Thursday, May 27, 2010


As a pastor, I feel like I am constantly facing challenges. There are new people to try to assimilate into the fellowship. Finances are always an issue, and we have to look for ways to encourage people to give. The needs of the community are always pressing in, which is great for ministry opportunity, but it causes me to evaluate each opportunity to decide if it is a "good" thing or the "right" thing in which to engage. Of course, each day is filled with the "regular ministry stuff," and if you don't mind my saying so, some of it is less thrilling than the rest!

I find encouragement in the words of Scripture. I'm reminded that the Jordan River was at flood stage when Joshua was leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. I made a note in my bible the other day - "High tide demands high trust." I am reminded almost daily that the success of this church does not depend upon me, but upon my faithfulness to trust the One who builds the church. After all, Jesus said He would build His church, and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. A prevailing church is filled with challenges, but it is His church, and during the high tide times I need to increase my trust.

Got challenges?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Failure - Is It Really Optional?

Quite some time ago I read Craig Groeschel's book, It. The book is about how churches and leaders can get "it" and keep "it." I found the book to be an excellent read; it was both challenging and practical.

I remember reading about the issue of failure. A common phrase we hear in life is "Failure is not option." Do you remember those words from Gene Kranz about bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home? But Groeschel makes what I think is a great point on page 114 of his book: "Failure is not an option. It is essential." As I think about it, I have to admit I've made a lot of mistakes in life - mistakes that many would consider failures. I also have to admit that I am I've been an equal opportunity failure - my mistakes and failings are not limited to one particular area of life. And if I can be really honest, I've beaten myself up a lot over those things.

But I've also learned that failure is not final. I've learned a lot from my failures. I guess I've learned to fail forward (thanks for the phrase, John Maxwell!). Again, quoting from the Apollo 13 movie, I've learned the art of what it means to be a "successful failure." Let me give you an example. In 1997 I moved my family from San Diego to Fort Wayne (right there some of you would say "failure"!) to do a church plant. After five years, I had to walk away from the plant and it folded. Many of my peers called it a failure. And if the only criteria of success was to have an established church, then they were right. But let me tell you about the successes out of that experience. Several of the families who were a part of that plant are now in different parts of the country, and they have taken the great things we did as a church plant and implemented them in their lives and ministries. They are bringing about life-change in others, and they would tell you how instrumental Summit Church was in their spiritual development. I am now the Director of Church Planting for the Indiana North District of The Wesleyan Church, and I do church planter assessments with our denomination. I learned a lot about how not to do a church plant, and over the years I've adopted some better practices that have helped us plant 3 new churches in the past 3 years. I've learned the importance of having a team of people who are involved in the process, and God has given me a great team.

Have you had some "successful failures" in your life? Care to share? Do you think that failure is essential or would you take issue with that? I'm listening...