Can we clone Lee McDerment?
As I look at the past 4 years as a Lead Pastor I can confidently say that out of every position within the church I have had the greatest problem working with "Worship Leaders". If you're not in church you should know that the personality types and giftedness it takes to be a Lead Pastor and the personality types and giftedness often found in musicians rarely mesh.
In my past I've had a few reoccurring problems with musicians. While I'm sure a few thousand dollars in counseling visits may show me that I can work on some things here... these are a few of the most common frustrations I have in some "worship" pastors.
1. Using the church service to live out their dream of being a rock star.
2. Having a "It's not my job" attitude.
3. Providing results on little apart from a half hour on Sunday morning.
4. Having emotional whiplash normally associated with bi-polar disorder.
So that you know I'm not predisposed to forever having problems with musicians, I do have two great friends in my life presently who at some point were music pastors. Additionally we've had a few people at our church who've done the job well.
As I look forward however to what God has for me next (a major announcement is coming in a few weeks), I can't help but to wonder if I can clone Lee McDerment of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.
Tony Morgan interviewed Lee yesterday and Lee's answers shed an enormous amount of insight into a man God has used to help Perry Noble get NewSpring to where it is today.
If you are a Music Pastor and can identify with Lee's heart on various areas... I want to talk to you. I'm serious. Write me and introduce yourself. I'd love to hear where you resonate with Lee on some of the things he brings up. I'm in the middle of begging God for the right musician/leader to join us as we move forward with the dreams he has birthed in us.
Check out the first of the 2-part interview. Then go to Today's blog and watch the rest... give him some link love.
Lee, if you read this just know that I'm humbled by your commitment to Christ and humility as you continue seeking Him. NewSpring is blessed and the Christian community at-large is greatful to Perry for encouraging you to share your gifts with the rest of us.
Let me set up what I want to share with you with a few separate illustrations:
Today I spoke with a former member of our church who helped us get off of the ground. Their family had moved about 3 hours west and in spite of my best effort to convince them to make that drive every week, they felt that it was best to be involved in a church near their home. My friend informed me that they had recently discovered that one of the families in their community are Mormon. The kids play together and they are open to friendship. My friend went on to say that this couple was devout but open to coming into their home for bible study. Wow! Here it is... a great opportunity to reach out to their neighbors!
So what was the discussion about? It was about "How?" How do they reach out to this family? What are the belief systems? What about the book of Mormon? My friends are willing but unfortunately hadn't been equipped in any of their previous church experience. Remembering that I spoke about Mormonism in the past they decided to call me. I sent my friends a paper I wrote on the topic a few years ago along with some links relevant to their discussion while advising them to become friends and reach out in love.
This afternoon I was reading up on a new church that is getting started on the campus of Old Dominion University (about 30 minutes from here). This church is the third "college church" started by an amazing group called "Alethia Church" based out of the campus of James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA. (Also on the campus of VCU) Alethia is under the radar of nearly everyone and they probably like it all the same. What is not under my radar however is the tremendous impact they are having for the Kingdom. They are multiplying in places where churches tend to get eaten alive... secular colleges. One thing Alethia is known for is their strength in evangelism. Their Pastors take the bible and evangelism extremely seriously (as we all should). In reading over their blog for the new church I came across a passage talking about one of their core principles. They addressed the question as to why most Christians don't share their faith. The answer? Know-how.
A Pew Research Study recently indicated that 70% of all Americans believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life". Additionally Pew indicated that 57% of Evangelicals responded in the affirmative to that statement. In my tribe..."Brad Waggoner, vice president of B&H Publishing Group, in his upcoming book "The Shape of Faith to Come," reports that only 69 percent of adults who attend an SBC church at least once a month strongly agree that 'the Bible is the written Word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches.' "
With these three things in mind I'm completely convinced that our churches need to embrace Apologetics as a part of our regular diet.
My friend called not because their family didn't want to reach out... but because they weren't sure how. Alethia is doing well reaching out because they train their people to do so. But Alethia focuses on Apologetics, not a line of memory verses.
America's Christian churches seem to be having a hard time relaying even a basic tenant like "Jesus is THE way to Heaven". In each of these areas some degree of Apologetical teaching is necessary.
A few weeks ago I shared my faith in a Buffalo Wild Wings with a waitress who expressed a hard time believing in absolute truth. Another waiter overheard our conversation and brought up Hammurabi's code. He was attempting to dismiss the validity of biblical law based on the concept that it wasn't the earliest (and thus biblical law was copied from somewhere else). A friend next to me smiled and said "Just because it's the first known date of a discovered set of law doesn't make it the earliest code of law to exist." With that simple suggestion the gentleman bringing the argument against faith smiled and acknowledged that to be true.
In that exchange I smiled inside because I thought "How many people in our churches would have thrown in the towel because they've never even heard who this Hammurabi guy is or what his code represented?"
We live in an interesting era of Christian ministry. We have churches that are dying. We have churches that are growing. We have a population increasing dramatically faster than our church population. We have denominations that are ecstatic for their large influence but aren't eager to talk about their percentage of influence is shrinking when compared to population growth. We have long-time Christians who are great at the church game and lingo but haven't got a clue how to present the gospel. All the while we have pockets of people in the pews who say they want to go "deeper" but they expect one man to take them there.
I'm not certain of a solution right now... just processing my thoughts in front of the world. I don't suggest that churches do the work of a seminary by any means but I would suggest that we offer some form of basic apologetical instruction in our churches from time to time so our people can be equipped to present the claims of the bible as truth. I understand that only a small fraction of our members will desire this training but I'm discovering the value in having this knowledge sprinkled throughout the laity.
A few years ago in frustration of the perceived dumbing-down of American Christianity I told a friend "Seeker-Sensitive doesn't need to mean Seeker-Stupid." I still hold that to be true. Christians are smart enough and in this information age the world is intelligent enough to have Ephesians 4 ministry apply to apologetics as well as parking-lot duty.
What do you think? What works? What are you doing? What's out there for the rest of us? Anyone doing both evangelism and apologetics well?
My Son is Rocky
This morning at about 7:30 a.m. I hear a thud followed by a crying toddler. Living with a child under 4yrs old means this is a regular occurrence so it wasn't a big deal to me. Kristy was closer so I knew she'd get to him and things would be fine. Well she did get to him but found him with blood coming out of his eyebrow. Usually blood doesn't come out of eyebrows.
Caleb had fallen off of our sofa while putting his banana peel on the coffee table and he caught his eyebrow on the edge of the table.
Side Note: Yesterday I posed about our personality profiles. One of the things the profile revealed about me is that I handle crises with ease. It's as though my mind shifts into a mode of calm and clarity. I saw that again this morning.
We cleaned the eye up and I kinda felt borderline about stitches but figured since it was near his eye we should let the doc decide. I drove him to the minor emergency center and they got us to the back in just a few minutes where the doc looked it over. She said that it was borderline and offered me the option of a stitch. I opted for the stitch and Caleb hopped up onto the bed.
Within 5 minutes she had him numb locally, numbed on the inside and sowed up.
Caleb was a champ. He barely moved and didn't even flinch. She said that most 12 year old boys fight her. C-man rocked.
A Snoopy band-aid and about 6 stickers later we were out. I promise I've waited for a Big-Mac at a drive-thru longer than this Doctor's visit. It was fantastic.
Here are pics of the Doc's work.
Week Long Colonoscopy...
...that's how I described where I've been for the last week of my life. I say it in jest but it has certainly been an introspective few weeks.
As you may or may not have noticed, God has been working me over this year. He's obviously got a plan He's working in and through me whether I like it or not. The 'or not' is just about over and I'm living in the 'liking it' part right now. Actually I'm loving what He's doing.
As a part of the process Kristy and I spent the last week in Wisconsin at the Green Lake Conference Center doing an assessment with about 22 other couples. The goal of the assessment is to really get to know yourself in ALL your glory. It's kinda like the new x-ray machines at the airports that can see through your clothes. Uncomfortable but necessary.
Anyway at the end of the week I can say several things about the process. I hope some of the things I've learned would give you insentive to avoid comfort and find ways to "assess" yourself. These are some of my take-aways:
1. Kristy and I grew together.
After 10 years of being a couple, 7 years of marriage, 1 toddler and 1 pregnancy... we're tight. Although we were already tight this week gave us both new appreciation for one another.
For one I was able to see Kristy shine. She's normally a quiet and reserved woman but this week she was put into situations that required her to speak up and give input. I was pumped to see her shine when put to the test. Several people spoke to me about how amazing she was in small group activities and in providing wisdom to the team exercises. I was glad to see that and she even felt more confident knowing that God has gifted her in ways she hasn't always had the opportunity to use.
Kristy enjoyed seeing me in 'my element'. The week comes down to leadership. We've kept boundaries between ministry and our family so Kristy previously hasn't seen me during the sausage-making parts of ministry. She's usually in on the outcome and has less to do with the process. For both of us we spent a week on planes, in hotels, answering questions, etc.
We really found that we compliment and represent one another very well. It was pretty cool.
2. I learned more about myself.
I love taking assessments and learning about why I do what I do. This week provided another opportunity to gain insight into myself so that I could be a better leader in the Church at large. Nothing shocked me this week but many things helped inform me. I would recommend to everyone reading to take time to use the instruments we used this week: Myers Briggs (or Golden Personality), DISC and StrengthFinders. These instruments help you to understand how God created you. When you combine them with things like Spiritual Gifts, interviews and group projects, you begin to see how you're wired.
I kept thinking this week "What if the entire church was able to know themselves this way?" and "We could avoid so much conflict if we'd simply put people in their sweet spots!" I'm going to investigate that possibility. I think Tadd's church is headed in this direction and I like it.
3. Some things to highlight, some things to tweak.
Overall I was given a positive response. The assessors gave about 10 areas that they see a lot of strengths. They also however gave me one area to work on. I'm going to spend the next few weeks and months finding ways to better utilize the 10 positives so that I can be in my sweet spot while finding a way to learn more and grow in the key area they highlighted.
The assessors encouraged me to talk more with a coach about how to incorporate even those who rub me the wrong way. I agree with their assessment of that area and I've already begun reading and talking to folks to improve that aspect so that I can be more effective. At the end of the day I walked away with a green light and some solid advice. I appreciate having these men and women speak words of wisdom into my life and I look forward to seeing how I can improve. If you've never opened yourself up to this type of guidance I certainly encourage you to do so. It's pretty encouraging.
4. Excited about the future. There is power in knowing your strengths. There is power in knowing the gifts and strengths of others. I'm so excited to move to my next stage of ministry and effectiveness armed with the affirmation of my gift-mix. While the assessment itself was tiring and at times challenging I walk away excited about the future. I already know for certain that I'm going to incorporate some version of this assessment for all future staff members of our team. I think it's that vital.
If you're on a staff team I encourage you to take the time and money to get a proper assessment of your team. You may find that you have the right team members but they are just in the wrong "seats on the bus". You may find that one or more team members don't belong on the bus. No matter what the goal should be to help everyone get into their unique groove to make much of Jesus and make his name famous among the nations.
Thanks for understanding my absence. You can look forward to more regular posts in the upcoming days and weeks.
Resources: Tests- For $79 you can use ELI to take most of the tests mentioned (Golden Personality, DISC and 360 Assessment). You'll need to go to strengthsfinder.com to find your top five strengths. With all of that data you can sit down and begin the process of understanding yourself better or you can contact me and I'll put you in touch with some folks who can help you interpret the results. ELI Website: http://www.churchplanterprofiles.com Tell Craig I sent ya! (It won't do anything but you can tell him.)
There are places out there where you can get the individual tests done but ELI has a great initial assessment and I've actually used them so I'd prefer to keep it simple by pointing you to them.
Pharisees, Grace and the Olympics
Like most of you I have been glued to my TV on most nights this week watching the Olympics. Michael Phelps is amazing (Baltimore!) and the men's gymnastics team was refreshing to obsrve as they joyfully celebrated a bronze. Last night my heart broke for Alicia Sacramone of the US Women's Gymnastics team. The Pastor in me wanted to tell her best friend or a family member to remind her how much more valuable she is apart from being an athlete. At that level I'm sure it's difficult to see.
In the midst of the ups and downs of this Olympic season I cannot help but to consider the theme of grace and freedom.
While the opening ceremony was the absolute bar-none greatest show I have ever seen in my life, I keep reminding myself "But the people are in chains. They are controlled. This is a farce. It's a show. This isn't freedom." My heart breaks for 1/5 of the world's population being controlled by the few and powerful. This communist country has controlled everything including internet access for reporters, CGI fireworks and replacing a girl before the broadcast because she was "not pretty enough". So much for having an ideal above the Western mind.
When I see the gymnasts for the Chinese I see people who as one commentator put it "...were taken from their home at 3 yrs old and put immediately into a training program for this day."
Like chicken being sorted by weight at a Butterball factory, the Chinese people are afforded little to no choice for chasing their dreams. All for the sake of country. The outward appearance they are showing the world this week simply serves as a mask to cover the inward motives of men who control every move of 1/5 of the world's population. This is where I consider the Pharisees. They too wanted to control outward appearance. While China's socialism requires the people to do everything to benefit the image of a corrupt nation, the Pharisees required everything be done to demonstrate holiness no matter the condition of the heart. They traded inconsistency and freedom for perceived perfection and lies.
I'm a big fan of grace and freedom. Jesus came and destroyed the chains of captivity for us. No longer are we captive to holding only an outward morality. Because he cares so much more he affords us the opportunity under grace to pursue a holiness based on the motive of love. The US Olympians do what they do not because they were forced by their government and taken from their families at 3 years old but rather because they love the sport, competition and the joy of achieving things few others have ever done.
This week China appears to be beautiful. Every Chinese person I have observed on television seems to be performing their job with extreme accuracy. The precision and attention to detail are amazing. The appearance they give the world is stunning. But at what cost? A pure and pristine outward appearance is great but how much more amazing would these games be if they were hosted at the same quality by a free people?
Then the outward would match the inward.
At the end of the day when the last piece of trash is picked up and the last foreigner gets on a plane, China will still be China. China will still be a Communist nation using and abusing 1/5 of the world's population. The factories will re-start and the contaminated air will return. That is the Pharisaical nature on display. Pharisees care more about the outside of a person than the inside. They care more about what 'others' think of them than what God thinks. They care more about justice than grace. They care more about making much of self than making much of God. Laws and religion are a way to control people and make people feel worthless.
Grace is much different. To the Christian under grace we are able to see outward changes as a result of the inward change. We are able to find forgiveness when we falter and embrace our Father in Heaven as our "abba" daddy instead of an unforgiving cosmic police officer.
If you are a Christian I challenge you: Does your faith look more like China or the US? Do you emphasize the outward appearance of others or do you embrace the messiness of grace?
If you are not a Christian I want to challenge you to give God another look. The Jesus of scripture is a giver of freedom, not condemnation. Jesus laid the smack down on Pharisaical teaching. Jesus paid the punishment for sin and now sits as an advocate for anyone who calls on Him. He can be on your side. He wants to be on your side. If you accept him you will surely still make mistakes but you will find forgiveness. You will find love.
Seeing is Believing
When a church plant gets going it is often led by a Pastor who has a few things going for him. There is a more thorough list but I'm speaking to a few basic things every planter must have but sometimes many laypeople do not have...
1. A call from God- Church planting is the Navy Seals of ministry as far as I'm concerned. If you get involved without God directing you to do it, you're stupid. Hopefully the call is real, secure and confirmed by others.
2. An understanding of the culture- If a planter is about to drop into an area or even start in his current location he should be able to articulate the vibe of the area. There should be a segment of the population he sees without a room in God's home.
3. A vision of a preferred future- The planter will have an idea of how to minister effectively to the population. A preferred future exists on the eyelids of that planter. Every time he closes his eyes he envisions a fully functional church reaching hundreds or thousands. Each time he drives by a vacant building he goes through a mental checklist. "Is there enough parking?" "How many could be seated?" "What would it take to convert that space?" He unconsciously places his call and vision on every available piece of property.
Then there are the laypeople.
If you don't watch it you will gather a group of laypeople who have no clue of a compelling call from God, a thoughtful exposition of their culture or a vision that lines up with the planting Pastor.
What are some ways to help adjust laypeople from simply being willing participants to active co-laborers?
1. Paint a detailed picture- Continue to rehash the vision. Remember to keep it simple enough so they can repeat but have complimentary material detailed enough that they can chew on.
2. Speak to the importance of alignment- If one wheel of your car is out of alignment it will ruin the entire car.
3. Bring the future to them- Use pictures, video, websites and printed materials of other churches to give your prospectives a sense of the influences on your life. Many planters mistakenly believe they have to somehow keep a veil between what they know and what their people know. Expose your people the best you can early and often.
4. Bring them to the future- As you paint this picture of a preferred future some people will ask questions, others will realize that they didn't have a clear picture and will want out. There will be a majority however who will want to keep pushing forward. The next phase will be to immerse them into the culture of some church plants and established churches that have a 'feel' similar to yours. I still think my friend Tadd Grandstaff did the best prep-job in this regard of any plant I know. Tadd took his team to well over a dozen churches and even several church planting conferences.
5. Create the future together- As the church planter you can now take a group of people (who are starting to share the vision) and work WITH them to create the preferred future you have envisioned for months or years. As you together create this new vibe it will be a vibe that has buy-in. You would have created a culture together.
At the end of the day Seeing IS Believing. I've seen many church planters get frustrated because the proverbial "They" "Don't get IT".
I think the right question is "Do I get it?"
Do I (as the planter) "Get" the fact that people cannot duplicate what they have never been exposed to?
Seeing IS Believing. Let your people 'see' the vision before they are asked to create the vision.
Speaking of Repentance
"In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person- and he would not need it."
-- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp 57.We discussed repentance last night in our small group. Specifically we discussed Jesus' fulfilling a void that needed filled because of our sin but could not be filled by a sinner. We had some great conversation about the old and new covenants, the scarlet thread of blood throughout scripture as a penalty for sin and the fact that Jesus sits as mediator today. We have a 2L law student among our bunch and he added his insight on the legal terminology... which was great to hear.
We read Hebrews 9 and 10 last night together and discussed the fact that one of the values for our continual repentance isn't that we crucify Christ over and over again but rather that we inflate or enhance the value of that sacrifice in our lives. Every time we confess a sin and acknowledge it being covered by the blood, we're able to see better just how much we fall short and therefore how much more we have to be thankful for Christ's sacrifice. It seemed to be a pretty cool thought for each of us that even the concept of repentance is designed for us to make much of God and for his glory to be magnified in our own eyes.
In general people tend to stay away from stuff like sin, repentance, redemption, blood, sacrifice, High Priest, etc. We experienced a group last night where these topics brought us to a better walk with Christ and allowed us to more fully appreciate (or at least again be reminded of) the power of his sacrifice on that cross for our sin. It was a great meeting.
The Wilgis Rewind
Welcome to the Wilgis Rewind. Here are a few of the happenings in the Wilgis household over the last week:
We LOVE our friends!
This week Cman received a gift from our friends, the Ritters of Corpus Christi, TX. Cman loves his new Corpus Christi Hooks hat~ Thanks T&B and lil' T and lil' B
To beat the Saturday heat the Wilgis fam enjoyed a few hours at our condo pool. Cman recently started to run and jump in fearlessly. Kristy is not pictured because she served as the paparazzi on your behalf. (Photos that reveal my skin to be as white as a halogen bulb were not placed into rotation.) I just asked Kristy "Am I THAT white????" Her answer? "YES HONEY. People make fun of that to your face. I gave you a tanning pass... go use it." I love my bride!
Original Nintendo makes a comeback!
On Friday night I decided to whip out the original NES that I have had in a closet for nearly two years. I put it away because it was having problems but as soon as I got it all hooked up we were able to play. We don't own any fancy gaming consuls because I would waste too much time on them so Cman thought this was the coolest thing in the world! By the way I'm looking for the original Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. I have the gun... just need the game. If you want to swing by and challenge me with your NES skills... hit me up!
As a side note I remember being a kid thinking "One day I want to play NES with my kids. They're going to think it's ancient." So this was pretty fun for me.
Last weekend Cman had his pap-pap over for a birthday party. Mickey Mouse made an appearance.
Life is good with the Wilgis fam. Thanks for checking out the latest installment of "The Wilgis Rewind" Until next time...