Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Power of the Question

There have been a few moments in my life where someone asked a question that simply knocked the wind out of me!

One that was so profound, so biting, so poignant that it simply made me examine my life, my relationships and my priorities?  I have a few Godly men in my life who are simply experts in questions.  In looking at the life of Christ there may be no man who ever lived who had mastered the art of the question more than Jesus.  He was  able to ask a question that immediately went to the heart of a persons idolatry, desires, fears or sin.  Conrad Gempf wrote a terrific book called Jesus asked that I often return to and see Jesus’ brilliance in everyday conversations.  It can be seen with the woman at the well, with Joseph of Aremethia and in countless other encounters, just read the gospels & look at the art of Jesus conversations.   So often as a pastor I forget the power of a question, the power of one moment of shepherding & over the past few months I have prayed a simple prayer before every meeting I enter & before every conversation I start.  Lord give me the right questions to ask! Here’s some keys!

1) – Be lead by the Spirit – Silly I know, this should be common sense but it seems most of us were taught in bible college that the spirit only shows up in the pulpit or during worship.  If we live this out then we miss the opportunity to ask the right questions & often to get to the heart of our people’s real issues.  Shame on me for all the times I’ve small talked about sports & our city when there were questions to ask that may have moved the conversation from our agenda to Gods agenda.  Be prayful in every conversation.

2) – Ask the next question -Our temptation is to stop short of asking the questions that really matter so we get right up to the line of asking something that matters & stop.  We dangle our feet over the edge but we never ask the real questions, because we are afraid to offend or afraid of the consequences.  I was once taught that in conversation as pastors & leaders we must say the last 10%.  The same is true in questions ask the next question & ask the last question.

3) – Listening with gospel ears – Listen to peoples stories & listen for holes in their gospel understanding.  Everyone has a creation story, a redemption story a, restoration story and a fall story.  The problem is that most of the stories I hear, even from church going people, differ from the story of God.  Most people believe they save themselves & that their biggest problem is not their own sin but what someone else has done to them.  Listen for gospel themes & holes in peoples understandings, then ask questions to clarify beliefs & and reveal the heart of the gospel.  Also listen for themes that are gospel themes and connect them to the story of God.

Praying that everyone of us who are followers of Christ is learning the art & the power of the question!

What is the best question anyone has ever asked you?

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Where I need to grow

I was asked recently  to write down 4 areas where I need to grow as a church planter & as a pastor.

Here were my answers:

What about you?

1) – Patience – Someone asked me the other day if I was told that I had to spend 5 to 7 years building a foundation that would last  would I do it?  If in that season I would experience a lot of frustration, a lot of people leaving the church, and a lot of people not catching the vision & a church that to outsiders & onlookers looks very unflashy & simple………………BUT in 7 years over 100 people had been really discipled, over 25 missional communities had been started, and the people of God were really beginning to live out the gospel, would you be in?  The answer is yes but the reality is that the dip between moving people from consumer Christianity to becoming disciples of Jesus is incredibly tough & takes a ton of patience!  I need to grow in my patience with people as God shapes them and with the church as God builds it.

2) – Trust – Just because God is with you does not mean everything is going to succeed & because things fail does not mean God is absent.  Gods hand has been on our church plant in amazing ways.  We have seen many people far from God return to him, we have seen his power at work in our community & on our campus. That doesn’t take away the fact that there are days when I feel like hanging it up.  Where I am trusting my own abilities as a leader & where I am leaning into my giftedness instead of his power.  I have realized that I am not as smart, or as gifted as I thought I was & that God is far more dependable & trustworthy than I ever  imagined he was.  I need to trust him more everyday & I need to understand it his church & not mine & he will build it not me!

3) – Self Discovery – There are just some things you will never know about yourself until you try!  I completely & fully underestimated the learning curve I had in Church planting, in leading teams & in discipling leaders.  I thought because I had spent 15 years in a mega church I was well prepared to face any struggles that came my way.  I forgot that what God wants to do through us, he first wants to do in us.  I am slowing down, praying like crazy, processing everyday how God is working in me & I am realizing that I am no where near where I need to be & that this is ok.  I am learning not to lead from a template I learned from prevailing church growth books but to allow the Spirit of God to guide & direct me everyday.  I am learning self discovery on the road to becoming who he desires me to be in Christ

4) – Togetherness – Church planting is incredibly lonely!  I worked for years at a church with over 20,000 people in attendance each week, with over 200 pastors on staff, at one point I lead a team of over 80 staff members  & then suddenly I was in an office the size of my closet & I was all alone.  The phone stopped ringing, no one stopped by to check on me, and so many of the people I depended on disappeared or did not follow through with commitments & promises.  Suddenly, I felt incredibly alone for the first time in ministry.  I tried to tough it out, to go lone ranger for a season but I burnt out quickly only to find myself exhausted & frustrated & in need of gospel community & rest.  I am so thankful for our elders & church family at the avenue, for their love for Gods church & their love for me and my family!  For the first time in our ministry we have found what Alan Hirsch calls, COMMUNITAS, community that is centered not on proximity or commonality but on common mission & shared sacrifice.  Without these men & woman of God reminding me that we are in this together, I would never become who God has called me to be be.  Church planting & ministry in general can not be done alone, I failed miserably early on because I did not know how much I needed togetherness. I need to grow in my ability to look people in the eye & say I need you so that together we can become who God called us to be.

Where do you need to grow?

Where Are you asking God to change & grow your heart?