CrossWay Church

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Published in: on May 20, 2007 at 2:14 pm  Comments (3)  

Leadership Lessons from Brian Moss

Yesterday I had lunch with Brian Moss, senior pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury.  We had a great discussion and I gleaned some very helpful and practical insights from him.  Some of the highlights:

  • No two stages of church growth are the same.  As a church grows larger, it must be led differently and structured differently.  This theme ran throughout our conversation.  As a pastor who came to a church of about 50 people and has seen it grow to 1,200 in eight years, he knows a thing or two about the different stages of church growth.  At each level, everything must be evaluated and adjusted.
  • Be intentional.  Success never happens by accident.  Church leaders must pray and cast the vision, but also do the hard work of developing and implementing a strategy.  Everything must be done intentionally.
  • We must motivate people to excel.  One of the toughest and most rewarding tasks a pastor has is to motivate people to discover their gifts and use them for God’s glory. 
  • However you want to phrase it, the church’s unchanging mission is to make disciples.  This one seems obvious, but I’d never thought about it so clearly and succinctly.  Make disciples.  That’s it.  There’s a lot of talk these days about churches discovering their mission.  You can word it however you want, but it comes down to one thing that will never change: our mission is to make disciples.
  • Ask questions.  Instead of always making statements, ask questions.  This helps people process information and reach conclusions on their own.  I think one tendency that many leaders have is to just tell everyone how it is.  But people are smart, and they can figure things out.  When a question is put to them, they become involved personally in the process.
  • And my favorite: The church is like a rollercoaster–it’s fun as long as there are not too many loops and turns.  If it’s too straight, everyone’s bored.  If it’s too twisty, everyone’s throwing up.

I’m thankful that Pastor Brian was willing to give up a good chunk of his time to spend with me, sharing his experience and wisdom.  Our conversation was both inspiring and challenging, and I look forward to putting these lessons into practice!

Published in: on May 19, 2007 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  

More On Love & Leadership

Every church is called to love.  This particular congregation, I’m convinced, has a special calling to excel at love.  There are several vital love relationships to consider:

  • God’s love for us.
  • Our love for God.
  • Our love for others in the Church.
  • God’s love for others in the Church.
  • Our love for those outside the Church.
  • God’s love for those outside the Church.

Authentic love cannot be faked.  It cannot be mustered up.  It only comes from God.  So I need to be in prayer about all these love relationships, and lead others in the church to do the same.

The apostle (that’s Christianese for “Bible Guy”) Paul wrote some great prayers that I want to incorporate into my daily prayer time as I pray for the people of this church.  One of my favorites is a prayer he had for the church in Ephesus.  He writes in Ephesians 3:14-21 (notice how love is the dominant theme):

“I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”

I pray that God would place this prayer for the church heavily on my heart, that His purposes for us may be accomplished through LOVE.

Published in: on May 18, 2007 at 8:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Love & Leadership

Lately my understanding of pastoral leadership has grown.  Most of the books, conferences, etc. about church leadership seem to focus on skill, strategy, character, and stuff like that.  But the one thing that is perhaps most important is usually not mentioned: you gotta love people.

This has been on my mind a lot the past couple days.  There are a ton of ideas floating around in my head about the many things we can do at this church to really get things moving, but first and foremost, I need to find ways to show the people that I love them.  After all, this has been their church for years, and if they don’t trust me and know that I care deeply about them, they won’t follow my leadership.

A word about this particular congregation: They are very unique.  Over the last five and a half years, they’ve only had a pastor for two years.  Coming into a situation like that, a new pastor might expect to find one of two things–either a church that is absolutely set in its ways and refuses to budge, or a church where nothing is in place and everything is chaotic and falling apart.

Surprisingly, this church doesn’t fit in either scenario.  They’re obviously very hard-working and deeply committed to the church, or it would have folded by now.  But they’re also very flexible.  They’re ready and eager to do whatever it takes to make this church burst into new life.  It’s really a unique combination.

Consider our current undertaking–changing the name of the church.  Many of the people here have been part of this church for years, some even going back to the 1980s.  And now a new guy comes in and wants to change the church’s very name, even dropping the denominational title!  The amazing and truly impressive thing is that they’re all for it!

In following new leadership, there will always be–and always should be–caution.  (Over-caution is bad; caution is good.)  But the one thing that will move people from hesitant caution to trust is when they see that their leader cares about them.  Jesus Christ set a remarkably high standard for leadership.  He taught His disciples that leadership is about serving, feeding, and even dying for the people you’re called to lead.  In other words, all-out love.

So love is inseparably intertwined with leadership.  But here’s where it gets complicated: How do you demonstrate that you really love people?  It takes time, obviously.  And some people are better at it than others.  Since I have a more introverted personality, it will probably take more time and effort.

Another complication is that leading people with love is not always perceived as love.  For example, it would be easy for a pastor to make someone feel loved by meeting all their expectations and giving them complete attention.  If I go to all the Bible studies, call or visit all the time, and always act on their opinion, then it makes someone feel loved.  But is that really love?  If I neglect the things that God has called me to–such as preaching, vision casting, and leadership development–in order to cater to people’s felt needs, is that love?  If I act as a chaplain, setting a pace that’s impossible to maintain in a growing church, is that love?  If I try to adhere to everyone’s opinion rather than listening to God and acting in wisdom, is that love?

What a tricky paradox!  Leadership requires love, but it also requires doing things (or not doing things) that might appear to people–in the short run, at least–as not being loving.  Yet people will not be moved to follow a leader that they don’t perceive cares deeply about them.

If anyone reading this has any insight you’d be willing to share, I’m open to any guidance!

Published in: on May 17, 2007 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

We’re Close to Having a New Church Name!

Welp, we’re getting close.  Last night the Leadership Team at the church met and narrowed the field to two names: CrossWay Church and Beach Bible Church.  We’re going to let the rest of the church choose the winner on Sunday.

For the record, I’m going to shamelessly plug CrossWay Church.  There’s so much we could do with that name!  Plus, I believe God is moving us toward the motto: “Loving God, Loving People.”  And CrossWay would fit perfectly with that, because the way of love is the way of the cross.

Thanks to everyone who submitted name entries!

John Coleman, pastor of The Gathering Tree in Pittsville, has offered to design a graphic to go with the new name.  I’ll post that on here once it’s ready.

Published in: on May 16, 2007 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Little Eastern Shore Foxes

Jesus said, “Foxes have holes…” (Luke 9:58).  Carolyn and I found one of them the other day.

When we were out driving on Sunday, we spotted some little foxes playing in a field.  There were five or six of them.  Most of them were really little–maybe not babies, but definitely not adults.  They were playing near a large hole in the ground which I guess is their home.  It was really entertaining–they kept pouncing on each other and rolling around playfully.  They acted like a bunch of puppies.

The next day we drove out there with Carolyn’s camera.  It’s not a professional camera or anything, but it still has a pretty decent zoom lens.  So she got a few pictures of the little foxes playing.  There were only two this time–it was still a little early in the evening, so the others were probably still sleeping.  In the last photo, the fox is in midair, caught in the act of jumping on one of his siblings.

foxes emerging from hole

playing foxes

jumping fox

Published in: on May 16, 2007 at 8:02 am  Comments (3)  

Flickr Widget

Okay, now I’ve got a Flickr widget over there –>.  You can click on it to check out my photos on Flickr.

By the way, yesterday I accidentally posted a link that goes inside my Flickr account.  Doh!  In other words, if you clicked on it, you’d have editorial power in my Flickr account.  So I changed the post; however, if you still have the link, it would be really nice of you not to wreak havoc on the account.

Thanks.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Day 4: The Tower of London

Below is the fourth journal entry recording the events of the trip Carolyn and I took to England and France in July of 2006:

Friday, July 21, 2006 London, England

We did a lot today! First we went to the Tower of London in… well… London. It was incredible. It’s a huge medieval castle stuck in the middle of a large 21st-century city.

Tower of London in modern city 

We started out with a tour by a Beefeater, or Yeomen Warder, who are the keepers of the Tower. It was extremely interesting! We saw the Crown Jewels–three times (Carolyn really liked them!)! They were very shiny and impressive, even the ones that were several centuries old. We saw where Anne Boleyn was imprisoned and executed, as was Lady Jane Grey. We saw towers where famous prisoners were confined, and many of them carved inscriptions on the walls that can still be seen. Some of them expressed their gloom and misery, others professed their faith in God, still others carved their coat of arms, quoted Scripture, or simply carved their names. Many if not most carved the year they were there. Very interesting stuff!

carvings inside the prisoners tower 

We also went to the room where the famous murder of the two princes probably happened at the order of Richard III, as well as the place under some steps in the White Tower where their remains were discovered a couple centuries later. We also visited the tower where a tortured Jesuit priest (I think his name was Father Gerard) escaped from the fortress in the 13th century. We visited the site in the chapel where Anne Boleyn’s remains were found buried, along with about 1,500 others. And then there was the massive armory in the White Tower, which was several stories of ancient armor.

White Tower circa 1080

We saw the armor of several kinds, like Henry VIII, Charles I & II, and James I. We even saw some of Charles I’s armor from his childhood. Tons of armor, swords, shields, knives, axes, maces–even some old guns and cannons. Oh yeah, and saddles. The castle was right on the Thames River and very scenic.

Tower of London

After we left the Tower of London, we walked around the Tower Bridge and got to see it open (the drawbridge), which was pretty cool. Then we walked around the other side of the castle and took the Tube to the Victorian Station. From there we took a stroll through Hyde Park–we must’ve walked three miles or so. We crossed over the river and saw the memorial fountain to Princess Diana. Carolyn wasn’t feeling well and we had the hardest time finding a place to eat dinner. It was about 7:30 p.m., and even in downtown London it was really hard to find a restaurant that was still open! Even when we finally found one, across from Harrods, we had to get the subs to go and bring them back to the room to eat here.

It continues to be insanely hot and muggy. This is the most heat I’ve every endured for a week, with the possible exception of boot camp in August in South Carolina.

Tomorrow we’re leaving really early for Dartmoor.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Flickr Info

With the move between computers, I’ve lost track of which photos I’ve uploaded onto Flickr from our trip last summer.  So instead of trying to hyperlink all those pictures into the journal entries, if you’re really interested in seeing more, you can look at ’em at Flickr.  I’ll be uploading more in the days ahead–Flickr only lets you upload so much MB per month, and since Carolyn’s camera takes such high quality pics, it’ll probably be July or August before I can get them all uploaded.  Just FYI.

I’m working on adding Flickr to the links on the right side of this blog so you can see the pics more easily.

Published in: on May 15, 2007 at 7:32 am  Leave a Comment  

All in the Family

Whew, what a whirlwind weekend.  Tiring but great.  On Friday night Carolyn and I drove out to Eldersburg, where my brother Jason lives with his family.  We spent the night there after being entertained for a couple hours by his sons–Justin, age 4, and Kevin, who just turned 2.

On Saturday we all went to Justin’s T-ball game, where we were joined by my parents and my younger brother, Dylan, with his family.

After the game we went to Ledo’s and then had a cookout to celebrate Kevin’s birthday.  Everyone on both sides of the family was there, and we had a blast.  Kevin has got to be the funniest two-year-old on the planet.  If only we’d shot some video!  (We didn’t even remember the camera.  Or his birthday present.  Sigh.)

Yesterday after church we went out to lunch with all of Carolyn’s family, including her sister Kristen and her husband, Michael, and Michael’s parents.  Then we hung out at her parents’ house until about 8:00.  So it was a busy, busy weekend, but it was cool because in two days we got to spend time with every single person in both of our immediate families.  I don’t know if that’s ever happened before.

Published in: on May 14, 2007 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment