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Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing a series of posts on a “Biblical View of Communication.”  We live in one of the most communication-heavy periods in the history of mankind.  You can communicate with people in more ways today than ever before.  From email to texting, to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or the old reliable methods of a snail-mail letter or a phone call.  With all of these communication channels available to us, it is amazing how we still struggle with communication.  And this is the real issue with communication, and what we’ll be looking at over the next few weeks:  Communication is more about the heart than the words.

Not that words are important, because they are.  But ultimately the right words with the wrong heart will cause more harm than good.

Here are the four angles we’ll be looking at with communication:

  • With Love
  • With Truth
  • With Wisdom
  • Toward Redemption

To start things off, communicating in love seems like a given.  Of course we should communicate in love, but the reality is that this is easier said than done.  As a leader, it is often easier to simply speak the truth, but without love.  And while truth is important, love must precede truth.

As a follower of Christ, the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3 that we are to “put on love.”  Essentially that everything we do and say should be covered in love.  This sounds good in theory, but when the rubber hits the road, this gets much more difficult.  When you’re frustrated, when things don’t go your way, when obstacles are mounting and your fuse is short, then what?

Remember, Communication is more about the heart than the words.  As a leader, if you find yourself having trouble speaking in love.  Or if others are brave enough to point this out to you, it’s not simply the words you are speaking, but ultimately the heart behind the words.

Jesus shares in Luke 6 this powerful truth: “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  If your words aren’t covered in love, what is your heart full of?

As a leader, and especially a leader in the church, it is crucial that your communication be ‘in love.’  As Paul writes, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1)  Our words must be clothed in love.

So practically speaking, how does this apply to leaders and followers of Christ?  Ask yourselves these questions before you speak, send that email, or fire off that comment on Facebook:

  • What is the motive (or heart) behind these words?
  • Do my words reflect the love of Christ or the anger of man?
  • Is love a clear and visible component of the words I am about to share?

Over the last couple months, I’ve been posting about our Core Values at Calvary.  If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can read them all here.  This week, we finish up this series looking at “Focusing Outward.”  

I’ve often found that the longer a church exists, the easier it is to focus inward.  After a while, the passion of a new church wears off, the burden for reaching those far from God begins to diminish, and the greatest concern becomes comfort rather than impact.  In fact, this is the normal path for any human endeavor.  Without vision and clear direction, we will always find ourselves drifting toward what’s most comfortable.  Whether that’s a workout routine, a building project or even a church.  The great tragedy with a church, though, is that by focusing inward rather than outward, actual lives are affected.  In fact, when we focus inward, essentially what we’re saying is:

  • …my life has more value than those outside the church walls.
  • …I’ve come to a place spiritually where reaching the lost is no longer important to me.
  • …God values my satisfaction over someone else’s salvation.

Churches that remain inward focused will find themselves in a very comfortable, me-centered environment, that is on a path toward extinction.

At Calvary, however, our desire is to be “Outward Focused.”  And what we mean, and what we are passionate about is that: “The church exists to take the message of Christ inside its walls to the world outside its walls.”

As a church, my prayer is that we don’t become so comfortable that we miss the truth that we were once outside those walls in need of a Savior.  Jesus gave us the command to go and make disciples.  Our greatest mission as a church is to fulfill that very command of Christ.  Through our resources, ministries and programs, we strive to take this great message of the gospel outside our walls into our community, throughout our region, and around the world.  The moment we stop focusing outward will be the moment we stop fulfilling our mission to “Lead people into an overflowing life with Christ.”

This is why it is so crucial that we continue to Pursue God’s Presence, that we make Building Relationships a priority, that we understand the importance to Grow with Purpose, that we become unquestionably passionate about Giving Generously, that we continue to Serve with Excellence, that we grasp the importance in an ever-changing culture to adopt a Creative Approach, that we never forget the responsibility to Reach the Next Generation because as a church, we are called to continually Focus Outward with the life-changing message of Christ!

Join us on that journey – it’s not an easy one, but I can tell you God is preparing us as a church to be a force in the Kingdom of God!

Over the last couple months, I’ve been journeying through the core values for Calvary.  This week, we look at one of the core values that is not simply important for today, but for the future.  It’s our commitment to “Reach the Next Generation.”  We believe that “It is the responsibility of every generation to reach the next generation.”  This isn’t something that is just a nice thought, or would be a good addition to our journey with Christ, but I believe it is a mandate for every follower of Christ to pass the spiritual baton to the next generation.  And as a church, it is even more important.  Because the longevity of a church is based on the priority they place on reaching and discipling the next generation.  I have unfortunately sat in and officiated church business meetings as a congregation votes to close their doors.  On these occasions, you can almost always guarantee the next generation was no longer a priority at that church.

For Calvary, making this a priority and core value, doesn’t mean we neglect older generations or those that are not part of the next generation, but quite the opposite!  To reach the next generation, it takes every other generation doing their part.  From being a model for healthy marriages, to providing wisdom to a younger generation, we all carry the responsibility to pass on what we have learned to the next generation.  As this happens, we find a healthy cycle of maturity.  One generation helps the next grow and mature.

The problem is, this is rarely our natural response.  Many of us don’t just naturally pass on what we’ve learned and experienced to the next generation, and many in the next generation don’t usually want to receive what the generation before them has to offer.  So how do we make this work?

Reaching the next generation must start with and always include humility.  A person walking with humility will be far more effective reaching and investing in the next generation, and the young person that responds with humility will be given the incredible experience to receive wisdom that far exceeds their years on earth.  As a church, we know that we aren’t perfect, and we surely don’t have it all together.  But in humility we strive to use the resources we have to fulfill this mandate by God to Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Prov. 22:6)  As a church, my prayer is that we transform the future of our community by providing opportunities for kids and youth to experience the power and presence of God, and pursue His unique purpose for them!  I believe a church that does this with humility may not be perfect, but it will a force in the Kingdom of God.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself about how you are reaching the next generation:

  • What experience, wisdom or ability has God uniquely given you that you can pass on to the next generation?
  • What steps are you taking personally to invest in the next generation?
  • Is your investment in the next generation about you (pride), or about setting the next generation up to succeed (humility)?

Today we continue looking at our Core Values at Calvary.  You can read all the posts in this series here.  This week, we are looking at value of taking “A Creative Approach.”

One of the more unfortunate things that has happened in the Pentecostal, or Spirit-filled church movement, over the last half century is the gradual decline of creativity within the church.  What is sad is that churches that claim to be Spirit-filled have often eliminated and shunned the creatives of their community.  But if we truly believe that the Holy Spirit is the most creative being in the Universe, then as Spirit-filled people, we should naturally be creative.

This doesn’t mean we change, alter or edit the message of scripture, but rather that we continually update and adapt our methods.  In fact, the core of what we believe about creativity is that “The unchanging message of scripture calls for ever-changing methods.”  To continue to communicate a timeless message, we have to be willing to allow for creative approaches to ministry.  And not creativity that takes away from the message, but rather creativity that enhances the message.

Because of this we as a church strive to create opportunities for creativity to be encouraged.  From music, to design, lighting or other artistic expressions.  My conviction is that worship isn’t simply something we do on Sunday as we sing, but it’s what we do each day as we embrace the creativity within us and express it to the world around us.  

My hope for you, and for the church we are daily creating is that it is a place where creatives feel welcomed, and are given the opportunity to express their creativity for the glory of the One that created us.

 

I’m continuing my series of posts on Calvary’s Core Values.  You can read some of the previous posts here.  This week, we’re looking at “Serving with Excellence.”

If I can for a moment, I’d like to share a confession with you.  Just between you and me, one of my great frustrations from growing up in the church, and being around church for most of my life, is when people say “It’s good enough.”  Every time I hear that I wonder, “Good enough for what?” 

You see, here’s the disconnect that often happens in churches:  We separate effort from ability.  The thought is that if I give a good effort at something, whether I’m good at it or not, then it’s “good enough.”  While as a pastor, I really appreciate people that serve and give a good effort, the effort and energy that is given toward an area that a person isn’t really gifted in seems kind of wasted.  In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul writes that the body of Christ (speaking of the Church) is made up of many parts, and yet we are still one body.  What he means is that we are all gifted in different things, but unity happens when we can all work together with our varying abilities toward the same goal.

So here’s where our core value at Calvary comes in.  We believe very strongly in excellence.  What that means to us is that we are very committed to maximizing our resources and abilities to make the greatest impact.  This doesn’t mean we diminish someone’s effort, but we strive to help people find the right places in the ‘body’ that they can maximize their gifts to make the greatest impact.

For example, when I was a youth pastor a number of years ago, I lead worship one Wednesday night.  While I gave my best effort, it was anything but excellent…it was actually pretty pitiful.  Because excellence, giving our best to God, is so important, I didn’t lead worship in our youth service again.  That was my first time, and my last time.  Why?  Not because I’m not important or valued in the Kingdom of God, but my effort was better served in another capacity than leading worship…that wasn’t (and still isn’t) my gifting.

So how do we do things with excellence?  Here’s a few ways we strive to do that:

  • We make it a point to be honest.  If we’re not good at something, there’s nothing wrong with admitting it.
  • We strive to evaluate.  Evaluation isn’t destructive or negative, it is ‘iron sharpening iron’ working to improve and better the gift God has placed within us.
  • We value a person’s place and wiring.  We are adamant that God has a place in the church for everyone.  What that means is that just because someone’s not good at one thing, doesn’t mean they’ll be bad at something else.  God gifts us each to be successful and effective in the purpose He created us for.  When someone discovers that purpose, it can be an eye-opening moment for not only their direction, but also the focus of their giftings.

We are in the middle of a series of posts about the core values of Calvary.  This week, we’re looking at the value that we are called to “Give Generously.”  Now, all of our values are important, but this is one of the more important values we possess.  Basically we give generously because “We are blessed to be a blessing.”  Whether it be our time, our resources, or even giving out of our ability, we have this strong, sometimes unreasonable, conviction, that God has gifted us and entrusted us with resources not to consume for our own well-being, but to be a blessing to the world around.

This is such a contradiction from the world we live in.  We are told from every angle that we are to pursue happiness, wealth, and affluence.  This has become the ultimate goal of our society.  But as followers of Christ, this is not our pursuit.  Our pursuit is one of love.  In fact, Jesus said in John 13 that we will actually be known, characterized by, and identified by our unique, God-given love.

As a church, my prayer is not that we get bigger, better, stronger, or more impressive.  What a shame it would be if we worked so hard just to be bigger for the sake of size.  But my passion for Calvary is that God would grow us so that we can play some small part in growing the Kingdom of God.  That God would bless us in every way, not to show off our wealth, riches or abilities, but to be a blessing to those in need.

Imagine how this approach changes the way you view the needs of our world?  No longer is poverty, drug addiction and crime a “shame” that we shake our heads about, but when we understand that “we are blessed to be a blessing” those aspects to our world become opportunities to extend a blessing to those in need.

As you walk through life at work, in your neighborhood, or at the store, in what way has God blessed you to bless those around you?

Today I’m continuing a series of posts on the core values at Calvary.  You can read the previous ones here. This next value is so crucial, but unfortunately often overlooked.  It is the conviction that we “Grow with Purpose.”  Our value is that “Growth is not a matter of chance, but of intention toward God’s purposes in our lives.” What that means is that growth doesn’t happen accidentally or by chance, by only by choice.

What does that practically look like in our church?  It means that we provide people with opportunities to take next steps, not assuming that they’ll just find them, but making them as simple and understandable as possible.  To see growth happen in our team, in our church and in our lives, it requires us to intentionally take the steps to grow.

To provide opportunities for growth we have two primary vehicles for spiritual growth:  LifeGroups and our Overflow Process.  We offer LifeGroups throughout the year on a semester basis.  These groups will meet on 8-12 week semesters, depending on the time of the year, and vary in topics from studies on books of the Bible to studies on how to handle your finances.  Regardless, they provide an easy first step for new believers to get connected and begin the process for growth.

The other avenue of growth is our Overflow Process.  This process consists of three 1.5 hour classes that are offered once a month in successive months.  One month we’ll offer our Experience 1.0 Class, which addresses the topic of Spiritual Health and Commitment.  This class is the only one necessary to become a Catalyst (Member) at Calvary.  The second class is our Embrace 2.0 Class, which deals with Spiritual Growth.  In this class, we discuss the need for spiritual disciplines and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.  The final class is our Express 3.0 Class which deals with Spiritual Gifts.  This class provides the opportunity for individuals to look inside and discover the very gifts God has given them, and how they can be used to serve the church and community.

Through both of these avenues, our goal is not to provide more “stuff” for people to do, but rather to provide clear and easy steps for people to take on their spiritual journey.  Because “Growth is not a matter of chance, but of intention toward God’s purposes in our lives.”

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