Do you have times to exhale?
A very wise friend encouraged me in the pre-season of my ministry life (my 20's) that I needed to learn the art of marathon-living and not sprint-living. When you are young, you don't like to hear that you need to pace yourself. I didn't want to hear that! However, I have fully embraced this way of living now in my life especially having young children. We have weeks like everybody, I'm sure, that are super busy and then you have this little exhale. We embrace those exhale moments Big time! This weekend was an amazing time for our family to take a deep breath. We attended a tailgate party at HHCA on Friday night for their last home football game with friends. We spent an hour on Saturday morning with our small group at an assisted-care facility dressed in our Halloween best for Serve Day. We spent the rest of the day playing outside, carving pumpkins (see "Cinderella" carving pic attached) and baking a homemade pumpkin pie (actually,Syd made it!) We all slept pretty well all weekend..ahhh...exhale. This morning was a great day of worship services and encouragement. And now, I am blogging from the couch where I have been watching football this afternoon...exhale...I am just thanking God today for these days together...exhale.
Do you have times to exhale?
Do you have times to exhale?
There are some Sundays that you cannot escape the fact the God had every intention of you sharing very openly and honestly about your life through the subject matter. This was one of those very personal Sundays for Todd and I. We kicked off off a 5-week series called "REVOLU$ION" discovering what God says about finances. This first message was on contentment. You need to listen to our podcast from yesterday to truly understand how difficult this was for Todd to speak on this subject. We worked together very closely to make this service as real and authentic from us as we could. I shared my response here on our campus blog. Here was our service order...
"Marvelous Light" - Hall
"Happy Day" - Hughes
Time of Response:
Questions of Contentment
Communion, Prayer, and Giving Stations open
"Gratitude" - Nordeman
"How Great is Our God/How Great Thou Art'
I had to really live with the song "Gratitude" to get through it on Sunday without breaking down. It is the story of our lives these past couple of years. Todd did a great job of being honest about the struggles he has had with finding contentment and how it has affected our marriage and our family. We are definitely on the right track and are so thankful for God's grace and provision on our journey. I definitely sensed an uneasiness in the room all day as Todd was very honest about his journey. Henri Nouwen said,"...the most personal in the most universal..." and that was truly the essence of our worship service yesterday. Todd and I are praying for our church campus to have an awakening to the truth God's Word in the area of finances. It has changed our lives in every area. We can't wait to see what God is going to do.
I've taken a few days off from blogging to just be silent with my thoughts. I love blogging, but sometimes I need to process what is going on between my ears before I share it...that saves you the reader from reading randomness! These two words have come to define my life the last few years. And then I thought about what lies ahead and these two words STILL come to mind. Where did I get the line of thinking in my life that these 2 words WOULD NOT constantly be a part of my life? I don't know...too many Disney movies, I guess :) All of us at some level are experiencing this in our lives. If you are not, check your pulse. I think every institution that is preparing people to be entrepreneurs, church planters, small business owners, etc..should REQUIRE a course about navigating the emotional waters of these words...the roller coaster that never stops!
I like to feel that sense of completion in my life. That is why I love doing laundry because at some point you are done (for at least a little while:) I am wrestling with the fact that this is life...these two words. I love adventure and I love reading and discovering new things. I love learning about new technology and new ideas. I love starting from scratch and coming up with something fresh. However, when these two words invade a little too close to me personally, I don't like it. I want to CHOSE when and in what exact way these words can happen in my life. I'm learning that embracing these words is my destiny and is exactly what living the Christian life and abiding in Jesus Christ is truly all about for me.
How do these words make you feel? Do you have some "hands off" areas in your life?
I showed up tonight at VIBE with a confident spirit, but wondering how this was going to go. Todd is out of town and I am no longer in a leadership role in our Student Ministry (read hear about that that.) Everything that would be happening tonight would be executed by volunteers - no paid staff.I arrived a little later than I wanted to and was a little stressed. I drove up and people were arriving. I walked in and the band was waiting on me! Everyone was on stage and ready to go. The room was set-up for the night, games were out, food was ready in the hallway. I tweaked a couple of sound things at the board and we ran through our songs. I walked off stage and grabbed some pizza and talked to kids and parents for about 40 minutes. About 30 kids showed up tonight. I helped Randy get his countrymen mic on and showed him how it worked. This was his first time speaking tonight. Everything started. I was signaled to the stage for our songs. Every cue was tight - lights, video, transitions. It was perfect. Then Randy got up to talk. He taught from the book of Job about the testing of your faith. He used the story of Bethany Hamilton in 3 parts using video clips from wingclips. It was amazing. He dismissed the students to small groups after his talk and that was it. I was so blown away by the entire evening, I really didn't have words to describe how I was so ministered to personally by the whole experience.
You have moments in ministry when working with volunteer leaders takes so much more time than if you had just done it yourself. I've been there. But when you sit back and watch developed leaders execute with the same level of excellence that YOU would have if you had been leading it? It is a humbling and exciting experience all at the same time. I don't mention names a whole lot but I told these guys that I HAD to blog about this tonight. Maire, you knocked it OUT of the park. Great producing, organization, and leadership to everyone on your team. Randy, I really don't have the words to express how God is shinning so brightly through your life. Luke, even though people mistake you for one of the students :), you are becoming a great worship leader for them and our church as a whole.
BTW - I mentioned to a small group leader that Todd was out of town. She said, "Oh, yeah, I didn't realize he wasn't here." Yeah, that made his night when I told him :)
Forgive me if this entry comes across as a vain or self-absorbed offering. That is not my intention. Todd and I are OCD about everything. Church planting made us realize how bad it really is with us. We LOVE what we do. But in doing it ourselves, we can rob others of the blessing of leading and doing it as well. I write this to encourage those of you who are like Todd and I that it CAN happen. Things can be done well and with excellence and you do not have to be in charge. Church planters, you will kill yourselves if you don't get this. Business leaders, you will lose good people in your organization if you do not give your team opportunities to run with the ball. I left tonight when it was over. I didn't lock a door or clean up a thing. I was told, "We got it." I think those are my new favorite words.
I read this recent article in Parade. Here is the main paragraph that stuck out to me...
"As a concrete measure of religious commitment, nothing beats counting how many bodies show up
to worship every week. So how often do Americans attend religious services? Thirty percent said
they attend once or more in a given week. But keep in mind that academic researchers who actually
count the number of participants believe that only up to one-half of those who claim to be in their
houses of worship are actually there.
Twenty percent of respondents said they go to services anywhere from once a month to a few times a year. Combine them with the 50% who rarely or never attend, and an interesting contrast appears. Although 45% of respondents considered themselves religious, 70% of them said they participate in organized religion sporadically or not at all. That means one-third of the people who identified themselves as religious were only minimally connected to traditional worship. "
Let me get this straight...70 percent attend church at maybe Easter, Christmas, or not at all. Let me catch my breath.
Here are some questions for you to ponder. Do I invite my friends to church? Do I feel my church offers something for my unchurched friends that would be worth their time? Do I consider regular church attendance (2-4 times per month) a vital part of my spiritual journey? If I knew that NO ONE would ever ask or care if I went to church, would I keep going? What keeps me from going to church every week?
I would love to hear your comments. As a church leader, if I am creating a worship experience that is not engaging, not relevant to unchurched people, not encouraging you in your spiritual journey, and frankly just a waste of your time, please tell me. I would really like to know.
We are coming to the end of our Message Series on the book of Philippians. Planning worship has been so enjoyable with all the wonderful themes in this book of the Bible. Our Message yesterday was on pursuing peace. I chose songs of response that focused on Christ as the Great Peacemaker by dying for us and God our Father reigning over all. I feel so strongly about choosing songs of reflection that point our hearts toward the person of Christ and Father God. I think it is very fitting to do songs of response that allow us to see ourselves in light of the Scriptures, but for me, when I focus on the person of Christ and my Father God, everything that I feel, sense, or have experienced seems so small in comparison to who Christ is and His Father God. Here was our setlist:
"All Because of Jesus" - Fee
"Because of Your Love" - Baloche
"Beautiful the Blood" - Fee
Video - Message Bumper
Time of Response - communion,prayer, giving
"Jesus Paid it All" - Alex Nifong
"Our God Reigns" - Passion
We have a 14 year old bass player, Macy, who played with us for the 1st time on a Sunday. She plays every week in our Student Band called the Refugees at VIBE. I also have a High School Senior, Michael, playing electric guitar with us. I love having students involved on Sundays! Bill and Rockalotta brought it yesterday (as always!) Marie produced and I have to say, it was one of the first Sundays in awhile that NO ONE asked me a service flow or production questions! Marie, you rock!
How was your Sunday? I would love your comments here on your worship experience at the Hilton Head Campus. Join me at Fred's for more discussion.