Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pray... Like You Are Dying

Tim McGraw made the "live like you were dying" phrase even more famous than it already was. But the concept has been around for a long, long time in the sacred scriptures. 

Our CVC Bible reading plan today has us in Psalm 90 where Moses asks the Lord to teach him how to "number his days" - to remember how short life really is so that he leverages his one life to accomplish the most good. 

Has this ever been the basis of prayer for you? Unless Christ returns to take us to heaven, we are all going to die. "It is appointed unto man to die" (Hebrews 9:27). 

So, why not pray for God's grace to help you live like you are dying?

Here is a prayer for dying well that is built from scripture. It was compiled by Matthew Henry in his book, Method of Prayer. I have made a few edits and added some scripture prayers at the end.


"Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know and consider how fleeting I am, that my days are as a few handbreadths and all mankind stands as a mere breath (Psalm 39:4-5). My days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding (1 Chronicles 29:15).

"Lord, so teach me to number my days, that I may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). And make me to discern my latter end (Deuteronomy 32:29).

"Lord, make me always ready, dressed for action with my lamp burning (Luke 12:35) for the Son of Man is coming at an hour I do not expect (Luke 12:40).

"Keep me all the days of my service, waiting till my renewal comes; and then shall you call, and I will answer (Job 14:14-15).

"Bring me to my grave like a sheaf gathered up in its season (Job 5:26). Satisfy me with life, whether it be long or short, and show me your salvation (Psalm 91:16).

"And when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, be with me, that I may fear no evil; let your rod and your staff comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

"Let goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life, and let me dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6). May steadfast love and faithfulness be with me (II Samuel 15:20).

"Ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, and receive me (Psalm 49:15). Guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me into glory (Psalm 73:24).

"To me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Help me to know that to depart and be with Christ is far better (Philippians 1:23).

"Again today, I do repent of my sin and do put my trust in Jesus, the one who bore my sins in his body on the cross. He alone is my Lord and Savior. And I will follow him to that day when he will wipe away every tear from my eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

"In my last days and on my deathbed, may I never do anything or say anything that will discredit your name or hinder my witness. May I be holy in all my behavior - even my dying - because You are holy ( I Peter 1:15). I set my hope fully on the grace that will be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:13). 

"In Jesus' name, Amen."

Friday, April 10, 2015

7 reasons to plant new churches

From time to time, I get some fun questions to answer about the history of CVC. Here's one I received today followed by my answer. 


When I tell people that I attend CVC sometimes they ask me questions about the church, I tell them what the Mission of the church is and about the wonderful programs that I have gotten involved with since joining the church. And I tell them how wonderful the people are. I have been asked the same question a few times. "Why did the pastor choose Broadview Heights, Ohio to start the church?" "How did the pastor know about this area since he is not from here?" Rick, how should I answer this question?


Thanks for asking!
Back in 1986, I was appointed as a missionary church planter with the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

I felt called by God to start a church outside what was then called "the Bible belt" in the south. I wanted to go to an area where there was a great need for the kind of God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Spirit-led, mission-minded, Bible-based, people-loving church we felt led to start...

1. a church for people who had given up on church, 
2. a church for people who felt that most churches were not relevant to everyday life, 
3. a church that was known for what we are "for" rather than what we are "against," 
4. a church that talked with you instead of preached at you, 
5. a church where the Bible could be explained and applied in clear, practical ways, 
6. a church that would be used by God to start many other kinds of churches in the area, 
7. a church that would have global impact. 

In the summer of 1986, studies were conducted by the North American Mission Board that showed that the Brecksville/Broadview Heights Community was an ideal location to begin another church because approximately 100,000 people lived (and live!) within a five mile radius of CVC’s present location. There are a number of churches in this area, but we calculated that if each church filled their sanctuaries to capacity two times each Sunday (which was not happening!), only 20,000 people would be accommodated in those buildings. That meant that there were approximately 80,000 unchurched people within a 5 miles radius of our location.

Some churches seemingly plan and program to reach the people who are already churched and already followers of Christ. These churches might grow. But they experience what is called “transfer growth” - shuffling the already convinced from one ministry to another. We felt that God had given us the task of targeting those in the unchurched and who were not yet following Christ.

With that in mind, we tried to get inside the mind of the unchurched people in our community. Before launching CVC, I did an informal survey of unchurched people in our community. They gave these reasons why they don't attend church:

•     too much pressure to join
•     too much pressure to give
•     the services are too stiff and formal
•     long sermons
•     long services

When asked what would cause them to want to attend a church, they gave these reasons:

•     enthusiastic leadership
•     positive and uplifting sermons
•     being made to feel at home and comfortable
•     fresh, creative, innovative services
•     practical relevant sermons
So, we launched a church where we tried to always keep in mind why the unchurched don't come and why they might come. These factors have affected our mission, vision, values, strategies, programs, and planning over the years.

That's probably more than you wanted to know. (But I already had most of this info in a document!)

Thanks for asking. You took me down memory lane. It was a nice stroll! :)

God has done exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine. To God alone be the glory! Great things He has done!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Top 12 Questions for Personal Development

This weekend I am teaching at a leadership conference here in NE Ohio called Lead Well. (To learn about the conference or to register, click on the Lead Well link.) My topic is Leadership and Personal Development.

I reviewed some do the key questions I have been asking myself over the last few years as I have developed annual growth plans. I also took a look at some of the literature on the topic.

Here's the list of 12 questions that I am going to share this weekend. After I share these at the conference, I will ask the group what they would add to the list and write their responses on a large Post-it.


Twelve Questions for My Personal Development

1. How can I glorify God in a greater way by growing in my love for Him and by growing in my love for others? 

2. Which Beatitude (Matthew 5:3-10) or Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) needs to be developed most in my life and how can I cooperate with God's Spirit to grow in that area? 

3. What habits do I need to break, develop, or maintain that would make the most significant change for good in my life? 

4. What can I see, hear, do, read, and learn that will inspire and inform me to become more and more like Christ? 

5. What new patterns of living do I need to embrace to better overcome worry, depression, bitterness, stress, anger, false guilt, shame, and self-accusation/condemnation? 

6. What is my biggest time-waster and how can I minimize its impact on my life so I can serve others better?

7. What can I do to learn and grow from the trials I am facing and to leverage and glean from the victories I am enjoying? 

8. What will I do differently to make better healthy choices when it comes to eating and to exercise? 

9. How can I better leverage my life, my resources, and my influence, to fight against injustice? 

10. How can I focus more and more on the calling that is most important to me (What would I do if I had all the money I needed and could do whatever I wanted)?

11. How will I network and team up with more quality people who love the Lord, whom I like and respect, and who make me a better person?

12. What's it going to take for me to be ready to die, to meet my Maker, to hear "well done" from Jesus? 


Question: What questions would you add to the list? 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

LeadWell: A conference in NE Ohio to take your leadership to the next level

Do you want to take your leadership to the next level? Do you want to develop your leadership team?

Join me at the LEAD WELL conference - Friday evening, April 10 & Saturday morning and early afternoon, April 11, 2015 - at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. I ma honored to be a part of this conference at our very first church plant, Mt, Calvary located at 
271 Center Rd in Bedford, Ohio 44146.

We have a dynamic group of speakers that are ready to encourage you to lead well for the glory of the Lord. To find out more, please click on this link to the Lead Well Conference. The speakers are:

Gary Frost - V.P. - Midwest Region NAMB
Steve Hopkins - Group Leader - Bible Teaching & Leader SBCO
Jeff Calloway - Send City Coordinator NAMB
Stephen Owens - Pastor @ Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
Rick Duncan - Founding Pastor @ Cuyahoga Valley Church

Lead Well Conference Schedule: 

Friday (April 10) Registration: 6 PM - 7 PM

Session 1: 
Lead with Vision
Jeff Callaway (Author, Send City Coordinator NAMB)

Saturday (April 11) 
Registration: 8:30 AM - 9 AM

Session 2: 
Lead with Influence
Gary Frost (VP - Midwest Region NAMB)

Session 3: 
Lead with Delegation
Stephen Owens (Author, Pastor @ Mt. Calvary)

- Break for lunch -

Session 4: 
Lead with Teams
Steve Hopkins (Group Leader - Bible Teaching & Leadership SBCO)

Session 5: 
Lead with Self Development
Rick Duncan (Author, Founding Pastor @ Cuyahoga Valley Church)

Conclusion: 3 PM

Space is limited. There are only 100 seats available. So, please register soon. The registration fee is $10.00 and this will include lunch on Saturday. A registration form is available on a link to the Mt Calvary Baptist Church website.

5 reasons to believe in the resurrection

Maybe you or someone you love are not sure that the resurrection really happened. Maybe you believe that the resurrection is just a myth. If that's you, you’re in good company. Lots of people ask, “Why should 21st century people believe in the resurrection of Jesus?”

Let’s just be careful of what Christian writer C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” It's easy for us to think we’re smarter than the people that lived in the ancient world. So, we’re skeptical about a bodily resurrection while believing that those ancient people were more likely to believe a fairy tale. They were gullible; we’re not!

But think about it: Not even one of the followers of Jesus was expecting the resurrection. The women went to the tomb with spices to anoint a dead body. And when the women came back and said He was alive, the men thought they were nuts. The idea of a person being resurrected was inconceivable to 1st century people, just like it is to us.

So, why do we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ each spring?

1) There was an empty tomb. No one would have believed these stories for a minute if the tomb wasn’t empty. If the tomb wasn’t empty, the enemies of Christianity could have easily produced the rotting corpse of Jesus. That would have stopped the faith. But they didn’t produce the dead body because they couldn’t.

2) There were eyewitnesses. Only 15-20 years after the life of Jesus here on earth, one of His followers named Paul wrote these words: Christ died for our sins…He was buried… He was raised on the third day… He appeared to [Peter], then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred… at one time, most of whom are still alive (I Corinthians 15:3-6, ESV).

This was in a public letter that was read out loud. And an invitation was clear. Anyone living at that time who doubted that Jesus had risen could go and check it out. Take a trip and stand face-to-face with not just one or two people, but with eyewitness after eyewitness after eyewitness. 500 of them. That’s about the number of people on the main level in this room. 1 0r 2 people? Maybe it’s a hallucination. 500? I don’t think so.

As Tim Keller write in The Reason for God, "If there had been only an empty tomb and no eyewitnesses, no one would have said there was a resurrection. People would have assumed that the body was stolen. If there had only been eyewitnesses and no empty tomb, no one would have said it was a resurrection. People would have assumed that the so-called eyewitnesses were hallucinating," doing the wishful-thinking-thing. But there were eyewitnesses and there was an empty tomb.

3) There were transformed lives. The followers of Jesus just kept telling others what they had seen. They were transformed. Before the resurrection, they hid out hoping that they wouldn’t suffer the same fate as Jesus. They didn’t want to die on a cross. But after the resurrection, they stopped mourning the loss of their dead leader; they stopped hiding; they started telling everybody about Somebody who rose from the dead.

4) There were disciples who were willing to die. Most of the followers of Jesus were persecuted and killed because of their faith. People don’t die for a lie. One man said, “I believe those witnesses that get their throats cut.” It’s really hard to believe that these people would sacrifice their lives for a hoax.

5) There was the birth of the church that was led by (are you ready for this?) Jews. A bunch of Jewish people who had always worshipped on the Sabbath, on Saturday, started worshipping on Sundays. Why? Jesus rose on the first day of the week. And a bunch of Jewish people who had always believed that there was only one God started worshipping Jesus. Why? Jesus rose from the dead and they began to understand that this one God they had been worshipping has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.

Take any one of these reasons to believe in the resurrection and the evidence might seem underwhelming. But add them together? That Jesus rose from the dead seems to be by far the most reasonable explanation of the facts of history.

And again, as Keller writes, "Even if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you should want it to be true." Why? The resurrection gives meaning to our suffering and hope for our future.


Why not test yourself and your family on these truths? That way, if you ever get into a conversation with someone about the veracity of our faith, you'll have some ammunition to fulfill I Peter 3:15.

Friday, April 03, 2015

The scourging of the Savior was done by you and for you

“By His stripes we are healed.“ Isaiah 53:6.

Scourging. Unless you understand that the scourging was done by you, then you will never understand what the scourging has done for you.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John don’t go into much detail about the physical nature of the scourging. Everybody knew what it was. All we have in Matthew 27 is this: “But after having Jesus scourged, he [Pilate] handed Him over to be crucified.”

About 20 years ago an American citizen, Michael Fay, was caught vandalizing in Singapore. He was sentenced to be caned on his backside with a flexible bamboo rod. The sentence was reduced from 6 blows to 4. And the American public was outraged. Rightly so. About a mere 4 blows. What Jesus endured makes that almost insignificant.

But sometimes when we read the story of the scourging of Jesus it becomes simply part of the landscape. The horror of it – the abuse of it – too often isn't fully felt… unless you see it on the big screen.

The scene of the scourging in The Passion of the Christ was sobering and stunning. But as I read historian’s accounts of ancient Roman scourging, even the scenes from The Passion of the Christ do not adequately depict the pain, the horror, the abuse, and the suffering that the Lord Jesus Christ endured.

Scourged. The word comes from Latin. Excoriare is a compound word. Ex means “off” and corium means “skin.” So, scourging literally means “off with the skin.”

Soldiers took their places slightly behind Jesus. In their hands, they carried a short whip - with strips of heavy leather stained with the blood of previous victims.  Attached on each strip at various intervals were metal and stone pellets, little pieces of sharp bone and glass.    

The shrapnel on the ends of the leather cords tore easily through Jesus’ flesh. The small balls of lead made large, deep bruises ready to be broken open later by other blows. Another soldier. Another blow. The leather and the shards of bone were once again embedded into the skin, while a few wrapped around toward the front of Jesus. Next, the swipe of the whip severed muscle tissue in the back of His thighs. His legs were destined to be reduced to bloody masses of disfigured flesh.

Again and again, the soldiers swung the scourge. Another leather strand struck the same spot hit earlier, tearing deeper into the tissue leaving oozing slashes on Jesus’ body. The first hits produced bleeding that leaked from the capillaries and veins. But as the flogging continued, the whip tore into the underlying skeletal muscles to produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Bone began to show. 

On and on the beating went. The blood wasn’t oozing out now. Some arteries in the underlying muscles were damaged and the blood began to spurt with every heartbeat. The skin on the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn tissue. 

Finally, they cut Him loose and He fell to the ground. In Isaiah 52 we read these words about Jesus: “So marred from the form of man was His aspect, that His appearance was not as that of a son of a man.” People were appalled to look at Him.

Jesus knew this was coming. In Matthew chapter 20 Jesus is speaking to His disciples. "We're going to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered… to be mocked and flogged – scourged…"

How could Jesus know it was coming?

The scourging was predicted in Isaiah 50. The prophet puts words into the mouth of the Suffering Servant, "I gave My back to those who strike…”

When Jesus read those words, He came to the realization that this prophecy was about Him.

Don’t miss this. Jesus gave His back to the smiters. He gave it. He's the one in charge.

Don't see this as some kind of tragic accident. Was it abuse on a cosmic scale? Yes! Are the ones who used the scourge guilty? Yes!

But they were not in charge. Jesus was. Jesus gave His back to those who would smite it.

So, we have to ask the question: Why? Why would He do such a thing?

An old spiritual published in 1899 asked the question, "Were you there?" Would you have found yourself with the scourge in hand?

When we think of all the things we have done, when we think of all of our rebellion, when we think of all of our sin, when we think of how we have defied and rejected God's love, when we look at our hands we see a scourge.

He gave His back to be smitten because of our sin, because He wanted us healed from our sin. And when you think about it that way, it puts the scourge right in our hands.

By His stripes you are healed.

That hit was for your anger. That blow was for your greed. That stripe was for your lust. Again and again He is beaten and bruised and battered and bloodied for your selfishness, your lies, your addictions. And for mine.

An old hymn says it well…

I, I alone have done the deed, Tis I Thy sacred flesh have torn;
My sins have caused Thee, Lord, to bleed, Used the scourge, affixed the thorn.
(Paul Gerhardt, tr. by John Wesley)

Unless you understand that the scourging was done by you then you will never understand what the scourging has done for you.

Were you there? Yes. With scourge in hand. The scourging was done by you.

But there's more.

The scourging was done for you. You should have been scourged. I should have been scourged. We are the guilty ones.

Imagine yourself tied to the post. Your hands are bound. Your arms are stretched. Your back is exposed. And here comes the whip.

But you feel nothing. Suddenly, you recognize that you have been shielded. You are protected. You are covered. You have a refuge. It's Jesus.

Blow after blow that you should have taken for your rebellion, your disobedience, your transgressions, your wickedness, your selfishness, and your greed have fallen onto the shoulders and back and legs of Christ. He is suffering in your place.

We are between the pillar and the Lord Jesus Christ who stretches the gift of His body around us, protecting us from the lash of judgment. He absorbs the sting of humiliation on His back. He receives the pain that we, by all rights, should have received. And because He took the stripes – the wounds – you don't have to.

By His stripes you are healed. He heals us from the practice of sin and He heals us from the punishment of sin. He heals us from the power of sin and He heals us from the penalty of sin. 

When we realize that the scourging was done by us, it is motivation for us to forsake of our sin. Why would I want to add more blows to the back of Someone who loves me that much to take the punishment in my place? The scourging is motivation for us toward greater holiness, greater righteousness, greater hatred of our sin. 

And when we understand that the scourging was done for us, then we run to Christ – to be embraced by Him and to seek His shelter. Who wouldn't want to be embraced and protected by Someone who loves us enough to shelter us from sin's penalty?

So, what can the scourging produce in us? It is fuel for us to forsake our sin and to seek His shelter. 

Unless you understand that the scourging was done by you then you will never understand what the scourging has done for you. 

Never forget it. 

By His stripes we are healed. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to define a Lead Pastor's job in 35 words or less...

I am reading “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman. Matt worked for John Piper and is a Southern Seminary Grad. Here’s a link to his book.

It’s good. 

Piper says, “This book is simply extraordinary. This is largely because of the way God has wired Matt Perman. His mind is saturated with biblical truth, and he is passionate, sometimes to a fault (as you will see in his personal stories), about being effective for the glory of Christ. Those two traits have combined to produce a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated book that, without blinking, gets into stuff like Al Mohler’s midnight productivity and Seth Godin’s method for carving out time for work that matters. I doubt there is a person on the planet who knows both theological issues and time management literature to the depth and extent Matt Perman does. This combination is at times mindboggling.”

Matt recommends a Master Weekly Schedule (Ideal Work week) and points to Michael Hyatt's ideal weekly schedule as an example. 

Anyway, for what it’s worth. here’s what I had on my Master Calendar way back in 2013…
From an old Master Weekly Schedule dated January 2003 when I was Lead Pastor at CVC, here's how I tried to prioritize my time as a senior pastor... in less than 35 words. 


1. Provide overall leadership and cast vision - pray and think!

2. Communicate God's Word - study and teach!

3. Develop new and existing leaders - disciple and deploy!

4. Reach the lost - invite and include!

5. Develop stewards - give and encourage!

As I look at this, 12 years later, I think I would at least add "Be an example - love and be loved!" 

But for now. let's just go with what I put on paper on my Master Schedule 12 years ago. 

Question: How would you define the lead pastor's role in 35 words or less?

P.S. I case you didn't hit the link before and want to learn about how to put together a Weekly Master Calendar (an ideal work week)? Check out Michael Hyatt's wise advice here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to pray for your Easter services

CVC has a 24 hour prayer chain going to ask the Lord for His blessing on our Easter services. If you haven't yet signed up to pray, this link is where you can go to sign up

Lately, I've been waking up to pray at 3:45 AM. I thought I might share some insights about how the Lord led me to pray this morning in hopes that it might inform a few others at CVC who are wondering, "How might I pray better for our church and for Easter services?" 


I ask You, Lord God, that on Resurrection weekend we might have the capacity to glorify You in a way that You should be glorified. Give us hearts filled with praise, Lord Jesus, as we think about Your death and Your resurrection so that we might be saved and reconciled to God. Let us love You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and let us love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

I ask that Chad Allen, our lead pastor, be filled with the Holy Spirit, be anointed, and have with the old time preachers called "unction." May he speak the word of God with boldness. May none of his words fall to the ground. As he explains Your word, may it not return void, but may it accomplish the purposes for which You sent it. May he have clarity of thought and expression. May You use him not only as a seed–planter and a soil–waterer, but also a soul–harvester.

Cause our people at CVC to be burdened about those who don't know Christ, opportunistic when it comes to inviting people to attend our services, and bold to share a good word for Christ and for our church, CVC. Help us think of creative ways to be inviters and includers because we remember that what many of our friends need is a simple invitation. Remind us that when we invite people to join us at our Easter services, it's a simple way to invite people to new life in Christ. Teach us to leverage the fact that their sensitivities are already heightened to spiritual things.

Send people to CVC and to all our sister churches in Northeast Ohio. Send them from the north, south, east, and west. May people have a spiritual hunger that cannot be explained. May the soil in their hearts be soft. May the seed which will be planted bear fruit – 30 fold, 60 fold, and 100 fold. Do not let the enemy come and steal the seed. Instead, may there be a planting, a watering, and a harvesting that results in the salvation of many souls.

Bless the singers, the instrumentalists, and the technicians who will work hard to provide the praise and the atmosphere that will glorify You. Bless their preparation and the execution of their important roles in our services. Thank You for the sacrifices that so many volunteers will make throughout resurrection weekend to bring glory to You. May anyone who participates in our services – artists, greeters, ushers, teachers - have smiles on their faces, joy in their hearts, and a spring in their step.

Cause us to be fed from Your word as we reflect on the meaning of Your cross and Your resurrection. Cause us to understand that because of the message of Easter, everything changes. Feed our souls. Enlighten our minds. Give us feet to share the best news ever. Make us filled with joy. Make us more like Christ. Cause us to think more highly of You. Set us free from sin. Send us on your mission. Set our souls on fire. And do all this so that the fame and the name of Jesus Christ will be spread far and wide and deep and long.

In Jesus name, amen.

Friday, March 27, 2015

28 characteristics of the best church leaders in 2015 - according to Lyle Schaller

Our recent loss of the insightful, church consulting pioneer, the 91 year old Lyle Schaller, caused me to pull some of his books off my shelf to review and reflect. His insights certainly shaped my leadership and Cuyahoga Valley Church over our 29 year history.

You can read about Schaller's life and legacy in an article by Leith Anderson. You can see some of his most memorable and influential quotes in a blog post by Will Mancini

In his book Getting Things Done (published in 1986), Schaller asked, "Who will be the leaders in 2015?" He called for existing leaders to identify, enlist, educate, socialize, nurture and train persons who would be the leaders of the churches in 2015. 

Then, Schaller, with his typical prescience, identified some of the qualities and competencies that would need to be present in the lives of the best and most effective initiating leaders. Way back in 1986, he was calling church leaders to raise up leaders for 2015 who would be "venturesome rebels." 

In five short paragraphs, he described what kind of leaders the church of today would need. With apologies, I have tuned his paragraphs into a list so we might evaluate ourselves. 

28 characteristics for effective leaders - "venturesome rebels" - for 2015 and beyond...

1. They display a high level of self-confidence. 
2. They are not conformists.
3. They are willing to take risks. 
4. They are hard workers.
5. They are curious.
6. They are impatient. [I'm sure that this, for Schaller, was a Spirit-inspired impatience with the status quo.]
7. They are assertive,
8. They are survivalists.
9. They are energetic. 
10. They are hardy. 
11. They are flexible.
12. They are self-starters.
13. They are tough.
14. They are persistent.
15. They are decisive.
16. They are persuasive.
17. They are ambitious. [Schaller was thinking of a holy ambition for the advancement of God and His kingdom and glory.] 
18. They are optimistic about the future. 
19. They have learned how to manage their time in a productive manner. 
20. They are reflective. 
21. When criticized, they do not respond in anger but look beyond that anger in an effort to analyze both the content of the criticism and the motivation of the critic. 
22. They function in a long time frame.
23. They are comfortable conceptualizing abstract ideas in a five to twenty year time span.
24. They display the characteristic of "mental rehearsal" - anticipating the arguments of the opposition and reflecting on alternative courses of action.
25. They rarely allow themselves to become captive of what others claim is the most urgent immediate issues. 
26. They have vision. 
27. They have the ability to inspire others to want to turn that vision into reality. 
28. They have a willingness to intervene. 

As I thought through Schaller's list, I thanked God that He has indeed raised up some key leaders to be "venturesome rebels" for the good of and the growth of His church. I did some self-evaluation. Surely, this is a list to aspire to and to pray toward. 

Questions: How do you think current church leaders are measuring up? What qualities would you add to Schaller's list? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Do you need a guest speaker?

"Rick Duncan has a heart for both the local church and making an impact for God's Kingdom. He works hard to connect these things together in his teachings and there is always a genuine impact on the individuals who have an opportunity to learn from him. Every time Rick has taught at our church he is happy to work with our team to accomplish what God has laid on our hearts and makes real connections that impact people's everyday lives." Andy Sikora, Lead Pastor, Renew Communities


I was so humbled to receive these words from my friend, Andy. I had asked him to share some of his thoughts about my teaching. 

Since I have passed the baton of Lead Pastor to Chad Allen at CVC, I still teach about once every 4-6 weeks at CVC and I have staff responsibilities on other weekends. But that means that I am free on certain weekends to fill in whenever and wherever I am needed.

So, I asked Andy and a few other leaders to share some of their thoughts about my ministry in hopes that churches in need might call on me to help on those weekends when I am free from responsibilities at CVC. 

As I have been thinking and planning my schedule for the rest of the year, I know that some churches are without a current lead pastor. Other pastors might want someone to fill the pulpit while they are away on vacation or at a seminar. At times, a church might want a seminar speaker for a special topic. 

Know that it would be an honor for me to serve in a teaching capacity at your church if you find yourself in need. This is one simple way that CVC and I can serve the larger body of Christ. 

Simply send an email to our CVC Missions Assistant, Elena Golsch, at 

Perhaps God will give us the opportunity to serve you. 


“We were very blessed to have Pastor Rick with us to speak on a Sunday morning as he helped us engage the Word of God. He didn’t just preach a sermon as a guest speaker, but he listened to what God had for him to say to us and he pastored our church even for the 35 minutes we got to spend with him." David Erlandson, Worship Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church

"We have been abundantly blessed by Rick's teaching here in an urban context, Slavic Village, Ohio. He has an innate ability to bring Biblical Truth into the context of everyday life in a way that is relatable to people from all walks of life." Jeff Bodziony, Lead Pastor, Forward Church

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