Thursday, December 21, 2006

Grace Goes to Vegas (sort of)

What a success! We had 400 less people come through our walk-thru this year than last year. That's right...400 LESS (2,000 last year, 1,600 this year). Why is this a success? Wouldn't MORE people be a success? Not necessarily. Allow me to explain. Let's say you have a bus taking passengers on a special trip. Some say bus trips are a success if all the seats are filled up. Not necessarily!

What if this bus was heading to a hospital in Vegas? The bus has limited seating. If we have a mob of people waiting for the bus trip, not all of them will fit into the bus. Some will be left out. Some of the mob are physically sick and desperately need to get to a hospital in Vegas. But the rest of the mob simply wants to go to Vegas to be entertained. So...if a bus is at max capacity but there's sick people left at the curb, is it a success? Of course not! The name of the game is to make room for the maximum amount of sick people as possible onto the bus to make it to the hospital. Even if you have empty seats on the long as the max number of sick people are on - that's success.

[Disclaimer and Note to Self: Next time use 'Branson' instead of 'Vegas' when talking to the Christian community.] Am I saying that going to Vegas to be entertained is wrong. No. Well, depending on what you DO when you are in Vegas. Next time we'll talk about association, but that's for another time...

I have to admit I was slightly disappointed when I saw 400 less people at our walk-thru. I shared this with Scott Distler, our Senior Pastor. He immediately said, "You know, I thought it was a huge success because we had 70% first-time guests the first night and 50% first-time guests the second night. Last year we turned people away because we didn't have enough room. I'm guessing it's probably because our own church family wanted to come out to see the walk-thru." I swallowed hard and made a mental 'shame on you' note to myself.

I have to remember that it's all about the sick people. It's OK if the bus isn't completely full - just as long as there's enough seats for the max number of sick people to all make it to the hospital.

I'm so thankful for the team God has brought together to create an opportunity for those who desperately need the know the hope He offers to hear the gospel. Getting people on the bus isn't my job, it's OUR job. There's no way I could pull the walk-thru off. There's no way YOU could pull the walk-thru off. Together we can make an attempt, but will fail. But together (you and me) with God, the bus gets filled with gas.

Thank you, each of you, who filled the bus with gas. Musicians, animal handlers, actors, actresses, parking attendants, cookie bakers, cookie buyers, tour guides, room monitors, dancers, audio tech, video techs, light techs, staging, setup crew, strike crew, chair setter-uppers, chair taker-downers, childcare workers, photo takers, promo distributors, greeter contributors, medical professionals, tour-greeter recessional, dump-truck drivers, choreography writers, hospitality rangler, baby Jesus scheduler, tour announcers, wheelchair pouncers, office supporters, costume sowers, photo taker, runner maker, gaff-tape gaffer, parking-lot trafficker, phone answerers, computer programmers, registration takers, reservation holders, nativity shavers, Sunday turn-around musicians/technicians, and the regional police who searched for the calf that fell out of the back of Carl Myer's truck on the way to the church...

God bless you all, each one...for getting the right people on the right bus and then taking them to the right place!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Once you invest in relationships, take action to invite those you've invested in, a follow-up is essential to INCLUDE people. Our church has some simple and obvious ways for people to connect (Pastor's Class, Bible studies, Sunday classes, etc.). At Grace, Pastor Scott Distler leads the Pastor's Class. It’s low-key, Q & A based time built around lessons in the basics of someone's faith. It's a great on-ramp for someone who is new in their faith. Our church has also recently placed a high priority on connection (listen to recent messages on the need for our church to connect). There should be a place for every believer at church. Even though believers may not get to play the position they may initially want, there should be some time of position for everyone. Just like every great baseball team - there are pitchers, catchers, outfielders, and other positions. Some are first string, some second string, or some may even play multiple positions. It's the responsibility of coaches (staff) to determine the best placement, frequency of play, and equipping for the team to play a dynamite game.

Are you in the game?
If so, what position do you play?

Are you OK with what position God has you playing?


After you invest in someone, there will be a time when it's right to invite them to church with you. Even if they say no, don't be discouraged. Even if they say yes, then don't show up - don't take it personally. Most important, don't dump them if they don't come as quickly as you'd like. It may take time. Be patient. Pray that God will work it out that they will eventually take you up on your invitation. Remember, different people come to Christ differently. Some respond to public invitations, others in a small group, others yet will accept Christ in an indiviual setting. Keep the options alive and invite!

When was the last time you invited someone to church?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Invest, Invite, Include

The following couple of blog posts are adapted from Andy Stanley and Dan Reiland (The Pastor's Coach). Andy came up with "Invest & Invite" and Dan added "Include." This first post will be on INVEST. The next two will be Invite and Include.


Do you have a heart for people? Most people do. If you do, you are probably already investing in people. People matter to God, that's why He invests in them. That's why we should invest in people too. Investing in others should be natural. Simply build relationships with people who fall within your circle. Each person you cross during the week are opportunities to invest. Have people over for dinner. Meet someone for lunch. Revisit a returant again and again to get to know employees.

What is IT you invest? Invest YOURSELF. That means time, care, energy, compassion and other resources you may have. In other words, be a friend. Friendship doesn't happen by acciendent. When two become friends, it's because one of them decided to invest first.

How are you doing? Who are you investing in?

Sunday, November 05, 2006


One flashlight for Joshua to play with in the van - 84 cents

Two kid sized Frosties from Wendy's - free with coupons

A quite van ride home from Walmart...


Sunday, October 29, 2006

How's Your Grass?

I mowed our lawn last week. Hopefully for the last time this season, but I kind of doubt it. Here's how it happened.

I was sitting at home not doing much (probably writing a blog post). I heard one of my neighbors mowing their lawn. Our son, Joshua, at this point knows enough to get excited and point out the window while saying "mo mo" (his word for mower). I affirmed his reaction and said, "Your right Joshua, that's a mower."

I wondered, 'How is our lawn doing - does the grass need to be cut?' Maybe it should be mowed? I looked out the window and compared it with my neighbors newly cut grass. Our own lawn could use the mowing. So I went outside, fired up the mower, and went to town. When the lawn was done, I thought to myself - "Glad I thought of that today while I had time." But the more I thought about it, it really wasn't my initiative. It was the sound of my neighbor's mower that prompted me to evaluate our lawn.

Isn't that how it is with our conversations about spiritual things with others?

It usually isn't until I hear about someone else's life or situation that I evaluate where I am at.
For example, when I read about a live in the Bible that was changed after meeting God - I think about my own life and what I should do. When I hear about a story on Sunday at church about how someone's life being changed, I evaluate - hmmmm, I wonder where I stand on that.

Maybe I should be sharing where my "spiritual lawn" is at by having conversations with others. The conversation that I'd have would be just like the sound of my neighbors mower. Once I talk about where I am at spiritually, the others around me might wonder, "Hmmmm...where am I at with God." Besides, once I'm honest and transparent with where I'm at - others might be willing to be more open and share where they are at.

Start your mowers! Find out how your neighbor's lawn is doing. Your neighbor might think about how their own lawn is doing too.

Educational Mistakes

Learn from experience.
Sometimes 'experience' is the best education - and most of the time it's free. We'll I received an education recently when I decided to eat a combination of foods. I'll never try it again 'cause I didn't feel so good. It was right before bed too. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking.

Here's the list:
1. Turkey Hill "Party Cake" Ice Cream
2. Pumpkin Pie
3. Microwave Buttered Popcorn
4. Diet Caffene Free Pespi

NOTE: Eaten at appoximlatey the same time.

(Mom, if you are reading didn’t raise me this way! I should have known better.)

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)

Past mistakes ought to guide our future decisions. If someone points out my mistake by saying, "Hey Bryan, you really shouldn't eat all the stuff together," how do I react? Do I correct the mistake or deny that I need to correct it? Sure, the consequences of the food wouldn't be too bad in the short run. But how about other sin in my life that will have consequences in the long run?

After God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, God offered Cain a 'redo' to try again. But Cain refused. Cain had to live with the consequences the rest of his life. The next time someone suggests I might be wrong, I'll take an HONEST look at myself.

God, help me choose Your way instead of my own. I want to learn from mistakes I've made. I never want to be above my mistakes. I never want my ego to be placed in front of the changes I may need to make. I want to honor You with smarter living in the future. And God, when I don't learn from my mistakes - I humbly accept the conqequeces to my decisions. After all, I'm the One that has the decision to place either You in control or myself in control.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A church is not a business, so don't run it like one.

"A church is not a business, so don't run it like one."
I'm sure you've heard this statement before. The funny thing is we tend to use this comment when it's in our favor. There are other times when the church doesn't run like a business and we express that is SHOULD. Hmmmm. But this got me thinking about what the "product" of a church is if it were to operate like a Fourtune 500 corporation. What would it's bottom line be?

What should the final product of the church be?

Incredible worship experiences. Missions trips. Dynamic messages. Impressive video. Creative expression through art. Deep level thinking. Seminary-level Bible teaching. Are these the PRODUCTS the church produces? No. These are methods the church uses. Some are by-products of the real product. So what is the product?

The product of the church is CHANGED LIVES. An irreligious person becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ. Those without purpose in life find purpose in Christ. The addict who quits his addiction due to learning what Christ offers. Becoming selfless when we were selfish without Christ. If you see a changed life, you are looking at the final product of what Christ intends for the church. Well, maybe not the "final" product…because Christ is still finishing His work through us (Phillipians 1:6). We won't be complete until we meet Christ face to face.

Sometimes we, the church, measure our "success" by numberswhich is good. Why did they count the number of people who believed at pentecost? They counted people, because people matter to God.

We seek to become deep (spiritual growth) and wide (number of people growing). Not only deep. Not only wide. Both. A desire to change AS MANY LIVES AS POSSIBLE is a great thing. Changing 10 lives is better than 1 life. The debate then becomes which is better - 1 life changed deeply or 10 lives changed not as deep as one life? How about 5 lives changed a 'medium' amount in contrast? This is where people differ.

The hard part is how you measure changed lives. How many lives have changed? How deeply have they changed? (Sounds like another post to me.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lititz / Lancaster Monorail System

I'm not sure how many heard about this...

Pfizer Monorail Proposal to Be Reviewed
Thursday, August 26, 2004



Responding to downtown businesses and preservationists, Pfizer and Lititz Retailers Association monorail planners agreed last night to reconsider how a new system should serve downtown on West Lincoln. Members of the Elevated Transportation Co. board agreed to study running the new monorail with Pfizer’s new security fence. The action was a response to businesses that were unhappy with Lititz Route 501 Bypass Project because it would bypass Wilbur Chocolate and other existing main street tourist ventures.

Steve Koehler, representing the Lititz Retailers Association, told board members that a monorail is a key part of the downtown area that includes the Lancaster Queen Street stop -- "one leg of a stool that supports an urban experience."

Board members asked staffers to study the effects of the option on noise, traffic and views and to judge its cost effectiveness. The matter will be discussed at a public hearing in December and at an upcoming board meeting November 22. Board member Craig Norsen said he likes that proposal but voted for the new West Lincoln study to see how that would work and how others react. In another move, board members also agreed to set aside $25 million as a reserve fund for off-street parking and traffic-relief measures as part of the $1.2 billion system they will propose to voters this fall.

The whole monorail system would be financed with a citywide motorvehicle excise tax of 1.4 percent. The reserve money would include $15 million for 1,000 spaces and $5 million to improve access to the 4 stations along the 7-mile route from Lititz to downtown Lancaster. The number of spaces near each station would be determined by planners once voters approve the total system, company spokesman Ed Stone said. Company staffers estimated that about 6 percent of monorail riders would need long-term parking, or about 3,600 each weekday. The parking proposal, which must yet receive final approval along with the system plan in January 2005, assumes a new monorail authority would provide parking-management plans for each station, possibly sharing use of lots at parks, churches or theaters, according to a staff report.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tired of Doing Right

Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Harvest time. They say we reap what we sow. Any farmer could agree with that.

I recently had a conversation about family with a co-worker friend. He is currently caring for a family member in incredible ways. In fact, he and his wife are going beyond what the typical American mentality is for caring for families. I had to ask myself a hard question. Would I be willing to follow in their footsteps, or would the cost to me personally be too great?

Then I asked myself, “Have I become tired in doing what is right? The right thing to do many times is obvious. Sometimes I make the “right thing to do” confusing because I justify or give reasons for why “the right thing” doesn’t have to be done.

I thought, “What kind of harvet will I reap at the end of this life?”

We are all given an OPPORTUNITY. Maybe it's the same opporunity (our life). Maybe it's not (comes along in our life). Question is…whatever the I take it? Do I ignore it and do what I want anyway? Do I compromise on the opportunity? Do I rationalize a halfhearted response? Do I ever say…”Hey, I’m too busy to visit people in the hospital - besides, isn’t that Pastor (fill-in-the blank)’s job?” This verse doesn’t allow room for excuses. It calls me to cease the opportuniy to do good…especially to my brothers and sister in Christ.

Hold up. Sometimes brothers and sisters in Christ are difficult to get along with. We are sometimes more judgemental and intolerant than many unbelievers. As a result, we can justify that it’s easier at times to treat an unbeliever better. You know, kinda like arguing with my wife, then the phone rings and I answer in a sweet soft voice. Scripture says if we do not care our relatives, especially our immediate family, then we are worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Doing what is right now, without excuses, will bring a great harvest in the future.

God, You are the perfect example of doing good in every opportunity and never growing weary. Your Son had the opportunity to bail at the cross, yet He never tired of doing what was right. When it comes to my brothers and sisters in Christ - help me treat them with honor, respect, and love. I want my unbelieving friends to see that there’s something supernatural about how we love each other. I’ve failed at this…and I still need work. Help me treat everyone I run into with the same love that You’ve treated me with.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kansas Trip Highlights

Welcome to Kansas. Actually, we never saw this sign because we flew. Here are the top 10 highlights of our family reunion trip we took last week. Enjoy...but not too much.

1. Seeing a woman get into a pick-up...her T-shirt simply read "Mess with me, you mess with the whole trailer park."

2. Shooting off fireworks with two of my brothers-in-law while my mother-in-law looked on with a frown.

3. Burning my back, scorching my hair, and putting a hole in my shirt from my brother-in-law's I have the frown.

4. Seeing lots of family relatives I haven't seen for over 10 years, especially my only surviving grandmother and my brother and his wife from Siberia.

5. Playing in the hotel pool with our 21 month old son, Joshua...he was sure he could swim himself.

6. Seeing a tractor pulling a pick-up trailer...apparently the guy doesn't have a vehicle of any sort, so he drives the tractor from Denison, KS to Holton, KS (17 miles round trip). Here's a pic for you so you believe me.

7. Eating at 3 steak buffets in less than 48 hours (Sirloin Stockade and Coyote Canyon).

8. Ordering Papa-John's pizza to the hotel lobby and having the delivery man tell me with a straight face that there's no fat in their pizza crust...riiiiiiight. (I looked it up here ... he was half right.)

9. Watching Joshua fall down 12 steps, rolling and hitting each step on the way down, all under my watch.

10. Having my mother-in-law purposefully close the elevator doors on me while trying to board with two suitcases...sure - it was an "accident."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cheating on My Family

"But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife, and your sons' wives with you.” Genisis 6:18

Family must be pretty important to God. Why else would He establish an agreement with not just Noah, but his entire immediately family (and their wives). Noah’s family must have been important to himself as well - I wonder what Noah’s reponse would be if God had said, “I’m going to save you from the flood, but not your family.”

How important is family to me? Is it more important than my career? School? Friends? Ministry? Material things? While I’d like to say family is more important than these other things, where do I spend most of my time, energy, and resources? Do I feel more comfortable dumping $300 into guitar effects processors than I do $300 toward a family vacation? In the end, I should end up cheating something - question is…will it be my family or something else?

God, Noah’s family was important enough to You that you saved them because of how Noah lived his life. Like Noah, I’m asking that You would cause me to be the spiritual leader and take responsibiliy for my family. Help me to make family something I’ll never cheat. Show me what to cheat in order to make family my main ministry.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Unpaid Staff Retires After 27 Years

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." 1 Corinthians 9:24

There is an audio tech at Grace that is "retiring" after 27 years of unpaid service. 27 YEARS! Wow. I'm 33 years old…that means he started volunteering at Grace when I was just 6 years old. Steve, if you are reading this...that's a compliment...sort of.

To show you how long it's been, Tim Reedy (our media producer on staff at Grace) recounts what it was like when he started.

Here's what Tim had to say...
"To show you how long Steve has been on the job, I recount this story that he told me. The sound ministry began in the chapel when the services were held there. Steve would operate the sound board from a room that wasn't even in the chapel itself (Jodi Miller's office is this room). When a soloist or Pastor Young would require a microphone, cassette tape, etc., Steve would have to run back and forth from the chapel to the "sound room" in order to set the levels. My, how times have changed. Steve will continue attending Grace so please, when you see him, thank him for his years of service." - Tim Reedy

Steve has demonstrated a life of 1 Corinthians 9:24 when it comes to the audio ministry at Grace. Life is a marathon…not a sprint. Steve wasn't a rollercoaster…gaining momentum for a quick fun ride. Steve was a steady train that was committed. While Steve is still in the race of "life" - he demonstrated as a volunteer a commitment levelt that is difficult to find today.

What kind of race am I in….a marathon or sprint? I have to keep in mind my purpose, position, and pace. Like any great runner - I should know why I'm running - my purpose (for fun, for a prize, for a world record, for a personal best). I should know where I'm at in the race - my position (the beginning, the middle, the last lap). I should also know what my pace should be at any given time (rest time, time to push).

God, thank you for even allowing me to run this life race. I don't qualify to begin with, but you put me in anyway. Thank you for showing me how to have a great start to the race, and thank you for showing me what's ahead (what I need to know anyway). Help me to listen to Your voice. You are my only coach. At the end of my life, I want people to talk about what You accomplished through me - not what Bryan Nelson did on his own. Help me to continue to listen to Your voice and follow the guidelines you've already set so that I can win.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chewing God Out

They call him "Honest Abe." That's Abraham Lincoln. In the Bible, Job was the one who was pretty honest with God about his "bad luck." In fact, Job kinda chewed God out. Job told God exactly how he felt about his situation. And what was God's response? God took two chapters to remind Job that he was a human and that He was God. Really, God told him that Job had no business to question Him. Stinks to be Job.

However, God honored Job's truthfulness in how he spoke about Him in spite of his human honesty. God concluded with "...because you [Job's misleading friends] have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." His friends didn't speak truth about God. In Job's trials, they tried to convince him to deny that God still cared for him. They were wrong. Even though Job was honest, and it bit him in the end - God liked the fact that Job spoke truth about Him.

When I'm in trials, do I speak the truth about God? Am I always convinced that God has my best interest in mind? The truth is that He does have my best interest.

God, thank you for understanding my situations clearly. I'm sorry for the times that I question what Your intentions are. I have no position to ask. You are far above me to question what you are doing. My human nature it to ask. Forgive my questioning. I want to speak truth about You - which is that You know best when it comes to what happens to me. Help me live that out.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Last week Lisa, Joshua, and I went to Hersheypark to use to some free tickets we got through our internet provider D&E Jazzd. If we signed up with them, they'd give us two free tix to the park. Wow! Can't pass up on that offer.

Something terrible happened to our 20 month old son, Joshua, while we were there. The day started off well enough. The first ride we took him on was the carousel. All three of us could get on the ride and hold Joshua on the horse that didn't move. Joshua's eyes beamed wide and took it all in. When it stopped, he clapped, but still looked bewildered. But then we tried the next ride.

It was the ride called the "Dinosaur-Go-Round" that caused us to win the "Most Cruel, Unloving Parents-of-the-Year Award." Here's what happened. I stood in line holding Joshua while Lisa manned the video camera. I walked into the ride and put Joshua is the back seat of the ride and I got in with him. The ride technician came over and said politely, "This ride is for kids only." I wanted to ask, "What's your point?" but I knew he meant I couldn't ride with Joshua. I looked at Lisa and we shrugged our shoulders. We didn't know what to do. So I got out, strapped Joshua in, and walked out of the ride to join Lisa.

The bomb dropped when “Dinosaur-Go-Round-O’-Death" cranked up. While every other kid enjoyed the ride, Joshua freaked. With each pass of the dinosaur Joshua was riding, the terror on his face told the story. "What did you do to me!? How could you allow this to happen to me!? Why am I here!? Where did you go!? I can't believe you left me! Do you know what's happening to me!?" While he can't talk, he communicates very well.

All the other parents looked at the newbies. Their eyes said it all. They were thinking, "Awwww, the new parents didn't know any better. Too bad their child is freakin' out. Shame on them." We both wanted to jump the fence and pull him from the ride...but I knew he'd be fine. While Joshua had no knowledge that we were there the entire time, we knew he wasn't in danger. Joshua obviously felt otherwise.

Psalm 139 points out that God knows everything and is everywhere all the time. Nothing is hidden from Him. Sometimes I go through things in my life and I feel that God has His back turned. I feel like He doesn't know what's happening. According to David, the author of this particular Psalm, He knows where I am - no matter what happens to me. That's a comforting thought.

God, thank you for always being there for me - even when I can't comprehend why things are happening to me. You go with me where I go. Nothing is hidden from your sight. Thank you for protecting me and understanding what I'm going through on the merry-go-round of life. Help me to have your perspective more often - to know You are with me, understand what's happening, and won't give me more than I can handle.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Changing Roles

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16, NASB)

So what's my part in the body of Christ? Ephesians says that I have a part to play. But what is it? I've discovered that it changes with time. It's not always the same. For a season, God uses me in this way - and in another season He uses me that way. What I struggle with is when the situation changes, I begin to ask God - was what I was doing not good enough or what You wanted me to do? If God asks me to play a different part (or play my current part in a different way), why do I suddenly find myself doing things that don't build up the body in love?

If you haven't already gotten the email update, then you'll hear here first that Matt McElravy (who has been doing a summer worship arts internship with us) will be coming on staff in a part-time role as Assistant Music Director. Matt brings to the table strengths that were currently our weaknesses. Some of the weaknesses are mine (it takes a man to admit his weakness, but an idiot to post them to the world). Everyone has weaknesses. If you don't admit you have weaknesses, then that might be one of your weaknesses. Anyway, Matt is a gifted musician with excellent technological skills. He has a much more laid back personality than the task driven one I've been blessed with.

My role at Grace is changing with Matt coming on staff. This will be a new experience for Matt. New for me. New for Grace at large. I could respond with envy of Matt's strengths. I could begin to question whether God will use me at all.

Bottom line, God is using Matt and me, both, to build up the body of Christ in love. I'm so glad that Matt is here. Without him, there are some other new initiatives that I couldn't tackle without freed time. I'm looking forward to this year with Matt on board, and can't wait to see what new directions God will take Matt, me, and Grace.

God, thank you for Matt's part at this local body of believers. I thank you for all of the other WAM paid staff who make up this incredible team - Gail, Tim, Sheri. And, God, the unpaid volunteer staff - I thank you for them too...they are an incredible important part to our body. It is a honor to even be used by You. Help us to be satisfied with where you are calling us...make the call clear...and give us a loving spirit as we pursue the greatest cause in eternity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hire for Education or Exerience?

I recently completed a masters degree. People struggle with the "titles" they acquire and the pedigrees they can list on a resume. At a graduation luncheon with the church staff, it was interesting to note the conversation around the table. All of a sudden, people were interested in what rung on the ladder they were. What degree do you have? From where? How long did it take you to finish? How long have you been on staff here? Do you plan to go further in your education? These questions were not asked about me...but those around me. It's easy to play the comparison game, isn't it? Almost sounds like who gets to sit at the right hand of God in the end. It's all about the best seat in the house. Or is it?

Would you hire someone with a degree with minimal experience or someone with plenty of experience but no degree? I was recently asked this question by several people who were contemplating major next steps in their lives. There are definitely pros and cons to
both. While everyone would like to hire both well educated and well seasoned professionals, I firmly believe that experience outweighs education. I'm not saying that I don't value both, but if given the chance to hire someone with 4 years of education vs. someone with 4 years of experience on the field - I'd take experience. Here's why...

1. Real life situations don't compete with education when it comes to working with people. I'd rather have someone who is great with people than someone who runs over people with their knowledge.

2. You can gain education along the way in the real world. For example, you can easily get together over lunch with others to talk shop. There are books to read. There are seminars and conferences to attend.

3. I've found educated people tend to ask experienced people how they've done things. Occasionally you'll get the opposite, but only occasionally. And when it is the other way around, the real worlders usually say, "Oh yeah, I guess I already was doing that - I just didn't know what to call it."

4. At times, an educational institution can have master teachers who are excellent at theory, but theory in a bubble. While this isn't always the case, it can be frustrating to hear what an "ideal situation" should be like only to discover that the real world produces different results.

Please don't misunderstand me, institutional education is important...just not as important as real world education in my book.

God, help me to remember who I really am. It's not my title, my knowledge, or even the experiences that make me who I am. You have already made me a child of You. Help me to act like it - regardless of my background.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Satan and the Stealth Bomber

I'm a huge aerospace fan. If it has to deal with airplanes, rockets, space travel, or jets - then count me in. While recently in Houstonia, MO visiting family - I had an extraordinary experience, at least for me. While I was coming out of the small town house where Lisa's grandparents live, two of Lisa's cousin-in-laws (not sure if that's even right) were running down the sidewalk and pointing up at the sky. And there it was - a beautiful sight...

There appeared a lone Stealth Bomber crossing the sky. Low to the horizon. It raced through the low level clouds, close to the ground. But to my amazement, I couldn't hear the jet engines. Only after the bomber had passed by several miles did I hear the jets roar. By the time I had actually heard the engines; the bomber had already circled back and was heading back to base. Whiteman Air Force Base is only 15 miles from the metropolis of Houstonia, MO.

About 10 minutes later, I was inside the house...and through the window I heard the jet engines again. I didn't even bother going out to look because I knew it would be too late. But it got me thinking.

When Satan attacks me, it's a lot like my encounter with the Stealth Bomber. Many times I don't realize it until after the attack has already happened that I was attacked at all. If the two guys had not pointed out the bomber flying overhead, I wouldn't have even noticed that it was there. Sometimes I need other people to point out that I'm being attacked. Sometimes I only see the effects of an attack afterwards - like hearing the jet engines after the bomber is already come and gone. I guess that's what makes a Stealth Bomber a sly machine.

God, protect me from the attacks of the evil one by being alert. I have no reason to fear because You are on my side, even though this world is Satan's dominion. But it won't be that way forever, because You will claim victory in the end.

1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

What I Learned at the Demolition Derby

Shrieking, twisting metal. Burning rubber. Sweating mobs of people. Flying mud. Obnoxiously loud exhaust systems. These were just a few of the real experiences I had last Thursday night at my first Demolition Derby (Platte County Fair - Platte City, MO).

I never realized how fun it would be watching cars smash into each other in a mud pit. I was amazed at how much fun those around me were having. It might have been because half of them were drunk. But I have to admit, it was fun. It's the reason everyone likes to see a big wreck in a race. Of course you hope everyone is OK after the crash, but boy is it fun to see how much damage there is. The only difference between a big NASCAR wreck and a Demolition Derby hit is several million dollars.

You can learn a lot from a Demolition Derby. Here's what I learned...

1. Many times God will use the most unlikely person after they have been told by others that they aren't road-worthy to do something incredible. Cars end up having a life-span, just like people do. After cars are in a wreck, sometimes they are deemed "totaled." They are discarded by the owner, and sometimes end up in a Demo Derby. But God can use something that's been discarded or disqualified (Moses, David, etc.). If you think about it, at the Demo Derby...these cars are being cheered by thousands of people. Just because a car isn't road-worthy, it doesn't mean that it can't be used to touch the lives of more people than it would if it was road-worthy.

2. After being totaled and discarded, we are still expected to follow the rules God has for us. It doesn't mean we can do whatever we want because we've already been 'washed up.' Just because these cars can't drive on the road where other cars do, they still need to abide by very specific rules and regulations. For example, you can't remove the interior of the car (to prevent fire), move the gas tank to the back, move the battery to the front, chain your bumpers to the frame so they don't fall off, and a lot more. These rules are different than cars on the road, but none the less - they would be disqualified from the derby if not followed.

3. God doesn't like sandbaggers and neither do others in the game. "Sandbagging" means driving around without getting hit - in other words, not getting in the game. You see, you could end up driving around the derby and win the silly thing by avoiding being hit. What's the fun in that? There is no fun, but you would end up with $500. In the derby, the officials want you in the game. The crowd, who each paid $7 to see you in the game, would have every right to call you a wimp if you were found sandbagging. God can't use someone who simply avoids following Him.

4. Frequent inspections help us please God and be more effective. Cars in the derby are inspected before, during, and after the event. We can't take a vacation from following Christ...ever. If the drivers knew their cars wouldn't be inspected, you'd have all kinds of "helps" installed on the vehicles. In fact, while we were of the cars was inspected and found to be an older car than what was allowed. They were asked to remove their car from the derby. Begrudgingly, the driver floored the gas and left in a tizzy.

God, help me to remember that you might use me - even though I may not be someone special in my own eyes. Help me to follow Your rules, even when I get disqualified. Push me to get into the game and follow You actively, not be a deadbeat. God show me things in my life that need to be changed before I enter the mud pit to please You. When I leave the mud pit, show me again and help me not to become prideful of the job I did in the pit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Entire Church Takes Trip to West Virginia

OK, the title caught your eye...but here's what happened. Last Sunday at Grace Church (Lititz, PA) we managed to pull off a bluegrass segement in our worship service. Our Senior Pastor Scott Distler has ribbed us about never attempting to do country music at Grace. So we emailed everyone in the church, except Scott, and let them know what to expect. Click on the link below to listen to what happened. Please excuse the quality of the audio mix.

Click here to stream audio of bluegrass at Grace.

Click here to download audio of bluegrass at Grace.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pew Report - Snapshot of Grace

Surveys can be overated. However, if done properly can be a great snapshot of a church - just like this one of Grace Church (Lititz, PA). As long as surveys have a purpose and measure what needs to be measured while measuring it correctly...then by all means take a survey. When we looked at the survey data from the survey as a are some of the infferences we generated.

  1. Personal invitation is still the biggest reason people attend Grace for the first time.
  2. The location of our crowd is being drawn mostly from our immediate areas (within 10 miles).
  3. We have "two" churches under one roof. One group of people who have started coming in the last 2 years, and another group of people who have been coming 10 years or more.
  4. If trends continue and no changes are made, while there are the fewest people in the 60's and 70's age group could be our largest age group in the next 20 years.
  5. We are currently attracting a younger comparing the age makeup of those who have started coming in the last 2 years with those who have been coming 10 years or more.
  6. We have more visitors attending than "visitor cards" that are turned in on weekends.
  7. The most popular radio stations are adult contemporary music (7.0%) and country music (6.8%), but only after taking out the 50% who listen to Christian radio stations. Scott Distler, eat your heart out.
  8. A comparitive study might be interesting by taking another identical survey in 2-3 years - comparing the results with this one.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Who's In Your Pew?

Take a look at your pew (or chair, whatever the case may be). Are you more concerned about who's not in your pew? Or are you concerned about who is in your pew? It probably depends on what stage your church is currently in. Every church goes through its S-curve life-stages...and needs to reinvent and innovate to maintain a healthy state. A healthy state = new people coming to Christ and the regular people being discipled and growing).

Why be concerned about who is in your pew? For three important reasons. First, God has entrusted these relationships to us. We need each person to reach another person who may not know Christ. How will I know how to disciple and cause others to reach Christ if I don't know who they are to begin with? Second, knowing who's in your pew also helps us evaluate who really is coming. Third, it helps us figure out how to make connections on a Sunday morning to create connecting opportunities for people to worship.

Recently at Grace Church (Lititz, PA), we surveyed our entire Sunday morning worship service to figure out who's in our pew (or chairs in our case). Out of a little more than 1,000 people in the auditorium, we gathered 700+ anonymous surveys. That's a 70% return...very nice. Here's the survey, so you could see the questions. Then below are the responses. There are very interesting correlations from the information. In the next blog, I'll share some of the insights the staff had regarding the survey. Also, a big thank you to Matt McElravy for tallying the results for us. Matt is currently on staff as Worship Intern.

TIP - Click on the images below to view them in a larger format.



721 Total Number of Surveys Collected

410 56.9% Female
309 42.9% Male
3 0.4% Gender No Response

35 4.9% Age: 12 & under
64 8.9% Age: 13-18
30 4.2% Age: 19-23
52 7.2% Age: 24-29
107 14.8% Age: 30s
164 22.7% Age: 40s
145 20.1% Age: 50s
66 9.2% Age: 60s
54 7.5% Age: 70+
4 0.6% Age No Response

29 4.0% Visiting
118 16.4% Less than one year
156 21.6% 1-2 years
61 8.5% 3-5 years
81 11.2% 6-10 years
273 37.9% 10 or more years
3 0.4% Driving No Response

427 59.2% 1-5 miles
155 21.5% 6-10 miles
65 9.0% 11-15 miles
35 4.9% 16-20 miles
18 2.5% Over 25 miles
15 2.1% 21-25 miles
6 0.8% Driving No Response

322 44.7% Someone invited me
54 7.5% Lititz Christian School
14 1.9% Promotional material
13 1.8% MorningStar
13 1.8% Special service or event
8 1.1% Church website
284 39.4% Other reason came

127 17.6% Worship service (AM, PM, Easter, Patriotic)
19 2.6% Crosswalk
4 0.6% VBS
4 0.6% New pastor
4 0.6% Christmas
2 0.3% Youth group
2 0.3% Mother's Day service
2 0.3% Marriage class

TIP - Click on the images below to view them in a larger format.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Grace Church Performs at Barnstormers Minor League Baseball Game

Last Friday, a men's quintet from Grace Church (Lititz, PA) called "One Voice" performed
"The Star Spangled Banner" (National Anthem) at the Barnstormers baseball game in Lancaster, PA. If you'd like to hear their performance, crude recording on my Treo smartphone, then click here for streaming audio or right-click here and "save as" to download the audio to your computer. Or if you want to get real fancy...try this flash audio player by clicking here.

It was a great family time for Lisa, Joshua, and me. We even got to have a picture taken with Cylo...the team mascot. Joshua wasn't too freaked out by him...but I was. His fur smelled musty. Anyway. We heard later that there were over 100 people who went to hear One Voice perform.

The last time we had this much "buzz" at Grace was around the time of the Christmas walk-thru this past year. Who would have thought that five guys could generate so much under-the-table talk. What thrilled me the most was the potential converstations that could have taken place at the game, simply because these guys sang. Image all the people (insert John Lennon song here) who sat next to the 100+ Grace members. Image the talk about why they were there. Image the talk afterward..."Hey, I've heard of that church before..."

God, help us to use every opportunity to promote Your name. On the surface, it was a simple performance for a secular event...but we ask that You would use this opportunity to begin conversations about Grace that ultimately lead people back to You. Thank You for the opportunities you bring us.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Personal Addiction

I have an addiction. I didn't realize it until I went without it. I'm serious. It affected my sleep, how I interacted with those around me, even how productive I was in the office. What is my addiction? It's my "personal digital assistant (PDA)."

It's a tool and a curse wrapped into one. It's a tool because I keep all my contacts, notes, task list, pictures, recording ability, email all in the palm of my hand. Add to it that it's my cell phone too. Handy But, it's a curse too. A curse, because I became so dependent on it that when I had problems with it this past week - I became an irritable mess. I was crippled without it. I didn't know who I was meeting with, when, where. I didn't know what my priorities were. I didn't get important messages that were sitting on my phone/email.

Had this material possession become my idol? What I giving it more worth than the One that I should have relied on? I could debate all day on whether this object that started as a tool had become a crutch for me to function. In the end, I was dependent on it to continue productivity at the same level.

What frustrated me the most was how much of my own ego was wrapped into my productivity. I was concerned about what people thought of me when I didn't return emails or phone calls, dropped balls, or didn't have the information at hand that I was used to. My reputation was on the line. Who cares about my reputation? Was my entire reputation wrapped up in a small gizmo that seemingly controlled my productivity?

Now that it's fixed - life has been more "normal" (or at least what I perceived as normal). But I did enjoy spending more time at home without being 'connected.' Maybe I should take a 'fast' from my PDA more often…

God, help me to rely soley on You and not the 'things' of this world. When I get to the end of my life, it won't matter how productive I was…but my relationship with You and those around me will matter most. Help me be more vertical in focus instead of horizontal.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dad Unable to Pray

Mealtime can come to be a ritual...but having our 17 month old Joshua has changed things up a bit at mealtime. My son usually grabs both of our hands to pray. We'll ask, "Do you want to pray?" Because he doesn't talk much (at all), he simply smiles and gives one hand to Lisa and the other to me. Then one of us prays. We end with, "amen" and Joshua somehow knows it's done and retracts his hand. It's cute.

Recently I wasn't there for the meal something odd happened. Lisa told me about it later. Joshua grabbed Lisa's hand and then turned to grab mine. When Joshua discovered no one sitting in my chair, he turned to Lisa with a puzzled look and said, "Da da?"

It disturbed me. When I was single - I cared mostly for myself. When I got married - another adult was in the picture. Now with Joshua on the scene - it's a different ball game. Time is spread thin and I see the selfishness come out of me. While I was gone for a "good" reason - it caused me to realize something more deeply.

God is using me as an example for everyone around me - especially my kids. Joshua will want to know how often his daddy reads the Bible, prays, talks to others about God, worships Him, goes off alone to listen to Him - or if God is simply an afterthought. He will know if I talk more about the latest gadget than I talk about God.

Bottom line, we are examples to others whether we like it or not. People watch us and evaluate if what we believe is real. My son will look to me as his biggest example of how he should act when it comes to his relationship with God. Even though I'm merely a manager of my kids (God owns them), I am more aware now than before of my presence and the example I set.

God help me to be a positive influence in my son's life. And help me to manage my time wisely so that I'm not abscent in those most important times in his life. It will be difficult to let go of myself and put my kids' needs before mine. Help me to be the best example they will ever meet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Lunch on the Church (Podcast)

Ever want to sit down over lunch and get into the minds of Andy Brightbill and Bryan Nelson? Scary, huh?! Well, here's your chance. Each week Andy and I sit down and record audio from our lunch at McDonald's. We select a topic and then go. The audio is then uploaded to the internet and you can listen to it by either 'streaming' it or 'downloading' it on any computer. It's called "Podcasting"...but you don't need Apple's iPod to listen to it.

Click on this link to go to "Lunch on the Church" or on the picture of the iPod below to take you to "Lunch on the Church." It's updated each week (on Thursday's mostly). And for those of you who are really concerned - no, the church does NOT pay for our lunch. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Changing Stations in Outreach

Attracting the right kind of people. The big question is how do you get an unchurched person to attend an outreach event? While we think there are gimmiks and tricks to get people there (and there are), it's still true that most people come to an outreach event because they were invited by someone. It isn't the fancy flyer, the radio ad, the mailer, or billboard. Those are simply reinforcements for the churched person to use as references when inviting their friends. But that begs a good question...

When it comes to radio...on which station(s) do you promote an outreach event - Christian or secular? Christian radio? Secular radio? We need a base audience of churched people to know about the event - so Christian radio would do that. But churched people will need a tool to invite their unchurched friends - so secular radio would do that.

The answer is BOTH Christian and secular radio. You cannot have success without promotion on both Christian and secular fronts. Allow me to explain...

We actually need LESS believers to attend our outreach event (The Crosswalk Show). What do I mean? I'm actually talking about a specific KIND of believer. We need less believers who come to the show by themselves. This will, in turn, free up seats for both unbelievers and the believers who actually will invite and bring unbelieving friends. You see, we can pack the house with beleivers...but they aren't our target. Unbelievers are our target.

From the surveys at the shows, less than 3 percent of our audience said they did not have a church home. That's 30 people out of 1,000. Not a good showing for the resources dumped into the show. We'd rather have 500 people show up and 100 of them are our target audience. This would mean we are being more effective with the 500 crowd than the 1,000 crowd. Promoted soley on Christian radio wasn't helping our cause - it was helping pack the house with believers...and only believers. We also were promoting through mailers to an in-house mailing list that was generated from those who previously attended events.

Now that we have our Christian base...we make a shift in how we promote this outreach event. Our next show will be promoted on both Christian and secular radio. Our Christian radio ads will be 1/2 of the volume we ran before. Also, our mailing will be to 10,000 homes in a radius around the church to those 50 years and younger (the show's target audience). We will not promote this year to our in-house event list (generated from previous event).

Will these efforts help? We hope so. There's a lot at stake. We have THE greatest message for the world. It's one of love and hope that people need. We are hoping that we will attract the right crowd so they can hear about the relationship God wants to have with them. Reaching our target audience for The Crosswalk Show has been difficult...but the only alternative is to change our tactics or quit our effort to reach unbelievers.

Here were the results of a recent survey of local public high school students. We recently survied local public high school students as to their top two most listened to radio stations. (By the way, it's interesting that our local contemporary Christian radio station wound up on only 2 surveys...yet THIS is the generation we are attempting to reach.) Only four cards DID NOT have WLAN listed. WLAN is where we put our chips.

High school students were asked to list the top two radio stations they listen to most frequently.

96.9 - 16 votes
105.1 - 13 votes
105.7 - 3 votes
99.3 - 2 votes
90.3 (Christian) - 2 votes
101.3 - 1 vote
92.1 - 1 vote
98.5 - 1 vote
94.9 - 1 vote
96.5 - 1 vote
96.1 - 1 vote

God, use us to reach a world that is lost and hurting for truth. You bring the opportunities. You give the resources. You've given the command to reach as many people as possible and make disciples. Help us, now, to do what You've called us to do no matter the personal cost in change or risk we take on. If You have asked us, we will follow Your lead. May our feable efforts be used to expand Your kingdom. While You don't need, You've asked to work through us we are Yours.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Day the (Church) Music Died

No wonder I end up with diarrhea during me 60-second drive home. A dainty humble church-going lady came to me after a worship service and kindly stated, "Bryan, I hope we never lose the hymns." I smiled as we shook hands and parted ways. Right behind her, a bushy-haired teen with a cross-pierced ear 'shook' my hand and said, "Bryan, I love that edgy music we do." That’s when I get the diarrhea. But here's the bigger question. What about all the other music? Where did all the music go? You know...the Gregorian Chant and stuff. Allow me explain.

New songs are baby songs. What are new songs? In the scheme of history, it’s basically, anything written in the past 20 years. These songs aren’t in our hymnal (the hymnal we select some of our music from for services was published in 1986). We don't know if they'll survive into to their ‘teen years’ until they prove themselves like some hymns have. Some will become the hymns of tomorrow. Most will die out.

Hymns are in mid-life crisis. Allow me to explain. Our hymnals today contain music mostly written from 1800-1900. There is, however, the occasional exception. Take for example the melody that "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" is derived. It's a Gregorian Chant. Or the 14th century Christmas carol "Good Christian Men, Rejoice." But our hymnal doesn't represent all of musical history. It only spans 500 years.

So where are all the senior citizen songs? You know, the rest of the Gregorian Chants...where are they? How about the music that the Psalm were originally sung to...where are they? Let me ask again, WHERE ARE THEY MY TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY FRIENDS!? Why doesn't anyone ask for the ancient music of old? It's because they've been lost and forgotten by the church. We no longer sing the ancient music. Maybe we sing to the text of Psalms and lyrics written in the 8th century, but the music is long since vanished from the church.

The fact is, the music we use in church today (both hymns and new songs) is extremely narrow historically. If we truly want to be "blended" or prevent losing our musical historical roots - I need to sign my children up for the nearest Chant school. The question is, are we ready for that? Do we really want that? Will it help us or hinder us in our worship? Does God want it? Do we need it, or any style of music (or music for that fact) to demonstrate to God what He's worth?

I suddenly don't have diarrhea any more on the drive home as I find myself switching from Top 40 Radio to NPR Radio and back again. For my birthday, someone please get me a subscription to satellite radio. I promise to leave it on the Bluegrass hits station every day as I leave the office, just for Scott Distler to listen to at Grace Church (Lititz, PA).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Worship...Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

My son, Joshua, enjoys a book we read him with the song "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." In fact, at times he will spontaneously break out into movement at a TV commercial, song on the radio, or just for the fun of it. I'm afraid for the day that he begins dancing at church in front of everyone. Should I stop him? Nah. It's cute. Besides, he has better moves than either his mom or dad.

What is appropriate in worship when it comes to HOW we worship? Does the heavenly Father enjoy watching us dance for Him, similar to the enjoyment I get watching my son dance for us? How about clapping hands? Raising hands? Oh boy, now I'm getting controversial (for some).

When there is a wedding and the bridal march begins, what do people do without thinking twice? They stand in honor of the bride and groom on this special day. When a man asks a woman to marry him, he gets on his knee to propose to her. Why? Because he wants to show her that this is an important event and that she is being honored as someone very special. Dancing plays a part of our culture in that it expresses celebration, intimacy, and individuality. We clap with enthusiasm for everything that pleases us. Musicians will play their instruments for hours on end with no one listening. Speaking doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

Have you ever been to a ball game where the parents of the players were present? If so, you've experienced shouting at its best. Singing is done by the talented and untalented alike, and is often done in cars, showers, and on stage. In sporting events or competitions we see this quite often. Whenever a player scores a basket or touchdown the hands go up. It a natural response to an amazing task performed.

Let'’s pause and ask ourselves what we are doing during our worship times today. How do we worship? What are we able to do and still be reverent before the Lord? What is God's desire for our worship? Does God give us the right to pick and choose how we worship? Here are nine expressions of worship from the Psalms that stem from David's desire to worship the Lord wholeheartedly and without reservation.

It is important to keep in mind that these modes of worship took place thousands of years before 'the charismatic movement' that some believers are so afraid of. I'll agree, there are dangers in the charismatic movement..but shall we throw away biblical worship because it's associated with something that we are afraid of? Hmmm. Just food for thought.

Consider the following. Which ones are accepted in your church? Which ones do you feel comfortable doing? Which ones would you not be caught doing?! Why or why not?

Our Voice
1. Speaking - Psalm 34:1 says, "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

2. Shouting - Psalm 27:6 says, "Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord."

3. Singing - Psalm 47:6 says, "Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises."

Our Posture
1. Bowing - Psalm 95:6 says, "Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

2. Standing - Psalm 119:120 says, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws."

3. Dancing - Psalm 149:3 says, "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp."

Our Hands
1. Playing Instruments - Psalm 33:2, 3 says, "Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy."

2. Clapping - Psalm 47:1 says, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy."

3. Lifting Hands - Psalm 63:4 says, "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."

[Content taken from "Nine Ways to Worship" by Stephen M. Newman]

God h
elp me to express Your worthiness like David did. I don't want to be concerned about what others think of me as I worship You. I want You to be concerned with how I worship You. God, there are times I don't fully express how I love you because of what others think of me. Forgive me for putting others before You when it comes to how I worship You.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trust: One of Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Trust. It's such a simple concept. Yet rarely do people function in real trust. It's the first of five dysfunctions shared by Patrick M. Lencioni in his book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." Without trust, the willingness to be transparent and honest with others, a team will rarely be more than the sum of its parts.

The book lists the five dysfunctions of a team:

Teams are truly cohesive when...
1. They trust one another.
2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
3. They commit to decisions and plans of actions.
4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.

I wonder how much people really trust each other? Think about it. When was the last time you told someone everything about you? I mean EVERYTHING. See, we all have a problem here. We share almost all the details about ourselves, but stop short for fear of what this person would do with the information. Today, people find it easier to spill their guts in a chat room online than to someone they know. Why? Because of trust.

Having people on your team that you trust is vital to the effectiveness of the team. Without it, a team limps. Team members who hide information, guard their true thoughts, or avoid honest dialog with each other limits what the team can do. Remember the lack of trust between Samson and Delilah? Delilah pretended to love Samson while looking for her own personal gain. Unfortunately, Samson wasn't smart enough to realize it after she took advantage of him four times. Take a look at Delilah's words to Samson, would you trust this girl?

“How can you say you love me when you don’t confide in me?” she whined. “You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” (Judges 16:15)

When trust is absent on a team, it is extremely difficult to generate trust. Why? No one wants to commit first! Whether it be shear fear or not being able to humble ourselves...we don't make the first move. It's only safe (maybe) after someone else has been transparent or proven themselves trustworthy in small ways. Who will be the first to share about inconsistency in prayer life? How about when our marriage isn't going well?

Who goes first? Until someone goes first, the team resorts to veiled discussions and guarded comments. It's these underground dealings that causes failure in the team (as a whole) to commit to any decision.

Unless I'm willing to be open, honest, and transparent first...why would anyone else want to commit their trust to me? It's most difficult to develop trust with those who have proven themselves untrustworthy.

God, help me take a risk in my trust with others. I especially need Your help when it comes me and others who are untrustworthy. I don't want to give a second chance...but I'm thankful that You are patient. Help me be trustworthy and have integrity in all areas of my life, especially those areas that You know I need improvement. (I'd put them here in my blog, but I don't trust those reading it...but I know You know them.) Help me take resonable risks to develop a similar trust in others that I have in You.