Monday, January 28, 2013


If we are faithful with what we have been given, God will give us more.  This simple maxim has proven true over the course of the CTK story.

When CTK met in a single location, and involved less than a hundred people, there was a concerted effort to do the best we could with what we had.  Our worship team was small, but well rehearsed.  Our signs were informative and well placed.  Our coffee was hot (we had someone stationed near the table to clean it and keep it stocked).  The greeters were friendly.  The kids rooms were clean.  The bathrooms had toilet paper and towels.  The kids workers were in their rooms ahead of time, and they were identifiable with shirts and badges.  The service started, and ended, on time.  We made a big deal out of the coffee mug we were giving to our guests.  We did what we could think to do to meet the needs of those who were coming our way.  And God ended up sending more people, maybe because we did pretty well with the ones he had sent already.

Contrast that with a small church that is not tending to detail:  The worship team is still practicing as people are arriving.  The powerpoint slides are being formatted just minutes before the service is to begin.  Kids workers are showing up at the same time as the kids.  Because someone is absent, a classroom has a sign posted, "Sorry, no class today."  The coffee pot is empty, and the information table is a mess.  The programs are being just laid on a chair for people to pick up, instead of handed out personally.  The service starts late, and of course, runs over.  People don't greet the newcomers, but instead jump into cliques when the service is over.  The whole experience is half-baked, as if this church was not planning on having guests that weekend.  This lack of attention to detail does not work for people.  People can understand that you may be a small congregation.  What they don't understand is why you are sloppy congregation.  They appreciate cozy; they just don't appreciate careless.  They like little, they loath lazy.

But of bigger concern is God's opinion about all this.  He has already gone on record that faithfulness precedes fruitfulness.  So before you ask God for more people, ask "How are we doing with the ones He has already sent?"  You will be a bigger church, after you are a better church.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Some solutions are simple, but they are anything but easy.  Consider, for example, the debt crisis in America.  It is actually very simple what needs to be done to balance the national budget and pay back the debt.  It's simple math, requiring simple adjustments.  But it's anything but easy.  The consequences of budget cuts are so painful to consider that no one really wants to consider them (so they aren't).  Plus the political implications of being the instigator of such draconian measures - well, that's a recipe for a pretty short political career, so everyone wants someone else to go first.  But no one can say that the solutions aren't obvious.  

But isn't this how it almost always falls for those in leadership?  It's simple.  It's just not easy.

Perhaps the location in which you are meeting is working against you, not for you.  The solution is rather simple:  move to a better location.  But that's not easy.  Not easy to find a better spot, or convince people of the need, or actually get stuff packed up.  The challenge is all in the implementation, not the decision.

Maybe you have a staff person is not getting the job done, nor will they.  That's a simple one.  Replace them with someone who will or can.  But it is not easy to make a move like that.  It's emotionally taxing and organizationally perilous.  So many trudge on for years with an untenable situation rather than do what needs to be done.

It's possible that in your Worship Center there is a very small percentage of people connected in small groups.  You know what to do.  But small group work is very difficult work.  It's easy-er to just get up and preach another sermon.  It's hard to make the phone calls, schedule the meetings, and actually get people connected.

Why is the distinction between simple and easy important?  Well, for one thing, you might be praying the wrong prayer.  You might be praying, "God help me to know what I must do" when you should be praying, "God help me to do what I must do."  For many of us, it is not a lack of insight that is holding us back.  It is a lack of courage.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


There is a lot of talk about guns in the wake of the Connecticut shootings.  Our regional paper conducted some interviews with local leaders about their feelings on gun control, particularly the idea of stationing armed officers in schools, etc.  One of those questioned was the superintendent of a nearby school district.  He said that he didn't want to comment on gun control, but that he would discuss school security.  When asked about an important subject, he didn't answer.  I know him.  He's a pretty sharp guy.  I'm sure he has a point of view on guns.  He just wasn't willing to offer it up.  Wise man.  He knows that no matter what he says, he will alienate half of his constituency.  He knows that he is in the education business, not the gun lobbying business.  So he is discrete.  He stays focused on the bigger mission.

I wish more Christian leaders would learn the art of non-disclosure.  Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean that you need to offer it up.  Masterful leaders learn to keep their big trap shut, about a whole host of topics that aren't "the main thing."  This can be taken to extreme, of course.  Where a leader will not disclose enough about what is really going on.  But for every leader who is too tight-lipped, there have to be ten who talk too much, about too much.  Loose lips sink ships.
This, to me, was one of the better takeaways from Spielberg's movie Lincoln, chronicling the president's political maneuvering in passing the thirteenth amendment to the constitution of the U.S.A.  At the time when a bill abolishing slavery was making its way through congress, something else was happening.  The war-weary south was reaching out to bring an end to the war.  Not the end of slavery, just the end of war.  Lincoln slow-played those negotiations, while he pushed hard for the amendment, fearing that those in the the northern states would lose their gumption on the real issue if offered a cease-fire.  But the rumor was circulating that the south was offering a truce.  Lincoln dodged.  When Lincoln was asked whether Confederate delegates were in Washington, he deftly replied, "I don't know of any delegates in Washington."  (The delegates had been directed to go to Hampton Roads, Virginia.)  

If it would have been me, knowing how much pain people were in over the war, I would have been tempted to say, "Yeah, the rebels might be ready to capitulate!"  But saying that would take all the focus off of slavery and onto pain relief.  Lincoln was too great of a leader for that.