- We just about went "naked" today as a church. We had trouble getting the padlocks open today because of the cold. We sprayed de-icer on one and was able to get it to turn but the other one wasn't budging. I put the key in and turned it hard, which caused the key to break and the tip was stuck inside the lock. That's bad news. As soon as it happened, the guys around me sprung into action. Chris headed to Wal-Mart to get bolt cutter, Brian went to his shop to get a blow torch, Philip ran to his car, I went after the custodian to find a pair of pliers and Mike stood and laughed at us! The locks are heavy duty, so bolt cutters wouldn't work, we would've needed a blow torch. But as we were running all around, Philip was calmly pulling the busted key tip out of the padlock. When he showed it to me, I about hugged him! With a little more de-icer, we got the padlock open and were still set up in enough time to give the band a half-hour's worth of practice time.
- Church planting ain't for wimps!
- It's amazing how fast tear-down happens when everyone pitches in. Just before the blessing, I told the congregation we needed help tearing stuff down before we could eat. It only took about 20 minutes to pack up the sanctuary. I think I need to ask people to stay and help every Sunday. I'm serious!
- But Pastor Andy and Joe Kumor were back in the kids area finishing loading that stuff up until 12:30, so most of the food was gone by the time they got to eat. These guys are some heavy lifters.
- I ate lunch with a lady who is pretty new to TFC. With a big smile on her face, she told me she's started reading the Gospel of Luke and that it's giving her a "tingling feeling." It's the first time she's ever read the Bible and we're the first church she's ever been a part of. That really is why we do what we do!
- Bill Marty did an incredible job explaining Financial Peace University. I think I'm going to make a separate post of what he said today. But as he was talking about debt and consumerism, I (seriously) thought, "I ought to have this guy preach!"
- If church has started at 10:30 since the day we opened two and a half years ago, why do most people not get there until 10:45? Am I wrong for letting that bother me?
- Nate did a great job of leading music and the final prayer. I could tell that he was in tune with the Holy Spirit's leadership!
- I introduced two people today that had never officially met. I realize that my role means I basically talk with everyone some time or another, but I still am shocked to realize that in a church of our size, two people could be at TFC for two years and never have met. That's probably why it's a good idea to have all-church functions like the meal we had today.
- I think I did a good job explaining Advent Conspiracy today and our birthday gift to Jesus through Water Partners International. Yesterday I listened to an incredible message by the Pastor who started the Advent Conspiracy and I think his message inspired what I shared today. To hear the message, go to this link and download the message "Worship the Baby, Resist the Empire" by Chris Seay. Chris had a very blunt yet graceful way of challenging people to reject consumerism and share with those who truly have nothing.
I know I talk a lot about consumerism and the antithesis of giving. I realize that sometimes I come across as pretty forceful and guilt-driven. But my heart is for our church to live above consumerism and to become generous people. I think that as I talked about rejecting the culture's view of Christmas and instead living for Jesus this Christmas, I was speaking less from my head and more from my heart and people really connected with what I was saying. I know I don't always communicate perfectly, but I want the best for our church.
- As I was running errands for my sweet wife tonight, this thought kept running through my head, "repeat after me - your self worth is not determined by how many people were in church this morning." I've never shared this struggle publicly and it makes me very nervous to be doing so now, but I'm always beating myself up over our attendance numbers. I was sure that since worship was cancelled last week, we'd have a big Sunday today. But the opposite happened, we had a pretty small crowd. Now, if you were there, know how grateful for you being there, however I can't help but ask "what am I doing wrong? Why aren't we growing numerically?" We don't admit this often but Pastor's often judge their self-worth as a pastor by the size of their congregation. I do know, at least cognitively if not emotionally, that it's not really about me. I read an interesting article in REV magazine that said, "if we take our failures personally we'll also take our successes personally." And it's not about me!
I will add, though that worship attendance numbers don't tell the whole story. Some churches with thousands of people aren't building the kingdom, they're just stealing sheep from smaller churches that can't 'compete.' The number that counts is how many formerly unchurched people are now being discipled through your church. I can point to several formerly unchurched families that were in church this morning. But that doesn't completely stop the self-doubt.
So there you go. That's your pastor being much more vulnerable than is comfortable.