Yesterday the Hydes all got together at my brother Jason’s house. His two-year-old son Kevin was walking around eating a giant piece of chocolate and caramel candy. He’d already eaten half of it when someone saw him with it and asked him if he’d asked his dad if it was okay for him to eat it.
He answered: “Not yet.”
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!!
I’ll be back to blogging soon….
Tomorrow will be my sixteenth straight Sunday preaching. This will be the first and hopefully last time I’m doing this. Trust me, there’s nothing heroic about going four months straight in the pulpit (not that we actually have a pulpit, but you know what I mean). I’ve gotten myself worn down, and in the process have shorted the people at CrossWay.
There are several reasons I’ve made this mistake. The biggest is probably inexperience. Well, that and hardheadedness–I’ve been warned not to go too long without a break, but like usual I’m having to learn from experience. The other three factors:
(1) I love preaching. It’s my God-given passion.
(2) We’ve been in this “Creed” series, and I think I’ve been trying to crank it out so we’d be past the halfway point by Christmas. (The series is actually taking a different turn, which I’ll explain later.)
(3) There was a period of time late in the summer when I didn’t preach for four out of six weeks. I guess I felt guilty about that and tried to make up for it. Being new at a church, I didn’t want to give the impression that I was going to be a slacker preacher. Instead I’ve become a foolish one!
Just for the record, the church has never put any kind of expectation on me to try to be some kind of Preacher Iron Man. In fact, at every Worship Planning meeting they remind me that I can take a break any time.
In planning for 2008, I’ve built in some breaks in the preaching schedule. In fact, today I revised it so that there are several back-to-back weeks when I’m not preaching. These times will prove extremely valuable for getting refreshed and prepared for the next round.
Meanwhile, I plan on doing some intense relaxing during the Christmas holidays. One of our church members, Norm, is a retired preacher. He’s delivering the sermon on December 30. Then I jump back in for another nine weeks. I’m sure the one-week break will prove very beneficial, but preaching 25 out of 26 weeks isn’t too smart either. But like I said, I’ve learned from my mistakes and will do a better job of planning in the future.
Arriving at CrossWay Church on January 2nd, the event we’ve all been waiting for:
(And to answer in advance the question I keep getting from all the women: No, the six-foot man is not included. Sorry. Although we could use several six-foot men to help unload the sign when it arrives. It’s nearly 600 pounds!)
Last night Carolyn and I took our little friends Riley and Jenna to see the Winter Festival of Lights in Ocean City. Carolyn and I have gone to see the lights the past nine years (maybe even ten–I can’t remember if we went in 1998). Anyway, the past couple years we’ve taken little ones to see them. I think Carolyn might be covertly introducing a new twist on this tradition.
Riley loved the lights, and Jenna really enjoyed them once she snapped out of her nap-induced grogginess about halfway through the ride. At that point she had a whole lot to say about them, though I have no idea what.
Afterwards we went to Dumser’s to get the kids ice cream. Carolyn and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet (Katie, the kids’ mom, had fed them before we picked them up), so we ordered some food while the kids ate ice cream. The waitress probably thought we were neglectful parents, getting the kids ice cream while we ate dinner. If she didn’t think this already, she certainly must have when we were walking out the door and Riley spotted a McDonald’s across the street. He said, “Maybe when we leave here we can go to McDonald’s!” When we told him we weren’t doing that, he shouted, “But I’m still hungry!” as he walked out the door. At that point Dumser’s probably reported us to somebody.
It was really cute listening to Carolyn and Riley engage in kindergarten talk. They’re both deeply immersed in kindergarten culture, so they swapped stories and asked about each other’s kindergarten practices and experiences: ways that the teacher gets the kids to be quiet or line up, what the daily schedule is like, where they are in their reading curriculum, songs they’re learning, etc. It’s really cute. My wife’s little kindergarten buddy. Last time we borrowed the kids, Riley told Carolyn, “I wanna go visit your kindergarten friends!” Apparently he now aspires to be a teacher. Last night he told us that when he grows up he wants to be a kindergarten teacher. He plans to teach his students how to learn and how to swim.
When we were loading the children in the car to leave their house, I asked Riley if Jenna was still a baby (she’s three). He answered without hesitation in the affirmative. So I asked how old she’ll be when she stops being a baby. He said, “I guess five, because I’m five and I’m a big boy.”
A lot of times Jenna talks and talks and talks and I can’t understand a word she’s saying (except “Sponge Bob”–for some reason that part always comes out clearly). But once in a while she’ll burst out with something very audible and clearly enunciated. As we were getting in the car last night after leaving Dumser’s, she piped up from the backseat: “Can you push play?” I was amused but had no idea what that meant. About halfway back to their house it hit me that their family drives one of those souped up minivans with the DVD player for the kids in the back. Jenna was wanting to watch a DVD in Carolyn’s car!
We had a ton of fun with Riley and Jenna, but there was another benefit as well. Katie said that the kids’ baby twin sisters used the rare peace and quiet as an opportunity for a nice little nap. They are such cute little babies! And Katie made us some delicious chocolate chip cookies and hooked us up with a bundle of them. Delicious breakfast!
Good times, good times…
In response to a post from earlier this morning, I received some insightful comments from Terry. Thanks, Terry, for sharing these great thoughts! I started to respond by leaving a comment, but as it stretched on longer and longer, I figured it was probably post-worthy.
There’s a lot of talk out there about vision, mission, purpose, etc. It’s weird how a lot of people use the same words to mean different things. Sometimes they’re used as synonyms. While each word does have an objective meaning, I guess the main thing is for people to understand how they’re using each word and be able to clearly communicate it to others.
I’d always thought that vision would be the first thing to come, and strangely enough, it’s turning out to be the last. Our church spent several weeks studying the Bible to discover God’s purpose for our church. We’ve also done some soul searching to find our values. Our mission is made plain as day in Scripture.
Our strategy came to us in a strange way. Early on at CrossWay the slogan “Loving God, Loving People” came to us and everyone embraced it. Those four words express who we are, whose we are, and what we’re to be about. But as we prayed, studied, thought, and talked, we realized that these four words also contained the strategy to fulfill our mission, as I shared in the post “Mission, Vision, and Strategy at CrossWay Church.”
So we know the mission we’re on and how to go about working to accomplish it. But funnily enough, the picture of what that will look like lies just beneath the surface. I’m perfectly confident that God will reveal it to us in the coming weeks as we launch our January series.
I’ve heard vision expressed different ways. Sometimes it’s so bland and dull that I feel sorry for the person trying to cast it. Other times it’s so passionate and exciting that it makes me want to jump on board their ship!
One of my favorite examples of the latter is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech (you can find it at this website). He doesn’t say, “It sure would be swell if we could gain enough legislative support to pass some new laws.” Instead he paints a picture of black and white children playing together in Mississippi, of the descendants of former slaves and former slave owners sitting together at the table of brotherhood. Now that’s powerful stuff! He cast a vision-that is, he painted a picture of what it would look like when his mission was accomplished.
Another of my favorite and more recent vision-casting talks is by Vince Antonucci of Forefront Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has a message simply titled “Vision Sunday” (I’d encourage you to find it on the church website or in iTunes). Pastor Antonucci delivers a highly engaging message, then spends nearly the last 10 minutes just casting vision. It’s so awesome. He paints a very clear picture of what it would look like for Forefront Church to accomplish their mission, and it’s one of the greatest calls to action I’ve heard.
Having a vision certainly helps to clarify the strategy, and once our vision is clear at CrossWay, I have no doubt that it will help us to clarify our “Loving God, Loving People” strategy and be more intentional about implementing it.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Terry, and I pray that God would continue to give you guidance and great wisdom as He leads you through this process at your new post!
Over Christmas break I’m hoping to take some time to work on this blog. Many things will stay the same, but I’m planning to really overhaul it. The web address will be the same and I’ll keep many of the same links in the sidebar. But it will have a new look (a new template), updated categories and links, even a new title.
It’s coming soon!
After months of praying about things like church vision, mission, and strategy for CrossWay, it finally started becoming clear when it came time to preach on it recently.
These things can easily be forced if some church people simply decide to make up some cute-sounding stuff. But then it’s not from the heart of the church and will not drive the ministry. We’ve been praying and studying and seeking and working for a long time to discover God’s vision, mission, and strategy for CrossWay, and the past few weeks it’s started taking shape.
First, a little clarification on these terms:
- Mission is what a church aims to accomplish.
- Vision is a snapshot of what it will look like when the mission is accomplished.
- Strategy is what a church will do to accomplish the mission.
The mission for every Christian church is the same, though it’s worded differently from one church to another. Simply put, the mission is to make lifelong followers of Jesus Christ in our community and around the world.
At CrossWay, our strategy is simple: love God & love people. We do these things in five ways:
- We love God by worshiping Him together.
- We love God by individually practicing certain spiritual habits, such as Bible study and prayer.
- We love people by using our gifts & passions to serve them.
- We love people by participating in a small community of believers.
- We love God & people by inviting others to do these first four things with us.
The vision is still not crystal clear, but it’s definitely taking shape. We’re doing a five-week series called “The Promised Land” starting in January which will explore all of these elements. I’m sure the vision will be clear by then, and we’ll spend those five weeks casting the vision.
I can’t wait!