at least once every couple of years would be great to teach and instruct. But I guess my real concern is not over the sermon topic of communion more as it is to doctrine in and of itself. I think in many ways we have gotten caught up in trying to preach sermon’s that help us live better lives and lead people to a closer walk with Christ. I am guilty of this myself, and will make no apologize for doing so. I think preaching life relevant sermons is needed in our society. But I think at least once in a two year span we need to get back to the basics. We need to discuss what are some of the core teachings of Scripture that unite us as a local body of believers.

Its kind of funny, the one church on my podcast list that had a sermon on communion was a church that is relatively new. They began in 2007 and is doing a great job reaching people far from God in the suburbs of Cleveland. They saw that teaching on this, as well as other doctrinal issues was highly needed. Thank you Dan Smith and Momentum for tackling this issue.


The above image was used from the website, no copyright infringement is intended.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday @ West Side


Membership Matters Logo 3

I thought we had another good Sunday yesterday morning. Our numbers were up, our offering was up (Not something I would typically highlight, but we have been behind so far this year, and that little extra gift was a blessing from God !!!!), and the atmosphere just seems a little different … different in a good way. I think the preaching schedule this year has been very good for the congregation.

Yesterday we mixed something's up in our worship service. Because I preached a sermon on communion we moved the communion service to after the sermon. This caused a little hiccup in the transition from worship to offering, but all in it all it seemed to move smoothly. I think it is good to move our services around a little bit. Too many times we get caught in a rut and expect things to happen in the same way each week. Yesterday was certainly evidence of that.

Yesterday, I even got the opportunity to stir the pot a little bit. In Sunday School we discussed the role of Deacon’s in the church. This is an area that has bothered me for about five years now. Yesterday for the first time I had the opportunity to pour out my thoughts on what is wrong with the way we do leadership in the church. I have shared these thoughts before with individuals, but yesterday was my first opportunity to do so in a public setting. I also got put on the spot about the idea of divorce with and Elder/Deacon. I knew my thoughts on the subject were radical … radical to many of our churches, but not to the Bible … but I thought they were well received in the discussion.

Hopefully I created no enemies yesterday. We will wait and see. God is great!!!!