Today, I am going to share the philosophy of ministry I have the privilege of leading.
Preface: This post begins a series intended to help other church leaders understand the way we do ministry within Local Outreach at Christ Chapel Bible Church. This is not the ‘only way’ but ‘one way’ to approach ministry. I’m not stating that there is one right way to do ministry. Context is important. You will adapt ministry to serve in your context. We’ll get into some of the theology and why I believe every church should have a robust community outreach in later posts. I have tried many things an failed and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. My hope is that you will see this as a starting point on a journey.
There must be a philosophy of ministry undergirding mission; in this case, community outreach.
A bit of background:
I’ve been on staff at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas for three and a half years. Perviously, I was doing my own thing in the wealth management and insurance industries until I received a call from the executive pastor at my church. He was convinced that I was the next Local Outreach Pastor. After three months of wrestling, one early morning God made it crystal clear, he had called into full-time ministry. That said, I continue to have a deep appreciation for business done well and the entrepreneurial spirit. I love visiting with business owners and entrepreneurs. I believe that ministry could use more business acumen and business could use more ministry acumen.
The Local Outreach Ministry (I also refer to it as ‘Local Missions’) at Christ Chapel existed for decades before I took the helm in 2014. The ministry has grown and evolved as the church has grown from a couple dozen folks to nearly 7,000 attendees, two campuses and over 1500 folks streaming every Sunday. A solid foundation had been laid by others prior to my arrival. I am so thankful for their work. It is a privilege to build upon it. I pray that I pass the baton well.
We refer to Christ Chapel as a ‘church without walls’. This means we believe we must move out of the confines of church buildings and into the surrounding community to serve and share the love of Jesus Christ.
We believe that church staff exists ‘to equip the the saints for the work of the ministry…’ (Ephesian 4:12a). My role as Local Outreach Pastor is NOT to do everything myself. My role is to equip our people and give away the ministry. Then, I get behind lay-leaders (volunteers) and support them in their work.
One person is limited to he or she can accomplish in a day alone.
But, many ministry leaders work as if everything depends on them. This form of ministry is exhausting and prideful. Little wonder pastors suffer from burnout and leave ministry. It’s unbiblical for one man or woman to do ALL the work. At the moment Jesus called his first disciple to ‘follow me’, he began giving away the ministry. Jesus provided the New Testament model and philosophy of ministry. We are called to give it away.
I was taught at an early age to surround myself with people who are smarter and have more talent than I have. You don’t have to know everything to lead. It’s a good thing if someone else has more passion for the poor or serving children or single moms than you do. It’s a good thing if someone knows more about homelessness or prison ministry than you do! God has placed those desires in their hearts and they have gifts you don’t have.
It is the pastor’s responsibility to celebrate that passion and talent and then provide opportunities for those people to express it.
In Genesis 2:19, God delegated responsibility and limited authority to man in naming things in the created world. God has been about giving it away since the beginning.
As pastors and leaders, we are not God. So, we can’t do everything ourselves. God has always modeled giving away (or delegating) responsibility and authority. So should we.
Read previous post: Unbridled Skepticism: Rebelling against EVERYTHING . If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
Unbridled skepticism undermines our thinking. It is a revolt against knowing.
The belief that nothing can be known for certain has run amuck in modern western culture. People claim they are absolutely certain that nothing can be known for certain.
Therefore, I refer to it as ‘unbridled’. Why do I say that?
The history of Western thought is for another day. Sufficed to say, during the Renaissance man made himself the center of all existence, completely autonomous and jettisoned meaning. This gave rise to humanism – which has no basis for right or wrong. In the 20th century, Post-modern philosophy claims that there is no objective truth (relativism).
Relativism is the root of unbridled (modern) skepticism. The presupposition of relativism is that objective truth cannot be known. This presupposition self-refutes because its an objective truth claim. In addition, it rejects any basis for knowing truth. Therefore, truth is subjective and relative to the individual (arbitrary). Unbridled skepticism manifests itself in contradiction, hypocrisy and ultimately futility. It undermines itself.
Conversely, I believe healthy skepticism is essentially a search for truth in the matter of things that matter most. In fact, in Greek, skeptomai means ‘to search, to think about or look for…’ The most important endeavor in life is the search for truth. Without it, existence is meaningless and leads to futility like doubting one’s own existence.
Ravi Zacharias says that one must test a truth claim by asking two essential questions:
- Do the facts (claims) correspond to reality?
- Are the corresponding facts (claims) coherent? Or to put it another way, when you pull all of the corresponding facts together, do they make sense logically?
Unbridled skepticism constantly undermines itself because it’s based in relativism. Therefore, it can’t seek truth as healthy skepticism can because what the ‘unbridled’ skeptic is seeking is amorphous.
An anchor thrown into a cloud will not hold a vessel.
Unbridled skepticism rebels against knowing anything for certain.
I find G.K. Chesterton’s following statement interesting when I observe unbridled skepticism.
“All denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind and the modern skeptic doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then writes another book, a novel in which he insults it himself. As a politician he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then as a philosopher that all of life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie.
The man of this school goes first to a political meeting where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts. Then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is forever engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for tramping on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for tramping on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt becomes practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”
– G. K. Chesterton
You may or may not agree, but it is worth considering.
Read previous post: A Man’s Morning Prayer – November 4, 2017 . If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
I look to you today for guidance, contentment and strength. You are my only hope and comfort in this dark world. I am bound to you, Lord. Each moment brings me closer to meeting you face to face.
Your cross shakes me from my icy pride. You broke the shackles of sin and death.
Help me be a good husband, father and minister – a faithful servant, full of the joy of your spirit; a man of peace…..
Formidable yet good.
This is my prayer today.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Meditation – Psalm 8:9
Read previous post: Hurricane Harvey (Video): A story from the Texas Coast. If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
CCBC Disaster Relief – Aransas Pass Texas – Part 1
Stories continue to unfold on the Texas Coast as our attention is pulled away from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The media attention is fleeting but our hearts should be steadfast in our commitment to people.
There are communities along the coast that never received any media attention nor did they receive significant relief help from FEMA or the Red Cross.
Communities were left to fend for themselves and make do with what they had. Here is a story of a church in the small community of Aransas Pass, Texas.
I created this short video to tell the story of how God has worked in a forgotten place, using a tiny church to serve a community. God opened the doors and guided the paths of two churches to serve and love on people.
“God does not care about the size of a church or the abundance of resources, he cares about the size of hearts, how we use what we do have and our obedience.”
The intent of this video is threefold:
1. Share the unfolding story in Aransas Pass
2. Set a ‘heart anchor’ for the people of my church (Christ Chapel Bible Church) with the people of First Christian Aransas Pass.
3. Encourage my church to remain committed and involved with serving well after the media attention fades.
Meet pastor David Dear and his wife, Charlotte. This is their story.
Special Thanks to the Dears, IronCenturion and all the folks serving together on the ground in Aransas Pass allowing me to share their story. “You Hold All Things Together (feat. Converge Band)” courtesy of Christ Chapel Music.
Read previous post: The Art in the Ordinary Life If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
There is an art in the ordinary in life.
I was reflecting on Oswald Chamber’s ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ this morning and remembered something important.
Our actions and attitudes during the quiet moments of the ordinary tell quite a bit about our character and spiritual life.
We live in a culture and time when ‘you only live once’ has become the motto of daily living. As a culture, we have chosen to define quality of life on the basis of ‘epic moments’.
We’ve decided that a row of exclamation points (!!!) is more important than the preceding sentence. It is evident, some have gone so far as to stop writing sentences and strive to create meaning with only “!!!” (exclamation points).
A microwave cannot create great art. An ‘epic moment’ cannot create a beautiful life.
A beautiful life is created and sustained by learning to live in the ordinary. Learning the art of walking in the ordinary leads to a beautiful life well lived. Small brushstrokes on the canvas of our lives express depth, balance and richness. The broad strokes of flashing color from epic moments have no meaning without the lines, shadows and delicate detail of the ordinary backdrop.
An approaching thunderstorm’s beauty is found in the deep blues and grays of the sky. Lightening is simply an explanation point at the end of the sentence.
Read “Getting into God’s Stride” – by Oswald Chambers
Read previous post: Can you look into the world and feel it’s pain? If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
Look into the world around you. Can you feel it’s pain?
A “Harvey Hangover” is the best way to describe my experience since late August. I’ve been back to the coast 3 times. In my hometown of Fort Worth, everything looks normal. Big trees, houses and children playing in the neighborhood are daily realities. As the 24 hour news cycle pushes the conversation on, its ‘normal’ to forget a tragedy.
‘Normal’ on the Texas Coast is much different. Mighty oaks are snapped in two and uprooted, houses are torn apart, not a child is to be found playing. The image is stark and lifeless.
Last Saturday, we were preparing to feast on a fine breakfast with a group of men at a small church in Aransas Pass to fuel ourselves for the day. Our team leader saw a lone man rummaging through a forgotten pile of cloths outside the church. He called out to the stranger to join us for breakfast.
The man came into the building, shaken, weary and with tears in his eyes.
His name is David. My friend Shawn asked him what he was looking for in the clothing piles, he said, “I needed socks.” Behind the tough, worn exterior of tattoos and scars was a broken man. You could see it in his eyes. He was coming down from being high – as he was fidgety, sighing and his eyes were never fixed on one place. I could sense his anxiety, having been there myself, under the bondage of drugs, suppressing my pain. That place ain’t pretty. It is dark, hopeless and controlling.
We prayed for the food and began to eat with David. He was thankful to be here. As he relaxed, he shared his story. His wife was a heroin addict and would leave him and their children for days. She would return and the cycle would begin again with an argument. After the hurricane, he sent the children to live with grand-parents out of town. He was hopeless, hurting and the tears poured. It was apparent this man lived a hard life. At one point he had been in nursing school and working. Somewhere hope had turned to heartache.
I admit, part of my heart began to become callous toward what I saw in the disaster zone.
The ‘normal’ is destruction and need. It’s ‘normal’ to see people wondering the streets with a blank robotic stare on their faces. It is ’normal’ to see people camped outside their homes under make-shift tents. It’s ‘normal’ to see destruction everywhere you look. It’s not like a tornado disaster where you can drive a few blocks and everything is in tact. In contrast, Hurricane Harvey’s path of destruction is so extensive that you can drive 30 miles in any direction and all you can see is devastation. It can cause a heart to become callous.
A couple days ago, I was safely at home preparing to go to work and I began to weep for a few moments. I had to let it all out. Certainly God was softening my heart against the callouses that had formed on the coast. All around is so much pain, brokenness and loss. God touched me and healed a part of my heart that had been dying in indifference. My only response was thankfulness.
It’s right to bend under the burden of the pain of others. I admit to trying to fix before feeling, I understand this is the wrong response.
In God’s amazing grace, He reminds us to look into the world and feel it’s pain.
“And Jesus went forth and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion towards them…” Matthew 14:14
Read previous post: Hurricane Harvey: The challenge for every Texan. If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
I have been down to the Texas coast twice in the last two weeks since Hurricane Harvey.
The first time was to recon the area and connect with local churches and city leaders in Aransas Pass and Rockport. I lead a team of men who were tasked to serve a small local church on my second visit. Over the years, I have seen the devastation of Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the EF5 multiple vortex tornado in Joplin, the EF3 tornado that hit downtown Fort Worth, the rubble of the twin towers in New York City and other disasters. However, Hurricane Harvey is different. Hundreds of miles of Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Beaumont are disaster zones. Destruction can be seen 20-40 miles inland in some areas. The southern-most zone where Hurricane Harvey made landfall looks much different than the north. The destruction in Aransas Pass and Rockport came from straight-line winds of 130-140 mph and mini tornadoes spun off by the hurricane. In Houston and Beaumont, the destruction is from massive flooding.
Wherever you go along the coast, you’ll see devastation everywhere.
It is heart-breaking. Most of the attention and support is flowing toward the Houston area. Therefore, when you talk with people in disaster zones hundreds of miles outside of Houston, you’ll soon learn a heart-breaking truth. The people outside of Houston feel forgotten. Look around the small towns and villages, you’ll see why. FEMA, Red Cross, etc. have little to no presence in those areas. Small communities are forced to fend for themselves and depend on what little outside help comes their way.
“The people outside of Houston feel forgotten… Where is their voice?”
The city of Houston receives the media’s focus. Most of what you hear outside of the Houston area is; “Houston, Houston, when are you going to Houston? How are we going to help Houston” Don’t get me wrong, I love Houston and they absolutely need help. However, there are millions of people who don’t live in Houston yet lost everything. Where is their voice? Every time people along the coast hear, “Help Houston”, they are hearing something else, an unintended message of, “We have forgotten you!”
In conclusion, here is the challenge for every Texan.
1. Help Houston!
2. Don’t forget your fellow Texans’ cry for help outside of Houston. Help them too!
Texans are big enough to handle both. Aren’t we?
Read previous posts: Fatherhood: A Father’s Gain – Part 2 If you wish to subscribe to this blog, please sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
In last week’s post about fatherhood, I described a father’s gain – the treasure formed and refined in the fires of pain and loss. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do so before reading this post. Click here to read it.
This week, the story continues.
Jamon Horne, Jacob Steele and me circa 2000 in Austin, Texas.
In the months leading up to my friend Jamon’s passing, Pastor Horne and his son had grown closer than ever before. Jamon’s mother will tell you that his dad never left his side. He was with Jamon day and night – loving, serving and shepherding his boy. He was walking with him, leading him in faith knowing full well the final destination. Jamon’s mother knew why her husband was not asleep in the bed with her at night. There was a burning fire of refinement bonding a father and his sick boy. The heat of this trial was forming and fashioning a priceless treasure of fatherhood.
Pastor Horne asked me to speak at Jamon’s funeral. I felt inadequate for the role. However, I realized it was a privilege to speak about my friend, encourage others and share my faith. Furthermore, I believed Jamon wouldn’t have had it any other way.
How does a man stand before his dead friend’s family and say anything worthwhile or meaningful?
How does a man stand before the teenage son of a friend and comfort him? I could barely look at him in the eye without crying.
At the funeral service, I was seated on a stage among a group of fine seasoned pastors. While their words were comforting and powerful, I found strength and encouragement in the silent and solemn acts of my friend’s father. I witnessed one of the most heroic, humbling and powerful scenes of my life.
Finally, the moment arrived when Jamon’s casket had to be closed forever. His parents arose to their feet. Pastor Horne left the side of his wife, accompanied by a friend, and slowly approached his son’s casket with streams of tears running down his face. Trembling but not shaken, the good pastor stood above his son. His face was set like flint. Pastor Horne had made up his mind to remain firm and resolute in what he was about.
A father’s final act of heroic love for his son.
The sanctuary of the church of a couple hundred family and friends fell silent. It was a holy moment. Pastor Horne reached Jamon’s casket and his friend patted him on the shoulder and walked away leaving Pastor John Horne alone with his son. He gently placed his hand upon Jamon’s lifeless chest and folded the casket dressings inside. Then, he raised his trembling arm to close the cover. This was the same arm that had held Jamon as a baby. The same arm that helped him up when he fell as a child. The arm of discipline and love. The same arm that hugged Jamon on Thanksgiving. Pastor Horne wept and trembled but, he wasn’t crushed by the tremendous weight of grief. His faith held him there.
God was right there and everyone could feel His presence.
I don’t know how long Pastor Horne stood over his son. But, he finally closed his eyes as he slowly closed the cover of the casket. And watching him walk away seemed like turning the final page of a great novel or hearing the fading notes of a sweet song. He returned to his wife’s side and held her head to his heart and sang a beautiful hymn. A man humbled yet full of pain, courage and faith beheld his Heavenly Father’s gain.
A father’s gain
I recognized this gain. I knew this treasure as streams of my memories flowed back to when I was with my dying father. He lay at home in the hospital bed provided by hospice – breathing slowly with eyes half open. My father’s mischievous blue-green eyes gazed at me as if he wanted to say something but he was unable to speak or move. We had progressed beyond words and the light was fading.
As I remember back, I couldn’t recall the last time I ate or slept. It seemed that being there was enough for me. God was there sustaining me. With a trembling hand, I would moisten a cotton swab and wet dad’s lips. In the fading embers of my father’s eyes, I saw my father’s gain – a priceless treasure. Deep in those eyes, I caught a glimmer of joy.
Our story continues in the fires of this life.
Fatherhood ain’t easy. Being a son ain’t so easy either.
Sons will become fathers someday. As we experience fatherhood, we must understand there will be pain, distance and fire. However, treasure will be found if we can look beyond the blinding smoke and heat of trials. Something beautiful is being formed. It is our duty to search for this majestic treasure and find a father’s gain.
“When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.“
Read previous posts: Fatherhood: A Father’s Gain – Part 1
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Not quite a year had passed since my dad died when I received a call from a close friend in tears. He was on his way to see our friend Jamon. Jamon was in the final moments of his battle with cancer.
Fatherhood ain’t easy
As with many father-son relationships, there can be seasons of distance and contention. I experienced it in my relationship with my father. But, what is so interesting about terminal illness and dying is that the pain and suffering clear away the trivialities of life. The fire of trial and pain strip away the coldness of wills and egos.
When you are in the crucible, there is no way of understanding gain as there is no way of experiencing rising when falling. The goldsmith dare not attempt to snatch up the gold while it’s in its liquid form. He must wait. In the fire of trials, we must wait.
Priceless treasure can be found when the fire dies down and the fog of grief dissipates. I think it is our duty to discover the gain. Where is it? What does it look like? What does it mean?
Later that night as I was working in my home office, I received a call that Jamon was gone. Jamon died on March 6th, 2017 at the age of 44. Although time and distance separated us, he was my friend. I began to weep. All I could do was weep – weep for the loss, weep for Jamon’s teenage son who was going to be graduating from high school soon, weeping for his parents, weeping over the memories… weeping over the laughter and good times we shared.
That is when I discovered a priceless treasure formed when my father passed away. My son, Nelson (7yrs old) quietly entered my office. He gently placed his little hand on my shoulder. Nelson recognized the tears of his father. He had seen the tears before and he was ready and willing to step into my pain.
Nelson looked me strait in the eye and said, “I am sorry about your friend Jamon dying.” He put his arms around me and held me like I hold him when he’s fallen and hurting. I hope that I hold him like he was holding me and would do well to aspire to his example.
I cried on my 7 year old son’s shoulder for a few moments. Then, Nelson backed away to look at me again and put his hand on my arm. He said, “In times like this we should pray.” So, we prayed. Then Nelson said the most profound statement any human being could make. Remember, he is 7 years old. He said, “Dad, when someone dies, instead of being sad, we can remember them and rejoice.”
“Dad, when someone dies, instead of being sad, we can remember them and rejoice.”
I was presented with a priceless treasure in fatherhood that had been refined and purified for more than a year in the fire of my dad’s death. I had received a father’s gain.
This is not the end of the story. Here is a link to Part Two…
Read previous posts: Are you a person of peace?
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There is a lot of name-calling going on. People are sick of it.
The best way to get people tune you out is to start name-calling. Name-calling is neither helpful nor constructive. In fact, it’s destructive. There has never been an instance when calling someone a name has actually caused a positive outcome.
Seth Godin states, “The best reason to brand someone with a pejorative label is to push them away, to forestall useful conversation, to turn them into the other…. When we call someone misogynist or racist or sexist or a capitalist, a socialist or an abstract expressionist, what are we hoping for? Every one of us is on the ‘ist’ spectrum, so the label becomes meaningless. Meaningless labels are noise, noise that lasts.”
In addition to Seth Godin’s list, consider the names people hurl at each other: Libtard, racist, bigot, redneck, homophobe, etc…
By calling someone who disagrees with you a name, what are you trying to accomplish?
Try to think of any instance when employing the name-calling tactic has elevated or furthered a conversation or brought value or peace?
You cannot. Why is that?
The answer is… Because name-calling is a logical fallacy (Ad Hominem).
Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to discredit their argument. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone’s case without actually having to engage with it. (yourlogicalfallacyic.com)
Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself. (Wikipedia)
Facebook and Twitter have provided platforms for people to throw nasty verbal jabs safely from behind a computer keyboard without having to engage directly with someone they disagree. It’s easier (safer) to type something than to actually say it in a face-to-face interaction.
We have established that Name-calling has accomplished zero and is counter-productive. It is a logical fallacy. It is a bunch of noise. There have been no great accomplishments by name-calling in history. The title of this post is just as ludicrous as name-calling itself.
One step solution?