Local Church Success

EvaluatingTheLocalChurch600Local Church Success – via David Santistevan

David writes a longer article – click on his name above to see the whole article.  All worship leaders from time to time get discouraged and he address that, but also he reminds us of what it takes to be successful in the local church context and here is what he shares.

Our ministry is to people, one at a time. We are worship leaders. We worship God, love God, pursue God. We also lead – effectively lead our congregations, not the inflation of our egos or simply the pursuit of more creativity.

We lead – pulling people by the hand, guiding, directing, spotlighting a glory outside ourselves.

I know it can be discouraging. Where you live not much encouragement, fame, or praise resides. You feel like the furthest thing from a superstar.

But what you’re doing week in and week out is changing lives. You’re creating an environment for people’s unanswered questions, unrelenting pain, and distracted hearts to find purpose.

You haven’t been called to make a difference from a distance. You’ve been summoned up close and personal – to lead God’s people, His children to pursue Him.

When you feel discouraged, know that influencing stadiums isn’t the only successful ministry. Influencing one life is just as celebrated in the halls of Heaven.

You, my friend, are a superstar in God’s eyes.

Keep loving. Keep serving. Keep doing the next right thing.

A Linchpin Parable

Today I received an education.  This city boy has never really been around farm equipment much.  My idea of power tools are a lawnmower, leafblower, and weed wacker.  I’ve spent some time around a drill and saw as well.  Last year our church acquired a snowblower to help clear the sidewalks and some of the long driveways and to help us get out when we had more than a few inches.  (Our van does not like the long hill coming up to the church.)  Last year I ran into some trouble with the snowblower.  As I was snowblowing, all of a sudden I lost traction.  I had power to one wheel but not the other.  I could also see that one of the wheels was trying to com off.  I tried to put a nail in the hole that was left, but to no avail, that nail broke with the pressure of the powered snowblower.  Some one else tried another tactic, but that is where we remained until today.

Staunton is currently under a Winter Storm Warning for tomorrow.  Depending on what weather site or channel you listen to we could have 1 to 3″ or 5 to 8″.  That’s a huge variable.  Needless to say, I want to make sure the snowblower is working.  I went out to the kitchen in our pavilion (where the snowblower is stored,) took the pin out (that was still working) and tried to figure out where to find a replacement.  I had looked around Lowe’s several times but couldn’t find what I was looking for in the snowblower parts.


Here is what a linchpin looks like.

I decided to try something else – we went to Tractor Supply Company.  It was a great little field trip.  We saw some great farm toys for our grandson.  We wandered around the store, not knowing where to look to find what we were looking for.  Finally there was someone in Customer Service.  I showed them the pin and they pointed me in the general direction.  Immediately I saw what I was looking for and it turns out what I had been looking for was a linchpin.  Apparently they are very common in the farming world.  It did turn out that they were out of stock of the particular size that I needed but were very helpful in suggesting that I go to the Augusta Farm Co-op.  That made two trips in one day to stores that I had never been in, but it was a fun adventure.  When we got to the co-op, we looked around and then a gentleman asked what we were looking for.  At least now I could answer with confidence, “I’m looking for a 1/4″ linchpin.”  He took us right to the spot.  Instead of buying just one, I bought three – two for spares.  The brass linchpin I believe will do the trick.

After purchasing the linchpins, we had to go to the bank, so while Pam was in the bank, I decided to Google what a linchpin was.

  1. a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position.
  2. a person or thing vital to an enterprise or organization.

I had always heard the term linchpin, but never understood what it meant.  I knew it was important and now that I have two new linchpins installed on the church snowblower, I have a better understanding.  Several weeks ago, we sang the song God of the Ages, which is based on an early hymn of the church that we find in Colossians 1:15-20

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[b]
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Check out verse 17 – 17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

It came to me during our little adventure this morning that Jesus is the linchpin of creation, of humankind, and our lives.  This even got me to thinking a little more.  I though about the various jury-rigging, cobb jobs that we tried to fix the snowblower.  They didn’t fix it because they were not linchpins.  Only a linchpin could fix the problem and hold the wheel on the axle.

I think about how we as humans will look to everything but Jesus – we will try anything but Jesus, but it just doesn’t work.  Our lives are out of balance – just like the snowblower was when it didn’t have the linchpin in the axle.  I wasn’t able to get the job done.  The substitutes just kept on breaking.  It wasn’t until we got the real thing that the snowblower performed the way it should.

The same goes for our spiritual lives.  We try all kinds of things to “fix” our lives when really we need to look to the linchpin of Jesus.  He is the only one that can truly hold our lives together.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts


Well, our first little bout with winter is over.  There will be more to come I’m sure, but for the next two days the weather will get a little warmer with a chance for snow flurries the day before Thanksgiving.  The early part of the Thanksgiving weekend will be cool, but the last part will warm up again.  The last couple of days have been downright frigid, especially for the Shenandoah Valley in November.   This is probably my longest non-injury, non-running streak in quite some time.  Hopefully I can get back to normal tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Tomorrow we are planning on heading to Roanoke to return some stuff to the District Office and clean out some of the stuff in one of the church’s storage areas.  We will probably go out for breakfast so that I can go running in the afternoon.  I am really looking forward to this week, because I only work two days and we don’t have to take James to work any day this week.  We will still have to take Anna, but that makes it less complicated and as an added bonus, three of us have off on Thursday – Anna has to work.  The last week has left me exhausted.

We had a wonderful weekend as we celebrated the marriage of a beautiful new couple at church yesterday.  Tonight we had a good youth meeting as we took a trip to Dairy Queen and took a look at Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times…” We found out some of their favorite Thanksgiving foods as well.  This morning we had a really good service.  The worship team was a paired down version – just flute, guitar, and piano with only three vocals.  I really liked the way it sounded, we even took a couple of shots at acapella singing and I ended up finger picking at least three or four of the songs which was a change-of-pace.  It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of the church year and that we will start with Advent this next Sunday.  Pam and I are preaching this coming Sunday as we keep watch for the Lord’s return.  Waiting and watching are two of the themes for Advent.

Following worship, we had a hot dog/baked spaghetti dinner for our teens as we continue to raise funds for our trip to Hephzibah Ministries in December.

That’s about all I have tonight.  Have an awesome week!

Sunday Set List

Sunday Set List Main

November 23, 2014
Reign of Christ Sunday
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship and Invocation – 
Psalm 100
Songs of Worship
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
     God, You Reign
10,000 Reasons
Worship Through Prayer
Songs of Worship
 Great Is Thy Faithfulness
There Is A Redeemer
Worship Through Giving
Worship Through God’s Word
Song of Commitment
   Give Thanks

Prayer for the Week


Almighty and everlasting God,

Whose will it is to restore all things in your well¯beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Reign of Christ

reignofchrist1Reign of Christ Sunday

November 23

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

This Sunday finishes our annual journey through the church calendar.  This week is Reign of Christ Sunday.  While here in the US, many will celebrate it at Thanksgiving Sunday.  It was interesting as I put the worship set together.  It is a combination of themes, both of the reign of Christ (All Hail the Power of Jesus Name; God, You Reign) and Thanksgiving songs (Great Is Thy Faithfulness and 10,000 Reasons)

This is a capstone Sunday of sorts.  In some traditions, Reign of Christ Sunday reviews the church year and the incarnation, life, and reign of Christ.  Some year I would like to try a service like that.  I do think it falls quite in line with thanksgiving.  One of the verses we looked at last night in Bible study was this.  Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift.  Christ has an amazing love for his children.  So this week as you prepare for worship, remember Jesus – his incarnation, his life, his death, his resurrection and his forever reign and be thankful.

On Giving

“We don’t give because God has needs. I repeat: God doesn’t need our cash. He doesn’t come to us, hat in hand, sheepishly asking for funding for His mission. We don’t give because God needs it, but because in giving we declare His value to us and our love for Him. Jesus told us that if want to know what a person really loves, we should follow the trail of his [or her] money…Do you see your resources as yours to benefit from, or as opportunities to be generous to others? The world, of course, finds it absurd to be this open-handed with our resources (I earned it, I deserve to benefit from it!)…When was the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity?”

J.D. Greear in “Three Ways the Gospel Changes our Generosity” blogpost on 19 November 2014

HT to Jim Rathbun – Director of Generous Giving for the Wesleyan Church

Refocus and Routine


Last week I was in a group study and one of the illustrations that our leader used to illustrate a point was that of a golf coach who works with elite level golfers. This golf coach teaches them to always REFOCUS before every shot and to rely on their ROUTINE as they take a shot.

As worship leaders, I believe that there is something in this disciplined approach that can benefit us week to week as we pray, plan, prepare and play our worship sets.

An elite golfer doesn’t just go up and carelessly hit a shot. They don’t allow the surrounding crowd, as quiet as they may be, to distract them. They don’t haphazardly approach their shot and wail away like Happy Gilmore on every tee box.

Continue Reading

On Fear

“Fear is that dark stranger that comes often knocking at our door. We can be afraid of so many things: afraid of losing our health . . . afraid of losing our wealth . . . afraid of losing our loved ones. In fact, sometimes it seems we can be afraid of life itself. Certainly there are a lot of frightening things out there in the world today. Violent crime is at epidemic levels. We wonder, Will I get on a plane and have it blown up by terrorists? Will I keep my job? Will I be robbed walking down the street? Will I contract a terminal disease? Will I get well from a terminal disease? So how do we deal with our fears? How like sheep we are! Sheep are timid, fearful creatures. Because of their very makeup, it’s almost impossible for them to lie down unless they are free from all fear. An entire flock can go stampeding off into nowhere because a rabbit jumped out of a bush. Sheep are always in need of a shepherd to lead and care for them. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will protect you and stands as your representative before the throne of God. Only Christ can calm our fears and give us access into the presence of God. As the Scripture says, Jesus is the One “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12). We have boldness and authority, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. Jesus is our strength. He is the one who gives us boldness. That’s one more reason why we never want to stray from His side! Instead, we want to stay as close to Him as possible.”

Greg Laurie