Free Narnia Screening
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Pastors are encourgaed to attend a screening for free. These screenings are 10a.m. on Saturday. Follow the link to find your city and register.
Does anyone know where I can get some videos/ pictures of some high quality environments: First Impressions, Children's/Preschool, and Main Worship.
Inspiration type places: Granger, Northpoint, Fellowship, etc.
I'm trying to show what's in my mind and a picture speaks more clearly than a whiteboard and markers. Help a blogga' out.
I once heard a quote about diets (I can't remember the source)... the quote basically said "That's the inherant problem with diets. The word diet presupposes it's a period in your life where you'll make changes to your habits. What we need are less diets and more lifestyle changes."
I watched 20/20 this week and the topic was dieting. On one diet they followed three friends who work at a promotional firm in NYC. They opened the story with one of the three people saying "We're diet junkies. We've been on everything." They went on to blame the diets.
20/20 had a new diet they were trying out (the book comes out next month). They asked this firm of 3 if they'd try it out. They followed this trio for 3 weeks and sure enough by the end of the first week they were in a huddle whining about "It's too hard." "I can't plan out the meals." "I may stick with it but not like a die-hard person would."
Do you see what I see? It's no wonder they are self-proclaimed "diet junkies"
People give up so quickly on discipline. So many people live their life thinking there will one day be some 'breakthrough'. The reality is that we're made up not of one major decision but rather a series of many small decisions. If someone wants to have life-long change they have to build on a series of wise decisions.
In ministry we're in the same boat. We have to lead people to understand that their life is built on making wise decisions. The reality is that if a person makes wise decisions as a part of their life, they will be wise. Many however treat their faith like a diet. Jesus is no Jenny Craig!
Pastor... you too should keep this in mind. You may not be able to make one or two MAJOR changes to become (place the name of a highly successful church with it's own conference here) but you can make solid daily decisions day after day to become the type of church God uses to reach the community for Christ. T.D. Jakes said in a message recently... when someone wants to set you up for a blind date, that's not the time try weightloss..... TOO LATE!
Work hard to change your personal (and church) lifestlye by making wise decisions each day.
I can't believe he got fired. Something terrible must have happened.
Nothing More, Nothing Less
Admit your mistakes, nothing more and nothing less.
Admitting your mistakes can sometimes be a tough task. Many of us want to frame our outward appearance. In youth ministry I recall so many times when a wayward kid would tell me "Tally, I just don't want you to think of me as _______."
What were they doing? They were trying to frame themselves in my mind.
Adults do it all of the time. We try to cover up our flaws like Mary Kay make-up. We (in our flesh) try to hide our mistakes and highlight our accomplishments. We've grown up thinking that flaws were terrible and perfection is the goal. I've met many PK's or ministry kids who grow up to be Pastors thinking that you can't succeed as a leader if you admit where you are flawed. What a joke! Everyone knows that you're broken. Everyone knows that you have problems.
I remember as a 7th grader getting into a fight. The kid said something stupid about me in class and my friends reminded me about it the whole day. I saw him in the hallway toward the end of the day and popped him upside the head. We wrestled around a bit before someone yelled "The Principal is coming!" We both got up and blended into the crowd.
During my next class I asked to go to the restroom and walked up to the principals office. I asked to see the Principal. I walked in and said "Mr. Gibson. It was me. I was in that fight. I started it. It was my fault." He looked at me so confused. He said something to the effect of "Well, Tally I'm surprised you came to tell me but I'm glad you did." He then called for the other student and we squashed our problem and got our due punishment.
What did I learn?
I learned that as later Dr. Falwell taught us at LU "Your problems are never as bad as you think they are and your achievements are never as great as you think they are." I also learned that I can take the punishment. I learned that I can move on after taking my licks. I learned not to fear failure or authority (in the respectful sense).
These were great lessons. Now as a leader I know I put them into action regularly. When I'm wrong I try to understand where I went wrong but the moment I do, I apologize and own up to it. As a Pastor people will come to you somewhat regularly and say you did something wrong or you offended. Most of the time they're full of garbage and need to quit whining but there will be times when you really did fumble the ball and need to own up to it.
Many times those who have a complaint just want to be validated. Don't validate lies (confront them) but you shouldn't try to hide valid claims. When valid mistakes are raised... Acknowledge your mistake... Nothing more, nothing less. Followers learn more by seeing how you respond to a failure than seeing you at your best.
I recall a meeting I had with someone a little over a year ago. It was over a decision in our church. We came to a disagreement. After talking about both options back and forth I remember sitting up in the chair and saying "This is a 20-year decision for the church. I plan to be here in 20 years, do you?"
The person looked back and said "Honestly, no. We expect to move to Florida in about 4-5 years." I said "Who then should make this call?" This person said "You."
Why is it so hard for some leaders to just speak truth?
Pastor. If you're the one that is going to be at the healm when a bad decision hits the fan, make sure it was your bad decision.
I've been in situations before where people were ticked off at decisions I've made without their knowledge.
First I have to point out that I don't have to get approval to make decisions, that's why I'm paid the big bucks (sarcasm). But honestly, as Pastors we have to remind the congregation that there are just some decisions that don't have to involve everyone.
Here's where it gets fun.
Some times you have knowledge that others don't need to know.
Ever had to make a decision with knowledge you gained in confidence? Those are the worst. You can't satisfy everyone in that case. You remove someone from leadership or someone quits coming to the church and you know the reason hinges on something that is private information... A nice person in your congregation wants to know 'What happened' and you can't get into it.
I'm not sure how you handle it. I just look at the people and say "I have to make some decisions on confidential information. I need you to trust me on this one."
This is why your moral authority is HUGE. You have to keep your integrity intact. Value your integrity and moral authority. At times these will be all you have. You can't explain away every decision. Many times you will have to lead without giving away information.
I'm a vision-caster, teacher, strategist, planner... I'm not a detail person.
I'm an entrepreneur, not a manager.
Ben once told me that some personality types make lists and use them, my type makes lists and loses them.
I think abstractly and logically but more on the logical side.
I show emotion but sometimes when I'm thinking it seems as if I'm down.
I think aloud at times so when I toss back an idea, sometimes I'm just digging for the gold.
I always have a reason so people have to approach me having thought things through in order to get my attention.
I lead by example and from a distance, not with a lot of words or oversight.
I could go on about me but that's not the point of this post.
The point is that I know myself pretty well. I also know where I am weak. One big mistake that can be made when you're starting a church (or leading in most any field) is to try and cover your weak-side alone.
We hear this principle in various ways through various speakers in various books or conferences but the message should stick out to us like a neon sign: "Staff to your weaknesses stupid!" (That's how my sign would read for me, you may have a more calm and polite way to speak to yourself.)
In our recent shuffle that's taking place I've been more open and honest with my lay-leaders about my weak side. I've been inviting a gentleman in our church along to meetings and talk with him about decisions. He's proven his loyalty and respects my leadership so the area of trust is there... Now I'm tapping into one of his strengths... systems thinking.
Calvin is an organizer. He's a systems person. I tell him "This is what it needs to look like... Here are the things I hate about other systems and why... Here are things I would like to see out of our way of doing it... go make it happen." From there I move on and look for other areas that need improvement and put in some time thinking through them. You see, I'm good at evaluating what does and doesn't work. I'm good at creating ways to do more with less. I'm good at reading people. I'm good at motivating people. But I'm not good at long-term managing of systems that are already in place or coming up with checks and balances. I can do that stuff (and have) but it isn't fun for me. Systems are fun for Calvin. He likes taking concepts and creating structure... it fires him up. He's like the guy from the A-team "I love it when a plan comes together."
I've seen now in flesh and blood what it's like to have someone who can cover your weakness. I implore you to figure out where you are weak and get other people that are loyal to you and your vision around you. If they're the right person they will consider it an honor that you invited them in and they will bust their tail to make sure it's done right. Many of us are afraid to admit where we are weak. Just get over it and say aloud what everyone says behind your back :)
If you can't pay for it... Lay-Staff to your weaknesses!
Happy Thanksgiving from the Wilgis Family.
Check out MMI blog for a hilarious picture!
Yes I did my fatherly duty...
What would you have done in this situation?
The Mo' is coming...
Today has been another day of positive momentum as we move forward as a church. I revealed much of the 3 month plan to our leadership team tonight and we seemed to be on the same page. Everyone is pumped and ready to tackle the challenges we have ahead of us.
We're basically going to spend the next few months raising some capital (cash, paper, dinero, etc.) and retraining our church effectively as if we were a core starting the church. None of the people we have today were with us 18 months ago when the church launched (and many weren't with us a year ago).
Some Pastors get to a planting location and spend a year building a core. I'm effectively treating our first 18 months as the building of a core. Now I'm turning my efforts toward encouraging and equipping them to (re)launch this church the way it should have been done at the beginning (if I were more wise and had more resources).
It's going to be a great few months. We're going to continue holding services but we're effectively demanding that everyone rise up with us. The bar is set higher and to be honest just about everyone is responding better than I could have asked.
I had one couple the other day tell me "Tally, I bet you lost some finances when those families left." I said "Yep" What they said next made my day. They said "We were just talking about how refreshing it is to see you as a Pastor lead without being controlled by people with money."
I can't tell you how awesome it was to hear those words. God is doing some amazing things in the lives of our people. I thank you for your prayers and continue to ask you to pray for us as we move forward with this transition.
God is cool
First let me thank those of you who have tossed up one on my behalf... it showed.
This morning was a morning where God slapped me up side the head and said "I'm God... I have big plans... remember?"
After last week's "excommunication message" as someone jokingly called it, I figured we'd have a thinned out crowd. I moved our soundboard up about 1/4 closer to the stage trying to set up the audience closer to the stage figuring the numbers may be down. It was an unnecessary and ultimately faith-less move on my part.
I knew I had done the right thing last Sunday. This week I've been at peace and very confident that we're headed in the right direction regardless of attendance. As our service got started this morning I was blown away. Remember last week we said goodbye to 3 families and about 1/3 or more of our budget (yes they were big givers).
Today God brought 4 new families to our service and another young couple came back after being gone for like 4 months. Our attendance was up, worship was great and the message seemed to be right on point for many people. It's amazing what happens when we're obedient.
I was honest with our people as I started into the message and I just praised God and told our guests "You were sent here today. If for nothing else to be a blessing to me.... I hope much more out of your time today, I pray that God will use me to return the favor." It seems like everyone had a good time and one of the families said they'd definitely be back... that's good stuff.
The custodian we had today (they rotate) actually gave in the offering (someone later told me, I didn't observe) and he came up to me and said "Pastor, I just want you to know that you make the bible so real. I don't go to church partly because most Pastors seem to just read a little bit of text and then go off on a tangent and I can't tell how everything relates but you made it simple to get. I really learned about forgiveness today."
It's not about me but it was a huge encouragement. Just part of the bigger painting God allowed me to see.
Moral of the story: Be Obedient.
I had known for a few months that this process needed to happen. I didn't want to do it. In the flesh I wanted to hope things would somehow turn around. They wouldn't. We would have kept drifting. God's not interested in a church 'getting by and keeping the peace'. God is interested in seeing people come to Him. His sovereignty WILL be revealed... I just want to be a part of it!
Falwell Cleans House!
Dr. Falwell fired the head football coach at Liberty and also fired two administrators in the program while the Atheletic Director resigned in a very decisive clean sweep of the football program. This comes after many loosing seasons and a 7.4 million dollar shortfall by the atheletic department in 2004.
Falwell said he already has talked to three head coaching candidates and plans to have the positions filled within two weeks.
"I'm 72," he told The News & Advance of Lynchburg. "I don't have much time to get the football program in the Top 20."ESPN Article Here
Local Paper "News & Advance" article
I'm thinking Legacy
Have you thought much about Legacy?
I have a tendency to think about terms like Legacy, Generation, Eternity and the like. Lately I've been thinking about the 41-59 year old crowd. They need now more than ever a challenge to live for something great. Live for the One who is great and leave a Legacy.
I'm sure I'll talk more about this later.
Reflecting on the last 19 months in planting this church I've thought about things we could be doing. I went back to my bookshelf and picked up Dr. Falwell's autobiography. For whatever a person thinks about his political involvement or his quick-witted comments on T.V., I can't imagine a person in ministry who would not respect all he did in his early years for the sake of reaching people for Christ. This week it's been a huge reminder and challenge to me.
Dr. Falwell at the ripe old age of 22 started Thomas Road. He says that he put a map up on the wall one day and drew three concentric circles representing Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and left the rest of the map to be "the uttermost parts of the earth".
He started with Jerusalem and walked every day door to door meeting his neighbors and saying "If you don't have a Pastor, I'd like to be yours. "if you ever need any spiritual help or otherwise, let me give you my phone number. I'd be glad to have you call me." He did this day in and day out. Some pushed away but most were at least receptive. From what I recall his church ran 800 by the end of the first year.
As I sit and think about our modern church as a whole (and Focal Point as well) I wonder how much more would be done if every Pastor had that kind of tenacity.
I'm still chewing on this thought and what it means for myself...
Double Chin and Genuine Fellowship
In all seriousness I truly enjoyed the last few days with these men. Between yesterday and today we prayed together several times, opened ourselves up to trials, shared victories together and affirmed one another. We experienced genuine Christian fellowship... not the 'potluck dinner' type of fellowship... but real fellowship.
Anyway, it was a genuine pleasure hanging out with these guys.
Eric, Ben and Larry.... Thank You.
Tadd had some kind words to say about our conversation.
He's a great guy from a good family. It's easy to be kind to him. Put him in your blog roll and remember his name.
What a Day!
I'm in Richmond, VA at our denom's annual state convention meeting. It's been pretty good thus far. I'm not just saying that. They do a mix of meeting stuff, reports, videos, awards, and preaching. This year the preaching has been pretty good. The theme is "Renewing your Passion". It's been a very encouraging time for me thus far. I'm sure tomorrow will bring more...
One of the things I value about these types of gatherings is what happens aside from the main hall. Today has been no exception. I've been able to spend some time with other planters in our state and share experiences, prayer and burdens. There is a sort of fraternity among church planters (and Pastors for that matter) that people outside of it cannot know. The cool thing about the guys I've been around is that no one is a star... everyone just wants to listen and learn and grow from each other.
God is moving among us as well. I can't get into details in this venue but I've seen God's hand at work this evening... I've heard his voice in the prayers of his people and I've seen his sovereignty in the positioning of his people to make things happen for one of his children and fellow pastor. God is always at work and we give him credit far too few times but it's so incredible to watch his plan unfold before your eyes in the matter of an hour.
Pastors... share your burdens with one another.
I used to hate convention meetings because a typical conversation was "Hi, I'm George, I graduated from _____ and I have _____ people at my church and ______ in Sunday School... How about you?
The last few years have put me in contact with men who are Kingdom minded and authentic. I truly appreciate the value-added these people have brought to my life. I only continue to hope I offer something of value back through our interactions.
With that said, thanks Ben, Rob, Clark, Calvin and Eric. Today has been good and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
We had a rough week last week. We had to lovingly part ways with a few families in our church. Some tough conversations and stressful days but after today's message, we're moving forward.
Today's message was basically "God can move us through hard times (Acts 8) or gentle whispers (Acts 16:6-10) of the Holy Spirit. God is looking for men and women who hear his voice and follow. Like Caleb in Numbers 13 we must rise up and say 'surely we will do it.' "
I re-stated our passion to reach people who don't know Christ and challenged our people to pursuing God's glory through our lives with wreckless abandon. We are not a church for the cafeteria Christian.
Ultimately my challenge was (nearly word for word) this: "Do not come back next week if you are satisfied with a mediocre church. I mean it. Only come back if you are ready to pursue God's calling on your life and the life of this church with nothing else standing in our way. We will love like we never loved, give like we've never given and serve like we've never served. If you want anything less than that in your church, please find a new church home."
Afterward I had several people say that this was the most powerful message they had ever heard and they gave me their support. It looks like that aside from the people who left last week we won't immediately lose any others. I'll share more as we move forward. This is where it gets fun.
What kinda title is that?
It's called S-Q-3-R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review)
This is a form of reading for retention that I learned in college. It's simply a tool used to help study material and retain information.
A link to the method as described by the Hokies of Virginia Tech is found here.
Basically the concept is to step through a process which will help you form memory.
I've been looking at a similar process within our church. We've been flat lately and it's time to shock the system. Along with our leadership team I've started the process...
Survey- Look at things in an overview format. In the case of a book, it's just skimming the text to get familiar. In the case of our church, I've spent the last few weeks taking a look at different areas of the ministry and how we function each weekend. Just getting familiar with aspects I personally do not normally inspect.
Question- Generate questions about what you just surveyed. With a book you may ask yourself some basic questions you want answered in each chapter. The reason is that it will give your mind something to consider instead of just glancing over the words. In the case of the church you will question "WHY" do we do that?" "WHAT" is a better way ?" "How can we improve on this?"
3-R (Read, Recite, Review)
Read- Get into the text. This is usually where we start. In ministry this would be where we also usually start. We jump in and start doing 'stuff'.
Recite- Say it out loud. Ask yourself the questions you had at the beginning. In ministry this is the proverbial "time out". A friend recently told me about how they used to have several forms for check-in with preschool. During a "recite" moment when he hypothetically checked in his child, he asked "Why does a guest have to fill this much out?" Can we fix this? The next week the 3 forms had been combined to 1.
Review- In reading and in ministry we need to review our systems. Most of the time our systems will begin to get loose or stale. It may be a people problem (they get lax) or it may be a system problem (it no longer fits the size, location, timing, etc.)
Regardless of what system you use... be sure to work as much ON your ministry as you do IN it. We can so easily get caught up in the week to week life of ministry that we miss out on the various things that are falling apart around us. Put yourself in position to see what your guests see. It will make a huge difference in the quality of ministry you provide for those seeking out the things of God.
Me, A ladies man?
"Not trying to add to your workload(I know your busy),but it'd be cool if you could record your messages onto CD for me and mail them my way. You know, just throw em in a CD mailer instead of putting together a big box each time. That's one thing I miss, is listening to you speak. You definitely have a gift for what you do. Good thing you jumped into pastoring, otherwise your only outlet would have been as a cliched nightclub ladies man(Hey, How you doin'?)"
This is an excerpt from an email I got today from Josh. Josh is serving our country right now in the middle of the desert somewhere in the Middle East. I'm going to do what I can to get Josh some of our messages. The problem is that I don't have anything to record with. I'll be looking at options (thanks Matt) but I'd also like to toss out another request to my wonderful readers... SEND ME YOUR MESSAGES!
Here's an opportunity for you to minister in a very real way to a friend of mine as he counts his days waiting to come back to his family. I'd love to be able to send him not only my messages each week but also yours. Many of you have been recording messages for a long time. You could take your favorite series or messages and shoot them my way. I'll send them on to Josh and he can grow closer to God. I'm sure he'll even pass them around to his buddies.
So... like Americas Funniest Videos would say "Send in those tapes" (but we need Cd's)
Also, if anyone has an extra mp3 recording device or rack-mounted cd-recorder... I'd be glad to take that off of your hands too :)
After all, God's given us talents... we can share our gifts this way or as Josh would say: our "only outlet would have been as a cliched nightclub ladies man(Hey, How you doin'?)"
If you take me up on my offer, email me at Tally@FocalPointChurch.com and I'll give you an address.
Some stuff God is teaching me right now: Verses followed by some of the stuff flying through my mind....
Imitating Christ's Humility1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to deathÂ?
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
He continues when he talks about Timothy.....
19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Before I comment personally, I also heard T.D. Jakes speak yesterday...
In many ways he is what I'm not but I like to see him from time to time.
He said "It all starts with 1 man."
Below is not word for word but rather my interpretation of his point...
- God used 1 man to start off humanity
- God used 1 man to pull out the woman
- God used that same 1 man together with that woman to create the family
- God used that family from that woman and man which are from that man to create society...
- God used 1 man to lead his family to suffer a great flood to start over with all of the world
- God used 1 man in Moses to take his people out of captivity
- God used 1 man to create a covenant that would bless the world
- God used 1 man to show so many lessons in scripture (1 man at a time)
- God used 1 man to prepare the way for the Messiah
- God used 1 God-man to save the world
In your life and mine the question is not IF God would use you, the question is IF you will step out and be that 1 man?
The difference in the man that God uses is that when adversity hits him he moves forward, not backward.
Okay... A week or so ago I saw the movie "Kingdom of Heaven". The battle scenes are similar to "Braveheart". Ministry in many aspects are like these battles. 1 man can't do it all but 1 man can rise up to inspire people to fight and do what God has already called them to do.
When I was a kid (and I'm sure you can identify with me here), I recall times when a bunch of friends would stand around and say "If you do it, I'll do it" One time I remember something like riding my BMX bike down some steps... it looked like a hospital bill waiting to happen. What was funny about those times in life was that there usually would be that 1 kid who would say "Get out of the way, I'm done waiting" and they'd just go for it. Sometimes they'd fall but many times they'd do it. Do you know what that did for the rest of us?
You've been there. Once your friend did it... you'd go too. Before you know it in a few weeks all of your friends would have a new game to play and half of the neighborhood would be treating those steps like they were nothing.
Ministry is a full-contact sport. You will face times when the steps seem too steep and your bike seems like a medical bill waiting to happen. The question is not whether those steps will be ridden, the question is "who will be the first?" Who will step out in spite of potential failure and inspire everyone else to rise?
I don't know about you but I want to be that 1 man in my home. I want to be that 1 man in my town. I want to be that 1 man in my state. I want to be that 1 man in my country... Ohh yeah... I want to be that 1 man in our church.
We're going to be experiencing some rocky times at our church. I could use your prayers. I said a few weeks ago that I was over long-time Christians. I'm not all talk. We'll be seeing some changes soon. It will get ugly but after we've ridden the stairs I believe with all of my being that I will be looking back from the bottem and seeing many who will ride those stairs and a new culture at our church will be born.
Are you in my shoes? Do you know in your heart of hearts that you've settled for medocrity? Are there people you have to face? Will you be that 1 man?
Sam Gado. Learn that name.
Today Sam Gado showed up on the radar in the NFL. He is a LU Alum in his Rookie season. He started the season on the practice squad for the Kansas City Cheifs. He was recently picked up by Green Bay who have had several injuries recently. Today the running back in front of him fumbled the ball which caused the coach to call Sam's number who previously had 1 carry for 8 yards.
Sam made the most of this opportunity and the 5'10" running back from Liberty University started to get noticed first by the announcers on the game and then later by Chris Burman fromESPN's Sports Center.
Sam's page on the Green Bay site.
This doesn't get me excited because LU is a great Football school or because Sam played like a Pro-bowler... it gets me pumed because there is God's had moving this guy into position. He didn't even start for some of his tenure at Liberty and yet God has him making waves. Liberty is an amazing school. The more guys like Sam Gado get out there the better.
I'm sure this wasn't fun
This post is rather long and deals with money so if your squeamish or bitter you may want to click somewhere else.
I wanted to share what I needed to hear about a year ago (and I probably heard it but ignored). The church must talk about how people handle money.
The only people who will really get mad and leave are the ones who didn't have an intention on honoring God anyway. When we launched the church the topic of stewardship was one of the ones that some people in our initial core (yes I said initial) brought up. "We shouldn't talk too much about money... that's a knock on churches." I took that as a mental note "Don't talk too much about cash... Got it."
The problem is that I now have come to understand that argument is... well.... bunk (to say the least).
A few weeks ago I spoke to an unchurched person about our offerings (this was someone in the business world) and explained that the offerings had been flat compared to where they should be by now. Ultimately after other conversation she looked at me and said "Well Pastor, it sounds like you should teach about tithing." Now obviously she knows something somewhere in her past about church when she says 'tithing' but more importantly was that she (who doesn't attend church presently) understands that it takes loot to make things happen.
So I fast forward to some lessons I've picked up recently:
- People will respond.
- You can talk about it in a way that people CAN receive it.
- Jesus talked about it alot.
- God doesn't want us to stop reaching people because we have people in our church who don't obey him in the first place.
There are others but I want to jump to this thought brought to me by Vince Antonuci, the Pastor of Forefront Church here in Virginia Beach.
We met a few weeks back and he said "Tally, I'm hard on this but I teach people that generosity starts at 11%" He could tell I was interested to comprehend so he continued "The bar has never been lowered under Grace. The bar before Christ was 10%. That's minimum worship in the area of finances so I teach our people that to be generous we start at 11%"
Vince went on to say that he doesn't teach people how to look at God as "if they can afford 10 or 11%" but rather "I ask them if they can live on 10% and work their way up. The moment they can live on 60, 70,80,85% of their income, I challenge them to be generous with the rest." And guess what... People respond.
Apart from tithing, Vince has people in his church who give away much more in many areas of society. Most churches have people who view cash as their little kingdom. They pile it up and stand on top of the stack. Vince is a church planter with a church made up of 20-somethings who don't have a church background. This is a message he gives to the hardest demographic (by most accounts) to reach. And his church is currently running over 700 after 5-6 years. Let's get rid of the idea that the unchurched are turned off by it. I believe the unchurched are put-off when it seems to be the center of a ministry, not when it's taught in context with everything else.
I'm not advocating that you run in and blast your church. That's wrong also. But I would say that these are thoughts to challenge me to get a backbone in the area of teaching about finances. I'm a relatively young Pastor so I'm glad I've learned this lesson now. I'd bet in the future we're going to be able to reach more people because the people at Focal Point will have a biblical view of tithes and offerings.
I know some people are anti-tithe these days. I don't care. People try to justify everything.
I just know that the bar was never lowered under grace.
- Jesus said the bar for murder was now in your mind (how you think of someone)...
- Jesus said that the bar for adultery was in your mind (how you think of someone)...
- Jesus also pointed out the woman giving 2 small coins and he said "She gave more because she gave from all she had while the rich gave out of their excess." He didn't condemn her for bringing her best. He actually pointed it out to his followers that when we cling to our 'stuff' we miss the point.
- The rich dude comes to Jesus and says "I want to follow you." Jesus said "Get rid of your stuff and then you can follow me." He didn't say "Sweet! Mr. rich guy... I'd love to have you in the ministry... This can't be done without your cash...so... Can I get you some grapes?"
No. He said "Your stuff isn't your stuff... it's mine... I'm God.... and since I'm God and since I know you love your stuff... Get rid of it and follow me."
Finally, this idea of 'build up to a tithe' is bunk.
Pastors say "If you can't do 10, do 2%... then build to 5, then 10" That's garbage.
I know, I know "Tally, if they aren't doing anything, something is better than nothing"
Really? Let's try that with other sin.
How about adultery? Would you as a Pastor tell a guy in your congregation "Hey, I know you sleep with this woman 3 times a week but God says don't do that so how about you cut back to twice this week and then in a few months just sleep with her once per week. Eventually you will not be committing adultery."
No, if it's a slap in God's face. and people want to know how not to slap God's face, tell them. With tithing I challenged our people this week to re-organize their budget. Don't make God re-organize his call on your life. I specifically said "If you have cable and your teens have cellphones but you say you can't bring your firstfruits to God, reorganize your bills."
After that message Sunday I had someone come up to me and say: "Pastor Tally, thank you for telling us like it is. We want to honor God. We tithed today and we're going to go home tomorrow and shut off our cable. That's not more important than my relationship with God and I know that I can't lie to Him about where we put our money."
Here is what you need to know if you're thinking I've lost my mind on this. There are other benefits for the family that tithes.
If your people in your church say they can't "afford" to tithe. They are also likely not saving a dime from their income. If people tithe to God what's his, they'll be forced to look at their money. They may even be forced to actually do the B- word....... Budget!
And if our people have to actually budget and look at their cashflow, they may actually see that they eat out way too much (which is our problem at times). They may see that they don't really need all of the features on their cable bill or cell phone. They may see that they give their kids way too much cash for movies without asking them to do anything to learn that money doesn't grow on trees. You get my point.
Tithing is one discipline that can lead to several disciplines. None of which will hurt your church members but on the contrary would cause them to improve many areas of their life. This is what it means to live in a way where God CAN bless you.
I love the people in our church. I want the people of our church to be financially stable and Bless-Able. How about you?