Archive for the 'Leadership' Category



02
Jun
11

turn 4

This past weekend, for auto racing fans, there were two of the biggest races on the schedule. The Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. I watched the races off and on throughout the afternoon and evening, but the finish of both these races was what was most intriguing and unexpected.

In the Indy 500 a 23 year old rookie, J.R. Hildebrand was winning the race after a flurry of lead changes toward the end. Coming into turn

JR Hildebrand crashes coming out of turn 4 at Indy

four, the final turn, he had only to pass a slower lapped car then cruise down the straight away to the finish line and take the checkered flag. It was going to be a great story. But…it was not to be. As he passed the slower car coming out of the final turn, Hildebrand’s car got a little high on the track and out of the groove…sending him crashing into the wall! Dan Wheldon passed him and took the victory…while Hildebrand maintained enough control to slide all the way down the wall to the finish line and finish second. A great finish for a rookie, but not what could’ve been. My heart went out for that guy!

In the Coca-Cola 600, which is the longest race on NASCAR’s schedule, a crazy bunch of racing and pit stops and strategies made for an unexpected finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had been running well all day. Through a series of strategic calculations on fuel, Jr. decided to gamble on being able to finish

Earnhardt runs out of gas as Harvick passes him in turn 4

the race. he conserved as best he could…even turning off his engine and coasting during a late yellow flag. All this enabled him to be in the lead on the final few laps. He took the white flag with what seemed to be an insurmountable lead and a sure victory…his first in a long time. Then coming into turn 4…just as at Indy…that all changed. He began to slow and it was quickly apparent that he was out of fuel. Momentum would only take him so far. Six cars would pass Jr. before he coasted across the finish line in 7th place. A respectable finish and a decent payday for sure, but not what could’ve been.

So I was thinking about these races this week and several scriptures and principles from God’s word came to mind. Where are you on the track? Are you thinking about the finish at all? For all we know we are all coming into “turn four.” While Harold Camping’s supposed prophecy did not come true on May 21, we don’t know what the future holds, nor do we know when Christ will return (Matthew 24) or when our days will end (Ecclesiastes 9:12a). We can make all the calculations we want on our future, the future of the world, our nation, politics, economic forecasts, and on and on. The bottom line is we are all in “turn four” or at least we should live like we are.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul says,

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

And again in Galatians 5:7…

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Jesus warned us to always be ready…live prepared for His return (Matthew 25:1-13). We should live as if we are coming out of “turn four” all the time. Some of us have run well but we are running out of fuel. We are not keeping our lamps full of oil as Jesus illustrated. We aren’t living  our lives filled with and dependent upon and trusting in the Holy Spirit. We may be doing good things…going to church…but we aren’t in a relationship with Jesus. You are coming out of turn four and you are gonna run out because what you are filled with is insufficient to get you to victory. You must put your faith in Jesus…not in religion or spirituality. A relationship with Jesus is the only thing that will get you home. (John 14:6). We need to live everyday walking with Jesus as if it is the last day…as if we are in turn four.

Some of us are walking with the Lord, but we are in danger of crashing because we have gotten out of the groove. We are looking to the finish line but not paying attention to what’s going on right under our wheels. Hildebrand crashed because he got out of the racing groove and got “up into the marbles.” The marbles are the little balls of rubber that accumulate on the outside parts of the track as tires ont he cars wear over the course of the race. When a car “gets in the marbles” it’s like getting on ice. They can quickly lose control…and before they know it they are in the wall. We have to pay attention to the things that are all around us that can trip us up and send us into the wall. As the writer of Hebrews says, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrew 12:1). The enemy wants nothing more than to see you not finish well. If you are a Christ follower, Satan knows he can’t have you (John 10:28) but he can surely disqualify you and make you less than useful for the Kingdom and the sake of the Gospel in this world. He can get you “out of the groove” and “into the marbles.” We’ve seen it over and over. In the wake of such disasters we see many hurt and disillusioned people…even the ones we love the most wind up damaged. Discipline and concentration are essential coming out of turn four and headed to the finish. That’s where we are as the church. It isn’t about us…it’s about HIM and HIS glory. It’s about the Great Commission and taking the Gospel to the nations…then the finish line comes.

We have to stay focused…concentrating…not letting anything “cut in on us” and distract us from what Christ calls us to. We must stay filled with the Spirit…stay in the narrow groove (Matthew 13:22-30). Turn four is where the race can be won or lost. We can finish strong and well or we can limp across the line…or not make it at all. What is your focus as you come into turn four? Are you running on fumes or full? Are you disciplined and concentrating or distracted by the world? Are you in the groove or not? Finish strong! Finish well!

 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

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30
May
11

Heroes

I went to the store today to pick up some items for supper tonight. My oldest came home from summer school so the whole family is here! After several hours at a friend’s pool, we were doing the traditional grilling out. It appeared that the whole community is having the same menu, by the appearance of the shelves at Kroger. All the baked beans were gone as were most of the ingredients for homemade ice cream!  As we enjoy our family time and the day off…don’t ever forget what Memorial Day is really about…don’t let your kids forget either. We remember those who made our freedom possible by making the ultimate sacrifice…true American Heroes.

03
May
11

Summer Interns @ The Ridge

We are looking at hiring summer interns at The Ridge. if you know of someone who has at least completed their sophomore yr of college, is called to the ministry, & is looking for some practical ministry experience this summer, let us know by sending resume’s to me at stevew@churchattheridge.com. Click HERE for job description.

There is a weekly stipend as well as housing provided. Some expenses will be provided as well.

Any RIDGERS who might be interested in hosting one of our interns, please let me know.

03
Mar
11

Ridgie Awards! …and Before Next Sunday

Last Sunday was Oscar night. I don’t really care about award shows like the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, etc. I rarely watch any of them. All the self-adulation is kinda too much for me sometimes. But its the world in which we live.

I always had a philosophy in ministry that says “I don’t need to toot my own horn. If my horn needs tooting, God will toot it.” Because, it isn’t about me…its about Him. That is so easy to say, but tough to DO and LIVE. Because the flesh NEEDS to be noticed; and we have to fight against that.

By the way…THAT is our “Before Next Sunday” thought to look at. We are looking at just that in Matthew 6:1-4 as we continue in our Take A Hike series studying the Sermon On The Mount. Read ahead and come ready to dig in.

ALSO “Before Next Sunday” remember to be praying for our middle & high school students this weekend. Friday night begins our DiscipleNow Weekend! This is an awesome experience for all our students. We will have over 32 students of our own joining with students from two other churches in our community for a weekend of Bible study, worship, and service in the community. The theme is “Dirty Jobs: having a faith that’s willing to get dirty.” Pray for Wendell and the Student Ministry volunteers as well as our speaker Ritchie  Johnson from Transform Student Ministries along with a great group of small group leaders that will be treaching all the students in the home groups.

Back to the awards thing…Last Sunday, we gave out our first ever “Ridgie Awards”. These are recognitions for outstanding, humble, servant hearted, volunteer leadership @ The Ridge. I was so honored to recognize these people who give SO much to God’s Kingdom work. We gave each of them a t-shirt that says “I Got A Ridgie” with Galatians 6:9 on the back:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

The thing I love about all these people, is that they have no desire to be recognized. They just serve God with a humble spirit so that others can hear the Gospel and so that the church may be built up. Love their heart! Here are the Ridgie recipients from last week:

Operations Team:

  • David Lottinger…who sets up our signs and flags at the entrance to the school every Friday and takes them down every Sunday. He’s a humble guy who diligently serves. This guy has literally touched thousands of lives week after week with his volunteer service and leadership.
  • Jeff Shropshire…aka Robo-Man! This guy is the most amazing worker. He is the first one at the school each SUnday and usually the last to leave. Does a fantastic job with our set up team. I can’t keep up with him, so I just stay out of his way! Epitomizes “going the second mile”!

RidgeKidz Team:

  • Beth McIntyre…serves in our RKjr hall and is the main “story-teller”. Beth is the one who teaches the kids the Bible each week. She is SO sweet and does a phenomenal job. What most people don’t know is that Beth was our preschool coordinator from day one @ The Ridge and did an amazing job of getting our RidgeKidz Jr ministry off the ground. We wouldn’t be where we are without Beth!
  • Ross & Molly Weaver…These guys pull double, triple, quadruple duty! They serve in RidgeKidz, teach our youth on Wednesday nights, and serve in our FamJam ministry. Ross also serves faithfully on our Operations Team. Diligent, faithful, dedicated servants! Ross has also created many stage props, backgrounds, etc. with his awesome artistic ability.

Creative Arts Team:

  • Jason Johnson…Jason has been in our band from the beginning. His talent is excellent and his heart for worship and ministry is evident. Jason also was our interim Band Coordinator during the year-long transition between Creative Arts Pastors Doug Garvin and Jerry Davison. He has done MUCH to hold things together…on many levels. Love this guy’s commitment and his desire to use his gifts for God’s glory.
  • John Marino…ROOKIE OF THE YEAR! John came in a little less than a year ago and started setting up sound, lights and tech stuff. He was just willing to serve where needed. He has run sound and played multiple instruments in the band…all very well! John is simply willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to make the ministry happen. Great attitude! John and his wife Joy also are hosting a small group of Financial Peace University this semester.

Those are the first recipients of the Ridgie! There will be more…because God has blessed us with some incredible servant leaders @ The Ridge! We always need more too. Want to know more about volunteering and using your talents and gifts to “Impact Another Generation”? Click HERE and let us know by emailing info@churchattheridge.com OR by checking that you would like to “Make An Impact” on a Ministry Team on the back of your Communication Card this Sunday.

I will be leading a special “Backstage Tour” on Sunday March 13th at 10:00am. Meet at Connection Point in the center of the Atrium that day to see all the ways God can use you to serve in His Church and make an eternal impact in our community. You can sign up for that HERE

Finally…below is the video of some of these Ridgie recipients. Check it out…

02
Mar
11

Why do we need by-laws?

Some may be wondering why all of a sudden we are producing bylaws. Well, it really isn’t all of a sudden. Actually we have been prayerfully looking at this process since we started 5 years ago. Every non-profit organization is legally required to have by-laws. They are to protect the body, give parameters, state beliefs and structure, and people and processes for handling various issues that may arise. Bylaws tell who will deal with issues and decision making. They are not designed to complicate and muddy up the waters, but to give guidance, accountability and structure…and for the church, to do so based on God’s Word.

We have operated as a church under the bylaws of our parent churches as a mission church. That has been our legal status. However, in order for us to constitute and become a fully autonomous church, we must have our own. Most churches do so within 3 to 5 years of starting. As we are completing our 5th year, we need to put these things on paper. Much time prayer and council of advisors inside and outside the church have gone into this process. Honestly, I wanted them to be simpler, but as we looked at what other churches just like us had done, we felt like we needed to fully cover all aspects of the church and any potential issues that might some in the future. It’s part of the maturing process. Hopefully we will never have to draw upon most of the guidlines spelled out in these proposed by-laws, but they are there if we need to go to them to find out how to decide and handle issues that may come up. They are also a framework for future leaders of The Ridge to build on years from now. 

So are we gonna build some beurocratic organization here? No. Definitely not. The church is an organism. But even an organism has to have a skeletal system in order to stand properly. Jesus is the head of this body. We are it’s members. We are gonna stay simple and focused on the vision God has for His church @ The Ridge. We are gonna remain obedient to the calling He has given all of us as His body. And we are gonna do what we legally have to, in order to be recognized as a non-profit.

So that’s why we felt it was time to propose formal bylaws. And by the beginning of our next fiscal year, in the fall, we hope to finalize this process.

13
Jan
11

Are we as leaders really hearing from God?

I was reading in my quiet time this week from Jeremiah 23. It is a very sobering passage for pastors and leaders in the church. I heard Richard Blackaby speak on this passage about a year ago at a Pastor Leadership event. God really spoke hard to me. The message of this prophet was relevant to Israel when he spoke it and, sadly and frighteningly, it is relevant for us today. Jeremiah begins this passage with this statement:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.  Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 ESV)

If you read that, you see how serious God is about those of us who claim to lead His people. The standard is incredibly high. The consequences are eternal. How many times are we, as leaders really hearing from God? Are we drawing His people TO God and His Word or are we in actuality, maybe uniwittingly, scattering them from Him? It is sobering. It is challenging. If you read the entire chapter, it will cause you to question some things in your heart…it has me. It’s easy to point to the TV evangelists and the “prosperity gospel” hawkers out there or the super mega church guys who seem to be getting rich off the church and others and say, “Yeah, that’s about them.” But is it only? Is it about us…the average pastor or Bible study leader in the average church, the church planter who is just getting started, the missionary, the para-church  leader, the pastor of the highly successful church that is new and growing rapidly…too?

Read this section of Jeremiah 23 starting with verse 16. I’ve quoted it in the New Living Translation because it reads pretty clear. Then ask yourself, “Am I hearing from God? Do I as a church planter have a vision from Him? Am I just taking words from others and saying they are form God? Am I just trying to gather a crowd and tell them that everything is gonna be ok, because God loves you no matter what?”  We need to hear from God. Then we need to faithfully teach and proclaim it.

 16 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people:

   “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you,
      filling you with futile hopes.
   They are making up everything they say.
      They do not speak for the Lord!
 17 They keep saying to those who despise my word,
      ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’
   And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
      they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’

 18 “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence
      to hear what he is really saying?
      Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
 19 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm,
      a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
 20 The anger of the Lord will not diminish
      until it has finished all he has planned.
   In the days to come
      you will understand all this very clearly.

 21 “I have not sent these prophets,
      yet they run around claiming to speak for me.
   I have given them no message,
      yet they go on prophesying.
 22 If they had stood before me and listened to me,
      they would have spoken my words,
   and they would have turned my people
      from their evil ways and deeds.
 23 Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord.
      “No, I am far away at the same time.
 24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?
      Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?”
      says the Lord.

 25 “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. 26 How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. 27 By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

 28 “Let these false prophets tell their dreams,
      but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word.
      There is a difference between straw and grain!
 29 Does not my word burn like fire?”
      says the Lord.
   “Is it not like a mighty hammer
      that smashes a rock to pieces?

 30 “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. 31 I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ 32 I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken!

11
Jan
11

Communication…a little funny for all those who are snowed in

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight blog had this to say about communication in the church…and a pretty funny video to illustrate:

In many churches, communication sucks.

Many times, we thing we’re communicating very well as leaders, but the truth is, most people don’t get what we’re saying.  So… we go about our day and week and then are shocked when people aren’t on board with our plans, our direction, and our future.

It seems that we’re all speaking a different language sometimes.

It’s almost like the encounter Bill Cosby had with this lady:

…very few of us are as good at communicating as we think we are.Actually, the problem is probably two-fold.  We don’t communicate as well as we think we do; and we’re not as good of listeners as we need to be.

Perhaps you’ve also played the role of the woman in the video.  You find yourself in a situation where you just don’t have a clue (even though you should).

The lesson here for the church leader… communicate early and communicate often.  Ask questions to make sure people are following you… don’t just take it for granted.

Assume nothing.

HT:  Teamwork and Leadership Bloggings with Mike Rogers

What are some things that you do to improve communications?  What’s the biggest miscommunication/misunderstanding you’ve had in your leadership recently?

Feel free to share.

Todd

So how is your communication at home, school, work, church? What are you using to communicate with the people in your life. I thought about this recently, just because I use certain ways of communicating, doesn’t mean others use the same ones (i.e. facebook, email, text). That’s why I try to use multiple methods to communicate…but I’m still not the  best at it. I need to do better. What do you do?




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