Thanks to Mark Wilson at Revitalize Your Church I came across this great article on defining greatness in the church. It is an interview with Jim Collins on “What Makes a ‘Good to Great’ Church?” You can read the whole article by clicking on the link. I liked how he qualified greatness. A common misconception is that greatness equals big numbers. Greatness does not mean big nor does bigness mean greatness. This is encouraging for a small church/small town pastor. What were his qualifications? Collins wrote:
An organization must have three things to qualify as great:
1. Superior performance relative to its mission in the world.
2. A distinctive impact on its community. So you’d say, “If this church disappeared, it would leave a serious hole in this community.”
3. Endurance. Making an impact over a long enough time, so that it’s not dependent on the personality of one leader. If a church is effective during one pastorate, it may be a church with a stellar pastor, but it is not yet a great church.
These are serious talking points or discussion starters for any church. How do we measure up to these qualifications? Over the next few days, we’ll look at some of his other comments regarding the church. There is something to think about for all of us.
Last night we began something new as part of our student ministries program. About a year ago, we found out there was a program available through Wesleyan Women called Impressions. It is designed primarily for girls in middle school. We began taking our students through this program last night, teaching basic introduction techniques. Unfortunately, I was greatly disturbed by an obnoxious overgrown teen with greasy hair, torn blue jeans, and in general a sloppy appearence, chewing bubble gum very loudly, talking on her cell phone and simultaneously text messaging her friends. The students were shocked and wondered what was the point. The point is we all make impressions on people all the time. If we are Christ’s ambassadors, we represent Christ in all we do. Therefore, we should be making good impressions on people. We are doing this once a month as part of our Mosaic ministry. I want our students to make good, lasting impressions. We started with this verse last night. But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. (Galatians 5:22-23 – NLT) When the Spirit controls our life and we have these characteristics, we will make a lasting impression on the Kingdom. By the way, the picture is our “overgrown” teen interupting the class.
How time flies! It seems hard to believe that I have been out of high school for 25 years. I graduated from Parkland High School in 1981. It’s been an amazing journey for me. For those of you who might be coming from the link on our class reunion site, welcome. Here’s a brief update about me. My wife Pam and I will be married 20 years this coming February and we have three children, ages 18, 15, and 9. I’ve included a picture of us together. I graduated from LCCC in 83 with a degree in Data Processing and then graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1996 with a degree in Church Music. I was ordained last year (’05) in The Wesleyan Church. Over the past fifteen years, we have lived in Indiana, Michigan, New York, and now Virginia. I have been a pastor for the last eight years — a staff position in MI, and solo pastor positions in NY and VA. In addition to pastoring the Preston Wesleyan Church in Martinsville, VA, I work at RadioShack. I have continued my musical pursuits throughout the years. I was just begining to play bass guitar during high school and I played trumpet in band. The trumpet has fallen to the wayside, but I am still have a great interest in music. In addition to being the pastor, I lead the worship at our church, usually with guitar, but when our other keyboardists are out, I’ll lead and sing from the piano. Congradulations on 25 years to the Parkland class of 81.
Tonight was our third week bowling. Before the beginning of the evening we were tied for fifth place with two other teams. Tonight was not a good night. The other team spotted us 172 pins. Even with that advantage, we only won 2 points and lost 5. Our season record is 10 points won and 11 points lost. Being that we played the first place team, that will take us from 4 points behind to 7 points behind. We have bowled 6,105 pins for a 678 average (an improvement of 10 pins from last week.) I had a season best 398 (133, 134, and 131). I was pleased that I bowled a consistent set. It was late in the season last year before I bowled a 400 set. My personal best is a 450 set bowled during the end of season Roll-off. My average for the year is back to 128. I’ll take that for now. It took me most of the year to get to a 128 last year. All of us bowled near or above our seasonal averages tonight. We’ll give it another go next week.
Our family has reached a milestone of sorts. Our oldest is applying to colleges and in the process needs to take the dreaded SAT. Just recently she has signed up for an e-mail “SAT Question of the Day.” These questions make my head hurt. (and that’s just the Verbal section) The math questions really make my head hurt. I was surprised at the difficulty of the questions especially considering I do have four year degree. This morning I took my usual approach to answering multiple choice questions. It was a process of elimination. We try our best to encourage her, because it is our hearts desire that she do what God wants her to do. I think that is the best prayer that any parent could pray for their child.
For the past twenty-four hours we have been host to Chaplain Blake Bowers. It was a great visit as he shared with us. Our son has been his pen pal for about two years. Pam and I often call chaplains missionaries. Here are a couple of things to think about. Do chaplains qualify as missionaries? They don’t “raise” missionary support? How are chaplains like missionaries? I believe they do. Why?
- They minister to a largely untouched segment of our society.
- They minister in a cross-cultural setting with its own unique challenges and needs that civilian clergy (like myself) cannot reach.
- There are thousands of lost souls who need the Gospel shared with them. As God asked, “Who will go?” “So send me Lord!”
- Chaplains minister in a very isolated setting from other ministers (like many missionaries do). They may be the only minister within thousands of miles of another church. What’s the difference of being in the dark jungles or in the middle of the Pacific alone sharing the Gospel?
- Chaplains need the prayers and encouragement from the church. They face a unique set of challenges and dangers. (We heard about some of these today.) Some of our missionaries have the challenge of ministering in cultures that are outright anti-Christian. Chaplains must minister in similar situations.
I challenge you this week to pray for our chaplains. They are a vital part of sharing the good news around the world. The Wesleyan Church‘s Department of Education and the Ministry has even more information regarding chaplains.
For the fifth time in the past year, our family is getting ready to host a guest who is coming to speak at our church. Chaplain Blake Bowers is coming to Preston Wesleyan this Sunday. We enjoy hosting our special guests. Chaplain Bowers recently returned from deployment in Iraq. He will be speaking to our High School class as well as during our Morning Worship service.
Chaplain Bowers follows Chaplain Ritchie, Jim Pickett (twice), the first one was a stopover bed and breakfast type visit. He came back a few months later to speak to our chuch about Global Partners and what we are doing in Mozambique. Shannon Rast came a few months later to tell us how God is working with Global Partners in Germany.
It’s been great to host these missionaries. Yes, my family considers military chaplains missionaries. In most cases they have bigger congregations than us civilian pastors. Many military personnel would never darken the doors of a church and yet they will routinely seek the help of a chaplain. Pray for those who are ministers to our military. They have a demanding spiritual job and many times it is away from home and family and in dangerous parts of the world.
We are looking forward to what Chaplain Bowers brings us this weekend.